As some of you may know, Northampton is in the process of studying whether to build a community network for both residents and businesses. I was all satisfied with how everything was going until I saw a scary article a few hours ago on reddit’s home networking group.
Up until now, Comcast customers have enjoyed unlimited internet usage at the speed they pay for from Comcast. However, this is soon changing. Comcast has announced that they are adding a 1.2TB per month cap to everyone’s internet. They claim only 5% of customers use that much, but now that there is more distance learning and remote work that percentage is surely going up. If you have a higher-speed plan (for example, the 500 megabit plan), you can run that cap out in just a few hours. 1.2TB at 500 megabits per second is only 5.6 hours of downloading. If you have the gigabit plan, that’s a mere two and a half hours! To remove the cap you either need to pay $30/month extra or be charged $10 for each 50GB you use. That doesn’t seem like a lot now, but it’s more than $350 extra per year they can take from customers with no other choice of broadband provider if you pay for unlimited.
In March, Comcast suspended its data caps nationwide due to the COVID lockdown. Now, as we go into the winter, with cases higher than ever, they are bringing them back with a vengeance. Massachusetts and the rest of New England has never had a data cap, and now we’re about to have them. It’s more important than ever that we build a municipal network as well as calling our state senators and representatives to try and get some legislation passed that will outlaw this new move by Comcast.
Do you really want your home network connection to end up like your cell phone where you either pay hundreds of dollars a month for true unlimited data, or be either capped at some small amount, or be nickel and dimed every time you go over it, even by a little bit? Myself and my friends are constantly checking whether we’re out of data, how much we have left, and whether we have enough to stream “just one more video.” Do you really want your home wifi, the one place we can all use as much bandwidth as we want, to end up like that?
Ryan Cheevers Brown
Ryan, thank you for bringing this to our attention. I hope this is a clarion call to Northampton residents that we’ve got to invest in our future!