The Comcast Cap

posted at 9:45 am on August 29, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

I moved away from Comcast just in time, it seems.  The cable giant has decided that its users only need a certain amount of Internet traffic each month, and when they hit the limit, their customers can party like it’s 1989.  Starting October 1, Comcast switches to a shortage economy on Internet usage:

Comcast Corp., the nation’s second-largest Internet service provider, Thursday said it would set an official limit on the amount of data subscribers can download and upload each month.

On Oct. 1, the cable company will update its user agreement to say that users will be allowed 250 gigabytes of traffic per month, the company announced on its Web site.

Comcast has already reserved the right to cut off subscribers who use too much bandwidth each month, without specifying exactly what constitutes excessive use.

Granted, a 250 GB cap will restrict few people on the network.  Comcast points out that a user could download four feature-length films each day and not run afoul of the cap.  They expect few actual confrontations over the limitation, and they plan to counsel customers who come close to disconnection.

However, the entire notion seems a little strange, especially as prices keep falling on the technology needed to build infrastructure for delivery.  Comcast offers a good price on their connection, but they’re hardly losing money, and the economy of scale favors the largest providers.   Telco providers don’t penalize customers for making too many local calls, and that’s arguably more of a resource issue than broadband Internet.  It looks like a Net Neutrality-friendly way of putting the lid on P2P and file-swapping users.

This change will further impact Comcast’s perception in the marketplace as a capricious and arbitrary provider and lower trust in its brand among the users they need to attract.  One has to wonder whether this policy based on shortage really reflects a cost issue or just the turf-protecting impulse found within big corporations.  At the very least, it makes Comcast look paternalistic and condescending — and cheap.  (image via Lonely Machines)

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Could their co-ax system be running out of gas? ATT and Verizon have gone to fiber which puts virtually no restrictions on bandwidth.

docdave on August 29, 2008 at 6:26 PM

i am part of a game development group, i am sure some months i go around if not above 250g of dl, guess i need to start looking for anew provider :(

Really?! Come on fourstring, you are going to try to tie Barack Obama to Comcast? It sure is a leftist tactic to make unpopular corporate decisions. Nice work there.

Anything to smear a Democrat, eh? Unbelievable.

thePajamaPundit on August 29, 2008 at 9:58 AM

why do you add your website in each post?
isnt it linked to in your name?

trailortrash on August 29, 2008 at 8:30 PM

I have been saying for years the cable and telco operations should be broken into 2 components – content provider and bandwidth provider. Bandwidth provider part should be regulated like the common carrier or public utility that it is and the content provider part can compete against Google, etc.

Bill_Bowen on August 29, 2008 at 12:09 PM

I can’t support that after seeing what that did in my state for natural gas. As soon as gas was “deregulated,” the total bill amount easily tripled. All of the “competing” service providers charge the same (high) price, while the delivery provider gets quite a share as well (about $28/mo for residential service). My average total winter gas bill went from about $75/mo to $260/mo. I costs me $50/mo just to run a water heater in the summer.

I’m a Comcast customer and I use easily at least 150GB per month. I work from home providing server and workstation support, so I depend heavily on desktop streaming, VoIP, and file transfer. This cap will be a problem for me since DSL available in my area has only about 60% of the available bandwidth of Comcast cable. I guess I can live with slower DSL, but I shouldn’t HAVE to. Furthermore, I’ll be forced into buying a telephone line for $45/mo–that I have absolutely no use for (I haven’t had a POTS phone since 1998)–AND paying for DSL at another $35 on top of that, as well as the usual $50 for cable or satellite TV. So, this means my overall cost will increase for lower speed Internet service. Thanks Crapcast!

I wish we had FIOS here. I’d be willing to pay even more than I pay now for it. But, alas, I am stuck in AT&T country and AT&T is still stuck in 1974.

mojojojo on August 29, 2008 at 9:49 PM

I left Comcast when I saw that Muslim crescent they use as the “C” in “Comcast”. Call me furious that way…

PoliticallyIncorrectSandy on August 29, 2008 at 9:54 PM

Now this is a really good excuse to quit technology that isn’t very good anyway. And which is way too expensive.\

My recommendation: Swith to anything else.

seanrobins on August 30, 2008 at 9:21 AM