Comcast can get rid of data jams. He chooses not to


Illustration from article titled If Comcast Can Increase The Speed ​​Of Its Internet Packages, It Can Get Rid of Data Limits

Photo: Justin sullivan (Getty Images)

Comcast is increase the speed of your Internet Essentials package from 25/3 Mbps to 50/5 Mbps from March 1, 2020 at no additional cost. The change is part of what the ISP says is a long-term commitment to digital equity, and that offering low-income households speeds above the minimum set by FCC will help ‘speed up’ these plans throughout. long 2021.

On the one hand, this appears to be an extension of good faith to finally provide low-income households and communities with decent Internet access. But on the other hand, it shows how ISPs like Comcast have always had the ability to do this.

“Today’s announcement shows that Comcast can improve its services to families and community members in need, anytime,” said Devren Washington, senior policy organizer for the Movement Alliance project, in a report. “25 Mbps is not enough when children, caregivers and communities all depend on a single internet connection.”

Comcast previously increased its Essentials Internet speed from 15/2 Mbps to 25/3 Mbps in March 2020 in response to the covid-19 pandemic, and initially created the Low Income Internet Plan. as part of its negotiationHere iswith federal regulators to acquire NBCUniversal. But, until this March increase, the company was providing Internet Essentials customers with broadband speeds below the minimum set by the FCC for five years.

Comcast’s announcement as well, incidentally, comes almost a week later Buzzfeed posted an interview with a former Comcast employeee, Chase roper, who said the plan’s current speeds are not fast enough for students to attend classes through Zoom. Video conferencing doesn’t just require a lot of download bandwidth – it takes a lot of download bandwidth as well.

“By spending all our time on Zoom, you download a lot more than before, ”Katharine Trendacosta, associate director of policy and activism at the Electronic Frontier Foundation told Gizmodo. “The FCC-the defined minimum is set at a level that makes it easier for companies like Comcast to claim to cover more people, but as the pandemic has shown, that minimum is not enough for the modern age.

Comcast says he’s also committed to set up 1000 “lift zthose” (that is to say free wifi access) in community centers across the country, by December 2021, including several in Philadelphia. “A lot of the kids who come to our clubs don’t have internet at home or they have it, but they can’t study at home for various reasons and they need a place to go,” said Lisabeth Marziello, President & CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia in Comcast press release.

On the one hand, it’s great that Comcast is working with organizations like the Boys & Girls club to provide students with reliable internet access. Yet Comcast’s “lifting zones “ are probably the result of the communities’ struggle for them. Before the start of the 2020-2021 school year, teachers, parents and internet advocates protested Comcast to provide a better internet to the students of Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Inquirer At the time, protesters wanted Comcast to not only increase speeds for customers on its Internet Essentials plan, but also to open more free wifi hotspots. It was August 2020, and Comcast’s Internet Essentials customers are just now on the verge of better internet speeds, almost halfway through the spring semester.

It’s a sobering reminder that ISPs have the flexibility to restructure their internet plans, and even waive data caps and overage charges, whenever they want – they simply choose not to. In November 2020, Comcast announced that it start billing Xfinity customers in Northeast U.S. indicates $ 10 for every 50 GB of data above their monthly data cap of 1.2TB. The change took effect last month.

At this time, customers don’t already have an unlimited plan—like those who pay for the Internet Essentials package—may have the overrun fee waived. But it stops at the end of this month. After that, customers get a “courtesy” credit every year if they exceed their data limit of accident.

Gizmodo reached out to Comcast to ask about the timing of today’s announcement and to find out if the company has plans to lift its data caps soon, but have yet to receive a response. Meanwhile, Massachusetts lawmakers have asked the ISP to remove its data limits at least until the end of the pandemic.

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