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Comcast To Remove Data Cap, Implement Tiered Pricing

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the kevlar-trial-balloon dept.

The Internet 329

StikyPad writes "Comcast is reportedly removing its oft-maligned 250GB data cap, but don't get too excited. In what appears to be an effort to capitalize on Nielsen's Law, the Internet's version of Moore's Law, Comcast is introducing tiered data pricing. The plan is to include 300GB with the existing price of service, and charge $10 for every 50GB over that limit. As with current policy, Xfinity On Demand traffic will not count against data usage, which Comcast asserts is because the traffic is internal, not from the larger Internet. There has, however, been no indication that the same exemption would apply to any other internal traffic. AT&T and Time Warner have tried unsuccessfully to implement tiered pricing in the past, meeting with strong push back from customers and lawmakers alike. With people now accustomed to, if not comfortable with, tiered data plans on their smartphones, will the public be more receptive to tiered pricing on their wired Internet connections as well, or will they once again balk at a perceived bilking?"

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How can they complain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40033757)

Here in rural Manitoba we get 7Mbps down / 768Kbps up for $46 + tax for a 60GB cap. Fucking sense of entitlement.

Re:How can they complain? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40033881)

The only real complaining I hear of is when it's being sold/marketed as zero-cap-unlimited, when it's clearly not.

Re:How can they complain? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#40033961)

60GB cap? I'd blow through that in a week.

Re:How can they complain? (1)

hack slash (1064002) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034545)

If I leave my connection downloading at full whack I go through about 45gb/day, thankfully I have no caps on my connection.

Re:How can they complain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034139)

Oh God....
And I was thinking those Americans were badly off....
You have my deepest sympathy.

I pay about $60 for 120 Mbps down / 10 Mbps up on cable. No CAP whatsoever.
Speed will probably be increased to 150/15 later this year at the same price.
I can get aDSL for about $25 at about double your speed.
(The copper in the ground here is 35 years old and won't support full-speed aDSL or vDSL.)
Some time next year I will also get a choice of Fibre to the curb (50/5 for about $30) or Fibre to the home (100/100 about $80 and a one-time digging fee of $550, or less if I can convince some neighbors to switch as well).

Re:How can they complain? (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034163)

Here in rural Manitoba we get 7Mbps down / 768Kbps up for $46 + tax for a 60GB cap. Fucking sense of entitlement.

I'm in rural Wisconsin. We don't get nearly that speed, but the 60GB cap seems awefully low.

As an example, I watch maybe three to four hours of streamed TV a night and use up maybe 3GB a day doing it. Everything else I do (email, web, whatever, is nothing compared to the streaming), and the streaming is always at its lowest bit rate due to speed limitations, but I'd consistently go over the 60GB cap if it were placed on me.

If I were in a city or heavily popluated area that offered higher speed, you can bet I'd easily hit 200GB a month, and probably find a way to hit 300GB, with file syncing, etc., which, again, I limit due to the slow speed here.

Re:How can they complain? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034445)

Stop your whining. You (or your family) chose to live in a rural area. The consequence of that is that you receive a reduced level of service in most aspects of life. But don't bitch just because someone living in a major city isn't happy with the crap level of service you chose to accept in exchange for rural life.

Re:How can they complain? (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034687)

Actually, that speed/cap is pretty normal for Canada, regardless of whether you're rural or urban. A handful of resellers offer more reasonable caps, but most people either don't know they exist, or aren't in their coverage area.

Re:How can they complain? (-1, Troll)

dark12222000 (1076451) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034815)

It is their right to petition service providers to give them better service. It is most assuredly their right, and perhaps even their duty, to use their money to speak for them in this matter. Welcome to capitalism, please learn how it works or shut up and die.

Re:How can they complain? (4, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034563)

Here in rural Manitoba we get 7Mbps down / 768Kbps up for $46 + tax for a 60GB cap. Fucking sense of entitlement.

I realize it's fun to play songs on the hate parade when talking about Americans, but entitlement is not the word. At the next town over they can get unlimited service with a different provider. That's an issue of value, not entitlement.

Fiber needs to move faster... (3, Insightful)

CSFFlame (761318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40033763)

Come on Google (and Sonic.net too). I don't trust Verizon, they're too shifty.

Re:Fiber needs to move faster... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034371)

Why? Because they're not going to cap data usage because a different cord is going into your house? Some fiber carriers are already capping: http://www.xmission.com/utopia#more [xmission.com]

Put our collective foot down! (1)

MatthiasF (1853064) | more than 2 years ago | (#40033783)

All internal traffic is excluded from limits or else!

Re:Put our collective foot down! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034721)

All internal traffic is excluded from limits or else!

It's easy to setup some localized CDN servers which are co-located with the CMTS, meaning all they're utilizing is a few extra ports on their datacenter switches. This means that traffic doesn't even touch the existing network infrastructure, other than the hardware and rackspack it costs almost nothing.
But your on-net transfers are almost certainly still making use of backhaul and possibly core bandwidth. They just aren't using the peering connections, so while it might not be quite as costly it's still a fairly large chunk of the overall cost.

But that's too wordy for most people, you have to keep it at or under 5 words. So "It's because it's internal" is about as detailed as you want to get in a press release.

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40033793)

Any infinite overnight usage? My ISP gives me this from 23:00 till 08:00. It would be interesting if they did this or not.

Most won't notice (3, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 2 years ago | (#40033797)

This actually seems like a pretty sane plan for most people who aren't diehard pirates or Netflix users. Most users don't use 300GB. If Comcast is smart they'll use this as a basis to actually fund the development of a more powerful and competitive network instead of just milking it for short term gains.

Re:Most won't notice (5, Informative)

WilliamGeorge (816305) | more than 2 years ago | (#40033873)

I was getting worried about our usage at home, since the kids now watch a few hours of Neflix a day along with out other internet usage. I called Comcast because I was having trouble finding where on our account management page the data was about how much we actually used each month - and when they showed me where to find it I was amazed at how little it was. 30-70GB a month on average, occasionally peaking past 100GB. So even in what I would consider a moderate to heavy internet usage household we were way under the existing cap, and will still be with a 300GB limit.

The only problem I can see here is if they don't notify users when they approach that cap. If something happened and I went way over, but was never warned till the bill came, I would be upset.

Re:Most won't notice (1)

uigrad_2000 (398500) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034029)

300 GB will eventually begin to seem small as video data transmission rates continue to increase, but for the time being, 300GB / mo. is very generous.

I'll bet that at least half of all Comcast users watch video online on a frequent basis, and they all probably feel like they are in the top 5% of users. This is why everyone is so worried about data caps. In reality, most people will be shocked to see how far they are away from th limit.

Re:Most won't notice (5, Interesting)

Jaktar (975138) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034801)

Around 2008, my local ISP was formed. Sometime around 2009 they implemented data caps of 600 MB/day, as most users didn't exceed that amount. Today, the cap is exactly the same as was first implemented.

300 GB might seem like a lot right now. Give it a few years...

Re:Most won't notice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034047)

"If something happened and I went way over", they'd have your money. boo hoo, mr consumer.

Re:Most won't notice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034089)

You are not the average user, by far.

One 2hr HD netflix movie is going to be about 4gb. If you have four people in your household and they each average one movie every other day, that's 248gb. Add in some itunes podcasts that - in HD quality - often run 1gb or more per show. Subscribe to a half dozen of those and you're pretty close to 300gb. That's before doing anything via a VPN to work, backing up your data remotely with any of a number of services, streaming radio, streaming music (mog.com, etc), watching youtube, playing videogames, etc.

Re:Most won't notice (3, Informative)

rgbrenner (317308) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034629)

You are not the average user, by far.

Yes, he's not average, by far. He uses up to 35x the amount of the average comcast user

http://blog.comcast.com/2009/12/comcast-data-usage-meter-launches.html [comcast.com]

(Note: the median usage for Comcast’s customers is about 2 to 4 GB per month.)

Re:Most won't notice (2)

jxander (2605655) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034885)

Consider your source.

Re:Most won't notice (1)

slack_justyb (862874) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034699)

and they each average one movie every other day, that's 248gb.

Geez, who has time for that? Usually the "family of four" here all watch the same movie at the same time. Add in the fact that most of our time is running between which kid has a game tonight and who's cooking dinner and who's clean which part of the house. We're lucky to get one or two movies via Netflix per every other week.

That's before doing anything via a VPN to work, backing up your data remotely with any of a number of services, streaming radio, streaming music (mog.com, etc), watching youtube, playing videogames

My company pays for a seperate connection to the Internet for VPN access. Maybe we should all push for that. I backup my data to an external hard drive. I'm paranoid so sue me. Whatever happen to just listening to the radio? My kid pulled that crap once at home. They were listening to a local station via the Internet, I asked why the hell he just didn't turn on the radio? Also, why don't cell phones come with FM tuners? They shove BT, wifi, GPS, and cellphone receivers in there, what's one more?! Add in an HDTV tuner to that request too. (No I don't think they should shove a CB tuner in there, but I bet FRS would be really cool!) Videogame usage in the house is pretty minimal, one kid is grounded until December, the other has no interest in videogames, I play Wii but I'm totally asocial, so I steer away from Internet based games. Wife likes "Just Dance" I don't think that the game has an online componet to it.

You are not the average user, by far.

By all accounts, I would be more inclined to believe that your example is not average by far. As most of the families that I have to pretend to like, live roughly the same lifestyle as myself as far as Internet usage goes, and I'm the dweeb they call up to fix their computer when they forget how to bold text in Word. "Hi, yeah I know you're [my son's name]'s father, this is [friend of my son's name]'s mother, and I heard that you are really good with computers... [you get the idea]" So I would dare say I've gotten a little more insight on these people's Internet usage than I'd care to have.

Watch your units (1)

Immerman (2627577) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034781)

Gb is gigabit, which is eight times smaller than the gigabyte (GB) you are presumably referring to. It's a common loophole used by most ISPs to oversell their services, for example 1Mb/s only equals 125kB/s.

Technically the prefix should always be G as well, though since g isn't a valid prefix it's still clear what you mean. I'm still waiting though for some marketing droid to realize that 1MB(megabyte) = 8,000,000,000mb (millibit) and start offering apparently massive speeds/capactiy/etc. Shoot, that old 14.4 modem delivers a whopping 14,400,000 mb/s download speed!

Re:Most won't notice (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034505)

Maybe they're using low-quality feeds? I watch Hulu and Youtube at 240p, which is only ~200 megabyte per hour streamed. So it doesn't add up to a lot even over a month of viewing.

BTW comcast has a disincentive to provide unlimited: They don't want you canceling their TV service.
Ditto Time-Warner, Cox, Cablevision, Verizon, ...
Now I just watch my TV free off the antenna.

Re:Most won't notice (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034731)

Maybe they're using low-quality feeds? I watch Hulu and Youtube at 240p, which is only ~200 megabyte per hour streamed. So it doesn't add up to a lot even over a month of viewing.

Even a high quality feed on Netflix doesn't eat up that much data. It doesn't even come close to saturating my 12mbit DSL connection when I watch it, and even though I watch maybe 10h of Netflix a week, my monthly usage has only gone up by about 30GB.

Re:Most won't notice (2)

WilliamGeorge (816305) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034855)

Interestingly, I also tried to call up this month to cancel our cable TV service. We rarely use it any more, mostly depending on Netflix + Hulu (the free stuff) + Amazon Prime (wish there was a Media Center plugin!). I thought it would be a great way to save $10-20 a month... and boy was I wrong!

You see, as long as I pay for cable TV - even the most basic package which we have been using, at around $15 a month - we get a discounted rate on cable internet. Our total bill is ~$70 or so with taxes.

However, if we drop cable TV we no longer get the discounted internet rate... and our total monthly bill would actually go *up* by $0.27 (yes, twenty-seven cents).

THAT is how they keep you from cancelling cable TV entirely, by threatening to charge you more for less :/

Re:Most won't notice (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40033887)

My concern would be that, as with the 250GB cap that lasted ~5 years, this 300GB cap stays fixed while consumption rises, pushing more and more people into the tiered zone. In a few years, 300GB will be as limited as 300MB is today.

Re:Most won't notice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40033935)

Thats the aggravating bit, the netflix part. Theyre pushing as hard as they can to kill outside services in favor of their own. It's not the bandwidth they care about so much as dollars going to someone else for video services. The market doesnt want comcast garbage, but they cant compete, so theyll cut off the competition with caps.

Re:Most won't notice (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40033991)

I think you'd be surprised how much data the average person uses. A single daily HD video podcast on itunes (Tech News Today, for example) can run you a couple gb/week. Streaming radio. Backup services. Netflix. Gaming. It ads up. Multiply it by the number of people in your household.

What really concerns me is what this will do to business accounts. I got tired of getting threats from them for hitting their 250gb limit (but not telling me how big the limit was and not having an alternative so I could use more bandwidth if I wanted to, like buying a second account). Eventually, I found out I could get a business account and did that. For $115/mo, I get pretty much unlimited. Well, I'm sure there's a limit, but I get 50mbps up and down and average about 1-2tb/month usage and have never heard a peep from anyone. Hopefully they don't plan to jack up the prices on business accounts as a result or forbid home users from having business accounts (well, they already jacked the prices up $10 this year, but you know what I mean).

Re:Most won't notice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034041)

If Comcast is smart they'll use this as a basis to actually fund the development of a more powerful and competitive network instead of just milking it for short term gains.

?Conclusion portion of sentence does not follow from start of sentence
?REDO FROM START

Comcast cares little about their network. Comcast cares little about the internet. Comcast cares little about your freedoms. Comcast has now, and always has in the past, cared solely and specifically about milking their customers for absolutely any short-term gain they can. Period.

Re:Most won't notice (1)

autocannon (2494106) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034063)

If you live in the reality that data caps are not going away, then this is a win for consumers. The base cap goes up, the price stays the same, and anybody who needs more can either pay for the higher tier if offered or pay the flat rate for more bandwidth. What this really does is give Comcast a way to get more money out of the people who are using it heavily instead of throttling them.

Now, having said that. Data caps just flat out suck and should not exist. Whether I use 20GB a day or 1, if the service can handle it then it should just deliver it. There's really nothing lost if I continue to use more, unlike say the gas company. Damn corporations have realized they can force more money from people for this type of stuff and there's nothing short of dramatic government regulation that will change it.

Re:Most won't notice (2)

Linsaran (728833) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034097)

Really now? When have you ever known a publicly held company to prioritize development and long term results, over short term profits. Shareholders are far too concerned with making that profit number bigger for the next quarter to worry about what's coming down the pike in a couple years. Take solar panels as a prime example. A company that put commercial grade heating/energy panels on their office building could save huge amounts of money in energy/heating costs. Solar energy is essentially free, the maintenance requirements of solar panels minimal, and the life time of a solar array 20-40 years. However there is a not insignificant upfront cost to install a solar array. In most cases it would take a company 5 years to 'break even' compared to traditional energy sources. Thus, since the cost to put something like that in place on an office building is expensive, and would eat into a companies profits NOW, while only providing savings much later, most companies choose to use traditional heating/energy sources, because they're much cheaper NOW, even though the costs of them will only continue to add up.

Re:Most won't notice (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034211)

>>>When have you ever known a publicly held company to prioritize development and long term results, over short term profits.

When they are facing competition from another company that could steal-away their customers. I know a lot of people who jumped to FiOS because it was faster than Comcast.

Anyway: I think the pricing being based on "use" is good. It's just like a phone plan..... you pay for X number of minutes per month, and then get charged for each additional minute.

Re:Most won't notice (3, Insightful)

oddjob1244 (1179491) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034273)

This actually seems like a pretty sane plan for most people who aren't diehard pirates or Netflix users. Most users don't use 300GB.

I just hope they give the option to shut off buying extra bandwidth automatically. I'll buy the 300gb a month, but I don't want anymore. If I hit the cap, cut me off to just a Comcast website where I can buy more. None of this, "For an extra $10 a month we'll give you parental controls to limit the automatic purchase of more bandwidth" crap that cell phone companies pull with text messaging.

Re:Most won't notice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034275)

I agree, if they start to get motivated to improve the network (by getting paid more when customers use more) this is good.

Re:Most won't notice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034697)

If Comcast is smart they'll use this as a basis to actually fund the development of a more powerful and competitive network instead of just milking it for short term gains.

+1 Funny

Re:Most won't notice (1)

patchmaster (463431) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034823)

It's sane until you look at the charge for going over the cap. I can lease a dedicated server where bandwidth beyond the 5TB monthly cap is $1.15/TB. Comcast's marginal bandwidth rate is $200/TB. Admittedly, Comcast may be paying a bit more for bandwidth than the dedicated server hosting company, but 173 times more? They're just sticking it to people who use more while trying to make it sound like they're being fair.

Re:Most won't notice (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034831)

This actually seems like a pretty sane plan for most people who aren't diehard pirates or Netflix users.

It's only sane if you are Comcast trying to maximize profits. They are trying to have it both ways: a minimum price that they collect from everyone regardless of usage and a per-GB price as well.

In cell-phone land this is acceptable because very low-usage customers can switch to a pay-by-the-minute plan that saves them a lot of money every month - I think T-Mobile has a $100 prepay charge that lasts a whole year and gives you $0.10/minute, so you could conceivably only spend $100 for the entire year if you kept your usage to about 80 minutes/month. That's great for people who don't need their monthly service, the cheapest plan of which offers 500 minutes and no texting for $35/month.

Anyway, there's no "prepay" version of broadband that I'm aware of, unless you just switch over to using the cell network for internet access.

Re:Most won't notice (1)

jythie (914043) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034843)

It is the Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime users they are going after. The 'pirate' excuse gets trotted out a lot, but they loose a lot more money to people choosing to use other services then they do to the (decreasingly significant) bandwidth usage of bittorrent. That is what gets the net neutrality people (well, the level headed ones at least) fired up since it represents local ISP monopolies abusing their position to force customers over to their other (media) services and stifle competition... which this is a clear example of since they are only applying caps and tiered pricing to effect traffic from OTHER companies, but not ones they own or are partnered with.

Re:Most won't notice (1)

HapSlappy_2222 (1089149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034877)

Someday everybody who consumes video will be a diehard Netflix (more accurately: streaming) user. The simple success of Netflix, Hulu, and the like are pretty powerful heralds of the streaming age. Plus, as a former CenturyLink shill, I can tell you that about 75%* of the bandwidth speed increases I'd sell were *exclusively* to improve streaming services. It's possible I was just good at selling it for that, but it was uncanny.

A huge pipe + hefty fees for going over the limit = nasty, nasty overages on the bill. Seems like we're going backwards in time; like when we were all overusing minutes or racking up long distance charges. I'm not a fan. On top of all that, it's not easy for the average user to track exactly how much bandwidth Netflix uses. I'm fairly savvy, and really have no reason to track my usage at the moment, so I haven't really thought that much about it. As of this moment, I'm sure my HD PS3 uses significantly more bandwidth than my non-HD WII, but who knows exactly what I used last month, total? I guess I could monitor my router logs, if it's smart enough to track data like that, or maybe I can run a network tracking application from a central server... but can Grandma do that? Should she have to? Should I? I'm absolutely SURE that Comcast'd be happy to inform me when I go over my 300 GB limit for a fee, but... oh, wait.

I'm all for letting Comcast shape their internal traffic however they want, so long a the savings or some other benefit get to their customers, but this seems far worse than a simple cap on non-Comcast services; people are gonna get nailed for overage charges and not even really know why, for sure, but have to pay it anyway. When they complain, the Comcast reps will happily add Comcast's streaming service to their bill, informing them that it'll save them money over Netflix or Hulu in the long run (and they'll be right, though it'll be due to Comcast being assholes in the first place). Pretty sneaky, all laid out.

*The other 25% was split among those who did heavy downloads and needed the speed, those trying out a faster speed to see if it would improve gaming or browsing speeds, and other "classical" reasons for a bigger pipe.

Time to switch! (1)

dehole (1577363) | more than 2 years ago | (#40033799)

Wish there were options to switch to, will see if there are any small ISP's left.

Re:Time to switch! (0)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034565)

Not likely. Just about every small ISP closed up shop after the FCC changed the line leasing rules "in the interest of fairness", allowing the ILECs to lock them out after NCTA v. Brand X.

Re:Time to switch! (1)

jythie (914043) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034897)

Yep. Because apparently viable competition is communist, they changed the rules to get rid of it.....

What's wrong with tiered? (4, Insightful)

Scutter (18425) | more than 2 years ago | (#40033807)

I'd much prefer a flat-rate unlimited plan, but I also recognize that a small percentage of users consume a disproportionate amount of bandwidth and that has to be managed somehow. I don't want a data cap. I'd much rather have the option of an affordable tier if I go over that cap, provided I'm given easy-to-use tools to see what my current utilization is. What I don't want is for that next tier to be ridiculously expensive as a disincentive to use it. I don't think $10 for an additional 50GB is unreasonable, although cheaper would be better.

Re:What's wrong with tiered? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40033951)

There is no such thing as "unlimited" from any provider. This is just the convenient intermediate step from tiered to, a year later when they kick/disconnect everyone off using above 300 GB / mo. It's already happened in the mobile market.

Everyone knows the telcos are getting away with not upgrading the existing infrastructure while maximizing profit because they have a monopoly in their own markets. A decade ago I was kicked off a DIAL-UP provider for being the 1% of people who were on too much. It's going to happen to broadband soon enough ... where there will be only 1 tier, everyone who goes above the cap is disconnected or kicked off the service.

Re:What's wrong with tiered? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034695)

I've been kicked off 3 different dialup ISPs for over-using packages that had "unlimited" in the name and/or description of the package I was buying from them (around 6-10 years ago), I think I've also been kicked off an ADSL provider too but it's been so long since all that happened I can't remember.

I'm now on a true 'unlimited' ADSL connection, 5mbit down 1mbit up and I can thrash the connection 24/7 without worry of capping or traffic shaping, other people on the same ISP can get 18mbit down (and some of those cane their connection too) but I'm not complaining as 5mbit is fine for me for now.

Re:What's wrong with tiered? (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034341)

We already have this in Canada. Shaw has a 200GB limit with $2/GB (that's 100X Comcast's overage) after that.

Re:What's wrong with tiered? (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034631)

Shaw theoretically offers unlimited plans, though apparently in very select areas. I don't know anyone who can get one.

Re:What's wrong with tiered? (3, Insightful)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034365)

I don't generally have a problem with tiered, but $10 for 50GB is completely unreasonable. It's the equivalent of $64 per megabit, which is nuts for a home connection.

It's enough to make third-party IPTV unsustainable; if a household watches, between all TVs/people, 6 hours of TV per day at 4Mbps, you'll end up paying more than $60 a month just in bandwidth overage, above and beyond your TV bill! And 4 meg is a pretty damned conservative bitrate for IPTV.

$10 should be getting you 100-200 gigabytes per month. It's a reasonable cost, and it's roughly what existing large ISPs like Shaw are charging.

Re:What's wrong with tiered? (2, Insightful)

log0n (18224) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034437)

" but I also recognize that a small percentage of users consume a disproportionate amount of bandwidth and that has to be managed somehow"

And managed why exactly?

Leave your [cable] TV on for all 720ish hours in a month. You don't get penalized (outside of electricity bill) with overage charges for going over some arbitrary viewing cap. Hell, leave it running for an entire year and it doesn't cost any more (or less) than it would if you left the TV off entirely.

What's wrong with tiered is that it is an economic invention, not a practical or technical limitation.

Re:What's wrong with tiered? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034739)

You apparently do not understand unicast vs. multicast.

Re:What's wrong with tiered? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034479)

At $40 - $60 a month it should run no more than $6.67-$10 (depending on the area and initial costs) per 50 GB. But in practice the price per GB should go down for those who spend more. These users are contributing more to the improvement and growth of the network. They are ultimately more profitable in a tier setup and should be given quantity discounts over others to encourage use.

However all this said most non-rural users should be paying about $30 a month for 300GB of bandwidth and less than $5 per 50GB for exceeding this.

Ultimately I think the best approach though to better utilisation of the network is not so much to charge for bandwidth itself as there is no direct cost here to maintenance of the network. It's to charge more for prime time bandwidth and nothing at all for bandwidth during other times. Customers in residential non-rural areas should be paying $20-$30 for line access and then be charged rates based on demand. The rates should continue going up until the bandwidth available is guaranteed for those paying for it. The heaviest users of prime time bandwidth should pay less. If you have oversubscribed the line to the point where non-prime time hour bandwidth starts to get saturated it's time to upgrade that line.

Even better - just meter the whole damn thing (1, Interesting)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 2 years ago | (#40033823)

Charge a market rate per GB and charge me for what I use. Gas, power, and water utilities manage to deliver and upkeep what's arguably a more complicated infrastructure with the same model, why should data be any different? Data at this point should just be a public utility. Let the upstream providers sell you what they offer on their terms, but keep the last mile locally controlled and regulated.

Re:Even better - just meter the whole damn thing (2)

Crookdotter (1297179) | more than 2 years ago | (#40033993)

Because obviously when that model applies, I pay for every byte coming down the pipe. Internet adverts I don't mind so much. When I HAVE TO PAY to receive them, then that's a different story. Browsing with images switched off? Check. Flash, fancy HTML5 anims and stuff off? Check. Youtube use for random funny cat videos? Not while I have to pay for each of them.

Unmetered internet is the way to go.

Re:Even better - just meter the whole damn thing (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034003)

Gas, power, and water utilities manage to deliver and upkeep what's arguably a more complicated infrastructure with the same model, why should data be any different?

Because gas, power, and water can be saved for another day. Any bandwidth we don't use right now is lost forever. It's actually more economical on a dollars per byte basis to keep your network near saturation. If you discourage people from using the network, you're increasing everyone's per byte costs.

The right way to deal with contention for network resources is to build out infrastructure. If ISPs are allowed to profit from network congestion, there is no incentive to build out infrastructure.

Metered internet access provides exactly the wrong incentives for *everyone* involved.

Re:Even better - just meter the whole damn thing (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034299)

>>> It's actually more economical on a dollars per byte basis to keep your network near saturation

That makes zero sense. The more the datalines are used, the more electricity is being burned-up. It would be advantageous for an ISP to want to reduce their electric use by reducing how much data customers transfer. (And also eliminate the need to replace slow lines with faster lines.)

Disclaimer: I hate Comcast. I get my TV free over-the-air, and my internet over DSL.

Re:Even better - just meter the whole damn thing (5, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034367)

That makes zero sense. The more the datalines are used, the more electricity is being burned-up.

The electricity it takes to send a 0 or 1 down the line is negligable. The only power savings you're getting from running under capacity is if you're so under utilized that you can put your servers to sleep. That's equivalent to reducing network capacity, which we would very much like to discourage.

Re:Even better - just meter the whole damn thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034387)

What? No. There's more electricity used by having equipment inplace to support more lines, but ones those lines are connected, there's no more power used by the ISP if I'm maxing out my connection vs my router being unplugged.

Re:Even better - just meter the whole damn thing (1)

Mr. McGibby (41471) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034649)

Gas, power, and water utilities manage to deliver and upkeep what's arguably a more complicated infrastructure with the same model, why should data be any different?

Because gas, power, and water can be saved for another day. Any bandwidth we don't use right now is lost forever. It's actually more economical on a dollars per byte basis to keep your network near saturation.

The GP was talking about infrastructure, not product. Infrastructure in the gas, power, and water sectors follow the same rule as network infrastructure. They exist and have to be maintained no matter how much product they deliver.

Re:Even better - just meter the whole damn thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034725)

Power can not be saved.

they also have certified meters (3, Insightful)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034301)

they also have certified meters and most of the ISP meters are off and bill you for overhead and ARP data.

Data Speed vs Data Cap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40033825)

What's the point of paying Comcast for different levels throughput, when you are capped at 250Gig (or 300).

So I pay $100+ for 100 down (up to?!?), and then have to pay more for overages?

It boggles the mind.

This is not so bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40033835)

I think my bandwidth usage is pretty steady from month to month. What I hate more than tiered pricing is throttled connections or service interruptions. I'm no pirate running torrents and I want legitimate functionality for network heavy applications and I don't want interruption or hassles. The 250GB cap policy was terrible. I know I use around 20GB a day.

I think I prefer the tiered pricing, but I think they should let us buy into higher tiers with pre-allocated bandwidth at a lower cost than to slap on fees for each additional 50GB.

Pay-For-Access to Comcast Customers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40033869)

Next up, Comcast will allow content providers the option to pay Comcast so that their content will not count against the Comcast customer's data cap.

It's funny how... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40033895)

...the "connectivity" industry is moving away from providing unlimited data access, and the "information" industry is moving toward having everyone store all their information remotely. It's almost as if the two are connected somehow.

I can only speak for me... (5, Insightful)

GSloop (165220) | more than 2 years ago | (#40033919)

I can only speak for me...but the scummy thing I see is they really want it both ways.

1) You can pay more for higher speeds
2) You can pay more for more bandwidth.

And we'll be really slow about moving the boundaries so as to capture as much money as possible.

Higher speed should just be included, and fine, charge a reasonable amount for bandwidth.
OR
You charge by the speed tier and however much bandwidth I consume you live with it.
[The pricing seems high too, IMO.]

But no, they want to make you pay both ways. [And pay again when you can't stream data (without meter) from other vendors - you have to pay extra to CC.]

Wireless carriers do it like this too.

Them: "No, you can't tether, that costs extra."
Me: "Why? You're capping my data consumption anyway. If it's not unlimited, then I should get to choose where I use my data - the phone, a tablet, or my laptop."

Either it's unlimited to a single device, in which case, I can stream netflicks 24x7 - or I pay for X amount of data and I can use it in any way, with any device I like.

But no. We'll pick the terms we like when it benefits us, and then mix and match to make even more.
Screw you customer! Just keep forking over the cash.

-Greg

I Hope Not (4, Interesting)

MoldySpore (1280634) | more than 2 years ago | (#40033939)

I really hope that people won't give in without at least expressing their anger to Comcast by finding another ISP if available, when they implement tiered pricing. I hope Comcast users push back like us TW users did.

One of the MAIN reasons these ISP's are introducing tiered pricing is simply to avoid the costs of upgrading their infrastructure. Instead of modernizing their networks and equipment to handle today's higher demand for more and more bandwidth, they simply implement overage fees and/or tiered pricing to keep people's usage within the confines of what their infrastructure can handle. It really is a scam on so many different levels. This is why the US is so far behind in broadband when looking at other country's broadband statistics.

Money hungry as ever, the largest ISP's over here just don't see the need to provide a higher level of service to home users when it means investing hundreds of $Millions, possibly more, to do it.

In addition to that, you have places like Rochester, NY where no competition can EVER break into the market because 1 or 2 ISP's have monopolized the space for new fiber and/or copper runs, effectively creating a stagnant market where users have no choices for service (ISP's such as EarthLink give the ILLUSION of choice, but really only lease space on another larger ISP's lines, such as Time Warner).

Re:I Hope Not (3, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034391)

>>>This is why the US is so far behind in broadband when looking at other country's broadband statistics.

False. According to speedtest.net, the average U.S. speed is 1 Mbit/s faster than the average speed for the E.U. And yes there are some EU states that have very fast internet, but there are some U.S. states that also have very fast internet: Like New Jersey. New York. Washington.

Vice-versa there are EU states like Greece and Spain and Portugal that have internet slower than the U.S. average. Thank your lucky stars you don't like there. (Or in the UK where they have decent speeds, but are censoring the net.) The grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence, but rarely is.

Re:I Hope Not (1)

weave (48069) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034481)

One of the MAIN reasons these ISP's are introducing tiered pricing is simply to avoid the costs of upgrading their infrastructure. Instead of modernizing their networks and equipment to handle today's higher demand for more and more bandwidth, they simply implement overage fees and/or tiered pricing to keep people's usage within the confines of what their infrastructure can handle.

Sorry, it's really the opposite. They have little economic incentive to expand capacity now. If they charge for overages, they'll have more incentive to entice you to use more bandwidth so they can increase revenue, and a great way to do that is making a faster pipe and encourage you to use services like Netflix to use it up.

Re:I Hope Not (2)

vawwyakr (1992390) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034511)

I think its more to eliminate competition. They don't want to provide you access to the competition they want you to pay them for their entertainment services.

Another stat to track... (1)

CodeHxr (2471822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40033969)

I like the peace of mind I get from not having to worry about bandwidth caps. Granted, I use a lot of bandwidth with internet being the primary source of entertainment (Netflix, MMOs, browsing, all * multiple family members). Glad I'm not on Comcast anymore... I hope they get severe consumer backlash and none of the other ISPs attempt to do the same thing.

$100/month (1)

CubicleZombie (2590497) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034017)

Every time my promotion expires and I have to play the threaten-to-cancel game, I tell them, "I will not pay more than $100/month for TV and Internet". So I don't care how they cap or meter the service. If I don't get what I want for $100 or less, I'm gone. Period.

Verizon's phone/DSL/DirectTV bundle is less than that, so I'm being pretty generous.

revenge of the 90s pricing models (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034019)

Wow, this reminds me of how I paid for SLIP and PPP connections in the 90s.

Slippery slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034021)

Then they slowly bring that limit down, but don't worry, you can get all these services for one low base price because we have them set up internally. Until it gets to the point where you pay per megabyte for everything except what Comcast wants you to look at.

Not ideal, but in the ballpark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034065)

300 GB is realistic for your average power users. The overage fees aren't even all that bad.
If you're going to be pulling down TB's worth of torrents it's probably reasonable to bump up to a more expensive plan.

Cable's TV's still a lousy product. Super aggressive bundling designed to get you to pay 150 a month for TV services earns them so much hate that congress regularly threatens to get involved.

Re:Not ideal, but in the ballpark (1)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034873)

And of course their own movie on demand product is exempt from the bandwidth limits which is what makes the whole thing smell like bullshit. Why does it matter where the traffic is coming from? Its not like Comcast is getting charged more for anyone's NetFlix usage unless they make the choice to invest in bigger Tier 1 pipes.

It's a weird issue (0)

mewsenews (251487) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034105)

Up in Canada we had a weird public debate about "usage based billing" for broadband. Eventually our FCC equivalent ruled that ISPs could only charge based on bandwidth, not data usage.

I personally don't really see the problem. You get charged based on how much electricity you use..

Re:It's a weird issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034579)

I personally don't really see the problem. You get charged based on how much electricity you use..

Yes but the power company charges you the same rates not matter what you plug in to the wall.

Re:It's a weird issue (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034741)

I personally don't really see the problem. You get charged based on how much electricity you use.

Yes, but they do not charge you a monthly fee for the privilege of getting further charged based on usage. Charge for the bandwidth used or charge an access fee. Not both.

The phone company used to do that. Now they're pretty much dumb pipes with flat long-distance fees in reaction to everybody leaving their service for flat-fee Internet-based services. This will eventually happen with ISPs, too, as soon as there is a sufficient disruptive technology. Some new tech will start to compete with those ISPs, and they'll be forced back to flat-rate services.

Re:It's a weird issue (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034889)

You get charged based on how much electricity you use..

A homeowner does, but businesses can get charged based on usage and time-of-day. Also, there is a direct correlation between burnt fuel and electrons. There is no such correlation between bits transferred and a consumable cost on Comcast's side.

No complaints from me... (1, Insightful)

pacapaca (1955354) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034107)

I'm a Comcast (internet only) customer and honestly I've been pretty happy with the service. The online data usage monitor is always under my router's monthly WAN traffic statistics which is a plus (not sure why the discrepancy though), and I've only had a cumulative ~12 hours of downtime in the year I've had the service (issues related to modem signal strengths). What I got out of this story is that there is no longer a hard cap (though I've never exceeded ~245gb) and I get an extra 50gb (very much welcomed) for the same price? What are we complaining about here?

Granted, it would be better if it were unlimited and I didn't have to ration my Netflix usage at the end of a heavy usage month, but $10/50gb seems reasonable enough to me...

Heh, I'll cancel that shit and use free wifi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034129)

Heh, I'd straight up cancel that shit and use free wifi if they want to be dicks like that.

I pay $80 a month to WOW for their fastest internet available at 8meg. Cap me and I'm not paying more than $20/month MAX.

Well, that does it. (4, Insightful)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034149)

"First, we fucked them with television. We fucked them too much and they don't watch television on cable anymore.
Then, we fucked them with advertising online and through what TV remained, but we advertised too much, and now everyone ignores our ads or pirates our shit.
We tried to fuck them with BitTorrent, but even the government wouldn't let that slide. We had to unfuck BitTorrent. Apparently it isn't just for pirating shit.
Now they want internet, so we're going to fuck with internet a bit and see if we can't squeeze a few more cents out of them."

What the fuck, Comcast? Get a clue.

Another misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034285)

Comcast isn't removing the data cap. They're bumping it up 20% to 300GB/month, and charging extra for anything over that. The data cap may be a soft cap and not a hard cap in which they shut off your service for the rest of the month after you hit the cap, but it's still a cap.

Re:Another misleading title (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034901)

I'd rather they cut me off (or throttle me) a la T-Mobile.

FTC and unlimited (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034329)

So the FTC will bust Sketchers for advertising shoes that don't give you a great butt (http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/cases/skechers/index.shtm), but they have no problem with carriers that advertise limited data plans as unlimited?

mod 0P (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034343)

fa1lure, its corpse

Almost, just one step forward half a step back. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034345)

So, basically I see this as instead of having a 250 GB cap and threats to disconnect me if I continuously go over, now I have an extra 50GB per month and perhaps a slightly padded bill due to greed if I go over. (But hey, it's Comcast)

While I really don't enjoy not being given unlimited access without dropping more dough than I'm comfortable with, I still see this as a slight improvement. I guess I can't complain. I don't see why some of you are getting so enraged. No, I shouldn't have any caps, but the time to take action was when they first enacted the 250 GB caps. If you didn't, you've been complacent this whole time.

Re:Almost, just one step forward half a step back. (1)

aurashift (2037038) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034451)

OP here, forgot to login. Doh.

Good ol' Murph (1)

garyoa1 (2067072) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034355)

"In what appears to be an effort to capitalize on Nielsen's Law, the Internet's version of Moore's Law"

Of course if you're a customer you chalk it up to Murphy's law.

But you could be in Canada where for a measly $70 a month (plus taxes) you can get a massive dl speed of 6mbs (Well advertised at that anyway. ) and a cap of 100G. Wheee!

Re:Good ol' Murph (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034773)

Or you could be elsewhere in Canada, where that $70 gets you 25/2Mb and a "cap" of about 8.6TB.

200/40Mb is supposed to be available Soon(TM), though at a not-yet-specified price.

Does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034375)

Receptive? No!

But, Comcast is the only game in my town.
(Sat and 3G don't count.)

"internal traffic"? (5, Interesting)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034381)

I'd love to see someone implement a bittorrent client with an option to limit peers to other Comcast customers, and then see how they start redefining "internal traffic"...

Re:"internal traffic"? (1)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034819)

Everyone is arguing about data usage but seems to have skipped over the whole "Well, of course our service that competes with NetFlix is going to get preferential treatment" which is essentially the opposite of network neutrality.

I guess the solution was just to do it, and give everyone the finger in the process.

Re:"internal traffic"? (1)

desdinova 216 (2000908) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034869)

I think Comcast's definition of internal traffic as their VOD/Streaming services.

Perceived? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40034399)

It is bilking.

  There is no justification beyond greed - just because "unlimited" didn't mean what they thought they meant doesn't mean they get to redefine the word. As an earlier /. article pointed out, they can't even accurately measure their bandwidth capacity, so there's no study-level data that network issues are realated to the heaviest users, any more than it's a spike in the volume of simultaneous users, or any other conjecture based cause of the minute. Easily applicable to the other market players as well.

Excuse me sir but those are contradictory actions (1)

ourlovecanlastforeve (795111) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034429)

> Remove Data Cap

> Implement Tiered Pricing

Well, which is it?

Boggles (1, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 2 years ago | (#40034849)

As a Canadian, where 100GB data caps are insanely high and most run between 30 and 60-ish, the thought of having 250 or 300 GB to play with _PER MONTH_ boggles my mind. I literally don't know how I'd come close to tapping that out without making a concerted effort to do so. As it is, I typically run under 30-ish per month and I use the internet quite extensively. Ah, it amuses me how some people see a problem when others see glorious unlimited freedom...

(Not trying to be a smartass, though I often am one - I literally mean it - I truly don't know how I'd burn 300 GB a month)

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