Comcast Is Gouging Cable Customers Who Watch Too Much Netflix

Cable companies use "data limits" to rack up extra fees

Watching HD video on Netflix can eat up your data plan
Thibault Penin / Unsplash

Your Netflix addiction is gonna cost you a lot more than $12-$16 per month.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, there are a lot of frustrated Comcast customers getting hit with data limit charges, thanks primarily to everyone’s favorite bandwidth-hogging streaming service.

Worse, some customers have the “option” of lifting data limits, but at an extra $50+ per month.

Power users — customers who consume more than 1 terabyte of data per month — now account for about 4 percent of internet subscribers, according to OpenVault (a company that tracks data usage). “The percentage of subscribers exceeding this level will continue to grow rapidly,” OpenVault founder Mark Trudeau told the Times. While the numbers vary depending on the cable service, it appears that between 2-10% of cable users opt for unlimited data.

As the cable companies would argue, people who use a lot of bandwidth should pay more, and the money they’re making will help offset cord-cutting customers. And those cord-cutters are using up to 85 percent more broadband consumption than viewers who bundle their services with traditional cable packages, according to a separate study by OpenVault.

On the other hand, as the site Futurism notes, it also means internet companies like Comcast (and AT&T and Cox) “never adjusted their service for more data-intensive technology.”

If Netflix is your primary data hog, there are (admittedly annoying) ways to lessen your usage. You can switch from HD to standard definition viewing, which drops your usage from 3GB per hour to less than 1GB. The company offers a short tutorial on fixing this setting here. If that’s not in the cards — after all, you did spend $$$ to enjoy your high-def 4K TV — you might want to switch cable companies and or come back to Blu-ray rentals. As a current user (one of nearly 3 million!) of Netflix’s antiquated DVD/Blu-ray by mail service, I can attest that the old-school plan offers ideal viewing quality, a fantastic movie selection and takes up absolutely no data.

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