Comcast will hold off on charging its customers in the Northeast for going over their data caps until July 2021, Attorney General of Pennsylvania Josh Shapiro announced today. This covers customers in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
The announcement comes just a day after the company said it would increase the download and upload speed of its Internet Essentials plan starting next month. Comcast had previously said it would start charging its Northeastern customers fees for exceeding their data caps.
“As Pennsylvanians continue to navigate this pandemic, we know millions are relying on the internet for school and work more than ever. This is not the time to change the rules when it comes to internet data usage and increase costs,” Shapiro said in a press release announcing the news.
Shapiro’s office negotiated with Comcast to also waive any early terminations fees for Northeastern customers who no longer want to use Comcast’s services through December. This only applies to customers who signed up for one of Comcast’s Xfinity plans prior to last November, however.
Additionally, Comcast has agreed to get rid of data caps for low-income users enrolled in an individual Internet Essentials program or an Internet Essentials Partnership Program (IEPP) through the end of the year. The company also promised to display data cap information more prominently on contracts when customers sign up for service.
“We appreciate the productive, open dialogue with Attorney General Shapiro’s office regarding the 1.2TB data plan, and we understand that customers in Pennsylvania may need additional time to become familiar with the data plan,” Comcast said in the press release.
The release also noted that if any Northeastern customers are concerned about how Comcast’s data caps may affect them, they should file a complaint directly with the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer protection.
While it’s good (and surprising) that Comcast budged at all on the data cap issue, it should be extending the same offer to customers in the rest of the country. Xfinity customers, especially those on an Internet Essentials plan, in the rest of the U.S. are SOL. The majority of the Comcast’s customers live in the northeast, yes, but there are millions of other customers who live elsewhere, and a good chunk of them are in California. Waiving data caps for some and not others is not the way we’re going to bridge the digital divide.