Come Nov. 1, Comcast will begin limiting the amount of data its Palm Beach County and Treasure Coast customers can use each month.
In an email to customers on Wednesday, the broadband giant said it plans to cap monthly data usage at one terabyte — the equivalent of between 600 and 700 hours of HD video streaming or 12,000 hours of online game play.
Customers who go over the one terabyte threshold will be billed $10 for each additional 50 gigabytes of data they use. Overage charges are capped at $200. Unlimited data plans will cost an additional $50 a month, the company said.
Comcast said the shift is “based on a principle of fairness.”
“Those who use more internet data will pay more, and those who use less will pay less,” said MindyKramer, Comcast’s vice president of public relations for the Florida region. “A terabyte is a massive amount of data. More than 99 percent are not at all impacted by this plan.”
AT&T and some smaller providers also meter home internet, and data limits are already common with cell phone plans.
But the change is drawing fire from some Comcast customers, several of whom took to social media after receiving the email on Wednesday.
“Data Caps!? Really @Comcast?” Chris Lamberth tweeted at the company. “I can’t justify paying for this service any longer. Where are you @GoogleFiber? We need you in Jacksonville!”
Others customers said the shift seemed designed to benefit Comcast, not its users. Some said the cap would make it more expensive to watch Netflix and other streaming video services that compete with cable.
“If it’s only 1 percent of your people why put the cap on everyone,” another customer tweeted.
Comcast began rolling out data caps last year. The concept was tested in 16 markets across the country, including Miami-Dade and Broward counties, and The Keys. Initially, customers were limited to 300 gigabytes of data, but Comcast increased the threshold to one terabyte earlier this year.
This month, Comcast announced it would extend the caps to customers in 18 other markets, including the rest of its Florida customers.
Comcast has roughly 3 million customers across Florida, Kramer said.
Kramer said the terabyte plan was designed to provide customers with enough data that they wouldn’t have to worry about going over their limit. The average Comcast customer uses about 72 gigabytes a month, she added.
“We know people are streaming video,” Kramer said. “We are trying to take that worry out of the equation and let them consume content without having to worry about data.”
At the same time, the change would ensure those who use the most, pay the most. It would also provide discounts for those who use the least.
“If you use much, much less, you could go into a lower plan and it would give you money back,” Kramer said.