Comcast's CEO, Brian Roberts, thinks you should pay for broadband the same way you pay for electricity — the more you use, the more you pay.
"Just as with every other thing in your life — if you drive a hundred thousand miles or a thousand miles you buy more gasoline," Roberts said during Business Insider's Ignition conference on Tuesday.
"If you turn on the air conditioning at 60 versus 72, you consume more electricity," he said. "The same is true for [data] usage, so I think the same for a wireless device — the more bits you use, the more you pay."
Roberts made his comments in response to a question from Henry Blodget, Business Insider's editor in chief, about Comcast's testing of what it calls "usage-based pricing."
Usage-based pricing, which some call "data caps," looks at broadband internet use the same way most US wireless plans look at mobile data use — if you exceed an allotment in a billing cycle, you pay more.
Comcast, which is the largest internet provider in the US, is testing out several such pricing plans in some of its markets.
One plan gives customers 300 gigabytes of data per month, and customers can purchase additional packages of 50 gigabytes for $10 each. In other markets Comcast is testing an "unlimited data" option, which customers can pay an additional $30 to $35 to use as much data as they want per month.
According to Comcast, about 8% of its customers use more than 300 gigabytes per month.
But as people increasingly stream movies online from services like Netflix, iTunes, and HBO Go, they'll continue to use more data. An hour of streaming Netflix in HD, for example, could use as much as 3 gigabytes of data.
Craig Moffett, an analyst at the media and telecommunications firm MoffettNathanson, told the AP in October that Comcast was testing its data caps in about 12% of its territory.