Comcast's Cohen: Company will roll out usage-based pricing when trials are complete

A Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) executive said that he is confident the company will roll out usage-based data pricing nationwide once it completes a series of "robust" trials it is currently conducting in several markets. Speaking at the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit today in New York City, David Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast, said that the company is moving slowly with its usage-based data trials to avoid alienating consumers. "We don't want to blow up our high-speed data business," he said.

comcast David Cohen


The company has been testing metered billing in several markets including Savannah, Ga.; Jackson, Miss.; Charleston, S.C.; Huntsville and Mobile, Ala.; and central Kentucky. Last December, Comcast added the Atlanta market. Cohen noted that Comcast has tested a few different models for its usage-based data pricing--but he said that the current model, in which customers are allotted 300 GB of data per month and then charged an additional $10 for every 50 GB of data they use over the 300 GB, seems to be the most popular model.

Comcast is also offering a monthly discount of $5 to light Internet users. Comcast subscribers who select the "Economy Plus" tier will receive monthly credits of $5 on their bills if they consume less than 5 GB of data each month. Subscribers who download more than 5 GB of data will be charged $1 per gigabyte. Cohen said that this low-usage option has been "reasonably popular" with customers, noting that the choice "is attractive to them."

However, when asked if he envisioned a scenario in the future where all high-speed broadband customers would have metered data plans, Cohen said he did not think that would happen. Instead, he said that while he believes that Comcast will have usage-based billing across its footprint, he thinks the "vast majority of customers will not be caught in usage buckets." Instead, he envisions that most customers will use a certain amount of data--whether it's 350 GB or 500 GB per month--that will fall within their data allotment.

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