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Comcast Floats a 250GB Monthly Bandwidth Limit

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the there's-always-dialup-oh-wait dept.

The Internet 578

techmuse writes "Comcast is considering the imposition of bandwidth caps and reductions in network bandwidth to customers who, while paying for the use of a certain amount of bandwidth, dare to actually use it! Gizmodo has more on the subject." Reader Acererak points out that it would take some pretty heavy usage (by current standards) to hit the cap described. Bear in mind, too, that these reports are based on the word of an unnamed "insider," rather than an officially announced policy.

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Comcaast usage policy: Pay more, get less (0, Flamebait)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337282)

Surprise factor here = 0. Comcast just wants to milk people more instead of improve service or actually make their service attractive, since they know they have effective monopolies in many areas and states as nobody else offers a competing service.

Re:Comcaast usage policy: Pay more, get less (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23337414)

blah blah blah, milk this, milk that.

250GB ~= 800Kbit every second of every day for 31 days.

Some people need to step away from the computer and drop this knee jerking insanity.

Re:Comcaast usage policy: Pay more, get less (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23337834)

blah blah blah, milk this, milk that.

250GB ~= 800Kbit every second of every day for 31 days.

Some people need to step away from the computer and drop this knee jerking insanity.
But I pay for 7Mbit, Waaah, waah waaah! I want my 2 TERABytes per month! And I can't afford to pay any more because i have to buy 5 hard drives every month just to store all crap I download!

jerking? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23337850)

What about jerking again? What the hell you think that bandwidth is used for?! Geeze!

Re:Comcaast usage policy: Pay more, get less (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23337900)

or put another way...

thats over 350 tv episodes bittorrented (assuming you share at least 1:1)
thats over $9,000,000 in fines to the MAFIAA (at their current discount rate of $30k per item)

Re:Comcaast usage policy: Pay more, get less (4, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337514)

I don't mind a cap, so long as you can buy more once you hit it for a reasonable price.

But in this case (which is not official, BTW), it sounds like they are going to change $15 for an extra 10GB! That is far too high. I mean, assuming you pay $50/month, the first 250GB are only $0.20 each... and it goes up to $1.50??? That's pretty peculiar. It also doesn't seem to reflect the cost of bandwidth. Giganews charges $14 for 25GB, for instance.

I fear that we will quickly approach the dreaded cell-phone bill in complexity here.

Re:Comcaast usage policy: Pay more, get less (4, Insightful)

hansonc (127888) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337798)

Take a look at your power or water bill sometime. They both charge graduated rates based on over usage.

Besides it's like your sibling comment points out 250GB is ~800Kbit/sec for 31 days.... that's 8+ divx movies^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H "linux iso's" per day every day for a month.

Re:Comcaast usage policy: Pay more, get less (2, Interesting)

D'Sphitz (699604) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337610)

This is certainly improving their service considering the neighbor kids downloading habits affect my bandwidth. Way to kneejerk reaction though, there's not many people who legally use more than 250GB / month for personal use, and the ones that do should have to pay more.

Re:Comcaast usage policy: Pay more, get less (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337660)

Isn't this a step in the right direction though? It would be nice to actually know the limits, so you can decide when and how you want to reach them. And 250GB is a reasonable limit for the price. That's roughly 100KB/s 24/7.

Bill Gatesism... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23337288)

250GB ought to be enough for anybody.

Lawsuit (5, Insightful)

Lord Apathy (584315) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337292)

God damn it people need to learn if you say unlimited on the ad it means fucking unlimited. If you don't want people using it you need to say so.

It's time people got together and sued these fuckers that do this crap.

Re:Lawsuit (2, Interesting)

coren2000 (788204) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337482)

In Canada Bell Advertises 7Mb/s download speeds, but put a speed cap @ 4Mb/s. I think I should have the right to sue them for this. What do you think?

Re:Lawsuit (5, Interesting)

Lord Apathy (584315) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337622)

I don't know how shit works in Canada so I have no clue. But if they advertise 7MB/s and don't say anything about a lower speed cap then you should have some legal recourse. Really I think what is advertises should come over what it says on some contract they have you sign.

Bait and switch you know. This used to really fucking illegal, now its just a wink and a nod. Yeah, the tv said unlimited but the contract you signed says different. WTF is up with that?

Re:Lawsuit (1)

Ctrl-Z (28806) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337872)

1. Bell does not put a speed cap at 4 Mb/s.
2. "...up to 7Mbps".
3. Yes, some people can get those speeds.
4. ... unless you like BitTorrent.

Re:Lawsuit (5, Interesting)

joecasanova (1253876) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337544)

Lawsuit could work maybe once, but then they would just change their contract. Story for you: Several years ago, I lived in a small town. So small that when my house of 5 power users got the only broadband service available in the town run by a small "mom and pop" type company... after the first month we got a letter stating that we went over some bandwidth limit that they had apparently imposed out of thin air. I reviewed the contract I had signed, the latest version of their contract... there was absolutely nothing about it in the contract. The letter was nice enough that they asked me to cut back on usage. I immediately set up my internet gateway to monitor and track all bandwidth usage on the WAN NIC. Next month rolls by and we get another letter from the ISP stating that if we continued to use as much bandwidth as we did that they'd be forced to cancel our residential account or have us upgrade to a business account. I went to the gateway and checked the bandwidth usage. It was roughly 30 GB of usage. Not too much in the grand scheme of things. So I called the ISP's manager. I talked to him. I told him that we were paying for unlimited usage and asked why we were receiving the letters. He told us they had a "fuzzy limit" that was "at the descretion of their network admin". After some more heated discussion, he hung up on me. Next month rolls around and we get a letter stating that because we violated the contract they have cancelled our account. So I took the company to court. What was so interesting was that in court the company brought some interesting data in. Apparently, because the company serviced such a small area and that area was something you could consider "not very tech savy"... their grounds on the cancellation of our contract was based on one piece of data. Apparently, of the total bandwidth usage by their customers, my house was responsible for 80% of that usage. Luckily, the judge was tech savy enough to understand what was happening. He read through the contract I had signed and the latest version that the company is having customers sign. No where in either of them did he see that there was any "limit" or notion of a "fuzzy limit". The only thing that could come close was the clause stating "activities that disrupt or degrade service are prohibitted". Looking at the rest of the data that the company brought in showed that the total bandwidth consumption by their customers was rouhly 65% of the total available bandwidth across the course of the month, and since my house was 80% of that 65%, we weren't coming anywhere close to saturating the network. Furthermore with the caps in place, there was no way that my house could possibly disrupt or degrade service to anyone but ourselves. So that ISP shot themselves in the foot. My service resumed the next day and I didn't hear a peep out of the company until I moved. The little guy wins over the not-so-big company.

Re:Lawsuit (5, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337588)

Well, something like this would mean they're not saying "unlimited" anymore.

In fact, having a published cap would mean that customers would know the information they need to make a decision on their ISP in advance, rather than discovering some secret shadowy cap after they've hit it and called tech support 10 times about their problems before finding someone willing (or knowledgeable enough) to admit that such a cap exists, and maybe the approximate value of said cap.

As for existing customers, they'll just send out a notice saying they are changing your contract and you have 30 days to cancel otherwise you agree to the new cap.

Re:Lawsuit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23337594)

Reading comprehension for the lose. There is and never was a guarantee of continuous, uninterrupted service.

Re:Lawsuit (1)

joeytmann (664434) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337596)

You could read the fine print. Usually when they say unlimited, in print ad's, there is a little * next to unlimited. Is it misleading, as far as the law is concerned? No. For the average consumer who doesn't read the fine print? Yes. So who is at fault? In my opinion, the consumer for not being fully aware of the contract they are signing. Yes it would be nice to not have to do such things, *sarcasim*but hey as American's its our God given right to take advantage of anyone we see fit, if they are dumb enough to let themselves be taken advantage of.*/sarcasim* So if you don't like their service for this particular reason, don't use it, simple enough but I think people tend to miss that point.

Re:Lawsuit (5, Insightful)

D'Sphitz (699604) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337708)

God damn it people need to learn if you say unlimited on the ad it means fucking unlimited. If you don't want people using it you need to say so. It's time people got together and sued these fuckers that do this crap.
If you RTFA they are considering bandwidth caps, right now it is still unlimited. I'd assume if they do add caps they'd stop marketing it as "unlimited", or maybe they won't, who knows? There's no reason to throw a tantrum about it right now though.

Good luck with your lawsuit.

Re:Lawsuit (3, Interesting)

Lord Apathy (584315) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337772)

Get a grip dude. I read the article. Actually I read about it in several places. My argument is not really about bandwidth caps, but truth in advertising. They are thinking of sneaking in bandwidth caps after people have signed up. This is not right. If you sign up for one thing then they say they are changing the rules, that is bullshit. Pure and simple.

Another thing is comcast if fucking huge. If they get away with it what is to stop other providers from doing the same thing? They are basically saying here is what you can down load and here is what you can't. They are changing the contract in mid stream. You tell me what is right about that.

Re:Lawsuit (5, Interesting)

WinPimp2K (301497) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337828)

Oh come on already!
Here Comcast is (possibly) going to announce a change in their service plan so it does not say unlimited -exactly what you seem to want. And in the next sentence you are calling for a class action lawsuit. SUch a lawsuit would have the following effects:

1> really big fricken payoff for one waste of skin (lawyer)
2> maybe fifty bucks worth of discount coupons on PPV movies (you will have to spend 100 bucks to get the full value)
3> Comcast will raise their rates to show their customers who is really in charge.

For myself I would welcome the idea of a fair charge per gigabyte - My ideal would be a tiered system based on consumption similar to how my electric bill is structured. (1st 250 KWH is pretty cheap, next 750 not too bad, and beyond 1000 is highest. (Now how can I monitor my actual consumption bearin in mind that I have 5 PCs in my home network - can my router tell me how much internet bandwidth I am consuming?)

But, that is not what Comcast is doing. They are proposing a very high cap that would only affect the very highest consumers of bandwidth. Folks who have had any exposure to real American History may recall that when the Federal Income tax was introduced it was only going to affect the wealthiest 2% of the population. If Comcast goes through with this, they will just fold regular reductions in the cap into their frequent service changes and overall price hikes. (Yep we have added the Comcastic Mandarin Home SHopping Channel to your regular lineup - and this new service requires us to raise your basic cable charges by ....mumble... and (in mouseprint) your digital television service is now included in your internet bandwidth cap...

Not bad (5, Interesting)

MooseMuffin (799896) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337310)

I'm fine with that as a limit if they also agree to stop tampering with the connections of anyone not in violation of it.

Comcast has a monopoly in many markets (4, Informative)

techmuse (160085) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337314)

Note that Comcast has a monopoly on Internet access in many markets (for example, where they are the sole cable provider, and DSL is not offered.) For users in these markets, there will be no alternative provider to switch to.

Re:Comcast has a monopoly in many markets (1, Interesting)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337402)

where they are the sole cable provider, and DSL is not offered
AND WiMax is not available, AND satellite isn't possible, AND dial-up isn't available. I think if you lived in an area that remote, Comcast cable being in the ground is kind of a laughable impossibility.

Re:Comcast has a monopoly in many markets (3, Insightful)

FlyingCheese (883571) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337562)

As much as people hate Comcast, dialup isn't really an option these days. I just LOVE to wait 10 minutes for a page to load or a day or so to watch a 5 minute video.

Re:Comcast has a monopoly in many markets (3, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337572)

I think the parent probably meant monopoly on BROADBAND internet access. Dialup was never fun, but is much worse now than it was a few years ago. Satellite shouldn't even count as broadband :)

Comcast does have a monopoly on broadband in many areas.

Re:Comcast has a monopoly in many markets (3, Informative)

teflaime (738532) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337636)

dail-up is not broadband, and satellite is unusuable for anything but web-browsing due to latency. WiMax is often only available where DSL already exists as an alternative to Comcast.

Re:Comcast has a monopoly in many markets (2, Insightful)

Grokmoo (1180039) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337644)

where they are the sole cable provider, and DSL is not offered
AND WiMax is not available, AND satellite isn't possible, AND dial-up isn't available. I think if you lived in an area that remote, Comcast cable being in the ground is kind of a laughable impossibility.
None of the three options you listed provide anywhere close to the bandwidth of cable. Satellite would be the closest, but of course with that you are still using dialup for uploads and you have to deal with high latency.

I would agree that DSL is probably available in most places where cable is available. Indeed, there are plenty of rural areas where DSL is available but cable is not.

Still, it is a very common situation even in cities to have your only options for high speed internet be Comcast cable or Verizon DSL. You are basically between a rock and a hard place in that situation.

Re:Comcast has a monopoly in many markets (1)

DeadManCoding (961283) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337738)

While this may be generally true, not in my neck of the woods. I live in a small town in California, Verizon is the telco, and they don't offer DSL services, but Comcast is available. Now, that may have changed in the year since I moved here, but last time I checked, no DSL, Comcast cable only. Needless to say, trying to complete a fresh WinXP install and get patches for Warcraft takes me a day or so to complete.

Re:Comcast has a monopoly in many markets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23337882)

"Satellite would be the closest, but of course with that you are still using dialup for uploads..."

Actually, they have 2-way satellite now. The rest of the sentence was accurate however.

Re:Comcast has a monopoly in many markets (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337656)

Satellite internet is worse than dialup. In fact, a POTS modem is still required for outgoing traffic if I'm not mistaken. Sure you can get massive bandwidth but all your ping times are measured in seconds, not milliseconds.

Though I agree the OP was poorly worded: Should have been "broadband" internet, since dialup is pretty ubiquitous. Otherwise there are huge swaths of this country that Comcast currently has a monopoly on.

Re:Comcast has a monopoly in many markets (1)

syd02 (595787) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337676)

WiMax isn't mainstream yet, satellite is the broadband service for people who have been using dial-up (the latency is terrible), and dial-up is, well...dial-up. There are many areas where comcast is the only cable internet service, DSL connections are poor (if not completely unavailable, due to distance from the CO) and anything else isn't really broadband.

Re:Comcast has a monopoly in many markets (1)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337752)

You state those "alternatives" like they are even remotely comparable to broadband.

Wimax has been labelled a <a href="http://mobile.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/03/23/1512220">failure </a>. It will very likely be abandoned soon.

Satellite internet access requires that you front hundreds of dollars for service fees and initial setup, as well as purchase or lease the expensive equipment. Even then, you're likely going to be running at sub-T1 speeds at the price point that is comparable to cable. Let's not even discuss the latency issues or bad weather.

Heck, running full-throttle on an uncompressed dial-up line, you can only download about 17 GB per MONTH. 56kbit versus ~5000-10000kbit. Not even in the ballpark.

In places with no DSL, Comcast has the monopoly on broadband access.

Re:Comcast has a monopoly in many markets (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337758)

> AND WiMax is not available, AND satellite isn't possible, AND dial-up isn't available.
> I think if you lived in an area that remote, Comcast cable being in the ground is kind of a laughable impossibility.

Name one city in North America where WiMax exists today as a commercial service.

Satellite has hellish latencies that are intolerable to begin with, and made even worse by the way the satellite routers actually package the packets for uplink.

Dialup? You can't be serious. You might as well argue that mp3 players and terrestrial FM are real competition for satellite radio.

Re:Comcast has a monopoly in many markets (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337762)

If you're too far out for DSL, you're too far out for WiMax. The only possible saving grace there is someone other than the telco can put up a WiMax tower if they think it's worthwhile. But you still have to be close enough to enough other people to make it worth someone's while to server you.

It's also not really fair to pretend that dialup is the same class of service as a cable connection. It's a little like saying "Don't like Ford? Well then you can drive a moped with your 2 kids in the saddle bags." -- technically dialup is still the Internet, but it's not a viable alternative in most cases and can't seriously be considered a competing product.

I agree that satellite is available to most people that would have access to cable. But not everyone -- if I have a north-facing apartment, or live behind a hill, I can't get satellite. And other than the latency it's even a comparable product, so for people that can handle the latency (i.e. not remote terminal users or online game players) and who have a view of the southern sky, and who only need ~0.5 - 5 GB transfer per month, I agree that satellite is a viable alternative.

This is all in comparison to users in larger population centers, who likely have access to at least one DSL ISP, and may have access to FiOS, wide-area radio, metro-Ethernet, or any of several other technologies that all offer high-bandwidth, high-usage, low-latency links that are directly comparable to cable service.

Re:Comcast has a monopoly in many markets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23337920)

We have WiMax at a facility that cannot get DSL, ISDN, or T1. The tower is about 11km away according to the wimax antenna diagnostics.

Re:Comcast has a monopoly in many markets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23337802)

WiMax is very rare, and satellite and dial-up are really bad, even in comparison to Comcast cable. Sure, they're options. But it's choosing between being punched in the face by a guy who denies it and being kicked in the balls by a guy who admits it.

Re:Comcast has a monopoly in many markets (1)

Wister285 (185087) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337918)

Perhaps if you hate their "monopoly" so much and there is money to be made in these rural markets, you should do something about it. Go build your own network and profit since Comcast is so clearly doing a disservice to those people.

Having any kind of utility is a privilege that an electric company, telephone company, or Comcast paid for themselves. It is not a right. If you don't like not having the amenities that centralized urban living offers, then do something about it. Move!

Disclosure: I am a CMCSA shareholder and will be working for CMCSA in June.

Could be worse (4, Informative)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337332)

250Gb isn't that bad at all. There are some ISP's in the UK that have limits of as little as 1Gb a month.
Although most do have limits higher than that, they're rarely more than about 30Gb a month, if even that.
The few that have no caps (like Virgin) tend to throttle the fuck out of your bandwidth at peak times.
It's all a joke, really. Luckily I live near an exchange with some decent ISP's that don't have monthly caps, but it's only a matter of time I suppose.

Re:Could be worse (3, Interesting)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337518)

I actually prefer the ISPs who are up front about the cap, even if the limit is ridiculously low...
Virgin are one of the worst offenders, because like comcast they also have a cap but won't tell you what it is until you go over it and get billed or disconnected.

At least if you know up front, you can avoid such ISPs...
If leased lines were cheaper, i would consider one (true uncapped service)... In the US you can get a T1 line for around $350/month which isn't too bad for guaranteed up/down rates and business class service.

Re:Could be worse (1, Redundant)

Lord Apathy (584315) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337554)

It's not really the limit that is the issue, it is the principal of the thing. If I sign up for rated cable then that is fine. If the package says on it 250 GB a month limit, I can live with that. 250 GB is a shit load of data for a home account.

But if the damn thing say Unlimited on it then I expect it to be unlimited. Unlimited means unlimited. Even if they say that applies to online, well if I'm online I expect to be able to do something.

They may say that applies to no time limit. Well what is the difference between a time limit and a band limit? They are both limits, so its not unlimited. The word Unlimited is thrown around in internet connections to much and its real meaning is not enforced.

That is my bitch.

Re:Could be worse (1)

muffen (321442) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337604)

250Gb isn't that bad at all. There are some ISP's in the UK that have limits of as little as 1Gb a month. Although most do have limits higher than that, they're rarely more than about 30Gb a month, if even that. The few that have no caps (like Virgin) tend to throttle the fuck out of your bandwidth at peak times. It's all a joke, really. Luckily I live near an exchange with some decent ISP's that don't have monthly caps, but it's only a matter of time I suppose.
I knew the UK was quite bad, been reading about BT and all the great things they've done in order to prevent the spread of high-speed internet, but 1 - 30gigs sounds horrible.

Anyways, the issue with comcast isn't really the cap, I mean, the vast majority won't care if the DL cap is 250gigs, the only thing is, they shouldn't advertise it as unlimited if they have a cap.

However, they haven't put the cap in effect yet which means that it is unlimited right now, and if they do put it there they should inform their users and stop marketing it as unlimited.

I don't have any feeling for comcast, good or bad, since they don't exist in the country I live in. I have been reading about their throttling though and I understand it's one of the companies you are "supposed" to hate, but I don't really see what they have done wrong so far in regards to this cap. I mean, it may just be an unsubstantiated rumor, or it may be that they won't call it unlimited and any *new* user gets the cap.

Re:Could be worse (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337628)

Do the ISP's in the UK state that they have a 1GB limit or do they advertise "Unlimited Usage"?

Re:Could be worse (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337824)

It depends entirely on the ISP. Some have it quite clearly stated, others have a little * beside the word "unlimited".
Oh and EVERY SINGLE ONE of them, even the truly uncapped ones have a "fair usage" policy in their T&C's, essentially meaning they can kick you off as and when they feel like it.
I think this is true for every ISP on the planet, which is sad.

250? (5, Interesting)

Masami Eiri (617825) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337336)

Frankly, I'll be glad if they name a cap instead of this nebulous one they may or may not have, and may or may not enforce. And 250GB is pretty good, uTorrent downloads near-constantly for me, and I think I'd have trouble hitting that. That's about 8GB a day.

Re:250? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23337472)

Yeah, if real, this would be well beyond my expectations for a home connection.

Re:250? (4, Insightful)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337654)

First, this is what is known in the political world as a "trial balloon". Meaning, they are using a inside source to release the information to see it is builds traction without risk of embarrassment..

Secondly, don't think that 250 Gig per month is where they want to be. Meaning, they do not have even close the amount of bandwidth available to provide this level to their customers. What I am sure they are wanting to do, however, is to get buy in a 250G limit, and reduce that amount over time to something closer to 20G per month.

Re:250? (4, Insightful)

dsginter (104154) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337890)

And 250GB is pretty good, uTorrent downloads near-constantly for me, and I think I'd have trouble hitting that. That's about 8GB a day.

This cap is to prevent internet from taking over television delivery (which is a huge cash cow for them). 720P under H264 compression is about 3GB per hour so this would prevent the average household (e.g. - 2 or 3 televisions running for a few hours per day) from dropping their $100/month cable tv subscription.

We need anti-trust countermeasures here.

Internet television delivery is powerful. Right now, only the extremely wealthy can control the horizontal and vertical. If you plug the internet into televisions and 20 million people decide to pay a penny each to watch "Leave Britney Alone!", then someone just made $200,000.

You'll get a lot of clever content under this model. And internet speeds are getting to the point where we can start thinking about HD content to a significant amount of people.

250 GBs? (3, Funny)

UnCivil Liberty (786163) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337346)

I've heard you get an angry phone call above 100gb and have kept track of my usage via NetLimiter to stay in or around that number, looks like its time to get seeding!

Re:250 GBs? (2, Informative)

fsulawndart (860628) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337408)

I routinely use ~250gb+ a month without a problem. The only time I got an angry phone call was when I used ~500gb.

Re:250 GBs? (2, Interesting)

el_chupanegre (1052384) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337734)

I routinely use ~250gb+ a month without a problem. The only time I got an angry phone call was when I used ~500gb.

You are the exception, not the rule, and you are also the reason that the rest of us have to suffer these 'fair usage policies'.

I welcome the definition of an actual cap, then you have some kind of comeback if they say you are using it excessively, whereas at the moment you don't. Currently, if they say it's too much, it's too much.

This also empowers the consumer by giving them the information they need to make a purchase. If 2 companies advertise 'unlimited with fair usage' how do I know which one will actually cut me off first? If they both specify an actual cap, I can pick which one I'd rather go with.

An improvement (4, Insightful)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337350)

This is actually an improvement over their current model of "We have a cap, but we won't tell you what it is".

Like a previous poster said, though, if they promise unlimited, they have to deliver unlimited. They should indeed be sued for not doing so.

How to fix cable: (5, Interesting)

carambola5 (456983) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337364)

Here's how to get started on fixing our cable woes: Go to your city's website and find info on the municipal cable board. They likely meet monthly or bimonthly, and their meetings will be open to the public. Get there early and make sure someone on the board knows that you have something to say. Hopefully, there will be a local Comcast (or, in my case, Charter) representative there. During the meeting, the board will open up for public comment. At this point, make generalized claims about how Comcast is purposefully hindering innovation which is bad for the city (anecdotal evidence will likely not work here unless it supports a generalized claim... the cable board is not there to hear your personal story). Assert that maintaining a franchising agreement with Comcast is beneficial only to Comcast and that residents of your city are being unfairly price-gouged.

Now, here's the tricky part: Keep going to the meetings, asserting the same thing. Heck, try to get a group to go. Make sure the board knows that Comcast is pissing off a bunch of really smart people. This works even better if this happens in multiple cities.... the folks at the cable HQs will get these odd reports of citizens showing up at tons of municipalities and complaining.

Re:How to fix cable: (1)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337792)

That must be the most productive comment I've read this year.

If I had mod points right now, you'd get them all.

Re:How to fix cable: (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337928)

I'm confused. At what point in this procedure do you run a length of coaxial cable from the in hole to the out hole on the local cable rep and hang him in town square to send a message? I can only assume that is what the ultimate outcome of this is since bitching at someone who has you by your balls doesn't exactly accomplish much. It worked with Mussolini right, it will work here.

As long as I can pay 2X for 500GB that's cool (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337366)

If I can pay 2x my normal monthly bill for 2x the monthly quota, that's cool.

Oh, and "250GB" better be high enough to handle well over 95% of their customers or they will get pushback.

If 250GB is too low then they will need to raise it or cut prices to keep the masses from either going to DSL or grumbling to their Congressmen.

+$375 for add'l 250GB? Ouchie! (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337444)

OK I finally RTFA:

all users get a 250GB per month cap. Users would get one free "slip up" in a twelve month period, after which users would pay a $15 charge for each 10 GB over the cap they travel.
So if I use 499.9 GB in a month that's 25 x $15 = $375.

That's exorbitant.

If $50/month gets you 250 GB, then 500 GB should be $100, or less.

Tiered bandwidth pricing (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337372)

I'd be fine with this if it lead to a savings for people who don't hog huge amounts of bandwidth. That's not to assume, of course, that that's Comcast's intent...

Bad news (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23337394)

They'll start with 250GB because everyone will go, ok no big deal. Then they'll start reducing it. Once they implement this people will get screwed. Look at their track record.

250G? Pffft, try COX (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23337396)

COX has a 50GB limit. It doesn't take much to hit that. I hate it. They used to be "unlimited" but are behind the times nowadays as they impose stricter and stricter limits.

Re:250G? Pffft, try COX (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337784)

Do they actually enforce that though? I've gone over that limit by a measurable amount several times now and all I've ever heard from them is how I can save money if I bundle phone service (unneeded) and cable TV (unwanted) with my internet.

A high cap, but... (5, Insightful)

snarfies (115214) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337426)

250gb a month would be over 8gb a day, assuming a 31-day month (the worst-case scenario). I have no problem with that. I've never even come CLOSE to downloading that much.

But is this just the FIRST cap? Will the cap be lowered to 200gb six month from now? Will it be jimmied down to 150gb a year from now, with the option to pay extra for a $200gb cap? Is this, in short, the opening shot to tiered pricing?

I can't decide whether to terminate service out of principle over this move or not. It isn't like I have many options - for me its Comcast or DSL for the same price but half the speed. Verizon won't sell me FIOS no matter how much I want to hand them my money - they haven't even applied for a franchise in Philadelphia last I checked.

Re:A high cap, but... (1)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337584)

8 gigs a day is pretty good. Virgin Media throttle the hell out of you for having the gall to download a few hundred megs.

Re:A high cap, but... (1)

Wister285 (185087) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337586)

Be careful what you wish for. I had Verizon DSL in Germantown and my parents in Buckingham have it now. In Germantown, they had a habit of losing synchronization frequently at night. Apparently this may have been due to fault equipment, but I have no idea since I think I switched to Comcast in 2001. Right now my parents have Verizon DSL in Buckingham and it cuts out when you pick up the phone. How can they sell service like this? Also, Verizon blocks certain ports such as Port 80. I'd rather have a bandwidth cap that I will probably never have a problem than actual functionality restrictions.

I switched to Comcast and never looked back. In my experience, their service is phenomenal and I have no desire to switch.

Disclosure: I am a CMCSA shareholder and will being working for CMCSA in June.

Re:A high cap, but... (1)

JaiWing (469698) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337926)

How can they get away with blocking port 80? I can see this happening a few thousands times
"Hello, Customer Abuse? Yes, I don't seem to be able to get to ANY website... Yes I get mail in my outlook express/thunderbird, yes ping works ..."


Heavy usage? (3, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337428)

250GB equates to just over 800kbit/sec over a month, or well under 1mbit.
Now i wouldn't have an issue if that's how the service was sold (800kb service, burstable to 10mb or whatever)... But ISP marketing tries to make the service out to be something it's not. And then have the nerve to complain when people try to actually use what they thought they were buying.

Re:Heavy usage? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23337874)

not really

Thats 8 GB a DAY people, or 800 kbps 24/7! (2, Informative)

nweaver (113078) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337446)

Thats a HELL of a lot of porn/pirated material.

8 GB a day is a crapload of data.

In fact, thats 800 kbps SUSTAINED USAGE, 24/7!

Anyone shifting that much data is probably violating a huge number of TOS clauses anyway.

Re:Thats 8 GB a DAY people, or 800 kbps 24/7! (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337878)

I think the issue is not current usage so much as future usage. If I want to use my big honking 10Mbps connection to stream HD video, I'll use that 8GB/day up in no time flat watching movies and TV. As the bandwidth goes up, new high-bandwidth uses will arise. A heavily compressed 1080p movie will fit in 6GB, and that will fit down a 10Mbps tube - but people will demand higher quality as their pipe gets bigger.

But Comcast will be more than happy to stream you HD video over their own network for their PPV service :) God forbid I watch 3 hours of non-Comcast HD television per day!

Outliers & Liars (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337468)

Reader Acererak points that it would take some pretty heavy usage (by current standards) to hit the cap described.
It's easy to say that if you're not one of the outliers. It's within Comcast's right to introduce this cap. And I'm sure they'll let it sit there as Netflix streams and iPod video become more and more popular. Or they'll even lower it by pure logic of it being only a need of 3% of the populace so who cares if we piss them off? If it helps the other 97% maybe it isn't such a bad idea.

It kind of confuses me though. We're already capped on our upload/download rates and since we pay them like a service we should pay them based on the rate of that service. Garbage, Cable TV and Water are rates I pay monthly that never change. Power is different but Cable TV is pretty much equivalent to cable internet ... are they going to limit the total amount of TV I can air in my home?

Comcast lies anyway. I don't trust them any further than I can throw their entire infrastructure. We paid a premium on bandwidth for 3 months and were supposed to be getting 15 Mbps download speed (as opposed to the standard which is 5 Mbps). After several problems with lag between me and my three other roommates, we started doing periodic tests. Averaged around 1.2 Mbps download daily. So we called them and they told us our signal strength sucked. So fix it. Oh, they couldn't. Not only could they not fix it, they couldn't refund us the premium we paid. But they could offer us the 5 Mbps download rate .... after which we change to that it remained at 1.2 Mbps download. What else could we do? There's no competition in cable internet.

Liars that don't give a damn about the end consumer. You'll be lucky if the 250 GB doesn't include your digital TV as download or even if they agree to their contractual terms.

Right now, I can't say I have a problem with this (2, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337484)

That limit would be generous for the vast majority of their users, and you can always get another provider. Keep in mind that the people they're targeting with this are using up more bandwidth than some higher cost business accounts. If you want unlimited bandwidth per month, then buy a more expensive plan.

Weird... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23337498)

While living in Boston, I hit 650GB in March, and Comcast didn't say SHIT.

The problem isn't a limit, or charge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23337502)

It's AMOUNT they're charging for going over the limit. $1.50 per gigabyte over the limit is completely unreasonable. If I'm paying $50 for 250 GB, then the price should be $.20 per gigabyte. Even if they want to make it a punishment, then upping it to say $.50 might still be considered reasonable.

This will limit new uses of the Internet (5, Insightful)

techmuse (160085) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337504)

One of the scary things about this is that it will make new, high bandwidth, applications of the Internet infeasible. If you had been asked what was a reasonable amount of data to download 3 or 4 years ago, you would probably give a much lower value than you do today. Why? You would not have been using many of the services that you do now, because they simply did not exist. Modern services are much more video and audio intensive. Ads take much more bandwidth than they used to. We are seeing a transition of services traditionally provided by the cable companies, such as streaming of television programs, moving to the Internet. Calls on Skype now support high quality video. Software distributed over the Internet (for example, the latest version of your favorite Linux distribution) can easily run close to a gigabyte per instance. You can imagine that new applications will follow soon that we haven't imagined yet. Comcast is attempting to do the following:

1) Eliminate unprofitable users. These are users who do more than just check their e-mail and surf the web. These are the ones who actually *use* their connections Rather than investing in infrastructure, Comcast simply wants to get rid of anyone that it doesn't make money on.

2) Eliminate competition with its own cable offerings. If you can watch the latest news from CNN or TV shows from NBC streamed *from* CNN or NBC, then you don't need to pay $60 / month for cable TV. This is a major threat to Comcast, and they are trying to make it infeasible.

3) Gain consumer acceptance of limits, then lower them later. The cable companies have a history of raising prices 5-10% per year (much greater than inflation). They can do to this because they have monopoly power in many markets. You can expect Comcast to behave in a similar manner with data. Want to fight back? Do you have many alternative providers? If not, you are stuck.

Re:This will limit new uses of the Internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23337910)

4. Earn a profit. (a reasonable thing to want)

Meaningless? (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337506)

Isn't this like telling an unpaid intern they are getting a 10000000% raise? I mean, Comcast can advertise whatever bandwidth they want, but if they have a de facto packet shaper on any traffic that would actually use this bandwidth (i.e. torrents, streaming video), then it's all moot.

Actually ... sounds ... reasonable ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23337508)

Let's see, I've been paying the same rate that I've been paying for cable Internet for the past seven years. In that time my connection has improved from 1.5 Mbps to 16 Mbps. Actually, I do pay $10 more per month for the 16 Mbps service, but even without that the bandwidth has increased dramatically, and at no cost to the user.

The proposed cap is 250 GB/month. As the article mentions, that is a fairly hefty cap and would require a good amount of effort to actually hit it. Above 250 GB/month, it's $15 for each additional 10 GB. According to the article only about 14,000 of all Comcast subscribers would actually exceed this cap.

And for those who claim that Comcast should be sued for their use of the word "unlimited", you'll find that to be a waste of time. The context of the word means a lot more than the word, which is why most advertisers tack on a term like "virtually". The courts pretty much always find in the favor of the business on these matters because the business is not making any specific promises to you.

Ludicrous bandwidth caps and no customer service (4, Interesting)

Walpurgiss (723989) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337520)

They just cut me off 2 weeks ago without notice for bandwidth 'abuse.' It was pretty stupid. Somehow I had roughly 120GB used in the month, on a 3Mbps plan. I didn't even care that there's no way even with PSN stuff going on that I could have used that much, just the fact my unlimited always on internet is not unlimited, and that I don't deserve notice of disconnection even by phone bothers me.

I'm no mathematician, but my math says:
3Mbps / 8 = 375KBps
60s * 60min * 24h * 28d = 2419200s/month
375KBps * 2419200s = 907200000KB/month
Which is roughly 865GB.
At their advertised speed, if one were to actually be able to saturate it for their billing period, would be able to transfer 865GB of data. But they cut people for using 1/8th to 1/4th of that.
And they don't just cut you off, but you get a nifty 12 month ban from their internet service. The least they could have done is call me and tell me something, rather than me having to go into their office 2 days later and be told that they can't tell me anything and that I have to call their corporate office.

The first step is the important one (1)

Kenrod (188428) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337526)

It doesn't matter if the cap is Eleventy zillion GB. All that matters is that customers accept the idea of a cap, or a tiered usage system, or additional costs for exceeding a cap. Comcast will eventually lower the cap to the point where profit is maximized and "problem" customers like it or lump it.

Metered service is not inherently evil (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337892)

Supposed they lowered their cap to 50GB a month, with $0.20/GB for each additional GB.
Suppose they also lowered their price for below-the-cap customers to $9.99.

Would that be a bad thing? No, it would be a good thing.

They would attract the low-volume customers from DSL, who in turn would probably stay with them for TV and might go with them for phone.

People who were using bandwidth frivolously would cut back.

Those who are willing to pay for it would pay for it. The 10Mb/sec power user who needs 3,000 GB/month will gladly shell out $600 for his service.

The only downside to Comcast is that their existing low-volume users will get a significant price cut. On the upside, that's good for public relations.

Comcast Insiders (2, Interesting)

Provos (20410) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337570)

...Given that 'unnamed comcast insiders' have generally been right about what comcast is doing or planning on doing next, even when comcast refuses to address or acknowledge an issue, is there any good reason to doubt this?

It's a comcastrophe!!! (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337576)

What I hate is their ability to run ads for nothing on their local channels. I'm so fed up with talking turtles, I can't even enjoy Gamera movies anymore and that bitch doesn't talk, he just shoots fire out of his limb holes.

There are only two possibilities here... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23337618)

If (as TFA says) 250Gb is an ungodly large amount that hardly anyone could possibly exceed - then what does Comcast have to gain by hitting a tiny number of extreme users?

If (on the other hand) Comcast expects to gain more revenue by doing this than they'll lose by pissing off more typical users then TFA is wrong and it's not all that unlikely that you'll exceed the limits.

Playing team fortress 24/7 is unlikely. Loading one HDTV movie per day is unlikely. But playing team fortress 8 hours a day and downloading a movie every couple of days - plus some other activity - is not at all unlikely for a family with several geek-type kids.

I wonder what their TOS says?

Why gripe? (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337670)

Comcast advertises "unlimited" and shows household use that will never add up to 250 GB which is more like DL two full length DVDs each day.

The contract is month-to-month (minus equipment lock-in), either party can leave.

Sorry, I have no sympathy for hogs and lots for those on shared circuits whose traffic gets squeezed.

Contract Void (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337858)

Actually if you had signed up for "Unlimited Usage" plan under their advertisement, you are pretty much sue them to fulfill their contractual obligations.
Contract Law states one party cannot unilaterally change the terms of the contract, and if done, the contract is void.
Either you can sue them to fulfill their terms, OR you can get out of a contract plan easily.

what? (1)

WoggyMumma (1215972) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337682)

jesus christ, what kind of home user uses 250GB a month anyway? Over here in Sydney we have a 20GB/month cap for a family of 6, 4 of which are very active internet users. A couple of years ago we managed on a 3GB cap (wasn't fun though)!

Precedent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23337690)

The only thing I'm worried about is Comcast setting a high cap only to taper it down later. Since more websites are using large amounts of media content, this could become a problem when you have to watch an advertisement video to check your email.

So does Comcast own the infrastructure, or what? Why isn't there competition?

They forgot something in their calculations (3, Insightful)

Se7enLC (714730) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337692)

250GB is a lot for ONE person to download in a month...... I could be wrong, but I would guess that most Comcast cable connections are to houses and apartments with MORE THAN ONE person living in them!

With 6 people sharing cable, that impossible-to-reach 250GB turns into a paltry 42GB. Or about 1.4 gigs a day. It would be very easy to accidentally hit that if you watch videos online.

I hope that they plan to tiered service like cell phone companies. Ideally with automatic tiering - so rather than paying ridiculous overage charges per-GB, you just pay for the price of the next tier. (as in, up to 250GB is $X a month, 300GB is $X+$Y/month, etc)

Well this is awkward (1)

Alystair (617164) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337700)

I never thought there would be a day where I'd say "damn those guys at Comcast have it lucky". We have 10mbit from Rogers and just got a letter that they will implementing a monthly cap of only 98GB/m and $1/GB after that. Calculating the maximum speed one can go before hitting that limit... is only 302kbit/s, non-stop (up and down), in comparison to Comcast's 771kbit/s. Bah.

What's the big deal? (1)

NoSCO (858498) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337704)

Here in the UK I am limited to 20gb a month (hard cap), with my provider of choice (Zen). While I can buy additional packs of 10, 20 or 50gb for very reasonable prices, I have never in 7 years with this provider needed to do so. Despite being a heavy p2p user, web surfer, code developer and downloader of various ISOs, updates and so forth, I've never gone beyond 17gb a month.

I think people complaining 250gb is insufficient need a reality check as to what that amount of data actually constitutes. Either that or you're not doing 'residential' stuff on your residential cable service, and should perhaps look into getting a professional connection.

1/2 a terabyte a month (3, Informative)

Jonah Hex (651948) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337774)

I've gotten calls two different months, the first because I used over half a terabyte one month, the other because I was in the top 10% of bandwidth users for that month. Both times they wouldn't give me a clear answer on what the cap is, and threatened that another violation would get my cable suspended for a year. Screw 250 gigs a month, I can't live with those limits in my household of torrent users. Why haven't I switched already? Comcast has a monopoly at my apartment complex and I'm moving to a WOW supported house.

Jonah HEX

Stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23337794)

Complain and see what you get America.
You won fight these companies, you wont stand up to your government and all you do is whine..
Its time to take back freedom for the people who have stolen it from you. Comcast advertises unlimited its time to force the issue. Dont sit there and whine.

Official statements (3, Informative)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337826)

From the Slash article:

Bear in mind, too, that these reports are based on the word of an unnamed "insider," rather than an officially announced policy.

A report that Comcast was considering limits on monthly use appeared in the online tech forum BroadbandReports.com and was confirmed Wednesday by the company.
Ref: http://news.wired.com/dynamic/stories/C/COMCAST_INTERNET_CAP?SITE=WIRE&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2008-05-07-17-42-22 [wired.com]

Throttling (1)

vthokie69 (549779) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337844)

If heavy bandwidth usage is becoming such a problem, I don't understand why they can't just throttle the heavy users once they reach a certain daily or monthly amount of bandwidth. They could also throttle all users during heavy times on longer downloads. There are so many options they could use that don't include putting caps and cutting people off or charging them more once they've hit the cap.

I Don't Care What They "Announce". (1)

blcamp (211756) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337856)

I just discontinued their service for good two months ago.

I don't trust them. I don't believe them. My personal "experience" with their service has been a horrible one.

As a Cable TV provider, they used their local monopoly status in my area and offered only two base packages: either the locals + public access filler for $16, which prices got jacked up nearly every single month; or, you could get an "everything except Premium or PPV" package for far too much (65+ at last check), which also kept going up every month. Both were out of line IMHO.

It's also my observation and opinion that as an ISP, they are among the most shadiest of "providers". Better watch out - will they define that 250GB cap as most hard drive manufacturers do, as 250 billion... or will it be the more technically correct 250 * (1024 ^ 2)?

Will there be other restrictions in the fine print (like banning WHAT THEY BELIEVE TO BE P2P outright, regardless of the actual source) which make even acheiving 250GB impossible?

For those of you happy with this outfit, more power to you. I believe, however, they're not the most upstanding of companies. Call up customer service and get a $2 "agent fee" on your next bill?! Ridiculous! Make a payment in person and get the same thing?! Asinine. Service goes down... do you get a credit? Nope.

When I decided to disconnect, I had to call two additional times to make sure they actually did disconnect, and wouldn't try to charge me for continued service even after I requested cancellation. Two weeks later I got a call asking me to "return their modem and other Comcast-owned equipment". Problem was, the modem I used belonged to me, and I never had any other set-top boxes or other hardware of theirs.

I Don't Care What They "Announce". They can say they cured the common cold for all I care... I'll never do business with them again.

They suck... in my own personal opinion, of course.

SOP for Comcast (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 5 years ago | (#23337948)

To those who are complaining that they paid for unlimited usage and are now being told there is a limit, you should not be surprised. Nor should you be surprised that Comcast will not lower your monthly bill to make up for the loss of unlimited usage.

Comcast, because it has a monopoly in most areas it operates, does these kind of stunts on a regular basis. In my case, a year or so ago they stopped carrying two channels which were part of their Basic/Standard cable package. The one channel I really liked was out of New York (I live in Central PA) so I got to see news and such I wouldn't normally see.

When I called to inquire if there was a problem, I was told by the nice lady on the phone that Comcast had dropped the channel because it was "out of area service". Which is funny because they had been carrying that channel for at least a decade.

I asked if they were going to replace the channel with something else. Comcast had not decided on any replacement channel. Would my bill be reduced by the amount equal to the last channel? No, Comcast was not going to lower my bill. "I'm sorry you won't be able to see the Mets games sir."

"I don't care about Mets games. I just wanted to see the news out of New York."

"You can always get the WB on channel 12 sir."

"I don't care about the WB. I just wanted to see the news out of New York."

A few months later, I, and everyone else, get notice that Comcast is raising their cable rates because of all the extra channels and services they were going to provide. I called their 800 number (again) and asked the guy on the phone what new channels I would be getting for this increase in price.

"Oh, that only applies to our premium service sir. The Basic/Standard service is not affected."

"So in other words, I'm paying more but not only not getting anything in return, I've lost channels in the process."

Silence for a few moments

"Yes sir. Would you like to upgrade to our Premium service to take advantage of what we have to offer?"

"Thanks but no thanks."

So there you have it. This is what happens when there is a monopoly of service in an area. It's Econ 101 in action. No competition = higher prices and less service.

I'm just hanging on until the end of BSG then the subscription gets dropped. That extra $600 a year will come in handy.
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