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Thread: COMCAST Announces Data Limits

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Default COMCAST Announces Data Limits

    Sent today to the Slectmen:

    Feb 16, 2010
    Angela Lordi
    Wayland, MA

    To: Wayland Board of Selectmen:
    Steven J. Correia (Vice Chair),
    Thomas J. Fay
    Joseph F. Nolan (Chair)
    Michael L. Tichnor
    Susan W. Pope.

    I am a 22-year resident of Wayland, and a customer of COMCAST, who supply cable TV, telephone, and Internet service to the town of Wayland.

    Recently, COMCAST was pressured to make pubic their policy toward customers who (in their words) “over-utilize” their Internet service. COMCAST has been well-known to contact customers who transacted more data across their Internet Connection than they deemed appropriate and terminate their accounts. However, when COMCAST was asked what that limit was, they would not specify it, as they did not want to appear (for marketing reasons) to be selling Internet service with data restrictions. As this became more known the public, COMCAST was pressured to be explicit about this limitation (they admit this on their website).

    Just yesterday, COMCAST announced (“proudly” as if it were a good thing for its customers) that the limit on data transmitted was 250 gigabytes and declared that “99% of their customers use no where near that much”. They put a “usage meter” on their website, and declared that customers who exceeded that limit would be contacted and if the “over-usage” continued, their contracts would be terminated. There is no tiered service available for customers who wish to purchase accounts with higher limits.

    It is true that most users use less than 250 gigabytes, because most users do not use their Internet connection for more than casual web surfing and email. However, a growing number of people are beginning to use the Internet for other purposes, including:

    · Television (many TV programs are available on-demand from websites such as hulu.com, WebTV and AppleTV),
    · Movies (e.g. NetFlix, Blockbuster and Amazon),
    · Music download (e.g. iTunes),
    · Cloud computing (on-line software such as GoogleDocs), and
    · Internet storage and backup (e.g. Carbonite and Amazon),
    · Photo storage (such as Flickr.com),
    · and many other

    These services have the potential for drastically increasing data usage on an Internet connection. Moreover, some of these services compete directly with COMCAST. Internet movie download is quickly becoming the de facto method for buying/renting movies as DVD players with built-in download capabilities become more common. Furthermore, we have seen moves by COMCAST to move into the Media Content Production, and it would be restraint of trade to limit the amount of competing content that customers can access.

    It is true that the 250 gigabyte limit is not necessarily a deal-breaker for most people, but it may well be for people who use the Internet as their primary communication method in the home. I do personally, and I have used in excess of 50% of this new limit in each of the last three months, and one of those months I exceeded it (COMCAST did not contact me). But even if “99% of the people use significantly less), this represents a limitation on the service that could become an issue as Internet continues to grow COMCAST operates as a utility in Wayland with the permission of the town, and I would assert that this restriction represents a significant change in the terms of service for us. I would urge you to open discussions with our Cable TV Advisory Committee and develop a town position on Internet data limits.

    Angela Lordi

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Wayland MA 463 Old Conn Path
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    382

    Default

    A DVD movie is about 2G. A blue ray is more like 4G
    So 250G is like 125 DVD movies and 63 blue rays.

    I will assume that this 250G is is 'per month' ?? Please confirm this. I have to believe that 250G would more than cover 99% of their customers but your point is well taken. What prevents Comcast from turning down the meter to 200G or 150G etc...

    Also, what does Verizon FiOS do? Do they have this limit?
    I thnk they don't and this is because Comcast being cable based is also bandwidth limited. Comcast wants to offer more and more HD programming and there is only so much bandwidth available using their technology.

    On the other hand fiber has virtually infinite bandwidth. It may also be true that FiOS is basically more expensive but has 20Meg down / 15 meg up and that service when bundeled with TV and phone is their triple play.

    The Wayland Board of Selectmen are basicaly powerless to change Comcast on this one.... but if FiOS doesn't have the limitation then that is the best power you have.

    Good luck.

    alan

  3. #3
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    Nov 2005
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    Wayland MA
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    Is the 250GB limit on uploads, downloads, or the combination?

  4. #4
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    Mar 2009
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    4

    Default Damn

    I just wrote a reply to this thread, snow-blowed the driveway in the middle and cam in an submitted, at which time the site asked for my assword and chucked my reply.As a result, I think I am going to not post here.

    However: Yes, it is 250 gbytes per month, upload plus download

    The issues are:
    (1) COMCAST competes with us for capacity of the wires because they use much of the wire for Cable TV
    (2) Bandwidth is different fromn capacity. COMCAST throttles bandwidth already
    (3) COMCAST makes money by denying you both bandwidth and capacity
    (4) COMCAST can make money by throttling packets to and from websites that compete with them (the "Open Internet" issue)

    As a result of all of these we need to keep an eye on COMCAST as a town and pushback if we feel they are nickel and diming us.We also need to support Government regulations prohibiting practises such as (4) because if it were being done, we would never know it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Wayland MA
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    Angela, note that it's possible to edit a post to correct typos ... although the chuckle I got from that one makes it worth keeping as-is! [grin] Also, when I post online (here and elsewhere), I make a habit of copying my next and pasting it to notepad until I know the post "took."

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    7

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    Quote Originally Posted by AngelaLordi View Post
    I just wrote a reply to this thread, snow-blowed the driveway in the middle and cam in an submitted, at which time the site asked for my assword and chucked my reply.As a result, I think I am going to not post here.

    However: Yes, it is 250 gbytes per month, upload plus download

    The issues are:
    (1) COMCAST competes with us for capacity of the wires because they use much of the wire for Cable TV
    (2) Bandwidth is different fromn capacity. COMCAST throttles bandwidth already
    (3) COMCAST makes money by denying you both bandwidth and capacity
    (4) COMCAST can make money by throttling packets to and from websites that compete with them (the "Open Internet" issue)

    As a result of all of these we need to keep an eye on COMCAST as a town and pushback if we feel they are nickel and diming us.We also need to support Government regulations prohibiting practises such as (4) because if it were being done, we would never know it.
    The limits on data volume transmission by Comcast are not particularly new. Sort of like the limit on your American Express- not advertised, but they exist. Customers are just becoming more aware of it as we start taking advantage of new internet-based video services.

    And I suspect you're right about the capacity limitations of copper wire causing Comcast to throttle our bandwidth. Based on my understanding of Comcast's network architecture, your actual throughput also depends on your neighborhood usage as well as what demands you're placing on their network. So I think long term Comcast will have problems holding on to their customer base unless they can address these technical issues. For fun, this link will test your actual throughput for you: http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/.

    (FYI, on Comcast we upgraded our speed- the website reports 18Mbps down, and 1.69 up, but with VPN, 11Mbps down, and 3 up. Jeff- you're probably aware that uploads are always slower by a magnitude- they usually start at 384Kbps, but it appears you can cheat the system by uploading via a VPN connection. Uploads usually aren't that significant a part of the total data transmissions. )

    I share your concerns about all ISPs lobbying for the right to control what goes through their network. This major issue, being debated in Washington, would completely change the business model for internet service in favor of the ISPs. (Has anyone else heard of any recent or pending decisions by the various regulatory agencies involved?)

    Anyway, I wonder if making Comcast's technical limitations and pricing an issue for our town leaders to pursue is a worthwhile effort. Wayland could be just too small a venue. Changing ISPs may be the best way to express your dissatisfaction.

    FWIW, Verizon's DSL doesn't throttle your throughput based on your own or neighborhood activity. Although there are drawbacks if you're a Verizon land line phone customer too- you have to convert to their IP based phone system, with its battery backup system, etc.

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