After months of working from home, some Nevadans are receiving their first notices that they are approaching their monthly internet data plan limits.
Cox Communications, the state’s largest internet provider, lifted its internet caps at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. It provided unlimited data to all customers at a time when many organizations shifted to working from home and students adjusted to remote online learning, and doctors and medical professionals used video service platforms to consult with patients.
Cox said Monday it resumed placing monthly data caps on Southern Nevada customers’ broadband use July 15.
The company told the Review-Journal it also raised the monthly usage limit from 1 terabyte to 1.25 teraybyte — equivalent to 1,000 hours of videoconferencing and 430 hours of Netflix high-definition streaming, Cox said.
“After reviewing data consumption during this time period, we know that nearly 90 percent of customers would not have exceeded the 1TB data plan,” Cox spokeswoman Stephanie Stallworth said in a statement to the Review-Journal.
The service provider declined to provide customer usage data in Southern Nevada, but noted that the 1.25 TB monthly limit is “high enough to accommodate the vast majority of our customers’ needs without exceeding them.”
As Clark County School District students begin school this week, the district is subsidizing Cox’s “Connect2Compete” program to qualifying low-income families at no charge. The district’s technology survey revealed that more than 19,000 of its 320,000 students reported needing internet access.
Reliable internet access was a major obstacle for many Southern Nevada families over the spring when in-person classes abruptly moved online.
Cox said it notifies customers who are approaching their data limit.
A notice on data use sent to a customer this month outlined what to expect when it comes to billing.
“If you go over, we’ll automatically add 50 GB of data for $10 to your next bill. That’s enough for about 15 hours of streaming HD video. If you use that 50 GB, we’ll automatically add another 50 GB for $10 and so on until your next usage cycle begins,” the notice said.
Stallworth said Cox will issue a waiver on the first overage bill, “so that customers can get used to their usage and manage it accordingly.”
The notice also offered some tips to manage data usage, like exiting a streaming service before turning off the TV to prevent autoplay, and changing video quality settings on security cameras.
“We know this time is challenging. We, too, have children at home and makeshift home offices and want to help our neighbors, and believe that 1.25TB per month is more data than the vast majority of our customers will need,” said Stallworth.