Get ready for 250GB quotas, Comcast users

Since last year, Comcast has been experimenting with new ways to keep its users’ bandwidth usage under control. The cable provider first started disrupting BitTorrent file-sharing traffic, but after criticism from users—and the FCC—Comcast vowed to abandon the practice. Next up were bandwidth-throttling trials in Pennsylvania and Virginia, where some users faced reduced speeds during “congested periods.”

Now, Comcast is about to put a new measure into place: bandwidth quotas. According to PC Magazine, the firm will subject all of its residential customers to a 250GB monthly quota from October 1 onward. Those who go over the limit will be notified, although PC Magazine doesn’t say what will happen to recidivists. Comcast, however, specifies that it has a similar system in place today, but it will “now provide a limit by which a customer may be contacted,” and it knows “from experience” that most customers voluntarily curb their bandwidth consumption.

To Comcast’s credit, the 250GB ceiling seems pretty high, since customers would need to transfer more than 8GB of data each day to go over. Also, the company will take care to notify users of the change in policy via the Comcast.net home page, its site’s help section, and billing statements. With downloadable high-definition content on the rise and households sharing net connections, though, the limit could prove restrictive before long.

Comments closed
    • MadManOriginal
    • 11 years ago

    *deleted,, duplicate*

    • WaltC
    • 11 years ago

    In reading through Comcast’s statements on the matter, it appears that the 250GB cap has been the internal policy for quite sometime, and the only new wrinkle here is that Comcast is actually stating it has a cap and defining the cap for the first time.

    Basically, Comcast has been very reticent about publicly declaring a cap until now. I think we can thank our activist FCC commissioners for the announcement of this cap as it comes on the heels of the FCC’s recent order to Comcast to make its internal network management policies clear so that self-appointed “consumer groups” like Free Press can sit back and criticize them and make lofty, self-righteous, self-promoting pronouncements as to what’s in the best interests of consumers like me who are never consulted about anything (of course)…;) I’ve been on Comcast’s network for ten years and have never rubbed elbows with a cap, ever.

    Interesting to consider, though, that prior to the FCC’s activist meddling there was no officially stated cap on monthly bandwidth, and Comcast had a policy of only notifying people who were egregiously abusing their bandwidth to slow down. It seems to me that prior to the FCC’s shenanigans Comcast would have been content to keep things that way indefinitely. But groups like Free Press weren’t going to hear about it–nope, they kept after the FCC, which in turn kept after Comcast, so that now we all have an *official* cap of 250GBs per month. Gee, thanks FCC. Thanks Free Press.

    Somehow, for some reason, certain consumer groups and now even the FCC think there’s something “strange” about a broadband ISP declaring that it has a network and that it must intelligently manage that network to the greatest benefit of its customers. Ignorance not only proliferates, it’s becoming an epidemic these days. As a consumer I think I am sufficiently enabled so as to decide whether or not I think the price of the goods and services Comcast is selling are worth the money I pay them each month. It seems like the FCC and these groups like Free Press are simply scared to death of the idea that I might be able to look out for myself regarding the goods and the services in the marketplace that I elect to purchase. It reminds me of the old adage, “With friends like these, who needs enemies?”

      • MadManOriginal
      • 11 years ago

      An activist FCC, in favor of the public whose airwaves and communications (including broadband) the FCC is designed to protect, is doing exactly what they are supposed to do. This is in contrast to the decidedly pro-corporate interest FCC we’ve had for some time on issues such as media conglomeration in a given market. Your free-market evangelizing doesn’t work in an oligopolized market.

      Your whole post is based upon the assumption that this is a reaction to the FCC’s ruling about throttling torrents. You could save yourself some time by doing a little bit of searching first and finding out the dates of things you mention. Comcast was rumored to be considering a cap in early May, and that was after settling a disagreement with BitTorrent over throttling being anti-competitive versus certain Comcast products and services in March so that is the more likely reason for the cap becoming offical and concrete. The FCC ruling was in early August although they’d been investigating it for some time, and the bandwidth cap became official at the end of August. Of course the time an idea is made public, whether by rumor or ruling, and the time it was started aren’t the same but in any case the cap is not a response to the final verdict of the investigation.

    • jensend
    • 11 years ago

    Bandwidth quotas are good. Seriously.

    People who use ridiculous amounts of bandwidth should pay extra for it. Bandwidth is a scarce resource. When people go over the limit, they can charge extra for further transfers (e.g. $1/GB) or make transfers over the cap go much much slower (56k bandwidth). The limit amount should be generous (which is a moving target as bandwidth and people’s requirements expand, 250GB/mo is great for now but in 6 years it likely won’t be ok) and needs to be clearly stated. Customers should have access to their usage stats so they can know if they need to pare it down.

    This is so much better than the alternatives – overcongested networks which don’t allow regular users to get what they need or networks which try to snoop for P2P or some other kind of transfers and slow them down- there’s no comparison.

      • shank15217
      • 11 years ago

      Yes bandwidth is a scarce resource, like oil and natural gas, we should preserve it so our kids can have it when they grow up… gimmi a break. The cost of auditing the user’s bandwidth and saving this information for all their subscribers costs at least as much as simply upgrading their infrastructure.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 11 years ago

      They could have suspended or terminated service for the offenders as another option.

      • SGT Lindy
      • 11 years ago

      Your mental bandwidth is scarce. The world is changing every day.

      More and more people work from home with the internet as their connection work. My whole department of 14 IT Sys Admins do. This is a great thing as cars sit parked and gas is not burned and crap is not thrown into the air.

      Also the days of Netflix and Blockbuster sending you movies in the mail is not going to last. Cable companies, Amazon, Apple TV, Xbox Live, PSN, even Netflix for old movies today are available over the internet. Movies, especially HD movies are not small in size.

      These are just two legitimate bandwidth users and in a few more and daily usage of bandwidth is going to go up.

      Sure you got jack asses stealing software, porn streaming and youtube, all of which are a total waste of human life IMHO

    • TO11MTM
    • 11 years ago

    I did some math *AND FAILED AT IT…* -[

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      Again, if you actually read the responses, the concern isn’t the number attached to the quota (which is, as you note, quite reasonable) it’s the existence of the quota itself, and what that may suggest for policies in the future.

      • Saribro
      • 11 years ago

      8Mbit/sec = 1 MByte/sec
      250GiB = 256000 MiB

      At 8MBit/sec constant speed:
      256000MiB / 1MiB/sec = 256000 seconds of quotum
      256000sec / 3600sec/hour = 71.11 hours
      71.11h / 24h/day = 2.9629 days

      Hurah for math.

        • TO11MTM
        • 11 years ago

        Somehow I missed a 10s place, I showed full 8meg usage at being consumed in 29 days.

        Good thing I’m not in charge of anything important, right?

          • Saribro
          • 11 years ago

          Yeah, important people need to miss by at least x100 :D. My guess was that you did a byte->bit conversion too many, seemed like ~x8 a difference.

          In any case, from someone that lives with 10-20GiB monthly quotas, I can tell you that 250GiB does get you quite a long way :). (of course, if all you do all day is torrent and stream HD video, it won’t :p)

    • clone
    • 11 years ago

    quantity caps hurts the industry more than the individual user.

    it’s stupid certain interests see nothing beyond what they had in the past but this isn’t the past and the only direction to go is forward….. embrace it or get out of the way.

    steaming HD 1080p content will clobber the 250gb cap if PC’s ever move into the living room, everyone wants to sell movies online as well as television and here the providers are doing everything they can to try and curb the amount of streaming.

    250gb is decent for today and ahead of the curve to the point that it’s a non issue save for the Blu ray thiefs but in the end all of these caps don’t hurt the thieves so much as causing for a very minor inconvenience all the while they hobble the webs growth into what it is going to become.

    • Krogoth
    • 11 years ago

    250GB quota is fine enough for non-business users.

    If you managed to consume more bandwidth then 250GB these days. You are either a hardcore pirate or running a business (NPO or not).

    I am sure that quota will increase when there is mainstream demand for new applications that use tons of bandwidth.

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      I don’t see a lot of people here arguing that 250GB is insufficient. It’s actually surprisingly high (probably because they don’t want any more of the bad PR they had recently).

      g[

    • willyolio
    • 11 years ago

    consider yourselves lucky. we here in canada have been screwed for years already.

    i mean, check this out: Shaw’s most expensive, business-oriented “server connect” still has only 200GB/month limit.

    all for a low, low price of $300/month.

    §[<http://www.shaw.ca/en-ca/ProductsServices/Business/Internet/ShawServerConnectPackage.htm<]§

    • blitzy
    • 11 years ago

    wow wish i could have 250gb a month

    who has the disk space :O

      • just brew it!
      • 11 years ago

      Well… if you’re streaming video, you’re not storing that 250GB locally.

      But even if you are storing most of that data, disks are pretty darn cheap these days. With an inexpensive external drive dock you could permanently archive 250GB/month for under $40/month in media (bare drives).

        • UberGerbil
        • 11 years ago

        Yeah, that’s just like one of the first “tech” columns that appeared in newspapers back in the early 90s. It was written by a couple of guys from the Washington Post and syndicated to other papers. This was in the era of Gore’s “Information Superhighway” (before they realized the Internet wasn’t a prototype for that, but the thing itself) and these guys wrote a column criticizing the “ridiculous” 1Mb/s target speed for it. Pointing out that most computers of the time had no more than 1MB, which meant you would “fill it up” in just 8 seconds, they both stretched the metaphor beyond all rational sense and showed absolutely no understanding of the past, the future, or technical reality by complaining that this was a superhighway being built for commercial trucks, not the passenger cars of individual consumers.

        Seriously, these guys were considered “experts’ enough to have a nationally syndicated column. And they actually thought this.

        I wrote them a letter (an actual paper letter, because the Washington Post had no email address and while these guys probably had a Compuserve account or something, they didn’t list it). I pointed out that a high speed limit on the highway didn’t favor trucks over cars, but allowed everybody to go fast. And anyway, what happens when you “fill up” your machine? You throw those bits away and get more. I even suggested we would soon be playing music sourced from somewhere out on the internet. (This seemed radical enough at the time, I didn’t seriously consider video).

        As far as I know they didn’t respond. I wish I’d kept a copy of the letter. Or the column.

    • computron9000
    • 11 years ago

    STOP POSTING SO MUCH. YOU ARE GETTING ME TOO CLOSE TO MY CAP.

    • Mystic-G
    • 11 years ago

    I found out Cox is doing this aswell… and IT’S EVEN LOWER THAN COMCAST.
    §[<http://www.cox.com/policy/limitations.asp<]§ I have Cox as my ISP, talk about lameage. <_<

    • Ashbringer
    • 11 years ago

    It’s funny that my friend and I were talking about cool things that could be done with a computer in a car. So many ideas popped up like what if we put cheap usb camera’s in the car that would stream live video to your home computer or Windows Mobile Phone. It would alarm your phone through a sensor, and of course it would stream through the internet.

    Crazy idea or not, we’ll never see the internet evolve to something beyond web surfing and email if these caps get put into place.

      • just brew it!
      • 11 years ago

      For your hypothetical example, I’m pretty sure you could stream low resolution video (like you’d get from a webcam) 24×7 and not hit a 250GB/month cap. 250GB/month is nearly enough to support 24×7 streaming video at VHS quality; a crappy webcam would almost surely need less bandwidth than that.

    • kenclopz
    • 11 years ago

    I am a Hulu, TV-video.net, and Netflix online video viewer. Am I going to get dinged?

    • kenclopz
    • 11 years ago

    I use Tv-video.net, Hulu, and Netflix Video Service. I switched to Comcast so I could get steady streams versus dsl. Am I going to get dinged?

    • Spotpuff
    • 11 years ago

    Rogers in Canada has a 60gb quota. Sounds like a lot until you start sharing your connection in a household with a few PCs. 60gb isn’t much 🙁

    • Nelliesboo
    • 11 years ago

    Good bye comcast… Hello AT&T

    • dogchainx
    • 11 years ago

    About damn time they listed a limit. I’m not big on limits, but I’m not big on threatening phone calls from Comcast on “vague” limits that I passed.

    COMCAST: “Sir, you are in the top 0.01% of Comcast users for bandwidth. If you continue to be so, we will disconnect you for one year…”

    ME: “Ok, whats the limit”

    COMCAST: “I can’t tell you that sir.”

    ME: “Why not?”

    COMCAST: “It depends upon the area, the users, the amount used, their history.”

    ME: “So, its not a bandwidth limitation…its a USAGE limit?”

    COMCAST: “No sir, there is no limitation. You download 30,000 songs before you hit any kind of limit. ”

    ME: “Hmmm…so, 3meg/song, equals around 90,000megs as THE limit?”

    COMCAST: “No no…sir. There is NO limit”

    ME: “I’m going to hang up now…”

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 11 years ago

      You should have a limit on the number of duplicate posts.

        • dogchainx
        • 11 years ago

        Yeah, not sure why it was posted twice. But I caught it right after, so EAT ME. =)

    • dogchainx
    • 11 years ago

    posted twice…edited

    • Hance
    • 11 years ago

    you can run netgraph in some games and watch your traffic. from what i have seen the traffic is under 15kbps most of the time.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 11 years ago

    How bandwidth intense is something like, say, playing TF2 or Warcraft III ? Is that as intense as downloading torrents? Will WoW users be suddenly shutdown towards the end of the month? Oh man, I can’t wait to see the collective wrath of disgruntled WoW players!

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      Game traffic is generally very low, certainly nothing compared to media downloads/streams. I don’t think a WoW player doing something as net-intensive as possible 24/7 for the entire month could trip over the limit. The quota, by current standards, is really quite reasonably high. The trouble will come later, as more households download/stream more HD media to more devices simultaneously.

        • titan
        • 11 years ago

        Somebody figured it out once. It’s somewhere in the hundreds of megabytes per month based on 24/7 usage. Well within the 250GB limit Comcast will impose.

      • just brew it!
      • 11 years ago

      Unless you’re playing a game with insane bandwidth usage, you should be able to play 24×7 and not even come close. I don’t think online gamers will be affected by this at all.

    • Peffse
    • 11 years ago

    Alright! …so when do I get a discount for the lesser service?

    …..”never”? What date is “never”?

    • Watkinspv08
    • 11 years ago

    I have cable from Penteledata, I have an 80gig cap per month. I don’t even come close to hitting it. I did in the past though. I have 15mbps for $31 a month so I can’t complain. the only other High speed option in my area is 2mbps DSL or verizon wireless broadband which is even worse than the DSL.

    • Philldoe
    • 11 years ago

    /me huggles his unlimited 6mb DSL

    It won’t be long before small bandwith caps take over cable.

    • Glorious
    • 11 years ago

    In all fairness, this is probably just contract language they’re only going to invoke against people who run full-speed torrents all day.

    • danny e.
    • 11 years ago

    so people who watch a lot of movies on netflix online.. and tv on HULU.. .and download game demos may have a problem.

    everyone else will be fine.

    • furbishv
    • 11 years ago

    So how is the average household going to be able to monitor their bandwidth use?
    Are there consumer routers available with broadband monitors built into them?

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      The 3rd party firmwares (Tomato, etc) offer that. Some routers offer logging but it doesn’t always include bandwidth and I don’t know that it’s very reliable — plus you still need a to run software to read the log (regularly, as they tend to quickly run out of space on the device, or you need to have a PC on all the time to act as the store). So the short answer, for most people, is likely “no.”

      But Comcast should be providing this information to their customers as part of an up-to-date online billing statement.

        • Logdan
        • 11 years ago

        On the statement would be good. Also, they should setup a page on their support site were you can go to check.

      • Pettytheft
      • 11 years ago

      Please tell me how the average household user is going to burn through 250GB a month.

    • Jogee
    • 11 years ago

    Better than the 60GB (combined up and down) a month I get with my Rogers HiSpeed Express (TM).

    My fear is that tt’s the thin end of the wedge. “Well, we’ve found that most of our users don’t more than 50GB a month, so we’re reducing the cap.” Then lower and lower…

    Le Sigh…

      • Flying Fox
      • 11 years ago

      Definitely better than Robbers up here. However the article did not mention any overage charges and/or any caps on maximum charges. For those months that you just happen to tip over the edge it is nice to see that charges will be capped.

      • Spotpuff
      • 11 years ago

      Rogers $30 for 6gb transfer on wireless… they are revoking it since no one uses 6gb supposedly. $30 will get you like 1gb now with the 6gb plan costing like $50/month.

      Sigh.

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 11 years ago

    Interesting. I think I’d be fine with 250Gb also, unless I start hosting my pictures somewhere online instead of on my own server.

      • just brew it!
      • 11 years ago

      Huh? Hosting your pics somewhere online will /[

        • UberGerbil
        • 11 years ago

        Yeah, I’m scratching my head too; but he usually does make sense, so perhaps he means hosting the RAW pics out on the net somewhere, thus having two-way traffic each time he edits one. Even then I doubt you’d bump the limit. A 12MP@16bpc image is 72MB, so you’d have to have ~3500 transfers a month, or over a hundred a day, to blow the quota. Since every time you open and save an image would count for two transfers, I could actually see you doing 50 in a day (we’ll assume intermediate saves are to local disk). But you’d have to be really dedicated to keep that up for a month solid. And since Photoshop gives you limited functionality on 48bit images, you’d probably collapse down from deep color to 24bit, and adopt a lossless compression format as well, which would cut your bandwidth quite a bit on the save (and every subsequent reopen of that image).

        Editing HD video and saving onto a server would be another story, but I doubt any of comcast’s residential customers are doing that (yet).

        • shank15217
        • 11 years ago

        not if other people are looking at it… thats what he meant perhaps.

          • UberGerbil
          • 11 years ago

          No, that’s backwards. Right now, using his own server, anybody looking at his pictures is using some of his bandwidth, since they’re coming off his server over his connection to the wider internet. But if he put them “online’ on some server somewhere, people looking at them would be using the bandwidth of that server, and not the bandwidth of his connection.

    • Hance
    • 11 years ago

    The bandwidth cap wouldn’t bother me at all. I probably dont use more than 20 gigs a month in bandwidth.

    The one question i have is the 250 gigs a combination of upstream and downstream or is that just down ?

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      In their press release comcast gives “equivalents” for this amount of usage (so many songs downloaded, so many movies streamed, so many pictures uploaded) and the examples include both uploads and downloads, so I presume the cap is on the two combined in any combination.

    • DrDillyBar
    • 11 years ago

    I’ve done alright with a quota of ~45GB to 60GB. 250GB’s is worry free unless you’re using news groups alot

      • albundy
      • 11 years ago

      hehe, bingo. some isp’s use good external providers that provide decent retention.

    • UberGerbil
    • 11 years ago

    They’re providing several means to make the the change in policy available to subscribers, but they’re not making it easy for them to know how close they might be getting to tripping over the quota.

    g[http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10028506-2.html<]§ Given that they must have been considering this for some time, it seems more than a little lame that they don't provide up-to-date accounting on the subscriber's account page.

      • DrDillyBar
      • 11 years ago

      I can login to my provider and get a nice graph of my usage over several months. I see no reason why Comcast can’t provide the same service since it’s their idea to begin with

        • UberGerbil
        • 11 years ago

        Exactly. Downloading an app is fine if you have exactly one PC using the connection. But as several people have pointed out, when you have a connection shared among multiple devices in use by multiple roommates or family members, determining your aggregate bandwidth consumption is painful and problematic. Comcast presumably knows exactly how much you’ve used because that’s how they’re enforcing the quota. All they have to do is find a half-way competent web developer to slap a lookup on a webpage (or a little bar graph, if they want to be really fancy).

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 11 years ago

    Are they going to notify users via advertisements, or are they still going to claim “unlimited internet”?

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      Good question. It’s now g[

        • Flying Fox
        • 11 years ago

        To Rogers up here “unlimited” usually means “unlimited access” (based on time), not unlimited bytes that you can download/upload.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      They’ll call it “250GB Internet!” and make it sound like an improvement.

    • tfp
    • 11 years ago

    So how does a comcast customer find out their current usage? I still haven’t figured it out.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      yeah same here, that’s lame.

      • Jakubgt
      • 11 years ago

      I just use the dd-wrt firmware to check out how much bandwidth I have been using. So far this month I have about 47gb down and 10gb up. Glad I’m with sbc with “unlimited” internet.

        • UberGerbil
        • 11 years ago

        You’re glad because 57GB > 250GB using some math I’m not familiar with? (Granted, there are plenty of good reasons to be glad to not be using comcast)

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