US cable provider Comcast has announced that it will begin usage-based broadband billing tests on 1 September 2013 in central Kentucky, Savannah, GA, and Jackson, MS. Subscribers on those systems who exceed a monthly data cap of 300 GB will be charged US $10 for each additional 50 GB if they exceed the data cap four times within a 12-month period. Comcast is also offering US $5 monthly discounts to light internet users who consume less than 5 GB of data per month. Subscribers who download more than 5 GB will be charged US $1 per gigabyte. Comcast began experimenting with usage-based billing in 2012 on its systems in Nashville, TN, and Tucson, AZ.
Considering the rapidly growing data hunger among internet users in all markets around the world, it is hardly surprising to see a fixed-line operator taking a page out of the mobile operators’ book and extending its trials of usage-based billing. The likelihood of customers exceeding their allowances—after being lured into plans by low rates for limited data—is high enough that overage charges have proved to be a major source of revenue for MNOs. We see no reason why this approach should not be successful for Comcast and other fixed-line entities, too.