Comcast customers in more than a dozen Northeastern states won't face data restrictions after Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro raised concern that the policy would disproportionately affect low-income Americans who are working, learning and communicating online during the pandemic, the company said on Wednesday.
The Philadelphia company had said in November that it would impose new regional data restrictions in its home state of Pennsylvania as well as numerous other states on the East Coast. Comcast already has a data-cap policy for the rest of the country.
Those fees would have been applied to the heaviest internet users: those who use more than 1.2 terabytes of data per month.
Comcast's policy was met with swift criticism on social media, leading some members of Congress to publicly chastise the company for profiteering during the pandemic.
“No one should be penalized or suffer financial duress for following guidance from the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], their employer, local public health officials, or school leaders,” a letter signed by a group of 18 senators said last year.
Comcast, AT&T (T) - Get Report and other internet-service providers have spent millions to lobby Congress over the past decade to keep data restrictions legal, according to political spending website Open Secrets.
That helped lead to the 2015 No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act, which prohibited the Federal Communications Commission from regulating the rates ISPs charge for broadband internet access service.
Comcast shares at last check were down 1% to $50.67.