Comcast Avoids Usage-Based Pricing
Comcast and other ISPs have noted with alarm the burgeoning growth of video streaming. Netflix alone accounts for 20 percent of daily peak usage. This not only strains the network. It also competes directly with Comcast's video on demand offerings. For that reason, Comcast has been rattling its saber at Netflix, threatening to charge video streaming operations for their use of the network. That in turn has outraged net neutrality advocates, who are taking their case to federal regulators and elected officials, most of whom are pretending not to notice, at least for now.
Despite all that, Comcast's threat does not extend directly to its own ISP customers. They are subject to a bandwidth cap of 250GB a month -- of which Comcast says the average customer uses only 2-4GB -- and are even provided with a meter (shown above) that lets them monitor their usage. But Comcast has no plans to implement tiered pricing that would charge more to heavier users, even though such a scheme would have the approval of Julius Genachowski, the relatively new chair of the Federal Communications Commission. Time Warner Cable has recently experimented with usage-based pricing -- it went over like a lead balloon.
Of course this doesn't mean that the battle between Comcast and friends of net neutrality is over, especially since Comcast's recent absorption of NBC Universal has invited scrutiny of its other business practices. To be continued.