One of the chief concerns that grew with the prospect of Comcast purchasing Time Warner Cable was the use of data caps. Comcast is a known user of such caps. Time Warner Cable even tried to persuade customers with a $5 discount to give up unlimited data but that met with a resounding no. Recently, Charter Cable is in the market to pick up Time Warner Cable and the issue has arisen again but they have an answer – no data caps.
The promised on Friday, in an attempt to gain favor with the FCC that they will not impose any data caps or overage charges on customers for at least three years. This is an obvious move to try and get the FCC to see the value that Charter will bring to the potential merger, according to Ars Technica. Currently, Charter does not offer any data caps.
Charter is claiming that they will go beyond the FCC’s net neutrality rules but implementing a “zero-rating” system that will allow Web services to pay ISPs to not count against customer’s data caps. You see what they are doing there. A bit of reverse psychology.
“We commit to go farther than the FCC’s Order, agreeing not to engage in specific practices such as usage-based billing, which thereby precludes zero-rating,” Charter wrote. Charter also “will not charge consumers additional fees to use specific third-party Internet applications.”
The bigger company “will not block or throttle Internet traffic or engage in paid prioritization, whether or not the FCC’s Open Internet Order is upheld in court,” Charter wrote.
In the past Charter used to place data caps ranging anywhere from 100GB to 500GB a month but ended that. As they do not have any current caps, they allow themselves some wiggle room to limit “excessive use of bandwidth that in Chater’s sole opinion, places an unusual large burden on the network or goes above normal usage.” Keep in mind there is no definition as to what is considered normal usage.
In the end, Charter is learning from Comcast’s mistakes and trying to tread a bit lighter. Will it work to convince the FCC that this is a good idea? It’s hard to figure out at this point. The FCC provided some very surprising results this year with net neutrality and the Comcast – Time Warner Cable merger. I guess we will have to wait and see.