New Massachusetts Bill Seeks to Crush Broadband Caps

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UPDATE Last month, 71 Massachusetts lawmakers publicly slammed Comcast, calling the company “greedy,” over its decision to impose usage caps on customers during a public health and economic crisis. Now, those same lawmakers are introducing a law that would prohibit U.S. broadband providers from imposing broadband usage caps during and for up to 60 days after the pandemic ends. Vice reported the bill also repeals a section of Massachusetts General Law that restricts the state’s ability to regulate ISPs.

According to Vice, Comcast currently imposes a 1.2 terabyte monthly cap in all U.S. markets. If users exceed the cap, they’re looking at $10 extra per month for each additional 50 gigabytes consumed on top of their monthly bills. The surcharges are capped at $100 extra per month, which users can avoid by upgrading to an unlimited data plan, which costs $30 more per month.

As Inside Towers reported, Massachusetts lawmakers say there’s no technical justification for the caps and called the practice “tone-deaf and callous” amid a pandemic. 

“It is inconceivable that Comcast would choose to impose this ‘cap and fee’ plan during a pandemic when many Massachusetts residents are forced to work and attend school from home via the internet,” the lawmakers told Comcast, AT&T, and other providers.

The law will also prevent ISPs from shutting off broadband to consumers facing economic hardship amid COVID-19. Massachusetts Representative Dave Rogers added, “This legislation will ensure that these large corporations cannot unfairly burden our communities during a public health crisis…These services are not a luxury; they are a necessity. The law should treat them accordingly.”

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