If you’re a Comcast subscriber and you use the company’s Xfinity Mobile service, you may have recently gotten some unwelcome news in your inbox.
The communications giant has decided to throttle video and mobile hotspot speeds for customers who subscribe to their ‘unlimited’ plans. Users will be able to watch videos at HD speeds for the first 20GB used. After that, videos will be limited to DVD-quality levels.
Mobile hotspots will also be reduced to 600kbps. Limited plan customers will see similar video speed decreases, but will still have access to current tethering speeds.
The company is offering a free partial workaround for customers who specifically request one. But eventually, even that will cost extra. Subscribers who choose pricier plans that charge by the gigabyte will still enjoy full-speed hotspots and HD-quality video streaming — though the per-usage costs will quickly add up.
Comcast is a relative newcomer to the mobile arena. Its Xfinity Mobile service is a repackaged Verizon service available only to the company’s residential cable subscribers. The corporation argues that the new speed limits are in line with industry standards, and even suggests to email recipients that the changes are designed to help customers conserve data.
Some subscribers may be skeptical of the corporate spin. However, the ability to watch videos without having to worry as much about using up their 20GB allowance might have some appeal for users who have the company’s unlimited plan, which is nonetheless considerably limited. The company is also quick to point out that the changes will not affect speeds for video watched using Wi-Fi, even when subscribers use Comcast’s own public hotspots.
The timing of these changes is bound to raise eyebrows among those who fear that the repeal of net neutrality regulations will lead to rampant throttling. However, the new policy might have been acceptable under net neutrality regulations, which contained loopholes that allowed for speed limitations that were necessary for network management.