Comcast Metered Broadband Official — Beware What You Download


Karl Bode over on DSL Reports reports that Comcast will institute a 250 GB cap on its broadband connections starting Oct. 1. Expect other carriers to follow suit and make tiered broadband a reality. Much as I would like to think otherwise, this is the end of the Internet as we know it.

The caps are a move to ensure that the gouging scheme put in place by Comcast and other cable providers stays intact and they can continue to sell their video-on-demand services. It was a point I made when I wrote, Why Tiered Broadband Is The Enemy of Innovation. I will say this again: this is to stymie services like Hulu, NetFlix and Amazon On-Demand.

In yet another post, I thought of this as a nicer way of getting around net neutrality issues. I just don’t buy Comcast’s arguments, which smell like urine on a hot summer day.

Comcast’s arguments about infrastructure and bandwidth costs and so on are sort of hollow as some of the experts in our comments had indicated. On its network management web site, Comcast uses examples of some services and what you can do with the 250 GB limit.

250 GB per month is an extremely large amount of data, much more than a typical residential customer uses on a monthly basis. Currently, the median monthly data usage by our residential customers is approximately 2 – 3 GB. To put 250 GB of monthly usage in perspective, a customer would have to do any one of the following:

* Send 50 million emails (at 0.05 KB/email)
* Download 62,500 songs (at 4 MB/song)
* Download 125 standard-definition movies (at 2 GB/movie)
* Upload 25,000 hi-resolution digital photos (at 10 MB/photo)

Now, if you put it in terms of HD video, 250 GB doesn’t really add up to much. I did the math in an earlier post.

… we’re moving towards HD downloads. With HD, each roughly two-hour-long movie is going to consume about 8 GB, while live sports events, etc., when watched in higher quality can take up some 13 GB. Remember, we share our Internet connections with multiple people in a household. So, before you know it, that 250 GB isn’t enough.

If the company essentially thinks that 250 GB is a lot of bandwidth, then why impose a cap at all? After all, their CTO claimed in an interview with Stacey that an average consumer takes up about 2 GB of data transfer every month. I think they are being typical Comcast — indulging in selective truths.

Question: How will you use the 250 GB bandwidth cap? What are your typical activities on the Internet.



This severely screws my ability to comfortably use VPN as well. I was enjoying the fact I could go ahead and ramp up the quality to useable levels, now I’m back to the P$/AOHell days of worrying about the exact numbers behind everything I do..


Let’s not forget that taxes paid to upgrade the infrastructure for the companies. Oh wait…they took the money, pocketed it, and then didn’t upgrade it anyway. Then they tell you they need caps because their infrastructure can’t handle it.

I would be fine with caps, if they kept it that way and didn’t:

A. Lie, take your taxes, and then do what they want because they lied.
B. Babystep you down to nothing (as they did with their cable TV services. Started with good quality, raised prices, cut content and service.


Let’s also not forgot… using VoIP other than Comcast eats away at your limit (and Comcast even admits when they slow your service down at peek times, it will make your Vonage calls skip)… but, they don’t limit they’re VoIP service. Yet another anti-trust issue.


Comcast spordically will kill TCP/IP connections, which in effect may terminate a long download that maybe legitimate. That download will have to be started again and without resuming software will eat away at your bandwidth allotment. Don’t be surprised if Comcast “listens” to it’s customers and gets implements an above 250GB fee instead of banning users as a “compromise”.. one where their business practice of throttling connections (and terminating them in instances) will make them $$$.

Plus, they’re using their Internet connection to interfer with a competiter while not interfering with their own service (making the argument that Internet video content is a direct competitor to television… Comcast sure thinks it is). If that’s not got anti-trust written all over it I don’t know what does. Come on FCC, get back on these guys.

George P. Burdell

Don and the others are over reacting, though I do agree that this is the Internet as we have known it. However, we are at a point now where the technology already exists to get around any attempts to control the Internet, especially through wireless.


This is just the first step in introducing Internet 2.. Do a search google is great. The Global Elite are scared of the freedom the internet provides with the plight for global domanance. If you put a frog in a pot of water and slowly increase the heat it you can boil the water and the frog never knew anything happened till its dead… From all aspects of our lives the noose is slowly being tightened… Its time to quit eating Mcdonalds and open our eyes of there master plan…


I called Comcast up about the limit they said that it will take the stress off the servers and to introduce newer speeds. I personally think that is bullshit. I asked them when are they taking the limit off, they said that its going to stay there for good. There are over 460,000 customers pissed about this limit. Which means that comcast is going to increase the cost of cable TV, Internet and phone. People, Comcast is no longer worthy of this Country. Plus they’re an unreliable service, because they cause blackouts to most of their customers. They are suppose to inform each customer if there is going to be maintenance instad of waiting on the phone for fucking hours to get an answer. plus they lower your bandwidth limit without you knowing it which really means Comcast unreliable, regardless.

I called the FCC about it, they said they never approved this type of action. Comcast has been chewed out the ass for blocking p2p, screwing around with people’s internet connection and a lot more. The FCC did not approve this type of action. the FCC will not allow the limit period on each citizen of the United States.


My Comcast account was suspended today and I had to call a special Comcast Security phone number to have my Internet service online again. They said I had used 460 GB in August and that I was in the top 1% of bandwidth usage in Comcast, and that’s why they suspended my account temporarily. This is all news to me. I was never even told and never knew until today that there was a bandwidth limit in place, apparently officially starting October 1st. This is not good. I wouldn’t be surprised if the MPAA and RIAA are partly to blame for this and obviously Comcast needs its bandwidth available, which is kind of understandable. But they really need to inform the customers first of the limit instead of suspending accounts without informing the customers of this new limit. I really, really hope they take this limit off, though, eventually…

mr man

can someone tell me if there is any reprocushion of downloading say 30gb worth of material a month? can i get in trouble or can eircom disconnect me for abusing the downloading scheme? i have heard rumours that i can be fined for every song on my computer that was downloaded illegally, but am worried about this because of such an abundance of songs.. please respond to my email

Mike K

I for one say &%^* Comcast and their bandwidth cap. What a load. They’re afraid, and I for one will be ready and willing to jump down to a slower DSL, and once FIOS comes into town it’s back to real Hi-Speed Internet . I used to live on LI where the bandwidth flowed like wine, 10mbps in 1998 (Optimum Online), and Comcast, 10 years later is proud of their “speed-burst” honestly a *little* behind the curve guys. I obviously and gladly take a cut in speed to know that my use of the other services I pay for, mostly Xbox live where I download A LOT of content. Also I use Windows and Ubuntu, where there are many updates, 250GB is ridic.

Cody R. Sheets

P.S. If you exceed the bandwidth once,its just a warning.

If you exceed it a second time, they will permanently take you off of their internet customer list.

Cody R. Sheets

Let me put it this way, I just wanted to say…

Sure, 250 GB sounds like a lot doesn’t it? Well, normally, in the age of original sin, the birth of internet 1.o, that would be a limit you’d be lucky to reach in four years.

Today, with the new internet (HD videos, XBOX wireless, and other services that siphon off your bandwidth) this is nothing at all. I share my internet connection on an N wireless router with my next door neighbor’s kid, so he can play Xbox online.

I have a bandwidth meter on my wireless router. Some months, I don’t go above 25 Gb, some, I may hit 290.

This is due to the work I do. Multiple video uploads as a journalist, and emails usually with attachments that exceed the Comcast estimate.

As soon as a reliable internet provider offers me a non cap limit, comcast can kiss my six year loyal ass.


Ahhh, I’m guessing none of the Comcast bashers here ever owned a cell phone because they were “Horrified” that they wouldn’t get unlimited minutes for a single rate with zero caps.

Grow up. They put the original plan in place when everyone was riding two wheelers on the highway. Now they see 18 wheelers coming from 10% of the population and want to protect the rest of us by making them pay more for the road we all share. I don’t want to pay more per month for an unlimited flat rate plan because all I’ll be doing is directly subsidizing home schoolers or non stop (porn) movie watching by my neighbors. If you need more than 250 GB’s go pay for it.

It’s fair, it’s transparent and YES, it does reflect the new reality. And it’ll result in better service for all of us with the power users paying more.


hardly a surprise that a monopoly wants to use monopoly pricing. Instead of complaining about what Comcast wants to do with its network, you should be complaining about the government enforcement of local monopolies that deprive you of choices.

Kristi Gilleland

This is really going to hurt us. We homeschool and use unitedstreaming for course content. I’m going to have to let our tv go so I can prepare to pay the extra fees I’m afraid.


Cancelling my Comcast Business connection and cable services. Don’t love Verizon but hate this move Comcast is do. 100% they are trying everyway they can to kill the Internet. Only way to defeat this trick and all the others coming is it turn their downstream into a dead zone.

Comcast want’s the users that aren’t using bandwidth? In who’s best interest is that? Not any of the users, advertisers or innovators that’s for sure. Sorry Comcast, try and tighten that noose. This move and FIOS will kill you in the major markets. And if you think you can enforce where the competetion isn’t strong and not make a move where FIOS is .. well think again.

Hope that everyone encourages friends and family to switch. Swift and immediate boycott any products and services. The broadband/communication providers are basically a monopoly so anything less will encourage adoption by the others within months if there isn’t huge chunks moving from Comcast.



The way I see it, any bandwidth cap is too small simply because it forces a user to think about how much they’re using. As an internet power user, I just go ahead and try something new. With a bandwidth cap to worry about, it would get in the way of me enjoying the internet and being productive. I would put any app I download under intense scrutiny before downloading to avoid unnecessary downloads, while I prefer to just download it and see if I like it.

Bryan Leewood

This really really won’t concern me that much unless Comcast starts making deals with certain establishments and websites to nullify their bandwidth usage, as that would essentially the beginning of the end of Net Neutrality. Eventually, as wireless networks become more widespread, customers will have more options to choose from (in many areas right now, Comcast is the only provider available). I’m sure another provider will come along and offer non-metered services, and then either Comcast looses all of it’s customers, or removes the bandwidth caps.

J Bart Gordon

My ‘typical day/ usage’ is: ITunes, Ruku, Xbox360, WebSite Management as well as Megarotic(or Hulu depending on my mood). I have 3 HD tv’s, each with an XBox 360, and 3 Live accounts.

I have a family, and that’s important when speaking about ‘typical’ use. Everyone should realize that if you allow the Cable Companies to do this with the data today, it will change the way online advertisers, producers, and jobbers ‘perceive’ their ROI. If Mom tells you ‘No Downloads’, that’s going to go a long way in killing the online business, trust me.

In closing, I was simply pointing out to Bobcat that his association of ‘High Bandwidth’ users and ‘Pirating Content’ is simply a crock of ‘Comcrap’. The cable companies are begining to charge ‘By the Byte’ in an attempt to kill the fledging ‘on demand’ business so all those advertising dollars go into THE BROADCAST TELEVISION market, not the ONLINE market.

PS. At work, I use Fios business, 20-5 w/ 4 ip addresses, at a cost of $100 per month. That replaced a Verizon full T1 that cost $600 per month.

At home,I pay for unlimited data with Verizon, 20-20 tier. No caps, throttling, or DPI.


Is there some thing like on-demand or pay-and-use kind of high speed internet service to my home? I dont need 24 hrs of internet service to my home. Why to pay for 24 hrs internet if all I use is only for 1 hour a day?


As technology advances, perhaps broadband will raise its limits in the same fashion as e-mail storage has done.

Also, Comcast is the ONLY choice for people in areas that have cable monopolies.


I agree with those who say it is unfair to charge everyone the same amount, when some use much more than others. HOWEVER, Comcast doesn’t offer upgraded tiers of internet service. In fact, they go out, buy existing cable companies(in my case, InSight Cable, who did offer upgradable internet tiers for those who need it) and then discontinue those expanded services that did keep it fair for everyone. So that is, again, their fault for screwing crap up to begin with.


I think Comcast is either forgetting about or saying a big F*ck you to the folks who do a decent amount of online gaming. Now….I’m no computer expert, but if I assume I am downloading only 1 megabyte per second when playing my 360 on XBoxLive, and work off of the numbers I’m seeing, that 1 gigabyte equals 1,024 megabytes…do the math. 250(gigabytes allowed per month) X 1,024(number of megabytes in a gigabyte) = 256,000(number of megabytes allowed per month); 256,000 divided by 60(seconds in a minute) = 4,266.66; then 4,266.66 divided by 60(minutes in an hour) = 71.11 hours of online gaming, based on the estimate of 1 megabyte downloaded from XBL per second.

That may sound like a lot of gaming, but when spread over an entire month, that’s under two and a half hours per day, which really isn’t that much, especially when you consider that doesn’t include ANY normal internet usage, or the fact that if you’re technically playing a game offline, but are still connected to XBL, you’re still downloading information from XBL.

I can’t speak for those who may surpass these numbers with emails, movie, song or other downloadable content via a PC, but as a gamer, I’m not really all that concerned long term, as Microsoft themselves will most likely be filing suits against Comcast any day now….they simply make way too much money off of XBL to allow these kinds of limitations on internet usage.

You know, Comcast, there is another solution to this problem. DON’T SELL THAT WHICH YOU CANNOT ADEQUATELY PROVIDE!!! If you have too many customers for the amount of bandwidth you’re producing, then try expanding the amount of bandwidth that you’re providing, rather than screwing your paying customers!


The online backup is something I had not considered. I backup just under 1gb daily. This is ultimately intended to limit the competition of internet video/TV/movies, not just HD. Is this an opportunity knocking for other broadband services? WiMax?
It also makes me wonder what this will do to “cloud computing”?


Om, i do not see the problem with a cap. Personally -as a heavy internet user- i think the cap should even be much lower.

Every flatrate price for broadband is basically a mixed calculation of all customer usages. What this means is that 1% of the heavy-heavy internet users cause an significant price increase for 99% of other users. (Sombody has to pay for this excessive use, and i would not like to pay for this 1%).

In Germany mobile operators introduced the concept of a “fairflat”. And i think this concept would be perfectly applicable for fixed broadband.


Hello Om,

Very interesting post and discussions. I wanted to pass along some data we publish here at the OECD on data/bit caps. We have data on caps for some 210 offers across the 30 OECD countries in October 2007.

Excel file:

In terms of caps, there is a lot worse than 250 GB of traffic per month. Some of these caps go as low as 20 to 200 MEGAbytes. The excel sheet shows how you could theoretically hit your cap on some of these offers after just one minute of downloading at “advertised” speeds.

Om Malik

@ Mari,

The minute I found out they were going to cap bandwidth, doctor traffic I got off the incumbent trail. I have two DSL connections – both from independent companies and while they are expensive, I have never once had to think about bandwidth. I buy video shows from iTunes store, watch Hulu, and I have no-TV.

In fact, I have not had TV for a long time. I think when HD video shows up – and it is coming – on the Internet, I am going to go for that also. I backup my computers online, I email constantly, and more. So no – I don’t like to think about how much bandwidth I consume.

Om Malik

@ Ericson Smith

You did buy that hook line and sinker. Wait till you watch HD video on your broadband – see how quickly the 250 GB goes. That’s what 3 hours of HD video every day. Watch a live broadcast of a sports event – the video is much shorter.

I think the problem is in the “emails sent” and “songs downloaded” that is for all to say.

This is plain simple way to protect their video franchise. Which is stupid, because it isn’t as profitable as their internet franchise. Oh well…

John H

And the wheel rolls around…

This was done in the era of the dial up as well. Guess which companies won then. The biggest difference here is that in most markets, Comcast internet speeds are BY FAR the fastest in the area. If you are a person that wants to make use of bandwidth intensive services, guess which company you would choose? Comcast – until now.

I also would take issue with Comcast being able to meter the usage themselves. Gas pumps are regulated and inspected. Utility meters also have oversight.

Who watches Comcast?


Some of this may be the fear of the unknown. i.e. how much is 250gb in regular usage/my usage. Will I go over? etc.

But for the young and/or naive this is what will happen: A) The cap will be set to 250gb now (otherwise customers would leave like rats off a sinking ship). Then in a year or so it will go to 150gb “because our networks are still getting hammered” and so on until they’ve got it as low as they possibly can. B) Special “deals” will be set up with the sites that can afford to pay so that their sites don’t count towards your cap. Which will have the effect of killing the internet as a land of opportunity for the little guys. C) The RIAA et al will pay to make this happen so there’s another profit center. D) More special “deals” will be set up so that the ISP’s own video and VOIP offerings don’t count towards your cap thereby killing all competition.

Om is right – unless the gov. gets involved – which is not likely this is the beginning of the end for the internet as we know it.

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