Updated: Comcast confirms our story...
Back in May I broke the news
that in addition to throttling back high-consumption users to "DSL like speeds
," Comcast was considering implementing a 250GB monthly cap as part of their shift toward "protocol agnostic" network management. Despite consumer grumbling, that plan is in fact now moving forward. Sources tell me that Comcast will officially announce that they're implementing this new system starting October first.
Originally, the source indicated Comcast was considering charging $15 for each 10 GB over the cap customers travel. A press release should drop shortly confirming whether this is still the case. The source claims there was also consideration of a new system whereby users who received more than four DMCA letters in a twelve month period potentially faced account suspension. That's a risky move I would imagine won't make the final cut.
"The intent appears to be to go after the people who consistently download far more than the typical user without hurting those who may have a really big month infrequently," says an insider familiar with the project, who prefers to remain anonymous. "As far as I am aware, uploads are not affected, at least not initially." According to this source, the new system should only impact some 14,000 customers out of Comcast's 14.1 million users (i.e. the top 0.1%).
While we won't be sure this is still the case until we see Comcast's plan, the original source indicated that Comcast was considering giving customers one "freebie" every twelve months in regards to the cap. In other words, you'd be able to consume more than 250GB once a year, but consecutive months with violations would result in you getting a wrist slap. Obviously there's lots of questions here, not least of which are whether Comcast's own content counts against the cap, or whether customers will be provided with a usage meter.
Comcast this morning wasn't ready to divulge anything yet, telling me simply to "stand by" when contacted for official comment. Update
: I've confirmed the October 1 start date for the cap with additional sources, and have seen documentation making reference to the plan. Interestingly, this information makes no mention
of overage fees or increased DMCA enforcement, which might suggest Comcast decided against those additional measures at this time. It appears that right now, the primary goal is simply putting a very clear number on Comcast's long-standing glass ceiling. That should please those customers who've been complaining about this invisible cap for years
. More information shortly.Update 2
: Thar she blows. Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas directs my attention to their updated network management website
, which confirms the October 1 cap launch. From the website:
250 GB/month is an extremely large amount of data, much more than a typical residential customer uses on a monthly basis. Currently, the median monthly data usage by our residential customers is approximately 2 - 3 GB. To put 250 GB of monthly usage in perspective, a customer would have to do any one of the following:
* Send 50 million emails (at 0.05 KB/email)
* Download 62,500 songs (at 4 MB/song)
* Download 125 standard-definition movies (at 2 GB/movie)
* Upload 25,000 hi-resolution digital photos (at 10 MB/photo)
Measuring your caps by e-mails sent is a little lame (though increasingly common
). That said, 250GB is a generous cap, particularly when compared to the 5-40GB caps being considered by companies like Time Warner Cable
. It's good that customers will no longer have to guess how much usage constitutes gluttony, and it's great to see that Comcast left the overage fee concept on the cutting room floor (for now). The site says that Comcast customers should see notification in their bills shortly.