Comcast Emails Subscribers About Bandwidth Caps

Updated: Comcast, the largest cable company in the world, has started to send emails to its subscribers letting them know about bandwidth limits the company is going to impose, starting Oct. 1, 2008. As it was reported earlier, the company had said that if people go over the 250 GB/month limit, they WILL be thrown off the Comcast network. Update: Comcast has taken issue with this assertion, however, and in addition to directing us to their FAQ page, offers up the following clarification:

Rather, we said that if a customer exceeds that limit, then we reserve the right to contact them and ask them to moderate their usage, which the vast majority of customers do voluntarily. We will also explain that if they choose not to moderate their usage and they remain among our heaviest users again in a six month period of time, then we reserve the right to suspend their account for a year.

The company’s email is using metrics to make a case that the 250 GB limit is very generous, but we know it that’s a bit bogus. When we asked our readers what kind of bandwidth they were consuming, even average folks had numbers that didn’t match up with the “2 to 3 GB median residential customer usage” metric used by Comcast. (Full text of the email below the fold.)

“To put it in perspective, to reach 250 GB of data usage in one month a customer would have to do any one of the following – Send more than 50 million plain text emails (at 5 KB/email); Download 62,500 songs (at 4 MB/song); or Download 125 standard definition movies (at 2 GB/movie),” Comcast wrote in an email to its customers (some of whom forwarded it along to us). Of course, you wonder why Comcast isn’t talking about downloading HD movies and videos, which Apple just started selling on its iTunes store. Comcast has so far failed to announce a meter for metering the broadband.

Just to give some perspective of our own, we haveĀ pointed out 5 devices that could consume that Comcast bandwidth cap pretty easily. Stacey also put together a list of 10 things that you should know and hate about metered broadband.

FULL TEXT OF THE EMAIL

Dear Comcast High-Speed Internet Customer,

We appreciate your business and strive to provide you with the best online experience possible. One of the ways we do this is through our Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). The AUP outlines acceptable use of our service as well as steps we take to protect our customers from things that can negatively impact their experience online. This policy has been in place for many years and we update it periodically to keep it current with our customers’ use of our service.

On October 1, 2008, we will post an updated AUP that will go into effect at that time.

In the updated AUP, we clarify that monthly data (or bandwidth) usage of more than 250 Gigabytes (GB) is the specific threshold that defines excessive use of our service. We have an excessive use policy because a fraction of one percent of our customers use such a disproportionate amount of bandwidth every month that they may degrade the online experience of other customers.

250 GB/month is an extremely large amount of bandwidth and it’s very likely that your monthly data usage doesn’t even come close to that amount. In fact, the threshold is approximately 100 times greater than the typical or median residential customer usage, which is 2 to 3 GB/month. To put it in perspective, to reach 250 GB of data usage in one month a customer would have to do any one of the following:

* Send more than 50 million plain text emails (at 5 KB/email);
* Download 62,500 songs (at 4 MB/song); or
* Download 125 standard definition movies (at 2 GB/movie).

And online gamers should know that even the heaviest multi- or single-player gaming activity would not typically come close to this threshold over the course of a month.


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