Comcast is about to makes its residential internet service a lot more like smartphone data plans for millions of customers, the Washington Post reports. Starting Nov. 1, Comcast will be capping the internet usage of customers in 18 markets—including 12 whole states—at 1 terabyte. According to Ars Technica, Comcast has had a data cap in place in some markets since 2012. For Comcast customers who exceed the 1TB monthly limit, Comcast will charge a $10 fee per additional 50 gigabytes up to $200. To avoid the data cap, customers can either pay an extra $50 per month for unlimited data or $300 per month for Comcast's Gigabit Pro fiber-optic service. A list of markets that will be impacted by the data cap is here.
Comcast claims the data cap is "based on a principle of fairness"—the people who use the most internet will pay the most for it. But Engadget argues that doesn't make complete sense, as in only the most extreme cases does someone using more internet impact anyone else's internet usage. A Comcast executive has also acknowledged that the data cap is a "business policy," not a technical necessity. Comcast says 99% of customers don't use more than 1TB of data—enough to stream up to 700 hours of video or play 12,000 hours of online games—per month. But that may not be true for long, with the increasing prevalence of HD and 4K games and videos that use more data. (Read more Comcast stories.)