Oregon’s Comcast customers are about to be capped. Beginning Tuesday, Nov. 1, all Oregon subscribers to Comcast’s Internet services will no longer have unlimited use of data. Instead, all Internet usage up to 1 terabyte per month is covered under every existing plan. A terabyte is one of those ever-increasing measures of digital storage. These days most everyone is familiar with the gigabyte, and so for reference, a terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes.
That sounds like quite a lot of data—and Comcast has put out a video to assure you that it is. With upbeat indie music in the background and cute cartoon examples of each scenario, Comcast shows just how many things you can do with 1 terabyte. They claim, for example, that you could watch Jurassic World over 600 times in one month before exceeding the new data cap. That is true, so long as you are watching it in standard definition. HD viewings on Netflix, which are essentially the norm, would cap out at around 330. That’s still way too many viewings of Jurassic World for one person, true, but keep in mind that not everybody lives on their own. Each roommate you have on the same Internet plan essentially cuts the amount of usable data in half. Four people on one plan would max out at a measly 83 Jurassic Worlds a month per person. That’s way under the disingenuous 600 touted by Comcast.
Even with roommates and heavy Internet usage you might find it hard to take issue with a 1 terabyte cap. Even Comcast says only 1% of their users will be in danger of exceeding this limit. However, we all know the direction technology moves. 4K streaming video will be considered standard within a year or two, and who knows where we’ll go from there. The trend is toward higher data usage, not a data reduction. By setting a “generous” cap now, Comcast sets itself up to collect hand over fist as the average Internet user’s data usage slowly grows. Data caps like this might not affect you right now, but sooner or later you’ll find yourself stuck with some nasty fees. Or worse yet, what about a future where you essentially pay two Internet bills—one for speed, and one for data.
By Kyle Bunnell