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The Internet Networking

Comcast To Cap Data Transfers At 250 GB In October 939

Posted by timothy
from the crimp-in-your-style dept.
JagsLive writes with this story from PC Magazine: "Comcast has confirmed that all residential customers will be subject to a 250 gigabyte per month data limit starting October 1. 'This is the same system we have in place today,' Comcast wrote in an amendment to its acceptable use policy. 'The only difference is that we will now provide a limit by which a customer may be contacted.' The cable provider insisted that 250 GB is "an extremely large amount of data, much more than a typical residential customer uses on a monthly basis. ... As part of our pre-existing policy, we will continue to contact the top users of our high-speed Internet service and ask them to curb their usage,' Comcast said Thursday. 'If a customer uses more than 250 GB and is one of the top users of our service, he or she may be contacted by Comcast to notify them of excessive use,' according to the AUP."
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Comcast To Cap Data Transfers At 250 GB In October

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  • by ericspinder (146776) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:11PM (#24787599) Journal
    Looks like I got fios just in time
    • The swine ! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:33PM (#24787883)

      How can I possibly make it through a month at 250 G? I, um, have a condition, yeah, that's it, that requires I download unlimited amounts of data from the internet. This is cause an undue hardship. As if comcast has the RIGHT to take this from me. If my connection weren't actually my neighbors, I'd SUE THEIR ASSES pronto!

      So what shall I do Slashdot? How can I get my umlimited back? Get a bigger Wifi antenna? I heard about that but what about bandwidth?

    • by Crazy Taco (1083423) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:06PM (#24788285)

      Looks like I got fios just in time

      That statement actually relates well to a very insightful point made at the end of the article:

      Turner said the move highlights why the U.S. needs more "genuine broadband competition."

      You are lucky to have some genuine competition in the form of FIOS. If I could, I would switch to that in a heartbeat, even if I had to pay a relatively large installation fee (probably up to 200 dollars). Unfortunately, just about everywhere I go I'm locked down to one provider. In the tiny town of Jackson, OH, I am restricted to Time Warner Cable (another company working on a cap), and before I was transferred here I lived in Minneapolis, subject to Comcast. I suppose I could potentially get DSL, but that is so much slower than cable it almost doesn't count as competition in the broadband market, and satellite is so latency heavy it doesn't count either. That leaves cable standing alone, unless you are lucky enough to have true broadband competition through FIOS.

      In my opinion, cable providers are starting to stifle innovation and competition the same way large cell phone providers do. They see one company screwing the customers with a cap, and figure, "Hey, I can do that too! Now I can keep more money for profits instead of network upgrades." And with no competition to force changes on them, that's the way things will stay. Both cell phone companies and cable companies are able to stay the way they are because of huge barriers to entry... you can't lay another set of cable lines in every town, and it's prohibitively expensive to try to set up another nationwide cellular network. In instances like these, the government does need to step in to regulate the monopolies/oligopolies. My water company doesn't put a cap on how much I use because the government regulates that monopoly (granted, I do pay more the more I use, but if the cable companies went to that model without government intervention, it would probably be priced like the cell phone companies price text messages: 10 cents a kilobyte or something ridiculous. That's why I'm currently opposed to anything other than a flat rate from them).

      • by Babbster (107076) <aaronbabb AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:32PM (#24788557) Homepage
        Keep watching the DSL situation. When I moved into my current place, I found out that Qwest was rolling out much higher speeds. I picked up a 12-Mbps (10-Mbps actual) connection for the same price as cable service. I wish the upload speed was higher, but my downloads are moving faster than they were with cable at my last place.
      • by walshy007 (906710) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:36PM (#24788603)

        I suppose I could potentially get DSL, but that is so much slower than cable it almost doesn't count as competition in the broadband market

        how fast is your cable connection? with adsl every person can have a 24mbps connection, to themselves which doesn't matter how much anyone else is using it nearby.

        Cable last I checked is shared on a circuit common to at least a few households, so your mileage may vary depending on neighbours. still, if you can get faster than 24mbit on cable consistently I may consider switching from dsl to cable myself.

        • by Tawnos (1030370) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:59PM (#24789369)

          I've got the choice between Qwest (turd sandwich) and Comcast (douchenozzle). I tried Qwest for less than a week before calling Comcast and asking for an install, and I dropped Qwest the day after Comcast was installed. Even with the unknowns, the service quality difference was undeniable.

          Compare:
          Qwest charged over 50 bucks a month, required a 1 year contract (you could only cancel penalty-free within the first 30 days, I got out just in time), and had a "max speed" of 3Mbps. I was lucky to get 2Mbps. The modem was such a POS that if I refreshed servers on Steam, it would drop all connections for about 10 seconds as the buffers overflowed. I only fixed that by putting it into bridge mode and configuring my router to handle all connectivity (DD-WRT on Linksys WRT54Gv2).

          Qwest's site was often down or not working, and their tech support/customer service was nonexistant.

          Compare that to my service thus far with Comcast:
          I called up, and was told that the 6Mbps for 20 bucks a month was only for existing customers, but that they could give it to me for 25/month (plus $3 if I wanted a modem rental). Install was normally $99, but they knocked that down to $50 because I asked. When I got the modem plugged in, it had trouble synchronizing with comcast, and wasn't finishing the setup. I called tech support, and the guy didn't jerk me around at all. I explained what I'd tried, he said "sounds like you know what you're doing, since all you need is the firmware, how about I set that up for you, and I'll give you blast for free (16Mbps down, 1-2Mbps up)?"

          I thanked him, the modem came up, and the performance has been consistently good. I get about 10Mbps down, and 5 (!) up. My pings are between 10-50 (versus 60-200 on Qwest). Now that there's a hard cap, I'm even happier, because I have an official limit to monitor.

          Sure, it's not FiOS, but cable, in this area, is a hell of a lot better than DSL.

        • by RasputinAXP (12807) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @11:16PM (#24789517) Homepage Journal

          And with ADSL your connection speed is COMPLETELY dependent upon your distance from the CO, making it near-impossible for most users to get connections as fast as cable's.

        • by mccabem (44513) on Friday August 29, 2008 @12:57AM (#24790297)

          Dude, that is the weakest (and some of the oldest) telco FUD in the broadband universe. It ought to be on Snopes if it's not already.

          If your cable company connection slows down like you say, it's over usage or inadequate bandwidth being provided just like any other network. aka bad network management practice on behalf of the network operator.

          It works the same way with DSL and your neighborhood (aka everyone within ~16,000ft/~3mi radius) DSLAM. No different at all. If the administering company doesn't maintain adequate upstream bandwidth for all concurrent users, you go slow when everyone gets online.

          If you're suggesting that cable companies run craptastic networks (even more craptastic than the monopoly telco's I mean) that's one thing....but it's not related to the technology.

          For what it's worth, I climbed on the cable internet bandwagon back in 1997 and have had cable internet service in multiple cities - usually in multiple areas of the city - and I've (knock on wood) never seen a slowdown ever. Not saying nobody has experienced this, just making the point that it's far from everyone who experiences the slowdowns you have. Sorry for your luck.

          -Matt

      • by symbolset (646467) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @11:33PM (#24789663) Homepage Journal

        My state is trying out regional broadband served by the power district. I think fiber options from all the major vendors will be coming shortly. After all, if they lose these customers they're probably gone forever.

        It's not like bandwidth costs a lot of money. If I moved closer to work I could have 100Mbps for $50/mo. Get this - my wife won't move because the area where I can get that from the power district is "too rural". So much for that density argument, eh?

        Anyway, kudos to the power districts that are willing to step up and say: "People need broadband. If you won't serve 'em, we will."

    • by 172pilot (913197) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:42PM (#24788655) Homepage
      At first glance, I thought I'd use this as a reason to continue my comcast bashing, but come on guys.. really? For a basic level of residential service, 250 gigs per month isn't that bad... 2 full length movies per day basically... I bet their top 1% of users dont use half of that on average.. And, this is a GOOD thing from the point of view that the "Excessive use policy" now has a defined cap, and you know what to avoid to stay off the "bad boy list".. Much better than arbitrarily getting a letter or phonecall just because they see you as a torrent user, therefore you MUST be bad... -Steve
      • by penix1 (722987) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:26PM (#24789059) Homepage

        For a basic level of residential service, 250 gigs per month isn't that bad... 2 full length movies per day basically... I bet their top 1% of users dont use half of that on average..

        And what about that user that wants to see 3-5 movies a day? You see, they sold the service as "unlimited" then introduced limits. So maybe they should remove the bold red 150 point "UNLIMITED" from their advertisements. It's all about truth in advertising. If you have a limit, it isn't unlimited.

      • by Burz (138833) on Friday August 29, 2008 @12:54AM (#24790269) Journal

        2 full length movies per day basically...

        Or about 0.5 HD movies per day, or around 0.2 if you torrent.

      • by mccabem (44513) on Friday August 29, 2008 @04:35AM (#24791461)

        Assuming $50/month and a 250GB cap, that's a minumum usage rate of $0.20/GB if you use all 250GB every month. The $/GB goes up higher the less you use the network.

        Think of it as metered usage with a $50 cap on the bill and a data limit that you didn't agree to.

        To me that's worth some additional Comcast bashing.

        I suspect this boils down to the cable co's chaffing at paying the monopoly telco's for their network access and they're trying to find ways [google.com] to pass more of those costs down to you, the customer. (Without you, the customer, taking your business elsewhere as a result.)

        When you consider how much dark fiber [wikipedia.org] (particularly, see Butters' Law) is in the ground as well as Comcast's claims [publicknowledge.org] (p. 24, citation 83) that last-mile bandwidth cost is not the issue, the whole bandwidth situation for consumers here in the US is absurd.

        -Matt

      • by Digital End (1305341) <<excommunicated> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday August 29, 2008 @08:03AM (#24792627)
        250gb isn't that bad guys, will only piss off like 5 people, not me, screw'em

        200gb isn't that bad guys, will only piss off like 10 people, not me, screw'em

        150gb isn't that bad guys, will only piss off like 50 people, not me, screw'em

        100gb isn't that bad guys, will only piss off like 500 people, not me, screw'em

        OMG! THEY SET THE CAP TO 50gb, As this directly effects me, since the other providers seen how they could lower the caps right along side them... I would like to ask why people are allowed to slowly wittle away at our freedoms, come everyone, join me in fighting this evil company!

        (Just woke up, no coffee, not taking the time to make the post not look like I'm being an ass, sorry man)
  • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:14PM (#24787627) Journal

    Provided they tell you that up front. Not telling you and still capping your service is most charitably considered sleazy and is hopefully something they could get sued/prosecuted for.

    And what about the screwing around with P2P traffic? Are they still going to do that and pretend that they aren't?

    • by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann@slashdot.gmail@com> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:19PM (#24787717) Homepage Journal

      I agree... about time they finally told us what their REAL bandwidth limit is.

      Now the next step is throttling connections when they reach 80% of that limit, so that they won't exceed it (Reach 80% of that 20%, and they'll throttle it even more, and so on). Then you can pay an extra amount of money for a larger bandwidth cap, like 500GB or 1TB per month.

      Ta-da! Everybody happy.

    • by CustomDesigned (250089) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:15PM (#24788397) Homepage Journal

      Cox tells you what the limit is (40GB/mo on my plan), but doesn't give you a meter. I don't want to be "contacted about excessive use", I want a meter like the gas gauge on my car. Fortunately, I use a linux router with vnstat so I can keep tabs, but how many home users are able to provide their own meter?

      My dad uses Wild Blue, and they provide a nice web page with a meter to check your usage. Their cap is a continuous time average over 30 days, so you don't have to wait until the end of the month for it to reset - the average bandwidth starts going down again after he finishes his Ubuntu download, and is ready for another in a few days with worrying about hitting the limit.

      • by electrostatic (1185487) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:34PM (#24789145)
        Yes indeed that would be helpful. I watch Netflix videos every night with the Roku box (like it a lot). There's no way I know of to measure my total Netflix usage. It's probably much greater than my Internet use. Comcast is my ISP and this is from the FAQ.

        How does Comcast help its customers track their usage so they can avoid exceeding the limit?

        There are many online tools customers can download and use to measure their consumption. Customers can find such tools by simply doing a Web search - for example, a search for "bandwidth meter" will provide some options. Customers using multiple PCs should just be aware that they will need to measure and combine their total monthly usage in order to identify the data usage for their entire account.

        Does not help!

        In order to enforce their 250GB limit they first have to measure it. It would seem very simple for Comcast to display the current measurement on my account page.

        I can't think of any reason they would want to hide it -- except to hide the fact that most customers are using only a few percent of what they are paying for.
    • by SuperBanana (662181) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:09PM (#24788897)
      If I did my math right, it's a 7.5:1 disparity between advertised data rates and the buried-in-legal-print limit.

      250GB in a 30 day month is 8.3GB a day, 355MB/hour, ~6MB a minute, 101KB/sec.

      Or, 809kbps. On a connection which is advertised as being at least 6mbit/sec.

      It's also the beginning of the end- they'll use this to justify limits per week next. Then per day. They already have a hidden cap on uploads; they advertise a 768kbit upload limit, but if you upload at more than 384kbit/sec (the old limit) for more than about 4-5 minutes, your connection gets massively crippled, not just until you slow back down to 384kbit/sec, but until your upload drops *dramatically*. They call this "powerboost", but it's really "ripoff technique" to let them advertise one speed, but actually have another.

      You know what still gets my goat? That comcast has for more than a decade had an incredibly hostile AUP that banned any form of mailing list or discussion group hosting, yet you people only started screaming about your "rights" and network neutrality when they brought the hammer down on your precious porn and TV episodes.

    • by chexy (956237) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:19PM (#24788999)

      Can I have rollover Gig?

  • 250 GB (Score:5, Funny)

    by pwnies (1034518) * <j@jjcm.org> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:14PM (#24787629) Homepage Journal
    ...should be enough for anybody.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ...should be enough for anybody.

      You're clueless. Don't be so gullible. This is nothing more than an attempt to get around "net neutrality" using bandwidth issues as a red herring. Comcast doesn't want Directv, Vudu, iTunes, NetFlix and the YouTubes of the world competing with their own offerings. That's what this is all about. How long will it take for a Directv customer using Directv's "On Demand" service (which uses the Internet) to reach the cap? How about a Vudu or Roku customer? What about when YouTube has high definition videos, an

  • Okay folks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:15PM (#24787645) Homepage Journal

    I want my FIOS.
    I want congress to SMACK THE TELCOS HARD. They have been collecting Billions of dollars in fees to provide Broadband and have delivered nothing.
    I want the money paid back with interest NOW!

    • Re:Okay folks (Score:4, Informative)

      by collywally (1223456) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:27PM (#24787819)
    • I agree with you, in general.

      However, this move looks like a positive thing. Comcast always limited you, but it was always an arbitrary amount, which you wouldn't know till they banned you for a year. More recently, they pinned it down in terms of "songs", "videos", "pictures", "emails", etc.

      This means you could conceivably sue Comcast if they raised a fuss and you were under your 250 gig limit.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ScrewMaster (602015)
        Well, my router tracks my bandwidth usage, so now I'll know if I'm getting close. If nothing else, I guess that Comcast can't use the word "unlimited" in their marketing anymore. That's a good thing, I suppose.

        If a customer uses more than 250 GB and is one of the top users of our service, he or she may be contacted by Comcast to notify them of excessive use

        Does that mean "given notice of termination"? I wouldn't put it past Comcast to just terminate those accounts, notice or otherwise.
        • by maglor_83 (856254) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:54PM (#24788147)

          Likely they'll cut your speed down until the end of the month. That's what most (if not all now) ISPs do in Australia. So you can still email and surf most stuff, just no youtubing or radio streaming.

        • by _xeno_ (155264) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:08PM (#24788311) Homepage Journal

          Comcast hasn't used the word "unlimited" in ages. They don't have to, almost no one thinks in terms of "how much can I download," they just look at the speed numbers.

          Instead they just refer to their service as something vague like "always-on, high speed Internet access."

          Which is still a complete lie, based on how often my connection goes down. Sure, my modem is always-on, but whatever's at the other end sure doesn't seem to be.

    • Re:Okay folks (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Brain Damaged Bogan (1006835) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:45PM (#24788015)
      you are complaining about 250Gb?!? jeez, In Aus I have to pay $120/month (~$100US) for 25gb onpeak, 40gb offpeak ( that's 65gb/month for those of you who suck at math). I WISH I was in a position to bitch about 250gb/month.
      • by QCompson (675963) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:56PM (#24788175)

        you are complaining about 250Gb?!? jeez, In Aus I have to pay $120/month (~$100US) for 25gb onpeak, 40gb offpeak ( that's 65gb/month for those of you who suck at math). I WISH I was in a position to bitch about 250gb/month.

        Here we go... here come the Australians who inevitably pop into internet usage cap threads with their "In Australia we pay $500 a day for 10 mb up and down transfer... you should be happy with the restrictions your ISP is placing on you."

        Dammit Australia, just because you have crap internet, the rest of the world shouldn't have to accept it!

        • by lennier (44736) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:52PM (#24788753) Homepage

          "Dammit Australia, just because you have crap internet, the rest of the world shouldn't have to accept it!"

          There's a little thing called 'living within your means' which used to be considered a virtue. That's why we laugh at people who have ten times as much stuff as us and yet feel more hard done by. Grow some restraint. It'll be good for you.

          Also, if you guys have ten times as much bandwidth as us, you'll make websites loaded down with useless Flash and vidcasts which are ten times bigger, you'll write operating systems which are blithely unaware that Internet is not a free commodity for some of us and have no concept of restricting transmissions to the necessary, and we'll get locked out of the Web by all your bloat.

          So it's in our interest for broadband speeds charging regimes to be roughly the same all around the world - otherwise we end up the wrong side of the data gap.

          And it's not crap, it's metered. You don't get free all-you-can-eat electricity or petrol or food each month - why should Internet capacity be different?

          If you really want absolutely unlimited Internet with a charging regime completely uncoupled from usage, that means you want to socialise the cost of communications infrastructure. Fine, that's a valid political position and it's got some merit to it, but in that case you guys should already have free healthcare and be advocating for a Universal Basic Income [wikipedia.org].

        • by SQL Error (16383) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:58PM (#24788807)

          The one thing the ISPs did get right here in Oz is stating the limits up front. 'Course, some of them only did that after getting kicked around by the regulators.

          While things are still expensive here, it's definitely improving. I get 40GB peak, 110GB off-peak for $50 a month. And my ISP is giving me unlimited off-peak downloads right now, because they're doing trials for a forthcoming 500GB plan.

          Now if they could just do something about ping times... Damn you, speed of light!

      • How much did Australian businesses get for building out broad band but didn't? US businesses were given billions of taxpayer dollars to build out broadband but only a few have built any at all. Verison is slowly building out FiOS [wikipedia.org], fiber to a neighborhood splitter, but not many other businesses are building out broadband. They cried they needed public money to build out broadband but did nothing with the money given to them other than pad their profits.

        Falcon

    • Re:Okay folks (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:46PM (#24788047) Homepage

      You forget....

      They also collected billions in TAX DOLLARS to fund the build out of their infrastructure.

      I say the Feds audit every one of them hard.

    • Re:Okay folks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jlarocco (851450) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:59PM (#24788213) Homepage

      I want congress to SMACK THE TELCOS HARD.

      Sigh. What you *should* want is for your local government to stop giving your ISP an unfair advantage [denverpost.com]. Then other ISPs could start providing service if they wanted to. I don't know where you live, but the reason your broadband options suck is almost certainly the fault of your local government, and not some evil plot by the ISPs. Your local government being stupid isn't a problem for Congress. But hey, maybe you're right and there's really nothing the Internet Service Providers want more than to *not* sell you internet access.

      They have been collecting Billions of dollars in fees to provide Broadband and have delivered nothing.
      I want the money paid back with interest NOW!

      What? They're obviously delivering the internet service you agreed to buy, otherwise you wouldn't be posting on Slashdot right now, amirite?

      Oh, and by the way, once you give your money to a company in exchange for goods or services, it's not your money anymore. You don't get a say in what that money gets spent on, it belongs to the company you gave it to. Just like your employer doesn't get to tell you what you can spend your money on after they pay you.

      How does this bullshit get modded "Insightful"?

      • Re:Okay folks (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:24PM (#24789039) Homepage

        There are two indecent issues here.

        First, you are absolutely correct that a local-government granted monopoly is probably one of the major sources of any individual's current ISP selection woes.

        But there's also a second issue, as described here [newnetworks.com]. It's hard to describe the issue in a way that doesn't sound radically biased, but the simple fact of the matter is that the telecom companies committed to deploying massive fiber networks and managed to squirm out of it (mostly thorough regulator-capture).

        So this isn't just a local government failure. It's also a massive federal government failure, from which there is perfectly good reason for US residents to feel cheated out of decent speed data infrastructure.

  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:15PM (#24787647) Homepage Journal
    I'm sure comcast offers a business connection. I have one from Cox...great service...low level SLA, quick response (they call ME back after I leave a msg if a live person doesn't answer). You get static IP address(es), no limits...no blocked ports....etc.

    And hell, if you're a little devious...those connections will run fine split into a MythTV box with an analog card, to get all of extended basic, and if you split that off into a HDHomerun...you can scan and get all the unencrypted QAM Digital and HD channels out there.

    At least..so I hear. Anyway, that should more than compensate for a slightly higher monthly fee for internet service....

  • by slaker (53818) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:16PM (#24787673)

    Much as I hate it, I'd rather spend the money on a Comcast Business connection than worry about whether or not I'm getting close to some artificial cap.

    I FTP things in and out of my apartment all the damned time, including backup image files and the like, let alone dealing with torrents or streaming video. I'm sure I transfer more than 10GB a day.

    Disgusting as it is, I don't have any other high speed alternative.

  • Boiling a Lobster (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 19thNervousBreakdown (768619) <davec-slashdot&lepertheory,net> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:17PM (#24787683) Homepage

    I believe the plan is, this is fine now so nobody gripes. Same as it ever was, I don't notice the cap so there's effectively no cap, right?

    In 5 years, 250GB will be used up in a week. Now they're saving money, and charging you if you want any more. The thing is, that 250GB cap has been there forever. Same as it ever was, right?

  • About Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Orphaze (243436) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:18PM (#24787709) Homepage

    I'm actually oddly happy about this. I was contacted in the past about going over the mysterious limit (I did about 400GB that month,) and since then I've been living in fear that I may go too high again and get my service cut for a year. Now that an actual known limit exists, I can easily monitor my usage accordingly via my WRT54GL flashed with Tomato.

    A 250GB limit is more than fair, and as long as it is fully disclosed in advanced, I have no problem with it. Having secret, constantly changing limits with undefined penalties for violations is not acceptable for any contractually agreed upon service.

  • by Chairboy (88841) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:19PM (#24787721) Homepage

    This is perfectly reasonable if they're up front about it. I have a request... I would like a method to see what my consumption so far is so I can plan appropriately.

  • Data limit? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Renraku (518261) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:21PM (#24787739) Homepage

    Notice that it doesn't say anything about if the 'data limit' is uploaded data or downloaded. My guess is they'll make it combined.

    Also, since there IS now a limit that can be tied with the monthly price, can we sue spammers/advertisers/etc for $.0000002 per kilobyte? I think its a very generous rate to give them, since cell phone companies like to charge $.10 per kilobyte.

  • Ignorant title (Score:3, Insightful)

    by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:23PM (#24787767) Journal
    There's a big difference between 250GB and 250GB/month.
  • by Kneo24 (688412) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:25PM (#24787793) Homepage

    And I'm sure Comcast will make an effort to hide that little bit of information in the fine print so you don't notice it.

    Honestly, they can't call it unlimited anymore. Unlimited has a set definition. It's not open to interpretation. If you introduce caps, or limits, well, you're giving a different service.

    It would be nice if Comcast actually did something surprising... like, you know, give a good service? That would be tits.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:28PM (#24787831)

    Well, looks like all my porn for the next 6 months is getting downloaded in September.

  • Perspective (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TopSpin (753) * on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:33PM (#24787881) Journal

    250GB/month =

    0.77Mb/s (megabits) * 24/7
    (a bit less than half a T1 running an full capacity)

    3.31 days At 7.0Mb/s and you're out.

    Not bad for cheap McInternet service, I guess...

  • seems good to me (Score:4, Interesting)

    by speedtux (1307149) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:35PM (#24787899)

    The should have done this long ago, put it in the contract, and saved themselves a lot of bad press.

  • And what of VOIP? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by E-Lad (1262) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:45PM (#24788019) Homepage

    So say you have Comcast's triple-play or some VOIP service that rides out of your house on your Comcast connection. You get cut off for one reason or another, such as exceeding this cap. Is your phone service dead, too? Better have a mobile phone if 911 needs to be called?

    • Re:And what of VOIP? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:12PM (#24788355)

      So say you have Comcast's triple-play or some VOIP service that rides out of your house on your Comcast connection. You get cut off for one reason or another, such as exceeding this cap. Is your phone service dead, too?

      No, Comcast's VOIP service is out-of-band from regular IP. Skype and others, yep. Funny how that works out to Comcast's benefit, eh?

  • More info (Score:5, Informative)

    by bconway (63464) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:51PM (#24788111) Homepage

    On the Comcast Network Management page [comcast.net], they note that:

    Currently, the median monthly data usage by our residential customers is approximately 2 - 3 GB.

    That puts the cap in a little more perspective, not that the 2+ TB/mo users will think it's reasonable.

    • Re:More info (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rtechie (244489) * on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:44PM (#24789243)

      This is a lie.

      The reality is that a large number of accounts, say 15%, aren't registering any bandwidth at all. Comcast is real screwy when it comes to canceling, moving, or enabling service. Every time I have had to change service I had to contact them multiple times and was overcharged each time. They will charge you for service before it is installed. I know from insiders at the company that this is deliberate.

      Another 25% are using the modems in USB mode which throttles their bandwidth to about 1 megabit or they are using very old computers or equipment which slows their connection. It's very difficult to go over the cap at these speeds.

      About 3-5% are maxing out their connections, usually through downloading usenet feeds and, to a lesser extent, running bittorent trackers.

      So what about the other 65%? I seriously doubt they're only downloading 85 MB per day. That's a handful of flash videos. I suspect it more in the 2-3 GB PER DAY range, or about 90GB per month. And it's rapidly going up.

      This is headed for another FCC dust-up because I'm CERTAIN that Comcast is going to exclude their VoIP and their video download service (Comcast is partnered with Hulu) from this cap.

  • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:12PM (#24788349)

    Because when I signed a contract with them, it said NOTHING in regards to usage limits. To the contrary, we decided to go with Comcast specifically because it was advertised as "Unlimited".

    Are they rewriting my contract without notice? The contract says that they will notify me in writing of any changes, and thus far, have not.

  • Alternative to caps (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nick_davison (217681) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:20PM (#24788445)

    It's still beyond me why they can't manage to offer a sliding scale...

    First 100 GB... You get at the full bandwidth.

    For each additional 50 GB, it drops by 25% of whatever it was last.

    First 100GB = 100%
    100-150GB = 75%
    150-200GB = 56%
    200-250GB = 42%
    250-300GB = 32%
    300-350GB = 24%
    350-400GB = 18%
    400-450GB = 13%
    450-500GB = 10%

    Now you've got a system where no one ever finds their connection suddenly shut off on them for the remainder of the month.

    Instead, it just keeps getting slower and slower to the point where much over 250 GB is going to have slowed so much they'd really have a hard time going much further anyway... and those 5GB movie downloads they used to get within an hour now need to run all night, if not all day and all night, and so are no longer appealing anyway.

    Though, to be fair... Funny how it's only those companies that make money by charging for the delivery of TV and movies that seem to have issues with users using the kind of bandwidth needed to get TV and movies without them.

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:02PM (#24788841)

    It seems to me that Comcast is looking at the long tail guys and thinking we have 5% of our users consuming 90% of out bandwidth. (Or some such thing).

    This sort of thing always happens when you sell something as "all you can eat for a dollar". Works fine when Aunt Minnie and the Canasta Club got to lunch, but not so good when the Ohio State offensive line shows up.

    Also Comcast is being hit with the prospect of having to compete with FIOS. To do so means that either have to invest lots in physical plant to achieve the same service levels as FIOS, (which is what Cablevision seems to be doing) or cut prices.

    So they think think cutting prices makes a lot of sense - most people don't need FIOS service levels. Most people will be happier with the lower price. But to cut prices they need to get rid of the long tail customers.

    I know! Let's put a use limit in place. This will piss off the long tail guys and they will move to FIOS. BRILLIANT we have just unloaded our unprofitable customers to our competition! What could be sweeter!

    PROFIT!!!

  • by MWoody (222806) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:44PM (#24789241)

    A couple years ago, I decided to start watching TV on my computer instead of the TV, for no real reason besides liking my chair in the PC room better. So I started really hammering my connection with some torrents (piracy haters, note that I was still paying my full cable TV bill, so in essence I was downloading what they'd already been sending me). My Internet and television provider was Cox Communications in the San Diego area.

    I made sure to keep my torrents only running at night out of respect for neighbors on the same cable network. One morning, though, I woke up to see all my torrents dead. I went to see if google was up and was redirected to a page instructing me to call the Cox security division. I did and, after a good while on hold, was told that I'd exceeded my data cap.

    Which, being as we were in the middle of a month, was news to me. Confused, I hung up and continued more or less like I was, trying to keep the overall load down a bit with transfer caps in Azureus. A week later it happened again, exactly as before. This time, though, I demanded more of an explanation from the CSR. What I was told amazed me.

    Now, I'm not a network engineer, but I'd always assumed that the ISP could keep a pretty good watch on every connection at once. Maybe that's more infeasible than I'd thought on a cable network, but still, the rep claimed that wasn't the case. They COULD get a general idea of who was producing "too much traffic," though, and order a "watch" for that account be forwarded to the security division. Who would then, in turn, watch and record the exact amount of data coming out of that account for a period of time.

    Where it gets even stranger - and more frustrating - is that this "period of time" is totally up to them. One of my infractions was a 24 hour watch, the other around 48, and supposedly they could be up to a week or less than a day depending on how many watches they had going. They would then divide the monthly cap (a very difficult-to-find number buried in legal boilerplate deep in an old PDF on their website and actually quoted differently in two other different places) by the time they recorded and shut it down if it went over. So, say, if you got 30Gb in a 30-day month and they did a 24-hour watch, they would shut down your account if it went over 1Gb! Which to my mind makes their advertised bandwidth a complete fabrication: if you downloaded at full speed all month, you'd be several orders of magnitude over the limit. And if they're allowed to shrink the "watch" size as small as they want (nothing they said indicated that a 24-hour watch was the smallest) then you can't be confident EVER using the full speed.

    Too many of these warnings (either 3 or 5 being the magic number based on the CSR I was talking to) and they'd shut down your cable and blacklist you forever. In an area with no other Internet options outside of dialup, they basically were telling me I might have to MOVE if I did it one more time. And no, there was no way to see how much data I'd used up so far that month, but they were "working on it."

    I wish I could tell you that I angrily canceled my account and moved on. But no, I wasn't ready to move, and I wasn't ready to go to dialup. So I just stopped downloading anything over 1Gb, ever, and confining my high-tier, expensive 'net account to web surfing and games. And oh, yeah, I watched TV on the TV on my shitty couch like a good little boy. These fuckers continue to get my monthly checks to this very day. Aren't monopolies grand?

  • by grainofsand (548591) <grainofsand@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @11:37PM (#24789695)

    In my apartment in Shanghai I have a 5mbit symmetrical connection that is all-you-can-eat (i.e. unlimited traffic up and down per month). This costs me RMB 150 per month or about US$22.

    Granted, there is no customer service whatsoever and when it falls over, I have to wait for the ISP (CNC) to realise and remedy.

    In Beijing I pay the same but it is only a 2mbit symmetrical service, and also uncapped.

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