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Subscribers now have a visible limit on their internet usage

ISP giant Comcast announced an official, 250 GB usage cap for its subscribers Thursday, which it plans to deploy October 1.

"250 GB/month is an extremely large amount of data," reads its official release, "much more than a typical residential customer uses on a monthly basis."

The "median" usage per customer is within 2 - 3 gigabytes per month, says Comcast. In order to exceed the data cap, a customer would have to send more than 50 million e-mails, download more than 62,000 songs, or watch more than 125 standard-definition, 2 GB movies per month.

Comcast's new policy on data consumption appears to be just a part of an overall initiative to reshape the way customers use its network. Last week the company announced its "fair share" program, which is designed to throttle a customers' connection when they consume too much bandwidth. Rumors of a bandwidth cap had been in circulation for quite some time -- Comcast, AT&T, and Time Warner were reported to be experimenting with the concept -- but the actual thresholds implemented proved to be much higher than predicted.

With the increasing popularity of internet-based video and software distribution, ISPs throughout the world are finding ways to curb customers' internet usage. While data caps are commonplace outside the United States, publicly-announced limits are incredibly rare among the U.S.' largest ISPs. Particularly egregious users have run into invisible limits, however, and a handful of heavy downloaders have seen up to a year's suspension of service due to crossing the company's "invisible line in the sand" despite paying for service advertised as unlimited.

Curiously, the announcement hints that the invisible threshold may have been 250 GB all along. "This is the same system we have in place today," says the announcement. "The only difference is that we will now provide a limit by which a customer may be contacted. 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."

AT&T Wireless users who exceeded an invisible 5gb quota -- a lot, considering that the network is designed for PDAs and Smartphones -- quickly learned of similar sanctions last year.

Subscribers who exceed their quota "may be contacted by Comcast to notify them of excessive use."

"At that time, we'll tell them exactly how much data per month they had used. We know from experience the vast majority of customers we ask to curb usage do so voluntarily," reads the release. Customers will be notified of the change through banner ads posted on the home page, as well as flyers to be included in upcoming billing statements.

A previous attempt to curb subscribers' usage, which ended up selectively meddling in a few different types of internet traffic -- BitTorrent, namely -- attracted the ire of the Federal Communications Commission due to a "discriminatory" preference against certain kinds of data. After almost a year of this, Comcast answered the FCC's demands with a handful of new programs designed to clamp down on excessive usage regardless of the protocols involved.

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RE: Hmm. . .
By omnicronx on 8/29/2008 9:01:32 AM , Rating: 0
Why are you protecting those who vastly overuse bandwidth and probably account for 70% of internet traffic. This will not effect you, and to tell you the truth, if you are using over 250GB of bandwidth a month, you should not have a residential plan anyways.

RE: Hmm. . .
By weskurtz0081 on 8/29/2008 9:21:14 AM , Rating: 2
So, now you are the one who decides how much bandwidth people get to use? Also, it doesn't matter what plan they are on, the bandwidth will be coming out of the same lines, only difference is price and available bandwidth.

Anyway, if a service is advertised as unlimited, it shouldn't be limited. If they are going to sell an unlimited service for $100, they should lower the price on the limited one.

omni, no one is protecting anyone in here, this is only a message board.

RE: Hmm. . .
By omnicronx on 8/30/2008 2:02:24 PM , Rating: 2
omni, no one is protecting anyone in here, this is only a message board.
Then why do you care so much? I feel absolutely no pain for those that use their local ISP as a server or are constantly leeching. Don't get me wrong, I do my fair share of downloading, but why do you think ISP's had to put in place such rules as limiting torrents and other P2P sites? Having a cap like this makes the internet a better place for rest of the people that are not taking advantage.

And like it or not your contract is subject to change, its one of the first lines of the agreenment you signed when you bought your internet. And its not like 250G is unreasonable either, you are just complaining for the sake of it.

This is not the only issue either, I know for a fact that DSL companies don't see a need to expand their services to more rural areas just because the margins in doing so would be so one sided, that there would be no point. Maybe in the good ol US of A it doesnt make a difference, but here in Canada where communities can be quite far from one another, it does!

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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