With 12% Of Comcast Customers Now Broadband Capped, Comcast Declares It's Simply Spreading 'Fairness'

from the not-really-helping dept

Comcast continues to expand its usage cap "trial" into the company's less competitive markets, hitting these lucky customers with a 300 GB monthly usage cap. These users also now face a $10 per 50 GB overage fee should they cross this arbitrary limit, and in a new wrinkle -- have the luxury option of paying a $30 premium should they prefer to dodge these usage allotments altogether. To the non-lobotomized among us, Comcast's intention is obvious: drive up the cost of broadband to help counter the inevitable loss of TV revenues caused by Internet video.

With Comcast's usage cap "trial" slowly creeping past around 12% of the company's customer base, Comcast's slow stranglehold over the uncompetitive U.S. broadband market appears to have finally gotten the attention of outlets like the Associated Press. Having been forced to give up the bogus claim that usage caps are necessary due to congestion years ago, Comcast can only try and defend the practice to the AP by insisting it's an issue of "fairness":
"About 8 percent of all Comcast customers go over 300 GB, the company says. Data caps really amount to a mechanism "that would introduce some more fairness into this," says Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas."
Except there's nothing fair about it. A tiny fraction of Comcast customers are absolute gluttons (we're talking dozens of terabytes), and Comcast could easily nudge those users toward business-class lines without imposing an entirely new pricing structure. Instead, Comcast customers who used to enjoy pricey but unlimited data are suddenly facing usage restrictions and significant additional fees. And indeed, judging from some of the customers the AP spoke to, most users can see through Comcast's bullshit justification:
"Matthew Pulsipher, 23, lives in the Atlanta metropolitan area and decided to pay Comcast's extra fee for unlimited data to support his family's streaming of shows from Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. But he's not happy about it. "I think the idea of limiting your usage is absolutely insane," Pulsipher said. "It would make sense if the cap was 2 terabytes, but 300 is just low enough to punish streaming."
All Comcast's doing here is taking advantage of a lack of broadband competition to price gouge a captive audience. And while only 8% may cross the cap now, Comcast clearly hopes to have usage caps in place before Internet video (and 4KTV, and virtual reality cloud-driven gaming) hit critical mass. It just hopes if it moves really really slowly -- and pretends it's an agent of altruism -- most people will be too stupid to notice what's happening.

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  • icon
    codereded (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 9:40am

    "fairness"??
    I don't think that's how you spell "extra profits".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 9:43am

    You're right about the rest, but "virtual reality cloud-driven gaming" is never going to be a thing outside of the incredibly simplistic farmville style games.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 10:28am

      Re:

      Yeah, and no one will ever want to watch movies at home or talk to people online or listen to music on tiny speakers in their ears.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 12:38pm

        Re: Re:

        The desire is there, don't get me wrong. Physics means it won't get there though, unless you buy into Onlive's old tachyons explanation.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      WRONG LOL, 31 Oct 2015 @ 3:33am

      Re:

      Yeah, except cloud based gaming is already a thing and has been for years. You can stream any game from the cloud currently. Please learn more about what you try to tell people is not true. Ignorant.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2015 @ 12:59pm

        Re: Re:

        Oh for sure, it's also a thing that performs terribly.

        http://www.iis.sinica.edu.tw/~swc/onlive/onlive.html

        Latency is real, and even under the most perfect of circumstances, you're still not going to beat the speed of light in terms of latency. Now follow this up with the issue of motion sickness due to latency as detailed here:

        http://oculusrift-blog.com/john-carmacks-message-of-latency/682/

        And you'd require 20ms or less of latency just to be in the acceptable range, which is incredibly low for even basic gaming applications, much less "virtual reality cloud-driven gaming"

        So no, don't lecture me about knowing more when I try to tell people something. You need to understand the reality of this outside of some high-in-the-sky dreaming that isn't physically reasonable.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    pixelpusher220 (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 9:48am

    calling NYC and all other duped cities

    Now would be a good time to ask Comcast or your overlord,err ISP, what their current MAX speed is so as to set your bar of what they are actually giving you...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 9:49am

    The stupidest part about data caps if you have no idea how much data clicking a single link on the Internet is going to consume.

    And when watching a video, even knowing the video is a minute long (which you don't before clicking the link) doesn't tell you much about how much data it'll use. If the video is very high quality it'll use up a ton more data then a lower quality video.

    Browsing the web with a data cap is like shopping at a grocery store where nothing has prices on them. And where you have to buy anything you even touch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 10:49am

      Re:

      But you do know that you are paying for the flash crappy ads they send your way. The advertisers bitch about ad blockers but not about caps, wonder why.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        tqk (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 3:36pm

        Re: Re:

        The advertisers bitch about ad blockers ...

        Yeah, they say it's outright theft! As if they get to pump craptastic ads none of which I ever care about, regardless of their network efficiency onto my computer, all reporting back to hundreds of data aggregators feeding my data to ad servers, while both cores of my aging CPU blast away at 50% utilization after loading the page threatening to crash my computer.

        Bite. Me! They're doin' it wrong and should die screaming in a fire.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    A Non-Mouse, 30 Oct 2015 @ 9:55am

    I'm (not very) shocked!

    "About 8 percent of all Comcast customers go over 300 GB..."

    That's a hell of a lot more "heavy users" than when they first implemented these caps, and no doubt going up every day. No surprise when speeds go up, usage goes up, and the cap stays virtually the same.

    Just to put this in perspective (again), with their 105 Mbps service you can hit the 300 GB cap in about 7 hours.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      AricTheRed (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 10:08am

      Re: I'm (not very) shocked!

      "Just to put this in perspective (again), with their 105 Mbps service you can hit the 300 GB cap in about 7 hours."

      ... IF your ISP provides the service you PAY for!

      Why is that IF so small, while the PAY is so big?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Derek Kerton (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 11:46am

      Re: I'm (not very) shocked!

      Well, just to put THAT in perspective, you'd hit that cap in 7 hours only if you watched about 50 HD movies in that time.

      Framed as "You can get 50 HD movie downloads per month" seems a lot more reasonable "You only get 7 hours of Internet per month."

      So, your analogy is pretty disingenuous.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        A Non-Mouse, 30 Oct 2015 @ 12:27pm

        Re: Re: I'm (not very) shocked!

        "Well, just to put THAT in perspective, you'd hit that cap in 7 hours only if you watched about 50 HD movies in that time."

        Or backed up your PC. Or restored it. Or lots of other ways. Believe it or not, the internet is useful for more than just watching movies!

        "Framed as "You can get 50 HD movie downloads per month" seems a lot more reasonable "You only get 7 hours of Internet per month.""

        If you use the service you payed for, at the service level you payed for, you only get 7 hours. Claiming that most people don't actually use what they payed for does not make it ok to punish those that do.

        "So, your analogy is pretty disingenuous."

        I would counter that your myopic view of real world internet usage is pretty disingenuous. Stop pretending that these caps don't affect real people. 8% is no small number.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Derek Kerton (profile), 3 Nov 2015 @ 12:41pm

          Re: Re: Re: I'm (not very) shocked!

          Hey, I didn't say "Don't use the Interwebs". I just corrected the analogy above.

          AricTheRed used the ridiculous tactic of assuming you used your full capacity non-stop to illustrate how fast you hit your cap. That is unrealistic use, and any capacity planner in the world (telecom, roads, restaurants, schools, etc) knows that usage is not binary - full or nil.

          The old, and quite stupid, trope of "If that's the cap, and my network speed is X, I would use it all in T!" Why is it stupid? Well, you've just given the ISPs a disincentive to offering you better speeds. Think about it, the faster the X speed they offer you, the more pissed off you get about how short T is.

          So, I expressed his model not in terms of TIME in which the cap would be hit, but in terms of quantity of movies, at which point it looks a lot better.

          You are free, of course, to do backups, uploads, or Spotify instead of the movies. You are not the first to point out that the Internet has more than one use.

          "Claiming that most people don't actually use what they payed for does not make it ok to punish those that do."

          The people of your town do not use the roads in town to your fullest right to use them. If you all did, you would "punish" yourselves for that rate of use, and hopefully realize that network planning is NEVER based on everybody using their full capacity at all times.

          What I'm writing isn't popular. I know that. So you don't want to agree. But it's right.

          "Stop pretending that these caps don't affect real people"

          Can't see where I did that. Caps suck. I sure don't want one. But I see the economic realities that cause them. They are twofold:
          1) not enough competition, so your ISP will take what they can
          2) real requirements for CapEx to upgrade networks as users consume more data.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 4:17pm

      Re: I'm (not very) shocked!

      Meanwhile in Europe, which actually has free competition between vendors and are considering outlawing roaming fees within EU, people pay far less for far better and faster service. Huh.

      You suckers ought to be storming their gates for this abusive behavior. They should be crucified for proposing it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 10:08am

    Comcast spreading Fairness

    This points out why Google Fiber must be stopped at once!

    Without caps, Google Fiber is spreading Unfairness!

    /sarc

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Rich Fiscus (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 10:11am

    I guess you learn something every day. Apparently fairness smells just like bullshit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Ryunosuke, 30 Oct 2015 @ 11:22am

      Re:

      I thought that was the smell of spreading freedom....

      could be either actually

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Rich Fiscus (profile), 31 Oct 2015 @ 9:47am

        Re: Re:

        I thought that was the smell of spreading freedom....

        My grandfather, who raised pigs, had a different name for that smell which seems appropriate in this case. He called it the smell of money.

        Here's a pro tip for those of you not as familiar with agriculture. This machine is not a fairness spreader.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Vic, 30 Oct 2015 @ 10:12am

    Wouldn't actual fairness include refunding every user that "underused" the allotment of 300GB at the same rate $10 per 50 GB?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Phoenix84 (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 10:26am

    and Comcast could easily nudge those users toward business-class lines without imposing an entirely new pricing structure.

    Have you tried getting business class internet?
    I can't vouch for Comcast, but I tried to get a business class DSL from AT&T once, they refused. Since my residence wasn't a commercial address, they wouldn't let me pay more for better business class service. No negotiating, just no.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    radix (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 10:45am

    Comcast and Zero Rating

    Comcast is also rolling out a streaming TV service to compete with Sling TV. Anybody want to bet whether that data will count against a usage cap?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 10:56am

    Comcast the company where todays uncapped service is tomorrows capped service, whenever they desire more profit.

    /S

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Whoever, 30 Oct 2015 @ 11:01am

    All about cord cutters

    This is all about cord cutters. Using legal services such as Hulu, Netflix, etc., it is easy to go over 300GB per month.

    That's why I am hanging onto my Roku 2 boxes: they still support non-HD video, so require less bandwidth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ted the IT Guy (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 11:28am

    Woe to the Cord Cutters

    I have not yet fully disconnected from satellite TV, but my average traffic on my 50/5 mpbs residential cable connection for the last 12 months is 291 GB/mo, but the actual monthly rate has been on the rise as my family watches more an more online programming (Via PC, mobile/Wi-fi & Roku). For September I was at 331 GB, for October I am at 335 GB with a full day to go.

    I have friends and family that have fully "cut the cord" and I suspect their usage is much higher than mine.

    Thankfully, TWC has not capped our connections - yet. Considering I have no real competitive options in my area should they choose to do so, I'm not particularly happy with this trend.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 30 Oct 2015 @ 12:42pm

      Re: Woe to the Cord Cutters

      I finally checked my usage the other day. I am solidly in the low 300 GBs. We watch a lot of Netflix, but we are not cord-cutters and if we were, we would probably use a lot more.

      Thankfully, no caps on TWC. Thanks, TWC!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 11:32am

    Rural Internet and Caps

    recently my ISP raised the Speed of our net..
    with the idea that family use would be faster..

    recently youtube, hulu, and many others went to 60fps video.
    Large data hit.

    I play a few games that are not optimized..

    For all of this, and the ISP thinking That speed is what we need. There is a Data cap. 300gig. and it wasnt hard to hit.
    The idea of increasing Speed, and not the CAP..even in a Family home..is stupid.
    Think about all the devices you have that USE the net..Your PHONE, Computer, Xbox/PS, Amazon movie/Roku/.../...

    Then the idea that the Next level of payment adds 100gig, and is $30 more..

    This is going to be a fun time..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 30 Oct 2015 @ 12:43pm

      Re: Rural Internet and Caps

      The first thing I would do is install adfreetime at the router. It's $2 per month and will block all ads on your network on any device.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 11:43am

    Are They Paying To See Ads?

    Karl, You know I don't agree with you on caps. So let's forget that this time.

    What is more interesting here is the confluence of this story, and the recent brouhaha over ad blockers and ads.

    For people actually hitting those 300GB caps, and being asked (forced) to pay the extra $10, what portion of their > 300GB was advertising?

    I mean, I really don't know. What portion is it? Assuming they're streaming long-form video, it may not be a huge share, but if it's over 5GB, it starts to matter.

    Do the anti-adblock people really think we want to pay our ISP bill, and an extra mark-up to stream their annoying pre-roll and multi-media ads?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 30 Oct 2015 @ 12:06pm

    Comcast started here

    I have been a cord cutter for about 5 years now. Comcast recently started the 300 GB cap. My son and I both are big time gamers. We also stream Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Youtube on our televisions. With a family of 5, we burn through this within the first 2 weeks of the month. This shit sucks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mike, 30 Oct 2015 @ 12:07pm

    That's Capitalism

    "All Comcast's doing here is taking advantage of a lack of broadband competition to price gouge a captive audience."

    Yeah...that's what capitalists do. The idea that it's about providing the best product at the best price always was BS. They only lower prices if there's competition - and they do everything they can to remove or cripple competition, or simply collude with it in ways that they can claim aren't collusion.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 4:47pm

      Re: That's Capitalism

      The idea that it's about providing the best product at the best price always was BS.

      No, it was just always an option. There've been many very good companies which, through their great work and understanding of the philosophy and their business, gave their customers the best they could give them, even as they controlled a monopoly. They preferred to play the long game.

      Others ran to politicians to get self-serving laws passed to screw their customers and benefit their shareholders with quick and short term profits.

      It's sad both approaches have so far remained both profitable and legal. One should have supplanted the other by now as being far more logical, profitable, effective, but politicians ...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 30 Oct 2015 @ 2:25pm

    Gee, well, I guess I'll have to hit them with my $9.99 monthly bill cap.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 2:31pm

    If I am forced to pay extra for stricter and stricter bandwidth caps, then I will torrent *everything*.

    Dear networks: I will torrent all of your shows illegally, and the people who put up the torrents cut out any commercials if there were any.

    Dear advertisers: Every show that you advertise on, I will torrent. I will never see your commercials. So you have wasted money.

    In other words, if Comcast throttles me or keeps adding caps and other fuckery, then advertisers and networks, you will not get any revenue from me. It's your choice, you can get on Comcast's side, or you can get on the consumers' side.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 2:40pm

    I'm Surprised Microsoft and PlayStation haven't jumped in against this yet . I mean they are pushing for all digital downloads all the time when a new release is 60 gigs or more ......So just by buying a couple of games amonth along with streaming a few show will smack against a cap and of what about the Mandatory Win 10 updates that are gigs at a time

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 4:07pm

    I switched a long time ago to Sonic.net for unlimited data from Comcast and AT&T. Now that streaming and cord cutting is a thing, the speed is terrible. Two video streams at once will degrade the image quality. The only option for me now is to go with Comcast business and get unlimited data, but even there, the speed max is 16 MB which is a fraction of the speed the boast regarding plans that have data caps. For people that want true unlimited internet restrictions, it is the slow lane of the internet until competitions comes around hopefully soon :) maybe in my lifetime :(

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Andrew Lee, 31 Oct 2015 @ 12:16am

    What I expect.

    When I pay for 250mbps I expect a maximum of 65.7 TB of data per month. Luckily I don't have a cap because my house averages 15 to 25 TB per month.

    What I expect is exactly how CDN works for ISP's when they buy their data.

    Translation for Patrick Zarrelli:
    When Eye pay four 250mbps I expect an maximum of 65.7 TB of data per month. Luckily Eye don't have an cap because my house averages 15 to 25 TB per month.

    What Eye expect is exactly how CDN works for ISP's when they bye there data.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2015 @ 1:46am

    Once you cap the top 8%, you can cap the top 8% again, lather rinse repeat

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2015 @ 4:13am

    The first time I see a fee or get throttled will be the last. With modem in one hand and cable box in the other it is off to the local office to terminate. I know better than to call a "customer representative".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2015 @ 7:49am

    Internet Nazis

    First they came for the 8%...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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