Cox joins Comcast and others in putting limits on home broadband subscribers’ data use.

While cellular data users have long been accustomed to data caps, resulting in extra charges or throttled speeds when reached, most of us expect no such limits on our home internet connections, opting instead to use them for data-heavy activities like streaming video or music. That’s quickly changing though, as more internet service providers roll out data caps, not unlike those on wireless data plans. Now Cox customers in Cleveland, Ohio will join those of Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and others who have to deal with a monthly data allowance. Cox will offer several tears of data allotments, after which users will be charged $10 for an additional 50 GB of data. These caps and the associated charges will start showing up on customers’ bills, but they won’t actually go into effect until October, allowing time for customers to get used to the idea of paying more for excessive data use.
Data caps are generally despised by consumers, since it puts additional limits on the use of a service that they’re already paying for. If a user pays for certain internet speeds, they expect to be able to use bandwidth at any time, if not all the time. Now, doing so would certainly result in running into a data cap and incurring additional charges. These caps are coming at a time when consumer data consumption is growing faster than ever. From video games and software to ultra-high definition television shows and movies, the sizes of the content that we download from the web are only getting larger. As 4K and even 8K video becomes available, customers will find themselves hurdling towards these caps faster than ever. That’s no coincidence, say many consumer advocates who warn that these data caps are a means through which pay-TV providers can discourage or cash in on users trying to cut the cord and rely on their bandwidth to deliver them entertainment instead. As Comcast appears to be prepping to roll out data caps nationwide, the FCC could decide to weigh in on the matter.

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