Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Comcast Sets 250-gigabyte Monthly Cap

Last week Comcast announced that beginning Oct. 1 it will have a 250G-byte cap on monthly residential bandwidth, with the broadband provider saying it may send warnings to subscribers who go over the limit or exhibit excessive usage. If a subscriber goes over the limit a second time within a six-month period after getting an initial warning, Comcast will suspend the customer's account for a year.

According to Charlie Douglas, Comcast's director of communications, less than 1 percent of users will be affected by the limit, and customers who go over the 250G-byte cap will not automatically be warned, depending on whether they are in that top 1 percent.

Comcast has yet to clarify what is covered by the cap, for instance it's unclear whether Comcast traffic, including VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) service, would be counted in the cap. However unlikely it may seem Comcast digital voice users might just be getting a cold shoulder in the deal.

Critics are quick to point out that while 250GB may seem like a lot (and for an average user it might be), add in things like a gaming console (PS3 or xBox), Vonage, Skype and services like Blockbusters new on-demand video rental, on-demand TV like Hulu or Joost and the bandwidth usage adds up quickly.

That's not even mentioning the occasional HD movie rental from iTunes, catching up with your favorite shows via streaming video or watching YouTube videos for a couple of days. Just because the average user only uses a computer to send emails does not mean there is not a substantial portion of users who use a lot of bandwidth on a daily basis, and no, not for piracy-related matters.

I think Comcast needs to re-think what the "average" user is.

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