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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 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.



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RE: Hmm. . .
By Mitch101 on 8/29/2008 10:51:32 AM , Rating: 2
I would vote you up for that if I didn't already post and add to it.

3. Netflix streaming movies (Xbox and from their website) 1-2 gig each? (Est 700-1.4gig each)
(HD movies will be even more and possibly a deal breaker) (Est 4-9gig each)

8. TV Shows. My HD Direct TV unit has Video on Demand and we download a lot of shows to catch up on series or build interest in a series. If we get hooked like Dexter we watched the first 2 seasons in about a month all from VOD.

Patches but this can vary. Mainly referring to Wow and Windows service packs not to mention playing online as you already have.

9. Napster/iTunes/Rhapsody - They include video as well as music.

Good pointing out Voip services.

I did the calculations below and I came to the conclusion that if your skeptical about the limit then its time to consider DSL. Heck I might only get 3meg bandwidth but will never have to worry about a 250 gig limit. I run a real estate website and a backup of the site can eat that up very fast.


RE: Hmm. . .
By walk2k on 8/29/2008 7:24:14 PM , Rating: 2
The cap does not apply to Comcast phone service no.


RE: Hmm. . .
By FITCamaro on 8/30/2008 9:42:54 AM , Rating: 2
I don't believe Netflix plans to offer HD movies on its streaming service anytime soon. Most people don't have the connection for it to work properly.

And wouldn't your Direct TV box get the show through the satellite network? Not your internet connection? I don't have satellite so I don't know.

And if you run a real estate website, you should probably just get a business class connection. I doubt those would be capped.


RE: Hmm. . .
By GaryJohnson on 8/30/2008 9:53:26 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
And if you run a real estate website, you should probably just get a business class connection. I doubt those would be capped.

Especially if doing backups of that site can eat up 250GB fast. Either you have a huge site (like realtor.com or something) or you seriously need to consult someone about optimizing your media for the web.


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