Comcast Lifting Broadband Data Caps In Maine — And Only Maine — Starting Dec. 1

Image courtesy of Consumerist

We often have news in November about Comcast and data caps. Most years, though, it’s a story about those caps expanding. So it’s unusual, to say the least, to suddenly find Comcast doing away with its data-cap plan for an entire state. The lucky subscribers? Folks up in Maine.

DSL Reports first pointed to Comcast’s walking back the overage plan for Maine customers.

“We’re writing to let you know that we are suspending our Terabyte Internet Data Usage Plan in the state of Maine,” Comcast has informed subscribers in the area. “We do not currently have data plans anywhere in the Northeast. As a result, we want to ensure we have clear and consistent communications to our customers as well as have our engineering and operations teams aligned around one policy.”

Comcast has been expanding its capped-data areas for years, but the northeast region has so far stayed generally exempt from Comcast’s usage-based pricing plans. The current “trial,” where Comcast started charging overage fees instead of throttling high-volume users’ connections, began in 2012 in Nashville.

After that, it expanded to reach some customers in Kentucky, Georgia, and Mississippi in 2013, including in Atlanta.

Expansion went on hold during 2014, probably due to Comcast putting all its energy into trying (and failing) to acquire Time Warner Cable. In 2015, though, the ball kept rolling.

Before the calendar rolled over, Comcast had expanded its “data thresholds” to more cities in Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Virginia.

In 2016 — this year — Comcast went for the midwest, bringing capped service to Chicago over the summer.

Then last month came the biggest expansion yet, to another 23 markets — including whole states.

Any Comcast customer in these 28 states (or in two cases, half-states) is currently subject to the “Internet Data Usage Plan:”

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • Western Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • South Carolina
  • Utah
  • Southwest Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

That list spans most of the nation — but leaves out the New England and mid-Atlantic states where Comcast has its largest presence by far, including New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and the parts of Virginia nearer Washington, DC.

Comcast's internet footprint, from the National Broadband Map.

Comcast’s internet footprint, from the National Broadband Map.

So why, exactly, is Maine suddenly off the hook?

We asked Comcast that. The company did not provide an official statement (though we will of course update if it does), but a source confirmed that the reason Maine gets to go back to being capless is because it is indeed the only member of the “Northeast Division” on the long list of covered states.

For Comcast, “northeast” runs down the coast from Maine to North Carolina, and west as far as Ohio — and none of the other states in that division are yet subject to managed data plans. (That also explains why northern Virginia and Eastern Ohio aren’t on the list.)

That does seem to imply, however, that the reprieve is only temporary. Comcast hasn’t brought data caps to the Northeast Division yet, but that doesn’t mean it won’t. The next time Maine has to face data caps, it seems entirely likely that millions of subscribers in surrounding states will have to come along with.