Comcast takes wireless-style 'data usage trials' live in Florida

Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and the Florida Keys have today officially joined what Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) refers to as its "data usage trials."

Under an experimental pricing plan, Comcast Internet users in those areas will pay an additional  $10 to buy 50 Mbps of data if they go over a 300 Mbps monthly threshold (Comcast is strident about not calling it a cap). They can also pay an additional $30 a month for unlimited data. 

The Florida markets are being added to what veteran Fortune Internet infrastructure reporter Stacey Higginbotham calls a "never-ending experiment in pricing by America's No. 1 broadband provider."

Comcast is currently testing other models for usage-based broadband pricing in markets like Atlanta, Miami, Maine and Nashville.

"Ten percent of our customers are consuming half of all of the data that runs on our network each month. So part of the rationale for all of these trials is this principle of fairness. Those who want to use more pay more, and those who want to use less pay less," Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas told FierceCable. He argued that the wireless-style pricing doesn't amount to a cap. A true "cap," he said, was what Comcast implemented in 2008 when it threatened to cut off customers who used more than 250 Mbps per month. 

"We don't call it a cap," Douglas said earlier to Fortune. "We call it a data plan just like wireless companies have data plans."

Comcast is testing new data pricing strategies has growth for cable video services stagnates, and consumers increasingly consume video through broadband. 

"As video shifts to broadband, charging a premium for usage is critical," BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield said to Fortune.

For more:
- read this DSL Reports story
- read this Fortune story

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