Cox expands usage-based pricing

Cox Communications
Cox is expanding usage-based pricing to portions of Arkansas, Connecticut, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Idaho.

After testing usage-based pricing in Cleveland and parts of Florida and Georgia last year, Cox Communications has expanded the model to portions of Arkansas, Connecticut, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Idaho.

"Beginning 2/20/17, if you exceed your monthly data plan we will automatically provide additional blocks of data for $10 per fifty gigabytes (GB), as needed," Cox said in a statement sent to customers in affected regions.

Cox’s model is similar to usage-based pricing implemented by AT&T and Comcast. Those who exceed 1 terabyte in monthly data usage will be charged $10 for every 50 gigabytes of additional data consumption.

RELATED: Cox says it has no plans to extend usage-based pricing trials past Cleveland

Privately held Cox said in June of last year that it had no plans to extend its caps beyond the Cleveland trial. Plans, of course, can change.

According to Ars Technica, Cox has hired NetForecast to meter its customers’ usage. Comcast reportedly hires this vendor for the same purpose. 

RELATED: Cox ups data usage cap to 1 TB

The caps apply to tiers ranging from 5 Mbps to 300 Mbps. Customers purchasing the MSO’s 1-gig “Gigablast” product are not subject to the usage caps.

"Our meter does not currently track the data usage of Gigablast customers, therefore we do not currently charge Gigablast customers who exceed usage allowances in the markets where we have implemented use-based billing," a Cox spokesperson told Ars.

Cox is giving customers who exceed the caps a two-month grace period before they’re charged. 

Like Comcast, Cox is offering up the same spin as to how the caps impact only a finite number of superusers. 

"This will not impact 98% of customers, but instead only charges the heaviest internet users,” the cable company said in its customer memo. 

Of course, a couple of years from now, when customers are streaming formats like 4K and virtual reality on a more frequent basis, this will matter.