This is what happens when you have a monopoly like Comcast does. You get to screw up NBC News television by making MSNBC a conservative wasteland in the image of Fox News, and you get to gouge your customers for going over the data cap in certain markets.
It's a slippery slope. As Comcast goes, so will Verizon and AT&T and the rest of them. Wait and see.
Get ready for your home Internet to feel like your smartphone — bound by data caps, a large overage fee waiting to happen. Comcast gave some users the bad news Thursday. Consumers who exceed 300 GB in a month will have to pay for overages at $10 per 50 GB tier.
Not surprisingly, they have the option to pay an extra $30 to get the service they have currently, without caps.
Internet service providers like Comcast have been chomping at the bit to change their business model and charge consumers by the bit the way wireless providers do. Comcast's initial allowance seems generous — some notes sent to users say it's unlikely they will hit the cap based on their prior usage — but it's easy to imagine that's temporary. The Internet keeps birthing high-bandwidth applications like streaming HD video. Users may ultimately run into these caps. And there's nothing to prevent Comcast from lowering the limit going forward.
"An important update about your XFINITY Internet service," the email reads. "We're writing to let you know that we will be trialing a new XFINITY Internet data plan in your area. Starting October 1, 2015, your monthly data plan will include 300 GB. We will also trial a new 'Unlimited Data' option that will give you the choice to purchase unlimited data for $30 per month in addition to your monthly Internet service fee."
The news comes with some "courtesy" concessions from Comcast.
"We're … implementing a three-month courtesy program. That means you will not be billed for the first three times you exceed the 300 GB included in the monthly data plan," the email says. "If you are on the 300 GB plan, we will send you a courtesy 'in-browser' notice and an email letting you know when you reach 90%, 100%, 110%, and 125% of your monthly data usage plan amount."
This is moving in the wrong direction. Rather than capping home internet, wireless providers should be taking the caps off their data services instead. And save all the talk about "fairness." Please. Data shouldn't be bottlenecked in the hands of billionaires. Especially right-wing billionaires.