The day has come for all Comcast High-Speed residential Internet customers: You officially have a usage cap.

The “customer-defined” usage limit is 250GB a month. Comcast‚ says it’s “an extremely large amount of data, much more than a typical residential customer uses on a monthly basis.”

They include in their Terms of Service that this roughly constitutes:‚ 
* 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 also released some of their current customer usage data, which puts the average residential Internet traffic downloads at 2-3 GB a month.

You should‚ notice some key word usage in the statement, that will be coming as a bill stuffer, as harmless and not worthy of another glance. “Managing the network is essential as Comcast works to promote the use and enjoyment of the Internet by all of its customers. The company uses reasonable network management practices that are consistent with industry standards. Comcast tries to use tools and technologies that are minimally intrusive and, in its independent judgment guided by industry experience, among the best in class.”

The italics are mine. With such mitigating word usage, Comcast is trying to drive the point to it’s docile customers that it’s doing this for your good, and the good of the network.‚ 
To all the Comcast customers who just check their email,‚ you won’t be reading this unless it’s forwarded, and‚ you‚ won’t care about the limit.

To the people who read news and emails‚ and visit Myspace or Facebook, you might think about it for a second, but disregard it.

For the users who email, social network, game online and download, a notice about this usage cap will hold more weight.

Finally, there’s the Comcast customers whom utilize the Internet more efficiently and can do all of the activities above while running a P2P agent in the background. These users know exactly what it means to them.

So why should anyone who doesn’t live on the Internet care? The speed of technological advancement dictates that pretty soon, this “massive” usage cap will become a noose we so quickly placed on ourselves. With the advent of not only high-definition video on demand, and digital downloads, there are a score of other‚ programs that‚ use the bandwidth while people just check their email, or just check their networking sites.

Even websites have become more content rich. Heavy text news sites have become a multi-media room. What 56K once could handle is‚ a neanderthal-like usage now with higher speeds becoming standard. As Internet speeds rise, and our daily lives connect more to the Internet, the usage cap will seem more and more stringent.‚ 
“Though the proposed cap is relatively high, it will increasingly ensnare more users as technology continues its natural progression,” said Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner.‚ 
For those Blast Magazine readers live on the Internet and are worried about what would happen if you crossed the line, don’t worry. “As part of our pre-existing policy, we will continue to contact the top users of our high-speed Internet service and ask them to curb their usage.”

“If a customer uses more than 250GB and is one of the top users of our service, he or she may be contacted by Comcast to notify them of excessive use. At that time, we’ll tell them exactly how much data per month they had used. We know from experience the vast majority of customers we ask to curb usage do so voluntarily.”

For now anyway, although the Internet is abuzz with future network shutdowns and or including excessive bandwidth usage fines, all of this is on top of the confirmed diurnal network bandwidth-throttling practices that Comcast got in trouble for.
For the non-Comcast customer, all this should be a red flag. Comcast clearly states in their ToS that, “The need to engage in network management is not limited to Comcast. In fact, all large Internet service providers manage their networks. Many of them use the same or similar tools that Comcast does.” Comcast is‚ leading Internet service provider, so it’s only rational to expect other major ISPs to follow suit, especially if they see any Comcast practices as a “success”.

Enjoy the gallows.

About The Author

Manuel Uribe is a Blast Magazine reader, contributor and all-around good egg

8 Responses

  1. Step

    As an online {FGRT} Gaymer let me enlighten as to why NOT to panic.

    Bandwidth Cap

    Our Cap is:

    250gb = 256000mb per month

    1024mb = 1gb

    For Example:

    team fortress,counter strike = 20mb-30mb per 60 mins

    Going with the higher number we get

    30mb x 8 hours = 240mb per day

    240mb x 31 days = 7.4GB per month

    256000 – 7.4GB = 242.60gb per month remaining

    Games like WoW, City of Heroes, EvE, Everquest use only

    10-15mb per hour.

    Going with the higher number we get

    15mb x 8 hours = 120mb

    120mb x 31 days = 3720mb (3.6GB) per month remaining

  2. Manuel

    Let me reiterate:

    I didn’t imply the cap would hinder you now. For 99% of users, it wont.

    I meant to convey the fact that if caps like this are allowed, not only will it seem more effective to lower it in the future, (having to ‘maintain’ less but us paying more for the part we can’t use), but the faster the internet grows, The more ‘caps’ ISPs will want to put into place to ‘manage’ their networks and make more money.

  3. Silver Renegade

    Hmm…It certainly gave me another side of my Internet Provider a.k.a Comcast…heh. But overall, I like the article, very well written. I’d say the writer knew what he was talking about. =)

    -Silver Renegade

  4. kathy

    well i don.t have to eally worry about this. still in the dark ages.. but.. as usual manuel has entered a very well written article

  5. Joe

    And so it begins a 250gb cap can’t wait to see this number get smaller and smaller over the years, that’s like having unlimited minutes on your cell phone and your cell phone provider telling you that they are going to charge you the same amount but now you’ll only have 250 minutes of talk time…and here is just another way the U.S. dollar is losing its value, at least on the consumers side

  6. Manuel


    Now that Comcast has essentially removed, “the sky’s the limit” off of their Terms Of Service, they recently amped up their speeds AND raised rates.


    At this point they want you to go faster JUST so you can reach the cap faster, all while paying more for less. Kind of counter-intuitive, if you ask me.

  7. Manuel

    Hi Obvious. Apparently You’re last name should be Oblivious.

    Good business is dealing with your customers complaints in a timely and cost-effective manner. But with consistently bad scores on Customer Satisfaction for Comcast (how ever you look at it); it seems Comcast think themselves quite the exception to the rules of business 101.


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