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Comcast, perhaps feeling a bit too confident about its chances to swallow up Time Warner Cable, is talking about rolling out data caps to all of its subscribers. It had, up to this point, only "offered" it in certain areas on a "trial basis." Customers hated it, of course, but that's not really what Comcast was gauging with its trials. It was only interested in seeing a) how profitable it was and b) whether that profit would offset losses caused by the few customers lucky enough to have options. With a merger on the line, Cohen chose his words very carefully, responding to a rather dancing, ambiguous question by industry analyst Craig Moffett (long an avid supporter of usage caps, and, apparently, "variabilization") with some dancing ambiguity of his own: Moffett: Bottom line is, 5 years, 10 years from now, do you think that we will be in a model where the Internet is fully variablized, or usage is fully variablized, or at least variablized to the extent that most people are selecting from a reasonably large number of usage plans that match their usage to their price? Cohen: I actually think the answer to that is, no. I would say, if you made me predict today, and I don't want to get myself in any trouble, if you made me predict today, I would predict that in 5 years Comcast at least would have a usage-based billing model rolled out across its footprint. But I would also predict that the vast majority of our customers would never be caught in the buying the additional buckets of usage, that we will always want to set the basic level of usage at a sufficiently high level that the vast majority of our customers are not implicated by the usage-based billing plan. And that number may be 350 -- that may be 350 gig a month today, it might be 500 gig a month in five years, but it will never -- I don't think we will want to be in a model where it is fully variablized and 80% of our customers are implicated by usage-based billing and are all buying different packets of usage.As Karl Bode points out, it's fun to watch Cohen pretend this Comcast isn't eventually going to cap everyone. If the merger goes through, you can be sure former Time Warner customers will be experimented on and eventually capped as well. But, hey, it's not really a monopoly because the two companies don't compete head-to-head, as someone at the Washington Post claimed in defense of the merger. Instead, it's more customers being screwed by the same company's lousy idea.