January 26, 2021

Senator Haskell Supports Raising Bill to Address Data Caps

After hearing from numerous constituents about new data caps imposed on frustrated customers, State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport) joined his colleagues on the Energy & Technology Committee to support raising a bill to address the issue.

“Honestly, it’s hard to imagine a worse time for internet providers to impose these data caps. With so many students engaged in remote learning and so many constituents working from home, I’m eager to explore how Connecticut can lend a hand and impose some much-needed consumer protections,” said Sen. Haskell. “As many folks in my community are well aware, Comcast reinstated its data cap this month. Although Connecticut may be limited by federal preemption statutes, it’s critical that our state do everything possible to support the needs of those who are staying home and promoting public health.”

This renewed focus on data caps by the committee, with specific legislation to be released in the coming weeks, comes as the restrictive practice takes on new significance in Connecticut and beyond. While many internet service providers implement data caps, Comcast recently expanded its 1.2-terabyte data cap into Connecticut at the beginning of this year. That means Comcast customers who use more than 1,200 gigabytes of data in a month will have to either pay an additional $10 for every 50 extra gigabytes of data they use or upgrade their plans to more expensive monthly ones.

While research by industry vendors found that just under 10 percent of internet customers use more than a terabyte of data per month, that number has likely risen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as children and adults have shifted daily routines from schools and workplaces to home offices and kitchen tables. A Zoom group meeting can use as much as 2.4 gigabytes of data per hour, while watching a high-definition two-hour film on Netflix can use up to 6 gigabytes of data, and digital technology is only using more data as technological advances progress.

Additionally, data caps can be considered a source of revenue for companies, even as company leaders may claim they protect internal systems. Earlier in 2020, when Comcast waived its data cap for customers, it boasted its network handled the increased usage, which raises the question of why reimposing such a cap is necessary.