Comcast posted a notice for customers in northeast states in November, letting them know that a data cap would go into effect at the beginning of this year. Now, state representatives in Massachusetts have proposed a ban on data caps and increased prices for internet service during the pandemic.
The notice was made for customers in Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, and West Virginia who previously did not have a data cap on plans, due to the company’s competitor, Verizon Fios, also being available in those areas.
Comcast claims that only about 5% of customers use more than 1.2TB of data in a month, meaning that most customers wouldn’t be impacted by the cap. Customers and lawmakers argue that with many families working and attending school from home during the pandemic, households are much more likely to reach that limit.
The new bill being presented by Massachusetts state representatives Andy Vargas and David Rogers is also trying to stop Comcast and other internet providers from introducing new fees or raising plan prices until the pandemic is over, and would prevent internet providers from shutting off service to those who are unable to pay due to financial hardship caused by the pandemic.
The bill is proposing an “emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public convenience” that would be in place while the state is in a state of emergency due to COVID-19, and for at least 60 days after the state of emergency ends.
Comcast did not comment on the legislation but provided the following statement about its data caps to news outlets:
“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.”