Comcast Announces 250GB Bandwidth Cap

Today, Comcast updated their Acceptable Use Policy to cover exactly what they feel is “excessive use”. When the Comcast cap starts October 1st, they will contact people breaking the 250GB per month transfer limit and ask them to curb their usage. While it’ll be hard for most people to hit this limit, we still wonder if policing 0.1% of the customer base is worth the effort. At least Comcast has bothered to state the limit instead of just secretly rewriting the meaning of the word “unlimited” like some providers.

[via DSLReports]

[photo: monoglot]

79 thoughts on “Comcast Announces 250GB Bandwidth Cap

  1. I wonder how many times you’d be able to get away with saying your internet was being stolen by 1337 h4xx0rz who ran you over the limit.

    Also, what about bandwidth from unwanted ads?

    I remember racking up 500 megs of downstream on a slow day….60 gigs a month if I did nothing out of the ordinary.

    I’m glad I’m not in a Comca$t area.

  2. At Comcast’s supposed 12Mbps (1.5MBps) you could theoretically hit the cap in under 2 days. Interestingly enough, that’s just over the amount of data I could theoretically download with my 768Kbps AT&T DSL every month:

    Cable: ( 250,000MB / 1.5MBps ) / 86400 seconds ~= 1.9 days
    DSL: 96KBps * 2,592,000 seconds (30 days) ~= 237GiB

  3. retail stores who provide wifi connections shouldn’t be using a residential connection to provide wifi access anyway. They’ll be using a business account so they can claim back any tax returns and they get a better level of service, even if its a slighty more costly.
    The general hotspots run by normal users.. well they’ll have to either limit the speed or turn it off when they hit the cap.

  4. @Mark

    What about college students? I live in an apartment with 3 other students. I know that in the past few days I’ve hit 30Gbytes in Windows Updates, linux isos, and a few game demos and that’s purely legit usage.

    Together we easily break a 250gb/month limit. Should we upgrade to a business account?

  5. Yeah, maybe it’ll teach people to start using WEP encryption and mac address filtering, instead of leaving it open for the whole neighborhood to mooch off. Once they notice their bills goes sky high because some neighborhood kids was downloading porn all day, they’ll think twice about just using the newly bought router as a plug and play item.

  6. Well, I have companies that don’t know the meaning of the word unlimited, like the mobile broadband around here with a 3 gigabytes cap a month.

    If it isn’t unlimited don’t advertise it as being so.

  7. Well, I live in a small place in Europe called Portugal and I have a 20GBytes month limit (but with unlimited at ‘happy hours’, aka between 01am and 09am).
    Of course this doens’t represent the majority of services in the rest of the UE, but at least they still don’t ‘shap’ P2P, so I keep’em running all night long :P

  8. fourtunately here in finland we don’t have any of that limit nazi policies. the prices are a bit salty, but in exchange i can download to my hearts content. 24mbit adsl2+ for 45e/mo.

    in 30 days i could easily download 4.5 terabytes, if i had the space and material to download (and a fast enough server).

  9. I despise Cable companies. They think they own your soul. I’m tempted to sign up for Comcast service and leave a constant connection going to myself so I can sue them for false advertising.

    This reminds me of AT&T telling me I had to pay over twice as much for the internet on my phone because, “smart phones use data differently”. When I told them to put a tech on the phone that would explain the difference between “differently” and “more”, they shut up.

    I don’t like the idea of them regulating you, but I can understand if they want to limit the ability of people to do stuff that’s illegal (different). But, I draw the line at limiting “unlimited” bandwidth.

  10. In Ireland, its hard to find *any* provider that will give you more than 100gb p/m download cap. The average used to be something like 60gb.

    luckily for myself, after months of searching I found possibly the only provider offering unlimited download usage.

    The thing is, legit or not, theres always advertising about “always on” broadband. Well to me always on means I can use it whenever i damn well please – not that I can leave it connected to the net but do nothing, thats defeating the whole point of it.

    I have to say 250Gb for residential use is very fair, only the top 1% of people will ever breach that, and those that do probably should be paying extra anyway.

  11. @20: I don’t really think that would work. I just did a quick browse of their current offers, but I don’t believe are they offering anywhere that it’s unlimited service. And with this new acceptable use edit, they are in fact openly saying it’s not unlimited, so I don’t see how you could possibly get them for false advertising.

  12. Ok I’m on booth sides of the fence here first of all I don’t feel it is right to limit things that were previously given larger quantities, for instance Bite size snickers.. remember when you were young and Halloween totally rocked socket!!! Now your older and you you may or may not have notice that bite size candies are even smaller then you remember its not that you got bigger, they got smaller see this article
    Meanwhile back at the hall of Comcast “insert cheesy eighty’s transition sound bite here”
    Taking things away from ppl is going to piss them off and you will hear stories from grandpa “in my day internet usage had no limit, and fun size candies were bigger”
    I run a home network with five computers a isa server with a few gaming pc’s if all of the sudden there “internet” shuts off because of max usage or or or it starts to charge me even yet more for going over my limit this with surely cause a problem. Here is the deal I have a simple cell phone plan and I use it sparingly but in the rare occasion I go over my “allowance” thanks mom and dad “phone company” I get charged and that’s ok for a completely mobile device, but a utility piped in my home that has always been abundant shouldn’t be roached..
    in the case of cable how do they know its not the neighborhood, it would almost totally have to be dsl and dynamic ip, any one see a problem here… oh yea you can run out of numbers or be so many proxies deep nobody would have the same internet anymore. It would be penned off like quadrants of cattle farms where is you would exceed your limit getting where you need to, and grandma and grandpa are just happy to play canastas and get e-mail every once in a while. You know what I’m glad there are ppl who don’t use much internet.. more for ppl who depend on it.

  13. Comcast already had a “cap” of 250gbytes/month. (by “cap” I mean, it was specified in their usage policies, but was not an enforced limit.) all this “policy change” does is state that they’ll be *contacting* anyone that goes over this cap.

    also, I *do* live within the comcast monopoly. I say “monopoly” because there really is no other choice. we have no other cable provider (our community leaders make sure of that), and dsl & satellite services in our area are crap. we may not like comcast’s overhanded policies (injecting into my torrents?!?), frequent outages (three separate instances this month at my house), and poor service (wasn’t “fiber-to-the-pole” supposed to mean no more lost digital signals?)… but there really is no other choice.

  14. Those who agree with comcast, I applaud your reasonableness. The trolls whining about “false advertising” or sharing a line with a bunch of other people, FOAD. I’d much rather they do this than raise everybody’s rate 5 bucks a month to cover losses from that 1% that downloads 5 TB/mo from usenet. I might come close to the cap, actually, just torrenting TV shows, but I think it’s reasonable to have a “normal” package with a quite high cap like this, and charge extra if you really suck down exorbitant amounts of data.

  15. Policing 0.1% of your user base probably isn’t worth the effort. But it’s the camel’s nose under the tent. Once people accept this (because it doesn’t affect most of them) I suspect Comcast will start to ratchet the cap downward.

  16. i respsect comcast’s right to do what they want and i do think that 250gb is reasonable. the issue i see is that you have no indication of your usage until you’ve gone over the limit. also i’m not too happy about there being no other options in high speed internet that are worth subscribing to.

    perhaps they should divert a bit of that ridiculous marketing budget into better infrastructure.

  17. Remember this counts combined upload and download.

    if you download 1Mb of data, a data counter may record 1.2-1.3MB bandwidth used as while your downloading, you are constantly sending ack packets

    if you were to download a 150GB torrent, you would probably use 300GB of bandwidth

    bandwidth usage is also counted any data received, which means if someone decides to packet flood you over night using a connection with a 10Mbit upload which many dsl and cable providers give, they can push you over your cap within a week

    bandwidth caps are bad

    at least it is not as bad as satellite connections where they may give you a 300-500MB bandwidth cap

    they just want to find ways to make people spend more

    a bandwidth cap wont do anything to reduce network congestion

    so it wont stop your cable internet from reaching diapup speeds during the hours of 10AM-11PM and all day during weekends like with time warner cable in the queens ny area does.

    these isp’s cry about people using too much bandwidth and their hardware from 15 years ago cant handle it

    they constantly want to add more and more people to their service and offer larger and larger speed packages with out investing in better network hardware

    if you want to sell a internet service then invest in enough hardware to handle everyone on the network at the same time

    you don’t see real estate agents selling the same house to 500 different people

    if you went into a restaurant and ordered a 2 pounds of Salisbury steak and 20 other people ordered it also, but wheres only enough steak for 10 people, what would you do if the chef came up to your table, and cut your steak in half then gave it to the other person who didn’t have any because there was only enough for 10 people, and they didn’t reduce the price or give you a 50% refund, would you be happy?

    this is what isps are doing. 1000 people pay full price for a 10mbit connection, but the isp only has enough bandwidth to support 500 people, rather than just spend a little bit of their billions in profits to add a extra server, they just choose to limit everyone so there forced to share, essentially getting half of what they paid full price for

  18. and forgot to add

    just because others are not doing something that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing it also

    so what if many people don’t use more, everyone is different.

    when you get internet service you are paying for the speed.

    most people who have computers barely know how to use them so the most they may do with it is send email

    users who are more skilled will do more on the PC and will use more bandwidth.

    95% of the US is considered illiterate or below requires reading level does that mean those of us who can read properly should be required to act dumb and pretend to not know how to read properly to

    what ISP’s want to do is force all users to be their favorite kind of customer

    it is like those workout gyms that people join, you agree to a 2 year contract for only show up for about a week then quit but keep paying the monthly fee due to the contract, ISP’s like those customers also they want people to buy a 15mbit connection and only use it once in a while and even then only use it to check email so they rake in more profits from those users.

    they feel that people should pay them and expect nothing in return.

    most computer users call tech support services or take their computers into places like circuit city and bestbuy to fix simple problems like spyware

    because most of the people do that, does that mean we should be forced to do that also

    ISP’s need to stop adding limits and excuses for not having enough bandwidth. most of their hardware is 15 years old. and the more people they trick into signing up for comcast, the more they are going to ration off the bandwidth instead of expand the network

  19. lol i use mutch more than that every month lucky i live in the netherlands ^^
    and i have the best isp in the country xs4all maybe some of you know their old name hacktick^^

  20. Alright, just a note of interest, 150GB download does not equate to 150gb of upload. If this was true you could never download at speeds higher than your upload. As for the rest of the comment I’ll just scroll on by.

  21. Complete and utter bullshit. I hope a class action gets started over this.

    Like streaming music? Too bad. Have a slingbox or equivelent? Sucks to be you. Use ventrillo on your games often? Sucks to be you. They’ll still charge 49.99 a month (My shared webhost charges 15 a month for a terabyte of storage and ten terabytes of bandwidth, approximately.

    While I doubt I could hit this without them bitching, I can certainly transfer at least 2 terabytes a month without them batting an eye or throttling me.

    Someone needs to push legislation that forces states to not give exclusive contracts to communication lines so that we can have some competition. In Japan they just run the freakin’ fiber optics up to the house, in great britain it’s 24.99 a month for landline phone, and it comes with FREE high speed internet.

    “Those are both islands though! They have less distance to traverse!”

    Utter BS.

  22. @37: That’s true in general, but he was specifically talking about BitTorrent. A fair number of trackers enforce a 1:1 ratio, so in that case he’s right.

    Marketplace has some experts saying that this is really about discouraging video-over-IP, since that could cut into Comcast’s cable TV revenue.

  23. I think it is bull.

    If they have such a great network, then the small percentage of the 250g/mo users aren’t going to make much of a difference.
    I’d hate to have a lan party and not be able to get internet for the rest of the year.

    they also advertise speeds as “up to” __meg, but you rarely get that speed,
    they claim to have offer “fiber” but then still run copper cable to your house,

    Perhaps the water company should limit you to two showers a week, advertise good water pressure “sometimes”, and supply your house with a garden hose.

    these idiots need to wake up and see that the internet has become a utility in this culture.

    maybe you should switch to verizon fios fiber-to-the-premesis service, and comcast can, well, you know.

  24. Offtopic, but I just happened to have visited the place in the stock photo. It’s an art installation in the old Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, where Al Capone was imprisoned for a while.

  25. 250 gigabites would rock for me…

    In Alaska the broadband packages you pay for include a throughput limit. I’m paying for the package that limits me to 5 gigabites a month. I host a website for my family and have 4 computers connected to the internet most of the time. Most of the time I can stay under limit (unless I decide to download some new Linux .iso’s or listen to Internet radio)

    I can play W.o.W. or watch youtube videos with no problems.

    Something I’ve done to help include installing a proxy server to store a cache for all the computers in my house. I noticed a big improvement on usage after that.

  26. while torrents are more bandwidth hungry

    standard ftp downloads will also push your limits

    maintaining the connection and sending ack packets takes up bandwidth

    if you don’t believe me, head to a website, and copy a download link for a file and write down the size of the file

    after that open a program like netlimiter and have it monitor bandwidth usage for that download only

    you will see that a 1MB file may use 1.1-1.3MB bandwidth to download that 1mb file and while the download is going you are uploading also. it may be a slow upload but it adds up

    so you cant expect to do something like download a 250GB rainbow table and expect to be in your limit, that 250gb rainbow table may take 260GB of bandwidth or more

    and this cap wont improve service quality for those who don’t use the full 250gb cap as it wont stop those users from doing a full speed download, sure they may be cut off at the 250gb mark but if they were to hoard bandwidth until they reach that limit, it will still give the other customers a slow internet experience

    it is like hot our current banking system is.

    if everyone who has a wamu checking account were to all go tomorrow and withdraw all of their money, then wamu would not have enough money to to give to everyone and the company would go bankrupt as said on the ch11 news, they don’t keep enough money to service all account holders, they invest the money then hope that everyone doesn’t rune up and demand all of their money.

    during the great depression, everyone had a bandwidth cap on their money. if you had $500 in your account then you could only take $500

    but because economic problems caused everyone to withdraw all of their money for fear that the banks would loose it, the banks went out of business because they didn’t have enough money for everyone

    (the government later put out a insurance policy for economic problems)

    it doesn’t matter what the bandwidth cap it, if theres not enough bandwidth to go around then the network will still lag during peek usage hours

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.