Broadband

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
1 terabyte, broadband, cable, data cap, fcc, usage cap

Companies:
comcast



Nervous About Regulatory Action, Comcast Bumps Usage Caps To One Terabyte Per Month

from the giving-you-a-little-more-rope dept

After taking a PR beating for several years on the matter, Comcast has announced that it's significantly bumping the company's usage caps. Since 2013 Comcast has been conducting a "trial" in many of the company's less competitive markets, capping usage at 300 GB per month, then charging users either $10 per each additional 50 gigabytes, or providing users the option of paying $30 to $35 per month extra to avoid the cap entirely. But according to a new blog post by the cable giant, the company will be bumping that usage allotment to one terabyte per month starting June 1.

Users will still need to pay $10 per each additional 50 gigabytes of data consumed should they go over the cap. And they still have the option of paying a penalty should they want to avoid usage caps entirely, though Comcast has bumped the price of such an option to an additional $50 per month. Comcast's quick to insist that the terabyte cap is so generous, few consumers will ever find themselves running into the limit:
"A terabyte is an enormous amount of data. It’s far more than most of our customers will ever use in a month. Today, more than 99 percent of our customers do not come close to using a terabyte. Our typical customer uses only about 60 gigabytes of data in a month – that’s far less than a terabyte (in fact, 940 gigabytes less), or less than six percent of a terabyte."
Of course, while that's true today, that doesn't mean it will be true tomorrow. And while the increase is certainly welcome, that doesn't change the fact that usage caps on fixed-line networks still aren't necessary. As we've repeatedly noted, Comcast's cost to provide broadband service remain fixed or in decline, and the company's own support documents and engineers have suggested the caps have nothing to do with congestion or network necessity. That's because they have everything to do with protecting TV revenues from Internet video competitors.

While Comcast's announcement implies Comcast is graciously responding to consumer feedback, the origins of the company's decision lie elsewhere.

With the FCC imposing a seven year ban on usage caps as a Charter merger condition this week, many believe the FCC is signaling it intends to finally crack down on usage caps. The agency has tap-danced around the issue for years, but with a growing number of companies exploring the option -- and a growing number of companies (including Comcast and Verizon) exempting their own content from such caps, pressure has mounted steadily on the FCC to wake up from its regulatory coma on the subject. If that's to happen, it will likely happen after the industry's lawsuit against the agency over net neutrality is settled.

Comcast's also responding to the fact that AT&T is planning to impose its own usage caps starting May 23. AT&T plans to begin imposing usage caps ranging from 300 GB to 1 terabyte, and, like Comcast, charge $10 per each additional 50 GB consumed. Also, like Comcast, AT&T intends to begin charging customers a $30 premium should they want to avoid the charges, effectively charging customers significantly more money for the same service they had yesterday. Comcast bumping its cap to more closely match AT&T's is the U.S. broadband market's rather twisted version of competition.

It seems likely that some news outlets will frame what Comcast's doing as "generous." And while a definite improvement, it shouldn't overshadow the fact that these caps are little more than glorified price hikes on uncompetitive broadband markets, and an anti-competitive weapon against the threat of Internet video disruption.

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  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 28 Apr 2016 @ 5:16am

    I call it the Billion Dollar Disease™ and, so far, it has affected every damn company whose earnings hit $1B.

    The disease? Oh, it's nasty. Companies which start out from the garage, who beg, borrow, and plead to have laws changed so they can grow, finally do then completely fucking forget how they got to where they are today and now use the money to prevent other businesses from growing.

    I remember the days cable struggled to get established. The Big 3 networks did everything they could to prevent consumers from having choices in other stations.

    Then, a small company (you may have heard of them) called "Home Box Office" literally turned cable into an obscure want to a must-have need. Cable expansion exploded, as more people wanted HBO. As cable expanded, so too did its lineup.

    Hell, most people reading this have never seen cable without commercials, but a few will remember (and wish we had again).

    Now look at cable. Pathetic. Hell bent on destroying both competition (streaming is the new cable) and customer trust.

    All because they forgot what it was like to start out.

    Tom Wheeler didn't forget. In fact, his entire damn position is trying to force companies to remember what it was like when they were the disruptive force.

    Yet here we are, reading another article from something ridiculous Comcast has done.... again.

    One of these days, I'll actually read a positive article about the company here on Techdirt, but will most likely have to have someone do it through a ouija board. For if I held my breath waiting for Comcast to change...

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 6:54am

      Re:

      Someone is finally beginning to see what regulation is actually about.

      This is regulation in a 3 part nutshell!

      Citizens: Regulation is to prevent businesses from abusing customers or the market.

      Politician: Regulation is for fooling citizens while still giving Big Business what it wants.

      Businesses: Regulation keeps the competition away by making it very expensive and difficult to form a startup!

      That ladies and gents... is the nature of Regulation. Regulation is additionally what destroys a free market and will ENSURE the failure of a free market system as well.

      So when people tell you, we cannot rely on the free market because it has failed, I tell you nope, it is because we STOPPED the free market, WE are the failure not the market. The Market is an amorphous beast, there is no putting it down, for it only goes underground when war or laws try to impede upon its activities. It may be wounded, but it will not die!

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 7:31am

        Re: Re:

        Right, because in a totally free market all the goodness in humanity will shine and all the greed will disappear. No large and powerful entity would ever use it's resources to destroy competition and rape people of their last dollar if there was no regulation!

        In fact, regulation is also the prime cause behind narcissism and sociopaths. So not regulating the market would surely keep those types out of things!

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 8:16am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The goodness of humanity has nothing to do with it. Neither does the greed.

          You stupidly think that goodness and greed just become a non-problem when regulation is introduced, but this is ignorance of a very foolish nature. The only thing regulation does is centralize that greed and goodness you speak of.

          Anti-Trust and Anti-Monopoly laws can still be easily applied, to help prevent the problems you are improperly addressing from being coming reality.

          Right now regulation through the FCC has CREATED the garbage you are spewing against! You are literally advocating that the devil be the guardian against corruption! Or as John Oliver put it... hiring a Dingo as a babysitter!

          I would rather deal with fighting a business when I have a problem instead of the fucking government... you know the people that you have even less recourse against?

          Because right now as I see it... my first challenge if figuring out how much my vote counts with idiots like you participating in the elections making sure that corruption will remain and NEVER REMOVED! All the while with the few like me having to endure YOUR complaining about the very thing your ignorance and stupidity is CAUSING!

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 8:30am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The free market is self regulating they said.
            The free market will self correct they said.
            The free market is a good place to invest social security assets they said.

            The SEC & DOJ will go after the crooks they said.
            .....

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 8:47am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Well... "self regulating" is neither a good or a bad thing on its face, it is just more of a description of its nature.

              We expect Citizens to self regulate or else pay fines & possibly go to jail. We don't for some reason expect or require the government or the market to do it though. What kind of fucked logic is this? Everything sits atop the Citizens, and yet THEY are the only ones expected and required to self-regulate!

              A free market WILL self correct, but government regulation makes that self-correction far more difficult and expensive than necessary, and some times just outright blocks it entirely!

              Investing in anything, free or regulated can turn out bad.... how is this even a valid argument in this setting?

              In all cases you applied attributes to Free Market that can technically be applied everywhere else as well.

              Your post might just be the perfect definition of a non-sequitur regarding arguments against free markets.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 9:58am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                A free market WILL self correct,

                Iff and only iff it is composed of individuals and small companies. As soon as it becomes feasible to form large corporations, self regulation will fail because the cost of competing becomes more than an individual can bear (other than the owners of existing corporations), because much of the money required to compete is tied up in the existing corporations.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 1:23pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I agree on that one... we should prevent the formation of companies like Walmart, Huge Franchises and multi-product conglomerations.

                  While this is not always achievable in all cases... we can go a long way to prevent monopolies.

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

                  • icon
                    John Fenderson (profile), 28 Apr 2016 @ 5:02pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    We have a model of a better way -- the way we used to do it. The problem is that it takes politicians who are interested in fighting for the public good.

                    "Corporations" are products of government, and government can (and does, but not as much as it used to) provide rules they have to follow in order to continue to be corporations. Corporations were required to provide a corporate charter that laid out, in part, how the corporation will benefit the public. When a corporation violated the charter, then the charter could be revoked -- which is the corporate equivalent of the death penalty. There was a time when this sort of thing actually happened.

                    We need to return to that, to remind everyone that corporations are a privilege. We need politicians who have the guts and integrity to be willing to use charter revocation, and we need a public who will back them up.

                    It's a big task, but certainly not impossible.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 9:01am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Forgot to Add...

              the SEC & DOJ are running interference for the crooks.

              People like Martha Stewart & Martin Shkreli are just sacrificial pawns used to blind citizens into thinking they are doing anything meaningful.

              They were targeted because they pissed someone with power off (Martha) or they were dumb enough to paint a huge fucking target on their back making it a nobrainer for the SEC to go after for nothing more than to garner Public Affection.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 8:22am

      Re:

      I've noticed another part to this billion dollar disease. Seems these same companies over value their product.

      I remember cable without ads. They were proud of the fact they didn't have ads and told you so on line; after all you were paying for the programming, not the ads. That was when programming on the air was actually fairly good. I dropped PPV many years ago, when it no longer seemed I was getting what I was paying for. I wasn't looking forward to anything upcoming. Ads have always been a pet peeve and that was another major hitter against them and that I was paying to receive ads was just the whip cream topping on 'I can't stand it anymore'.

      Since I have a choice of ISPs, AT&T can kiss it good bye. I plan to drop them and change solely because of the price increase and cap. I'll tell them what I think with my wallet. I'm not getting Fed broadband speeds, why should I pay like I am? I don't value their product as much as they do.

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    • identicon
      Peter, 14 May 2016 @ 7:57am

      Re: didn't forget how they started

      I don't think the cable companies forgot how they started. They're simply acting like any other monopoly now -- hell bent on garnering maximum profit for an increasingly poor service or product.

      Unless legislation opens up avenues of growth for small business, larger companies will use their vast resources to squash them. It's no accident that American cities with the best internet service often have backed out of exclusive deals with large cable companies and installed their own internet lines -- which, as you point out, offers benefits to small businesses people.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 6:43am

    60Gb a month! Do me a favour - I've probably used more than that while reading this article....

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  • identicon
    Digger, 28 Apr 2016 @ 6:45am

    It's still an abysmally small cap...

    A simple 50Mb/s plan could easily download 15TB+ in a month.

    Write your congress critter and demand that usage caps be outlawed with severe penalties for any company placing any kind of limits on any form of communication / internet access, etc... By sever penalties, I'm talking millions of dollars per violation, per day.

    This would apply to mobile communications providers as well.

    Essentially forcing the companies to improve their infrastructure to handle 125% of the traffic that they've sold. 5,000 subscribers @ 50Mb/s would require the bandwidth available to sustain 100PB a month just in downloads, plus whatever rate they've sold for uploads.

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    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 28 Apr 2016 @ 7:03am

      Re: It's still an abysmally small cap...

      But who is going to use 50 mb/s continuously for a month?

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      • identicon
        Digger, 28 Apr 2016 @ 8:59am

        Re: Re: It's still an abysmally small cap...

        You're asking the wrong question, which is a major part of the problem.

        I don't care if I or anyone else actually uses the full bandwidth all time or not.

        What I and everyone else *SHOULD* care about is that the service provider has the infrastructure built out to allow *EVERY* customer to do so.

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  • icon
    Robert Beckman (profile), 28 Apr 2016 @ 7:04am

    Reasonable Billing

    There's a reasonable implementation here for Comcast, were they to choose it, and using their own statistics.

    Comcast sets the cap now at 1/(6%) of the amount that 99% of their subscribers use for each tier of paid bandwidth (Comcast is conflating number by lumping all tiers together), then force anyone with a 3 month rolling average above that into the +$50 semi-business plans.

    What does that mean?

    If you use on average 16 times more bandwidth than the 99% of users in the same bandwidth tier, you're not really buying the same product, and should pay more.

    But as 4K streaming and other services rise, so will average usage, and so necessarily will that cap. Remember, this isn't just the top 1%, these are users who are 16 times higher than the 99th percentile.

    Of course, this model wouldn't let you gouge everyone within a few years as it only deals with outlier, which is the real purpose - and it's good to see Comcast actually looking forward for once.

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    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 28 Apr 2016 @ 7:45am

      Re: Reasonable Billing

      Yeah, that makes perfect sense. So what makes you think Comcast would actually do it like that?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 10:37am

      Re: Reasonable Billing - NOT

      At least according to economic theory.

      Why not? Because if the ISP is actually supporting what they are selling - x MB/s download capability for each customer, simultaneously - the marginal cost of providing downloads above the cap is $0. In a perfectly competitive environment, what they could charge for unlimited downloads, above the base cost of service, would be $0.

      If they are actually supporting what they are selling, the reasonable price for unlimited downloads is the same as the reasonable price for the basic service. Now, it is entirely possible that they don't actually support what they are selling, but the reasonable response to that is to hold them accountable for their fraud, not allow them to charge more for the use of their network.

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      • icon
        Robert Beckman (profile), 30 Apr 2016 @ 8:49pm

        Re: Re: Reasonable Billing - NOT

        This isn't really the same thing, as almost no residential user uses their full capacity all the time (my data centers, on the other hand, do average pretty close, but I pay for what I plan to use).

        ISP's advertise speed, not capacity, but build their networks based on both peak throughput and average throughput.

        Instead, you should argue here that ISPs should sell capacity but with bandwidth not artificially limited - of course then you and I would lose out as we're the super users who are saturating our connections far more than the common user.

        I'd say this is the direction the market will move, where you get network speeds (whatever they come to given your wire) and pay for transfer, since that's the function that goes into network use, much like time of use electricity rates.

        But see: Comcast.

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    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 28 Apr 2016 @ 5:04pm

      Re: Reasonable Billing

      This sounds like a very promising idea.

      I don't think it achieves Comcast's goals -- but if Comcast were to adopt something like that, it would certainly lower a lot of my hackles.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 7:08am

    I'm reminded of the old crass joke:

    A man asks a woman if she'd sleep with him for one million dollars, to which she excitedly replies "Hell Yes!".

    He then asks if she'll sleep with him for $20, to which she angrily shouts "What do you think I am, some cheap hooker?".

    He of course replies "I already know what you are, we're just negotiating the price"!

    Someday Comcast will say to the FCC, "You didn't have a problem when the cap was 1TB, so now ...."

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 7:08am

    Comcast destroys their own argument: "Today, more than 99 percent of our customers do not come close to using a terabyte. Our typical customer uses only about 60 gigabytes of data in a month ..."

    So, if most customers use only about 60 gigabytes of data in a month, then obviously your network congestion arguments are invalid and there's no need whatsoever for any data caps. Period.

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  • icon
    Capt ICE Enforcer (profile), 28 Apr 2016 @ 7:20am

    Innovation

    This is amazing. Comcast is once again offering the services that are innovative and amazing. What other company will make amazing headlines by creating an artificial cap to the amount you can use something, then create a huge press release about how amazing they are for increasing their artificial cap. It is not regulators that Comcast fears. It is because they care about the people. Comcast for President.... LOL, I hate this.

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  • icon
    Capt ICE Enforcer (profile), 28 Apr 2016 @ 7:29am

    Amazing thought of the day...

    A funny comment will be entered here soon.

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  • identicon
    no use for a name, 28 Apr 2016 @ 7:29am

    Red herring

    this is not very impressive after you realize that 2 hrs of h264 video @ 4k is 275 GB so your over your limit after 8 hours of movies

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 11:49am

      Re: Red herring

      Those numbers would be for the highest quality encoding (4k blu-ray). Divide that by 10 and that's about what the average 4k stream is going to use from someone like Amazon instant video. About 25GB for a single two hour movie.

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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 28 Apr 2016 @ 7:38am

    I think it came a bit too late and after too much abuse. I hope the tide is flowing steadily towards the big ISPs having their asses regulated.

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  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 28 Apr 2016 @ 7:44am

    Logically

    Today, more than 99 percent of our customers do not come close to using a terabyte.


    In which case, implementing a cap does not bring any significant benefit to Comcast. Unless that benefit is to legitimize the notion of of usage caps at all, so that they can bring the hammer down later.

    It's a trap.

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  • icon
    seedeevee (profile), 28 Apr 2016 @ 8:42am

    Terabyte schmerabyte

    Built a new pc for one of the kids. Filled it up with our steam catalog.

    2TB in 48 hours.

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  • identicon
    annonymouse, 28 Apr 2016 @ 9:09am

    Free markets turn into monopolies.
    A company with no oversight and little in the way of repercussions will result in human suffering and death but will maximize profits and give a great return on investment.

    A free market is a fantasy.

    Any faceless corporate type will piss in your cherrios if it means it makes them a buck. They do it because they can.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 9:21am

      Re:

      That is what Anti-Trust and Anti-Monopoly law is for.

      Regulation has only helped establish monopolies and maximize profits by stifling new competition.

      It is clear you don't even know anything about which you speak, just like most citizens! Arm Chair idiots!

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

      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 Apr 2016 @ 9:43am

        Re: Re:

        "Regulation has only helped establish monopolies and maximize profits by stifling new competition."
        Yes it has, but let's look at how (we already know the why). It's called regulatory capture, the companies in those monopolistic (or approaching or disiring monopolistic position) convince the regulatory agency (FTC) that only a few competitors are necessary for competition to take place. While they are not entirely wrong, it a terribly weak form of competition.

        Having many more competitors (I like to think of 15-25 in every market though that might be more than needed) would help to impact price, quality, service, and probably integrity. The FTC seems to think more than one is sufficient competition. Then we wind up with companies playing follow the leader (one makes a move and the other follows, then makes their own move and the former follows) rather than meeting and colluding which would actually be against the law. They therefore get away with it, and we wind up with something worse than a monopoly because it is sanctioned and not going away anytime soon.

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      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 28 Apr 2016 @ 10:53am

        Re: Re:

        Wish I could take credit for the idea, but paraphrasing someone who's responded to you on the subject before...

        "You don't trust the government to have the power to regulate and use it appropriately, but you trust them with the power to litigate and expect them to use it appropriately?"

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 1:31pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Ha ha ha...

          Why do you think juries are required for this unless both parties waive them? Far too many people have never learned why the Juries were put in place inside the court system. Most people think its a game to get out of jury duty. Citizens have forsaken their greatest power over government by treating Jury Duty as a joke to be avoided where possible!

          I think is clear even the Founders of that nation said you cannot trust the government with the Power to litigate, but lets get real for a minute, the government must have that power and you are comparing apples and oranges too.

          This quote has no merit or genius in it, and furthermore displays ignorance unfitting of anyone with any mental significance!

          I would say you completely misunderstood something!

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 12:00pm

        Re: Re:

        What is the exact difference and why would you trust such laws, but not others?

        The specific market is very unfriendly towards direct competition (It is far too expensive upfront and has limited returns for invading anothers market and that is an observation independent of regulation!).

        Even if you happen to live in a relatively competitive area, straight competition is never something businesses want. They want differentiation and the way to differentiate is to create more than a single competitive metric. Et voilá, usage caps are born...

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  • icon
    JBDragon (profile), 28 Apr 2016 @ 9:26am

    If Data was such a issue over the Network, why do they keep bumping speeds up? Why is the CAP the same for someone with a slower service speed then someone with a much faster service speed that will hit that cap much faster? These things never made any sense.

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

  • icon
    Blaine (profile), 28 Apr 2016 @ 9:36am

    Suggestion for if the network gets congested.

    For any company claiming caps are needed.

    Let's pretend:
    - They are tracking usage and it's close to accurate
    - The network is actually approaching capacity, for fun let's say 90% is the trigger point.

    Start throttling the people who are online during the congestion in the order of their usage.
    - At 90.1% - throttle top 1%
    - At 90.2% - throttle top 2%
    - At 90.3% - throttle top 3%
    ...

    As the congestion goes down, walk it backward and un-throttle in the reverse order.

    Assuming they have usage data in a database, the query for which currently connected user to throttle is entry level easy.

    Results:
    1. Congestion solved.
    2. Throttling only happens when it's actually needed.
    3. People adjusted fairly according to their usage.
    4. No extra charges.

    Oh shit, #4 means it will never happen.

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

    • identicon
      Digger, 28 Apr 2016 @ 11:18am

      Re: Suggestion for if the network gets congested.

      That's a lot of work for something that isn't happening, and legally never *SHOULD* happen.

      ISPs, by law, should be required to provide 125% of the capacity required to meet all of their user's needs (where needs equates to 100% utilization of the capacity paid for 24 hours a day, 365.25 days a year.

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  • identicon
    Rekrul, 28 Apr 2016 @ 10:07am

    "Unlimited"?

    Something I haven't seen addressed; When customers pay the extra fee for "unlimited" usage, is it truly unlimited, or does the contract still weasel out and contain a clause that says "unlimited" use only applies until the company decides that you've used too much bandwidth?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 10:59am

      Re: "Unlimited"?

      Bandwidth is a measure of rate, not quantity, so in the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, "I do not think it means what you think it means".

      This is an industry that has already said that "unlimited" doesn't means what you and I mean when we use it, but instead means "as much as we choose to let you have before we charge you more, because we can". I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that caps are applied to the new "unlimited" as well...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 10:14am

    I recently switched to Comcast and ran into this cap yesterday

    I just closed out my 2nd month on Comcast and hit this limit. I got a text message and email telling me I had used 90% of the 300 GB. I was PISSED to say the least. I called and found out they "forgive" the first 3 times you do this. That should get me to the 1 TB cap and hopefully that is enough. Steaming TV, movies and downloading podcasts uses some data. These caps are really poor considering there is no bandwidth shortage for land lines.

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

  • icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), 28 Apr 2016 @ 10:45am

    Gotta Disagree Here

    Karl. This just isn't a "Comcast is bad story". I mean, god knows, Comcast stories usually are, but this one isn't.

    The fact is, in some places, they had caps of 300GB, and now those are raised to 1TB. That is good.

    Good, good, good. Good. It's really good.

    Now, I know you hate caps, but then you should hate this higher cap significantly less, which, to get redundant, makes it good.

    You and Mike have long held the position that caps like 300GB were bad because, while 95% of users don't hit those caps TODAY, as Internet use grows, they are likely to hit those caps in the future. But what if the caps also grow in the future, as they have done today? Then, the ISPs' claims that "the caps are simply to make the heaviest of users pay their share" are much more credible.

    As much as we hate them for their lobby efforts, their sham lobbyist, their bundling of channels, their terrible customer service, their abuse of the franchises we have given them, their failed promises, and their anti-competitive behavior (damn, that's a long list)...

    ...Comcast has steadily increased speeds, invested in the network, upgraded their DOCSIS versions, and now raised the cap.

    I'm down with most of your articles, but raising the cap puts holes in your prediction that the 300GB cap would end up punishing far more people than the heavy users.

    Yeah, I'd prefer "unlimited". But I'd also like my every meal to be an all-you-can-eat buffet, and my trips to the gas station to be pay-one-price. I can't always get what I want.

    And we agree that until there is some valid competition, we'll never know what the right market outcome actually is.

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

    • identicon
      Digger, 28 Apr 2016 @ 11:22am

      Re: Gotta Disagree Here

      If you're not on the bandwagon to ban all usage caps everywhere, then you're part of the problem.

      So please, just leave, and never post here again.

      Again, all ISPs / Cellular carriers should be mandated, by law, to have sufficient infrastructure and bandwidth to provide for 125% of their customers paid for bandwidth being utilized 24 hours a day, 365.25 days a year.

      If they don't, then they should be fined one hellaciously large amount, like multiple millions per day, per violation.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 1:37pm

        Re: Re: Gotta Disagree Here

        I prefer jail time.

        Fines only get businesses to be creative so they can still make money by paying fines and making customers cover the difference.

        This is another reason regulation is a joke and pointless. Just like chemical dumping, sometimes it just costs less to fuck the environment and pay a fee.

        In fact I would say the entire idea of a fine was created just as a gimmick to generate some revenue where Government and Businesses got together in a back alley looking for a way for fool the citizens into thinking the Agencies are protecting them, and making it looking meaningful activity is occurring when all it really is is the American Government saying... if you want to do this... it will only cost you this!

        People need to remember, government is nothing other than a legal racket! And is pretty much a literal criminal syndicate that has been legalized by the stupid Americans!!

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

      • icon
        Whatever (profile), 28 Apr 2016 @ 9:47pm

        Re: Re: Gotta Disagree Here

        "Again, all ISPs / Cellular carriers should be mandated, by law, to have sufficient infrastructure and bandwidth to provide for 125% of their customers paid for bandwidth being utilized 24 hours a day, 365.25 days a year."

        Same old problem - you confuse connection speed (the peak speed at which data can move) with amount of data you can move. Your LTE connection speed is upwards to 50 meg per second, but there is nowhere near enough bandwidth / airtime for every wireless device to run at full speed 24/7.

        The business models don't work if they have to have 100% all the time paid for. Your home internet connection would much more expensive if they have to do that, and you guys are already complaining about those costs!

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

      • icon
        Derek Kerton (profile), 2 May 2016 @ 11:10am

        Re: Re: Gotta Disagree Here

        "So please, just leave, and never post here again."

        You gotta be kidding! If you can't handle a different opinion and some debate, then I would suggest that it is YOU that would be best served by finding the exit.

        I DO and I WILL defend usage caps. You are apparently driving "the bandwagon to ban all usage caps everywhere". OK, then. When will I see you also demanding unlimited consumption for one price at:
        - theme parks
        - the butcher
        - the gas station
        - your gas, water, or electric utility
        - your yoga or fitness class
        - your college or university
        - or just about ANY of the other businesses you work with in the world.

        I know the arguments that: i) Once the infrastructure is installed, ii) it is essentially free to offer bandwidth.

        However, I think that argument is wrong.

        The evidence shows that the demand for bandwidth is constantly growing, requiring ongoing investment in infrastructure. AT&T alone invests as much as $20 Billion a year. Even if they lie and exaggerate, you'll agree that this is non-trivial.

        I believe that the people that use more of the current and the future capacity should pay more for that capacity, and that those that use less should pay less.

        Also, I know that at quiet times, there is lots of spare capacity, but at peak times, the network is constrained. A constrained network means that bandwidth is scarce, which means economics applies. The ISPs need to find a way to manage demand during peak times. A cap requires consumers to think about their data consumption - that is a good thing.

        I've seen the mobile Internet start with an "unlimited model" of data until around 2010. What we got was users who treated bandwidth as if it cost zero, which was not correct. In turn, developers wrote apps that treated bandwidth as if it cost zero. These apps were chatty, used waaaay more data than they needed to in order to accomplish their goals. You see, when a resource is priced at zero, the math means that strange things happen. The "free" resource is used to fix all problems. The result was congested mobile networks, scarce resources being used but used in an often wasteful manner. That makes baby Adam Smith cry.

        I, personally, don't "like" caps. They limit me. But I can rise above my personal wants, and apply economics theory to the problem. I mean, I also want "unlimited gasoline" when I go to the gas station for a flat rate of $50, but I don't get that either.

        Now, here is one colossally stupid statement:

        "Again, all ISPs / Cellular carriers should be mandated, by law, to have sufficient infrastructure and bandwidth to provide for 125% of their customers paid for bandwidth being utilized 24 hours a day, 365.25 days a year."

        If you got your wish above, your ISP bill would be North of $300/month. Businesses pay for such connections with guaranteed throughput. But they don't get it for the same price you pay, do they? You are paying for "Best effort" service, they are paying for

        The stupid claim you made could also be shown to be ridiculous for road capacity, like:

        "Again, all states should be mandated, by law, to build sufficient infrastructure and lanes to handle 125% of the citizen's cars, being utilized 24 hours a day, 365.25 days a year."

        Infrastructure planners have long pondered the extreme positions of building nothing, or building everything. Thankfully, they have landed in the middle, with capacity planning and estimation. You just advocated to pave everything so we can all drive at the same time.

        Here read up a bit:
        http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/collateral/routers/wan-automation-engine/white_paper_c11-7 28551.html

        https://www.jstor.org/stable/3003545?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

        Yes - we need more competition to keep the ISPs honest
        No - caps are not, themselves, evil
        Yes - ISPs are often dicks, and generally over-promise. But we should get angry about the over-promising, not the economic reality that capacity costs money.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 28 Apr 2016 @ 12:10pm

    Fun isnt it??

    My ISP tripled Bandwidth and raised caps 1/3..400gig..
    UNLIMITED* is the new FREE*

    Anyone that dont understand BANDWIDTH, look up QOS...
    you can have the best bandwidth, and still get CRAP for Quality of service..

    What I find fun in all this, is BUSINESS TIMES, where during the Day you are at 1/2 speed, because corps NEED the bandwidth?? Which means they are back to the OLD phone service tricks..

    Most of the problems tend to be HIGH quality services..
    60fps HD from youtube
    Hulu
    Pandora
    And many more..
    A small family can hit the cap so fast..its stupid.

    They are NOT selling Bandwidth, they are selling a CAP..
    Who remembers cellphones going threw this??

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 Apr 2016 @ 1:50pm

    Most of our customers don't use this much data, because we've invested heavily into punishing them for trying new things. We've made our programming more attractive by exempting it from these caps, which helps us maintain our income not only from customers but from lucrative deals holding content creators to our platform and not jumping ship to another provider who might be able to offer a better deal.
    We are very happy with this deal and somehow multiplying our cap nearly 4 times will not rip a hole in the space time continuum as we have previously claimed.

    Good luck staying under the caps, because our meterss don't work like you'd expect and there is no push to hold us accountable yet.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 2:01pm

    Caps on channel viewing

    In other news, due to the raging success of usage caps on bandwidth, Comcast has announced that it will be bringing caps to traditional cable.

    "We're proud to reveal our newest cost savings measure for our customers. You see, most of our customers spend about 2-3 hours watching any given channel during the month... in order to drive down pricing for everyone we're introducing a viewing cap. This will result in an overall savings of a few bucks a month for our typical viewers. Those that must watch an absurd amount of content from a channel can do so for an extra $10 a hour or for an extra $50, they can enjoy limitless viewing of that channel for a month."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 3:10pm

    i have the netflix 4 stream plan, hulu, amazon, and youtube accounts. My kids, and whole family uses all of it everyday. I along use 600gb a month. 1tb would not be enough for us.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 8:25pm

    The 30-35 dollar monthly fee for unlimited use with no cap was only available in some of the "test markets," but not in the one in which I reside. There was no option for the last three years other than switching to 768kbit DSL from ma bell.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2016 @ 2:48pm

    Comcast 2016 - 2017 plan:

    step 1. Increase cap to a tiny 1 terabyte
    step 2. "take on board" complaints that customers can burn through 1tb in a short period
    step 3. cap broadband speed to 10mbps, so it's impossible to burn through 1tb
    step 4. sack complaints team staff (both of them)
    step 5. claim 100% customer satisfaction

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2016 @ 12:36am

    Why would they offer higher speeds if they don't want people to use it? Why would anyone pay for higher speeds if they can't use it? I've downgraded my plan from 150mbps to 25mbps. Turns out the data cap will save me a bunch of money.

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


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