Case indicates company was booting the top 1,000 customers....
We've always known that Comcast has long had an invisible usage limit, because our users have been complaining about it for the better part of a decade
. While Comcast says they're now simply clarifying this previously existing cap (by capping users at 250GB starting October 1
) a Florida court case would seem to suggest otherwise. After being investigated by the State of Florida for booting users without making service limits clear, Comcast divulged that the company has actually been booting the top 1,000 users without regard to consumption total
According to the settlement, "Pursuant to the AUP, as currently applied, each month the top 1,000 bandwidth users out of Comcast’s entire customer base of approximately 14.4 million subscribers (i.e., approximately .007% of subscribers) receive a direct, personal notification from Comcast by telephone that they are violating Comcast’s Acceptable Use Policy, because of their excessive use of bandwidth."
Florida AG Bill McCollum apparently didn't like that Comcast was booting their top 1,000 heaviest users without mentioning hard limits in their acceptable use policy, and without ever actually telling impacted customers precisely what constituted excessive use. After a lengthy investigation, last week Comcast was forced to come clean
with customers and pay $150,000. They're also no longer able to advertise the product as unlimited, though they stopped doing so a few years back (see ad
Why does this Florida case matter? Well, the FCC has been seen as the primary motivator for Comcast's sudden shift toward clarity, despite a clear record of being anything but consumer advocates
. In reality, it was the Florida Attorney General who was busy lighting a fire under Comcast's digital derriere. You can also thank tough Florida consumer protection laws. Martin may have simply used the situation for political gain
The Florida documentation also would seem to indicate that Comcast isn't being entirely honest about the new 250GB cap simply being a transparent version of an existing cap. Instead, the settlement shows there was no locked hard cap at all -- simply the targeting of the top 1,000 hungriest (.007%) of Comcast's 14.4 million subscribers. That would explain why some of our users were able to consume in excess of 400GB per month
before getting in trouble. It also indicates that the new 250GB cap, while clear, may impact considerably more users than the old system.
The full settlement is here
, and may make for interesting reading for those of you who've been tracking this story closely since we first started covering it back in 2003
, when the first bandwidth glutton letters