Comcast's Internet Cap Debate


Windows 10
The biggest debate in tech right now is whether or not Comcast (CMCSA) is pure evil. The cable giant says that starting Oct. 1, it will cap its residential customers' Internet usage at 250 gigabytes of data.

On the surface, that seems kind of reasonable. The limit is about 100 times greater than the amount of data an average Comcast user downloads per month. You'd have to download four standard-def movies a day or 62,500 songs a month to reach 250 gigs. Comcast argues that in most cases, the limit will shut down pirates who illegally download gobs of movies and songs and slow the whole system for everyone else.

But the tech community is absolutely hammering Comcast over this. GigaOm declares it's the "end of the Internet as we know it" -- well, for Comcast's customers, at least. (For Verizon (VZ) and its FiOS high-speed Internet offering, Comcast's decision must look like manna from heaven -- a strategic hole in Comcast's business the size of a small planet.) ZDNet similarly argues that bandwidth caps will kill innovation on the Web -- since a lot of innovation is about taking advantage of broadband speeds and high-capacity hard drives. The Slashdot crowd is typically apoplectic about anything that smacks of repression of their Internet freedoms.

To be honest, Comcast's decision seems to me to be about television, not the Internet. Comcast's business is still centered on providing cable TV at $100, $150 a month. Internet video is starting to challenge traditional television, whether its reruns on Hulu or live convention coverage on Comcast wants to sell movies on demand over its cable system, but Netflix (NFLX), Amazon (AMZN) and others are selling movies over the Web for less. And video and movies, of course, are the largest bandwidth hogs on the Net.

So Comcast -- like Cox and other cable companies -- is in the position of providing a service that enables one of the biggest threats to its core business. That's one heck of an internal conflict. For now, the decision seems to be in favor of protecting the TV side of the business.


New member
Bandwidth caps have never been a new thing. European and Candian ISPs have been doing it for a while. Why cry now?


New member
Because those guys are wanna be socialists and the USA has thus far resisted such idiocy. Our Internet speeds in most areas of the country can be embarrassingly slow, and whats more these companies oversell their cable and we never get the speed we pay for.

Secondly.. this is about TV I agree. However all this bull about stopping piracy and it being the biggest hog on the net is flat out bullshit. EVERYONE knows the biggest bandwidth hog on the net, is SPAM - because lazy people can't be bothered to properly run their relays.

Let them do it I say. They'll reverse course when a solid chunk of their customer base dumps them for ISP's who won't cap. Plus if they go to another cable provider, that means they lose TV business as well. Shooting themselves in the foot, as usual. Corporate America proves once again it is out of touch about what WE want, and we don't want what they tell us we do when it comes to Internet.


Such Coin. Many Doge.
Well, I just found out that Charter has caps too. They are based on which speed you pay for.

100GB cap for 15mb or less
250GB for +15
and no cap for 60mb [Which is only available in St. Louis]

I have the 5mb speed right now and I like to stream videos, download and play online games. I think its complete bullshit and if they ever contact me to tell me I'm using the internet too much, I'll tell them to fuck off and cancel my service. I will cancel my internet, phone service and cable [which has shit quality].
Woo, I can't wait until we have to pay for each megabyte we download/upload.
BTW: this is the speed that I get. I don't see any reason for me to pay for the faster speeds when they can't even provide the slowest.

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The Newb Kid
I didn't want Comcast after all the junk I've been hearing about them but my choices were that or AT&T. I can't personally say if DSL is garbage or not but many people tell me to stay away. Also, Verizon FiOS is not available at my address yet so that wasn't an option. Most of my online activity involves gaming which means I avoid lag like the plague, although I don't know what the general required speed is for properly running current console and pc games.

I'm interested in how they determine when to increase the restriction from 250 gigs. Obviously with increasing internet speeds and ever growing file size, usage will outgrow their limits. Once a certain percent of users get close they bump it up? Did they release any usage analysis that confirms "pirates" are hogging the internet and slowing it down for everyone, or are they using that to make their cause seem more righteous and legit?

Although there may be caps already in place by other providers for some time now, caps are becoming more common and this could lead to a slippery slope. Without company information it's hard to say whether the companies are getting cheap about building infrastructure or if the cost/benefit ratio truly isn't there.


New member
I've never heard of caps by charter... our connection is almost always doing something, downloading, uploading or playing games, videos, music, etc..

as for how they determine who gets capped at what..I would assume its just a tag in the account info that tells their logger "this person has reached the download limit for their account profile"

downloading at 100k constant for 30 days would make you hit a 250gb cap. That's some bullshit considering all the fluctuations in speed from high to low during usage hours and even factoring in time not downloading
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Such Coin. Many Doge.
Here you go Zach, bask in all its amazingness.

Spoiler »
Excessive bandwidth is usage beyond a reasonable level for the service subscribed to. Residential service usage will not exceed 100GB of bandwidth per month for Customers subscribing to Services of 15 Mbps or less per month and 250GB of bandwidth per month for Customers subscribing to Service over 15 Mbps and up to 25 Mbps. Charter reserves the right to revise usage limits or to implement additional usage limits. In the event residential usage exceeds the above-described limits Customer will be notified and required to either limit Customer’s bandwidth consumption to permitted levels/limits or subscribe to a Service with a higher monthly bandwidth limit if a higher limit subscription is available. In the event Customer does not limit bandwidth consumption to permitted levels/limits after notice of the same, Charter may determine, in Charter’s sole discretion, that Customer is using an excessive amount of bandwidth over the Charter network infrastructure for Internet access or other functions using public network resources, during any period of time, Charter may thereafter: (a) adjust, suspend or terminate Customer’s account or Service at any time and without notice; or (b) require Customer to upgrade Customer’s service level and pay additional fees in accordance with Charter’s then-current, applicable rates for such Service; (c) cap Customer’s usage or limit aggregate bandwidth available to Customer; (d) implement prioritization of traffic; (e) implement protocol filtering; or (f) use any technology to be chosen by Charter at its sole discretion including, but not limited to, packet-reset and/or other packet management technology, to slow Service to Customer for purposes of conserving bandwidth. Charter may also notify Customer of excessive use and request Customer to employ corrective or self-limiting actions to comply with this provision.