So a funny thing happened after internet service provider Comcast temporarily suspended data caps in response to the COVID-19 pandemic: nothing much at all.
Or to put it another way, the company says it saw a 32-percent increase in peak traffic, a 212-percent increase in VoIP and video conferencing traffic, and a 38-percent increase in streaming and web video use, among other things.
But the company says its “network is performing well” nonetheless, which raises the question… why did the company have data caps in the first place?
As Ars Technica points out, that’s been a question for years… especially when you consider that Comcast subscribers aren’t subject to data caps in the Northeast United States, where Comcast faces stiff competition from Verizon’s FiOS internet service (which has no caps).
Theoretically it is possible that networks could become slower if the system is overloaded. But with millions of people stuck at home, Comcast says it’s seen increased traffic associated with game downloads, streaming, VPN usage, and more… and the company hasn’t run out of bandwidth.
In fact, while Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, Apple, and Disney have been reducing video streaming bit-rates for European users to help alleviated network congestion, Comcast executives are telling reporters that there’s no need for that on its US network, because the increased traffic has been “well within the capabilities of the network.”
Comcast has said that its data caps won’t be enforced until May 13th at the soonest. But now that it’s clear that offering unlimited data nationwide doesn’t seem to be a problem, it’ll be interesting to see what the company says if and when it decides to re-implement caps.