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Comcast Launches Broadband Meter

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the cap-and-do-not-trade dept.

Networking 199

nlawalker writes "Beginning on Tuesday, January 12, Comcast high-speed internet users in Washington state will have access to an online tool that displays their bandwidth usage for the most recent three calendar (not billing) months of usage, including the current month. Washington is the second market to receive access to the tool, following its introduction in Portland. 'For the fraction of less than 1 percent of our customers who are concerned about exceeding our excessive use threshold, we believe this meter will help them monitor and calibrate their usage,' said spokesman Steve Kipp. Perhaps those who aren't using 250GB a month should take it as a challenge."

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Honey... (1, Insightful)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744362)

> Perhaps those who aren't using 250GB a month should take it as a challenge.

"Honey, I have been to that new page on Comcast site and I realized that we are using only 0.5 GB of bandwidth a month while we are paying for 250 GB, we need to find a way to make this more profitable, download more recipe books and travel agency pamphlets, I don't know, but we have to find some way. Maybe we should just forward emails with silly jokes or hoaxes to more friends..."

"Let's phone that nerdy guy we know to ask him what we can do about this..."

Metering the "unlimited"? (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744620)

"Honey, I have been to that new page on Comcast site and I realized that we are using only 0.5 GB of bandwidth a month while we are paying for 250 GB, we need to find a way to make this more profitable, download more recipe books and travel agency pamphlets, I don't know, but we have to find some way.

Or just watch a few HQ videos, participate in some [legit] torrents, etc. We easily go far past 250GB per month on our fiber connection (which is uncapped, unthrottled, etc.). Of course, a couple of kids help to push the usage up, but I do enough by myself: last November, I uploaded more than 250GB of Ubuntu torrent. Downloads of various kinds pushed our throughput to well over double that.

Does Comcast still advertise it as an "unlimited" service?

Re:Metering the "unlimited"? (2, Interesting)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744784)

No. I think they stopped calling it unlimited two or three years ago.

Re:Metering the "unlimited"? (1)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744896)

Hello AliasMarlowe, I was talking about yourself in my OP, I knew that you would come up with a solution very quickly, Many thanks !!! ;-))

> "Let's phone that nerdy guy we know to ask him what we can do about this..."

All You Can Eat (2, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744958)

Fine print is a common business practice, only because people are so unreasonable sometimes. I ran a restaurant where we had all you can eat specials, and we had to put a little fine print to say you couldn't stay longer than two hours, since the first weekend a couple of people stayed for nearly four hours, and then tried to refuse to leave.

Or just watch a few HQ videos, participate in some [legit] torrents, etc. We easily go far past 250GB per month on our fiber connection (which is uncapped, unthrottled, etc.)

250GB is more than eight days of Netflix movies streaming, or two months of non-stop standard def Youtube watching, or downloading 64,000 songs. If you're hitting the upper limit, you probably don't mind spending another $30 for the "premium" no cap services, and if you're running a business from home, you'll need to pay for that kind of service.

I do not support a commercially owned last mile, but this is really a non issue for most people.

Re:All You Can Eat (1)

trentblase (717954) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745376)

What, exactly, is unreasonable about expecting something that was promised? If I came into your restaurant, ate some food, and then decided I wasn't hungry, would you accept partial payment? I guess I should print a *payment subject to hunger* clause on my fat pants.

I agree that 250GB is a non-issue for most people. So why wasn't Comcast just upfront about the cap to begin with? I guess if they are advertising the cap now, it's better for everyone.

Thanks for telling how I should use the internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745680)

"250GB is more than eight days of Netflix movies streaming"

At some crappy resolution, sure. In high-def terms, that's more like 25 high def movies.

But I'll play. A couple of us run audio streams 12-15 hours a day each. We'll blow through gigabytes easily like that.

"If you're hitting the upper limit, you probably don't mind spending another $30 for the "premium" no cap services"

Cute, but if you were to y'know... ACTUALLY CHECK WITH COMCAST, you'll find there is no such thing. But that was nice of you to seem to reasonable when in fact you're pretty clueless and don't mind pushing your usage patterns on the rest of us an defining it as normal.

Do you work for Comcast?

Re:Thanks for telling how I should use the interne (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30746146)

Actually, Comcast is in a pretty good position to know the normal data usage patterns. Much better than you are, for certain. Just sayin.

Re:All You Can Eat (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30746200)

Comcast said:

'For the fraction of less than 1 percent of our customers who are concerned about exceeding our excessive use threshold, we believe this meter will help them monitor and calibrate their usage,'

copponex said:

Fine print is a common business practice, only because people are so unreasonable sometimes.

Thank god someone is standing up for the poor, downtrodden multibillion dollar corporations.

Does anyone wonder why big business feels they can treat consumers like crap with impunity?

Old... (0)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744398)

In Canada I had this service on my DSL seven years ago, and my cable internet has had it for the last three years at least. (Not that I ever view it. I figure I can plead ignorance if I don't and they complain. HAHA)

Re:Old... (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744434)

Whenever I go to view mine it always comes up to 0.

Which either means that the system doesn't work, or my computer can majestically use the internet without any bandwidth cost at all.

Either way - if they complain that I go over, I'll just take my printscreen and be like "NO I'M NOT. LOOK!"

Re:Old... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30744840)

I doubt there is anything noble about your computer's use of the internet. Magical maybe, but likely not very majestic.

Re:Old... (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744962)

Which either means that the system doesn't work, or my computer can majestically use the internet without any bandwidth cost at all.

Probably the latter, because come on.

Re:Old... (4, Interesting)

iamsolidsnk (862065) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744844)

Also, if you own a Linksys WRT54G model router, of most firmware variations, you can get custom firmware that will track WLAN usage. It was quite handy when I had to pick a broadband connection plan when I moved to a new state.

Old Tech (0)

muphin (842524) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744430)

This has been available in Australia for all broadband AND dial up plans for years.. i dont see why Comcast has taken so long to give its users access to a monitoring tool.

its usually close to the end of the billing month you check your usage and then try and make up the difference :)

Transpacific bandwidth (4, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744584)

Transfer caps are disclosed, enforced, and comparatively low in New Zealand and Australia because transpacific bandwidth is so expensive. I think the perceived lack of caps in U.S. ISP has something to do with the fact that popular web sites are hosted on the same continent as Comcast's customers, so no one has to pay for transpacific bandwidth.

Re:Transpacific bandwidth (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745404)

I don't buy that, an OC-768 module doesn't cost that much and the $300M cost for the 5 pair "Unity" cable shows a capital cost of about 1.5M per gbps of transpacific bandwidth or about 100GB/$ over a 5 year cable life and that's the most expensive backhaul bandwidth out there.

Monopoly rents (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745552)

Price trends down toward cost only in a competitive environment. Things like last mile bandwidth or transpacific bandwidth are a lot closer to a monopoly or oligopoly because of the $300 million entry barrier, and monopolists collect rents.

Re:Monopoly rents (2)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745764)

Even with an unbelievable return on average equity of 80% per year that's still 25GB/$ and since most people pay around $30-$50/month for broadband that comes out to about 750GB-1.25TB per month. ISP's claiming that they must impose ridiculous caps like 25GB/month due to "high transatlantic costs" are being seriously disingenuous.

Re:Old Tech (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744608)

i dont see why Comcast has taken so long to give its users access to a monitoring tool.

Because they didn't have a cap before. With no limit, knowing how much you've used has limited utility.

Re:Old Tech (2, Interesting)

SCPRedMage (838040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745280)

Actually, if you RTFA, they've had the 250GB cap since October 2008, which was established after users complained for getting cut off for passing some threshold Comcast made up but refused to disclose. Or rather, they disclosed that there WAS a cap, but wouldn't disclose what it was.

Re:Old Tech (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745356)

yes they want to change the US mind set, make every packet golden, like Australia, Nz.
The last gasp of a big rustbelt bell's and other telcos.
Start your own community efforts and by pass the evil telco with their living in "Australia" packet profits.
If your state has a ban, unban it :
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/01/municipal-fiber-needs-more-fdr-localism-fewer-state-bans.ars [arstechnica.com]
Run for any local office, then move up your state political ladder, exposing the lock in and lock out of telco options :)
Name and shame the bribes, the theft and kickbacks, shine a bright light at the hidden telco lobby.

Re:Old Tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30744614)

I thought the same thing ("why is this news, my ISP has done this for years") but then read TFA.

"In October 2008, the company began limiting residential broadband customers to 250 gigabytes of data usage per month. Before that, the company had periodically cut off service to people using too much broadband, but hadn't specified an amount, drawing complaints that it was throttling users."

So they didn't need to have a data meter before October 2008 but did after then. What I don't understand though is why they didn't introduce a data meter in October 2008 when they changed their policy.

Someone's not doing their share! (4, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744464)

Perhaps those who aren't using 250GB a month should take it as a challenge.

Perhaps those who aren't using 250GB a month should start sharing more porn! Darn leechers!

Re:Someone's not doing their share! (4, Insightful)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744932)

Perhaps those who aren't using 250GB a month should start sharing more porn! Darn leechers!

Perhaps those who aren't using anywhere near 250GB a month should start paying less.

If the price is a flat $45 (or whatever) for unlimited use, that is fine. But if they can quantify usage and affix a more specific pricing scheme to it over and above 250GB of usage, then they can due the same but in reverse for usage under 250GB a month. But they won't. This isn't about fairness or network congestion, it is about making as much money as possible, nothing more.
Opinion of Comcast and Time Warner: "Some folks download a lot and will continue to do so, so let's wring every last penny from them!!! What are they gonna do, get some crappy DSL connection? Haha, let's see them get comparable download speeds. Some of them can't get DSL at all. Screw 'em, it isn't like we have competition. Oh, and we should probably raise TV rates again, just for the hell of it (but no reason to improve service). Thank you, local monopolies!"

Re:Someone's not doing their share! (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745708)

Perhaps those who aren't using anywhere near 250GB a month should start paying less.

It doesnt work that way. They are already paying for what the average person uses. Thats what the cost is based on.

Re:Someone's not doing their share! (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745918)

It doesnt work that way. They are already paying for what the average person uses. Thats what the cost is based on.

You're implying that Comcast is only interested in recouping its own costs and expenses. That's just silly. Comcast is not some philanthropic do-gooder non-profit organization. It will charge whatever the market can bear (or whatever it can get away with).

Re:Someone's not doing their share! (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30746194)

The price that the average person will bear is in fact related to their usage.

Re:Someone's not doing their share! (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 4 years ago | (#30746136)

that's a great point, and actually something the FCC (FTC?) should take notice of. Competition would result in price reduction according to cost of service. If Comcast is now providing cost or usage data (which should be translatable to cost) and they don't provide reduced price options to customers, it's demonstrating the fact that the current price fixing structure is more than just a theory.

Convenient (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30744466)

"Here's a fake metric that has no meaningful relation to what we're going to bill you for."

On a side note pfsense keeps track of this for you, and I'm fairly certain the majority of those cheap shit Linksys or Dlink "routers" do as well. You can even match them to your billing cycle. Yay.

Re:Convenient (1)

_merlin (160982) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744768)

That won't help you all that much. Not all traffic contributes to your usage for the purposes of billing. For example, on Internode in Australia, downloading from Internode's software mirror archive or watching ABC streaming TV doesn't contribute to billed usage, so you'd need to do some funky configuration of your router to account for that.

Thanks mine is unlimited... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30744476)

As I DL around 50 GBs each day thanks to megaupload premium, God bless those BR ríps...

or... (2, Interesting)

mikey177 (1426171) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744498)

you can also go online and download one of many broadband meters... who knows there meter could be rigged to show you using more bandwidth then you really are just to give you a reason to overcharge you.

Re:or... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30744582)

I'm sure you will be really successful arguing that you are at 249gb when they show you at 251.

Comcast has always been know for their level-headed, even-handed approach to customer service.

Re:or... (2, Informative)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744830)

Their traffic meter will almost definitely show more traffic than anything you install on your PC, because they measure on their end and you're measuring on yours. I'm sure some people can explain why better than I can (because I can't think of anything except packet loss), but for some reason there's always more data being transmitted than being received (and most home users do more receiving than transmitting).

Whats the big deal? (1, Interesting)

onepwr (1630081) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744576)

So comcast puts up bandwidth usage per user online... We used to do that for all ISDN/POTS dialup clients over 10 years back when I used to work for an ISP. Granted comcast has userbase much much larger than that, but unless I missed something their auth is via PPPoE which probably has a radius backend of sorts so it should be hard to get the InOctets/OutOctets per users modem and push them into a database. So whats the hue and cry about (at least technically?)....Is'nt this something real simple for a company the size of comcast? Of course, they may not want you to see what your usage is but thats purely a biz thing to keep users in the dark before getting shafted by comcast.

Re:Whats the big deal? (3, Insightful)

assemblyronin (1719578) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744656)

On the Technical side, this isn't any major feat. You're correct.

However, this is a tool that they'll start using to socially condition people into tiered plans. Imagine an ad from comcast in the near future, "Be Green! Lower your monthly usage! To find out how, check our Tips and Tricks section, and track your online usage using our 'IntelliGreen Online Usage Tracker'*"

*use of the IntelliGreen Online Usage Tracker will count toward your monthly usage cap at 1/2 the byte rate because it's Green!

Re:Whats the big deal? (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744736)

Back to T1s, DS1s, and unbridled fun.

Maybe NBC downloads are exempt.

Re:Whats the big deal? (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744816)

that's my personal favorite these sights not only use tons of ads, javascript, and images so they come in at a couple of megabytes to down load, they are often on the companies servers in a mass pool in another state.

the next thing they like to say is that emails are small. I guess they don't get spam which contains images (which if you download to your local email program gets charged to your account. I guess they don't get up mouse over ads that are a half a meg in size.

the web of 1999 is what comcast is using to measure todays content.

Re:Whats the big deal? (1)

assemblyronin (1719578) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745040)

So true, and..

the web of 1999 is what comcast is using to measure todays content.

And their delivering it all on the infrastructure of 1994 (this is what gets me angry mostly).

Re:Whats the big deal? (1)

TrancePhreak (576593) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745632)

It would take 512000 mouseover ads of that magnitude to use up the bandwidth.

Re:Whats the big deal? (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745664)

We've been demanding this ever since they started harassing heavy users. What's your problem?

Re:Whats the big deal? (1)

gsarnold (52800) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744880)

The only real point to this is keeping their cable TV business viable. (IMHO, of course.)

Summary for this posting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30744602)

Comcast, what a bunch of asshats.

It's all about timing (4, Funny)

maino82 (851720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744632)

In college (I went to Penn State) they had a similar monitor that would update and show you if you were getting close to, or had already exceeded the limits for the month. After the first infraction in a semster, they'd cut you back to dialup speeds for about a week, then at the second infraction, for the rest of the semester, and after the third (assuming you could even get there at dialup speeds) you were cut off. My friends and I took this as a challenge, so we were always trying to get as close to the download limit without going over, even people who otherwise would not download much at all. I would anticipate this will only encourage similar behavior.

Re:It's all about timing (3, Interesting)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744802)

Haha, I'm currently at Penn State. They just upped the bandwidth limit this year - we now get a whole 10GB :)

And yea, there are all kinds of ways to get around the system. I'm not sure about Comcast and how they're measuring it, but Penn State only measured bandwidth out of their network - and they also had a proxy run by 'Academic Services and Emerging Technology', so people always just use that. Since your traffic is only going to the proxy, which is on the PSU network, anything that goes through that proxy doesn't count against your limit. And then there's always the wireless network - they try to make it unavailable in the residence halls, but you can get it in a lot of them, and they don't count your bandwidth on the wireless network.

As a final thought: What I thought they meant when I read the article was that they were creating a physical broadband meter. That I would actually think would be a good idea. I mean if you're going to limit how much people can use, you should give them a simple way to measure it. And what's better than something similar to the water/gas/electric meter they're already used to? Of course it'd be inside near their computer, but if you're going to limit or charge for bandwidth, that's the only fair thing to do.

Re:It's all about timing (2, Insightful)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744894)

10GB? I call that "Thursday afternoon with nothing to do."

Re:It's all about timing (2, Informative)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745228)

Haha, I know. But last year it was 4GB. Now _that_ was painful.

Re:It's all about timing (1)

FrankieBaby1986 (1035596) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745218)

Which campus are you at? I work for Rescom @ Penn State, University Park. Last I checked, bandwidth limits are 4Gb per week. Despite that the literature says 4 GigaBytes ('Gibibytes'...ugh), they mean SI Giga -Bytes.

Re:It's all about timing (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745422)

Yea, I'm at UP. The literature says 4GB, but it's been increased, they just haven't updated that yet.

http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2009/12/27/university_doubles_bandwidth_l.aspx [psu.edu]

Also go to the rescom 'bandwidth used' page - the scale now goes up to 10, rather than 4.

Re:It's all about timing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745884)

Sure you can have a bandwidth monitor device. Its the size of a fridge, unnecessarily loud and limits your connections to 512kbps. But it will show you half of your current usage!

Re:It's all about timing (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744892)

I remember back when I was on another ADSL provider that had pretty strict limits (10 GB a month a few years ago), me and some friends that were on the same provider would push that limit as far as we could. They had a traffic meter that reset at midnight on the first of the month, and if you went over 10 GB (up+down) you were set back to below dialup speeds. The good part was they could only change your speed when you weren't connected, and you could stay online for 36 hours before your connection was broken and your ip renewed.

So around noon on the second-to-last day of the month, when our traffic meter was at 9.9 GB, we'd reconnect so we'd have the entire 36 hours of interwebz remaining, and turn on as many downloads as we could from as many sources as we could (you know, linux distros and other legal stuff). The 3.3Mbit connection allowed for approximately 400kB/s of download traffic, which gave us about 50 GB of traffic in those 36 hours.

My personal record with that provider was over 90 GB, when I started the whole thing 72 hours before the end of the month and they didn't change my speed during the few seconds it took to reconnect (dozens of torrents and download managers hammering the router for some juicy juicy internet). Of course, the next month me and my friends tried this again, and many of us experienced the longest 36 hours of our lives.

It all seems kind of funny now, realizing that last week I downloaded the Orange Box from Steam because I was too lazy to reach, grab the DVD and put it in the drive. I'm glad I don't have a traffic limit anymore, even though the speeds still suck (4 Mbit/s down, 512kbit/s up).

Re:It's all about timing (1)

Paradigm_Complex (968558) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744974)

I would anticipate this will only encourage similar behavior.

I expect a similar ultimate result - more bandwidth usage - but for a different reason. People don't have to worry about going over the limit without realizing it - they no longer have to keep any sort of margin of error. They're free to use every last drop of service they're paying for without worry of accidentally going over and getting punished.

I've had, uhh, "husky" friends who went on diet and exercise regiments that worked quite well *before* they started counting calories and setting hard limits. The idea of "well, I'm not actually hungry so I shouldn't push it and eat this" didn't cross their mind - it became "well, I'm allowed another 500calories today, let's have desert!" Conversely, "I think I can go around another block or two" didn't cross their minds, it became "well, that's it, I jogged as far as I was supposed to." Both the friends I'm talking about did eventually lose the weight (and one of them got a girlfriend!), but it clearly took longer then necessary and was an over-all more painful experience. From what I'm told, that extra bit of pleasure from stuffing yourself with desert doesn't counter the feeling from when you look down at the scale and fail to recognize improvement.

While plenty of Comcasts customers don't really understand mechanics such as bandwidth, I fully expect those who do to follow a similar logic to those of the aforementioned friends and use everything they can because they know they can.

Sounds about right. (3, Informative)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744638)

Basically, they're saying for 5% of the price of a T1 you get 5% the capacity over a month.

So, continuing on about the tenth year in a row, I continue find it very hard to give a shit.

Re:Sounds about right. (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744924)

Basically, they're saying for 5% of the price of a T1 you get 5% the capacity over a month.

Yeah, but if you have a T1, you bet your ass it won't be going on the fritz a half-dozen times a month, and when you call support their first question isn't "Have you updated your antivirus? Tried turning it off and back on again?" The guarantee that your service will be available all the time and if you have any problem you have an immediate resolution is the reason for all that money being spent.

Something else to think about: Dialup (for most) typically averages about 40kbit/s, or about 5KB/s. Let's do some math... 5KB/s -> 300KB/min -> 17.6MB/hr -> 422MB/day -> 12.5GB/month. That more than the vast majority of Comcast says their customers use in a month. So by their own argument, we should be paying less than $20 a month for their service -- which would be competitive with dialup.

So, why aren't we?

Re:Sounds about right. (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745188)

I agree, and in fact we should go after any company that charges more than they paid for their products. I understand Apple makes around a 30% profit on every iPod sold. Why do we put up with it? Evil insurance companies are making 3%-6% in profit. Burn them! And don't get me started on Microsoft's profit margins.

Not to mention fishermen. They're getting the fish for free out of the sea. Why do they have to charge us for them?

Seriously, I'm in favor of asking probing question of companies like Comcast, but if you're going to ask why high speed internet is more expensive than dialup, you may want to think about it a little first. There is probably a reason, and you can probably figure it out.

Re:Sounds about right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745458)

Damn fisherman, if only I could switch to a different fish provider, but they are the only ones that I can use at my location.

Re:Sounds about right. (1)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745952)

Lets do some more math.

If you use comcast, and can use 250 GB per month, you can get 20 times as much bandwidth as dialup, for only 12 times the price.

The real issue, of course, is that providing 100 times the bandwidth of dialup wouldn't cost comcast twice the price of dialup. We should be paying $12 per month for a terabyte of bandwidth, which would give comcast a 20% profit, which no reasonable company would turn down. Comcast doesnt do this because people are willing to pay $60 a month ofr 2-3 GB of bandwidth. If comcast doesnt lose 95% of their market by chargingf $60 instead of $12, they have no reason to lower their prices, ever.

Re:Sounds about right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745270)

10 years, as you say. That is a helluva lot of time for bandwidth to become cheaper for everyone except consumers. Why could I buy an unlimited 1 MB connection 10 years ago and I can't buy anything faster today for less than 100 bucks a month?

Re:Sounds about right. (1)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745686)

I don't know about you, but my internet is faster than 10 years ago, and for the same price. The cable in this area went from 3Mbps to 5mbps to 7mbps to 7.5mbps with speedboost (around 20Mpbs). That is for $45/mo if you don't have Cable TV. $35 if you do. I pay an extra $10/mo for 15Mbps.

Re:Sounds about right. (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745890)

I don't know about you, but my internet is faster than 10 years ago, and for the same price.

But your neighbor, with the same provider, might not be getting any faster service.

A couple years ago, I realized that my download speed was a lot crappier than the 10Mbps that TW had been advertising (this was after some rollouts to boost speeds in the area from earlier levels). I ran some speed tests and learned I wasn't even getting 1Mbps at times. WTF?

Long story short, the modem I had wasn't capable of the new DOCSIS standard or otherwise wasn't able to handle the speeds TW was advertising. They never told me that my modem was obsolete, despite knowing what equipment I had. The first-level "tech" couldn't even figure it out, but after 45 minutes I convinced him to escalate it and after getting permission, I talked to someone more knowledgeable who, in about 15 seconds, knew that I had an old box and it had to be swapped out (free).

TW is counting on people with older hardware to remain in the dark, thus keeping their bandwidth usage low & profits high.

Re:Sounds about right. (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#30746180)

I also get 5% of the reliability of a T1 line I guess?

I wish...

it's not enough (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744660)

people want to be able to find out what they used the bandwidth for. Like a phone bill lists the numbers you called and the call durations. Except that it's not so easy to summarize like that.

Re:it's not enough (2, Funny)

Crunchie Frog (791929) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744754)

I agree, they should break it down into broad categories

Email
Instant Messaging clients
Linux ISOs
Pron
Lolcats
WoW
Other

Re:it's not enough (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744810)

If ISPs tried to "itemize" your bandwidth people would complain about privacy.

Re:it's not enough (1)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745538)

Just separating traffic by port would be enough (torrent, http, ftp, pop, smtp, etc). No privacy issues

Re:it's not enough (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744904)

Except that it's not so easy to summarize like that.

Also, no one I know needs an eye-opener like that.

Re:it's not enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745268)

It is?
Just have an app on your computer that logs data usage by process name. The difference between this number and the online number is data used by infrastructure.

not convinced (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30744688)

I am not convinced that this cap is being enforced in the south Chicago area. I know for a fact that I exceed 250gb a month on a regular basis, and although I am throttled often enough, my speeds have always stayed over 5Mb/s with no internet cutoffs, and I have not yet received any warning messages from comcast.

Re:not convinced (1)

satoshi1 (794000) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745496)

Similar situation here (south side of chicago, comcast, etc.). My roomates over the summer torrented far too much, but I was never throttled, charged more, or even talked to. I mean, I don't mind.. but it is kinda weird.

Total douchebaggery (1)

uvsc_wolverine (692513) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744696)

I understand that most of their customers won't really need this, but for heavy users that need to monitor their bandwidth this is just evil. The bandwidth monitor needs to be aligned with the billing month, not the calendar month. This is just another way for them to get users to pay fines for going over the bandwidth cap.

"Sorry, but your billing cycle ended on the 23rd of December, you started using up your January billing cycle's bandwidth allotment then even though the meter only shows your usage since January 1st."

Sorry, Comcast, but it's not enough (2, Insightful)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744716)

This is just Comcast trying to legitimize their practice cutting off users who exceed their data transfer cap.

I suppose it's better than not being told how close you are to having your service suspended for a year, but I'd prefer it if their service were clearly advertised as metered service and had reasonable fees for overages instead of suspending users' accounts.

What I've learned.. (2, Interesting)

Snotboble_ (13797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744718)

.. in any area - broadband, speed limits, personal days off etc. etc. is that if you put a cap on anything, then people will consider anything below the cap as a right and use their right to the fullest. So Comcast may see a huge increase in traffic summed up as people start acting according to their rights.

So what? (2, Informative)

faedle (114018) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744726)

For all this handwringing, I've never seen this feature on my Comcast account. Yes, I live in Portland.

Maybe it's because I pay for the higher tier?

Re:So what? (1)

TrancePhreak (576593) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745554)

The article says it's supposed to show up today in WA, where I live. I don't see anything about it on the page they mention either. I don't think I'm paying for the higher tier, but I do pay for HDTV. Maybe other services tie in to who they like to check?

Re:So what? (1)

mcsqueak (1043736) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745560)

For all this handwringing, I've never seen this feature on my Comcast account. Yes, I live in Portland.

Same here! I'm not sure why... I never bothered to call and find out. We (myself and two roommates) pay for high-speed internet, standard cable+HBO, 1 HD box and 2 SD boxes. I don't think we've ever gone over the limit, we've never been contacted about such a thing or had our connection throttled back.

Good for them, but... (1)

Tikkun (992269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744770)

Why not just ship a decent router to the end user? I get detailed bandwidth reports on my WRT54GL running Tomato.

Exactly. (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745140)

I'm on Comcast. Tomato reports the following usage:

2009-12 105.87 GB
2009-11 546.60 GB
2009-10 299.63 GB
2009-09 248.94 GB
2009-08 222.14 GB
2009-07 76.76 GB

FWIW, I've yet to hear a peep from Comcast about the months that exceed 250 GB.

Re:Exactly. (2, Informative)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745476)

They won't bother you unless they're having performance problems on that node, and even then they only bother the top n% (not sure what n is) which is not necessarily 250GB.

250GB is just the floor for "we won't bother anyone under this amount".

Trust me, Comcast doesn't WANT to lose customers, and won't get rid of you unless you're causing real, actual problems. They may be greedy at times but they're not entirely stupid. $40 a month is better than $0.

Not using all 250? (2, Insightful)

Cruciform (42896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744788)

Now users can band together and sell off their "quota credits" to each other the way corporations do with carbon credits.

Re:Not using all 250? (2, Funny)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745000)

Are they going to plant a binary tree every time they use a gigabyte?

WOW... (2, Insightful)

koan (80826) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744800)

Less than 1% use that bandwidth and it affects their network, isn't that absurd? Isn't that an indication of a terrible network? I honestly don't know the answers to these questions, but if you can't support 1% of your users at that level then IMO you have a crap network.

Re:WOW... (2, Insightful)

BitHive (578094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744926)

I hope someone at Comcast finds your post and offers you a job, you sound like the network architect they've been waiting for!

Re:WOW... (1)

koan (80826) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745142)

lulz...yeah well I honestly don't know but it seems really bad to me.

Emphasis on very few people (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744858)

For the fraction of less than 1 percent of our customers who are concerned...

For the very extremely low and small fraction of far less than 1 percent, seriously there are like so few of you that I can't believe I'm issuing a press release, I mean I could just walk around to the insanely lonely few of you who are concerned about this thing... I'm sorry, I just want to emphasize how little this policy affects anyone besides like a small handfull of our customers. Because so few of you will be affected by this trivial little thing. Seriously, there aren't many of you. Lets not make a big deal about it, because I mean I haven't looked, but I bet I could count the people who this will affect on one hand. I mean, I've sent all the people who should be concerned with this a letter, and I mean one letter because that's all it took, via snailmail not even e-mail. I'd hesitate to even say we're going to be throttling people with this, because I bet those two or three people over the limit were flukes or something anyway, we're really generous.

Freakonomics (4, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744866)

Perhaps those who aren't using 250GB a month should take it as a challenge.

You're not kidding. There's a story in Freakonomics about a daycare center that had problems with people not picking their kids up on time. So they figured they would charge a fee; penalize people for leaving their kids and they'll stop, right? Instead, more people started showing up late. Turns out that paying a fee assuaged peoples guilt for not showing up on time. Before they felt like jerks for being late, now they could just pay a fee and feel better. Moral of the story, incentives don't always work the way you think they will.

So when you give people this new information, what's going to happen? 90% of people are not using that much bandwidth already. Comcast is giving them a chart that says "look how little bandwidth you're using, you could use a lot more and not get in trouble". Some of those people are going to start using more bandwith, and I'll bet those people will more than offset the minority of heavy users who might curtail their usage.

The real solution to this problem is for Comcast, and every other ISP to invest more into infrastructure.

Step 2 solved at last! (1)

Radical Moderate (563286) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745034)

1. Parents arrive late to pick up kids.
2. Charge parents a late fee. Even more parents arrive late.
3. PROFIT!!!!!!!!!!

Re:Freakonomics (2, Interesting)

assemblyronin (1719578) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745238)

So they figured they would charge a fee; penalize people for leaving their kids and they'll stop, right? Instead, more people started showing up late. Turns out that paying a fee assuaged peoples guilt for not showing up on time. Before they felt like jerks for being late, now they could just pay a fee and feel better. Moral of the story, incentives don't always work the way you think they will.

I'm not sure I agree with the moral of that story (as it is presented in your comment) - the real problem (from a business perspective) is that parents picking up kids late means lost revenue in terms of having to keep a proportional number of employees (possibly paying OT) to the number of kids that haven't been picked up yet. So by charging a fee, I can at least cover my costs of retaining my employees, if not charge a little extra to make a bigger margin on the truant parents.

Similarly, Comcast could use the behavior everyone is hypothesizing to show that they need more bailout money because, "Gosh, Mr./Mrs. Congress Critter - We've been trying to implement better connectivity, but usage keeps going way, way up! We need more money to increase infrastructure!" At which point they pocket 99% of any corporate welfare money they get, and use the remaining 1% to increase the cap by 25GB/month.

Re:Freakonomics (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745438)

Similarly, Comcast could use the behavior everyone is hypothesizing to show that they need more bailout money because, "Gosh, Mr./Mrs. Congress Critter - We've been trying to implement better connectivity, but usage keeps going way, way up! We need more money to increase infrastructure!" At which point they pocket 99% of any corporate welfare money they get, and use the remaining 1% to increase the cap by 25GB/month.

That's exactly what they are doing. The taxpayer paid the industry 200 Billion [pbs.org] for 45 megabit fiber networks to be deployed across the country, and got nothing.

Re:Freakonomics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30746026)

So when you give people this new information, what's going to happen? 90% of people are not using that much bandwidth already. Comcast is giving them a chart that says "look how little bandwidth you're using, you could use a lot more and not get in trouble".

No, what will happen is 90 % of the customer base will abandon the higher tiers of service in favor of the cheapest connection since it still provides more bandwidth than the cap allows. Their sales and marketing groups are going to have a cow, and the only people on faster packages will be the heavy users.

The only reason Comcast and others haven't already just reduced their top tier back to the 3 to 5 meg packages is marketing- they want to be able to say they are the "fastest" or "faster than DSL!!". And then they sell this service to average users who don't know any better, and then cap your actual usage to less than what those uncapped DSL connections will do.

I also expect to see lawsuits start up over the bandwidth monitoring. For example, if I was on Comcast, I would keep my own specific count of traffic. I would also monitor for data loss and any unsolicited connections, and force them to remove those items from my usage numbers.

With mac os updates pushing 1gb and windows ones b (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745260)

With mac os updates pushing 1gb and windows ones being big as well. People with more then one system are more likey to be download a lot. also game and other app updates are not as small as they used be.

Then you have a lot of flash loaded web sites and more.

also they seem to count arp traffic as part of the cap as well.

What is the cap on a business cable internet plan?

Congratulations! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745292)

You've now caught up with internet backwaters, like Australia. We've had this shit for years. Don't remember it making the front page of ./, though.

So much for that (1)

Mia'cova (691309) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745390)

So much for being able to stump their overuse calls by saying "oh sure, so how do I check my usage?" I'll need a new excuse for ignoring their cap.

What good will this do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745434)

I am guessing that this is a PR campaign to 'educate' users by saying:

'See how much data you can transfer using our service. It is more that you will ever need. Now if it weren't for those bad guys that use 500GB a month your prices could be lower and your service better.'

The problem with this argument is that the top users are probably the people who drive the trend on how internet is going to be used in the future. I can remember when 56K modem was a great deal that fit all my needs and I am not that old. My parents a year ago thought that they don't need more than dailup to check for an occasional e-mail. Now they can not live without broadband that is not sufficient for Skype video calls that take at least on hour each. Now think about it - TV over internet is coming big time, everybody and his sister a pushing 3D TV, video calling is becoming a norm and so on and so forth...

How much data do you think your average user will be using in a year or two?

Why waste money on stupid meters when you can upgrade you network?

I was wondering... (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745532)

I don't download pirated movies or music - but I do stream a fair number of TV shows and movies (Netflix), and occasionally have to pull down pretty large files on those days I work from home. So I've legitimately wondered where on the continuum we fell, and have been waiting for this since they announced it over a year ago.

But heck, all that wondering and our household's only been using about 50 gigs a month, according to the meter.

So now I guess I'll start leaving that Tor relay on all the time, and maybe start taking advantage of all the allocated bandwidth I haven't been using!

Already implemented by Telus in Canada (1)

MagikSlinger (259969) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745758)

Telus's broadband solutions never promises unlimited bandwidth and always had a site you could go to to see your current (and past) consumption of bandwidth per month. If you hit the cap, you have the option of buying extra bandwidth for the month. Also, it's a "nice" cap in that it simply throttles you so you can still check e-mail, etc., but not do any serious downloading, etc.

A Little Late for Me, But... (1)

Maltheus (248271) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745856)

I've been waiting for this forever because I always assumed I was right up against the limit and it really kept me from downloading as much as I would have liked for years. But I recently added a Tomato flashed router and I now realize I can download 3 or even 4 times what I've been grabbing. So my downloads have gone up a bit since then, but only by a little. The real limiting factor for me now is drive space. That includes the primary and two or more backups. I'm swimming in ram, haven't needed to update my video card in years, I'm getting by with an old CPU, but disk space is the one system component that can't keep up to my needs these days. The sizes aren't growing fast enough, the quality has been plummeting and the average video bitrates have more than doubled from a few years ago. I don't even have the (full) tower space in my server to be able to rip all my DVDs.

Re:A Little Late for Me, But... (1)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745988)

Try external USB drives. They sell 1.5 terabyte versions for a mere $100 now, so you get a years worth of bandwidth, assuming all you do is download things for storage purposes, for the cost of a really good date.

250 what? (2, Interesting)

mcnellis (1420749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745938)

250 gigabytes or 250 industry gigabytes? Base 2 or base 10? There's a big difference!

Dear US, (2, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | more than 4 years ago | (#30746190)

The rest of the world has had this for some time. Nice to see you're catching up.

If the metre is half way decent this will be a valuable tool in tracking and assessing your own download habits, but given the level of competence displayed by US telco's something tells me this wont be the case.
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