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Cox Extends Usage-Based Data Trial to More Markets

Following an initial trial in Cleveland, Cox Communications has expanded a usage-based high-speed Internet data test to its service areas in Florida and Georgia.

A Cox spokesman confirmed that the MSO is exploring usage-based billings in those two additional markets, noting that customers in those areas were notified on Tuesday (October 25).

Cox’s data policy web site (opens in new tab), which was updated on Monday, also makes mention of the expansion of the trial data plan, which will charge subs $10 for an extra bucket of 50 gigabytes of data when they exceed their monthly data plan.

According to the site, Cox is providing a grace period for two consecutive bill cycles to help customers in Florida and Georgia get accustomed to the policy change before the operator begins to charge for additional blocks of data. In Florida and Georgia, the grace period starts with data usage cycles that begin on November 21, 2016, Cox noted.

Cox has not announced if or when it intends to extend the usage-based policy to other markets.

Cox recently expanded a monthly 1-Terabyte data limit to most of its high-speed Internet tiers. The exception is Cox’s 1-Gbps “Gigablast” offering, whose monthly limit remains at 2 terabytes.

RELATED: Cox Expands 1-Terabyte Data Usage Limit to Most Speed Tiers

Cox notes that about 99% of its customers are on data plans that “more than adequately meets their monthly household needs.”  

Cox, which provides a meter to help subs track their data usage, sends alerts via browsers, email or an automated outbound call when customers use 85% and 100% of their monthly data plan, and send additional alerts if usage reaches about 120% of their plan.

Comcast, following a trial period, has begun the commercial rollout of a usage-based data policy in the bulk of its markets that limits monthly usage to 1-TB before overage charges are applied. Comcast also offers an unlimited data option.

AT&T has bumped Internet subs on tiers with speeds up to 300 Mbps to 1 TB before overage fees are applied ($10 for an additional bucket of 50 gigabytes of data).  AT&T subs who bundle U-verse Internet with TV service (via the IPTV service or DirecTV) and pay for services on a single bill  get unlimited home Internet data for no additional charge, while other U-verse data subs still have the option to buy an unlimited plan for an additional $30 per month.  Customers on AT&T Fiber service with speeds up to 1 Gbps have been moved to an unlimited data plan.

The FCC is looking into data cap and zero-rating policies, has not set a timetable on when the Commission would complete its review.