Area Legislators Call on Comcast to Roll Back Planned Data Cap and Penalty Fees

Rep. Andy X. Vargas. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Area legislators this week asked Comcast to roll back plans to cap internet data use and charge penalties.

Haverhill Rep. Andy X. Vargas and other area legislators joined Rep. Dave Rogers, in a letter to Comcast/Xfinity urging the internet service provider to terminate its plan to implement a 1.2 terabyte data cap and fee on service plans in the state.

“We strongly urge Comcast to discontinue this plan, and to reconsider any future attempts at imposing a data cap or any perversion of the principles of net neutrality in Massachusetts,” the letter reads.

Starting in April 2021, after a three-month grace period, customers under Comcast’s planned data cap without unlimited plans will be charged $10 for every 50 gigabytes they use over the 1.2 terabyte limit, up to a maximum of $100 a month. Vargas said the company claims its planned data cap will affect only a handful of customers that are extreme data users. However, Vargas said ongoing studies also show a growing number of consumers are exceeding these caps, forcing them to pay overlimit fees or subscribe to a costly unlimited plan for as much as $30 more a month.

“The recent announcement from Comcast to increase prices for those who exceed usage limits in 2021 is concerning for countless families in the Commonwealth, especially those who must currently engage in remote learning or work from home. Internet affordability is a growing concern especially for those of modest means, many of whom are also from communities of color. I strongly urge Comcast to discontinue this plan, and to reconsider any future attempts at imposing a data cap,” said Rogers of Cambridge.

“In this pandemic, students and workers across the Commonwealth rely on accessing the internet more than ever. There is no justification for this arbitrary cap and fee during a time when Massachusetts is seeing the largest relative increase of food-insecure individuals in the nation. Internet Affordability and the digital divide are serious issues. Entering the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly one-quarter of Massachusetts’ Gateway City households did not have subscription internet service at home. Comcast itself has stated that it has plenty of capacity across its network, including areas where no caps are currently imposed, so I strongly encourage Comcast to do right and withdraw from any plan to cap data” said Vargas.

Besides Vargas, other are legislators signing the letter were Reps. Linda Dean Campbell and Christina Minicucci.

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