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HongKongFooey

@verizon.net

Washington Post: Shutting Down Big Downloaders

Washington Post via MSNBC:

»www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20633771/

Comcast cuts Internet service to bandwidth hogs

The rapid growth of online videos, music and games has created a new Internet sin: using it too much.

Comcast has punished some transgressors by cutting off their Internet service, arguing that excessive downloaders hog Internet capacity and slow down the network for other customers. The company declines to reveal its download limits.

"You have no way of knowing how much is too much," said Sandra Spalletta of Rockville, whose Internet service was suspended in March after Comcast sent her a letter warning that she and her teenage son were using too much bandwidth. They cut back on downloads but were still disconnected. She said the company would not tell her how to monitor their bandwidth use in order to comply with the limits.

"You want to think you can rely on your home Internet service and not wake up one morning to find it turned off," said Spalletta, who filed a complaint with the Montgomery County Office of Cable and Communication Services. "I thought it was unlimited service."

As Internet service providers try to keep up with the demand for increasingly sophisticated online entertainment such as high-definition movies, streaming TV shows and interactive games, such caps could become more common, some analysts said.

How many have been cut off?
It's unclear how many customers have lost Internet service because of overuse. So far, only Comcast customers have reported being affected. Comcast said only a small fraction of its customers use enough bandwidth to warrant pulling the plug on their service.

Cable companies are facing tough competition from telephone giants like AT&T and Verizon, which are installing new cables capable of carrying more Internet traffic.

The cable companies collectively spent about $90 billion in the past decade to improve their networks. And on cable networks, several hundred subscribers often share an Internet connection, so one high-traffic user could slow the rest of a neighborhood's connections. Phone lines are run directly to each home, so a single bandwidth hog will not slow other connections.

As Internet users make more demands of the network, cable companies in particular could soon end up with a critically short supply of bandwidth, according to a report released this month by ABI Research, a New York market-research firm. This could lead to a bigger crackdown on heavy bandwidth users, said the report's author, Stan Schatt.

"These new applications require huge amounts of bandwidth," he said. Cable "used to have the upper hand because they basically enjoyed monopolies, but there are more competitive pressures now."

To trigger a disconnection warning, customers would be downloading the equivalent of 1,000 songs or four full-length movies every day. Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas declined to reveal specific bandwidth limits.

"It's our responsibility to make sure everyone has the best service possible," he said, "so we have to address abusive activities so they won't damage the experience for other customers. "

Companies have argued that if strict limits were disclosed, customers would use as much capacity as possible without tipping the scale, causing networks to slow to a crawl.

Some aware, some not
Some customers are unaware they are using so much capacity, sometimes because neighbors are covertly connecting through unsecured wireless routers. When they are told of that possibility, many curb their use after an initial warning, Douglas said. Others, however, may be running bandwidth-hungry servers intended for small businesses from their homes, which can bog down a network serving a neighborhood. Comcast said it gives customers a month to fix problems or upgrade to business accounts before shutting off their Internet service.

Joe Nova of North Attleboro, Mass., lost Internet service after Comcast told him that he was using too much bandwidth to watch YouTube videos, listen to Internet radio stations and chat using a Web camera. He and other customers who complained of being shut off said they were not running servers from their homes.

"Sure, I'm online a lot, but there's no way I could have been consuming that much capacity," Nova said.

Other Internet service providers, including Time Warner Cable, Verizon and AT&T, say they reserve the right to manage their networks, but have not yet suspended service to subscribers. Smaller Internet service providers RCN in Herndon, Leros Technologies in Fairfax and OpenBand in Dulles said they do not cap bandwidth use.

Some AT&T customers use disproportionately high amounts of Internet capacity, "but we figure that's why they buy the service," said Michael Coe, a spokesman for the company.

Cox Communications, which provides Internet and cable services to parts of Northern Virginia and Maryland, said the bandwidth demand on its network has doubled every year for the past six years. It has boosted its speeds twice in the past 18 months to keep up and offers tiered service plans for heavier users, spokesman Alex Horwitz said.

"We don't spend a lot of time enforcing [bandwidth] caps, but we contact customers when their usage is egregious enough for it to impact the network," he said. "Instances are few and far between."

'Unfair and arbitrary'
When Comcast canceled service to Frank Carreiro, who lives in a Salt Lake City suburb, he started a blog about the experience. His wife and six children then relied on sluggish dial-up Internet access until a phone company offered DSL service in his neighborhood.

"For a lot of people, it's Comcast or it's nothing," he said.

Bob Williams, director of HearUsNow.org, a consumer Web site run by Consumers Union, said the vagueness of Comcast's rules is "unfair and arbitrary."

"They're cutting service off to the people who want to use it the most," he said.

Schatt, the ABI Research analyst, said he expects cable companies to spend about $80 billion over the next five years to increase network capacity. In addition, they may acquire airwaves at an upcoming federal auction and could lay fiber-optic lines over their existing cables. Switching to digital-only programming could also help conserve capacity.

Comcast, Cox and Time Warner say they have more than enough capacity to meet demand and are adding new technologies to strengthen signals. Bruce McGregor, senior analyst at Current Analysis, a research firm in Sterling, said the bandwidth bottleneck is not yet a crisis for cable companies, but it could intensify with competition from phone companies.

Companies like Comcast "need to address people who are major drains on the network" without angering consumers, he said. "They're not the only game in town anymore."


SparkChaser
Premium
join:2000-06-06
Downingtown, PA
kudos:4
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
Well it's sort of a number

"To trigger a disconnection warning, customers would be downloading the equivalent of 1,000 songs or four full-length movies every day. Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas declined to reveal specific bandwidth limits."

--
"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." - Aldous Huxley


ztmike
Mark for moderation
Premium
join:2001-08-02
Michigan City, IN

1 edit
reply to HongKongFooey
Basically saying..

Comcast does not want to spend any money on their network till docsis 3 arrives, so they are cutting people off, and IF they DO give that certain amount of cap, their afraid people will run their connection full bloar (sp?)

I have a hard time believing Comcast doesn't have the money to upgrade their systems..just look at the Comcast news page on this site, they have a record profit growing like every other month..but have we seen any upgrades or people not getting cut off?

Look at OOL Boost 30/5 with no caps on cable..

Heres what im talking about,

»/blog/comcast

Look at that shit making record profits throughout that hole news page, and yet where the hell is our speed upgrades and this bullshit caps and people are now reporting they are limiting bit torrent..jez whats next!?

mrgym

join:2002-08-27
Ellicott City, MD
reply to HongKongFooey
I called the Comcast support '800' number "trouble" option and was told that even "the supervisor" could not tell me the residential bandwidth limit per month. I then tried another option on the support line and was transferred to tier I support where I was told that I would be contacted when I exceeded 160GB per month.

Do other DSL/ FIOS/ cable providers impose these limits??? I am a Comcast customer who would like to download Tivo/Amazon movies. If this limit causes a problem, I would be glad to shop for new Internet and television provider(s).


ztmike
Mark for moderation
Premium
join:2001-08-02
Michigan City, IN

1 edit
If you read the article it pretty much ran threw what other isp's think about capping, as far as FiOS why would you even be on Comcast if that was available to you?

I also hardly doubt the cap is 160gb/month, but i think they cap you on how busy your local node is, because i download alot and have not been capped once.


Ryan
Premium
join:2001-03-03
Braintree, MA
I hope this gets covered more and more, it really is a shame. Personally I probably would never touch the bandwidth that some people hit, but I do feel for them. They shouldnt be forced to have caps. Either way there are plenty of users who barely touch bandwidth just browse basic websites. I gurantee most of comcast users are like this. Im always fearful when I hit say 60 gigs in a month and I shouldnt have to be fearful of how much bandwidth I use.


JDA

@comcast.net
reply to mrgym
I think ~150GB/month sounds about right. They mentioned 1000 songs a day, if you assume a normal MP3 compressed song is 5MB (which I DO find typical), then multiply that by 30 days a month, you get 150GB...

Anyways, I'm glad the limit is as high as it is, at least. I often download over 1GB per day, but rarely over 5GB. These limits are always running in the back of my mind. It's still a horrible deal, but I personally think all companies do this. Back a few years I had a friend on dial up get contacted by his ISP for staying connected nearly 24/7 (not using it, just being connected), he canceled his account that day.

Too bad of the horrible business world in America these days that consumers no longer have any such option as going to the competition.

You ask what's next after bittorrent throttling and canceling heavy user's accounts? I can tell you. Raising prices, not upgrading services, and in some cases DOWNGRADING services.


Ryan
Premium
join:2001-03-03
Braintree, MA
One thing I do understand that they have a right to impose limits, but the way broadband it handled right now in most areas it just sickens me. For one thing my area Attleboro which was also mentioned in the news article use to have diverse cable providers. Attleboro had media one then went to at&t and north attleboro had time warner I beleive. Same with the surrounding towns. Then comcast comes and munches everything up and start imposing limits and everything else. Of course comcast is now in bed with the politicians and government in southern-mass making fios growth a standstill. The way comcast works just urks me. If they want a monoply then they need to provide services and not screw with the consumer. Yes its cheaper to just axe higher bandwidth users then expand their network, but they wanted to buy all these areas then support what you bought. Luckly for me 150gb is plenty since im the only one who puts the strain on the network. Other members just do basic web browsing. If I had any kids or anything with the ammount of music videos and you tube videos there are out there now, im sure that would be eaten like nothing.


b1gdr3
I Blame Your Mother

join:2001-07-28
York, PA
said by Ryan:

Of course comcast is now in bed with the politicians and government in southern-mass making fios growth a standstill.
Any proof of this? I'm sure there are news organizations there in Massachusetts that would love to hear about it.
--
I wasn't born with enough middle fingers.


NormanS
I gave her time to steal my mind away
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-14
San Jose, CA
kudos:12
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
·Pacific Bell - SBC

1 edit
reply to Ryan
said by Ryan:

One thing I do understand that they have a right to impose limits, but the way broadband it handled right now in most areas it just sickens me. For one thing my area Attleboro which was also mentioned in the news article use to have diverse cable providers. Attleboro had media one then went to at&t and north attleboro had time warner I beleive. Same with the surrounding towns. Then comcast comes and munches everything up...
It is my understanding that AT&T bought Comcast. Well, the AT&T that David Dorman shed, anyway. AT&T Broadband Internet was spun off from the rest of AT&T by David Dorman; who went on to get eaten up by SBC.

I was told that ATTBI bought Comcast, then changed the company name to Comcast.
Of course comcast is now in bed with the politicians and government in southern-mass making fios growth a standstill.
That makes absolutely no sense. FiOS is at a standstill because FTTP is a capital intensive project. SBC (now AT&T) knew this, and elected to only use FTTP for new communities; deploying FTTN in older neighborhoods.

Comcast is not nearly as wedded to politicians as SBC was (and AT&T now is). Everybody knew that one particular Louisiana representative in the U.S. Congress was just an SBC lapdog.


Edit: Changed "FTTH" to "FTTN". AT&T "U-Verse" mostly rides on FTTN.

--
Norman
~Oh Lord, why have you come
~To Konnyu, with the Lion and the Drum


Ryan
Premium
join:2001-03-03
Braintree, MA
Well someone up there is really trying to stop the competition and it already has been in local news. One specific thing was the police for road work. Police have to be present in mass during any roadwork and get paid very well. Comcast's costs are paid by the town, yet verizon was forced to pay up if they decided to lay fiber. There are a few other fishy things going on these I wont bring up because I dont have proof and is more word of mouth.

As for attbi and comcast maybe your right comcast was bought by attbi although why would they change to comcasts name? Either way there were no bandwidth limits when i had media one or attbi.

rody_44
Premium
join:2004-02-20
Quakertown, PA
no, comcast bought attbi


Ryan
Premium
join:2001-03-03
Braintree, MA
said by rody_44:

no, comcast bought attbi
Yup

»money.cnn.com/2001/12/19/deals/a···dex.htm#

likewhatever

join:2002-08-03
Delray Beach, FL
reply to HongKongFooey
the limit is more than 300 gb per month probably since they give you a call of warning to stop after that per month like they just did to me. Which i am doing right now in stopping downloading at least so much of it.


NormanS
I gave her time to steal my mind away
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-14
San Jose, CA
kudos:12
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
·Pacific Bell - SBC

1 edit
reply to Ryan
Well, I can ask six different Comcast uses, and get eight different answers. And my Google results were quite unclear, as well; probably poorly defined search terms. Definitely could find where AT&T (post Consent Decree) split itself up further.

OTOH, Comcast never had to deal with PUCs, and local politicians only cost peanuts. At least I can't find anybody like former Rep. Billy Tauzin (R.LA), who was in the hip pockets of the Bells; especially Bellsouth and SBC (which are now one, operating as, "AT&T").

--
Norman
~Oh Lord, why have you come
~To Konnyu, with the Lion and the Drum


NormanS
I gave her time to steal my mind away
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-14
San Jose, CA
kudos:12
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
·Pacific Bell - SBC
reply to likewhatever
said by likewhatever:

the limit is more than 300 gb per month probably since they give you a call of warning to stop after that per month like they just did to me. Which i am doing right now in stopping downloading at least so much of it.
Other posters have pegged the limit as the top 0.01% of the users in a given market; which could be less than 300GB in some areas.
--
Norman
~Oh Lord, why have you come
~To Konnyu, with the Lion and the Drum

likewhatever

join:2002-08-03
Delray Beach, FL
Thats true.

AquaSport
California - Sun, Surf, Traffic Jams

join:2007-05-03
California
reply to HongKongFooey
finally, a post that isn't about speed or dropping internet connections...
--
Out with the old, in with the Antique!


dontask2much

@comcast.net
reply to Ryan
While I understand what you're saying, I respectfully disagree with part of it. First ,I agree that Comcast should publish openly their residential service caps - it shouldn't be vague or inconsistent. Perceptions like "I thought it was unlimited service" need very much to be addressed by Comcast, and denying to confirm the bandwidth limits is just stupid. The argument by most cable co's is that if they do that, people will use all they can and that is simply not true - look at web hosting providers and their tiered agreements.

And just like web hosting agreements, if I exceed a cap *that's been published and is monitored* then I should be invited to purchase the next or appropriate plan on the tier to get the bandwidth I obviously need. "Comcast said it gives customers a month to fix problems or upgrade to business accounts before shutting off their Internet service." There's what I'm talking about. And that will be the rebuttal to the Montgomery resident's complaint in this article: "she could have purchased the business account." My bet is she probably still could and they would have turned her service back on for her.

Montgomery County Office of Cable and Communication Services, BTW, has had a loaded complaint history with Comcast over the last 10 years - just do a search on the WAPost for Comcast and Montgomery County. Some of those complaints have to do with Comcast upload/download speeds, and specifically that residents of that county weren't getting what they paid for, especially when Comcast wanted to raise the rates. Notice that the person complaining to them in this article hasn't been quoted as saying what she and her son WERE doing - until I know that part, don't think I have a whole lot of sympathy.