In a new report from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) warns that Internet service providers (ISPs) may use data caps to impose higher prices on home users.
ISPs have argued that consumers could benefit from caps or “usage-based pricing,” because consumers who use small amounts of data would pay less than customers who use a lot more, similar to how the cellular market works. But there isn’t enough competition in all cities or towns to prevent ISPs from abusing data caps, the GAO wrote.
“Although few fixed Internet customers are affected by UBP [usage-based pricing] at this time, the number could grow to the extent that fixed Internet providers increase their use of UBP and data use grows,” the GAO wrote. “Providers could implement UBP in a way that benefits consumers—for example, by offering low-data, low-cost plans for customers who do not want to pay for an unlimited data plan they do not need. However, providers—especially those facing limited competition—could use UBP as a means to increase their profits which could result in UBP having negative effects, including increased prices paid by consumers, reductions in content and applications accessed by consumers, and increased threats to network security.”
Comcast is already testing usage caps and plans to roll it out nationwide to consumers.
In this trial, XFINITY Internet Economy Plus customers can choose to enroll in the Flexible-Data Option to receive a $5.00 credit on their monthly bill and reduce their data usage plan from 300 GB to 5 GB. If customers choose this option and use more than 5 GB of data in any given month, they will not receive the $5.00 credit and will be charged an additional $1.00 for each gigabyte of data used over the 5 GB included in the Flexible-Data Option.
For those who are concerned, there is something you can do to tell the FCC this is a problem.
After learning where your state stands on municipal broadband, you can file a complaint with the FCC.
Some tips in writing your complaint include the fact that the average cord cutter uses 328 GB of data per month just with Netflix and referencing some other statistics from this site.
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