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.


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