If you are a North Eastern U.S. “power user” of Comcast Xfinity high-speed broadband service you might want to consider upgrading to an “Unlimited Plan” before August, or face getting hit with data surcharges.

That’s because a new 1.2 TB data cap goes into effect in 14 states and territories this summer. You are actually lucky if you live in the affected areas because the start data was just pushed out from March after a number of states raised concerns over COVID-19 hardships experience by many of their residents.

If you happen to live in other parts of the country and use Comcast broadband service, you might already be dealing with the measure because the data cap is already in place.

The final wave of residents to get the 1.2 TB data cap include those living in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, Vermont, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

Chances are you won’t have a problem at all, but if there is a lot of simultaneous data streams running in your home around the clock, or you upload and load a lot of data for work you might be in for a rude surprise in August.

According the company’s web site: “For users who typically use more than 1.2 Terabytes (TB) of data per month or who don’t want to pay for overages, we offer an Unlimited Data Option. Data usage is Unlimited when enrolling in this plan.

“The Unlimited Data Option is available for all non-Internet Essentials and non-Internet Essentials Partnership Program customers for an additional $30 per month. This fee is independent from your actual data usage. The 1.2 Terabyte Internet Data Usage Plan will not apply to customers who enroll in the Unlimited Data Option,” the statement continued.

Keep in mind that such plans may also require you to use a Comcast xFi router and modem, which carries up to a $25 equipment charge each month at the conclusion of any start of use promotional period offers.

Fortunately, residents in the effected states have until August now to decide if they would benefit from an Unlimited Data plan, on Wednesday it consented to hold off implementing the action until August.

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Why the delay? The cable giant was facing possible legal challenges from several states, led by attorneys general from Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts, had announced its intention last fall to expand the data cap plan to additional Northeast states and territories at the end of March.

The company maintains that “1.2 terabytes is a massive amount of data that enables consumers to video conference for 3,500 hours, watch 1,200 hours of distance learning videos, stream 500 hours of high-definition video content a month, or play more than 34,000 hours of online games.”

If you currently subscribe to Xfinity data it might be worth logging into your account to check you average monthly data usage to see if you might be impacted by surcharges. Comcast said it notifies customers as they approach the data cap limit, and if you go over the limit they will at 60 GB add-on packages for $10 each. The company said it will not bill users more than $100 in overage surcharges each month.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro challenged the company’s data cap plan saying that the usage caps would impose an especially difficult hardship on consumers at a time when many were unemployed and facing financial difficulties resulting from the pandemic.

Similarly, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong called the data cap and surcharge “wrong and unconscionable,” adding that broadband service is “not a luxury, it’s an essential public service.”

Shapiro reminded the company that the pandemic has taken employment from many consumers, while requiring them to lean on high-level Internet usage as never before for work, schooling and other virtual activity purposes.

The Philadephia-based company extended a little extra time to residents in the areas on Wednesday with the hope that conditions would improved by then. It had previously said it would suspend the caps in Massachusetts after state lawmakers in the Bay State introduced legislation against the extra fees.After Comcast announced the March data cap start date in November, attorneys general in all of the effected states had received complaints from residents concerned that the 1.2 TB limit would be easily exhausted in households with multiple simultaneous data streams in use as people are forced to stay home.

Under the data cap plan, Comcast customers who don’t subscribe to an “unlimited” plan will be given up to 1.2 TB of data in a billing cycle. Any usage over that limit in a month face a surcharge of $10 for every additional 50 GBs used, up to a maximum of $100.

At the time the data caps were originally announced, Comcast has estimated that they would impact only about 5% customers. In announcing the delay, Comcast told subscribers in Connecticut that it was giving customers in some northeast markets “additional time to become familiar with the new plan.”

“Customers in these markets now have six months to understand their data usage,” the statement said in part. “The earliest that the very small percentage of customers who exceed 1.2 TB of data could have any charges due under the plan is August 2021.”

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By Greg Tarr

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