Comcast To Internet Users: Curb Your Enthusiasm

Are you a bandwidth hog? Addicted to BitTorrent? Guilty of uploading and downloading massive music and video files? Comcast announced every gigabyte you take, they’ll be watching you. Effective October 1, internet gigabyte gluttons ie; Comcast customers who consume 250 gigs or more within a six-month period, will have service suspended for a year. That means their unlimited service really isn’t so…but don’t hit the digital panic button just yet. From The Memphis Business Journal:

Comcast said the threshold is high enough that it won’t affect typical customers, who use between two and three gigabytes a month. To reach it, the company said, a customer would have to send 50 million e-mails, download 62,500 songs or 125 standard-definition movies, or upload 25,000 high-resolution digital photos.
The limit is the latest action Comcast has taken to manage Internet traffic on its network…The company argues its actions are necessary to prevent extremely heavy users from slowing upload and download speeds for average Internet customers.

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  1. If you read the article, the cap is actually 250GB per month (not per six months) … if a user exceeds this cap twice within a six month period they will be suspended.

  2. Whether that limit is reasonable is regardless, what may be reasonable to one person will be a hardship to another. At 16mbps (their current advertised speed), 250gb would be reached in a little under 40 hours of continuous use. Regardless, any limit is an abridgement of speech when that conduit is the only means of connectivity to the Internet.
    Comcast does not plan to provide any means for the end user to meter their Internet usage. Metered billing needs a meter we can see, use and monitor any time we desire to do so. Water and electric utilities provide that meter (regardless of whether we use it or not), so why not Comcast? How is the end user supposed to know if they’re near, at or over their monthly limit?
    Comcast plans to warn a user once (via telephone) when they exceed their monthly limit. A second transgression in a 6 month period will result in disconnection of service. In a township where Comcast is granted an exclusive franchise, a consumer has no other choice for cable service.
    I have contacted the Board of Public utilities and told that they don’t regulate that Internet connectivity. I have written the FCC, and await to hear from them. Considering that these limits were not in place when Bloomfield granted Comcast its franchise, I would submit that Comcast cannot impose them without going through the process of renewing their franchise. By implementing these limits, Comcast is failing to provide adequate service per the terms of their franchise. Maybe Bloomfield needs to solicit a friendlier cable provider.
    My two cents.

  3. While I’m no fan of Comcast, I’m not sure where it mentions internet access in the bill of rights. I don’t see how Comcast imposing a cap is an “abridgement of free speech”; you or I don’t have any more right to unbridled internet usage than we do telephone usage, cell phone usage, etc.
    Internet bandwidth is not unlimited. The motivation here appears to be maintaining an adequate quality of service for all users (there isn’t any mention of them trying to charge for excess usage, although it is certainly a possibility in the future).
    All that said, I do agree with you that if they are going to impose a cap, they should be obligated to provide users with some way of monitoring their usage so as to avoid violating the cap. I also think termination of service after two violations is a bit draconian. Isn’t it usually three strikes and your out?

  4. Verizon seems to be spending lots of money nationally/regionally advertising FiOS, but when I keep checking the website to signup for service, it keeps saying it isn’t available at my location (in Verona).

  5. I do not think this impacts Net Neutrality at all:
    “A neutral broadband network is one that is free of restrictions on the kinds of equipment that may be attached, on the modes of communication allowed, which does not restrict content, sites or platforms, and where communication is not unreasonably degraded by other communication streams”
    What kind of equipment is restricted from being attached?
    What mode of communication is not allowed?
    What content, sites, platforms is restricted?
    Net Neutrality > unlimited internet bandwidth consumption. Comcast was rightly getting its wrist slapped for discriminating against BitTorrent traffic. Imposing a cap as described would appear to be perfectly equitable and unbiased.

  6. Meant:
    Net Neutrality != (not equal to) unlimited internet bandwidth consumption.
    FWIW, I find it hard to believe that I am acting as a Comcast apologist given how much I despise them as a consumer. I switched to FIOS about a nanosecond after it became available on my block.

  7. It is most definitely an abridgement of speech if you are banned from accessing the Internet for one year. Who’s running things at Comcast, Yev Kassem? “No Internet for you! One Year!” In a town with only one cable franchise, a person has no other choice, and DSL/Dial-up are not equal. Comcast offers no alternative remedy, not even a more expensive plan, which still wouldn’t be fair. It’s about fairness and equal access, not lining Comcast’s coffers with our hard earned money. There are services like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and others streaming video over Comcast’s pipes, they’re not collectinig a penny from it and it’s clear that they don’t like it – they’d rather you subscribe to their various video on demand services. They have no business being in the utility business. Imagine if your water, electric or gas were delivered by the same capricious company. Ugh!

  8. Taking your analogy, if you ran your water 24 hours a day for a month should you pay the same as the typical user? Same with electricity.
    I agree that Comcast’s banning someone for a year is draconian. Their problem is that they are charging everyone the same price for what they realize is now a finite resource.
    Would you tolerate being charged for excessive usage? Perhaps you would, but I guarantee there would still be a huge outcry.

  9. An ISP is not a natural resource that needs to be conserved like water. It’s a form of communication. The FCC is right in getting involved in this instead of kowtowing to the Comcast Corp.

  10. Nor is an ISP a charity. The infrastructure necessary to handle the ever increasing network traffic ain’t free. Maybe we should just nationalize all the ISPs and be done with it.
    And whether or not it is a “natural resource” there is not an infinite amount of bandwidth available at any given moment.

  11. I don’t know about nationalization, but they are a utility. There’s alot more bandwidth than they’re allowing for – out of a potential 720 hours in 30 days, their new cap would be reached in 36 hours of use at 16mbps (full speed). What’s the point of paying extra for ‘high speed’ service, you’ll just reach your cap that much quicker. You can drive your car at 50 miles an hour for 10 minutes or 5 miles an hour for 100 minutes – it’s all the same to Comcast. I can’t wait for FIOS in my neck of the woods… I’d run the fiber myself if they’d let me.

  12. In essence, isn’t digital tv just high-speed bandwidth video? Thats why you see the occasional dropouts and freezes. So, if a customer keeps the tv on for 24 hrs a day?using all that bandwidth?shouldn’t Comcast start exercising usage caps on digital tv customers, too?

  13. PAZ, I had heard that Fios is faster than cable, but we recently switched from Cablevision to Fios, and I personally think Cablevision was faster.

  14. Ah,what happened to the good old days of plug and play? We have FIOS and like it for the most part but the remotes act wonky sometimes. Also,look over your bill with an eagle eye.

  15. Jimmyp, whereabouts is it, if you know? Because I have been checking for, I dunno, forEVER, even watched them working on a nearby street, and still nothing. And now that I have a new reason to hate Comcra* (our receiver won’t communicate with their dumb set top box and I have to unplug the rotten thing every time), I am even more anxious for Fios.
    I have a friend who has Optimum in her town and loves it. No problems, good prices, they even give her freebies too like movie passes. Why oh why are we in Mtc. forever stuck with Comcast!

  16. Comcast is just making their policy official. I got a call a year ago January warning me that I was ‘using too much bandwidth’ and that if I didn’t stop doing so I would be suspended for a year. I did a Google search and found they’ve been doing this to folks since 2003. The copper network just can’t handle the volume. I asked the very rude bandwidth police if I should download less or upload less and they couldn’t give me a straight answer. So I ordered FiOS and kept using Comcast at full speed until the switch-over happened. Then when asked why I switched, I let them know about their rude gate-keepers. Seems that Comcast needs to invest in a fiber network like Verizon has.

  17. It’s time to set the record straight on which is faster and what you’re paying since nobody seems to have a clue:
    Comcast (for existing cable tv subscribers):
    1. Basic (6mbps down/2mbps up) $33
    2. Performance (8mbps down/2mbps up) $43
    3. Blast (16mbps down/2mbps up) $53
    Verizon Fios (for existing phone or tv customers)
    1. Fast (10mbps down/2mbps up) $43
    2. Faster (20mbps down/5mbps up) $53
    3. Faster Plus (20mbps/20mbps up) $65
    4. Fastest (50mbps down/20mbps up) $140
    Fios is faster and cheaper on every pricing tier, but doesn’t offer a $33 plan. However, comcast also doesn’t offer a $140 equivalent.

  18. Kay, I moved in The Siena in December, which is a FIOS building. So far so good, but it seems we do have some sort of Comcast interface, which isn’t used, our high speed internet service and TV i sprovided by DirecTV. Confusing to me, bu tthe service seems satisfactory. I too have had Optimum in Bergeb County and thought it terrific.

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