news covid 19 comcast att to suspend transfer caps
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COVID-19 prompts Comcast, AT&T to suspend transfer caps

Everyone’s staying home right now. Offices, schools, and businesses across the country have sent people home to help mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, which was declared a pandemic last week by the World Health Organization. People are working and playing from home and using a lot more data. American ISPs including Comcast, AT&T, and Centurylink have responded by suspending data caps.

“With so many people working and educating from home, we want our customers to access the internet without thinking about data plans,” Comcast said in a statement. “While the vast majority of our users do not come close to using 1TB of data in a month, we are pausing our data plans for 60 days giving all customers Unlimited [sic] data for no additional charge.”

AT&T and Centurylink followed suit. All three companies normally impose a download cap of 1 terabyte of data per month. Further, they penalize those who go over with fees around $10 per additional 50GB.

Comcast will also boost broadband speeds for its Internet Essentials customers. This program, designed for low-income customers, provides users with speeds of 15 Mbps down and 2 Mbps up. Comcast will bump these speeds to 25/3 Mbps and maintain those speeds going forward.

These moves will certainly ease the minds of people across the nation who find themselves stuck at home for longer than ever, now asked to work, socialize, and self-amuse through their broadband router.

Data transfer caps are unnecessary

The rapid action, which took place late last week, has customers and experts alike asking questions about the way things are under normal conditions. Dana Jasper, CEO of independent ISP Sonic, told Vice News previously that “usage caps are not rational as a response to congestion on a network because the network must be built for peak prime-time load.”

In other words, limiting how much data users can transfer does not solve the problem ISPs say they’re experiencing. With that being true, the only other possibility is that these ISPs are nickel-and-diming users. Jasper noted that in a monopolistic or duopolistic market, there is little or no competitive pressure that would encourage ISPs to drop these tactics.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel called on ISPs on Thursday to remove caps and fees altogether. This pandemic could be the push that ISPs need to move forward on this.

For those of you on the above ISPs, what are you doing with your transfer cap? Downloading the 50GB Doom Eternalthe 80-101GB Call of Duty Warzone? Putting the Disney+ 4K video library on repeat? The options are endless. All of this social distancing is necessary, but it’s also isolating by nature. While it’s happening, we might as well be able to catch up on every show we talk about at the water cooler and over beers.

5 responses to “COVID-19 prompts Comcast, AT&T to suspend transfer caps

  1. ISP just sent out an email saying that in light of CoV-19, they are offering a 60 day ‘speed boost’ for free if you call and ask. They also waived all install fees for new subscribers.

  2. Oh, man, sorry to hear that. I remember those days. Of all my ISPs, ever, they were the worst.

  3. My Comcast connection is running as fast and loss-free as ever where I am.

  4. It is already putting a strain on local networks. I’ve noticed a significant increase in packet loss and latency in my neck of the woods.

  5. On 500/500 uncapped fiber here. I briefly pondered paying the extra $10/mo to go to 1gb symmetric, but I can’t even hit the limits on what I have except in a very few cases–sometimes Steam can do it, but often not.

    I might be using it for Borderlands3 not that it’s off exclusivility with the big evil one, but I think I’ll just keep waiting until they have a cheap GOTY version of it. No point in rewarding any of the participants in this mess by paying any more than I have to. Maybe I’ll just play some of these older games I never got around to.

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