Facing criticism, Comcast says it customers won’t see new data fees until 2022.
The company once again announced it would delay the rise in rates after another uproar in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, an economic downturn and a time when people are using home internet for remote work or school.
Comcast previously delayed the data charges — an increase in data usage from 1 terabyte to 1.2 terabytes with users paying $10 for every extra $50 without an unlimited plan — until July. But elected officials and customers have argued the company’s plans were unfair while residents are relying on their home network more than ever.
“We are delaying implementation of our data plan in our Northeast markets until 2022. We recognize that our data plan was new for our customers in the Northeast, and while only a very small percentage of customers need additional data, we are providing them with more time to become familiar with the new plan,” the company said in a statement.
State Sen. Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, said he’s received hundreds of emails, calls and social media messages to fight the data fee, calling the plan to raise rates “opportunistic, insensitive, and tone-deaf.”
“Especially when nearly every resident in the Garden State is relying on internet connectivity to learn, work, and socialize during this pandemic. We urged Comcast to abandon the plan altogether, or at the very least, delay its implementation until the end of the public health emergency,” said Singleton, who recently introduced a bill, S3410, that prohibits raising internet rates during a public health emergency.
Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-2nd Dist., said putting profits ahead of residents struggling from COVID-19 regulations “is unconscionable,” and he plans to introduce federal legislation to fight “predatory practices.”
The telecommunication giant, which serves 1 million users in the Garden State, maintains a small number of customers will be affected by the data charges, noting a typical family has been using 400 gigabytes monthly for work, school, and entertainment like streaming and gaming.
The delay will apply to the Northeast market, where Comcast has been planning the change in charges since before the pandemic. The data plan was changed in the Central and West markets in 2016.
Comcast suggested users who are concerned about the data charges can start tracking their usage via the Xfinity app or through their monthly bill. To reduce data usage, customers can close out apps when not in use, and avoid sharing passwords with neighbors or making the password easy enough to figure out that others can use the network.