updated 09:20 am EDT, Wed May 7, 2008
Comcast 250GB Cap Rumor
Comcast is evaluating a capping system that it hopes will pay for the cost of very heavy users without affecting most reasonable use, according to a tip sent to BBR. In the proposed plan, the provider would implement a clear 250GB monthly data transfer cap and charge users $15 extra per month for every 10GB increment past the limit. The effort would target the top 0.1 percent of users, or about 14,000 subscribers, who download well in excess of others but would still provide enough bandwidth for frequent use, such as video downloads.
Provisions would also be in place to accommodate customers who may unintentionally cross the 250GB barrier, according to the report. Every customer would be allowed to exceed the cap once per year without encountering overage charges. Uploads may also be unaffected by the plan, though Comcast is reportedly considering targeting confirmed transfers of illegal content with a rule that would prevent more than four offenses in a year-long period.
Comcast has confirmed that it's "evaluating" the strategy but has no announcements to make.
The move is widely believed to be an attempt by the telecoms company to clarify its frequently conflicted position on heavy downloading. To date, Comcast has often used unpublished caps that vary from region to region as its guideline for excessive use, and is known to have threatened disconnection for users who cross these barriers while declining to outline the limits themselves. The provider has also regularly used Sandvine throttling tools to artificially slow down BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer connections in a form that has drawn FCC criticism for both deceptiveness and violating basic concepts of net neutrality that hinder legitimate content.
Since then, Comcast has promised a platform-agnostic filtering approach by late 2008 that would keep the company's traffic in check without punishing particular formats. No mention has been made of which techniques will be used, which may use the 250GB cap as some or all of the company's strategy.