Memo To Comcast: Show Us the Meter for Metered Broadband

77 Comments

[qi:004] Comcast is out defending its bandwidth caps and how they are not bad. And how 250 GB transfer is plenty and enough to do whatever we want to do. Of course, in today’s terms that is more than enough, but what happens in the future? Nevertheless, if they are going to put caps, then they need to give us what I think is an acceptable expectation: a meter.

Metered billing needs a meter we can see, use and monitor any time we desire to do so. Water and electric utilities provide that meter (regardless of whether we use it or not), so why not Comcast?

If a customer surpasses 250 GB and is one of the top users of the service for a second time within a six-month timeframe, his or her service will be subject to termination for one year. After the one year period expires, the customer may resume service by subscribing to a service plan appropriate to his or her needs.

Figure out a way to tell us what our monthly usage is, and let us know if we are running up against a 250 GB cap, so that we know when to stop and not pay overage. I want to know at every single minute how much bandwidth I have used.

After all, if someone crosses the 250 GB twice in six months, they are going to get tossed out. The burden of proof lies with Comcast to prove, measure and meter to the most accurate byte of data transferred.

Another Question For Comcast: If you’re going to meter, then please let us know how you are factoring in the overhead associated with TCP/IP. Will this be included or excluded in the cap? After all, overhead includes control messages (session control, packet headers) and this can be as high as 40 percent.

This is where FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has to step up and do something. If he is going to allow Comcast to put caps in place, then the FCC needs a firm bond from Comcast saying that they wouldn’t lower the caps to, say, 150 GB or 100 GB using the same lame excuse of 1 percent people degrading the network.

You want to know why I think they are going to obfuscate the issue and fudge the numbers sooner or later using some Enron math? Just go to the FAQ page that explains their 250 GB cap decision. You will consume 250 GB in a month if you do any of the following:

* Sending 20,000 high-resolution photos,
* Sending 40 million emails;
* Downloading 50,000 songs; or
* Viewing 8,000 movie trailers.

…but then lower down on the same page, they say:

* Send 50 million emails (at 0.05 KB/email)
* Download 62,500 4 MB 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)

What is it with you guys? Can’t do the math? Forget that…how about answering a simple question: How many HD movies can you download with 250 GB cap? That’s the only answer I need.

PS: If you believe the 0.05 kb/email then you also believe in the Tooth Fairy.

77 Comments

Baren

Does ATT have such stupid bandwidth rules? Its time to put Comcast out of buisness and use someone else.

anon

IF THEY USE A METER, THEY ARE JEOPARDIZING THEIR OWN BUSINESS.

LIKE YOU SAID, WATER AND ELECTRIC CHARGE BY THE METER.

COMCAST CHARGES YOU JUST CAUSE.

IF A METER EXISTED, ANOTHER COMPANY WOULD COME OUT WITH A MONTHLY FEE + CHARGE BY THE METER OVER A CERTAIN LIMIT.

clear

I do not like the monopoly cable making rules and laws that affect us all as users. How do we contact the FCC to stop this kind of nonsense?

This is crap

This whole metered internet usage spiel is just crap. It’s no different than metering my cell phone usage. I almost never use my cell phone, 30 minutes a month at most. I still get bills that say I was on the phone for 800 minutes in one phone call to one phone number. So much for accurate company meters. This is nothing more than rape of the consumers plain and simple. It doesn’t cost them any more for the increased usage. They are making more money than ever before with more customers signing up every day to use their services. This is just more outrageous bull shite from greedy corporations.

Jerry

Since when did;

“UNLIMITED INTERNET ACCESS,” and “ALWAYS ON,” mean 250gb per month?

I have 3 kids that all like to play games on the internet, to name one of those games, “World of Warcraft.”

This is why I bought into the Comcast high speed cable.

Now you say that you have “FAILED” at your part of the bargain, and cannot deliver what you had “advertised and promised” to the public.

FALSE ADVERTISING IS ILLEGAL

Since “YOU” have “FAILED” you want to change the rules to suit your FAILURE…

HEY COMCAST, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT?

YOU CANNOT JUST CHANGE THE RULES AND NEGATE YOUR OBLIGATIONS LIKE THE POLITICIANS DO.

I think it’s time to sell your million dollar homes and FOREIGN Luxury cars…

If you can’t deliver the product you DO NOT deserve that multi-million dollar paycheck!

You are all just more, “corporate thieving bast–ds!”

I hope you are all proud as this is the perfect example of why America is in the sorry shape it is in right now.

The executives sucking every penny they can out of the company and saying they can’t afford to pay the employees!

Then you jerks cut the jobs to make the numbers look good, and give yourselves a fat bonus. All at the X-employees expense…

We see it, your not slipping by un-noticed!

Your just another ENRON in the making…

John

Good bye Sling Box, you were fun while you lasted. Good bye to all promosing media content businesses that will push me towards my cap.

Btw, where the heck are the anti-trust lawsuits… Comcast is using their Internet service to weed out competition to their television service. If that’s not a possible anti-trust issue I don’t know what is.

Jack

KURT – at least you are lucky enough to have DSL as backup. I do not, 100ft to far.

Kurt

My Comcast HS internet account was cancelled on Monday 8/25, a few days before they announced the new bandwidth cap policy. There are 2 problems at work here – 1, that they refused to tell me how much I used, or what the invisible line was that I crossed. Ok, so they’ve rectified this glaring policy problem. However, what about their willful deceiving of me and others, into thinking we were getting unlimited service, INCLUDING unlimited bandwidth usage. Forget what the policy states, I’m talking about what their customer service reps tell new/potential customers when they are signing up for new service. Want concrete evidence? Ok, on Wednesday, Aug 27, 2 days after my service was cancelled, I logged onto to Comcast’s online chat help. I chatted with a CSR named Maria, and here’s an excerpt from our chat:


analyst Maria.25372 has entered room

Maria.25372(Wed Aug 27 2008 19:44:19 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time))>

Hello Kurt_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Maria.25372. Please give me one moment to review your information.

Maria.25372(Wed Aug 27 2008 19:44:26 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time))>

Hi there! How are you doing today?

Kurt_(Wed Aug 27 2008 19:44:44 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time))>

hello, I’m wondering, if I sign up for high speed internet service, how often I can use it?

Kurt_(Wed Aug 27 2008 19:44:59 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time))>

I mean are there any limits?

Maria.25372(Wed Aug 27 2008 19:45:38 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time))>

Kurt, once you have signed up for our Internet Services, you can use it 24/7.

Maria.25372(Wed Aug 27 2008 19:45:47 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time))>

There are no limits on the usage of the service.

Kurt_(Wed Aug 27 2008 19:46:29 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time))>

Are you sure, because I’ve read on the net about some peoples accounts getting canceled because of excessive bandwidth usage, is this not true?

Maria.25372(Wed Aug 27 2008 19:46:32 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time))>

You can create up to 7 email accounts with the Comcast service; 1 primary (owner) account and up to 6 additional accounts. Each Comcast email address has 250MB space for email, up to a total of 1.75GB across all 7 possible email accounts.

Maria.25372(Wed Aug 27 2008 19:47:48 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time))>

There is no bandwidth usage limit, Kurt.

— (snip)

So, there you have it. I then informed Maria that my account had just been canceled because of “excessive bandwidth usage” and asked her to explain that. She asked for my account number, I gave it, then she said “one moment, let me check on that” and then came back copying and pasting relevant parts of the acceptable use policy. She then apologized for her mistake. But the damage was done – what if I really was a new customer, I would have been totally deceived. Comcast does not (or at least DID not) inform their CSRs of their policies. This is not right. When I signed up for service 4 years ago, I certainly thought i was getting completely unlimited internet access. My account is suspended for one year, and now I’ve had to sign up for Verizon DSL, the ONLY other choice I have.

jack

Comcast needs to do 4 things:
1) Show us the meter.
2) the action of reading the meter costs nothing. So if the meter is a webpage, then all traffic in relationship to the webpage is “free” (does not count). This is includes ads and other links.
3) ALL VOIP is “free”, just like Comcast VOIP is “free”. Can’t have the monopoly giving away service to compete.
4) ALL Video on Demand is “free”. Again the bandwidth is either free to all or to none.

John Sauter

Comcast has enabled a denial-of-service attack. I can program a computer at a nearby colo to send lots of UDP messages to my neighbors’ IP addresses, specifying unused ports. The messages won’t have any direct effect on my neighbors because they will be rejected by my neighbors’ firewalls, or by their PCs not having any programs listening on those ports. However, the messages will increment Comcast’s secret usage meter. Comcast will probably react first by slowing their Internet access, then (as they announced) by disconnecting their service. With all my neighbors slowed or disconnected, I will get the bandwidth to the cable head-end that they would have used.

The best thing about this nefarious scheme is that the neighbors won’t be aware that there is a problem until Comcast calls them, and no matter how much they refrain from using the Internet, they will get another call the next month. Even shutting down their PC (but leaving their cable modem running) will not prevent them from exceeding the cap.

C Phillips

I have 3 computers all running linux and windows and 6 people using them. Wonder how long it will take to reach that cap and with all that it is impossible to figure if I went over the limit. Anyway, I chose to go with comcast because they sold me about all the things I could do with high-speed, now they are taking it all away. I could go to the local coffee shop and use the wifi to cut down on my usage at home- but wait, theirs will probably be shutdown as comcast cuts them off because they went over the limit the first 2 days of the month of october when the caps start!

It’s not about people hogging the bandwidth. It’s about greed. That’s why they have tiered pricing for different speeds. Eventually, they will have tiered pricing for bandwidth too.

muttley macclad

I just use comcast as a spigot. I don’t want their services, I don’t want their tools, I don’t want their crack addicted installers – just give me the goddam fiber and leave me alone. Comcast gives us higher upload and download speed then places a cap. Huh…

I’ll have to run my fiber up the road to the next sprint router and screw comcast – worthless bastards.

John

Also, I talked with their customer service trying to find out my usage. I had to explain to their customer service the difference between bandwidth speed and total bandwidth usage over a time period. Further, they said they’d never heard of the cap and then I directed them to links on their site. They then gave me a long distance number to call of their “security” team which I’ve been on hold for 2 hours with. Yikes.

John

Ah, my SlingBox, my Nintendo, my Tivo, my Yahoo Unlimited soon to be Rhapsody subscription… why does Comcast hate you? I wish I had a better choice for Internet… my idea of a good service isn’t one where I have to constantly monitor how much streaming music I’m listening to or whether my Tivo gets too talky with it’s parent service while downloading those crap ads I never watch. It’s extremly difficult to montior your bandwidth when you can’t install bandwidth utilities on non-PC devices for the most part. If this is important enough to educate consumers about and cut their service off then make usage available to the customer. This is just a dirty tactic from a company trying to squeeze the consumer and change people’s mentality. No wonder the US lags behind in Internet access.

Krish

Good one Om. I hope it starts a meme. I am seriously considering a move away from Comcast.

Steve

With a cap am I really supposed to waste some of my bandwidth on ads? I’ll start using Adblocker that much more…and definitely make sure to block anything from Comcast.

mikecane

>>>Of course, in today’s terms that is more than enough

More than enough for who? You? Why should everyone else be stuffed into your straitjacket?

Bandwidth caps will make us less competitive against all the countries that currently have NO caps, LOWER COST Net access, and FASTER Net access.

Jay Cuthrell

If you want to play like a utility you are answerable like a utility…

Charter should have to be accountable to the respective PUC’s in states they operate and be compelled to provide equal access as would any utility with license to service.

Charter broadband as delivered should lose the haven of being labeled as “entertainment” and Digital Inclusion would be mandated for Charter to continue this path.

Om Malik

@ Charlie Sierra

Welcome back. I have missed your wit and prescient comments.

@all

this isn’t the last you have heard on this issue from me. If you are willing and promise to take individual action, this is worth putting up a challenge.

Dasher

There are other alterntive provides that do not do this. So switch to them. Even if it may not affect you today this will in the future. This also sets a precedence for others do the same. I am surprised people are are resigned to accepting this in stead of mass boycott of comcast.

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