MOORESTOWN, NJ – Senator Troy Singleton and Assemblymembers Herb Conaway and Carol Murphy are urging Comcast to reconsider a plan to impose a 1.2 terabyte (TB) data limit in our region.
Saying that they are concerned “about the timing and financial impact of this decision,” the Legislators from the 7th District, who represent Bordentown in the Statehouse, cited the toll that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has taken on families and the economy as the major reason why Comcast’s plans should be halted, or at the very least, postponed.
“Many workers are unemployed, and others have been forced to work less hours, leaving them in dire financial straits,” the three Legislators wrote in a letter to Kevin Casey, Northeast Division President of Comcast, on January 15. “Those still employed are often working remotely, while many children are attending class online. With so many working, learning, playing and socializing virtually, there is an indisputable, increased reliance on internet connectivity and data.”
“Internet connectivity is no longer a luxury; it is as essential as every other household utility.”
In November, the cable and internet giant announced its plans to debut a 1.2TB cap usage plan in New Jersey as well as Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and West Virginia.
Effective March 1, Comcast users who do not have unlimited data plans will face over-limit fees for exceeding the 1.2TB data cap at a rate of $10 for each 50 gigabyte (GB) of extra usage, up to a maximum of $100 per month. Customers will not be credited for unused data, nor can they rollover unused data to the next month.
“Charging people for usage over the 1.2TB limit is an unnecessary burden during already challenging times. Undoubtedly, this will result in higher Comcast bills and more broadly, a widening of the digital divide,” Singleton, Conaway and Murphy wrote.
“It is important to know about 95 percent of our customers are not likely to be impacted by this plan. Only about 5 percent of our customers use more than 1.2TB of data in a month,” writes Comcast on its data FAQ page.
Not so fast, say Singleton, Conaway and Murphy.
“This is contrary to the many anecdotes we are hearing from our constituents who are receiving notice that they are already at or near the 1.2TB limit,” they wrote.
Noting that Comcast has been a corporate and community partner through its internet essentials program for low-income customers, the Legislators warned that “all of that goodwill will be quickly overshadowed by this ill-timed and insensitive decision.”
Singleton, Conaway and Murphy are urging Comcast to reconsider the plan completely, or, at the minimum, postpone it.
“It is our collective hope that Comcast would give serious consideration to abandoning this plan altogether, or, at the very least, postponing it until the end of this pandemic.”