U.S. broadband providers appear to be embracing monthly data caps, but customers are confused about the amount of data they use and broadband plan options, according to preliminary findings by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
The four largest U.S. mobile carriers and seven of the 13 largest wireline broadband providers have data-capped subscriptions in place, the GAO said. When customers exceed the data caps, three mobile carriers and three wired providers charge customers for additional data, while a fourth mobile carrier throttles connection speeds, the GAO said.
The ISPs’ move toward data caps raises concerns about what customers are getting in return, said Representative Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat who requested the GAO report. Broadband customers want to be able to stream videos, download music and use video-conferencing apps, and “they don’t want it interrupted,” she said.
Data cap plans could create a “huge disruption” for customers, she added. “While broadband providers are experimenting with these new business models ... consumers are left wondering if they’re going to have to foot the bill, and how much more it will be.”
Many customers don’t understand the data caps, called usage-based pricing or UBP in the GAO’s report, said Mark Goldstein, director of the GAO’s physical infrastructure team. While some broadband providers offer Web-based tools or email alerts to help consumers check their data usage, many customers don’t understand how much data they use, he said.
Click headline to read more--