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May 17, 2012
Public Knowledge Statement On Recent Data Cap Developments
The following is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:
"In the last 24 hours, we have seen two different reactions to changes in the telecommunications markets. Comcast recognized the need to increase the cap on data 'usage' that the company set in 2008 and to experiment with additional flexibility for customers. As Time Warner Cable's recent decision to offer a capped plan as a discounted alternative shows, more flexible pricing plans can benefit consumers where they offer opportunities for savings without compromising quality or an open internet. We await further details of Comcast's plan so that subscribers can fully assess how these changes will impact their user experience.
"At the same time, Verizon has eliminated the unlimited data plans which it had previously promised to maintain for existing customers in favor of a plan which covers all of a customer's devices using data. While this plan may increase flexibility, it also will likely raise rates as a family's devices compete for data usage. AT&T is now saying it may follow the same policy. In both cases, the companies should allow customers to change carriers without paying termination fees so that dissatisfied subscribers can 'vote with their feet' if they value unlimited service.
"In all of those cases, however, the fundamental questions we have asked have still not been answered. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Congress should find out how those caps are set, how they are evaluated and what purpose they serve. In the very limited and potentially even more limited digital marketplace, and in light of the importance of broadband to our national economy, the answers to these questions are essential."