Cox Adding Data Caps and Overage Fees for More Customers

Jun 28, 2017

More home Internet customers of Cox Cable are getting hit with dreaded data limits by the cable TV and broadband provider.

The company started metering online usage and charging overage fees for some customers last year and has been steadily expanding the practice across its 18 state territory. Now customers in Arizona, Las Vegas, Nevada, Louisiana, and Oklahoma will face the limits.

Under Cox's expanding rules, customers who use more than 1 terabyte of data in a single month must pay an additional $10 for every 50 gigabytes they go over the limit. The 1 TB limit is enough to watch 140 two-hour high-definition movies or stream 30,000 songs, Cox says, and only 2% of customers exceed the limit.

Cox, the third-largest U.S. cable company, will be introducing an unlimited data plan later this year, but no details were available yet, a spokeswoman said. For customers in the four newest markets getting the limits, the overage fees will take effect starting with bills after October 8.

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Cox is hardly alone. Comcast (cmcsa), the largest home broadband provider, extended data caps to most of its customers last year and many smaller providers have done the same. But Charter Communications (chtr), the second-largest cable TV provider, won't be allowed to impose data caps for seven years due to conditions imposed by regulators last April when it bought Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

Some online services fear that the caps are intended to thwart consumers' ability to cut the cord and switch from traditional cable TV to online video streaming providers like Netflix (nflx). The caps have largely been set at high levels that won't impact online video watchers yet, but once the regime is in place, cable companies could easily lower the caps. They could also wait a few years until super high definition 4K video becomes the norm, meaning online video watchers will be consuming a lot more data. Or they could follow the strategy of some wireless carriers of favoring their own online video services by exempting them from counting against the caps.

Cox started setting its limits last year for customers in Cleveland, Ohio, Florida, and Georgia. Back in January, it added Arkansas, Connecticut, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Idaho.

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