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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 twhittet on 8/31/2008 5:48:06 AM , Rating: 2
Ok - so I'm not a big fan of the RIAA, but, your logic seems a little flawed. By listening to songs on P2P, people gain interest in the band, and go to their concerts, thn making them money on something they have worked and sacrificed to create. If you download a band that never comes to your country, how do they benefit? So, they work their ass off, and because music is a cultural thing, they don't deserve any compensation from possibly hundreds of millions of people that enjoy their work but don't go to a concert. The system is admittedly flawed, but thinking you have a "right" to get everything for free is sadly worse.


RE: Hmm. . .
By heffeque on 8/31/2008 10:05:22 AM , Rating: 2
If they don't come near me and I can't go to were they're playing... I guess it's their fault. They should earn money working. Singing a song and living out of it without giving concerts is a thing from the past. Artists have to earn their pay, and that's working. Musicians have to play all over the world if they want to earn money from all over the world. If they only want money from the US, then they'll just do concerts in the US, right? Some Spanish singers go to America to do concerts in latin-america and earn some money there. I see nothing wrong there. I see no flaw there. Good musicians enjoy the fact that people listen to their music, and give all the concerts they can all over the world to get to the people who really enjoy their music. Nothing wrong there.


"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes














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