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Comcast mulling 250GB cap, excess fees?

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 To date, Comcast has often used unpublished caps that vary from region to region as its guideline for excessive use, and is known to have threatened disconnection for users who cross these barriers while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.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    so..

    ...is this money actually going to be used to increase bandwidth for all, or is it just a way to add some extra income to Comcast's pockets?

  1. JulesLt

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2005

    0

    What money?

    What percentage of domestic users are currently using over 250Gb per month? That's over a movie per day, or a few hours of streaming TV.

    I would wager it is absolutely tiny. It's more about saving money by persuading loss-making customers to leave, rather than making money out of them.

  1. Person Man

    Professional Poster

    Joined: Jun 2001

    0

    Extra income

    Extra income, of course.

    You think they'll put it towards improving the "last mile" connections to end users or making infrastructure changes?

  1. climacs

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Sep 2001

    0

    provide a widget

    to monitor useage. Would that be so hard? How am I supposed to know I've exceeded 250gb?

  1. TheBum

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Sep 2001

    0

    reasonable limit

    At least the limit is reasonable. I've heard of some foreign providers limiting users to 10 or 20 gigabytes per month.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    Re: what money

    Well, the article states "it targets the top .1 percent, or 14,000, of its customers", which equates to some $200,000 (assuming everyone just blips the cap).

    Of course, I hope they remember to not call it 'unlimited' internet....

  1. AndrewWickliffe

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2004

    0

    second the widget

    I once got the dreaded 400 GB of death phone call... Netflix Watch Now and Hulu must be having an effect.

    But a widget (or a counter), is essential.

  1. fritzair

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Oct 2000

    0

    How does it cost them?

    Could someone please explain to me how COMCAST loses money when subscribers download more often? Are the routers replaced more often? Do they build up the pipes to the customers near the 14,000? I never hear/read anything about upload speeds. Why do we have only 40K? Why can't we serve blogs and web pages from home? Thanks

  1. hayesk

    Professional Poster

    Joined: Sep 1999

    0

    Generous

    250GB per month is pretty generous. Rogers is capping at 95GB for their most expensive tier, and they're still traffic shaping.

  1. vasic

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2005

    0

    Blipping the cap?

    Their statement says that the top users are downloading well in excess of the others, implying significantly more than 250GB. Still, even if they download double the cap, that would possibly make $3.5 million for them.

    The proper way to look at this would be from the violators' perspective. Assuming you are paying $40 per month for your cable internet, you wouldn't be too pleased if a bill came for extra $75 in a month when you had to restore your entire hard drive (300GB) from an online backup service after your Windows crashed and burned.

    And keep in mind, there are many of those bit torrenters who don't watch TV on TV; they download shows and movies. And they watch a lot. And they download lots of other stuff (such as PC games, hundreds of MB). It's enough to download 60 DVDs to exceed this limit. While you and I find this far-fetched, there are in fact people who really do this.

    The'll probably go with another provider, or just shrug it off ("it was good while it lasted") and move on to something else (perhaps online dating?).

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