Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
The Internet Networking The Almighty Buck

Comcast Floats a 250GB Monthly Bandwidth Limit 578

techmuse writes "Comcast is considering the imposition of bandwidth caps and reductions in network bandwidth to customers who, while paying for the use of a certain amount of bandwidth, dare to actually use it! Gizmodo has more on the subject." Reader Acererak points out that it would take some pretty heavy usage (by current standards) to hit the cap described. Bear in mind, too, that these reports are based on the word of an unnamed "insider," rather than an officially announced policy.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Comcast Floats a 250GB Monthly Bandwidth Limit

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:34AM (#23337288)
    250GB ought to be enough for anybody.
    • "250GB ought to be enough for anybody."

      Obviously you've not seen the amount of HD pr0n out there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Brad1138 ( 590148 ) *
      I install Wild Blue satellite internet, their top package caps at about 20GB a month, if you go over, your speed is dropped from 1.5 MBps to 256 KBps and if you abuse it further they will cut you off entirely. We have had some people who have been banned from Comcast for over usage try to sign up with WB. We tell them if you used too much on Comcast you'll go through WB's limit in a few days and won't sell it to them.

      I did some research to find out what Comcast's limit was and the only thing I could com
  • Lawsuit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Apathy ( 584315 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:35AM (#23337292)

    God damn it people need to learn if you say unlimited on the ad it means fucking unlimited. If you don't want people using it you need to say so.

    It's time people got together and sued these fuckers that do this crap.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by coren2000 ( 788204 )
      In Canada Bell Advertises 7Mb/s download speeds, but put a speed cap @ 4Mb/s. I think I should have the right to sue them for this. What do you think?
      • Re:Lawsuit (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Lord Apathy ( 584315 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:55AM (#23337622)

        I don't know how shit works in Canada so I have no clue. But if they advertise 7MB/s and don't say anything about a lower speed cap then you should have some legal recourse. Really I think what is advertises should come over what it says on some contract they have you sign.

        Bait and switch you know. This used to really fucking illegal, now its just a wink and a nod. Yeah, the tv said unlimited but the contract you signed says different. WTF is up with that?

    • Re:Lawsuit (Score:5, Interesting)

      by joecasanova ( 1253876 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:49AM (#23337544)
      Lawsuit could work maybe once, but then they would just change their contract. Story for you: Several years ago, I lived in a small town. So small that when my house of 5 power users got the only broadband service available in the town run by a small "mom and pop" type company... after the first month we got a letter stating that we went over some bandwidth limit that they had apparently imposed out of thin air. I reviewed the contract I had signed, the latest version of their contract... there was absolutely nothing about it in the contract. The letter was nice enough that they asked me to cut back on usage. I immediately set up my internet gateway to monitor and track all bandwidth usage on the WAN NIC. Next month rolls by and we get another letter from the ISP stating that if we continued to use as much bandwidth as we did that they'd be forced to cancel our residential account or have us upgrade to a business account. I went to the gateway and checked the bandwidth usage. It was roughly 30 GB of usage. Not too much in the grand scheme of things. So I called the ISP's manager. I talked to him. I told him that we were paying for unlimited usage and asked why we were receiving the letters. He told us they had a "fuzzy limit" that was "at the descretion of their network admin". After some more heated discussion, he hung up on me. Next month rolls around and we get a letter stating that because we violated the contract they have cancelled our account. So I took the company to court. What was so interesting was that in court the company brought some interesting data in. Apparently, because the company serviced such a small area and that area was something you could consider "not very tech savy"... their grounds on the cancellation of our contract was based on one piece of data. Apparently, of the total bandwidth usage by their customers, my house was responsible for 80% of that usage. Luckily, the judge was tech savy enough to understand what was happening. He read through the contract I had signed and the latest version that the company is having customers sign. No where in either of them did he see that there was any "limit" or notion of a "fuzzy limit". The only thing that could come close was the clause stating "activities that disrupt or degrade service are prohibitted". Looking at the rest of the data that the company brought in showed that the total bandwidth consumption by their customers was rouhly 65% of the total available bandwidth across the course of the month, and since my house was 80% of that 65%, we weren't coming anywhere close to saturating the network. Furthermore with the caps in place, there was no way that my house could possibly disrupt or degrade service to anyone but ourselves. So that ISP shot themselves in the foot. My service resumed the next day and I didn't hear a peep out of the company until I moved. The little guy wins over the not-so-big company.
    • Re:Lawsuit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:52AM (#23337588) Journal
      Well, something like this would mean they're not saying "unlimited" anymore.

      In fact, having a published cap would mean that customers would know the information they need to make a decision on their ISP in advance, rather than discovering some secret shadowy cap after they've hit it and called tech support 10 times about their problems before finding someone willing (or knowledgeable enough) to admit that such a cap exists, and maybe the approximate value of said cap.

      As for existing customers, they'll just send out a notice saying they are changing your contract and you have 30 days to cancel otherwise you agree to the new cap.
    • Re:Lawsuit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by D'Sphitz ( 699604 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:00AM (#23337708) Journal

      God damn it people need to learn if you say unlimited on the ad it means fucking unlimited. If you don't want people using it you need to say so. It's time people got together and sued these fuckers that do this crap.
      If you RTFA they are considering bandwidth caps, right now it is still unlimited. I'd assume if they do add caps they'd stop marketing it as "unlimited", or maybe they won't, who knows? There's no reason to throw a tantrum about it right now though.

      Good luck with your lawsuit.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lord Apathy ( 584315 )

        Get a grip dude. I read the article. Actually I read about it in several places. My argument is not really about bandwidth caps, but truth in advertising. They are thinking of sneaking in bandwidth caps after people have signed up. This is not right. If you sign up for one thing then they say they are changing the rules, that is bullshit. Pure and simple.

        Another thing is comcast if fucking huge. If they get away with it what is to stop other providers from doing the same thing? They are basicall

    • Re:Lawsuit (Score:5, Interesting)

      by WinPimp2K ( 301497 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:08AM (#23337828)
      Oh come on already!
      Here Comcast is (possibly) going to announce a change in their service plan so it does not say unlimited -exactly what you seem to want. And in the next sentence you are calling for a class action lawsuit. SUch a lawsuit would have the following effects:

      1> really big fricken payoff for one waste of skin (lawyer)
      2> maybe fifty bucks worth of discount coupons on PPV movies (you will have to spend 100 bucks to get the full value)
      3> Comcast will raise their rates to show their customers who is really in charge.

      For myself I would welcome the idea of a fair charge per gigabyte - My ideal would be a tiered system based on consumption similar to how my electric bill is structured. (1st 250 KWH is pretty cheap, next 750 not too bad, and beyond 1000 is highest. (Now how can I monitor my actual consumption bearin in mind that I have 5 PCs in my home network - can my router tell me how much internet bandwidth I am consuming?)

      But, that is not what Comcast is doing. They are proposing a very high cap that would only affect the very highest consumers of bandwidth. Folks who have had any exposure to real American History may recall that when the Federal Income tax was introduced it was only going to affect the wealthiest 2% of the population. If Comcast goes through with this, they will just fold regular reductions in the cap into their frequent service changes and overall price hikes. (Yep we have added the Comcastic Mandarin Home SHopping Channel to your regular lineup - and this new service requires us to raise your basic cable charges by ....mumble... and (in mouseprint) your digital television service is now included in your internet bandwidth cap...

  • Not bad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MooseMuffin ( 799896 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:35AM (#23337310)
    I'm fine with that as a limit if they also agree to stop tampering with the connections of anyone not in violation of it.
    • It's a Ripoff (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bruha ( 412869 )
      If you used a online backup service like dropbox then you'd pay over 500 dollars to retrieve 1TB of data after a disaster.

      I have local backup, but I keep a offsite backup of my data in case of a natural disaster.
  • by techmuse ( 160085 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:35AM (#23337314)
    Note that Comcast has a monopoly on Internet access in many markets (for example, where they are the sole cable provider, and DSL is not offered.) For users in these markets, there will be no alternative provider to switch to.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Itninja ( 937614 )

      where they are the sole cable provider, and DSL is not offered
      AND WiMax is not available, AND satellite isn't possible, AND dial-up isn't available. I think if you lived in an area that remote, Comcast cable being in the ground is kind of a laughable impossibility.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        As much as people hate Comcast, dialup isn't really an option these days. I just LOVE to wait 10 minutes for a page to load or a day or so to watch a 5 minute video.
      • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:51AM (#23337572)
        I think the parent probably meant monopoly on BROADBAND internet access. Dialup was never fun, but is much worse now than it was a few years ago. Satellite shouldn't even count as broadband :)

        Comcast does have a monopoly on broadband in many areas.
      • by teflaime ( 738532 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:56AM (#23337636)
        dail-up is not broadband, and satellite is unusuable for anything but web-browsing due to latency. WiMax is often only available where DSL already exists as an alternative to Comcast.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Grokmoo ( 1180039 )

        where they are the sole cable provider, and DSL is not offered

        AND WiMax is not available, AND satellite isn't possible, AND dial-up isn't available. I think if you lived in an area that remote, Comcast cable being in the ground is kind of a laughable impossibility.

        None of the three options you listed provide anywhere close to the bandwidth of cable. Satellite would be the closest, but of course with that you are still using dialup for uploads and you have to deal with high latency.

        I would agree that DSL is probably available in most places where cable is available. Indeed, there are plenty of rural areas where DSL is available but cable is not.

        Still, it is a very common situation even in cities to have your only options for high speed internet be Comcast cab

      • Satellite internet is worse than dialup. In fact, a POTS modem is still required for outgoing traffic if I'm not mistaken. Sure you can get massive bandwidth but all your ping times are measured in seconds, not milliseconds.

        Though I agree the OP was poorly worded: Should have been "broadband" internet, since dialup is pretty ubiquitous. Otherwise there are huge swaths of this country that Comcast currently has a monopoly on.
      • > AND WiMax is not available, AND satellite isn't possible, AND dial-up isn't available.
        > I think if you lived in an area that remote, Comcast cable being in the ground is kind of a laughable impossibility.

        Name one city in North America where WiMax exists today as a commercial service.

        Satellite has hellish latencies that are intolerable to begin with, and made even worse by the way the satellite routers actually package the packets for uplink.

        Dialup? You can't be serious. You might as well argue that
      • If you're too far out for DSL, you're too far out for WiMax. The only possible saving grace there is someone other than the telco can put up a WiMax tower if they think it's worthwhile. But you still have to be close enough to enough other people to make it worth someone's while to server you.

        It's also not really fair to pretend that dialup is the same class of service as a cable connection. It's a little like saying "Don't like Ford? Well then you can drive a moped with your 2 kids in the saddle bags." --
  • Could be worse (Score:5, Informative)

    by neokushan ( 932374 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:37AM (#23337332)
    250Gb isn't that bad at all. There are some ISP's in the UK that have limits of as little as 1Gb a month.
    Although most do have limits higher than that, they're rarely more than about 30Gb a month, if even that.
    The few that have no caps (like Virgin) tend to throttle the fuck out of your bandwidth at peak times.
    It's all a joke, really. Luckily I live near an exchange with some decent ISP's that don't have monthly caps, but it's only a matter of time I suppose.
    • Re:Could be worse (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert&slashdot,firenzee,com> on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:47AM (#23337518) Homepage
      I actually prefer the ISPs who are up front about the cap, even if the limit is ridiculously low...
      Virgin are one of the worst offenders, because like comcast they also have a cap but won't tell you what it is until you go over it and get billed or disconnected.

      At least if you know up front, you can avoid such ISPs...
      If leased lines were cheaper, i would consider one (true uncapped service)... In the US you can get a T1 line for around $350/month which isn't too bad for guaranteed up/down rates and business class service.
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by Lord Apathy ( 584315 )

      It's not really the limit that is the issue, it is the principal of the thing. If I sign up for rated cable then that is fine. If the package says on it 250 GB a month limit, I can live with that. 250 GB is a shit load of data for a home account.

      But if the damn thing say Unlimited on it then I expect it to be unlimited. Unlimited means unlimited. Even if they say that applies to online, well if I'm online I expect to be able to do something.

      They may say that applies to no time limit. Well what is

    • by muffen ( 321442 )

      250Gb isn't that bad at all. There are some ISP's in the UK that have limits of as little as 1Gb a month. Although most do have limits higher than that, they're rarely more than about 30Gb a month, if even that. The few that have no caps (like Virgin) tend to throttle the fuck out of your bandwidth at peak times. It's all a joke, really. Luckily I live near an exchange with some decent ISP's that don't have monthly caps, but it's only a matter of time I suppose.

      I knew the UK was quite bad, been reading about BT and all the great things they've done in order to prevent the spread of high-speed internet, but 1 - 30gigs sounds horrible.

      Anyways, the issue with comcast isn't really the cap, I mean, the vast majority won't care if the DL cap is 250gigs, the only thing is, they shouldn't advertise it as unlimited if they have a cap.

      However, they haven't put the cap in effect yet which means that it is unlimited right now, and if they do put it there they should in

    • Do the ISP's in the UK state that they have a 1GB limit or do they advertise "Unlimited Usage"?
      • It depends entirely on the ISP. Some have it quite clearly stated, others have a little * beside the word "unlimited".
        Oh and EVERY SINGLE ONE of them, even the truly uncapped ones have a "fair usage" policy in their T&C's, essentially meaning they can kick you off as and when they feel like it.
        I think this is true for every ISP on the planet, which is sad.
  • 250? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Masami Eiri ( 617825 ) <brain.wav@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:37AM (#23337336) Journal
    Frankly, I'll be glad if they name a cap instead of this nebulous one they may or may not have, and may or may not enforce. And 250GB is pretty good, uTorrent downloads near-constantly for me, and I think I'd have trouble hitting that. That's about 8GB a day.
    • Re:250? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tgatliff ( 311583 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:57AM (#23337654)
      First, this is what is known in the political world as a "trial balloon". Meaning, they are using a inside source to release the information to see it is builds traction without risk of embarrassment..

      Secondly, don't think that 250 Gig per month is where they want to be. Meaning, they do not have even close the amount of bandwidth available to provide this level to their customers. What I am sure they are wanting to do, however, is to get buy in a 250G limit, and reduce that amount over time to something closer to 20G per month.
    • Re:250? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dsginter ( 104154 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:12AM (#23337890)
      And 250GB is pretty good, uTorrent downloads near-constantly for me, and I think I'd have trouble hitting that. That's about 8GB a day.

      This cap is to prevent internet from taking over television delivery (which is a huge cash cow for them). 720P under H264 compression is about 3GB per hour so this would prevent the average household (e.g. - 2 or 3 televisions running for a few hours per day) from dropping their $100/month cable tv subscription.

      We need anti-trust countermeasures here.

      Internet television delivery is powerful. Right now, only the extremely wealthy can control the horizontal and vertical. If you plug the internet into televisions and 20 million people decide to pay a penny each to watch "Leave Britney Alone!", then someone just made $200,000.

      You'll get a lot of clever content under this model. And internet speeds are getting to the point where we can start thinking about HD content to a significant amount of people.
    • Re:250? Do The Math (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:45AM (#23338436)

      I think I'd have trouble hitting that. That's about 8GB a day.

      Right! And a single 30GB BluRay equivalent High Def download/rental takes out 4 days of that per movie. Think of that the next time you hear about Apple trying to kill off Netflix and rentals by mail in favor of their more expensive AppleTV and iTMS replacement.

  • 250 GBs? (Score:3, Funny)

    by UnCivil Liberty ( 786163 ) * on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:37AM (#23337346)
    I've heard you get an angry phone call above 100gb and have kept track of my usage via NetLimiter to stay in or around that number, looks like its time to get seeding!
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by fsulawndart ( 860628 )
      I routinely use ~250gb+ a month without a problem. The only time I got an angry phone call was when I used ~500gb.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        I routinely use ~250gb+ a month without a problem. The only time I got an angry phone call was when I used ~500gb.

        You are the exception, not the rule, and you are also the reason that the rest of us have to suffer these 'fair usage policies'.

        I welcome the definition of an actual cap, then you have some kind of comeback if they say you are using it excessively, whereas at the moment you don't. Currently, if they say it's too much, it's too much.

        This also empowers the consumer by giving them the information they need to make a purchase. If 2 companies advertise 'unlimited with fair usage' how do I know which one wi

  • An improvement (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Metasquares ( 555685 ) <slashdot AT metasquared DOT com> on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:38AM (#23337350) Homepage

    This is actually an improvement over their current model of "We have a cap, but we won't tell you what it is".

    Like a previous poster said, though, if they promise unlimited, they have to deliver unlimited. They should indeed be sued for not doing so.

  • How to fix cable: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by carambola5 ( 456983 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:39AM (#23337364) Homepage
    Here's how to get started on fixing our cable woes: Go to your city's website and find info on the municipal cable board. They likely meet monthly or bimonthly, and their meetings will be open to the public. Get there early and make sure someone on the board knows that you have something to say. Hopefully, there will be a local Comcast (or, in my case, Charter) representative there. During the meeting, the board will open up for public comment. At this point, make generalized claims about how Comcast is purposefully hindering innovation which is bad for the city (anecdotal evidence will likely not work here unless it supports a generalized claim... the cable board is not there to hear your personal story). Assert that maintaining a franchising agreement with Comcast is beneficial only to Comcast and that residents of your city are being unfairly price-gouged.

    Now, here's the tricky part: Keep going to the meetings, asserting the same thing. Heck, try to get a group to go. Make sure the board knows that Comcast is pissing off a bunch of really smart people. This works even better if this happens in multiple cities.... the folks at the cable HQs will get these odd reports of citizens showing up at tons of municipalities and complaining.
  • I'd be fine with this if it lead to a savings for people who don't hog huge amounts of bandwidth. That's not to assume, of course, that that's Comcast's intent...
  • Bad news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:41AM (#23337394)
    They'll start with 250GB because everyone will go, ok no big deal. Then they'll start reducing it. Once they implement this people will get screwed. Look at their track record.
  • Open Wifi (Score:5, Funny)

    by fsulawndart ( 860628 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:43AM (#23337422)
    My neighbors are going to be pissed when they see their next comcast bill!
  • A high cap, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by snarfies ( 115214 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:43AM (#23337426) Homepage
    250gb a month would be over 8gb a day, assuming a 31-day month (the worst-case scenario). I have no problem with that. I've never even come CLOSE to downloading that much.

    But is this just the FIRST cap? Will the cap be lowered to 200gb six month from now? Will it be jimmied down to 150gb a year from now, with the option to pay extra for a $200gb cap? Is this, in short, the opening shot to tiered pricing?

    I can't decide whether to terminate service out of principle over this move or not. It isn't like I have many options - for me its Comcast or DSL for the same price but half the speed. Verizon won't sell me FIOS no matter how much I want to hand them my money - they haven't even applied for a franchise in Philadelphia last I checked.
    • 8 gigs a day is pretty good. Virgin Media throttle the hell out of you for having the gall to download a few hundred megs.
    • Be careful what you wish for. I had Verizon DSL in Germantown and my parents in Buckingham have it now. In Germantown, they had a habit of losing synchronization frequently at night. Apparently this may have been due to fault equipment, but I have no idea since I think I switched to Comcast in 2001. Right now my parents have Verizon DSL in Buckingham and it cuts out when you pick up the phone. How can they sell service like this? Also, Verizon blocks certain ports such as Port 80. I'd rather have a b
  • Heavy usage? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert&slashdot,firenzee,com> on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:43AM (#23337428) Homepage
    250GB equates to just over 800kbit/sec over a month, or well under 1mbit.
    Now i wouldn't have an issue if that's how the service was sold (800kb service, burstable to 10mb or whatever)... But ISP marketing tries to make the service out to be something it's not. And then have the nerve to complain when people try to actually use what they thought they were buying.
  • by nweaver ( 113078 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:44AM (#23337446) Homepage
    Thats a HELL of a lot of porn/pirated material.

    8 GB a day is a crapload of data.

    In fact, thats 800 kbps SUSTAINED USAGE, 24/7!

    Anyone shifting that much data is probably violating a huge number of TOS clauses anyway.
  • Outliers & Liars (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:45AM (#23337468) Journal

    Reader Acererak points that it would take some pretty heavy usage (by current standards) to hit the cap described.
    It's easy to say that if you're not one of the outliers. It's within Comcast's right to introduce this cap. And I'm sure they'll let it sit there as Netflix streams and iPod video become more and more popular. Or they'll even lower it by pure logic of it being only a need of 3% of the populace so who cares if we piss them off? If it helps the other 97% maybe it isn't such a bad idea.

    It kind of confuses me though. We're already capped on our upload/download rates and since we pay them like a service we should pay them based on the rate of that service. Garbage, Cable TV and Water are rates I pay monthly that never change. Power is different but Cable TV is pretty much equivalent to cable internet ... are they going to limit the total amount of TV I can air in my home?

    Comcast lies anyway. I don't trust them any further than I can throw their entire infrastructure. We paid a premium on bandwidth for 3 months and were supposed to be getting 15 Mbps download speed (as opposed to the standard which is 5 Mbps). After several problems with lag between me and my three other roommates, we started doing periodic tests. Averaged around 1.2 Mbps download daily. So we called them and they told us our signal strength sucked. So fix it. Oh, they couldn't. Not only could they not fix it, they couldn't refund us the premium we paid. But they could offer us the 5 Mbps download rate .... after which we change to that it remained at 1.2 Mbps download. What else could we do? There's no competition in cable internet.

    Liars that don't give a damn about the end consumer. You'll be lucky if the 250 GB doesn't include your digital TV as download or even if they agree to their contractual terms.
  • That limit would be generous for the vast majority of their users, and you can always get another provider. Keep in mind that the people they're targeting with this are using up more bandwidth than some higher cost business accounts. If you want unlimited bandwidth per month, then buy a more expensive plan.
  • by techmuse ( 160085 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:47AM (#23337504)
    One of the scary things about this is that it will make new, high bandwidth, applications of the Internet infeasible. If you had been asked what was a reasonable amount of data to download 3 or 4 years ago, you would probably give a much lower value than you do today. Why? You would not have been using many of the services that you do now, because they simply did not exist. Modern services are much more video and audio intensive. Ads take much more bandwidth than they used to. We are seeing a transition of services traditionally provided by the cable companies, such as streaming of television programs, moving to the Internet. Calls on Skype now support high quality video. Software distributed over the Internet (for example, the latest version of your favorite Linux distribution) can easily run close to a gigabyte per instance. You can imagine that new applications will follow soon that we haven't imagined yet. Comcast is attempting to do the following:

    1) Eliminate unprofitable users. These are users who do more than just check their e-mail and surf the web. These are the ones who actually *use* their connections Rather than investing in infrastructure, Comcast simply wants to get rid of anyone that it doesn't make money on.

    2) Eliminate competition with its own cable offerings. If you can watch the latest news from CNN or TV shows from NBC streamed *from* CNN or NBC, then you don't need to pay $60 / month for cable TV. This is a major threat to Comcast, and they are trying to make it infeasible.

    3) Gain consumer acceptance of limits, then lower them later. The cable companies have a history of raising prices 5-10% per year (much greater than inflation). They can do to this because they have monopoly power in many markets. You can expect Comcast to behave in a similar manner with data. Want to fight back? Do you have many alternative providers? If not, you are stuck.
    • If it becomes infeasible to deliver very high-resolution video for cheap/free (aka bittorrent), then there won't be as great of a demand for ultra high resolution monitors and better offload-to-IC-decoder chips to spare CPU and GPU work when watching video.

      We'll be stuck at ugly, low resolution video for decades, considering how glacially slow comcast and other ISPs are to offer improvements to service for affordable prices. That cap will probably be the same in 2018. I don't understand why people are so gu
  • Isn't this like telling an unpaid intern they are getting a 10000000% raise? I mean, Comcast can advertise whatever bandwidth they want, but if they have a de facto packet shaper on any traffic that would actually use this bandwidth (i.e. torrents, streaming video), then it's all moot.
  • by Walpurgiss ( 723989 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:48AM (#23337520)
    They just cut me off 2 weeks ago without notice for bandwidth 'abuse.' It was pretty stupid. Somehow I had roughly 120GB used in the month, on a 3Mbps plan. I didn't even care that there's no way even with PSN stuff going on that I could have used that much, just the fact my unlimited always on internet is not unlimited, and that I don't deserve notice of disconnection even by phone bothers me.

    I'm no mathematician, but my math says:
    3Mbps / 8 = 375KBps
    60s * 60min * 24h * 28d = 2419200s/month
    375KBps * 2419200s = 907200000KB/month
    Which is roughly 865GB.
    At their advertised speed, if one were to actually be able to saturate it for their billing period, would be able to transfer 865GB of data. But they cut people for using 1/8th to 1/4th of that.
    And they don't just cut you off, but you get a nifty 12 month ban from their internet service. The least they could have done is call me and tell me something, rather than me having to go into their office 2 days later and be told that they can't tell me anything and that I have to call their corporate office.
  • It doesn't matter if the cap is Eleventy zillion GB. All that matters is that customers accept the idea of a cap, or a tiered usage system, or additional costs for exceeding a cap. Comcast will eventually lower the cap to the point where profit is maximized and "problem" customers like it or lump it.

  • Comcast Insiders (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Provos ( 20410 )
    ...Given that 'unnamed comcast insiders' have generally been right about what comcast is doing or planning on doing next, even when comcast refuses to address or acknowledge an issue, is there any good reason to doubt this?

  • What I hate is their ability to run ads for nothing on their local channels. I'm so fed up with talking turtles, I can't even enjoy Gamera movies anymore and that bitch doesn't talk, he just shoots fire out of his limb holes.
  • I'm outraged (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:56AM (#23337638)
    How dare Comcast "consider" things?
  • Comcast advertises "unlimited" and shows household use that will never add up to 250 GB which is more like DL two full length DVDs each day.

    The contract is month-to-month (minus equipment lock-in), either party can leave.

    Sorry, I have no sympathy for hogs and lots for those on shared circuits whose traffic gets squeezed.

  • by Se7enLC ( 714730 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:59AM (#23337692) Homepage Journal
    250GB is a lot for ONE person to download in a month...... I could be wrong, but I would guess that most Comcast cable connections are to houses and apartments with MORE THAN ONE person living in them!

    With 6 people sharing cable, that impossible-to-reach 250GB turns into a paltry 42GB. Or about 1.4 gigs a day. It would be very easy to accidentally hit that if you watch videos online.

    I hope that they plan to tiered service like cell phone companies. Ideally with automatic tiering - so rather than paying ridiculous overage charges per-GB, you just pay for the price of the next tier. (as in, up to 250GB is $X a month, 300GB is $X+$Y/month, etc)
  • by Jonah Hex ( 651948 ) <> on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:05AM (#23337774) Homepage Journal
    I've gotten calls two different months, the first because I used over half a terabyte one month, the other because I was in the top 10% of bandwidth users for that month. Both times they wouldn't give me a clear answer on what the cap is, and threatened that another violation would get my cable suspended for a year. Screw 250 gigs a month, I can't live with those limits in my household of torrent users. Why haven't I switched already? Comcast has a monopoly at my apartment complex and I'm moving to a WOW supported house.

    Jonah HEX
  • Official statements (Score:4, Informative)

    by unlametheweak ( 1102159 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:08AM (#23337826)
    From the Slash article:

    Bear in mind, too, that these reports are based on the word of an unnamed "insider," rather than an officially announced policy.

    A report that Comcast was considering limits on monthly use appeared in the online tech forum and was confirmed Wednesday by the company.
    Ref: []
  • The Moving Limit (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:33AM (#23338248)
    The problem is that once they can draw the line, then they can move it afterwards ad infinitum.

    An analogy:

    Once upon a time all calls to 411 information were free. Well not free really, but included in what you paid for telephone service. Then the telephone companies cried out how much 411 was costing them. (They weren't already making enough profits.) They claimed that this high cost was caused by only a few people who used the service excessively as opposed to using the nicely provided telephone directories. They got the regulators to set a limit that only the first 15 calls to 411 each month would be "free", after which you'd have to pay per call. This would only impact the "excessive users of the service" they successfully argued to quell public opposition.

    Well, you guessed it. That 15-free-calls-per-month quickly dropped in broad steps to 3-free-calls-per-month, and then 411 service was spun off into its own profit-making enterprise and now you pay every time you use it. And you phone bills were never reduced from this "savings".

    How long before Comcasts 250GB/month cap becomes 220GB/month. 200GB/month. Down so low that you can't watch video online (unless you watch Comcast's video delivery service, which will mysteriously not count against your bandwidth cap) without paying extra. Just watch it happen.

    Two interesting things about this Comcast proposal:

    First: For the heavy user, simply buying two accounts at the ~$50/month rate and having two modems is a far cheaper way to get to 500GB/month than paying the cap-breaking charge.

    Secondly: Although Comcast decrys how a few heavy users are overloading their system to the detriment of all the other users on the cable loop, simply by paying more money WITH NO IMPROVEMENTS TO THE CABLE LOOP AT ALL this heavy usage problem magically goes away and you can use all you want to pay for.

    Obvious conclusion: Comcast Lies like a Rug to try and squeeze out increased profits in every manner possible. Something that should not be allowed in a regulated monopoly.

  • by jroysdon ( 201893 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:52AM (#23338522) Homepage
    I think the real crunch is the time of day usage peaks. From the stats I have access to at one ISP I do work for, usage starts to climb at 8am, from 10am-midnight is consistantly high, but doesn't totally drop off until somewhere between 1-2am.

    My suggestion to Comcast would be to use a time-based rate limit. From 8am - 2am local track the bandwidth, from 2am - 8am give untracked time.

    All us geeks can schedule our torrents and other downloads to run during that time.

    My stuff is all legal, but I can easily consume that much bandwidth in a busy month. I download a handful of DVD ISOs (Fedora betas, previews, releases, CentOS releases, MythDora betas and releases, Live CDs) and all that can wait until off-hours.

    My day usage for work (I work from home 2-3 days a week, sometimes the entire week) is often pretty constant as well. I've typcially got Cisco MeetingPlace sessions going (seen the new Cisco commercials with the little girl selling cookies? I sell the stuff that makes all the work), with multiple VPNs going on back to the office and customers all day long, downloading Cisco patches (CallManager 5/6 "patches" are 1.5gb each), etc.

    Plus, we're going to see more and more streaming TV/movies going on. We've a MythDora box, and if ever they removed all the DRM junk and just let us download movies to watch how we want, we'd be watching them on there.

    Comcast needs to get over the fact that we may have our own "set top" boxes that don't come from them (like my MythDora) and may get our content from another provider, using our unlimited bandwidth.

    Again, my 2am-8am solution would work here - I don't care about seeing most shows the same day/time it is on. There are some things my Wife wants that way (American Idle, Dancing with the Stars) as people are talking about it the next day, but all the rest can wait a day (and we probably won't watch it for many days, perhaps a week or so). If I want to download this from my own content provider, I could schedule this for 2am-8am.

    That, and 250gb/month is going to seem very small very soon. I recently turned up a 1gb/s internet connection to CSU CENIC at my children's district office, which in turn has 1gb/s internal connections to all the district schools. They don't even know how to use that much bandwidth (yet) having come from sharing something like 40mb/s before.

    I'm betting my local junior college will be getting a similar connection soon as well and could offer high-bandwidth classes, and for that matter many schools are offering that.

    I've got 4 kids, ages 7-10, and right now there internet usage is rather light (,, etc.), but there all a bit on the geekish side like me, and I'm sure we'll always be a top-0.01% "normal" usage household (not downloading anything not legally available) - at least for another 11-15 years or so (depending if they stay at home to go to the local JC and CSU).

    If Comcast wants to pull this sort of stunt locally, they may also find themselves losing their franchises.
  • by bestinshow ( 985111 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:53AM (#23338552)
    This is all the provider's fault, because they've raised expectations in the consumers.

    What a typical DSL product offers is "download speed bursting to 8mbps shared amongst 20-50 users" depending on the contention ratio. The problem is that the infrastructure can't handle modern internet usage - streaming video, etc, when more than a few people are using it at the same time. In order to provide a fair internet service to the other people who are also using that connection they have to throttle big bandwidth users. This wasn't a problem even a couple of years ago, internet use was mostly bursty, with gaps of inactivity.

    Internet service should be sold based upon a minimum guaranteed bit rate, and the burst bit rate. I'd rather go for 256kbps/2mbps than 64kbps/8mbps.

    Oddly enough some services never seem to have a problem. Virgin Media Cable in my area is great, even at peak times you can get 250KB/s downloads on their budget 2mbps package. Yet in other areas it apparently sucks Satan's scaly cock.

    I really don't mind the idea of reasonable bandwidth caps, as long as they increase by ~25% year on year. 250GB/s is a lot of bandwidth, that's more movies than you can find the time to watch in a month, even in HD. Probably an issue for shared geek hohuseholds though.
  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:56AM (#23338598)
    And carry over unused bandwidth to next month.

    So I could use 20,20,500,20,20.

    I think this is going to be an issue as folks use the internet as cable. I don't think 250gb will affect normal P2P much. It took me about 15 months to download one terrabyte of data so that is about 80 gig a month.

    The problem is... 250 now... then 200... then 150...

    The other problem is...
    200mb shows now... 700mb shows three years from now (as we all go HD).

    People wouldn't pirate if prices were reasonable. If anime were $22 instead of $80, I would buy it. Sometimes, it's easier to wait for prices to come down than to download (X-Files, La Femme Nikita, Get Smart).

    I currently have a 1,000 hour backlog of things to watch on purchased DVD's. That's enough that some things, i will probably never ever see.

  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @12:27PM (#23339034)
    Just wait for weekend Gigabytes, and TV commercials explaining Gigabyte friend circles and how you can carry your Gigabytes over from one month to the next !

    The thing that should worry anyone is that cell phone companies make much of their money from overage fees.

    I predict that if this goes into place, rather than improving the service, their effort will go into ever more complicated and confusing fee schedules.
  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @12:50PM (#23339418) Homepage Journal
    Comcast has cable modems, right?

    They mostly have 10MB interfaces? Then 10mb/s =600mb/m =36000mb/hr =4500MBytes/hr?


    Ok, this is Ethernet. Derate x.6 for CSMA/CD (I know it's switched. Don't believe you can get 100% utilization on a switched line). And do we get 64.8GBytes/day?

    Wow. Let me do this again:

    10mb/sec x.0 =6mb/sec =360mb/min =21600mb/hr = 2.16GByte/hr? (Byte = 8 bits?) For those of you scoring at home, this about half the speed of a streaming DDS-3 tape drive, probably LVD, with compression.

    Crap, I can't add any more. Maybe if we approach this differently?

    250GB/mo = 8.33GB/day. Somwhere I read that a Blu-Ray single-layer disc is 25GB. If we assume that a typical BR movei will take half the disc (not supported by evidence) then we need 12GB to dump a movie. We can dump about 20 movies a month and still have some cap room left to play Halo.

    But the math escapes me. If my cable modem is indeed 10MB, now much fracking data can I pump through it 24x7?

    I thought this would be easy. Needless to say, I am not a rocket scientist.

    Of course, if DOCSIS 2.0 is the system, it's limited to 30MB/s. Go look up the specs yersef. So I can't get more than 30mb no matter, and that's the limit. megaBIT. Math. Crap.

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.