During an investor call today (link via Ars), Comcast executive VP David Cohen said that he predicts bandwidth caps (or, as ISPs prefer to put it, “usage-based billing”) to be rolled out network-wide within the next 5 years or so.
The reason they haven’t done so already? They’re still working out exactly where they can cap things before they start getting phone calls — that is, before people start calling up to cancel. Meanwhile, making things more complicated tends to scare people away, so they don’t want to just offer up multiple plans/tiers — so before they make any changes, they need to find that plan that works for almost everyone.
Yeah, that’s not surprising. And that five-year-or-so timeframe will fit nicely with the 2018 lifting of the court-mandated ban on Comcast throttling your data. Figure around that time Comcast broadband packages will contain both usage and speed tiers. You’ll cut the cord by then, but you won’t necessarily be paying less, because ultimately, that decision isn’t about price. [Following from upcoming piece on cord-cutting and sports:] Sure, you may save some money now by cord-cutting, but as ISPs (Comcast, Verizon, etc.) begin to see their revenue pie shift from cable subscriptions to broadband subscriptions, you can bet your little binge-watching pants that they’re going to do everything they can to mine just as much money (if not more) out of you to use their pipe. With all the bandwidth required for streaming video, it’s going to take big pipes. We all like big pipes. Your wife certainly likes big pipes. And ISPs spend their days trying to grow their pipes so they can charge you more to ride them. It’s all about laying the pipe. Not surprisingly, Comcast has a big pipe. And it just got even bigger with their acquisition* of Time Warner. They’ll now have about a third of Internet subscribers, and that means less competition… which means they’ll fuck you. With their massive pipe.
In somewhat related news: The Comcast Network is now available in HD for Fios customers– channel 580 (and 595 in Mercer County).
Just in time for baseball season. Just late enough that hockey and basketball seasons are over and Phillies games are no longer getting bumped to the sister station. Great planning, assholes.