Report: Cleveland’s Cox Cable Customers Will Soon Be Subject To Data Caps

Cox cable customers are about to join many of the rest of us nationwide in a club that nobody particularly wants to be in: the not-so-illustrious crowd of those who have usage limits on their home broadband service, and have to cough up extra cash for any extra bits and bytes.

DSL Reports brings us the news that Cox Communications (no relation whatsoever to yours truly) is all set to start testing their new data caps in the Cleveland, Ohio area at the start of next week.

Cox, according to DSL reports, will inform their customers on May 19 that the company will be charging $10 for every 50 GB over the monthly limit that their subscribers go.

From June through September, the overage fees will appear on customers’ bills but will not need to be paid, in order to give them time to acclimate to the new regime. Customers will have to start paying the fees in October, a source told DSL Reports.

Customers theoretically be notified both in an email and by an in-browser pop-up when they’ve hit 85% and 100% of their monthly data allotment. Cox services, of course, will not count toward the data caps.

If that sounds familiar, that’s because it is, in fact, the exact same overage fee structure (50 GB for $10) that Comcast claims is not really a “cap” at all. The key difference is that Comcast currently offers a flat 300 GB monthly limit across all of their speed tiers (except for one particular low-limit, low-speed program), and doesn’t allow or require customers to buy data tiers the same way mobile providers usually do. Cox, on the other hand, is more like a wireless company in that sense, and currently offers a variety of access tiers:

  • Starter: 150 GB/month
  • Essential: 250 GB/month
  • Preferred: 350 GB/month
  • Premier: 700 GB/month
  • Ultimate: 2 TB/month

Home broadband data caps are not exactly a popular stance right now with anyone except the companies who make money from them. Consumers hate them, and find their ISPs communications on the matter generally confusing.

But industry leaders want to hurry up and charge everyone overage ASAP. AT&T and Verizon are on the record as huge fans of data caps on home network use, and Comcast expects to take their “trial” caps nationwide within the next few years.

But regulators may have consumers’ back, when it comes to the spread of data caps. Rumors abound that if Comcast tries to go national on their “thresholds,” it will draw the ire of the FCC. The GAO has also delved into the matter, finding that network congestion — the flimsy excuse ISPs always use — is rare but that monopolies who can do and charge for whatever the heck they want are prevalent.

One fact is indisputably true: every year there are more online services available, promising bandwidth-gobbling, ever-higher-definition products to consumers. As we keep barreling into the all-streaming, all-cloud, all-4K future, bandwidth caps and consumers are going to keep butting heads in deeply unpleasant ways.

Exclusive: Cox Planning to Impose Usage Overage Fees [DSL Reports]

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