June 23, 2021

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Dozens of Massachusetts lawmakers ask Comcast Xfinity to scrap planned home internet data cap

New home internet data rules take effect for Comcast Xfinity customers in Massachusetts Friday, but dozens of state lawmakers are asking the company to reconsider. Starting Jan. 1, the company began phasing in an internet data cap in Massachusetts that’s already in effect for customers on non-unlimited plans in other parts of the country. The plan will charge home internet customers who go over 1.2 TB of data in a month.According to Comcast, Xfinity internet customers who use more than 1.2 TB of data in a month who are not on an unlimited plan will automatically be charged an additional fee of $10 for an additional 50 GB of data. The company said the maximum monthly overage charge for home customers will be $100.Rep. Andy Vargas and Rep. Dave Rogers announced on New Year’s Eve that they and 69 other legislators wrote a letter urging Comcast to discontinue the plan.”We strongly urge Comcast to discontinue this plan, and to reconsider any future attempts at imposing a data cap or any perversion of the principles of net neutrality in Massachusetts,” the lawmakers wrote.Comcast has said that customers will be notified as they approach the 1.2 TB threshold and that customers will receive complimentary credits for any overage charges during January and February 2021, as well as a courtesy month.”It is important to know only about 5% of our customers use more than 1.2 TB of data in a month and about 95% are not likely to be impacted by this plan,” the company said on its website.”Comcast claims that its planned data cap will only affect a handful of customers that are extreme data users, however, internet consumers are using greater amounts of internet data every year,” the lawmakers wrote. In their letter, the lawmakers point out that the change is being made during a pandemic when many residents are working from home and write that the internet is “essential for all” during this time. They also argue that new data cap and fees may affect the ability of poorer residents to access the internet. “Internet affordability is a growing concern that puts much-needed internet service out of reach for low-income citizens, many who are also from communities of color,” they wrote. After the initial posting of this article, a Comcast spokesperson sent this statement: “As part of Comcast’s comprehensive efforts to help families and individuals stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic, Comcast is proactively offering 60-days of free Internet Essentials service to eligible new customers, waiving the requirement of not having back debt due so more families can apply, opening thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots in outdoor and small business locations across the City as well as providing WiFi in community centers called Lift Zones in Boston and in Gateway Cities across the Commonwealth, to help students get online, participate in distance learning, and do their schoolwork.A very small percentage of our customers go over 1.2 terabytes, because 1.2 terabytes is a massive amount of data that enables consumers to video conference for 3,500 hours, watch 1,200 hours of distance learning videos, stream 500 hours of high-definition video content a month, or play more than 34,000 hours of online games. Our data plan is structured in a way that the very small percentage of our customers who use more than 1.2 terabytes of monthly data and generate the greatest demand for network development and capacity pay more for their increased usage. For those superusers, we have unlimited data options available.”

New home internet data rules take effect for Comcast Xfinity customers in Massachusetts Friday, but dozens of state lawmakers are asking the company to reconsider.

Starting Jan. 1, the company began phasing in an internet data cap in Massachusetts that’s already in effect for customers on non-unlimited plans in other parts of the country.

The plan will charge home internet customers who go over 1.2 TB of data in a month.

According to Comcast, Xfinity internet customers who use more than 1.2 TB of data in a month who are not on an unlimited plan will automatically be charged an additional fee of $10 for an additional 50 GB of data. The company said the maximum monthly overage charge for home customers will be $100.

Rep. Andy Vargas and Rep. Dave Rogers announced on New Year’s Eve that they and 69 other legislators wrote a letter urging Comcast to discontinue the plan.

“We strongly urge Comcast to discontinue this plan, and to reconsider any future attempts at imposing a data cap or any perversion of the principles of net neutrality in Massachusetts,” the lawmakers wrote.

Comcast has said that customers will be notified as they approach the 1.2 TB threshold and that customers will receive complimentary credits for any overage charges during January and February 2021, as well as a courtesy month.

“It is important to know only about 5% of our customers use more than 1.2 TB of data in a month and about 95% are not likely to be impacted by this plan,” the company said on its website.

“Comcast claims that its planned data cap will only affect a handful of customers that are extreme data users, however, internet consumers are using greater amounts of internet data every year,” the lawmakers wrote.

In their letter, the lawmakers point out that the change is being made during a pandemic when many residents are working from home and write that the internet is “essential for all” during this time. They also argue that new data cap and fees may affect the ability of poorer residents to access the internet.

“Internet affordability is a growing concern that puts much-needed internet service out of reach for low-income citizens, many who are also from communities of color,” they wrote.

After the initial posting of this article, a Comcast spokesperson sent this statement:

“As part of Comcast’s comprehensive efforts to help families and individuals stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic, Comcast is proactively offering 60-days of free Internet Essentials service to eligible new customers, waiving the requirement of not having back debt due so more families can apply, opening thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots in outdoor and small business locations across the City as well as providing WiFi in community centers called Lift Zones in Boston and in Gateway Cities across the Commonwealth, to help students get online, participate in distance learning, and do their schoolwork.

A very small percentage of our customers go over 1.2 terabytes, because 1.2 terabytes is a massive amount of data that enables consumers to video conference for 3,500 hours, watch 1,200 hours of distance learning videos, stream 500 hours of high-definition video content a month, or play more than 34,000 hours of online games. Our data plan is structured in a way that the very small percentage of our customers who use more than 1.2 terabytes of monthly data and generate the greatest demand for network development and capacity pay more for their increased usage. For those superusers, we have unlimited data options available.”