backtop


Print 118 comment(s) - last by Shimyr.. on Sep 1 at 6:03 AM

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 Comcast.net 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.



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Hmm. . .
By Moishe on 8/29/2008 10:31:40 AM , Rating: 2
I don't see this as a problem. ISPs have always said "unlimited" and then dropped certain users for using too much. To me that is flat out lying and should not be legal. By setting a cap they remove all ambiguity. If you are over the cap, you get suspended (potentially). If not over the cap, no suspension. It's simple to calculate, simple to appeal, simple to monitor.

If the caps were widely used in the U.S. we'd see competition based on those caps. This is a good thing and it adds another feature that an ISP can sell. I am able to save $15/month on my broadband bill because TWC finally offered packages. I never needed 5Mb but I had no choice but to pay the cash for it.

I'm all for setting clear limits where possible. It's better for the business and better for the consumer


RE: Hmm. . .
By Aloonatic on 8/30/2008 4:09:51 AM , Rating: 2
In the UK fair usage policies are made pretty clear on all "unlimited" offers.

These apply to broadband traffic use and have also cropped up in mobile phone contracts for "unlimited" calls, texts or data.

If someone breaches it there connection is usually just throttled during peak hours over here though. I don't think that people actually get cut off.

The use of "unlimited" is an obvious marketing term and you would have to be pretty naive to think that you can get away with anything, but it is misleading.

I am pretty sure that it was the industry regulator that has made them make it clear that "unlimited" is not really and the disclaimers are very clear and easily found.

If they aren't doing this in the States then that is a little naughty and I can see how people would be annoyed.


"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki