Web

Comcast to offer tiered Internet prices based on usage

comcast to offer tiered internet prices based on usageMixed news for Comcast customers who work from home and/or watch a lot of streaming Netflix content in their off-hours: Pretty soon, you’ll have more data usage per month – but it’ll cost you. The internet provider is reportedly about to take its first steps towards the creation of a system of tiered Internet pricing based upon the amount of bandwidth customers are using,

Describing the need to change its Internet offerings, Comcast’s Cathy Avgiris wrote a blog post today that explained that “Four years ago, when we first instituted a broadband Internet data usage threshold, the iPhone had just been introduced…the iPad didn’t exist…and the experience of watching streaming video on your home PC or through a Roku box or direct to an Internet-capable TV was much different than it is now.” The four year number refers to the company’s 2008 cap of 250 GB of data usage per month for residential accounts, a cap that looks set to change no matter what the outcome is of two test programs Comcast has in store for customers.

The first program will, in Avgiris’ words, “offer multi-tier usage allowances that incrementally increase usage allotments for each [package] of high-speed data service from the current threshold” – which is to say, above a certain amount that varies dependent on whatever data plan you subscribe to, data plans will become pay-as-you-go for customers. The second will raise the 250 GB threshold for all packages to 300 GB and then offer additional gigabytes for sale beyond that (The figure suggested by Avgiris in the blog post is $10 for 50 GB).

While the tests are underway in particular markets around the US, the real winners may be those not in test areas; Avgiris writes that in those markets, “we ill suspend enforcement of our current usage cap as we transition to a new data usage management approach, although we will continue to contact the very small number of excessive users about their usage.”

In a conference call with reporters today, Comcast’s executive Vice President David L. Cohen said that, although “even today, only a very small number of our customers have ever even come close to the cap” – The average user takes up about 8-10 GB per month, according to the company – the time has come for Comcast to look into ways it can best adapt to the changing face of Internet usage. “Our network is not an infinite resource, and it is expensive to expand it,” he explained, adding that “The headline today should be that there isn’t a cap anymore. We’re out of the cap business.”

Beyond a vague “next few months,” the company hasn’t set a timeframe for the tests, nor has it announced which markets will be affected first. Such information should be forthcoming, as Avgiris’ blog post stresses the need for the company to “provide our customers with the information they need,” as well as a promise to, “at all times, including during our pilot tests… be transparent to our customers.” Comcast customers, watch your mailbox for notifications soon.

Cars

Tesla cuts workforce by 7 percent, ends referral program to trim costs

Tesla has announced plans to trim its workforce by seven percent, and it will end the referral program that rewards customers who help it sell cars. These measures are ways to cut costs and boost profits.
Home Theater

Everything to know about Sling TV: Channels, pricing, and more

Sling TV has grown a great deal since its launch. Now there are more channels and more packages to chose from, with prices to match, and more is being added all the time. Everything you need to know is right here.
Gaming

Everything we know about 'Red Dead Online', including the new mode Gun Rush

Red Dead Online will gradually rolled out to Red Dead Redemption 2 players via a beta. We've got all the details about the beta's suite of competitive and cooperative modes, as well as what to expect going forward.
Home Theater

Set your ears free with the best completely wireless earbuds

If you can't stand the tangle of cords, or you're just excited about completely wireless earbuds, you're going to need some help separating the wheat from the chaff. Our list serves up the best true wireless earbuds around.
Computing

Delete tracking cookies from your system by following these quick steps

Cookies are useful when it comes to saving your login credentials and other data, but they can also be used by advertisers to track your browsing habits across multiple sites. Here's how to clear cookies in the major browsers.
Social Media

Nearly a million Facebook users followed these fake Russian accounts

Facebook purged two separate groups behind more than 500 fake accounts with Russian ties. One group had ties to Russian news agency Sputnik, while the other had behavior similar to the Internet Research Agency's midterm actions.
Smart Home

Amazon Prime members number more than 100 million in the U.S., survey says

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimated there were 101 million U.S. Amazon Prime members as of December 31, 2018. Last April, CEO Jeff Bezos wrote there were more than 100 global million Prime members.
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Computing

It's not all free money. Here's what to know before you try to mine Bitcoin

Mining Bitcoin today is harder than it used to be, but if you have enough time, money, and cheap electricity, you can still turn a profit. Here's how to get started mining Bitcoin at home and in the cloud.
Computing

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. This list of the best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.
Computing

Always have way too many tabs open? Google Chrome might finally help

Google is one step closer to bringing tab groups to its Chrome browser. The feature is now available in Google's Chrome Canady build with an early implementation that can be enabled through its flag system.
Computing

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
Emerging Tech

Facebook hasn’t given up on the idea of building an internet drone

Facebook's efforts to provide internet connectivity from the skies using solar-powered drones suffered a blow last year when the company abandoned its "Aquila" drone project. But the company clearly hasn't given up on the idea.
Cars

Royal fans bid big money as Prince Philip ‘car crash parts’ hit eBay

A couple of days after a car crash that involved the 97-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II, debris apparently from the scene of the accident showed up on eBay. And people wanted to buy it.