Over the past week, we’ve detailed Comcast’s continued efforts to spread data caps to more of its markets in the United States. Starting December 1st, nine additional markets in the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Virginia, will be hit with 300GB monthly data caps. But of course, these same customers have the option of opting for unlimited data, but they will have to pay an additional $35 per month.
The assumption was that Comcast was making this move because of “data hogs” that were slowing the network down for others — you know, “The needs of the man outweigh the needs of the few.” However, leaked Comcast documentation which is meant for the company’s customer service staff, tells a different story.
Comcast wants its representatives to carefully stay on script and on message when questioned by customers who will no doubt either be confused or downright angry about newly imposed data caps. Some of the pointers that Comcast gives it customer service reps include:
Do Say: “Customers in non-trial areas have a 250 GB data usage plan, although we are not currently enforcing this policy.”
Don’t Say: “Customers in non-trial areas have unlimited data usage.”
The Reason for the Data Usage Plan:
Do Say: “Fairness and providing a more flexible policy to our customers.”
Don’t Say: “The program is about congestion management.” (It is not.)
The company spells it out right there in plain language. There aren’t any other factors at play here other than the fact that Comcast often has little competition in the markets it operates. And if there’s no real competition, it can adjust its policies and effectively raise prices on customers because they really have no other alternative to choose from.
In markets where Comcast does face the prospect of actual stiff competition from municipal Internet service providers, it often will file lawsuits to protect its turf. In the case of Chattanooga, TN, those legal efforts backfired and residents are now better served by the Chattanooga Electric Power Board’s Internet, TV and phone services (available as standalone services, or in bundles).