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Broadband Providers' Hidden Bandwidth Limits

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the play-nicely-and-share dept.

The Internet 443

An anonymous reader sends us to the Boston Globe for a story that will come as a surprise to few here: broadband suppliers will cut you off if you download too many bits. It tells the stories of several Comcast users who were warned — without specifics — that they were using "too much" bandwidth, then had their accounts summarily cancelled. Looking into the future: "...even if only a tiny fraction of customers are downloading enough to trigger the policy, that will probably change as more entertainment moves to the Internet."

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Uh huh. Yeah right. (5, Insightful)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18326985)

Lemee see. Downloading the max a line will allow is OK. They understood the contract as "unlimited".

Seems to me that they're way overselling their lines. SBC DSL doesnt care how much you use, nor should they. (We had them for 2 years and kept 60% up and down utilized on average).

These cable bastards need to be raked over the coals for this. Or at leat, lose a bunch of profits.

Re:Uh huh. Yeah right. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327445)

We had them for 2 years and kept 60% up and down utilized on average

Can I leech your porn collection? Please?

Re:Uh huh. Yeah right. (5, Insightful)

Mistlefoot (636417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327619)

This isn't a cable/DSL issue. This is a "we don't tell you how much but we cut you off anyhow" issue. In Canada we are generally advised our bandwidth limits.

Shaw (Cable) clearly advise how much bandwidth is permitted with each connection type - High Speed light - 10 GB/month data transfer
- High Speed - 60 GB/month data transfer
- High Speed Extreme - 100 GB/month data transfer
- High Speed Nitro - 150 GB/month data transfer25 Mb download speed
http://www.shaw.ca/en-ca/ProductsServices/Internet /

Telus (DSL) offer you 10GB, 30GB, 60GB and 60GB for their 4 different speed packages.
http://www.mytelus.com/internet/highspeed/prices.d o

Note that Cable offers higher speed and an equal or greater bandwidth in all cases.

frosty piss (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18326989)

a winner is me

Linux ISO's... (0, Redundant)

Alboin (1064242) | more than 7 years ago | (#18326991)

First Post. Anyway, I've never gotten anything with my ISP, and I download a lot of Linux ISOs..

Re:Linux ISO's... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327145)

Is that what you call them?

Re:Linux ISO's... (2, Interesting)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327571)

'I download a lot of Linux ISOs...'

From the ISP's POV, not at all the same as a lot of movies. Not all content moves across the 'net in a similar manner.

Those ISOs are relatively light-weight in terms of xfer overhead. You can pull them down all day and not get any attention, but if you start anything that even barely reeks of streaming or multi-media, you'll trigger a flag that puts you in line for being throttled back.

Try it and see :)

Net Neutrality... (1)

LoadWB (592248) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327001)

Not if ISPs start charging the content providers. This looks like just another argument to this end...

Re:Net Neutrality... (5, Insightful)

The Zon (969911) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327183)

Yes, because I'm sure they'll take the money they get from content providers and pour it into upgrading their network. You know, so that they can handle enough bandwidth that they don't have to charge the content providers anymore.

Oh, wait. That would cut off a source of income. Without net neutrality, they'd have a distinct profit motive to never upgrade.

Instead of focusing on speed (4, Interesting)

complexmath (449417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327007)

perhaps this should be a marketing point for DSL providers. "DSL: the bandwidth you pay for is really yours."

Re:Instead of focusing on speed (1, Informative)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327047)

Well, we got it in writing from them when we signed up a 2 year agreement. We made sure that they didnt care if we used every last BYTE we paid for in our connection.

Not to mention the telcos are common carrier, and immune to the real Mand in the Middle lawsuit attacks.

Like I said before (FP ;-) we kept up a 60% up/down on average. Nobody cared.

Re:Instead of focusing on speed (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327097)

Not to mention the telcos are common carrier, and immune to the real Mand in the Middle lawsuit attacks.

Not on your DSL line they aren't. They specifically petitioned the FCC to have DSL declared a data service instead of a communications service because the costs of maintaining the common carrier standards on the DSL lines were making it too hard to compete with the cable companies.

Re:Instead of focusing on speed (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327159)

Oh. I didnt know that.

Hmm... So what would it be declared if you ran Asterisk on your DSL circuit? Better yet, what about fractional T?

Some of this phone stuff and lingo blows my mind... (and thats not easy to do)

Re:Instead of focusing on speed (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327599)

(and thats not easy to do)

yeah, i expect it actually is pretty easy to do. slashdot is fun, but someone should probably point out that you are acting like knee jerk "didn't read the article" no knowledge of the industry loud mouthed fool here, so pipe down already.

besides the fact that 60% usage of a typical dsl circuit is probably around 30% of the throughput we are discussing here, you can be sure that there is either abuse monitoring by your provider or you have one suck-ass provider. it is essential to perform proactive abuse monitoring at the ISP level to stomp out zombies, end of story.

also, you didn't specify if you have some sort of static IP class of service where they expect and provision for a server or paltry consumer service. these have vastly different terms of service. I'm glad you asked your carrier if they "didn't mind your using every last Byte" of your service, as you mentioned in another comment, but it's pretty clear you haven't even bothered to glance at your ToS for the purposes of this thread (which shores up my earlier point re: you -> fool)

Crazed slashbots are bound to foam at the mouth that this is conspiracy to shore up some argument about net neutrality, but really, abuse monitoring can kick in for all sorts of reasons. for example. a few thousand connections over port 25 in a couple of days or so will get you an ISP level block on port 25, for the typical consumer grade service. is this some sort of conspiracy to, i dunno, mess with the email system? no. do people get steamed when it happens? you bet. but they will run their crapp-assed machine jammed up with spam zombie magic no matter what you tell them, so the only thing to do is pull the plug or slam the door shut on a particular port.

I am shamed to even be reading some of this drivel. if the ISPs are proactive about stomping out spam and bot armies, slashdot will complain. If they did nothing, slashdot would complain. you are all a bunch of narrow-minded thick wits eager to bitch about any and every thing. yech.

Re:Instead of focusing on speed (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327737)

You put a lot of thought into those five paragraphs of bitching, given that they were intended for an audience of narrow-minded thick wits, eager to bitch and complain.

Re:Instead of focusing on speed (1)

Cstryon (793006) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327761)

That would be nice. But I do tech support for DSL Modems, and the speed that they sell you is only possible to reach if you are the home that actually lives right close ( I mean with in a couple blocks) of where the dsl signal is being sent out. The speed they sell you is always an "up to" Speed. I've had customers calling me about their Ups and Downs not being what they paid for, and unfortunatly I had to explain the geography behind it. If the further you are away from the central office, the lower your bandwidth will be.

Optimum Online in NY caps uploads (2, Interesting)

Faizdog (243703) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327033)

My upload with Cablevision's Optimum online is currently capped. I think it's due to my torrents, even though I had a global limit of 40 Kilobytes per sec. I download at 10 Mbits but upload is 140 Kbits.

I've had this happen with them before, and it seems like there is no way out except to call, and you only get 3 strikes before you're out I've heard.

It's very frustrating, I pay for a fast internet connection and should be allowed to use it within reason. I purposefully capped my torrent uploads at 40KBytes, that's not too much, I shouldn't be capped.

Re:Optimum Online in NY caps uploads (2, Interesting)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327091)

Well I have been slapped by comcast with a digital-millenium-rights email saying blahblah owner of a movie is aware I am giving their movies away. And I am violating their services. The problem is that I did torrent for like 2 weeks only. I have never been a big user, at most I am estimating 20 gigs of downloads and uploads. I know people that way exceed this. They cap you if they don't like what you are downloading. IMHO bandwidth has nothing to do with it.

Re:Optimum Online in NY caps uploads (2, Insightful)

karnal (22275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327133)

Well I have been slapped by comcast with a digital-millenium-rights email saying blahblah owner of a movie is aware I am giving their movies away. And I am violating their services. The problem is that I did torrent for like 2 weeks only.
So you're saying you did violate a law that is currently in place, and then go on to try to deflect it? I mean come on, if the RIAA or MPAA came knocking on my door, I'd HAVE to hang my head regardless of how much or how little I may or may not have downloaded.

Re:Optimum Online in NY caps uploads (3, Informative)

a_nonamiss (743253) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327343)

Dude, expect more than a letter from you ISP talking about upload caps...

You have almost 3000 comments, and your number is lower than mine, so I know you're not new around here. That letter from your ISP is a precursor to being sued by the RIAA/MPAA. It means they've subpoenaed your ISP for your name and address based on your IP address. Your ISP is doing you a solid by letting you know they've give up your name. (I don't believe they're legally required to do so.) Expect more unfriendly mail in the near future. Best of luck to you.

Re:Optimum Online in NY caps uploads (1)

Basehart (633304) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327525)

I'm betting the grandparent is super happy it was only that one Andy Warhol movie that was shared on torrents!

Re:Optimum Online in NY caps uploads (1)

Perseid (660451) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327651)

Not necessarily. Often industry people send letters to ISPs saying downloaded this. Yell at them or we sue you. It does not mean a request for information was made or that a suit was filed. I have a friend who got 5 of these. He's fine.

Have you ever seen a grown man naked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327341)

But seriously, you can uncap your cable modem easily [google.com] .

Re:Have you ever seen a grown man naked? (1)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327615)

The FBI prosecutes people who uncap their modems. Really. They strongly overreact to this particular behavior.

Re:Have you ever seen a grown man naked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327779)

I thought that's why ISPs capped at their end now and not at the modem.

Re:Optimum Online in NY caps uploads (2, Insightful)

mrbcs (737902) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327721)

I pay for a fast internet connection and should be allowed to use it within reason.

The problem is that the internet providers NEVER charge what it's actually worth. Their business model works on overselling. I have a town with 100 customers. They all get at least 1.5 mbps connection. We supply this town with a 10 mbps connection and it works fine. If we had to provide 150mbps for this town, they'd never have service. Also, if you put 10 guys here that download 24/7.. we're going to have real problems.

Within reason is relative.. 40 gigs a month may be reasonable to you and the provider.. some people think 200 gigs a month is resonable. It's not from the providers perspective.. and bandwidth is expensive.

Rogers cable in Southern Ontario used to routinely punt the top 5% or so of their users because of overuse. My only issue with that is that they would never actually admit it or tell anyone what the soft cap was. This website was basically started because of this issue: http://www.rbua.org/ [rbua.org] and to try and keep Rogers fairly honest.. good luck with that...

"Those Cox-uckers!" (4, Informative)

dosius (230542) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327035)

I hear this from Shaw and Cox users all the time, they're getting shitograms from the ISP over their heavy bandwidth usage. Well, Verizon's never bitched at me and I have full uplink running almost 24/7. This was true even when I had a residential line.


Re:"Those Cox-uckers!" (0, Troll)

MaxwellSmarty (1074953) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327129)

Here you guys are, in the flesh the Cox Nastygrams. I've had about 65 over the course of two months, even after upgrading my service. compare with their PR page and slogan, " It's the Internet without limits!!!" "Dear Cox High Speed Internet Customer: In order to provide all Cox High Speed Internet customers with an optimal online experience, Cox must effectively manage network resources for our users. As part of our network management activities, we proactively identify accounts that may be utilizing excessive network bandwidth. Our records indicate that your account may be exceeding our bandwidth usage policy. Please note that if the situation is not corrected, your Cox High Speed Internet account may be suspended. Privacy note: Cox does NOT track Internet sites that you visit or files you download - it only measures total bandwidth used for purposes of network management. Below are frequently asked questions regarding excessive bandwidth usage. - What Are the Current Cox High Speed Internet Residential Bandwidth Limitations? The Limitations vary based on your level of service. The complete list is available at http://www.cox.com/policy/limitations.asp [cox.com] . Preferred Package - 40 gigabytes downstream; 10 gigabytes upstream Premier Package - 60 gigabytes downstream; 15 gigabytes upstream Value Package - 4 gigabytes downstream; 1 gigabyte upstream - What Might Cause My Account To Use Excessive Bandwidth? 1. Often a peer-to-peer file sharing application such as KaZaa, Morpheus or Gnutella may be the problem. These programs operate as file servers by default and offer files from your hard drive to other Internet users, possibly causing your account to use excessive bandwidth without your knowledge. 2. If you have a wireless home network, there is a possibility that other people are using your wireless network without your knowledge and greatly increasing your network usage. Please refer to the documentation provided with your networking equipment to secure your connection with a password. 3. Your computer may be affected by a computer virus. A virus will often send out mass emails from your computer without your knowledge. Installing antivirus software on your computer and scanning for possible infections may resolve this issue. 4. In some cases, excessive usage indicates the presence of a commercial Internet server. Customers using servers and/or bandwidth above normal amounts may be best served by a commercial account available from Cox Business Services (www.coxbusiness.com). - Does Using A File Sharing Application Violate the Cox Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)? No, using a peer-to-peer file sharing program to download files does not in itself violate the AUP. If your software is already configured not to share files to other users, you should not have a problem. Please visit support.cox.net for more information and instructions for securing most common file sharing programs. - Does Having A Wireless Home Network Violate the Cox Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)? No, however Cox does not provide support for your home network and you must take precautions to secure any wireless home network. - What Will Happen If My Account Continues To Use Excessive Bandwidth? If the excessive usage is not corrected, your account may be suspended per the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). - Where Can I View The Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)? The AUP is available online at http://www.cox.com/policy/#Acceptable_Use_Policy [cox.com] . If you have further questions regarding this policy or feel you have received this notice in error, please visit http://support.cox.com/sdccommon/asp/contentredire ct.asp?sprt_cid=ad888fb1-7447-4a80-bcb5-47131d31e3 07 [cox.com] or send an email to support@cox.net. Thank you for your cooperation, The Cox High Speed Internet Team"

Re:"Those Cox-uckers!" (5, Funny)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327431)

Please mod this "-1, paragraphs are your friend"

Re:"Those Cox-uckers!" (1)

MaxwellSmarty (1074953) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327711)

It's a straight up copy and paste from the Cox abuse division, please send complaints to abuse@cox.net. No, really, please send them complaints.

Re:"Those Cox-uckers!" (1)

AngelofDeath-02 (550129) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327513)

I have cox ... They do have a policy about excessive bandwidth usage, and monthly caps in the gigabytes range.

However, having a 12mb/1mb line (slower out here, actually - they have 12/2mb) I haven't received any sort of notice of excessive bandwidth usage, despite continually uploading at 40k/s+

My guess is that they really don't care until you start impacting other people's service.

Re:over-bandwidth notices (4, Interesting)

evought (709897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327447)

I got my Internet access cut off by a local DSL provider a little while back because of a sudden bandwidth spike. They had noticed that my account had suddenly gone to the top of their bandwidth-usage chart and stayed there. They informed me that the account had been suspended because of a "probable virus infection". At first I thought that they were just having problems with (legitimate) torrent use, but I did have a Win2K box up at that point to run some software my wife needed for work. Lo and behold, despite patches and security, the box had been owned. I told them I had taken the 2K box off-line (booted it back into Linux and the other box was a Mac) and they immediately reactivated the account.

slippery slope (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327043)

Looking into the future:

"...even if only a tiny fraction of customers are downloading enough to trigger the policy, that will probably change as more entertainment moves to the Internet."

Yeah, except the download caps are usually defined at around +4 standard deviations above normal usage. Let's cut the FUD, please? If you want guaranteed bandwidth limits, get yourself a business account.

Let me put this in simple terms: if you're using enough to get cut off then you deserve it and I have no pity for you. In fact, I want you off my shared line.

What part of (1)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327569)

"you pay $/month for X megs/second" do you not understand?

Re:What part of (1)

bLindmOnkey (744643) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327691)

That's not the issue at hand. There's a difference between download speed, as you mention, and total bandwidth used. The problem in this case is that Comcast won't specify what the amount of bandwidth you can use before they cut off service, not how fast the connection is.

really (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327045)

ISP's have been limiting dl/ul for like....forever.

Since when does this make it onto slashdot???

Now.....TRUE unlimited speeds/bw....that would be a story.

I'd sign up.....five days ago.

Re:really (1)

SurturZ (54334) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327415)

I *think* the article is talking about bandwidth, not volume. In other words, it isn't how many gigs a month you are downloading that worries them, it is how fast you download it. ISPs here in Australia advertise their upload/download speeds though; if they do the same in the US it is hard to see how they can justifiably complain when you use it to capacity.

How many? (4, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327063)

Comcast says that only .01 percent of its 11.5 million residential high-speed Internet customers fall into this category.

ONLY 1,150 customers are at risk of being cut off?

Comcast has an interesting definition of "common carrier". I wonder if the courts will agree with it...

Re:How many? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327279)

This is the type of BS that I hate. I've looked at this Comcast issue before and most of the people were downloading 60-100GB a month. Sure that's a lot compared to Grandma, but Comcast doesn't set a limit and it (at least used to) says its unlimited. When people ask the limit so they can stay within it, they're told there is no limit. They're afraid they'll lose customers if they set a limit and that other customers will go up to the limit since that's what they're paying for. I do think there should be a lawsuit against Comcast on this issue.

Re:How many? (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327421)

Comcast has an interesting definition of "common carrier".

No, you have an interesting definition of "common carrier", since Comcast and other cable companies are not, in fact, common carriers. They are excluded from that piece of legislation, just like xDSL services. You have to rent a BRI or PRI to get common carrier privileges.


Re:How many? (1)

u-235-sentinel (594077) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327775)

Comcast says that only .01 percent of its 11.5 million residential high-speed Internet customers fall into this category.

ONLY 1,150 customers are at risk of being cut off?

Actually, isn't that number 115,000? Sounds like a lot of people to me

Thi is new how? (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327065)

I mean I've heard about these sort of things years ago, I'm surprised that people don't expect this to happen when they use too much bandwidth.

Re:Thi is new how? (5, Funny)

QCompson (675963) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327155)

I'm surprised that people don't expect this to happen when they use too much bandwidth.

Yes, it's strange. It's as if they were told they had unlimited internet access.

Re:Thi is new how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327617)

You are assuming that your definition of "unlimited internet" is the same as the ISPs.

When most ISPs say "unlimited" they likely mean "no time limit" or "always on" rather than "unlimited megs of downloads". That is the important thing most people seem to miss. My cable ISP is "unlimited", as in always on, but I have a download limit of 100 gig a month.

It is just a marketing ploy saying unlimited internet.

Road Runner/Earthlink (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327069)

I use a lot of usenet, downloading a few hundred gigs a month (by my estimation.) I am using RoadRunner as sold by Earthlink, and I have never had any problems. Yet when my friends in the neighborhood start using that amount of bandwidth as Roadrunner customers they get these warnings all the time. One even had his connection throttled.

A /. dupe, what else is new (-1, Flamebait)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327079)

Seems like we've seen this story here before. Basically another Bittorrent user gets pissed that Comcast doesn't want them pulling down a terabyte every month; so they post it to /. where they know a vocal few will attempt to make it appear to be a mainstream issue.

Re:A /. dupe, what else is new (5, Interesting)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327117)

Ok. You buy a 1 year subscription to a 3Mbps-down/256Kbps-up line. You are told, along with adverts claiming it is an unlimited line.

They disconnect you for unspeakable limits. That is called FRAUD. No ifs ands or buts.

If they cant maintain profitability on selling those lines for whatever they do, too bad. Not my problem. if they can only sell 512Kbps sync and keep it truthful and honest, all the better.

If the telcos DSL circuits can do it, why not the "Pig"?

Re:A /. dupe, what else is new (1)

Perseid (660451) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327745)

I have not seen an ISP ad say "unlimited" for quite some time. I know roadrunner never did, at least to me. And I looked in their TOS to see if they 'reserve the right to limit bandwidth' and there indeed is a clause. Not that I've ever seen them do it to me, despite my addiction to data.

Re:A /. dupe, what else is new (2)

ZDRuX (1010435) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327197)

Basically another Bittorrent user gets pissed that Comcast doesn't want them pulling down a terabyte every month ...

And why shouldn't they? Most ISP's advertise their service as "unlimited" yet they aren't. So why shouldnt the customer be pissed off?
Nobody can say the customer should download "reasonable" ammount of bytes, because that leaves too much open as to who believes how much "reasonable" really is.

The bext thing the ISPs should do is outline exactly how much the customer can download before offering the service or explicitly outlining how much they allow.

Bingo. (0)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327211)

Your $39 package explicitly states that there is absolutely, positively no guaranteed service level whatsoever.

Face it, folks, you're not buying an "unlimited" package when your contract has a 42-point bold oblique heading titled "LIMITATIONS." It also generally states quite clearly in those contracts that the sort of activity people usually bitch about in these threads should be performed under a business SLA account where they explicitly do not put any limitations on your usage...and you probably pay more for the cable TV portion of your bill than the business data line would cost anyway, so stfu already.

Re:Bingo. (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327477)

Your $39 package explicitly states that there is absolutely, positively no guaranteed service level whatsoever.

So if the speed was capped, it would be not out of line. But they're pulling the plug for going over a limit that they won't state.

Re:A /. dupe, what else is new (1)

blackicye (760472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327381)

Boy if you know an ISP that serves residential broadband which can pull down a terabyte a month over bittorrent, I'd love to see it, as far as I'm aware Comcast is nowhere close.

someone tag this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327085)


or commucast.

or something.

BellSouth/ATT (0, Troll)

thisNameNotTaken (952374) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327107)

What changes? Its all about your money with no use that is acceptable. All want "grand ma's" who only use the service on Sundays.

BellSouth: They change renew your DHCP address 5 - 10 time a minute to drop you from you connection. Follow your logs. Accept, on my system they just slow thing down. Anyway, no wonder we a "last" in the world in high speed connections. It's a Republican thing!

"Reserve the right to terminate at any time..." (3, Insightful)

Oz0ne (13272) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327123)

For any reason...

That's how this works. That's the only way this works. They can advertise whatever they want, but as long as their contracts have that little clause in them, it really doesn't matter WHAT they advertise.

Re:"Reserve the right to terminate at any time..." (2, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327339)

They can advertise whatever they want, but as long as their contracts have that little clause in them, it really doesn't matter WHAT they advertise.

Uuuh? You serious?

Say verizon advertises an ADSL2 24 / 1 Mbps unlimited service, but the fine print actually says "we'll send a kitten to pick up any packets you print out on wedensday afternnon". Would that be cool?

It does matter what they're advertising. If the service isn't unlimited, they should advertise it as "up to unlimited" (similar to "up to 256kbps" claims, where you may get as little as 35kbps if you've got crap copper/etc).

False advertising is false advertising, clause or no clause.

Re:"Reserve the right to terminate at any time..." (5, Insightful)

melchoir55 (218842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327457)

No, it doesn't work that way. They can say whatever they want in their contract and you can sign it, but if just because you sign it does not mean the contract will hold. There are things a contract cannot do. Even if the contract explicitly states it and the person signs it, the contract can still be considered void if the contract violates a law. If I sign a contract that says "We reserve the right to enslave you at our discression", that contract WILL be considered void and they will be arrested if they try to act on it.

There are rights you cannot make people sign away. "Reserve the right to terminate at any time..." does NOT equal "Reserve the right to terminate for any reason..". False advertising is a violation of law and cannot be gotten out of, no matter how fancy your contract is worded.

All symptoms of a larger problem. (5, Insightful)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327125)

This and the net neutrality fight tell us something - the ISPs are not prepared for a large surge in bandwidth. Despite having about 10 years notice and charging up the ying-yang in many places, they're still not ready to provide the necessary speed to even those areas of the country they currently cover. When ISPs tell customers "5 Mb/s", they really mean "5 Mb/s, once in a blue moon, otherwise 512 kb/s normally and maybe a 2-3 Mb/s burst at times". 250 GB a month is only about 756 kbps. When customers realize this, there's gonna be a problem.

250 GB/month is not going to sound excessive when we start rolling out movie downloads in HD (that's 12 movies), or Steam-like solutions take off, or people start using things like Skype. Nowadays, your game console, your HD-DVD player, and your DVR/cable box want Internet access to get patches or content, and these massive numbers are getting more and more reasonable. This shouldn't be a sign to Comcast that users should download less, it should be a sign that they need to upgrade their networks drastically and fast.

I feel the pain (1, Insightful)

svunt (916464) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327127)

I'm with an Australian ISP, on an 'unlimited' plan. The problem is, 'unlimited' doesn't apply when the ISP's network utilization is over 80% - which since they oversell their bandwidth is always...so my 'unlimited' 1.5 mbit line is capped 24/7 to around 768kbits.

I find it unsurprising that countries that are decidedly anti-consumer, pro-corporate like Australia & the US are seriously lagging in broadband adoption...you've essentially got to be desperate for internet access to go for any of the ISP offerings.

Re:I feel the pain (1)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327461)

Hang on, Australian broadband sucks but it doesn't suck this hard. Most, and by that I mean about 98% of, Australian isps have a stated download limit before you are shaped. Plus if we don't like our isp we are free to change. That isn't how it works in the US, where you have one, maybe two ISPs you can choose. If you have a suck plan, and by the sounds of it you do, you should change. Internode is a great isp, I get an 8mbps plan with free premium usenet access and a 40gb limit for $90 a month. You don't have to believe me, check out whirlpools latest survey results [whirlpool.net.au] , Internode comes out on top in every question.

No cap for iTunes I'll bet (3, Interesting)

rueger (210566) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327141)

"...even if only a tiny fraction of customers are downloading enough to trigger the policy, that will probably change as more entertainment moves to the Internet."

If you're downloading gigabytes of movies and music from a service that the RIAA or MPAA approves of then suddenly bandwidth caps will cease to be an issue.

I doubt that anyone will ever get a takedown notice from their ISP for excessive iTunes usage.

Re:No cap for iTunes I'll bet (4, Funny)

Perseid (660451) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327773)

You would have to be one rich SOB to legally utilize as much bandwidth as I do.

I mean...I don't do that sort of thing. Why are you looking at me like that?

lets have a max out your provider DAY! (1)

HelloKitty (71619) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327157)

lets have a max out your provider DAY!

yes, on 3.14.2007 from 8am to 8pm, lets all get on and download lots of terrents and youtube and,....
max out our providers, let them know we all need our bandwidth and shouldn't be canceled.

Trying to weed out least profitable customers (4, Insightful)

techmuse (160085) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327161)

It seems like they are simply trying to eliminate customers who are unprofitable, or not very profitable. They have to invest much less money if they get rid of the people who actually USE their service, rather than just downloading the occasional e-mail or web page. You can offer unlimited bandwidth if no one uses it. This is very much like the cell carriers dropping support for users of older phone technologies because those users don't purchase extra services.

Re:Trying to weed out least profitable customers (1)

wordsnyc (956034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327267)

Well, that's how health insurance works in the US, so why not? I'm sure our little libertarian pals will step in now to explain that this all creates a wonderful free-market opportunity for you to start your own cable service/telco....

DSL has more local bandwith then cable (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327187)

DSL has more local bandwidth as you have your own link back to the point there the big links come in.
With cable you are shearing the bandwidth to the HEAD-END where the bigger links come with a lot of other people. Some areas are more split up then others so that is way there is no fixed cap as it is based on local use and capacity.

Re:DSL has more local bandwith then cable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327289)

so you on your DSL surf mostly the local network?

once you get past the local network and hit the INTERNET, you have the same (from my experience for dsl, less) bandwidth.

Re:DSL has more local bandwith then cable (1)

TCaM (308943) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327741)

Actually you are just sharing bandwidth to the node. From there it is fiber.

I smell a class action coming... (1)

Myrkridian42 (840659) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327201)

Basically their stance is,"We don't have a limit, we can't tell you how much is too much, but we're cutting your service anyway."

If publicity doesn't get them to change this, I'm sure a law firm will jump at the chance. Which will maybe get Comcast customers a coupon for a free pay per view movie or something equally worthless.

My cable line comes from my local power company, and I read the fine print when I signed up. In the contract it says they limit you to 10gb a month. I go way over that all the time and have never once gotten a call. It's obvioustly just a CYA (Cover Your Ass) clause in case I decide to download the entire library of the Pirate Bay or host a web server. It's stupid Comcast doesn't do the same.

no class no action no one here read their contract (1)

Magdalene (263144) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327671)

I hate to be the evil alien to spray concentrated acid for blood all over your class action suits parade. But has anyone here even *read* their acceptable use policy with thier ISP? unlimited internet access does not in any way mean unlimited internet *bandwidth* access. It simply means that your ISP has not blocked your user account from any internet website in the world. like some earlier ISP's did mentioning no *chough*Aol*chough* names of course.

Some ISPs will give you strict guidelines about how much they are willing to let you leach of their pipe before you have to start paying for it. Say 5gigs down to 1 gig up residential. while others don't go to the trouble as long as you dont bring your MP3WAREZJUGOTNOTINGWEDONTHAVE.COM up above their radar, then, of *course* they have to smack you down. SILLIES. You are being flagrant about how much you are abusing the system. They will let you off once with a warning. that sounds something like "Hi you are on our radar, try not to be on it again" The smart user will go "yipes!" and cut his usage down for 2 or 4 months to about half of what he was doing then after about 6 months at that *slowly* ramp it up to where it was *just* before he got warned. and hopefully the ISP has enough grannies who only use email once a month to camoflague your bandwidth use.

If you can't do that, most ISPs have extra bandwidth packages. They have to buy the bandwidth. so they will sell it to you if you ask nicely.

or go ahead and get your account pulled. ... more bandwidth for me..


Having a limit is not the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327217)

Refusing to tell the customer what that limit is is the problem. Tell them they can download 50 gigabytes a month or whatever, but don't give this "It's unlimited but it's not" BS.

sucks to be on Comcast (2, Interesting)

indy_Muad'Dib (869913) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327263)

Brighthouse just finished laying the fiber outside my house, 100/100 for $135 a month, no caps no limits

Re:sucks to be on Comcast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327783)

You, sir, SUCK!!!!!

Asshatery (2, Informative)

Trendy.Ideology (1058410) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327273)

The CSB (CocksuckingBastards) at TWC(TimeWarnerCable) with Roadrunner "Quarantined" our modem because of bandwidth usage. Needless to say I was outraged and am still strongly considering a switch to ADSL. Oh, and they've still ignored my request for a copy of their TOS EULA and Fair Use policies. Their service sucks, it goes down randomly, and I've had more intelligent conversations with a rock than with their support centers.

The solution... (3, Funny)

Nutty_Irishman (729030) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327305)

Download midget porn, it takes half the time (and bandwidth)!

Ya, I've been saving that line for a long time....

And this is yet... (3, Insightful)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327317)

Another reason why Triple Play sales pitches are HORRIBLE.

Cable line has been "exceeded". They then hijack your other 2 services for leverage.

It's free, until you use it.

So get a better ISP (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327387)

Speakeasy will let you use as much as you like and not bitch. It's more expensive than some others, but maybe that's part of the reason.

Comcast Free and Loving It (1)

BanjoBob (686644) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327389)

I had Adelphia which was purchased by ComTrash. With Adelphia I had 6Mbit cable downloads and they were fast. After the acquisition by ComTrash, I was down with no service for 10 days. When the service came back, I was throttled down to 1 Mbit. Techs came and went - service remained at 1 Mbit. Customer [no] service was beyond worthless. They had no answers why the rate was so slow and they were unable to remedy the problem. They did want a rate hike though!!!

I finally cancelled both the net and the TV service. Now I use two different services (network and TV) and the cost is half as much for better service.

If you use ComTrash I recommend you consider your options.

Re:Comcast Free and Loving It (1)

rdoger6424 (879843) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327609)

Glad to!
Option #1: Comcast
Option #2: Satellite
Option #3: Dialup

(I guess I could weasel in some cellular data network, but that's a stretch)

Had adelphia, have comcast, service is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327611)

That's funny... I also had adelphia and now have comcast. Adelphia was 4mb/sec download, comcast is listed as either 5 or 6 but with bursts up to around 12... and sure enough when I go to speakeasy.net/speedtest or other test sites I tend to get around 10~11mb/sec download, and upload around 900kb/sec... much better than with adelphia.

I've gone through this before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327403)

There have been some great posts before over at Broadband Reports.

In particular are these posts detailing how a Comcast employee harassed a user's elderly parents. The thread [dslreports.com] is quite good. All the http://www.dslreports.com/forum/remark,15937695 [slashdot.org] ">q uestions that are being asked in this thread were asked by the user in question. There is no hard limit at Comcast and you're guilty until proven innocent. The best part was when the user posted proof [dslreports.com] that the computers weren't transferring as much data as the Comcast Abuse department claimed. Regardless, there is a real problem out there that needs to be addressed.

I always wonder when I am going to be shut off (1)

Nightspirit (846159) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327407)

I currently have COX internet cable, and would consider going to DSL if COX wasn't giving me basic cable for free.

However, on any given day I could be legally downloading an HD movie (via xbox or similar services), downloading legally a gig or 2 of pron (I pay $10/month for a service that provides DVD quality rips), and downloading a TV show or two (legal, if you consider timeshifting to be a valid defense). So just by using legal services I'm doing a gig or two a day.

It would be nice to know what a good safe weekly or monthly number is. It would be fine if they said "100 gigs a month is the cap" but "we have a secret number" doesn't really cut it.


I really don't have a problem with the policy, (2, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327419)

but I do have a problem with how they handle it. I mean, they don't specify a limit, it's basically a nebulous figure, and that they aren't clear at all about this in their marketing. I mean, if they don't mean to say that always-connected is for always maxed, then they shouldn't use weasel words in the fine print. The claimed interpretation of "unlimited" is that the connection is basically always on, as opposed to dial-up of old where you were allowed a certain number of hours. Of course, they know that unlimited also gives an impression of not having a bit limit either, but they never do anything to prevent that impression except in said fine print.

Don't feel TOO sorry for these peple (2, Interesting)

salahx (100975) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327535)

While perhaps the ISP's have "invisible" quota, the people being affected by this are downloading truly pathological amounts: enough to fill modern hard drivers SEVERAL times over in a month.

On a 6 Mbps/s connections, if you did nothing but download all the time, you'd be downloading a little less than 2 Tb a month, roughly 4 for 5 hard drives worth (at today's hard drive sizes). That a over 200 double-layer (9G) DVD, 450 regular DVD's, 3,000 audio CD, hundred for thousands of DVD's. You could download every Linux distribution ever made with room to spare.

The people getting these notices and having their connections shut off have been approaching a MINIMUM of 1/3 this capacity (given a casual survey of those who got letter on DSL Reports and other forums), and note that these people got a at least 1 warning informing them of this.

This is truly staggering, even for the heavy downloaders here - even the warezers - you monthly download is probably WELL under that. (Even if you have no life at all you still need to time watch/play your downloads).

Even if the ISP said there were an "all-you-can-eat", there people are well beyond that. Even the big downloads might bring an elephant to the buffer and still not get thrown out (suspended), but these people are brining herds of elephants in, and then when their elephants are full, having them throw up over the buffet and repeating.

Bandwidth is not precious (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327591)

The infrastructure is more than capable of handling many times the traffic it currently has. This is nothing but network providers trying to convince people that bandwidth is precious so they will pay more for it.

An artificial shortage.

The standard comcast service is capable of >50Mbps. They just don't give it to you because they want to charge more for "business" service.

Can they cut off your telephone? (1)

blindseer (891256) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327601)

More and more people are using VOIP as their primary phone service in the home. Aren't there laws against cutting off one's access to 911? That would be the net effect if the internet provider killed a person's broadband. If a person doesn't pay the bill on their POTS telephone the telephone company will generally kill the phone's ability to receive calls and dial anything except 911 and the customer support, but they won't make it completely dead.

I could be completely wrong, of course.

IP Accounting but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327613)

Of course if you do not know what the "Limits" are, you have no real limit to limit yourself too.
Here is my IP Accounting from the last year.
-Red is Comcast
-Green is local lan 1 (Computers)
-Orange is local lan 2 or my DMZ (PS2/Xbox/wireless/SunRocket)

If I understand this right, I downloaded 375GB in the last year?

[root@outbox root]# ipacsum --starttime 1Y
IP accounting summary
Host: outbox / Time created: 2007/03/12 23:56:12 EST
Data from 2006/03/12 23:56:12 EST to 2007/03/12 23:56:12 EST
    Incoming GREEN Direct 21G
    Incoming GREEN Forward 17G
    Incoming ORANGE Direct 9M
    Incoming ORANGE Forward 25G
    Incoming RED Direct 375G
    Incoming RED Forward 295G
    Outgoing GREEN Direct 377G
    Outgoing GREEN Forward 263G
    Outgoing ORANGE Direct 2M
    Outgoing ORANGE Forward 33G
    Outgoing RED Direct 21G
    Outgoing RED Forward 42G

Welcome to the real world... (5, Informative)

u-235-sentinel (594077) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327631)

I'm glad to see this finally on Slashdot. I've been pushing for Comcast to provide full disclosure since I was terminated. I didn't have DSL in my area until last Monday so now I'm not dealing with 28.8 speeds. While this may be legal, I'm hoping Comcast will come clean. I really appreciate Carolyn from the Boston Globe for publishing the story. There are many other articles coming from various consumer advocate groups in the next couple months so stay tuned.

Since Comcast disconnected me in january, I've found dozens of people who have been disconnected across the country. What's amusing is Comcast is untilling to disclose what "Acceptable Use" is. They only point to their AUP/TOS on their web site and tell you to read it and follow it. Cox Communications and other reputable providers will tell you what Acceptable is in real numbers (50 Gigs a month, 80 Gigs and so on). Comcast will ONLY tell you an example of what Abuse is.

They say an abuser downloads 256,000 photos or 30,000 sounds or 13 million (that's right, million) emails a month. So on my blog I posted what Comcast is saying in english. Abusers of their system are downloasing around 200-250 Gigs a month which is 100 times more than their "average" user. So the average user is only downloading about 1 - 2 Gigs a month. Hardly using the service in my book. Not really streaming video, purchasing movies from Amazon.com Unbox or anything. If you purchase 2 HD-DVD videos from Amazon and download them then you are already violating AUP/TOS with Comcast. Tonight I've updated my blog to include stories of other's who are providing videos for download online.

I've posted my story on the web at my blog [blogspot.com] . I'm hoping to get the word out and have people look at fiber networks such as Utopia [utopianet.org] . Their fiber infrastructure provides choices. If a company (such as Comcast) is abusing customers, they can choose another. Of course having a 1 gig pipe to the house is also faster than anything Cable can provide. Must be why Verizon is rolling out FiOS.

Anyway, Major Kudos to Carolyn at the Boston Globe!

unlimited "unlimited" (1)

Gunslinger47 (654093) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327663)

A while back, in my third year of university my Cable ISP called me up and kindly asked me to come down to their office. I had signed up for my plan a year prior, back when they first offered their unlimited packages. However, recently they had made changes to their unlimited plan; turning it into an "unlimited" plan. Problem was, I never signed their agreement and I was also (so they told me) the small city's #1 consumer of upload bandwidth. I was consuming roughly fifty times the upload bandwidth as the typical non-casual customer.

I explained that since I was switched off a meter, I had been seeding torrents a lot more and even uploading them in some cases. The more people to download "Shining Force (complete series).torrent" the better, IMHO. I'm a nice guy, however, and said I'd stop seeding past 1.0 for their sake. I even signed their "unlimited" agreement uncoerced.

Did they read the terms of service? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327699)

Did the people read their terms of service? Or did they think the "unlimited" meant they could do what ever they want. Comcast, along with most ISPs are smart enough to protect themselves.

Excerpt from the Comcast High Speed Internet Terms of service is below. Full terms in link.

http://www.comcast.net/terms/index.jsp [comcast.net]

Network, Bandwidth, Data Storage and Other Limitations

Comcast may provide versions of the Service with different speeds and bandwidth usage limitations, among other characteristics, subject to applicable Service plans. You shall ensure that your use of the Service does not restrict, inhibit, interfere with, or degrade any other user's use of the Service, nor represent (in the sole judgment of Comcast) an overly large burden on the network. In addition, you shall ensure that your use of the Service does not restrict, inhibit, interfere with, disrupt, degrade, or impede Comcast's ability to deliver and provide the Service and monitor the Service, backbone, network nodes, and/or other network services.

You further agree to comply with all Comcast network, bandwidth, and data storage and usage limitations. You shall ensure that your bandwidth consumption using the Service does not exceed the limitations that are now in effect or may be established in the future. If your use of the Service results in the consumption of bandwidth in excess of the applicable limitations, that is a violation of this Policy. In such cases, Comcast may, in its sole discretion, terminate or suspend your Service account or request that you subscribe to a version of the Service with higher bandwidth usage limitations if you wish to continue to use the Service at higher bandwidth consumption levels.

In addition, you may only access and use the Service with a dynamic Internet Protocol ("IP") address that adheres to the dynamic host configuration protocol ("DHCP"). You may not configure the Service or any related equipment to access or use a static IP address or use any protocol other than DHCP unless you are subject to a Service plan that expressly permits otherwise.

Simple fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327747)

There's a really simple fix when your cable company isn't giving you what you pay for:

http://www.tcniso.net/ [tcniso.net]

I love me a 30/30mb config file.

Cox, 3 years ago (1)

nbehary (140745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327769)

maybe 2.....I got a warning that I used "over my daily allotment[up and down]" cause I was downloading, I think a Fedora torrent....sent them a reply of what I was doing, and how, exactly was I abusing my [whatever it was then] free bandwidth.....never got a response.....maybe they've changed their limits, but never heard from them again, and I know I've done wrose in a day since......(just recently....rebuilt the comp and been trying out different distros.....the amount on bandwidth I must have used the last couple weeks.....cause I like to let the torrents sit a while after I'm done.....i dunno)
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