The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Byte or Ball State University.
by Gunner Masters
Comcast is adding to the list of states with a 1 terabyte internet data limit for customers today. Its ‘XFINITY Terabyte Internet Data Usage Plan’ may not seem like a big deal to most, with the Internet service provider claiming that 99 percent of customers use less than 1TB of data per month, however it may have unforeseen consequences for gamers, streamers and cord-cutters.
To back-up why the company made the data limit, their website says: their “typical customer uses only about 60 gigabytes of data in a month...” – less than six percent of a terabyte – and that the median usage is 75GB. However, those numbers may only represent account holders, not including others in a household that use the internet.
For customers that Comcast calls “super users”, individuals who use more than the 1TB limit a month, they offer unlimited data for an additional $50 per month. If a customer without unlimited data does go over the 1TB limit in a month, the company automatically charges them $10 for an extra 50GB up to a $200 limit per month. However, there is a grace period for the first two months in a 12-month period where a customer won’t receive overage charges.
This may not seem bad, but consider that the very nature of the internet is for everyone to access it freely. Data limits from ISP’s could make it more difficult for families to afford Comcast’s price on top of other bills and the cost of living. As for gamers, streamers and cord-cutters who rely on internet access to enjoy their games, movies, and self-produced content, this could shoehorn them into limiting or quitting their usage and content creation because they simply cannot afford it now.
Living in a house with four people total with each having a multitude of tech that connects online, you can see where this would grow to be a problem. The very nature of these pieces of tech almost always requires internet access to use the majority of their functions, and each one has updates from their respective creators. To understand how much data we actually use, we checked our data usage at the end of the month. We were sitting at 999.8 GB before midnight, only one Netflix stream away from tipping over 1TB.
In response to this, I would recommend customers who need or want unlimited data to upgrade or search for a more affordable ISP. However, this seems to be a bitter compromise to me, and I would rather see legal action taken by the FCC. For those who are concerned or outraged by this decision I recommend writing to your congressional representatives and starting petitions for Comcast and the FCC to change the prices or eliminate data limits.