After becoming the first major U.S. internet service provider (ISP) to experiment with charging customers if they exceeded a predetermined broadband usage cap, Time Warner Cable is expanding its broadband cap to several other markets.
Despite criticism, Time Warner says it has a system in place that is able to accurately meter and bill ISP subscribers depending on how much bandwidth they use per month over the allotted cap. Four new cities will help the company test broadband caps, but the company did not reveal which cities have been selected.
Many internet users who simply check email and browse the internet are likely safe from exceeding a broadband cap, but as more consumers begin to watch streaming content and download higher amounts of data, there has been a lot of controversy regarding data caps.
Charter Communications also will test new bandwidth caps on its subscribers, with the cap depending on what plan subscribers are using. Subscribers with internet speeds up to 15 Mbps per month will have a cap of 100GB, while subscribers with up to 25 Mbps per month will have a cap of 250GB.
Subscribers who have up to 60 Mbps will not have a broadband cap, multiple news publications learned.
"More than 99 percent of current Charter Internet customers use less bandwidth than the threshold allows and therefore will not need to change their surfing habits in any manner," a Charter spokesperson recently said.
Comcast also has increased internet speeds up to 50 Mbps for some subscribers, though there is a 250GB limit per month -- which some internet users can approach a bit faster than they would like.
Critics said bandwidth caps discourage people from using all of the benefits of the internet while also hurting online video and streaming web sites which have become legitimate contenders against TVs.
ISPs that haven't publicly tested broadband caps are likely patiently waiting to see how Time Warner, Charter and other companies handle their tests before launching similar initiatives.