Comcast broadband customers will no longer have to worry about busting through data caps while catching up on "Game of Thrones."
On Wednesday, the cable giant said it's raising the cap on home broadband to 1 terabyte of data per month. That should let customers stream up to 700 hours of high-definition video, play 12,000 hours of online games and download 60,000 high-resolution photos each month, the company said. The increase, available starting in June, is a big boost from the previous cap of 300 gigabytes per month.
"Today, more than 99 percent of our customers do not come close to using a terabyte," Marcien Jenckes, executive vice president of consumer services at Comcast, said in a blog post. He added that the average Comcast customer uses only about 60 gigabytes of data a month, or less than 6 percent of a terabyte.
Comcast's move comes as the Federal Communications Commission expresses concerns over how caps on home broadband service may affect online video competition. Earlier this week, the agency said it would approve a merger between Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable only if the companies agreed not to impose data caps for seven years.
Comcast has been testing its controversial data caps for several years only in a handful of markets. Several times it has changed its terms, such as offering customers the option to pay more for additional capacity rather than cutting off service. It's also increased the amount of data allowed per month, but this latest boost is the biggest the company has made since initiating the program. Comcast says it's still evaluating options to expand the policy throughout its network.
While most customers will never get close to the data cap, critics say data caps on home broadband service are unnecessary.
"Comcast's move to raise data caps may reduce for now the pain that Comcast wants to inflict on people who use 'too much' Internet, whatever that means," said Matt Wood, policy director at Free Press, a consumer advocacy group. "But there's still no justification for a cap besides keeping Internet usage under control and propping up cable's legacy video business."