Comcast CEO Brian Roberts Defends Data Caps, Says ‘The More Bits You Use, The More You Pay’

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts is making good on the company’s ‘Comcast Cares’ policy. For many, however, it appears that Comcast Cares more about its bottom line than about its customers. Roberts made that clear at Business Insider’s Ignition conference after he was asked point blank by the publication’s EIC, Henry Blodget, to respond to customer complaints about data caps.

Roberts first tried to dance around the use of the term data caps, stating, “But they’re not a cap. We don’t want anybody to ever not want to stay connected on our network.” In other words, since Comcast doesn’t simply turn of the spigot, so to speak, when you reach your monthly data allotment, Roberts is not comfortable with the term “data cap.” After all, the company will happily charge you an additional $10 for each 50GB block that it adds once you cruise past your monthly plan limit (i.e. 300GB).

"Just as with every other thing in your life, if you drive 100,000 miles or 1,000 miles you buy more gasoline. If you turn on the air conditioning to 60 versus 72, you consume more electricity.” That might be an accurate statement if bits were a finite resource like fossil fuels used to make gasoline and diesel or the fuels needed to generate electricity for your home (coal, nuclear, etc.). However, we think that Roberts is missing the mark by a wide margin here.

comcast brian roberts
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts (Source: Flickr)

“[It’s] the same for a wireless the device, the more bits you use, the more you pay.” Roberts went on to state that Comcast’s 300GB data caps only effect roughly 5 percent of its customers, and that the rest of are fully capable of working inside the box. "You can watch hundreds of shows and movies and other things before you hit these levels, many devices, but I don’t think it's illogical or something people should be paranoid about.”

Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch would vehemently dispute that last statement. In an interview earlier this week, Lynch specifically called out Comcast for stifling streaming services with its data caps while letting its own competing services fly under-the-radar unscathed:

We see concerning things happening if you look at cable companies like Comcast now instituting data caps that just happen to be at a level at or below what someone would use if they’re watching TV on the Internet—and at the same time launching their own streaming service that they say doesn’t count against the data cap. It’s something we’ve been warning Washington about for years.

For those that are paranoid about breaking past their data caps, Comcast offers an unlimited data option, but that will cost you an extra $35/month on top of your existing Internet service charges.

And despite all of Comcast’s bluster in the past about “data hogs” wreaking havoc on its network, leaked documentation provided last month showed us that that data caps are by no means being put in place to relieve network congestion. The company clearly pointed out in documentation meant for its customer service staff that data caps are solely a business-related move and have nothing to do with improving the service quality for its customers.

Jason Livingood, Comcast’s VP of Internet Service, also made that perfectly clear in a tweet this past August:

jason livingood tweet