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Comcast Slightly Clarifies High Speed Extreme Use Policy 618

Posted by Zonk
from the that's-some-customer-service-right-there dept.
Alien54 writes "Comcast has finally clarified what 'excessive use' is when it comes to their cable internet service. A customer is exceeding their use limit if they: download the equivalent of 30,000 songs, 250,000 pictures or 13 million emails in a month. '[A Comcast spokesperson] said that Comcast's actions to cut ties with excessive users is a "great benefit to games and helps protect gamers and their game experience" due to their overuse of the network and thus "degrading the experience."'" Maybe they could put that limit in terms other than 'email' or 'songs'?
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Comcast Slightly Clarifies High Speed Extreme Use Policy

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  • by danwat1234 (942579) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @04:03PM (#20628563) Journal
    An e-mail I sent to gamedaily.com about this article. I have a question about the article on your website named:: Comcast Clarifies High Speed Extreme Use Policy The article says the equivalent bandwidth usage may cause Comcast to cut the user off from their High speed Internet service:: "the equivalent of 30,000 songs, 250,000 pictures or 13 million emails in a month." Ok, why did they not actually give you an actual # of bytes that the Internet connection would have to download through Comcast's Internet service before it is cut off? Should I assume that an average song is around 3 megabytes each, and so that the actual limit is 90 Gigabytes per month? They are not clarifying anything because Comcast has not released the exact limit..and I don't know why.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 16, 2007 @05:41PM (#20629325)
      Those bastards don't state the limit for 2 reasons:
      1) they don't want it to be a factor in user-choice - naturally the limit is not generous as otherwise they would have published
      2) they must have variable limits in different places depending on load (or more exactly - oversell) - so they want to be able to kick out local top 1% of users regardless if they breach some global limit.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ucklak (755284)
        I'm sure location also plays a factor as to why that limit isn't published.

        Cox's network has 12M in some areas (mine) and 3M to 7M in others with regards to speed.

        If they publish 90Gig as a limit, it may tax a 3M network if 40% of users were utilizing 90% of it versus 90Gig not being as much of a burden on a pipe 4 times larger.
      • by InvalidError (771317) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @07:16PM (#20630319)
        My current ISP recently announced a 100GB/month cap on its version of Extreme service. At ~3MB per MP3 and 30k songs/month, Comcast's vague limit also falls in the 100GB ballpark... that's the same limit as the vast majority of service offers in my area.

        When one of my friends who was on said Extreme service got pissed off about paying ~$80/month for unlimited and getting suddenly capped to 100GB, I looked around to check out what sorts of alternatives were available in my area - something I had not done in years. From what I have seen, there are dozens of DSL resellers who are offering a choice between 100GB/month low-latency or unlimited low-priority traffic for only $30/month at 5000/800 speeds. (Well, with DSL, mileage may vary - even more so with third-party service that may be routed through auxiliary networks between the DSLAM and global internet.)

        Since my current service contract costs $40/month for only 30GB/month, I will soon start sampling DSL service in my area until my contract expires - the ridiculously low limits make the extra speed seem superfluous... I have about four months left to pick my new ISP and there are about 40 (mostly ADSL) to choose from.

        I am guessing Canada must have a law/rule requiring ISPs to declare limits since all ISPs I have seen do state the limits somewhere on their product pages... though sometimes they are a little obfuscated such as being written in an expandable page section that is collapsed by default made to look like a simple paragraph separator line until you pay close attention to it and notice the '+' sign at one end. I suppose this means the law/rule, if any, omitted to state how visible/accessible data on those limits must be.

        My current ISP might be too expensive for the ridiculous limits it has on my package but at least I have always known what the limits were... if I were a Comcast customer, I would go for a class-action suit to force full disclosure of this mysterious limit and the methods behind it - customers should not have to guess what the ToS are no matter what lame excuse Comcast may have.
        • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @09:49PM (#20631529) Homepage
          I don't think there's any room for interpretation of the word "unlimited." If they use that word, they need to be sued.

          But by and large, this is the reason the utilities commissioners need to push for higher global infrastructure standards. These clowns don't want to upgrade their systems and when users begin to push the limits of their infrastructure, they tax the users rather than upgrading their network as they should.

          These monopolists do everything they can to keep the willing competition from delivering what the people want, pay the politicians and commissioners so they don't have to upgrade their infrastructure and then over-charge the users. It's time the people got some representation for a change.
      • by ucblockhead (63650) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @08:09PM (#20630771) Homepage Journal
        Plus the last thing they want is people downloading exactly the limit every month. By making it vague, they ensure that people will stay significantly under the limits that would give them trouble.
        • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @09:25PM (#20631365)
          "Plus the last thing they want is people downloading exactly the limit every month. By making it vague, they ensure that people will stay significantly under the limits that would give them trouble."

          It's not just that. When they say people are being 'excessive', that's different from saying "They downloaded n gigs of data even though it says unlimited in our plan".
        • by watchingeyes (1097855) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @10:17PM (#20631695) Homepage
          Canadian ISP's publish precisely what the limit is, and my ISP, Shaw, even provides graphs update bi-hourly showing your exact MTD usage down to the MB, so you know almost exactly how much is remaining for the month. I merely go to http://secure.shaw.ca/ [secure.shaw.ca] , type in my account info, and I can view them. They, directly on their product page, give the exact difference between download caps between their different offerings, with the lowest one having 60GB a month, and the highest having 160GB (the middle one has 100GB).

          I've also gone up to 10% over on a few months, and even then they didn't do anything.

          Furthermore, most of the people whom I've talked to (which is many considering I work for a Canadian ISP) don't know what their bandwidth cap is, and don't come CLOSE to using it. This isn't surprising, considering most customers use the internet primarily for web browsing/online shopping, MSN (MSN is easily the most dominant IM service in Canada), gaming and music sharing. Movie sharing is still relatively limited and not used by most people, and any video service outside of Youtube has a rather limited reach.

          Slashdot readers may use a whole giant crap-load of bandwidth, but the vast majority of the other 99.99% of the population don't use all that much.

          When services like Joost and other HD services that use bittorrent, or even ones that don't, become more pervasive and mainstream, thus bringing higher bandwidth usage to most consumers....then the ISP's are gonna be having problems. Right now though, any fears that people will intentionally use up all of their bandwidth are, quite frankly, ridiculous.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by JehCt (879940) *
        The reason they don't publish the actual limit is that they are smart and they understand game theory [wikipedia.org]. If they publish a limit, abusive users will carefully monitor bandwidth and go right up to the limit, and then switch accounts. It's standard practice not to publish exact limits when you don't want to be "gamed". You can hate Comcast, that's fine, but give credit where credit is due. They are smart a-holes.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Shakrai (717556)

          The reason they don't publish the actual limit is that they are smart and they understand game theory. If they publish a limit, abusive users will carefully monitor bandwidth and go right up to the limit, and then switch accounts. It's standard practice not to publish exact limits when you don't want to be "gamed". You can hate Comcast, that's fine, but give credit where credit is due. They are smart a-holes.

          So, following your theory, T-Mobile and Verizon can stop telling people exactly how many peak minutes they are getting with their plan, because "abusive users" will carefully monitor their usage and go right up to the limit and then stop using it for the month, thus denying them the overage? They should just sell it as "unlimited" and cut people off who in their minds talk on the phone too much, right?

          You say "abusive users", I say "maximizing the value of the service that I'm paying for".

    • "the equivalent of 30,000 songs, 250,000 pictures or 13 million emails in a month." Ok, why did they not actually give you an actual # of bytes that the Internet connection would have to download through Comcast's Internet service before it is cut off?
      As far as I can guess, a "song" is 4 MB, enough for 4 minutes and 10 seconds of audio at the typical lossy data rate of 128 kilobits per second.
      • lets do the math! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Gabest (852807) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @05:48PM (#20629423)
        30000*songs = 250000*pictures = 13000000*emails 1 song = 3MB => 1 picure = 360KB => 1 email = 6.92KB Seems right, unless you want to send pictures or songs are email attachments :)
        • Re:lets do the math! (Score:4, Informative)

          by Seumas (6865) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @06:09PM (#20629723)
          A song is 3mb? What crappy bitrate do they think people encode to? A decent quality rip is going to be around 7mb. Possibly more.

          They need to get off it and stop being so cryptic. They also need to realize that "excessive use" can be easily exceeded by completely reasonable means.

          Today, I downloaded some demos on XBOX. That was about 10gb. I downloaded some video/demo/subscription content via both XBOX and PS3 this past month, too. So that's another 10gb (all of the TGS content from Microsoft via XBL alone is about 3gb).

          I downloaded my weekly podcasts (video and audio). That was about 3gb.

          I am 1500 miles from my home town, so I stream the local radio station (256kbps) all day every day (about 30gb/mo, probably).

          My roommate also streams his favorite radio station most of the day. Another 20gb or so per month.

          I streamed several movies from a pay service (like vongo) this week. Figure that's another 15gb/mo.

          My roommate watched a few movies the same way. Another 5gb.

          I downloaded three linux ISOs via torrent and seeded them to 100%. That's another 5gb.

          I uploaded about 20gb of MP3s to my mp3tunes account.

          This doesn't count surfing or watching youtube style content or FTPing to my remote server or connecting to my machine in the office via VNC and VPN. With completely reasonable uses, I've just accounted for 118gb between two people on one residential account. I presume the use would be higher if there were more people. Say, a four or five person family, for example.

          And of course, the biggest issue here is that they've simply avoided answering the question altogether. The title of this submission is inaccurate. They didn't answer anything, yet offered a response that can be turned against any user by simply adjusting how big these pictures and emails supposedly are supposed to be for this calculation.

          Even stupider, they show just how far behind the times they are by measuring things in "emails, songs and pictures". Welcome to 1998, friends.
          • by Cid Highwind (9258) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @07:39PM (#20630527) Homepage
            Even stupider, they show just how far behind the times they are by measuring things in "emails, songs and pictures". Welcome to 1998, friends.

            I prefer to have my bandwidth cap quoted in station wagons of DLT tapes per month...
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nmb3000 (741169)
          30000*songs = 250000*pictures = 13000000*emails 1 song = 3MB => 1 picure = 360KB => 1 email = 6.92KB Seems right

          True, but by not giving hard numbers they leave the door open for people to make wild assumptions.

          For example, I store all my music as uncompressed PCM WAVs with an average weight of 50MB. My images are all high-resolution JPEGs with sizes around 6MB (this is actually very realistic). My email is all formatted as HTML composed using Microsoft Word with average message size being 118KB (ha -
      • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @07:20PM (#20630359) Journal
        One of their ads for powerboost reads

        Imagine you're downloading a 20 Megabyte file with 5 MP3 songs. It would take almost 3.5 minutes with a 768 kbs DSL connection. Compare that to just about 20 seconds with Comcast High-Speed Internet with Powerboost.

        This comparison isn't meant for the high bandwidth user. It's meant for people who have trouble understanding why anyone would download anything as large as a linux distribution.

    • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @05:42PM (#20629341)
      They are not clarifying anything because Comcast has not released the exact limit..and I don't know why.

      That's obvious. If they issue an actual hard limit, customers would hold them to it. I know I would ... I have bandwidth monitoring on my network and if they cut me off too soon I'd scream bloody murder, believe me. A few hundred thousand customers clogging their support lines is what they absolutely do not want. This way, however, they can maintain their long-term SOP of vague threats and unspecified "limits" and continue to nail anyone they want to, any time they want. All this does is create uncertainty among their customers, which is exactly what they want so people will be afraid to use their connections "too much". Let's not forget that once they say "this is how much capacity you can use" they would have a hard time justifying the promises made by their marketing department.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pokerdad (1124121)

        All this does is create uncertainty among their customers,

        Perhaps it is just that they assumed that most of their customers would think that expressing it in GB is too technical.

        Better yet, it could be that the actual value, expressed in GB, was passed on to their PR department who looked at it and said "what the hell does that mean?" Some tech gave the PR department some examples of how much data might be contained in the stated value, and the PR department released the examples (because it made sense to them) rather than the GB.

      • by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @06:22PM (#20629847)
        and that is how much they oversell the line you are on.

        If you are the only customer of 30 on a loop, there would be a lot leeway to give you bandwidth than if you were one of 500.

        If they had a hard limit, they would be kicking off profitable customers in more rural areas and keeping perhaps unprofitable customers in high load areas (due them "hogging" bandwidth and chasing other customers off due to a poor experience).
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TubeSteak (669689)

          If they had a hard limit, they would be kicking off profitable customers in more rural areas

          What? Maybe you mispoke.
          Profitable customers = customers who use as little bandwidth as possible
          Why would they "be kicking off" those customers?

          and keeping perhaps unprofitable customers in high load areas (due them "hogging" bandwidth and chasing other customers off due to a poor experience).

          It seems to me that you're somehow arguing that if people use all the way up to a fictitious hard limit, they're unprofitable, but can't be kicked off. If they're unprofitable... change the limit.

          • by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @08:11PM (#20630779)
            I haven't mispoke, perhaps I was not clear. I don't think the bandwidth used is the problem because bandwidth to the Internet backbone is relatively cheap and I'm sure the Central Office has high bandwidth Fiber Optic connecting them to the rest of the world.

            But bandwidth on Cable is comparitively PHYSICALLY limited. So, considerations are weighted on conditions of the local loop.

            For example, if you are 1 of 30 customers on a local loop and you download 300 gigabytes per month - you still might have a very minor impact on fellow customers. As such, since you bring an extra $60 per month to Comcast, might be good word of mouth advertising in the local area, might use other comcast cable services, it would make little sense in kicking you off since you'd still be a profitable customer.

            But, if you are 1 of 500 customers on an oversold local loop, and you download 200 gigabytes per month - you could be a major impact on this line on fellow customers. Keeping you as a customer may drive off several others who find the browsing too slow. In this case -- even though you download LESS than the previous example - you would still be less desirable as a customer.

            There could be other considerations too - if you do the bulk of your downloading at night when most people sleep - perhaps they factor that in as a consideration rather than someone who downloads during the day - especially in the evening when EVERYBODY else is on. It isn't unheard of - electricity is cheaper during off-peak hours as well.
      • by Kythe (4779) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @06:43PM (#20630035)
        They don't give an actual limit for marketing reasons.

        Up until a couple of years back, Comcast used to advertise their service as "unlimited". They quietly stopped doing that, and certainly never made any effort to inform people that they were no longer advertising an "unlimited" service. But I think it's more than just neglecting to tell customers and potential customers about the shift.

        When most people are told about Comcast cutting people off, they still think Comcast is advertising an unlimited service. I believe Comcast benefits from this impression. At the same time, they can claim, when push comes to shove, that they don't advertise an "unlimited service" and feign ignorance as to from where that impression comes. It's the best of both worlds.

        Put simply, if Comcast published a limit, it would destroy the myth that their service is unlimited -- a myth from which they still benefit immensely. They'd much rather take the PR hit of a few people complaining of cut-off's by claiming these people were "abusing" the service.
    • Because if they give a Gigabits or Gigabytes number, you can calculate the true bitrate you can use (just divide over 30*24*3600 and voila), and they'll open the door for their competitors.
    • In an article in a local paper attributed to a "Kim Hart" of "The Washington Post", Kim says that "Companies have argued that if strict limits were disclosed, customers would use as much capacity as possible without tipping the scale, causing networks to slow to a crawl."

      ...it makes sense to me... then lower the limits, idiots! Many of us would like to know exactly where we stand! If I need more bandwidth than I currently have, let me purchase more. Or let me buy another connection and 'double-barrel'
      • by tepples (727027)

        If I need more bandwidth than I currently have, let me purchase more.
        You can, with Comcast Workplace.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kythe (4779)
        I've heard this canard trotted out by Comcast and its apologists time and again. In my opinion, it's silly -- if people aren't using high-bandwidth applications when they believe the service is unlimited, why would they suddenly discover an interest in doing so when they know there's a limit?

        Comcast has never provided any evidence for this excuse, and I suspect they never will.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Poromenos1 (830658)
      Knowing Comcast, you should probably assume the average song size to be about 300 KB.
    • the equivalent of 30,000 songs

      I'm also guessing that at ca. 3 MB a song that would round up to ca. 100 GB a month, or 3 GB a day.

      Well, to be honest that limit is not *that* ridiculous, you could download (and watch) two movies a day at 1.5 GB each, or ca. 4-5 hours of video at decent (DivX, not HD) quality. Or downloading and testing at least 2-3 Linux distributions a day.

      What is ridiculous however, is that Comcast just won't state there is a 100 GB limit - even if it were in the small print in the TOS. Mos

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by tepples (727027)

        However they could probably get sued for false advertising if they publicly admit that there is a fixed limit (they are advertising unlimited use I'm sure).

        I don't think Comcast advertises "unlimited use" anymore. The ads I've seen talk about the following features of Comcast High-Speed Internet:

        1. "Always on", which in practice means upwards of 90 percent uptime compared to dial-up Internet access's sub-10 percent uptime.
        2. Faster completion of common downloads than DSL or dial-up, especially with the new "PowerBoost" feature that increases the modem's speed for the first few megabytes of a large download.
    • If you use 5MB for the average song:

      30,000 x 5MB == 150,000MB ~= 145GB

      15KB for the average email:

      13,000,000 x 15KB == 195,000,000KB ~= 186GB

      600KB for the average picture:

      600KB x 250,000 == 150,000,000KB ~= 143GB

      So if you stay under 125GB / month you're probably safe. Not quite unlimited if you ask me!

    • The "30,000 songs" and "13 million emails" are red herrings to throw you off the trail. "250,000 pictures" is the key.

      Everyone knows A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Assuming English, we have the "...estimated average word length of five..." [wikipedia.org] for a simple calculation:

      250,000 X 1000 X 5 = 1,250,000,000 bytes.

      Of course all your words would be mushed together and that wouldn't be a pretty word picture, so using the Wikipedia tip of assuming 5 letters plus a space, per word, we get:

      250,000 X 1

  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @05:38PM (#20629297)
    Libraries of Congress...

    Or British Libraries for Imperial.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @05:38PM (#20629301)
    What's their problem? Why didn't Comcast use standard units?
    Everybody knows data transfers are measured in LoC's - Libraries of Congress.
    • by wizardforce (1005805) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @05:52PM (#20629471) Journal
      well according to wikipedia the LOC :

      is the largest by shelf space and one of the most important libraries in the world. Its collections include more than 30 million cataloged books and other print materials in 470 languages; more than 58 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America, including a Gutenberg Bible (one of only four perfect vellum copies known to exist); over 1 million US Government publications; 1 million issues of world newspapers spanning the past three centuries; 33,000 bound newspaper volumes; 500,000 microfilm reels; over 6,000 comic book[3] titles; the world's largest collection of legal materials; films; 4.8 million maps; sheet music; and 2.7 million sound recordings.
      rough estimation of its data storage: ~90 million total*5 megs ave guess= 450 terabytes. comcast's limit was supposed to be about 300 gigs [if you download really fantastic songs] so 300gigs/450 terabytes= 1/1500 LOC. in short, the LOC is MASSIVE
  • by teidou (651247) <tait@ f i t i s.com> on Sunday September 16, 2007 @05:41PM (#20629339) Homepage
    I think it's kind of suspicious that they don't put the value in terms of number of Slashdot comments. I mean, you could get cut off right in the mid
  • who get tons of musical porn spam(ok, maybe its not ALL spam) are screwed!
  • download the equivalent of 30,000 songs, 250,000 pictures or 13 million emails in a month

    just to put that in perspective, 30,000 songs a month at a measly 1 min long each is 500 hours of music, so you could download music on demand never the same song 1 minute each all day every day the entire month not including sleep. 250,000 images is about 1 every 10 seconds constantly throughout the month. 13 million emails is about 5 emails PER SECOND the entire month. now if you try out a lot of live cds, listen

    • spam zombies (Score:3, Informative)

      by tepples (727027)

      250,000 images is about 1 every 10 seconds constantly throughout the month.
      Which means somebody is going to have to lower the pixel size for the remote security camera.

      13 million emails is about 5 emails PER SECOND the entire month.
      Or a fraction of the throughput of the average pwned Windows machine.
  • How big is a song? What bit rate? What if i like songs from the 70's that is 25 minutes long, or from the punk age at about 2 minutes? what about all these video services that are selling movies? ( like some of comcast's partners )

    What garbage..

    Oh do they charge for email collection, which is totally out of the users control? I have 10's of thousands of spam a month, would i get dinged by this policy? What about a random DoS attack, do they get dinged for that 'incoming' too?
  • by stratjakt (596332) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @05:44PM (#20629367) Journal
    The reason they don't give you a simple cutoff limit measured in bytes is, there is none.

    It's a moving target, and at some point in the process, it's subjective. I'm sure there's some traffic analysis done, and I'm sure when it's time to free up resources by booting the hogs they make some calls along the lines of "24/7 torrent server vs VPN client"

    I'm sure, and this is something I've never seen mentioned in any slashdot threads, they include your credit history with the company in the decisions, as well. If I have to choose between two customers, one who's consistently late, who wastes my collections teams time every month, and one who pays promptly every time - guess who I'm choosing?

    Just saying, I pay my bill on time every month, I use all the bandwidth I possibly can, and I have never had an issue. If you want to "push the envelope", it's the least you can do to keep on the cable co's good side.

    • Also (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @11:04PM (#20632041)
      They don't want to give a specific limit because some people are habitual line steppers. I've discovered this with administering forums. You try and think up a set of hard and fast rules governing what is and isn't ok and write them down. Then you get a group of people who continually try to do as much as they can to be problems within those rules. They dance right up to the line and bitch if you come down on them. It's a situation of "Obedience to the letter (sort of) not the spirit." As such it works much better to have the rules more simple and open ended. Basically "Don't be a dick." Though they may pretend they don't know what you mean, they do and it works.

      Same deal here. You put a number on it people will cause problem with it. They'll try to max that out every month, if they get cut off they'll say "But my traffic monitor showed I did only 199.999GB, you said the limit was 200GB that's not fair!" It'll be continuous problem with people who want to stretch the rules as much as they can.

      Also, I imagine they care more about the impact the traffic has than the traffic itself. If you are on a segment with only a few subscribers, and you do all your heavy transactions at 3am when nobody else is using it, chances are they don't give a shit, even if you use a lot of bandwidth as it is just sitting unused. However if you are grabbing as much as you can via P2P (which due to the large number of connection hogs more than some other kinds of traffic) during peak hours every single day, they may get annoyed as you make things worse for everyone else.

      I don't know anyone here who's been cut off (we have Cox not Comcast) but I do know people who have been throttled and/or yelled at. In EVERY case it was a person who loaded up the torrents or eMule and let them run 24/7 at full blast. Gee, wonder why the ISP might get a little annoyed with that. I have thus far yet to meet someone in person who was cut off or otherwise censured for anything except extreme amounts of P2P.
  • by A10Mechanic (1056868) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @05:47PM (#20629411)
    For all the geeks, could we get a conversion to "quatloos"? It might help.
  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @05:53PM (#20629487)
    A customer is exceeding their use limit if they: download the equivalent of 30,000 songs, 250,000 pictures or 13 million emails in a month.

    Let's see. At about 50 megabytes per song (I use lossless compression), that is 1,500,000 megabytes or 1,500GB per month limit. OK, so if I use only 1,000GB per month, I'm OK, right?

    (am I the only one who has noticed that Comcast still has not given a hard limit, that the limit is still as vague as it has ever been?

  • by AnonymousDivinity (778696) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @05:53PM (#20629495)
    Well there's an easy solution:
    BitTorrent via SMTP!

    Gotta use all that GMail space somehow...
  • by The Analog Kid (565327) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @05:53PM (#20629503)
    Put some money into their infrastructure to cope with the demand? Maybe stop overselling? Oh wait that would cost some dollars so forget that idea. Meanwhile, users on Verizon FIOS has reported to download over a terabyte worth of data a month without so much of a letter from Verizon. (who knows how long that lasts though)
  • ....being in the top 10% of users using the most band width.

    This is based upon ...

    http://moobunny.dreamhosters.com/cgi/mbthread.pl/amiga/expand/149695 [dreamhosters.com]

    Where Chris had gotten a call. The thing is, He is Blind and his work requires that he upload a good bit of data.

    Blind of not, some will say to hime to get a business line or account. He has asked if one can be had for under $200 a month...
  • Do the math (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Spazmania (174582) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @05:56PM (#20629545) Homepage
    30k songs @ 6 megs / mp3 = 180 gigs
    250k pictures @ 1 meg/jpg = 250 gigs
    13M emails @ 20k/email = 260 gigs

    180 gigs / 4.3 gigs per dvd = 42 DVD movies

    So that's quite a bit of data for thirty bucks a month.
  • Good! (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Pendersempai (625351)
    650 GB/mo seems like a perfectly reasonable limit for a personal, residential internet subscription. I'm glad there's a limit on it; that means excessive users will have to pay for the strain they put on the network, so that those of us who use it normally can get better bandwidth at the same cost.
  • by tgatliff (311583) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @05:58PM (#20629589)
    I spoke with a comcast friend of mine who is at the executive level about two weeks ago on this... He said that the reason they do not want ot specify the exactly amount is that most of the time they do not care because they have plenty of throughput. Meaning, because their network is mostly shared (unlike the telcos) bottelnecks do occur from time to time. He saids that most of their subnets are fine (over 90% in fact), but occasionally they get a couple areas where he says they constantly have problems with getting their digital services to work well and they almost always find that it is because of huge amounts of p2p traffic. He also said that in an ideal world this would be handled at the network level, but that their p2p limiting ability does not work at this point for balancing balancing the traffic. He said he had no clue what routers they are using, though... He said that the worst part is that in some cases, if they upgrade their "uplink" (my word, not his) to fix the issue, it just means that more traffic, and the problem still is there. In short, the end result is that when they have allot of customers call in saying they are having problems with their service in a particular area, they first try to upgrade their "uplink", then if that does not work, they tell the particular customers to please stop it, and in the few cases where this does not work then they finally just pull the plug on the problematic customer. He mentioned that it rarely happens, though, which is why they are completely baffled internally on why the press is so against on them right now...
    • by kmahan (80459) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @06:17PM (#20629793)
      Why are they baffled? They use the word "unlimited". To most people that means "without limit".

      They like the sound of the word in their advertising. They just don't like to have to live up to that definition.
      • by westlake (615356) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @08:20PM (#20630877)
        Why are they baffled? They use the word "unlimited". To most people that means "without limit". They like the sound of the word in their advertising. They just don't like to have to live up to that definition.

        As much as the Geek would like to have it otherwise, "unlimited" residential broadband has never meant anything more than "always-on" access at a flat monthly rate.

        As opposed to the $8-12 an hour you paid for dial-up in the Compuserve era.

    • by Seumas (6865) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @06:38PM (#20630003)
      No, the press is against them right now, because instead of saying "sir, your usage of this service is impacting the experience of other paying subscribers on this node and we request that you reduce your usage to 250gb/mo", they are addressing the problem by saying "Sir, this is the Comcast Security Services department and we are calling to inform you that we are concerned with your monthly usage for last month, totalling XYZ gigabytes. This is negatively impacting people in your area and if you ever use too much again, we will terminate you for a year".

      Notice that in the second situation -- which is the reality of what they do -- they don't offer any information on what "stop it" means. I actually had to deal with comcast on this a few months ago. I told the person on the phone that I definitely don't want to cause problems for anyone else on the service, so I would like to know how much I should reduce my usage by. How many gigabytes? What percentage of the previous month's usage? They wouldn't tell me. So I just got a vague "stop doing that". Gee, how fucking helpful.

      And of course, they have no way to sell me additional services, either. If I use too much, I'd gladly buy a second account. If I'm willing to pay for two spots on the node, why not give them to me?! I thought they were a corporation that was all about the capitalist ideal and not the one-size-fits-all socialism style solution? What's appropriate for the elderly couple down the street may not be appropriate for my needs. That doesn't make me a bad person or a bad customer. It makes me someone looking for a service. And since my taxes and government help allow you to own a monopoly in this region -- this preventing competition for me to turn to so I can FIND those services that do fit me -- I feel there is some degree of obligation to expand those service options.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by QuietLagoon (813062)
      I spoke with a comcast friend of mine who is at the executive level about two weeks ago on this... He said ... then if that does not work, they tell the particular customers to please stop it, and in the few cases where this does not work then they finally just pull the plug on the problematic customer.

      Hmmm.... all the reports I have read about Comcast shutting down their customers have indicated that the first step your friend mentioned ("telling the customer to stop it") does not exist, that Comcast g

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Alsee (515537)
      He mentioned that it rarely happens, though, which is why they are completely baffled internally on why the press is so against on them right now...

      Tell him that the Mattel toys he buys for his toddler are *rarely* painted with lead paint, and that the Metz Fresh's spinach he ate for dinner is *rarely* infected with E. coli. And ask him how he feels about that.

      However rare it may be, each customer is going to hear it as a direct threat of getting cut off. People are particularly disturbed by the threat beca
  • by Dark_Nova (27836) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @06:03PM (#20629639)
    Here in Australia, we have had download quotas since the early days of broadband. This is necessary due to the extremely high costs associated with international data links here (there is a duopoly on submarine telecommunication cables linking Australia to the rest of the world, so prices are high).

    While nobody in Australia really likes the download quotas, our ISPs at least spell out the limits in detail, and allow users to check their current usage in real-time. A variety of Internet plan options are available, so heavy users can opt to pay extra to have a higher download quota (e.g. see iiNet's plans [whirlpool.net.au] and Internode's plans [whirlpool.net.au]).

    Comcast seem to be introducing quotas without really going all the way. I guess they view this as being more "gentle" than actually imposing hard limits, but I'd say that it's just more confusing. Users need to know what their quotas are and how much they have downloaded, otherwise, the whole system just seems arbitrary.

    I can see how US ISPs might want to impose some usage limits on their customers. Data connectivity is cheap there, but it isn't free... and people are getting ever-faster home connections. However, if they are going to do this sort of thing, they need to spell out exactly what the limits are, and what the consequences are for going over those limits. Vague statements like "30,000 songs" don't really help anyone.
  • Limits and Sharing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by saterdaies (842986) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @06:08PM (#20629709)
    Comcast should have put the limits in terms of GB, but I think we can understand the limits they have put down.

    Songs are considered (by non /. people) to be around 4MB. It's what Apple uses as a benchmark as well as many others. It's a decent estimation. That puts Comcast's limit at 120GB per month. If you assume 2-3MP images of around 1MB a piece, the limit is around 250GB.

    Those are limits that the vast majority of people will not come up against. If you downloaded Ubuntu every single day for a month, you would hit 21GB. If you downloaded a high res Xvid movie every day for a month (1.4GB a piece), you would hit 42GB.

    Suffice it to say, the limit is high. It's high enough that for almost everyone, it doesn't matter that it exists.

    Oh, for comparison's sake, you would have to fully load a T1 connection over a quarter of a month to hit the 120GB limit. You would have to be using more than half a T1 connection to hit the 250GB mark. Cable is a shared resource. If you need a dedicated resource, maybe a T1 is right for you. At some point, nothing is unlimited. We're lucky that the internet adapts so well to sharing that 99.9% of people can pay very little for a lot, but some people need dedicated resources.
  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @06:11PM (#20629729)
    If Comcast advertises that its service delivers downloads "up to 12Mb/s" (which is exactly what they advertise here on TV), then they are advertising that they can deliver UP TO:

    (12Mb / second) x (86,400 seconds / day) x (30 days / month)

    = 12 x 86,400 x 30 Mb

    = 31,104,000 Mb (that's megaBITS, so)

    = 3,888,000 MB !!!

    That is almost 4 terabytes worth of downloads.

    Now, I am not saying that one should actually get as much as the theoretical maximum, but if Comcast is actually setting a limit that is substantially lower than that, then the simple fact is that they are guilty of fraud and false advertising.

    Further, if there is not a FIXED limit based on recognizable standards that is included in the contract, then they open themselves to liability for suits based on discrimination and arbitrary enforcement of their policies. (If it can even be called a legal policy, not being contained in the contract, and blatantly contradicting what they advertise.)

    I think they had better clear this up like right now, or they could be in trouble of their own making.
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @06:19PM (#20629811) Journal
    OK, so you can only download 30 Kilosongs, 250 Kilopictures or 13 Megamails?

    And I thought "Megapixels" were a salesman abomination. :-(
  • by discogravy (455376) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @06:58PM (#20630151) Homepage
    All my emails include 10meg attachments, so at 13 million, I guess I have roughly a 124TB limit. (maybe my math is bad, I dunno -- I never learned "emails" as a unit of measure).

    I think I can live with that.
  • by Jawshie (919956) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @08:35PM (#20631011)
    This is somewhat silly. When you buy bandwidth you, in my opinion, are buying however much bandwidth per second they are willing to give you. If you buy a 3Mbps connection, for example, you are purchasing 3 megabits of data per second. How much is that in a month of 30 days? Well a day has 86,400 seconds. A month has 2,592,000 seconds. So you are purchasing the right to 7,776,000 megabits in a 30 day month. About 7,593.75 gigabits a month(~950 GB I think...). The limit should be exactly what you pay for: your bandwidth limit per second. If there's a limit within a limit (think of a car commercial that offers a 30000 mile or 2 year, whichever happens first, warranty) then it should clearly be defined. Personally, I can not imagine myself using a terabyte a month but I do feel I am over the ambiguous limit set by Comcast.
    If they have not accounted for the total bandwidth capacity of a shared cable line and broken it down correctly then the fault should rest with them and they should install some extra lines or not sell it in the first place unless they agree to the limiting terms. Whatever the actual bandwidth capacity of a cable line is (tv+phone+data), surely they can divide it evenly per household or do they need a physicist to tell them what 100/3 is? I refuse to purchase cable because of the line sharing. Not only is it fluctuating throughout the day but the security is questionable. I actually consider internet availability based on where I consider living.
    On a side note, could they be including in their bandwidth limits the tv and phone information as well? Certainly a constant digital tv signal would eat up a considerable amount of bandwidth.

    Sorry if my math is a bit off.
    • by DavidD_CA (750156) on Monday September 17, 2007 @12:17AM (#20632451) Homepage
      I dont know about your math, but your reality is what is wrong. If I understand you correctly, it sounds like you expect your ISP to reserve 100% of your total capacity just in case you intend to use it. And not just yours, but every customer they have. You're essentially saying, "If they have 500 customers with 1MB connections, they should have a 500 MB connection."

      The problem is that your proposed service would be so exceedingly expensive that you, nor anyone else, would want to buy it. Actually, that service does exist. Some businesses buy QoS lines with throughput guarantees and no bandwidth limitations. They also exist in fractions, too. For example, you might buy a 1.54 MB line for $300/mo with a 25% throughput guarantee. Meaning the line can go as fast as 1.54, it will never drop below 384k, and you're allowed to peg it at 384k for 24/7 without penalty.

      Since Slashdot loves analogies, here's one based on your logic: A restaurant that offers "free refills" should stock enough soda to quench the thirst of all its customers, even if the customers decide to stay there from opening until closing, drink non-stop, with their mouth directly under the spout. And sell it for $0.99.
  • by r_jensen11 (598210) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @09:11PM (#20631277)
    Good thing I download flac's when I can rather than mp3's or ogg vorbis files. Looks like all you other guys are getting ripped off.

    Now some people are claiming things like "Gee, that works out to x number of DVD's per month," are missing the crucial point. The quality* of the stuff we download constantly gets better. Years ago, it was incredibly rare to find any mp3's better than 128kb/s or video files that were above 320kb/s. These days, we're pushing HD-DVD iso's and Bluray iso's over the same infrastructures. Suddenly those 42 DVD's have shrunk down to around 7 HD-DVD discs. In addition, we're also trying to get proper streaming media formats in decent quality. How much streaming HD video do you think you could watch before your quota is filled up? Then tack on all of the data that you download whenever you use Google Earth or World Wind. If you live on your own and spend most of your day at work, then you're probably not terribly concerned about having "only" 180GB/mo. However, if you live in a house with more people and each person does their own thing, that number only shrinks. Suddenly, you only have a claim to 60GB/mo because your two roommates have used up their quotas. Good luck finding an average /. user that is able to get by with only 60GB/mo.

  • by mbone (558574) on Sunday September 16, 2007 @10:29PM (#20631775)
    The guesses I have seen are that the Comcast limit is about 145 GBytes per month. That works out to close to 500 Kbits / second, full time. So, you could watch a 1 Mbps video channel. such as the end bit rate ones from AmericaFree.TV channels, for 8 hours per day, every day, and (supposedly) not run into trouble, but you better not leave it on full time (like some bars I know).

    As a data point, 100 Mbps residential fast ethernet costs $ 36 per month [networkworld.com] now Japan. Somehow I don't think that there they cap the service at 0.5 Mbps sustained use.
  • by mkweise (629582) on Monday September 17, 2007 @02:14AM (#20633067)
    Cell phone service contracts contain similar vagueries: While unlimited off-peak usage is advertised in bold type, the fine print reserves the right of unilateral termination in case of "excessive use". None that I've seen mention a number, but T-Mobile's, for one, states that customers who display "unprofitable usage patterns" will be terminated.

We don't know who it was that discovered water, but we're pretty sure that it wasn't a fish. -- Marshall McLuhan

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