ISPs Reinstate Data Caps For US Employees Working From Home

The mass increases of people working and learning from home during the pandemic have resulted in changes in habit for internet use, but also new strategies to keep bills down as internet service providers (ISPs) start putting data caps back into play, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.

Even users who never had to think about their internet usage have received notices from companies like Comcast saying they are using too much data, WSJ reported.

The increase comes from drastically higher use of internet, gaming and video-conference platforms like Zoom since the pandemic began, particularly in the early stages as stay-at-home orders kept everyone inside much more often than usual. That has resulted in higher data usage. The pandemic, according to a prior WSJ report, boosted internet use by 25 percent in the U.S. That analysis found that internet usage was likely to remain at that higher level.

That has led to broadband providers trying their best to keep service running at consistent and high levels, according to WSJ.

Many internet providers in the U.S. tend to limit internet usage for customers and charge more for those who use it a lot, with an eye toward making up revenue in situations where customers no longer want traditional cable plans, WSJ reported. Those who consistently use a lot of data are advised to upgrade to a better plan.

In addition, the data caps help to keep the prices for general users stable by shifting the burden to only those who use it particularly heavily, WSJ reported.

Overage fees were suspended for a time early in the pandemic by providers like AT&T and Comcast, although they were reinstated later on by many companies. A Federal Communications Commission restriction is currently preventing Charter Communications from capping internet usage for customers because of a deal made when it acquired Time Warner Cable. Charter asked the FCC to lift the restrictions early, although a spokeswoman told WSJ that the company isn’t currently considering implementing any caps.