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Updated: GCI Changes Usage Cap Policies: Automatic Overlimit Fees Replaced With Speed Throttling

GCI_logoAlaska’s largest cable company today unveiled changes to its Internet plans, ditching surprise overlimit fees in favor of a speed throttle.

GCI has been the subject of bad press in the past, with some customers experiencing up to $1,200 in overlimit fees after exceeding GCI’s usage allowances. In an effort to avoid public relations nightmares like that, GCI will stop assessing automatic overlimit fees and instead impose a speed throttle on customers over their limit that will temporarily reduce broadband speeds to less than 1Mbps until the next billing cycle begins. Customers can voluntarily pay for more usage in $10 increments, which buys a reprieve from the speed throttle.

GCI “No Worries” Broadband Plans offer varying usage caps and extra usage allotments:

no worries

Customers on lower speed plans continue to face a lower usage allowance and will receive considerably less extra data for their $10 add-on data plan. GCI’s highest speed re:D offering does get a bigger usage allowance: 600GB, up from 500GB. An $11.99/mo surcharge continues for broadband-only customers.

GCI’s largest competitor remains telephone company ACS, which heavily markets its unlimited usage DSL plans. Almost as an afterthought, ACS now markets packages that include landline service with unlimited local calling and 180 minutes of long distance for free.

acs unlimited

A price comparison between the two providers is somewhat hampered by the fact GCI does not publicize a broadband+home phone bundle package on their website. GCI Home Phone is priced at $19.99 a month.

A 10Mbps unlimited use package from ACS costs $110/month. A 10Mbps plan from the cable company with a 30 40GB allowance + GCI Home Phone costs $79.98. On price, GCI wins at this speed… if you stay within your allowance. A 50Mbps unlimited use package from ACS runs $180 a month. GCI charges $104.98 with 150GB of included usage. Again, the price winner is GCI if you stay within your allowance. Taxes, surcharges and government fees are extra.

Heavier users may find ACS’ initially higher prices worthwhile if they are forced to buy GCI’s add-on data buckets. Both companies charge considerably more than providers in the lower 48 states.

Last year, nearly 10% of GCI’s revenue was earned from automatically applied overlimit fees. Giving up some of that revenue is a concession, but one that is likely to end bill shock and negative media attention. Still, usage allowances remain arbitrary. GCI’s entry level 10Mbps plan only offers a paltry 30 40GB a month — an allowance largely unheard of among other U.S. cable providers. GCI will also have a difficult time explaining why $10 will only offer one customer 5GB of extra usage while others will get up to 30GB. The costs for the additional data to GCI are the same.

Our thanks to an anonymous reader for sharing the news.

Updated 4:08pm EST 1/15: After going to press, GCI changed their website, adjusting the usage allowance for their 10/1Mbps plan to 40GB (up from 30GB) and deleted references to the $11.99 surcharge for broadband-only customers, which apparently no longer applies.

Currently there are 6 comments on this Article:

  1. Quinton says:

    Their website now shows 40 GB for the lowest plan. Also, the access fee for broadband-only users isn’t listed anywhere. I called and asked about it and apparently these packages don’t get that fee.

    • The website apparently was changed after this went to press.

      The website this morning included: “Customers who prefer only Broadband services will be subject to a $11.99 access fee if they do not subscribe to GCI TV services (except in areas where GCI TV is not available)” and noted the 30GB rate plan we captured and reproduced above.

      It is nice to see the fee deleted, but 40GB remains paltry. Even AT&T gives DSL customers 150GB.

  2. Luke says:

    Hey Phillip,

    Could you point me in the direction of where it says they are going to throttle? Or are we thinking that since they say “No Worries”/”No Surprises” that is their intent?

    GCI has been very deceptive in their advertising in the past, but I wouldn’t put it past them to take the stance of “Everything in advertised clearly, so you can’t be surprised”…. If you get what I mean.

    They do have a Facebook post that says “Never expect an overage fee”. Which I did comment on, but that was before I came here. I didn’t even think for one second that throttling was an option. That is not even close to common practice for a cable internet provider to do is it?

    • Scott says:

      Luke,

      The ‘fine print’ is located in their FAQ page as follows:

      “What happens when I use my entire additional high speed data bucket?

      When you use your entire high speed data bucket, you can:

      * Choose to buy another additional high speed data bucket

      * Upgrade to a No Worries plan that better meets your needs

      * Use the internet at a basic level of service _(less than 1 Mbps)_ with no overages”

      Your high speed 50-150Mbit+ line gets throttled down to under 1Mbit until you either pay up for more data in your bucket or wait till the end of your billing period.

      I would also note on this story that ACS continues to offer a discount of up to 33% off during promotions throughout the year if you commit to a 1 or 2 year contract making them very competitive after you factor in unlimited data.

  3. Jerry says:

    I hear a lot of discussion nowadays about bandwidth and harsh data caps.. Then I look at what those caps are and I have to laugh. If you were living where I am, you would probably cry. TelAlaska charges me, $122.80 for Cable TV, that includes box, HBO and MAX. Then the internet package is $99.90 for 1MB Down and 0.25MB Up. Now that is speeds advertised and I almost never get full speeds unless I stay up late at night. The Internet package includes a data cap of 12GB, you go over that you pay additional fees. Now, I don’t know about everyone else, but I would love to see a family of 3 try and not go over that 12GB every month. Its impossible and TelAlaska is either pretending they don’t know how much is needed for a household or they are knowingly giving us small data caps because they know we will go over.

    This is not mobile data, this is for the home. I have cell phone connected for each of us. Which means my son is playing his games on his phone. My wife is on FB and Instagram and a course I am browsing the web and playing PS4. With all the virus updates and the game updates and daily online browsing. It is a lot more than 12GB. It’s a very stressful thing to have to tell your wife and kids “stop going online, we are over our limit already”. That is just half way through the month!

    My monthly bill ranges from $350-600. For that much money, I should be getting Fiber speeds don’t you think? What’s worse is, the same Company that charges all of us on the Aleutian islands overages and high monthly charges also has customers on the mainland of Alaska. TelAlaska charges a flat monthly fee and no data caps for the subscribers in Anchorage, AK 65.90 month, WTF? How are we paying for same speeds and same internet in same state, yet I pay $34 more and we have a cap that we always go over?

    Well, I have had my little rant…

    Thanks for anyone who takes the time to read it and make it to the end,
    Jerry

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