Comcast’s 250GB limit only applies to residential customers

Bandwidth caps all the rage amongst ISPs nowadays, and internet users fond of downloading will find themselves forced to curtail their usage – or not?

With Comcast ramping up internet speeds to 50 Mbps for subscribers, more and more internet users will find that niggly 250 GB limit hitting closer to home. As some of you pointed out in my October Comcast article, it’s surprisingly easy to blow past this limit at peak speeds: at 50 million bits per second, one could consume 2 trillion bits (or 250 gigabytes) in about 667 minutes, or just over 11 hours.

While it’s unreasonable to suggest that a substantial amount of subscribers will actually cross the 250 GB mark so quickly – or even find enough data to download to satisfy that kind of need – the concept of such an easily-achievable threshold brings up a number of interesting concerns. What’s going to happen with the upcoming wave of high-def internet video? Or the fact that more and more videogames are purchasable and playable exclusively online?

But instead of going down that road again, I’d much rather offer Comcast subscribers a simple piece of advice: if you really, really see yourself crossing that 250 GB limit with your shiny new wideband service, then avoid the headaches and buy a business-class line.

I confirmed this with Comcast representative Charlie Douglas yesterday. In a brief e-mail exchange, Douglas repeated Comcast’s policy and pointed me towards the company’s Acceptable Use FAQ, which clearly states:

“Excessive use means bandwidth or data usage that is significantly higher than typical residential usage … As of October 1, 2008, data usage above 250 Gigabytes ("GB") per month per Comcast High-Speed Internet residential customer account is considered excessive.”

It’s not the cheapest option – the extra $30-50 a month isn’t easy to swallow – but it’s the secret flipside of rather simple, three-possibility choice: stay under the limit, cross the limit and let your story be heard, or purchase a tier of service where you don’t have to worry about it. I hate the fact that that’s how it’s got to be – the fewest rules only for those who can afford it – but, as they say, them’s the breaks.

Of course, as a business-class SBC DSL customer – thanks, Time Warner, for offering service to the house in front of mine! – sometimes the higher tier has its perks. My encounters with gold-tier (or whatever they call it) SBC technicians are, generally speaking, more productive and my inner server geek certainly loves the block of static IPs. I can’t speak for the people who run Comcast’s business-service unit, but it seems like there are certainly a few more perks then the lack of a cap.

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller
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