Light Reading

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
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   >   >>
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Rick Talbot, Principal Analyst, Current Analysis

10|31|14   |   2:12   |   (0) comments


At the NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014, Rick Talbot shared his positive feedback about the holistic and open approach that Huawei adopts for SDN and NFV. He also found the open sharing at the event valuable as it features different perspectives from Huawei experts, telecom operators, industry analysts as well as security experts.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With David Snow, Principal Analyst, Current Analysis

10|31|14   |   2:24   |   (0) comments


David Snow talked about his understanding of Huawei and its SoftCOM strategy at the NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014, saying that Huawei's wide approach combining IT and CT expertise, introducing big data and analytics into solutions and contributing to the OpenStack community particularly resonate with him and make the company stand out in the industry.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Roz Roseboro, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

10|31|14   |   3:13   |   (0) comments


Roz Roseboro commented on Huawei's data center capabilities and NFV solutions at the NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014, saying that in addition to covering all three key domains of compute, storage and networking, the company also emphasizes the importance of management capabilities and professional services, which are essential in making NFV a reality.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Michael Howard, Co-founder & Principal Analyst, Infonetics Research

10|31|14   |   5:25   |   (0) comments


Michael Howard talked about SDN, NFV, and OpenStack adoption at Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014. Particularly, he pointed out that Virtual Enterprise CPE is the top NFV use case that operators plan to invest in over 2014 and 2015 to deliver new enterprise services through virtualized functions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Jerry Caron, Senior Vice President, Current Analysis

10|31|14   |   3:11   |   (0) comments


At Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014, Jerry Caron from Current Analysis said that orchestration and management are key to realizing SDN and NFV for global carriers, and the approach that Huawei is taking, with its FusionSphere Cloud OS at the core, is in the right direction to address the challenges.
LRTV Documentaries
Broadband Battles

10|31|14   |   01:39   |   (0) comments


This year's Broadband World Forum featured a number of show floor battles focused on access gear, components and coffee.
Jonestown
Mobile Backhaul: Going to the Dark Side?

10|30|14   |   2:26   |   (1) comment


Heavy Reading's Patrick Donegan shares his view on a dark trend that bubbled up at Light Reading's annual backhaul conference in NYC.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With CEO of SwitchCom

10|30|14   |   4:13   |   (0) comments


SwitchCom, an IT company based in Angola, recommends a variety of Huawei solutions and hardware to their customers in the energy industry.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With Ethiopia's Ministry of Water Irrigation & Energy

10|30|14   |   4:08   |   (0) comments


Gosaye Mengistie of Ethiopia's Ministry of Water Irrigation & Energy discusses the collaboration with Huawei in that country.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview with Dongfang Electronics Corporation

10|30|14   |   5:46   |   (0) comments


Dongfang Electronics Corporation, headquartered in Chengdu, China, is one of China's largest manufacturers of power generators and contractors of power station projects.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview with Zimbabwe's Customers

10|30|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


Representatives of Zimbabwe's Ministry of Power and Development discuss the energy needs of their country as well as new areas of improvement due to enhanced ICT capabilities.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With Colbún Chile

10|30|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


In Chile, an aging energy infrastructure was in dire need of a modern update. Claudio Valenzuela of Colbún discusses how Huawei's ICT solutions continue to provide crucial information to improve the grid and how an in-country engineer is a cricial asset.
Upcoming Live Events
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 10, 2015, Atlanta, GA
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 30, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
WhoIsHostingThis.com presents six of the world's most extreme WiFi hotspots, enabling the most epic selfies you can imagine.
Hot Topics
Microsoft's Skype Embraces WebRTC on IE
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 10/27/2014
FTC Slaps AT&T With Throttling Lawsuit
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 10/28/2014
Wheeler Gets Down With OTT
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 10/29/2014
China's MVNOs Hit the Wall
Robert Clark, 10/27/2014
Let's Not Kill SDN & NFV With Silos
Francois Locoh-Donou, Senior VP, Global Products Group, Ciena, 10/28/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed