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Comcast Cuts Off Users Who Exceed Secret Limit 574

Posted by kdawson
from the we-won't-tell-you-and-we-won't-tell-you-why dept.
ConsumerAffairs.com has an article up spotlighting Comcast's tendency to cuts off heavy Internet users without defining in their AUP exactly what the bandwidth limit is. Frank Carreiro of West Jordan, Utah, got cut off by the mystery limit and started a 'Comcast Broadband dispute' blog.
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Comcast Cuts Off Users Who Exceed Secret Limit

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 27, 2007 @02:24AM (#20368619)
    I have top secret information about the limit. They cap you if ... *internet goes dead*
  • by Philotic (957984) on Monday August 27, 2007 @02:26AM (#20368631)
    Police are handing out speeding tickets to drivers who exceed secret limit.
    • Re:In other news... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Ron Bennett (14590) on Monday August 27, 2007 @02:50AM (#20368769) Homepage
      Yep so true.

      In many places, such as in Pennsylvania, often the state troopers will give a +15 MPH leeway ... so a driver going 79 MPH in 65 MPH zone would likely *not* get a ticket. Personally, I stick with 5 to 10 MPH over the speed limit max, but I know many people who swear by the +15 MPH rule.

      On a related note, in some states, such as Pennsylvania, some speed detection methods, in particular Vascar (timing), has a +10 MPH leeway ... so again, even in lower speed limit zones, such as a 25, one often can drive nearly 15 MPH over that and likely not get a ticket...

      Of course, if the driver admits speeding even 1 mile over than that above stated leeway likely won't matter... also, some states have "absolute" speed limits - there is no leeway so to speak ... something a driver should be aware of when driving through some small towns that rely on speeding tickets for revenue; PA outlawed radar for most local police decades ago for just that reason and thus many local PA towns are forced to use Vascar instead.

      Often an officer will try to get the driver to admit to speeding and then play nice cop by offering to write a ticket for only going x over the limit, etc.

      Digressed, but there really is a "secret" speed limit in most places, though many drivers quickly figure it out over time...

      I'd imagine similar is true for high-bandwidth users ... many of them have figured out how far they can push it.

      Ron
      • Re:In other news... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by User 956 (568564) on Monday August 27, 2007 @03:10AM (#20368843) Homepage
        Digressed, but there really is a "secret" speed limit in most places, though many drivers quickly figure it out over time...

        It's not so much a "secret", as it is the 85% rule. That being, if if you travel at about the same speed as 85% of native traffic, you'll generally be ok. The thing about traffic cops is that they typically target people that stick out, not necessarily people that are merely breaking "the law". So, if average traffic is flowing at 20-over the limit, and you're traveling at 35 over the limit, then you're more likely to get tagged than the average traffic.

        Then throw in your choice of vehicle, and it's even more interesting. A bright yellow porsche is more likely to be pulled over going 30+ in the left lane than the black sedan going 30+ in the lane right next to it. Again, because the first car stands out more. Between two similar sedans, the car traveling 30+ in the far left lane is more likely to be tagged than the car traveling 30+ in the far right lane. Why? because the left lane is the "fast lane".

        I'm not saying it's right, I'm not saying it's fair, I'm just saying that's how it is, given my years of driving experience. And I agree: understanding the ground rules for driving conditions (i.e. especially that they're not "ideal") is the best way to avoid tickets.
      • In fact its downright prohibited by law in CT,MA,NH for a cop to ticket you, if you travel just 5-10 MHPH above speed limit.
        Also NH does not have seat belt requirements (which is a totally different topic), but their cops are atleast nice when they stop you.
        I got stopped at 2330 hrs one day in Keene, near the college when one of my headlights had failed.
        The cops were real nice and they just warned me to get the headlight fixed the first thing in morning.
        Compare this with MS cops who were downright rude and
        • Re:In other news... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mrchaotica (681592) * on Monday August 27, 2007 @04:53AM (#20369231)

          In fact its downright prohibited by law in CT,MA,NH for a cop to ticket you, if you travel just 5-10 MHPH above speed limit.

          Add GA (10 MPH) to that list.

          The cops were real nice and they just warned me to get the headlight fixed the first thing in morning. Compare this with MS cops who were downright rude and laughing when they handed the ticket. Their demeanor was such that whatever i said could be used against me.

          That's probably a reflection of the individual cops, not the jurisdiction. Just the other night, my girlfriend's brother had an accident (swerved to avoid an oncoming car that had crossed the center line and hit the curb hard enough that the airbags deployed). I had driven his mom out there to keep him company while waiting for the tow truck.

          One cop stopped behind us, blinded us with the spotlight on his cruiser, yelled at me when I tried to walk over to ask him what he wanted, accused us of tresspassing (we were on a main road, on the publically-owned easement), and then drove off when he found out what the situation was.

          Then, not five minutes later, another cop showed up, immediately walked over to see what the problem was (instead of mysteriously sitting in his car, shining lights on us), called a new tow truck for us (because we'd been waiting for a very long time -- here's a tip: tow trucks summoned by cops arrive much faster than those summoned by the insurance company!), and then waited with us until it came, all the while making friendly conversation.

          The first cop was old (gray-haired) and employed by the county police. The second was young and with the sheriff's department. Were either age or agency a factor in their demeanor? Nah, I think the first guy was just an asshole.

    • by pla (258480) on Monday August 27, 2007 @05:40AM (#20369445) Journal
      Police are handing out speeding tickets to drivers who exceed secret limit.

      I wouldn't have responded (and from the subject, thought one of your child posts had already made this point), but apparently some people don't "get" the problem here...

      When you stay within more-or-less "tolerated" speeds above the posted limit, you do so knowing the posted speed and that, at least theoretically, you could get a ticked if a cop wants to give you a hard time (someone mentioned a few states officially allow a certain headroom - True or not, police always have the nebulous "reckless driving" or "driving to endanger" charge when they can't stick you with anything else).

      With arbitrary broadband caps, what "official but rarely enforced" limit could we stay within to avoid the problem? 5GB/mo? 50? 500? I have no idea, and neither does anyone else in this thread, and that causes the problem here.

      If I violate the TOS, however arbitrary they seem, I can at least take some comfort in the fact that I chose to do so. If I exceed a magical unpublished number, the situation goes from "irregular enforcement of a written policy" to "we don't like you, go away".

      Making this even worse, the local cable franchise almost always has a monopoly or at best a duopoly on broadband service. Imagine if the phone company could drop you because you actually use all that free local calling they offer.
    • Re:In other news... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday August 27, 2007 @07:44AM (#20370019) Journal
      In Soviet Russia... well, actually in Soviet East Germany, this was a common occurrence for tourists. The police would set up a temporary speed limit just around a corner, and pull over any foreign cars that came past, giving them an on-the-spot fine. The reason for this was that East and West German Marks were nominally worth the same amount, so most visitors from the west just paid in their own currency, which was he only thing you could spend in certain shops that sold imported goods. If you offered to pay with East German Marks, they would let you through, since they weren't worth the effort.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        My brother and his family were travelling by car in Poland in the early 90's, and they got pulled over and fined in cash for some infraction. A little while later, they got pulled over again. The cop levied another fine, to be paid in cash, but my brother told him he didn't have any cash left. The cop replied, "Oh...got any coffee?"
  • Only a 100 GB cap? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xizer (794030) on Monday August 27, 2007 @02:27AM (#20368637)
    I've got to be honest here... I'd take an invisible high bandwidth cap over something as low as 100 GB. I can rarely download less than 150 GB per month. Yeah, it's pretty lame of Comcast to be cutting off customers using a large amount of bandwidth, but from the sounds of it they're randomly cutting off users who consume more than 200 GB of bandwidth per month. Invisible caps are also better than set caps because set caps tend to be pretty low in general. However, when an ISP has an invisible cap, it often takes more bandwidth usage than it would be if it was a visible cap to grab their attention.
    • not sure (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kardar (636122) on Monday August 27, 2007 @02:52AM (#20368781)
      I think that ultimately the question that came about (and of course no one REALLY knows (which is the problem)) was that some folks began wondering if the data was incorrect - in other words - if the bandwidth numbers were mistakenly attributed to an individual who hadn't actually used anywhere near that much.

      In other words - digging into the details, it became obvious that one very strong possibility was that (again, no one REALLY knows (which is the problem)) the person who got contacted was not the person who generated the bandwidth. In other words, Comcast keeps asking the poor fellow to cut back, they're looking at 250-300 gigs on their end, while the poor fellow is actually doing about 20-30 gigs and cutting back to even less than that. No matter how much the subscriber cuts back, the next month, erroneous data comes in again - Comcast's info is that he's done another 200+ gigs that month. So this ends up where they cut him off for 12 months (true story). There was no other logical explanation (other than the subscriber lying (which is a possibility, or course)).

      This is where the secrecy creates problems, really. Sure, maybe an invisible something or another is better than a low explicit one, but you can't defend yourself if they've got it wrong, because there's no documentation. They don't even always tell the subscriber how much the subscriber has downloaded, and it appears that they may even lie about that. They don't want anyone knowing anything, basically. "Just cut back".

      But "Just cut back" doesn't cut it when it's not you, now does it?

      It's one thing to have rules, it's another thing to have flexible rules. But no matter how flexible those rules are, if you have this absolute secrecy thing going on, you stand no chance of defending yourself if you actually haven't done it and someone gets something mixed up somewhere.

      Having a "counter" on your account - where you log into your account online and see how much you've downloaded, for instance - if you see data on there that isn't you, or if it's going up too fast, you can be proactive and call in and say "something's wrong here". If, for instance, the gigs are accumulating, and you disconnect your modem - pull it out of the wall -- and the gigs are still accumulating, then you can call in and notify. This isn't ME doing it. But if they won't even tell you how much you downloaded to get the call, or if they lie about it, (again, no one REALLY knows what happened (which is the problem)), how are you to trust that data is actually accurate? That it's not a mixup somewhere?

      In that one particular situation, it did in fact appear that Comcast got the subscribers data mixed up (they actually turned the subscriber's internet back ON). They cancelled the 12-month cancellation because they reviewed their records and they figured out that it wasn't him doing it - they got it mixed up with someone else. The subscriber was downloading 15-30, and their data was saying 250-350. Month after month after month. Try cutting back on that!

      It's creepy, is what it is. It's too secretive - you can't defend yourself. There's no data - no documentation.

      They really ought to change the way they do this - it's very, very creepy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by blackbear (587044)

        If, for instance, the gigs are accumulating, and you disconnect your modem - pull it out of the wall -- and the gigs are still accumulating, then you can call in and notify.

        This is almost exactly what happened to a friend of mine. He called me the after the first notice from Comcast. We assumed that Comcast was correct, and suspected his wireless router. I had him turn off the radio, and REMOVE the antennas. (yes, I know, removing the antennas will only reduce the range, but the radio was off as well. I

    • by DDLKermit007 (911046) on Monday August 27, 2007 @03:55AM (#20369019)
      Hey, at least it isn't DirecWay (or whatever they call themselves these days). I just got a client off of their services due to them clamping down HARD on bandiwth limits (Cable & DSL don't reach them). 375MB transfer PER day is allowed. If you go over that, the next 24 hours your stuck with 3KB down. If you download too much during that period they nock you off for a day or two entirely. It's something they started doing 3 or 4 months ago. Another case of a provider overselling, and not delivering. My client now has a Sprint EV-DO USB adapter. Same price, lower max (burst) speed, lower latency, and just works a hell of allot better. Sprint is a pain in the ass, but their limits are FAR higher than what a real estate agent will ever use.

      I can't wait for the day Cox pisses at me over doing 300GB+ a month on my connection though. It's a more pricey business account, but I know they'll do it eventually.
  • This sounds like a good case for breach of contract. Why has nobody sued?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Fedhax (513562)
      See my comment here: http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=280157&cid =20368801 [slashdot.org]

      Nut-shell: Unless you opt out, you are bound to arbitration only by their 2007 Residential Agreement. There are restrictions and exceptions, but you have to overcome them before you can consider legal recourse.
      • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday August 27, 2007 @05:44AM (#20369465) Journal
        Wasn't that exact same clause ruled unconscionable for AT&T already? I'm pretty sure there was a story about that on Slashdot's front page a couple of weeks ago. So the precedent already exists.

        And frankly, while IANAL, it should have been obviously so all along, even in corporation-owned USA. A clause saying "if you have any grievance with me, I'm the sole judge, jury and executioner on that" just isn't how the rule of the law was supposed to work. It's not just a blatant conflict of interest all the way, it's essentially proclaiming someone exempt from the laws and rules that bind everyone else.

        The contract is _not_ sacrosanct and doesn't override laws in any civilized country. E.g., you can't sell yourself into slavery even if you wanted to, because there's a law against that. Otherwise everyone would sneak "you are now my property" in the fine print or some would go beat someone up until they sign such a contract.

        Heck, AFAIK even in the USA there is this provision that contract clauses that are unexpected and unreasonable to a normal person, are essentially worthless. If you rent a car from my hypothetical car loan shop, I can't come afterwards and say "ha ha, in the small print says I now own your home and I just adopted your firstborn too", because that's clauses which don't belong there and aren't expected. I certainly can't see how an "I'm above the law" clause would be any more allowed.

        So it's just one of those crap EULA-type clauses that's there just to hopefully scare you into believing it, not because it's actually legal or enforceable. Some corporations figured out that instead of just lobbying for more power, they'll just claw away at your rights by just telling you that you're bound to give them some powers, and hoping that you'll actually believe it.

        Disturbingly enough, it seems to actually work.
  • by zakezuke (229119) on Monday August 27, 2007 @02:38AM (#20368685)
    When it was advertised as unlimited, I can see where a user could complain that it would be a FTC violation if they limited your service, but these days i've only noted in the adverts always on. What's the advertising stance presently on comcast service?
    • I believe this issue was settled some time ago, there might have been a lawsuit, but I couldn't find any information.

      To summarize, "unlimited" is an old term from the days of dialup modems, and refers to the maximum amount of time you are allowed to stay dialed in and connected: minutes per session, hours per month, and so on. With today's modern broadband connections, kept always-on and connected 24/7, referring to them as "unlimited" is correct. The definition, unfortunately, is old.

      However, this says nothing about the bandwidth you are allowed to use. This is today's top issue. We really need another definition to describe this.

      With dialup modems, few people really cared about bandwidth consumption, as they were so slow that they didn't make much of an impact, even when continually ran at top speed. With today's fast broadband connections, you can consume a lot of bandwidth in a hurry, and to be affordable at residential prices, they are deliberately oversold.

      There's a reason a T1 line still costs $600+/month. You're allowed to run anything and everything over it, no filtering, no capping, and to keep it maxed out at full wire speed, both upload and download, 24/7. Bandwidth to the Internet backbone, unfortunately, is still expensive. I wish it weren't true, but it is. I guess somebody has to pay for all that copper, fiber, and electricity....
      • There's a reason a T1 line still costs $600+/month.

        Ya, and it has nothing to do with the reasons you described. T1s and other lines with an SLA are so expensive because of their guaranteed uptime ( See the afore mentioned SLA ). I get 99.999999 uptime guaranteed from the company delivering it to me. That kind of up time is hellishly expensive.

        Business grade dsl and cable connections let you run whatever you want over them; but they aren't guaranteed with that kind of up time, and their price reflects th
      • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday August 27, 2007 @06:19AM (#20369611) Journal
        Well, I'm aware of that, and it's insightful in its own right, but it still doesn't justify fraud.

        If it takes 600+ per month to provide the service they advertised, then they can say so. Arguments boiling down to, "but we'd go bankrupt for actually providing the service we advertised," are still just fancy wording for fraud. If you can't deliver what you sold, it's fraud by any other name. If you can't afford to provide it at that price, then just don't in the first place.

        Redefining "unlimited" is bogus. That's just word play. If they wanted to mean exactly that and only that, it's damn easy to just say so. It takes at most one sentence. Heck, it just takes two extra words: "unlimited connect time." There, now it's perfectly clear what's meant.

        It's like putting a shield outside a pub that says "free unlimited beer" and then getting into wordplay games like "yes, well, see, we meant free and unlimited as in speech. We're not limiting your rights to do whatever you wish with your beer." It's still false advertising nevertheless.

        The truth is, "unlimited" used to mean exactly that: unlimited everything. And bandwidth used to cost a fair bit in the modem days too, because there was a lot less backbone cable laid. The problem was just the same. They just bet that you wouldn't use most of it. At the time, it wasn't that modems made it any different, it was just that there wasn't that horribly much to do on the net. And it was sorta self-throttling for everyone: if too many people try to see a web page at the same time, all of them get it a little slower. If there's anything that made a difference, it's not cable modems, it's that P2P programs came along. And those don't play as nice: they open hundreds of channels to stuff the bandwidth to the max.

        They also knew what they're getting into when they kept upgrading the DSL or cable speed without actually increasing the backbone speeds. They kept advertising higher and higher speeds, while fully knowing they can't actually deliver.

        Even the word redefinition falls on its face if you look at the examples and justifications they use to demonize their customers. Most are along that line of "but they kept downloading all day!" Ah-ha. So they used the connection and advertised bandwidth for actually an unlimited amount of time.

        At any rate, it's still fraud. They sold a service based on an expectation that's just short of explicit.

        Claiming "unlimited internet access" at, say, 1 megabit speed, is already making a claim about how much a cap you're getting. It means, 30 days times 24 hours times 3600 seconds times 1 megabit. Per month. XCalc says that's 2592000 megabits per month. Assuming 10 bits transmitted are roughly 1 content byte (the rest accounting for overhead, handshake, packet headers, etc), that's 259,200 megabytes or roughly 259 gigabytes. If you advertised more speed, that's more. E.g., if you advertised 6 megabit/s, for example, that's a bit over 1.5 terrabytes per month.

        That's the underlying assumption.

        For most people (myself included) it's more than they'll ever need, but nevertheless, that's the implicit quantity they sold. That's what those people bought. Not being willing and able to actually deliver it, just means fraud. Trying to demonize those who actually use all they bought is lame.

        It's no different than if I claimed that for X$ a month you can get 1.5 square miles of land on my hypothetical third country island, on the assumption that almost noone would actually get that much land. Then when you actually buy a tractor and build a fence around exactly that much land, the ISP way would be that I coome and kick you out for being a bad community member and using that much land at the expense of others. You should have known that regardless of what the contract says, you're not actually supposed to get more than 100 acres.

        That's another thing that gets my goat in that fraud, btw: trying to present those users as some arch-villains that steal from the community. It's not the IS
  • I have both Comcast cable and AT&T DSL. I'm really hesitant to use the Comcast cable for much of anything, because of this cap. It is great for games and Web browsing, because it is indeed very fast and responsive. However, for bulk downloads, I would steer clear of it, and BitTorrent is right out.

    DSL is slower, but I've never heard of a monthly bandwidth limit. I believe that the slower throughput speed of DSL is self-policing. DSL is also individually wired to each customer, unlike cable, as cable's bandwidth is shared throughout entire neighborhoods. So, the only one you hurt by maxing out the bandwidth of DSL is yourself, and with a packet shaper, this becomes less of a problem.

    It varies from area to area, but it appears the "secret" Comcast limit has been determined to be roughly 100 gigabytes per month. I believe this is a cumulative total of both upload and download.

    This has been going on for some time, and the good people at broadbandreports.com [broadbandreports.com] have much to say about it....
    • by mctk (840035) on Monday August 27, 2007 @02:55AM (#20368791) Homepage
      All this ballyhoo about "secret" limits is complete nonsense. I've been downloading movies using bittorrent 24 hours a day for weeks. And I've never had my internet usage limi
    • by arth1 (260657) on Monday August 27, 2007 @03:02AM (#20368819) Homepage Journal
      I also have Comcast cable and ADSL (but although AT&T owns the copper, I'm not using them as a service provider due to them using PPPoE, which increases packet fragmentation and reduces speed). But what I do is load balancing the two on the router, and polling the usage on each line from my router using SNMP. If the usage is high for a while, I reduce the relative amount of traffic being routed through the cable connection.

      Of course, this being a simple dual-WAN router, it's not true load balancing, but a weight-distributed round robin scheme for new outgoing connections. However, in the long run, that causes the traffic to fall into the same pattern too.

      Also, all SMTP traffic goes over ADSL, because Comcast blocks destination port 25 unless it's to their mail servers. I understand their reasoning for doing so, but I think the reason doesn't in any way justify the action. Better would be to shut down the customers who send spam instead of limiting everyone, and instead of shutting down people who may use the bandwidth they were promised for for legitimate uses.

      • I also have Comcast cable and ADSL (but although AT&T owns the copper, I'm not using them as a service provider due to them using PPPoE ...

        I'm curious as to why you have two connections. That aside, you probably know that PPPoE is not used for customers with static IP plans. If you're willing to pay for two connections, why not spend an extra few bucks and skip the PPPoE issues altogether?
        • by arth1 (260657)
          I have two connections mainly for the same reason I have two of many things -- redundancy. It sure helps with speed too, when load balanced.

          As for why I'm not spending a few bucks more for avoiding PPPoE, it's more than a few bucks more. For the 6000/768 package, AT&T charges $35 per month with a dynamic IP and $75 per month with static IPs if signing up for a full year at a time and $95 per month with no binding. Since my local ISP offers bridged ethernet for a price in-between, why should I not go
    • by h3llfish (663057)
      I don't understand why you're so hesitant to use BitTorrent on your Comcast connection. I use it on mine quite a bit. I must never have hit 100 gigs, but I can't be far off. And that's true for other people I know.

      I think that part of it is that I always make sure the ratio of the torrent gets back to 1.0 before I shut it off. That essentially limits me to 44 kBp/s down, as well as up, which puts a cap on my downloading for the month.

      Do that, and they'll never shut you off. I'm pretty sure that o
    • by quokkapox (847798) <quokkapox@gmail.com> on Monday August 27, 2007 @03:24AM (#20368887)

      I have both Comcast cable and AT&T DSL.

      Wow. Have you ever tried seeding a torrent to yourself?

    • by Anti_Climax (447121) on Monday August 27, 2007 @03:34AM (#20368941)
      The topography of DSL and Cable really aren't as dissimilar as you make them out to be. Most DSL is being handled through remote terminals, which are essentially a telco rack in a freestanding cabinet with a battery back-up (preferrably non-explosive) and Fiber back to the Telco's network. The fiber may handle voice and data or just voice, but either way, the data link through the fiber is Multiplexed to all the DSL subscribers fed by that cabinet. Provided the total of the link speeds offered to the subscribers is less than the fiber link, you get "guaranteed" bandwidth on your DSL. However there is nothing besides the phone company's own goodwill that prevents them from overselling the total bandwidth from that cabinet. Hell, most DSL providers won't even guarantee the rate your line will sync at and that's only the rate from your modem to the DSLAM. It says nothing of the speed behind it. I know from personal experience that you can sync a customer to a DSLAM at 8mbit/sec when there's only 3mbit behind it.

      SATA150 won't change the speed of a file transfer from a hard drive that can only read 40MB/sec at the platter.

      With cable, most areas are fed by a residential gateway that's connected back to their network through Fiber. In places that offer digital cable, the video signal is pulled off for transmission and video on demand stuff and the pure data portion is multiplexed to all the cable modems that are served by that gateway. Now I'm not sure how many homes are served by one gateway, but I've been told that they are setup to handle several thousand customers. Just like with DSL they can oversell the available bandwidth, and if they did it would behave exactly the same way.

      So in reality, neither offers "guaranteed" bandwidth. One may offer a guaranteed line rate, but that means nothing without the bandwidth to back it up. It just depends on the providers when it comes to deciding which is better. I'm glad Cox has there act together here in Phoenix (my 12Mbit connection pulls over 13 from good servers any time of day)
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      It varies from area to area, but it appears the "secret" Comcast limit has been determined to be roughly 100 gigabytes per month. I believe this is a cumulative total of both upload and download.

      I wonder where you got that 100GB per month number from.

      http://www.google.com/search?q=comcast+cap+100gb [google.com]
      http://www.google.com/search?q=comcast+cap+200gb [google.com]

      You get a lot more results talking about a 200 GB per month cap.

      I'm willing to believe that the cap is closer to 100 GB, but you didn't back up your statement with any facts at all. No proof = autofail

    • by truesaer (135079)
      Its not a big surprise, lots of businesses choose to stop doing business with unprofitable customers. You might argue that they should set a bright line for what is ok and what isn't, but there's not much advantage to that for the business. I haven't seen it advertised as unlimited in several years.

      It doesn't particularly bother me, bandwidth hogs increase the cost for the average user. Remember these are residential class services, anyone can get a true unlimited bandwidth service if they use that much

  • by Fujisawa Sensei (207127) on Monday August 27, 2007 @02:39AM (#20368695) Journal

    Hire a lawyer and sue the fuckers for breach of contract. Both parties in a contract must be privy to the terms of the contract. So sue the fuckers, because if they haven't revealed the limitation on the TOS, the limitation isn't valid.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kennygraham (894697)
      Sue them? For what losses? The pain and suffering of not having internet? They're not under any legal obligation to continue providing you service. If they were trying to bill you for overage charges, then maybe. But they're just cutting off service.
      • by Fizzl (209397) <fizzl@fizzl.nMOSCOWet minus city> on Monday August 27, 2007 @03:45AM (#20368985) Homepage Journal
        They cannot cancel the service for no reason.
        The contract has two parties. If you are paying for a service, you are eligible for the service within terms of the contract.
        The correct way to handle this would be the update the contract to include some vague clause about "excessive use" as a reason for terminating a contract or limiting use.

        And yes. I could sue my provider for damages were they to drop my connection. I do most of my work from home but need almost constant VPN to the office. However, I'm pretty sure my contract is a standard private person one, where claims of damage are limited to the cost of the connection. If that clause is enforceable in my legislation is entirely different matter.
      • by Cheviot (248921) on Monday August 27, 2007 @08:23AM (#20370249)
        It doesn't matter what you sue them for. The suit just needs to survive a motion to dismiss. Then you can get discovery and find out what the secret limit is... moments later it's not a secret.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sjames (1099)

        Sue them? For what losses? The pain and suffering of not having internet?

        For telecommuters, the loss of employment. The necessity of internat access is growing steadily. When I first got a dial-up account, people might ask inter-what? Then came AOL and average people surfing. Then buying online and a few telecommuters. Now we have online interaction with some government agencies and more telecommuting.

        There is a social benefit to more telecommuting in order to reduce fuel consumption and traffic conge

    • by h3llfish (663057)
      With such sound legal advise as this available online, it's hard to see how all lawyers don't instantly go out of business...

      I'm pretty sure that Comcast would emerge the victor if you chose to tangle with them in the courts. Even if you banded together with other people who had been shut off, the legal firepower that you could muster would be truly pathetic compared to Comcast's army of blue-haired lawyers.

      I'm not a lawyer (as I assume you must be), so I really can't say whether your statement has
  • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Monday August 27, 2007 @02:44AM (#20368725) Journal
    if your internet is cut off?
    • by threaded (89367)
      Ah you don't quite know the joys of the American telephone system. In the good ol'US of A you'd be quite silly to rely on only one path for the last mile to the net. Most people I know have a line that is good and fast for gaming, another that is good for big downloads and maybe some more if they have their own servers. They work out which connections are really separate by trial and error: chatting to neighbours when there are outages to find out which service providers are still up etc. etc..
    • by deniable (76198)
      Do it from work.
    • You dig out that old 75 baud modem. It is fast enough for typing with one finger.
  • Not that bad... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 27, 2007 @02:45AM (#20368727)
    Taken from another website regarding this same matter. Credit to Generation_D.

    "From what I know, the unspoken limits about 300 GB a month, which is more than almost any of us will touch even once in a lifetime, it takes multiple torrents running full on 24.7 . We know this cause we caught some Comcast rejects moving to our company. Sudden spikes in monthly bandwidth on our end can doom our business, to the level these guys were pulling.

    The reason Comcast doesnt tell you is if they did, asshat downloaders would lawyer the total and if lets say it was 100, they'd use 99.9999 then whine if they were denied that much. The approach would backfire. Plus its a competitive disadvantage for Comcast if their competitors know what a soft limit on dl's is. You'd generate a race to the bottom over max downloads, again, the tactic would backfire.

    There's always one claimed good citizen, but reading the article he has 6 kids, guaranteed not all of them is telling daddy what he left the computer doing all last night, and the night before, and the night before that. non stop DL porn? in my family's PC? Its more common than you think.

    And no its not a content issue, but you'd be amazed how some of these guys have no idea what 300GB of porn or DVD looks like. Some of us with ISP careers do -- purely research purposes. And I can tell you not even our raging gamer tech supporters touch anywhere near 300 GB in a month, I've tried to get them to.

    Hitting those caps is very difficult to do unless you're running non stop multiple torrents. Despite what mr. innocent citizen says."
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday August 27, 2007 @03:29AM (#20368909)
      Then I don't have a whole lot of sympathy. Yes, Comcast should still state what the limit is. I can understand why they don't want to since it would encourage people to use more, and they'd have to develop a tool for you to check on it, but they still should do it.

      However I'm not really that sympathetic to the people hitting it. 300GB is a shitload of traffic. I run a couple web servers (business class cable account) and download anything that catches my fancy like large demos, as well as watch any video I want online, and I've never hit that. That's 10GB a day, for the whole damn month. You really have to try to generate traffic like that. I mean I absolutely don't restrict myself in any way, I pay for a business account it really is unlimited (I have an SLA) and the connection is fast 10mb/1mb. Still rare the month I even do half of that, and that's accounting the 50GB or so that the servers do.

      I still think Comcast needs to state the limit, but people can't pretend like you can buy cheap access, slam it 24/7, and expect not to have someone get annoyed.

      It's the same deal on the campus where I work. We don't want to do something dick like rate limit people's connections. I mean we've got fast access, it's nice to have fast downloads. You need to get a Knoppix DVD? Get on a good torrent and you'll get it at 5mbytes/sec or more. However, that doesn't mean that you are free to do that all the time. If you did, it'd suck up too much campus bandwidth. It works because people will get what they want and then go back to low usage, allowing others to have a share. If everyone tried to max it, well everything would go slow.

      So, rather than rate limit connections so that you can't do it, but always put up with slow downloads, it is a situation of if you don't keep it reasonable, you'll get yelled at, or get your port shut down if you still won't comply. There's not a hard limit, it is basically a "When you are causing problems," situation. During the summer? Go nuts pretty much. When Knoppix 5 came out I got permission to seed it over a weekend and did about 1.5TB of transfers. During the year during the week? Hell no, there are tens of thousands of others using the connection, be respectful of it.

      Same deal with Internet at your home. The less you are paying, the more shared it is and the more restrictions you can expect. If you want less restrictions, you can generally pay for it. I bought business cable which allows me to run servers and doesn't really cap bandwidth usage, though I'm still sharing the spectrum with other people on my segment. If I wanted I could further move up to something more dedicated like a T1, for more money. The higher up the chain you go, the less you share it.

      Sounds to me like they just want people to keep it reasonable. You don't really need to download 50 movies a month and a thousand MP3 and 10 large game demos and so on (which is the kind of thing it would take to hit 300GB). Morality of infringing on copyrighted material aside, you just need to keep it more reasonable and you'll be fine.

      That or pony up the cash for a better class of service. I hesitate to recommend Speakeasy now that Best Buy owns them, and in fact that's why I switched to business class cable (Cox, not Comcast), but they don't do any restrictions at all on their high end accounts. They aren't the only provider out there that does that. However, you do pay a bit more. Expect to pay about $100/month for a 6mb/768k DSL like. That is generally equal or inferior to what you'd get with $30-40 cable service. However, Speakeasy is charging an amount sufficient that they can afford to have you run servers and and use that line fully. The cable company is not (for the consumer account).
      • by Seumas (6865) on Monday August 27, 2007 @04:20AM (#20369117)
        Business class of service? According to comcast, the EXACT same rules and limits apply to business accounts. In fact, business accounts have been banned for too much bandwidth, too.

        I went out of my way to call comcast and say "Look, I don't want to abuse anything. I want to be a good, paying customer. I need XYZ amount of bandwidth per month and I'm willing to pay for it. I'll take a business account or two residential accounts (or three if you want). Just tell me what I need to pay to get the services I need and not be kicked off by you guys?".

        The answer? "Yeah, we don't have anything like that -- sorry".
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ghyd (981064)
        Say you live in France and watch TV on your computer. At 3.5 mbps second for the average channel (some channels have a low bandwidth version, and some others are HD and I think that they consume around 8/10mbps). Let's say you look TV 4 hours a day (which seems about average for US people?). 6 x 60 x 60 x 3.5 = 75600 megs in one week if I'm not mistaken (I hope I'm not :). Add the phone and downloads, it may make a lot. Well I'm sure happy that my 30 17mbps line (why 17 ? it's the maximum my line can do, s
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Seumas (6865)
      The reason Comcast doesnt tell you is if they did, asshat downloaders would lawyer the total and if lets say it was 100, they'd use 99.9999 then whine if they were denied that much. The approach would backfire. Plus its a competitive disadvantage for Comcast if their competitors know what a soft limit on dl's is.

      Bullshit on two points.

      First, the people comcast is complaining about are ALREADY using more than that amount. Hence the notices. So define a limit that you want to stick to and that you can handle
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday August 27, 2007 @04:32AM (#20369167) Journal
      Look, I'm not a high downloader myself. In fact, most of my bandwidth usage is from playing MMOs, because the rest of time is, well, spent like now: my connection idles while I type a huge message on a board or another. I'd even be a fan of returning to a pay-per-MB scheme, since I don't see why I'd have to subsidize those downloading terrabytes of porn and ripped HD movies. Plus, let's face it, shiny-happy communal resource schemes just result in the poor subsidizing the rich, and "tragedy of the commons" situations.

      That says, I'd draw the line at calling people "asshats" just because they use the bandwidth they were sold. They got sold a service on the explicit claim that it's unmetered and unlimited, and they're actually using it as such.

      I'm not surprised that the text you quote comes from another ISP, because it's a widespread disease: sell based on outright lies, then try to demonize the users who actually use what they bought. And I find that lame.

      It's like advertising an all-you-can-eat breakfast hour at your restaurant, then starting calling people names when they take more than a cup of tea, two slices of bread and a slice of cheese. Or like advertising that a hotel includes a free swimming pool, and then starting treating people like thieves if they're in there for more than half an hour a day. I'm betting not many people would go to that restaurant or hotel again.

      Talks about what "normal people" should use or about downloading porn are just a stupid strawman there, plus some appeal to shame when invoking the downloading porn all night argument. It's just freakin' irrelevant. Those people never signed a contract that said "thou shalt not download more than thy neighbour" or "thou shalt never use it for porn", and that's certainly not the service that the ISP advertised. If they're against downloading porn, just advertise as "the family-friendly network where porn is forbidden and a termination offense" and see if that flies in the market.

      Those people were advertised unmetered, unlimited access, and there was no talk about what they can't use it for, either. Period. Now deliver what you sold.

      Because all the talk about "asshats" and "bad network citizens" and such is just weasel wording to justify a _fraud_. The ISP sold something he can't deliver, and now is calling the customer names when he actually wants what he's bought.

      It's no different than, say, me selling you a PS3 on ebay and then starting calling you names when you actually want it. "Auugh, he's an asshat! If all people actually received their PS3s we'd go bankrupt! I bet he just wants to watch Blue Ray porn on it all night! Someone shame him and drive him away already!" It's just not right.

      So basically my message to those ISPs is: fuck you, if you can't afford to really offer that kind of service, then fucking stop selling it. Because presenting people as some kind of supreme-evil arch-villains for just using the service they bought, is just lame. Go back to pay-by-hour or pay-by-MB if you can't afford to live up to the unlimited service you promised. But have the fucking _decency_ to not demonize people who just use the service they were advertised and sold.
  • by ystar (898731) on Monday August 27, 2007 @02:46AM (#20368729)
    I'm always connecting to the servers and especially my own box at school when i'm at home. I'm swapping huge data files back and forth, backing stuff up, and vnc-ing. Comcast can only see that everything is going through ssh. Add all the non-copyright infringing youtube videos, linux distros and kernels, so on and so forth, to that and I'm already a huge drain without even pirating anything. If they announce their secret limit, they better let their customers see some reports on our own traffic, especially *according to what they're measuring.*

    If they include as part of the limit all the packet and port snooping they're apparently doing on their customers, I want to know.
    • by h3llfish (663057)
      No, I don't think this will hurt any home business. I can't think of any that would reach the cap limits that people have been discussing - whether it's 100 GB or 300 GB a month, few businesses need to download that much information in a month.

      Photographers can generate large amounts of date, and videographers even more. But they don't download that data to their home office nearly as often as they need to upload it - to the printer, to the web site that hosts their images, to where ever people are usi
      • by ystar (898731)
        Home business users know they're better off with a busines package from Comcast or other ISPs, or with a dedicated symmetrical line. But I'm talking about just working from home - I can't afford a pro connection to work on large data sets, especially as a student. My point is that if Comcast is going to enforce caps, they can't justify avoiding disclosure just because folks must be using all that precious bandwidth to pirate stuff, or to run servers from home (which is probably against their ToS)
        • by h3llfish (663057)
          No, the home business users that I very often talked to in my old job we not even aware there was such a thing as home business package. And like you, many couldn't have afforded it if they did know. They didn't know that their upload speed had been capped, either, until they asked me why it took so long to upload 2 GB of images. Users who are tech-savvy enough to know that they have asymmetrical connections are a real minority in my experience.

          So what kind of data sets are you working with that you'
          • by ystar (898731)
            Sorry for not specifying; I meant to suggest users *on slashdot* reading my previous comment would know about the option. You're right, it's a rare situation. As an aside, I'm working with video compression so even short uncompressed sources quickly spiral up to hundreds of gigs. That's definitely a minority usage pattern as far as comcast is concerned, but if I sat down with the head of their series of tubes division, I'd explain to them that I pay the same bill as everyone else and I deserve to know if I'
  • it were 6 or 7 years ago. I'm sort of surprised nobody's been able to get anything out of them after all this time, maybe some type of suit will happen someday. It's the American way isn't it?
  • Dupe (Score:2, Informative)

    by Tweekster (949766)
    Seriously, this is a dupe. Eventually people are just gonna have to accept that "reasonable" limits do exist on a service.

    I think they should specify what those limits are, but lots of limits in life are not strictly specified, basically be reasonable. speed limits might have a specified limit, however everyone goes at a speed of whats reasonable and ignores the hard limit.

    this is a dupe because it is now known comcast does this. it isnt news, it isnt shocking, it is well known, it is stupid but it isnt go
    • And that's the problem. Companies found that with all kinds of lines. For example back in the earlier net days providers wanted to offer metered high bandwidth connections for companies. Something like you get a DS3, maybe even full DS3, but only only get so many GB/month on it. They figured it was a win/win. People want fast downloads, but don't need to use them all the time. They can handle that without expensive backbone upgrades. So they sell you a line that has limits. You get tons of speed, but only s
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rasjani (97395)

      this is a dupe because it is now known comcast does this. it isnt news, it isnt shocking, it is well known, it is stupid but it isnt gonna change.
      Nah. Its a dupe because it has been discussed in /. previously: http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/03/12/231620 9 [slashdot.org]
  • I'm a Comcast subscriber with heavy usage, but I don't pay much attention to exactly how much I'm using or how fast it is. I've been noticing slow speeds every once in a while for a long time now, but I have no idea how to go about carefully measuring it. What's an easy way to do so?

    • You can benchmark your connection via speed test from dlsreports.com. As for keeping track of your up/down bit count on a monthly bases, I'm not sure. Perhaps there's some utility out there. Let me know if you find one being that I subscribe to Comcast too.

      http://www.dslreports.com/speedtest [dslreports.com]
  • Hidden Danger (Score:5, Insightful)

    by biocute (936687) on Monday August 27, 2007 @02:56AM (#20368795) Homepage
    By introducing, or FUDing a secret limit, Comcast users are now in fear that they could be cut off at any time. While some are likely to switch ISP, most will try to slow down a bit "just in case". Overall less data will be used.

    If Comcast sets a public limit, most users will try to get to that limit just to get the money's worth, and this tends to increase overall usage.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Swift(void) (655825)

      If Comcast sets a public limit, most users will try to get to that limit just to get the money's worth, and this tends to increase overall usage.

      No they won't. The only customers that will try and reach a publicly stated limit are those that already reach or go past the limit. Joe Average that does 15 gig a month browsing, some youtube and maybe some online games for the kids isn't suddenly going to lose his head and try and download 100 gig a month, every month, just because that is the limit. Yours is a v

  • by Fedhax (513562) on Monday August 27, 2007 @02:57AM (#20368801)
    This year, Comcast has issued a revised Subscriber (Residential) Service Agreement. In this agreement, you agree to arbitration only unless you opt out within 30 days of receiving this agreement.

    If you don't opt out of this clause, your chances of receiving any civil compensation are greatly reduced. All of the other posts that talk about turning your team of lawyers loose on Comcast would be wise to review the entire agreement first.

    http://www.comcast.com/arbitrationoptout/default.a shx [comcast.com]
  • Less people clogging up our tubes.

    What do you expect from a monopoly? Do you expect them to play by rules or in any way seem competitive? There are a lot of places in the US that do not even have broadband.
  • Here is the subject material for a new story.
  • by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Monday August 27, 2007 @03:34AM (#20368933) Homepage Journal
    With a secret limit, especially if it has a slightly random element to it (say, 10% off by either way), one wouldn't need to worry about every putz throttling themselves to 98% of the limit all the time and hogging the bandwidth. "Be reasonable" is fuzzy advice from a math standpoint, but generally a better way to organise things than the alternative.
  • Dude if you're pushing 200 gig to 300 gig a month band useage it's time to look into T1 lines or dump the torrent. I don't have the time to download that much let alone tie up equipment doing it and I have five machines running. I'm going to move in the Spring and I've considered a T1 line. I do transfer a lot of data at times but almost the bigger consideration is reliability. They've been working on the local cable service and my internet keeps going down which results in hours lost trying to explain to t
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by michaelhood (667393)
      I logged in just to post this and save you a giant =( in the Spring.

      FYI a T1 is something like 1.544mbps. 1544/8 = 193kBps.

      I regularly sustain 1200kBps on my cable connection when downloading, and even average cable speeds are 600kBps (~5mbps) or better. So, whether you realize it or not, you're going to notice a significant reduction in browsing and casual download speeds.

      T1s used to be the "rave" because of their increased reliability, and significantly lower latency than traditional consumer options. Tod
  • by fwc (168330) on Monday August 27, 2007 @02:28PM (#20374467)
    While I disagree with some hidden limit, as a sysadmin for an ISP with caps, I will say that these types of limits are being driven by some real economics on the back end.

    In much of the country, ISP's are thrilled if they can pay (at the DS3 level) $75 per mb/s delivered to their network. $100/mb/s is not uncommon, as are much higher figures.

    Note that this does not include things like the actual facilities used to deliver this to the consumer.

    1mb/s is 3.6gb/hour, 86.4gb/day, or 2592gb/month. Note that these are all gigabit/s. Divide by 8 to get gigabytes/month and you find that the ISP only has 324GB/month (assuming perfect transfer efficiencies) for their $75.00. This also incorrectly assumes that the traffic is spread evenly over 24x7. In reality, transfer on a full circuit is more along the lines of 100-150GB/month per meg of circuit capacity when you take into account day and night patterns.

    So assuming that someone is transferring 300GB/month, the bandwidth alone may be costing the ISP close to $150/month.

    Another point which is often missed is the traffic engineering issues caused by even a couple of customers transferring 300GB/month on a given segment - Especially if this is upload traffic in a system which has very limited upload capacity. One or two customers transferring this quantity of data can bring a system to it's knees and significantly affect the throughput other subscribers have available to them, causing all subscribers on the segment to be unhappy about their service.
    The ISP is then faced with upgrading it's systems to support one or two customers which are already potentially costing them more money than they are providing. To put this into perspective, the same amount of capacity to serve one 300GB/month subscriber could easily handle 100 or more "normal" 3GB/s or less a month subscriber.

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