& cplSiteName &

Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
8/28/2008
50%
50%

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), panned earlier for applying an "invisible cap" on how much capacity cable modem consumers can gobble up before landing in the broadband dog house, says it will place a 250 Gbyte threshold on excessive users as of Oct. 1. (See ComCap? and Comcast Amends 'Acceptable Use' Policy .)

Comcast detailed this expected "amendment" to its Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) this afternoon on its Network Management Web page. The 250 Gbyte threshold counts aggregate downloads and uploads.

Comcast said the threshold will apply to less than 1 percent of its high-speed Internet subscribers, noting that the median residential usage is 2 to 3 Gbytes per month.

Because companies love breaking down big numbers, Comcast expressed that 250 Gbytes is equivalent to sending 50 million emails (at 0.05 kilobytes per message), downloading 62,000 songs (at 4 megabytes per tune), or downloading 125 standard-def movies (at 2 gigabytes per flick).

Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas would not say how this new, transparent threshold compares to the earlier invisible one; 250 Gbytes "is the number we chose to go with," he says helpfully.

Comcast also says its policy hasn't really changed: Customers who exceed the cap are asked to moderate their usage or upgrade to a commercial services account, which runs about $1,500 per month. Those who don't upgrade, but exceed the threshold again within a six-month period, will have their service terminated for a year.

"The vast majority of the time, people moderate their usage, and it's not an issue," Douglas says.

By revealing the threshold figure, Comcast might avoid the kind of firestorm it endured for not being open enough about its treatment of some peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic. The MSO has less than 30 days to comply with elements of a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) order published earlier this month. (See FCC Puts Comcast on the Clock , FCC Throttles Comcast, and Comcast Ready to Test New Traffic Cop.) Although they tend to be linked, Comcast's amended excessive usage policy and the network management proceeding at the FCC are two separate issues.

Still, Free Press , a pressure group that complained about Comcast's treatment of P2P traffic, questioned whether the 250 Gbyte cap would solve longer-term "congestion problems."

"Though the proposed cap is relatively high, it will increasingly ensnare more users as technology continues its natural progression," said Free Press research director Derek Turner, in a statement. (See Free Press Reacts to Comcast .)

Not a meter
Although earlier reports suggested that Comcast would charge for usage above the cap, that's not the case... at least not yet. Some operators have built in so-called Internet "metering" into their service business models, or have started to conduct some tests. (See Get Your Meter Running, Rogers Takes Internet Meter to the Masses, and TWC Tees Up Metered Internet Trial .)

Metered broadband is a possibility, Douglas says. "We are evaluating a variety of different models, including consumption-based billing. But we have nothing to announce at this time."

Comcast does not provide customers with a gauge that shows their usage, though they are obviously free to track their own consumption using publicly available tools.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

(14)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
chocodile
50%
50%
chocodile,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:33:38 PM
re: Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB
I sort of cringed when I read the news, anticipating the inevitable complaining and whining from the Net Neutrality crowd. "Free Internet is my birthright!" seems to be their belief. But the network operators' efforts to control traffic and the use of its systems (important disctinction - IT BELONGS TO THEM, NOT YOU, JOE PUBLIC), doesn't seem evil or insidious to me. No one complains about the power company or water company metering usage and charging for the amount used. No one complains that a 50 lb. package costs more to ship than a 1 lb. package. Why then do people complain about internet access? I find it interesting that the division between the pros and cons falls along political party lines - those who want something for free, and those who don't mind paying for what they use. I'll let the readers figure out who each side represents.
vrparente
50%
50%
vrparente,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:33:38 PM
re: Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB
That's 2 terabits 250GB x 8bits/byte = 2 Terabits. Averaged 30x24x7x60x60 that comes out to about 771604.9382716049382716049382716 bps or 750kbps 24x7. When the average 24x7 consumption is floating at less than 100kbps, that is well outside the median and appears to be somewhere in the range of a couple to a few standard deviations off of standard distribution of usage.

In short that's equivalent to a professor letting you get a passing grade when you have a grade in the lowest 3% of the class. Another way of saying this is that approximatley 98% to 99.something percent of subscribers in a typical residential network would not be affected by this.
gbennett
50%
50%
gbennett,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:33:37 PM
re: Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB
Hi vrparente,
I agree with the sentiment, but I'd say it's even more extreme than you describe. Not sure what the statistical term for this is, but imagine the standard distribution curve being squashed inwards a bit.

Based on figures I've seen in the UK I'm guessing far less than 1% of our broadband population would find themselves being throttled with this size of cap. The size of caps here are one to two orders of magnitude smaller right now.

What has happened is that the "average" Internet user (ie. a person who does not download copyright-infringing material) now has a way to breach these smaller caps because of TV on demand services being offered by the BBC and our independent TV companies (ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5).

So if I were to describe a distribution curve for the UK I'd see a broader population pulling down more stuff (and doing so legally). And a very narrow peak of a small fraction of users who are probably downloading large amounts of material in order to create counterfeit movie DVDs and games. There's a popular outlet for these materials in what we call here "car boot sales", not to mention Internet auction sites.

Cheers,
Geoff
paulej
50%
50%
paulej,
User Rank: Lightning
12/5/2012 | 3:33:36 PM
re: Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB
One poster argued that one should pay for what one uses, arguing that one does not mind having his water metered. This is true, but there is something different about the Internet. In many cases, you cannot control the volume. Should Internet users send bills to Amazon for sending unwanted advertising to their computers that ultimately puts them over a bandwidth cap?

250GB might be a reasonable figure. But, what is the point? After all, they said this only applies to 1% of its users. So are they really saving anything? Or, is this just their way of kicking dirt on the FCC for its decision over P2P? Again, they said it only affects about 1% of the customer base!

Back to the water example... there are plenty of places that have "all you can eat" buffets. But, they do not charge one person differently than the next. The cost of service is spread across all customers.

And, these same companies are talking about delivering IPTV service? Would that not consume considerably more bandwidth?

While my own usage is far below the cap that will be imposed, I would be rather annoyed if I were a customer and would seek an alternative provider. Perhaps it is because I (like most of you) work in the tech field and see that the Internet has far more potential than it does. Frankly, I don't think there is enough deployed bandwidth and providers ought to continue to work to increase access and core network speeds. There are many services that simply are not possible today with limited bandwidth.

Putting the cap in place seems to suggest Comcast is happy to do nothing to improve service in terms of bandwidth. Have they decided they have enough deployed infrastructure for the next 100 years?

I would hope not. We need continued growth, more services, and ... I certainly do not mind subsidizing the 1% that use a lot of bandwidth.
Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:33:35 PM
re: Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB
I think an important thing to point out here is that Comcast has historically placed a cap on what they deem excessive use. The big difference now is that consumers now know what that cap is...though the operator isn't providing a gauge or some way for customers to know how far below the ceiling they are or if they are approaching it. Although the cap has no direct relation to the P2P proceeding at the FCC, I think this cap disclosure was done in part to give more transparency to what Comcast's Internet service policies are. Jeffb
rjmcmahon
50%
50%
rjmcmahon,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:33:35 PM
re: Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB
re: "One poster argued that one should pay for what one uses, arguing that one does not mind having his water metered. This is true, but there is something different about the Internet. In many cases, you cannot control the volume. Should Internet users send bills to Amazon for sending unwanted advertising to their computers that ultimately puts them over a bandwidth cap?"

Comcast will charge Amazon for delivering the ads and won't account against the consumer for those bits. This allows them to keep there middleman position between consumer and content/application providers. Most of the COAX spectrum is used to deliver garbage and there are no caps on that. The media companies pay them to peddle the trash into our homes. That's their biz model. Don't like it then start digging.
OldPOTS
50%
50%
OldPOTS,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:33:34 PM
re: Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB
While Comcast is @ 250GB. Most of the others are @ 5-50GB. That effects a lot more average subscribers than 1%. Who is to say that Comcast will stick to 250GB.

I have supported tier pricing, but with some meter for subs to understand how much they are using.
But this takes one back to the QoS/DPI argument for efficiency vs. blind control. But at least customers will know the real level of service they can expect to receive.

OP
paolo.franzoi
50%
50%
paolo.franzoi,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:33:33 PM
re: Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB

You mean like say Cablevision rj?

seven
rjmcmahon
50%
50%
rjmcmahon,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:33:33 PM
re: Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB
Comcast's policy displays obvious flaws in the so-called deregulated free market. A market would charge higher for congestion periods and not for using idle bandwidth. A functioning market would provide more capacity when supply was exceeded and not cut off demand by disconnecting their customers for a year.

Study the electric industry to see what should happen. There, the ones that prevailed drove peak and average demand to converge in order to maximize efficiency. They did this by catering to high demand users in a manner that shifted their demand to lower periods of utilization. They didn't cut off their customers service for a year as punishment.

If this policy doesn't scream conflicted interests of network provider being both a broadcaster and a unicast network owner, I don't know what does. And the FCC wants the phone companies to emulate the cable companies for the fantasy of facilities based competition?
OldPOTS
50%
50%
OldPOTS,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:33:33 PM
re: Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB
I meant to say "Most of the others are considering 5-50GB."

OP
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
From The Founder
NFV's promises of automation and virtualization are intriguing, but what really excites service providers is the massive amount of money they could save.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
VMWare VP Brings Women Up With Her

8|16|17   |   6:49   |   (1) comment


It's an art and a science to make mentorship, inclusive leadership, diversity and promotion of high-potential women work, says Honore' LaBourdette, vice president of Global Market Development at VMWare.
LRTV Documentaries
5G Spectrum Wars – The Recap

8|15|17   |   2:22   |   (0) comments


Service provider 3 has filed a lawsuit against Ofcom over 5G spectrum auction in the UK.
LRTV Custom TV
Say What? Facebook Unleashes AI Anarchy – The Recap

8|7|17   |     |   (0) comments


A recap of the week's talking points on Light Reading's sister site, telecoms.com. Facebook AI programmers had a bit of a brain-fade as they allowed one of its AI applications to invent its ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu's Women Band Together to Help Girls Do STEM

8|2|17   |   9:35   |   (1) comment


Supporting women both inside and outside of Fujitsu is a top priority of the telecom vendor. Yanbing Li, Fujitsu Network Communication's director of System Software Development & Delivery, shares why it's important, but why there's still a long road ahead.
LRTV Custom TV
If You're Not First, You're Last – The Recap

7|31|17   |   08:18   |   (1) comment


In case you missed it, Amazon's 1% stock increase helped Jeff Bezos dethrone Bill Gates as the richest man in the world. Also, Taiwanese electronics manufacturer
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
AT&T's Tech President Preps Workforce for the Future

7|26|17   |   5:47   |   (10) comments


AT&T is focused on the software-defined network of the future and is reskilling its workforce to get ready too, according to AT&T's President of Technology Development Melissa Arnoldi.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Cisco: Mentoring Critical to Attract & Retain Women

7|19|17   |   6:40   |   (1) comment


Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Computing System Product Group, shares why mentoring in all its forms is important for women and what Cisco is doing that's made a difference for women in tech.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit LTE With Snapdragon 835

7|12|17   |     |   (1) comment


At an event in Wembley stadium, EE used its live network to demonstrate gigabit LTE using a Sony Xperia XZ Premium smartphone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip.
LRTV Custom TV
Implementing Machine Intelligence With Guavus

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments


Guavus unites big data and machine intelligence, enabling many of the the largest service providers in the world to save money and drive measureable revenue. Learn how applying Machine Intelligence substantially reduces operational costs and in many cases can eliminate subscriber impact, meaning a better subscriber experience and higher NPS.
LRTV Custom TV
Unlocking Customer Experience Insights With Machine Intelligence

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments


When used to analyze operational data and to drive operational decisions, machine intelligence reduces the number of tasks which require human intervention. Guavus invested in Machine Intelligence early. Learn about the difference between Machine Learning and Machine Intelligence.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Verizon VP Talks Network, Career Planning

7|12|17   |   4:49   |   (0) comments


Heidi Hemmer, vice president of Technology, Strategy & Planning at Verizon, shares how bold bets and the future of tech define her career.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Masergy's NFV Journey

7|11|17   |     |   (0) comments


Ray Watson, vice president of global technology at Masergy, discusses the advantages and challenges in entering the still-maturing NFV market for the past three years.
Upcoming Live Events
September 28, 2017, Denver, CO
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Intel CEO Leaves Trump Biz Advisory Board
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/15/2017
Are Cord-Cutting's Days Numbered?
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 8/14/2017
Analyst Nolle: Fundamental Errors Plague NFV
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 8/11/2017
Snapchat Misses Estimates, Eyes Reality Shows
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 8/11/2017
ATIS: Connected Car Security an Industry-Wide Issue
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 8/10/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Animals with Phones
We Know a Tough Day When We See One Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.