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Comcast replacing hard data cap with allotments, extra fee

updated 12:00 am EDT, Fri May 18, 2012

New max 300GB, additional charge if exceeded

The official Comcast blog revealed its new data-usage monitoring and management plan. An internet data usage policy enacted in 2008 allowing residential users 250GB of traffic a month has been revoked. The old policy is being replaced by a system that kicks in after 300GB, and additional data above that will be offered in paid blocks or increments. No date for the launch or firm fees for additional data have been announced.

Two similar systems are being piloted. The first offers a 300GB ceiling for all data tiers, above which a fee will apply per each "block" of data consumed. The example given by Comcast is 50GB for $10. The second keeps the 300GB soft ceiling for the "Internet Essentials", "Economy", and "Performance" tiers with the "Blast" and "Extreme" plans having an unspecified additional amount. The block data charge remains unaffected.

A dissolution of the previous cap system is a response to a constant review process undergone by Comcast since the claimed congestion-limiting system began. Comcast won't comment on how many users are cut off from the service monthly beyond "a very, very small number of customers." A high-profile case involving Seattle resident (and ex-Microsoft and Intel employee) Andre Vrignaud publicized the process. Vrignaud was disconnected in 2011 twice for exceeding the cap, once after uploading his music collection and photos to an unnamed cloud service.

It would take some time for a single user to reach a 300GB cap. Streaming movie service Netflix consumes approximately 1.5GB per hour of high definition video watched. Gaming products like World of Warcraft or Xbox Live take between 150 and 300MB per hour. A single user would have to watch 50 movies per month to approach the new ceiling before additional charges are assessed. Two gamers on the same connection would have to play online games nearly 24 hours a day to clear the new, higher ceiling.

By Electronista Staff
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