Comcast Hates Flat Rate Data

by Colin Berkshire

At this point I think we all know America pays the highest rates for some of the slowest internet access in the world. Our broadband to the home is slow by world standards. Our cellular data is slow. Both are crazy expensive.

Comcast’s CEO thinks it is time to stop providing free, unlimited bandwidth with Comcast internet service. He argues that power is measured, water is measured, garbage service is measured, etc.

I think this is hogwash.

Data is almost too cheap to meter. Adding data bandwidth is crazy cheap–trivially so–when compared to the price people are now paying for Internet. About 5% of your monthly Comcast bill goes into the actual network facilities. Let’s be honest here and admit the cost of provisioning bandwidth is almost a negligible cost of business.

In fact, the universal trend is against metering. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile now all include unlimited, free, unmetered phone calls on their cellular networks. T-Mobile does so throughout North America and provides data globally for free when roaming.

I could buy Comcast’s arguments that data is like gasoline and needs to be sold by the gallon if data had some significant cost to provision. But it’s doesn’t. It’s negligible in cost to provision data. There is no more eyed to measure it than there is a need for cellular companies to stop providing free unlimited calling on their networks.

Comcast wants metering for one reason only: they want to charge you based on what it is worth to you, not on what it costs. This “value based” pricing is old-school monopoly thinking.