The state of Internet service in the United States is a bit of a mess. Unless you're a lucky soul in a Google Fiber neighborhood or a city with a municipal broadband provider, truly high-speed internet access can be hard to get. Even if one does luck out in an area where a high-speed connection is available, service providers can impose onerous restrictions on what customers can do with those tubes.
One such restriction is the dreaded usage cap, the dubious technical merits of which the industry freely admits. Exceed some pre-defined amount of data transfer in a month, the theory goes, and you'll start incurring charges on your bill. It's only fair that those who use the most, pay the most, right?
Comcast is a pioneering implementer of these caps. The company began experimenting with 250GB limits as far back as 2008, and it started thinking about 300GB ceilings in some parts of the United States a little over four years ago. More recently, the company decided to bump that figure to one terabyte alongside a much broader roll-out of the restriction. Though the company tries to put a pleasant face on the plan by offering examples of the many things one might do with a terabyte of data, PC gamers and 4K streamers are doubtless already groaning.
Yours truly pays Comcast about $60 per month for a 75 Mb/s downstream connection, and I recently got word that my line would be subject to that limitation. If I go over that one-terabyte limit, Comcast will forgive my sins the first two times it happens in a calendar year. (Should I hit three strikes at any point, though, Comcast will offer no further grace periods over the remainder of my contract with the company).
Thereafter, I'll have to pay $10 for each increment of 50GB I go over the cap, all the way up to $200 in extra charges. Comcast gives residential customers with insatiable appetites for data the option to get around the cap entirely by paying an extra $50 a month. Customers with the company's gigabit services aren't subject to caps, and Comcast says it will never cut users' service off for data overages alone.
In all fairness, I don't think this cap will affect me much most months. Going by Comcast's own "data meter," my heaviest month of usage this year was in August, when we reviewed the Radeon RX 470 and RX 460 in close succession. I hit 649GB that month, at least in part from game downloads. Preparing our suite of games for TR's GTX 1060 review has already put me 720GB in the hole for October, however, and I may not be finished downloading stuff yet. That figure is a bit concerning after only a bit over a week of usage.
The point of this long-winded story is that we're curious just how many TR readers have restrictions on the amount of data they can transfer over their home internet connections per month. Let us know using the options in the poll below.