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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.

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Quinton
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Quinton

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.

Luke
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Luke

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… Read more »

Scott
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Scott

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… Read more »

Frank
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Frank

Here is a link of two lawyers that filed a class action lawsuit against GCI.
http://www.courtrecords.alaska.gov/eservices/?x=LiAWixBRFXgASCva78TP8tyxxz9FDyOInBEO6VhsoeKrNSUEuntXI93HZMTvVCKpCvwGdrTi4WQ32g9zkhdg

Jerry
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Jerry

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… Read more »

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