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Comcast Cuts Off Users Who Exceed Secret Limit

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the we-won't-tell-you-and-we-won't-tell-you-why dept.

The Internet 574 has an article up spotlighting Comcast's tendency to cuts off heavy Internet users without defining in their AUP exactly what the bandwidth limit is. Frank Carreiro of West Jordan, Utah, got cut off by the mystery limit and started a 'Comcast Broadband dispute' blog.

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I know the limit! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20368619)

I have top secret information about the limit. They cap you if ... *internet goes dead*

Re:I know the limit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20368687)

In other news... (5, Funny)

Philotic (957984) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368631)

Police are handing out speeding tickets to drivers who exceed secret limit.

Re:In other news... (4, Informative)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368769)

Yep so true.

In many places, such as in Pennsylvania, often the state troopers will give a +15 MPH leeway ... so a driver going 79 MPH in 65 MPH zone would likely *not* get a ticket. Personally, I stick with 5 to 10 MPH over the speed limit max, but I know many people who swear by the +15 MPH rule.

On a related note, in some states, such as Pennsylvania, some speed detection methods, in particular Vascar (timing), has a +10 MPH leeway ... so again, even in lower speed limit zones, such as a 25, one often can drive nearly 15 MPH over that and likely not get a ticket...

Of course, if the driver admits speeding even 1 mile over than that above stated leeway likely won't matter... also, some states have "absolute" speed limits - there is no leeway so to speak ... something a driver should be aware of when driving through some small towns that rely on speeding tickets for revenue; PA outlawed radar for most local police decades ago for just that reason and thus many local PA towns are forced to use Vascar instead.

Often an officer will try to get the driver to admit to speeding and then play nice cop by offering to write a ticket for only going x over the limit, etc.

Digressed, but there really is a "secret" speed limit in most places, though many drivers quickly figure it out over time...

I'd imagine similar is true for high-bandwidth users ... many of them have figured out how far they can push it.


+/- 5 or whatever is not a secret limit. (0, Offtopic) (142825) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368811)

The reason for this is not because of a secret limit. It is because of accuracy of the measurement.

A radar gun is at best +/- 3mph. If you "admit" to speed, the issue of accuracy is moot.

Re:+/- 5 or whatever is not a secret limit. (4, Informative)

datapharmer (1099455) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368961)

It isn't the radar that is inaccurate. It is the analog speedometer found in most cars. The NTSB only requires car manufacturers to calibrate within +-3MPH. Most calibrate on the low side, but you can still argue the point. Most states actually require more than +3MPH to ticket for this reason. Additionally most local agencies have policies that require even higher speeds because wasting time in court means one less officer on the street. As much as I dislike authority figures harassing me the truth is that the object is to protect people and if they are tied up in court with traffic offenses they can't stop violent offenders so it usually isn't worth fighting over 5MPH.

Re:+/- 5 or whatever is not a secret limit. (3, Insightful)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369077)


Current legal calibration requirements for EU (and AFAIK USA) are +0%/-7% (note the big fat zero for the + error). Manufacturing errors, calibration errors, etc all tend to follow a Gauss bell curve so manufacturers tend to calibrate to -3% and allow +/-3% error around that.

As far as the precision of measurement equipment if police is given high precision measurement equipment like the new speed averaging cameras in the UK they use it without any second doubt. These have sub-1% error because they measure the time it takes your car (recognised by number plate) to traverse 2-5 miles. As a result many drivers who expected the 10%/5 mph leeway usually applied to radar and laser cases where very unpleasantly surprised last winter during the roadworks on the M25 and M4 around london (not me, but I know a number of people who clocked 6+ points on their license in a matter of days).

Re:+/- 5 or whatever is not a secret limit. (3, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369281)

The speedometer in a car doesn't measure your actual speed, it measures your calculated speed based on wheel rotation. And how much ground the wheels cover differs with tyre wear, pressure and temperature (which affects pressure).
This is one of the reasons why you almost never get stopped for doing 70 in a 65 zone -- if you have new tires with high pressure, have driven for a while, and the weather is hot, the speedometer might show less than you're actually doing, but a few months later in the same exact car, with more tyre wear, less pressure and colder weather, the indicated speed might be higher than your real speed.

Re:In other news... (4, Interesting)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368843)

Digressed, but there really is a "secret" speed limit in most places, though many drivers quickly figure it out over time...

It's not so much a "secret", as it is the 85% rule. That being, if if you travel at about the same speed as 85% of native traffic, you'll generally be ok. The thing about traffic cops is that they typically target people that stick out, not necessarily people that are merely breaking "the law". So, if average traffic is flowing at 20-over the limit, and you're traveling at 35 over the limit, then you're more likely to get tagged than the average traffic.

Then throw in your choice of vehicle, and it's even more interesting. A bright yellow porsche is more likely to be pulled over going 30+ in the left lane than the black sedan going 30+ in the lane right next to it. Again, because the first car stands out more. Between two similar sedans, the car traveling 30+ in the far left lane is more likely to be tagged than the car traveling 30+ in the far right lane. Why? because the left lane is the "fast lane".

I'm not saying it's right, I'm not saying it's fair, I'm just saying that's how it is, given my years of driving experience. And I agree: understanding the ground rules for driving conditions (i.e. especially that they're not "ideal") is the best way to avoid tickets.

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20368951)

Mod parent up. I worked for the police for years, and can confirm this (in most areas, obviously; ymmv).

Re:In other news... (0, Offtopic)

Kagura (843695) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369047)

Thanks for your expert insight, AC.

Re:In other news... (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369035)

I can confirm that if the flow of traffic is going 85 in a 75, the green mustang which is traveling at exactly the same speed will be pulled over while the speeding semi-truck and sedans will be ignored.

Re:In other news... (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368919)

In fact its downright prohibited by law in CT,MA,NH for a cop to ticket you, if you travel just 5-10 MHPH above speed limit.
Also NH does not have seat belt requirements (which is a totally different topic), but their cops are atleast nice when they stop you.
I got stopped at 2330 hrs one day in Keene, near the college when one of my headlights had failed.
The cops were real nice and they just warned me to get the headlight fixed the first thing in morning.
Compare this with MS cops who were downright rude and laughing when they handed the ticket.
Their demeanor was such that whatever i said could be used against me.

Fortunately my friend was a lawyer who referred me to another lawyer for contesting this ticket successfully.

Re:In other news... (5, Interesting)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369231)

In fact its downright prohibited by law in CT,MA,NH for a cop to ticket you, if you travel just 5-10 MHPH above speed limit.

Add GA (10 MPH) to that list.

The cops were real nice and they just warned me to get the headlight fixed the first thing in morning. Compare this with MS cops who were downright rude and laughing when they handed the ticket. Their demeanor was such that whatever i said could be used against me.

That's probably a reflection of the individual cops, not the jurisdiction. Just the other night, my girlfriend's brother had an accident (swerved to avoid an oncoming car that had crossed the center line and hit the curb hard enough that the airbags deployed). I had driven his mom out there to keep him company while waiting for the tow truck.

One cop stopped behind us, blinded us with the spotlight on his cruiser, yelled at me when I tried to walk over to ask him what he wanted, accused us of tresspassing (we were on a main road, on the publically-owned easement), and then drove off when he found out what the situation was.

Then, not five minutes later, another cop showed up, immediately walked over to see what the problem was (instead of mysteriously sitting in his car, shining lights on us), called a new tow truck for us (because we'd been waiting for a very long time -- here's a tip: tow trucks summoned by cops arrive much faster than those summoned by the insurance company!), and then waited with us until it came, all the while making friendly conversation.

The first cop was old (gray-haired) and employed by the county police. The second was young and with the sheriff's department. Were either age or agency a factor in their demeanor? Nah, I think the first guy was just an asshole.

Only a 100 GB cap? (5, Insightful)

Xizer (794030) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368637)

I've got to be honest here... I'd take an invisible high bandwidth cap over something as low as 100 GB. I can rarely download less than 150 GB per month. Yeah, it's pretty lame of Comcast to be cutting off customers using a large amount of bandwidth, but from the sounds of it they're randomly cutting off users who consume more than 200 GB of bandwidth per month. Invisible caps are also better than set caps because set caps tend to be pretty low in general. However, when an ISP has an invisible cap, it often takes more bandwidth usage than it would be if it was a visible cap to grab their attention.

Re:Only a 100 GB cap? (0)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368667)


Re:Only a 100 GB cap? (1)

Xizer (794030) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368705)

There is an additional reason why invisible caps are usually better than set caps: overrage charges. If there's a visible cap, companies like to charge a couple of bucks per GB you go over that cap. With an invisible one, all they can do is send you a letter to tone down the bandwidth usage, but not charge you for going over their hidden cap. They probably won't cut you off the first time.

Re:Only a 100 GB cap? (5, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369025)

I received a warning phone call from the Comcast "security" department a few months ago.

With an invisible limit, you have no idea what to tone down.

With a cap, at least you know what to hover around.

A lot of people argue that if you tell people what the limit is, they'll just abuse that limit to the max all the can. But if you're already using more than they want you to use and they're notifying you to reduce your usage, then telling you a limit to stay under can only HELP.

I telecommute and I'm online 24x7. I stream high quality radio all day long. I watch a lot of streaming movies. I download a lot of stuff. I play a lot of games online. I download a lot of (legal) downloads from bit torrent. Just a high quality streaming radio station running during business hours over the period of a month will easily reach 80gb. They advertise all these "high media uses" for their fast download speeds, yet then they penalize you if you actually use it for that? If two people in your home listen to a lot of radio, that's 160gb/mo. Don't even think about video.

My internet usage has remained relatively the same for the last three years. Unlike your grandma who uses her 8mbps connection to check her email and the whether, I actually make heavy use of mine. Probably more than most people I know. I don't want to abuse anything. But I don't want to be denied internet access for an entire year, either (and in America, cable has a monopoly on broadband unless you live right down the street from a central office for DSL).

Anyway, my usage has remained the same for about three years. Then out of nowhere I get a call a couple months ago warning me that I will be terminated if I don't reduce my use. I ask them what I should stay under and they said "there's no set limit". I asked them to at least GIVE ME AN IDEA. They said they could not. However, they did warn me that if I ever go over this limit that they can't tell me about again *EVER* they will ban me for a year.

I'm not looking to abuse services. I'm not looking to rip anyone off. I'm not looking to piss anyone off. My usage needs are higher than the average persons, what with my VPN use and streaming services and such. Fine. But don't tell me "if you go over this limit again, we're cutting you off -- but uh.. we can't say what that limit is". I asked if I needed to cut it by just a few percent. Or by half. Or by 80%. Or what... no answer. They refused to say.

So, I asked if I could buy additional services. A bigger account? Pay for extra bandwidth? Buy a second broadband account to the same address for another $60/mo? Nope. They just have the one service. That's it. If you want more -- even if you're willing to pay for it -- fuck you.

So I keep a very close eye on the bandwidth reported by my router every other day and come the end of the month -- I get jittery. I think they ban you based on if you're in the highest usage percentage for that month in your area. By that logic, someone is ALWAYS going to be in the top 10%. Period. So every month SOMEONE is going to get banned, right? So if everyone is at home playing on the internet last month, my usage may be fine. But if everyone in the region is on vacation or busy at work and not using their connection at home, that same usage *this month* might get me banished.

And as you pointed out, they won't cut you off the first time. But they won't tell you what to reduce it by, either. And what is fine one month -- since you're compared with the current average use in your area -- might get you a second notice (and a ban for a year) the next month.

I'm quite pleased my taxes go to assist in monopolies such as this.

not sure (4, Insightful)

kardar (636122) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368781)

I think that ultimately the question that came about (and of course no one REALLY knows (which is the problem)) was that some folks began wondering if the data was incorrect - in other words - if the bandwidth numbers were mistakenly attributed to an individual who hadn't actually used anywhere near that much.

In other words - digging into the details, it became obvious that one very strong possibility was that (again, no one REALLY knows (which is the problem)) the person who got contacted was not the person who generated the bandwidth. In other words, Comcast keeps asking the poor fellow to cut back, they're looking at 250-300 gigs on their end, while the poor fellow is actually doing about 20-30 gigs and cutting back to even less than that. No matter how much the subscriber cuts back, the next month, erroneous data comes in again - Comcast's info is that he's done another 200+ gigs that month. So this ends up where they cut him off for 12 months (true story). There was no other logical explanation (other than the subscriber lying (which is a possibility, or course)).

This is where the secrecy creates problems, really. Sure, maybe an invisible something or another is better than a low explicit one, but you can't defend yourself if they've got it wrong, because there's no documentation. They don't even always tell the subscriber how much the subscriber has downloaded, and it appears that they may even lie about that. They don't want anyone knowing anything, basically. "Just cut back".

But "Just cut back" doesn't cut it when it's not you, now does it?

It's one thing to have rules, it's another thing to have flexible rules. But no matter how flexible those rules are, if you have this absolute secrecy thing going on, you stand no chance of defending yourself if you actually haven't done it and someone gets something mixed up somewhere.

Having a "counter" on your account - where you log into your account online and see how much you've downloaded, for instance - if you see data on there that isn't you, or if it's going up too fast, you can be proactive and call in and say "something's wrong here". If, for instance, the gigs are accumulating, and you disconnect your modem - pull it out of the wall -- and the gigs are still accumulating, then you can call in and notify. This isn't ME doing it. But if they won't even tell you how much you downloaded to get the call, or if they lie about it, (again, no one REALLY knows what happened (which is the problem)), how are you to trust that data is actually accurate? That it's not a mixup somewhere?

In that one particular situation, it did in fact appear that Comcast got the subscribers data mixed up (they actually turned the subscriber's internet back ON). They cancelled the 12-month cancellation because they reviewed their records and they figured out that it wasn't him doing it - they got it mixed up with someone else. The subscriber was downloading 15-30, and their data was saying 250-350. Month after month after month. Try cutting back on that!

It's creepy, is what it is. It's too secretive - you can't defend yourself. There's no data - no documentation.

They really ought to change the way they do this - it's very, very creepy.

Re:not sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20369147)

Given that all cable operators are local monopolies, there is no inscentive to change the way they operate. Cable companies have consistantly had to have improvments crammed down their throats and they spend most of their efforts on delivering less service and increasing prices. The only option is the stick of government regulation. It's hard to imagine governments operating telecommunications infrastructures less effectively than monopolies. At least the local governments would be in competition with other local governments.

Re:Only a 100 GB cap? (3, Interesting)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369019)

Hey, at least it isn't DirecWay (or whatever they call themselves these days). I just got a client off of their services due to them clamping down HARD on bandiwth limits (Cable & DSL don't reach them). 375MB transfer PER day is allowed. If you go over that, the next 24 hours your stuck with 3KB down. If you download too much during that period they nock you off for a day or two entirely. It's something they started doing 3 or 4 months ago. Another case of a provider overselling, and not delivering. My client now has a Sprint EV-DO USB adapter. Same price, lower max (burst) speed, lower latency, and just works a hell of allot better. Sprint is a pain in the ass, but their limits are FAR higher than what a real estate agent will ever use.

I can't wait for the day Cox pisses at me over doing 300GB+ a month on my connection though. It's a more pricey business account, but I know they'll do it eventually.

_Only_ 100 GB?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20369031)

Only 100GB?? That's a _lot_ of traffic. How are you guys doing to use that much ??

If I take your 150GB per month figure, that's 5GB a day, or a constant 24/7 traffic of 60KB/s. That's insane.

Re:_Only_ 100 GB?? (2, Informative)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369049)

Take your average decent-quality audio station. Listen to it for 8 to 12 hours a day while you work. There's 80gb.

Add streaming videos, downloadable videos (vongo, anyone?), streaming music services (Rhapsody?), VPN connections, surfing, downloading any other stuff like games, linux, porn, etc. Add online gaming from your systems or consoles. And that's just one person. What if you have two people in the household? Or a family of four or five?

Just because you only use your car to drive to church on Sundays doesn't mean the rest of us don't drive to work, the gym, vacations, joy-rides and the store.

Re:_Only_ 100 GB?? (1)

Eivind (15695) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369151)

I guess "average decent-quality" means 192kbps, agreed ? (even that is significantly above "average" webradios that are still at 128kbps, a lot of them is even lower, but that can't reasonably be called "decent-quality")

That is 24kB/second, 1.5MB/minute, 90MB/hour, 720MB/workday (8hr). On average, there's about 20 workdays a month, so I get 15GB/month.

Even if you listen 12hr/day, as you say, that upps it to 22GB/month. Which ain't 80GB. Even if you worked 12 hours, 30 days a month, that would be 32GB/month, which is a lot but still not 80GB.

Oh, it's not hard to use several hundred GB/month. But you're unlikely to do so by listening to webradio during your workday.

Re:_Only_ 100 GB?? (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369197)

A lot of stations (not to mention stations that are internet-only) now run about 256kbps.

Somehow I was actually off by double, so 256kbps during day hours over a month is still 40gb. Just for one person listening to a streaming radio station.

In a world where everyone (including comcast) is trying to convince me to listen to their streaming radio stations, streaming 1500kbps movie services, streaming music subscription services, play console and PC games online, use voip and "send video email" as comcast's commercials like to suggest -- it's ridiculous that they're setting limits that could easily be broken with a small family doing relatively small things.

And really, if the limit is that low -- why exactly do we need 8mbps connections? Who is someone to deem that I don't need XYZ gigabytes of bandwidth per month, but that *they* need that 8mbps or 16mbps to make sure they snap that file down in 120 seconds instead of 130?

And unless they expand their infrastructure quickly, this is only going to get worse. I can only imagine countries where they pay half our price for 30mbps or more are laughing at this debacle.

Sounds like a breach of contract (3, Insightful)

belmolis (702863) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368673)

This sounds like a good case for breach of contract. Why has nobody sued?

Re:Sounds like a breach of contract (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20368677)

There isn't a contract. Service like this is at will.

Re:Sounds like a breach of contract (2, Informative)

Fedhax (513562) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368815)

See my comment here: =20368801 []

Nut-shell: Unless you opt out, you are bound to arbitration only by their 2007 Residential Agreement. There are restrictions and exceptions, but you have to overcome them before you can consider legal recourse.

Re:Sounds like a breach of contract (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369041)

Read the AUP: 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.

It's not only not breach of contract, but the terms are clearly spelled out. If the users wanted a hard cap, rather than these terms, they should've found a different service provider.

Re:Sounds like a breach of contract (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369063)

What country are you from? You do realize that ISPs essentially have a monopoly right? You get one cable company wherever you are. You might get a phone company that provides DSL, but they're not going to be comparable speeds (at all) unless you luckily live VERY CLOSE.

Here's a great way to ensure that nobody's use of the service does not restrict, inhibit or interfere with anyone else's on the network. THROTTLE THE GOD DAMN CONNECTION. Use that magically limit they supposedly threaten us with and when that's reached (or if a certain limit is reached during a peak hour) -- THROTTLE THE FUCKING THING.

Christ, if they can use Sandvine or whatever to inject controls in certain packets, they can surely throttle my damned connection if I'm such a hindrance.

Re:Sounds like a breach of contract (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20369159)

It's not only not breach of contract, but the terms are clearly spelled out.

Not only is that rule heavily one-sided (which could make it un-lawfull), there allso does not seem to be any way to use your connection without violating them (no matter what you do, what you do will somehow degrade and/or interfere "any other user's use") ...

Gotta love it... (1)

Shwaffle (1145365) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368675)

Everyone loves small print, but everyone loves it even more when there's the extra small print that you can't see till you screw up ;)

Is it still advertised as unlimited? (4, Insightful)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368685)

When it was advertised as unlimited, I can see where a user could complain that it would be a FTC violation if they limited your service, but these days i've only noted in the adverts always on. What's the advertising stance presently on comcast service?

Re:Is it still advertised as unlimited? (5, Interesting)

Krellan (107440) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368779)

I believe this issue was settled some time ago, there might have been a lawsuit, but I couldn't find any information.

To summarize, "unlimited" is an old term from the days of dialup modems, and refers to the maximum amount of time you are allowed to stay dialed in and connected: minutes per session, hours per month, and so on. With today's modern broadband connections, kept always-on and connected 24/7, referring to them as "unlimited" is correct. The definition, unfortunately, is old.

However, this says nothing about the bandwidth you are allowed to use. This is today's top issue. We really need another definition to describe this.

With dialup modems, few people really cared about bandwidth consumption, as they were so slow that they didn't make much of an impact, even when continually ran at top speed. With today's fast broadband connections, you can consume a lot of bandwidth in a hurry, and to be affordable at residential prices, they are deliberately oversold.

There's a reason a T1 line still costs $600+/month. You're allowed to run anything and everything over it, no filtering, no capping, and to keep it maxed out at full wire speed, both upload and download, 24/7. Bandwidth to the Internet backbone, unfortunately, is still expensive. I wish it weren't true, but it is. I guess somebody has to pay for all that copper, fiber, and electricity....

Re:Is it still advertised as unlimited? (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368799)

There's a reason a T1 line still costs $600+/month.

Ya, and it has nothing to do with the reasons you described. T1s and other lines with an SLA are so expensive because of their guaranteed uptime ( See the afore mentioned SLA ). I get 99.999999 uptime guaranteed from the company delivering it to me. That kind of up time is hellishly expensive.

Business grade dsl and cable connections let you run whatever you want over them; but they aren't guaranteed with that kind of up time, and their price reflects that.

DSL slower but I've never heard of a limit (5, Interesting)

Krellan (107440) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368693)

I have both Comcast cable and AT&T DSL. I'm really hesitant to use the Comcast cable for much of anything, because of this cap. It is great for games and Web browsing, because it is indeed very fast and responsive. However, for bulk downloads, I would steer clear of it, and BitTorrent is right out.

DSL is slower, but I've never heard of a monthly bandwidth limit. I believe that the slower throughput speed of DSL is self-policing. DSL is also individually wired to each customer, unlike cable, as cable's bandwidth is shared throughout entire neighborhoods. So, the only one you hurt by maxing out the bandwidth of DSL is yourself, and with a packet shaper, this becomes less of a problem.

It varies from area to area, but it appears the "secret" Comcast limit has been determined to be roughly 100 gigabytes per month. I believe this is a cumulative total of both upload and download.

This has been going on for some time, and the good people at [] have much to say about it....

Re:DSL slower but I've never heard of a limit (5, Funny)

mctk (840035) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368791)

All this ballyhoo about "secret" limits is complete nonsense. I've been downloading movies using bittorrent 24 hours a day for weeks. And I've never had my internet usage limi

Re:DSL slower but I've never heard of a limit (3, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368819)

I also have Comcast cable and ADSL (but although AT&T owns the copper, I'm not using them as a service provider due to them using PPPoE, which increases packet fragmentation and reduces speed). But what I do is load balancing the two on the router, and polling the usage on each line from my router using SNMP. If the usage is high for a while, I reduce the relative amount of traffic being routed through the cable connection.

Of course, this being a simple dual-WAN router, it's not true load balancing, but a weight-distributed round robin scheme for new outgoing connections. However, in the long run, that causes the traffic to fall into the same pattern too.

Also, all SMTP traffic goes over ADSL, because Comcast blocks destination port 25 unless it's to their mail servers. I understand their reasoning for doing so, but I think the reason doesn't in any way justify the action. Better would be to shut down the customers who send spam instead of limiting everyone, and instead of shutting down people who may use the bandwidth they were promised for for legitimate uses.

Re:DSL slower but I've never heard of a limit (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368963)

I also have Comcast cable and ADSL (but although AT&T owns the copper, I'm not using them as a service provider due to them using PPPoE ...

I'm curious as to why you have two connections. That aside, you probably know that PPPoE is not used for customers with static IP plans. If you're willing to pay for two connections, why not spend an extra few bucks and skip the PPPoE issues altogether?

Re:DSL slower but I've never heard of a limit (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369233)

I have two connections mainly for the same reason I have two of many things -- redundancy. It sure helps with speed too, when load balanced.

As for why I'm not spending a few bucks more for avoiding PPPoE, it's more than a few bucks more. For the 6000/768 package, AT&T charges $35 per month with a dynamic IP and $75 per month with static IPs if signing up for a full year at a time and $95 per month with no binding. Since my local ISP offers bridged ethernet for a price in-between, why should I not go with them instead?

Also, with a decent ISP, you get a CIR, i.e. minimum rate, and it's better to get 3000-6000/512-768 than (0-)6000/(0-)768, which is what AT&T would have offered.

Re:DSL slower but I've never heard of a limit (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369259)

I've never heard of comcast actually blocking the SMTP port. I use port 25 on my box at the colo and I've never had to assign a different port or SSH it or anything to connect from home over comcast. If I did, that'd be a definite breaking point, because I don't give a fuck about email. In fact, I've never checked it in six years and dont' even know what the password is.

Maybe they do that in only certain regions. :/

Re:DSL slower but I've never heard of a limit (1)

jkc120 (104731) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368835)

There is no defined limit, because Comcast is notifying/disconnecting only those in the top 1% of usage for an area/node. So while one person might download 400G a month, as long as there are a number of others downloading MORE, they won't get flagged. That is not to say that in an area where the top consumers are only using 10G that they will get notified.

Re:DSL slower but I've never heard of a limit (1)

h3llfish (663057) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368847)

I don't understand why you're so hesitant to use BitTorrent on your Comcast connection. I use it on mine quite a bit. I must never have hit 100 gigs, but I can't be far off. And that's true for other people I know.

I think that part of it is that I always make sure the ratio of the torrent gets back to 1.0 before I shut it off. That essentially limits me to 44 kBp/s down, as well as up, which puts a cap on my downloading for the month.

Do that, and they'll never shut you off. I'm pretty sure that one has to either have faster ups than 44 or else be a leech to get shut down.

Re:DSL slower but I've never heard of a limit (5, Funny)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368887)

I have both Comcast cable and AT&T DSL.

Wow. Have you ever tried seeding a torrent to yourself?

Re:DSL slower but I've never heard of a limit (4, Informative)

Anti_Climax (447121) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368941)

The topography of DSL and Cable really aren't as dissimilar as you make them out to be. Most DSL is being handled through remote terminals, which are essentially a telco rack in a freestanding cabinet with a battery back-up (preferrably non-explosive) and Fiber back to the Telco's network. The fiber may handle voice and data or just voice, but either way, the data link through the fiber is Multiplexed to all the DSL subscribers fed by that cabinet. Provided the total of the link speeds offered to the subscribers is less than the fiber link, you get "guaranteed" bandwidth on your DSL. However there is nothing besides the phone company's own goodwill that prevents them from overselling the total bandwidth from that cabinet. Hell, most DSL providers won't even guarantee the rate your line will sync at and that's only the rate from your modem to the DSLAM. It says nothing of the speed behind it. I know from personal experience that you can sync a customer to a DSLAM at 8mbit/sec when there's only 3mbit behind it.

SATA150 won't change the speed of a file transfer from a hard drive that can only read 40MB/sec at the platter.

With cable, most areas are fed by a residential gateway that's connected back to their network through Fiber. In places that offer digital cable, the video signal is pulled off for transmission and video on demand stuff and the pure data portion is multiplexed to all the cable modems that are served by that gateway. Now I'm not sure how many homes are served by one gateway, but I've been told that they are setup to handle several thousand customers. Just like with DSL they can oversell the available bandwidth, and if they did it would behave exactly the same way.

So in reality, neither offers "guaranteed" bandwidth. One may offer a guaranteed line rate, but that means nothing without the bandwidth to back it up. It just depends on the providers when it comes to deciding which is better. I'm glad Cox has there act together here in Phoenix (my 12Mbit connection pulls over 13 from good servers any time of day)

Re:DSL slower but I've never heard of a limit (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368949)

It varies from area to area, but it appears the "secret" Comcast limit has been determined to be roughly 100 gigabytes per month. I believe this is a cumulative total of both upload and download.
I wonder where you got that 100GB per month number from. [] []

You get a lot more results talking about a 200 GB per month cap.

I'm willing to believe that the cap is closer to 100 GB, but you didn't back up your statement with any facts at all. No proof = autofail

Re:DSL slower but I've never heard of a limit (1)

truesaer (135079) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368959)

Its not a big surprise, lots of businesses choose to stop doing business with unprofitable customers. You might argue that they should set a bright line for what is ok and what isn't, but there's not much advantage to that for the business. I haven't seen it advertised as unlimited in several years.

It doesn't particularly bother me, bandwidth hogs increase the cost for the average user. Remember these are residential class services, anyone can get a true unlimited bandwidth service if they use that much (T1 or similar).

Re:DSL slower but I've never heard of a limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20369045)

It doesn't bother you as a consumer that when you sign up for service, you don't actually know what the terms are?

You really think businesses should be able to write up contracts that say they can change and interpret the terms arbitrarily?

Re:DSL slower but I've never heard of a limit (1)

fretlessjazz (975926) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369005)

I've used Comcast in the bay area for a little over a half-year. The bandwidth is great, however I have experienced some "odd" phenomena while using bittorrent; namely random throttling (i.e. cutting you off completely).

However shitty this may be for us; it's still Comcast's network, and we're paying to use it according to the way they built it. "Unlimited Bandwidth" != network neutrality. At least until there's a court case of some sort defining what ISPs mean when they market themselves as providing "Unlimited" data transfer.

For the time being, there's not much we can do other than bitch on Slashdot.

Then sue the Fuckers (5, Insightful)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368695)

Hire a lawyer and sue the fuckers for breach of contract. Both parties in a contract must be privy to the terms of the contract. So sue the fuckers, because if they haven't revealed the limitation on the TOS, the limitation isn't valid.

Re:Then sue the Fuckers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20368735)

I'd be stunned if the Comcast contact didn't have language in it to the effect of:

Comcast reserves the right to cancel this service at any time, for any reason, with 30 days written notice.

It's pretty standard boilerplate that I know I'd put in there.

Re:Then sue the Fuckers (2, Interesting)

kennygraham (894697) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368753)

Sue them? For what losses? The pain and suffering of not having internet? They're not under any legal obligation to continue providing you service. If they were trying to bill you for overage charges, then maybe. But they're just cutting off service.

Re:Then sue the Fuckers (3, Interesting)

Fizzl (209397) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368985)

They cannot cancel the service for no reason.
The contract has two parties. If you are paying for a service, you are eligible for the service within terms of the contract.
The correct way to handle this would be the update the contract to include some vague clause about "excessive use" as a reason for terminating a contract or limiting use.

And yes. I could sue my provider for damages were they to drop my connection. I do most of my work from home but need almost constant VPN to the office. However, I'm pretty sure my contract is a standard private person one, where claims of damage are limited to the cost of the connection. If that clause is enforceable in my legislation is entirely different matter.

Re:Then sue the Fuckers (1)

Xizer (794030) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368757)

Comcast cannot be sued for breach of contract. There is a clause in their terms of service, as in every other ISP's TOS, that states something to the effect of "you cannot use the service so heavily that it degrades the network for other users."

Re:Then sue the Fuckers (1)

h3llfish (663057) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368875)

With such sound legal advise as this available online, it's hard to see how all lawyers don't instantly go out of business...

I'm pretty sure that Comcast would emerge the victor if you chose to tangle with them in the courts. Even if you banded together with other people who had been shut off, the legal firepower that you could muster would be truly pathetic compared to Comcast's army of blue-haired lawyers.

I'm not a lawyer (as I assume you must be), so I really can't say whether your statement has legal merit or not, but even if it did, you'd still lose.

God bless America!

Frank bandwidth comparisons based on P2P etc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20368721)

The problem with this right now is that there's no way for the market to work. We don't have a comparison of the different speeds of different ISPs as they really are so the quality of connection doesn't really influence buying decisions. All of the ISP comparisons I have found are based around the ISP's own speed definitions. How about someone running benchmarks:

Preparation: download of 10 GB of data of various kinds; at that point measure:

a) how fast is a bittorrent download
b) what's the quality of skype (packet loss/delay at normal quality speech)
c) what the https throughput for many random independent sites
d) how does youtube do?
e) how fast is tor & freenet
f) how good is SIP based VOIP / Video (packet loss/delay at high quality speech)

And do something like multiply them up to provide an overall quality measurement for each ISP and provide it on a web page. At that point people could actually begin to choose their ISP based on real performance rather than some stupid and useless megs per second measured between the home modem and nearest router. Probably this needs a community of people with connections (and a willingness to sacrifice???).

any better ideas?
anybody already started on this?

Re:Frank bandwidth comparisons based on P2P etc (1)

xx01dk (191137) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369059)

1) Bittorrent depends on the number of seeders and their location. My downloads vary greatly and there is no way to benchmark this.
2) I Skype with my traveling spouse quite a bit; the connection is always very good.
3) Don't know but Fark, Slashdot, Digg, Engadget, Gmail, Weatherchannel (all my favourites) load very quickly so what's the point?
4) Utube vids usually load very quickly, unless I'm downloading something. Again, hard to benchmark.
5) What's tor? What's freenet? No clue. (I will look them up later)
6) I don't know what SIP is but Teamspeak has usually less than 1% packet loss, and Ventrilo is clear as a bell.

Point is, it's hard to benchmark something that gets its sources from so many different things. I have Comcast and I do download quite a bit--I'm no fanboy--it is quite simply the only cable internet provider in my area and there are no plans for anyone (Verizon) to roll out FOIS in my neck of the woods any time soon (which in itself sucks and is also ironic, considering I live in SILICON FREAKING VALLEY).

Now I pose a question. Consider that a DVD version of a linux distro is 4.7gb. Just how many of you out there are downloading more than 20 DVD-length Linux distros a month? Because that seems to me to be the only legitimate use of BT. I myself d/l multiple shows via BT but have never hit the limit--what exactly could anyone be downloading that takwes mroe than 100gb a month??

Another thought. The reason why Comcast won't disclose the bandwidth limit is maybe to instill FUD among the masses... Suppose they go on record and say the limit is 100gb. Then everyone knows the limit and tries to get their money's worth, where as now, most cautious users will do as little as possible, lest Comcast shut them off? Think of how slow the internet would be for everyone if we all tried to max out our 100gb limit...

One more thing. I'd love to be able to shop for an ISP like we used to when 56k was the golden standard, but today you can either choose your local cable provider or any number of DSL choices. Since cable > DSL there is really no choice if you want the fastest service (nope! no FOIS in SILICON FREAKING VALLEY) and the only cable provider in town is.. you guessed it, COMCAST.

How do you start a blog (3, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368725)

if your internet is cut off?

Re:How do you start a blog (1)

threaded (89367) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368825)

Ah you don't quite know the joys of the American telephone system. In the good ol'US of A you'd be quite silly to rely on only one path for the last mile to the net. Most people I know have a line that is good and fast for gaming, another that is good for big downloads and maybe some more if they have their own servers. They work out which connections are really separate by trial and error: chatting to neighbours when there are outages to find out which service providers are still up etc. etc..

Re:How do you start a blog (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368829)

Do it from work.

Re:How do you start a blog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20369023)

yep. it only took us worker bees about 10 minutes to figure out what that T-1 line was really good for! website hosting my ass...

Re:How do you start a blog (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369153)

You dig out that old 75 baud modem. It is fast enough for typing with one finger.

Not that bad... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20368727)

Taken from another website regarding this same matter. Credit to Generation_D.

"From what I know, the unspoken limits about 300 GB a month, which is more than almost any of us will touch even once in a lifetime, it takes multiple torrents running full on 24.7 . We know this cause we caught some Comcast rejects moving to our company. Sudden spikes in monthly bandwidth on our end can doom our business, to the level these guys were pulling.

The reason Comcast doesnt tell you is if they did, asshat downloaders would lawyer the total and if lets say it was 100, they'd use 99.9999 then whine if they were denied that much. The approach would backfire. Plus its a competitive disadvantage for Comcast if their competitors know what a soft limit on dl's is. You'd generate a race to the bottom over max downloads, again, the tactic would backfire.

There's always one claimed good citizen, but reading the article he has 6 kids, guaranteed not all of them is telling daddy what he left the computer doing all last night, and the night before, and the night before that. non stop DL porn? in my family's PC? Its more common than you think.

And no its not a content issue, but you'd be amazed how some of these guys have no idea what 300GB of porn or DVD looks like. Some of us with ISP careers do -- purely research purposes. And I can tell you not even our raging gamer tech supporters touch anywhere near 300 GB in a month, I've tried to get them to.

Hitting those caps is very difficult to do unless you're running non stop multiple torrents. Despite what mr. innocent citizen says."

Re:Not that bad... (1)

TriezGamer (861238) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368827)

That's a load of crap. A constant 75KB/s will net you nearly 175 GB in 4 weeks, and that's attainable on a 768Kb/sec line.

Re:Not that bad... (0)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369179)

Yes, but what would you DO with it all?

Even at broadcast bitrates, you're talking about 87 hours of video. The downloader would have to be spending one day a week doing nothing but watching it (assuming he slept for just over four hours). If you're talking about 75KB/s, that's 600 KBit/s, a fairly respectable video bitrate. So if you're downloading that, you're talking about watching video 24/7.

Now, P2P will bloat those figures up because of the upload and overhead. But how can anyone realistically consume all that content? My lifetime downloaded "pink media" collection currently stands at around 100GB which has taken me at least 6 years to accumulate at a pace where I view what I download. I have under 40GB of music, and around 768GB of captured broadcast TV on my MythTV box (which realistically speaking I will probably never watch all of).

Now, I work, and have a family, and a long commute, so my time to enjoy media is limited.

300GB at 500MB per hour (about 2.7MBit/s, what I get from DVB-T). == 600 hours
1 month == 672 hours

So these guys are either not watching everything, or they are spending a mere 2.5 hours a day on eating, sleeping, etc. Or most of their bandwidth is being wasted.

Their storage costs must be awesome as well. Since they can't possibly be watching it all, they must be storing it, right?

If it really is 300GB (5, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368909)

Then I don't have a whole lot of sympathy. Yes, Comcast should still state what the limit is. I can understand why they don't want to since it would encourage people to use more, and they'd have to develop a tool for you to check on it, but they still should do it.

However I'm not really that sympathetic to the people hitting it. 300GB is a shitload of traffic. I run a couple web servers (business class cable account) and download anything that catches my fancy like large demos, as well as watch any video I want online, and I've never hit that. That's 10GB a day, for the whole damn month. You really have to try to generate traffic like that. I mean I absolutely don't restrict myself in any way, I pay for a business account it really is unlimited (I have an SLA) and the connection is fast 10mb/1mb. Still rare the month I even do half of that, and that's accounting the 50GB or so that the servers do.

I still think Comcast needs to state the limit, but people can't pretend like you can buy cheap access, slam it 24/7, and expect not to have someone get annoyed.

It's the same deal on the campus where I work. We don't want to do something dick like rate limit people's connections. I mean we've got fast access, it's nice to have fast downloads. You need to get a Knoppix DVD? Get on a good torrent and you'll get it at 5mbytes/sec or more. However, that doesn't mean that you are free to do that all the time. If you did, it'd suck up too much campus bandwidth. It works because people will get what they want and then go back to low usage, allowing others to have a share. If everyone tried to max it, well everything would go slow.

So, rather than rate limit connections so that you can't do it, but always put up with slow downloads, it is a situation of if you don't keep it reasonable, you'll get yelled at, or get your port shut down if you still won't comply. There's not a hard limit, it is basically a "When you are causing problems," situation. During the summer? Go nuts pretty much. When Knoppix 5 came out I got permission to seed it over a weekend and did about 1.5TB of transfers. During the year during the week? Hell no, there are tens of thousands of others using the connection, be respectful of it.

Same deal with Internet at your home. The less you are paying, the more shared it is and the more restrictions you can expect. If you want less restrictions, you can generally pay for it. I bought business cable which allows me to run servers and doesn't really cap bandwidth usage, though I'm still sharing the spectrum with other people on my segment. If I wanted I could further move up to something more dedicated like a T1, for more money. The higher up the chain you go, the less you share it.

Sounds to me like they just want people to keep it reasonable. You don't really need to download 50 movies a month and a thousand MP3 and 10 large game demos and so on (which is the kind of thing it would take to hit 300GB). Morality of infringing on copyrighted material aside, you just need to keep it more reasonable and you'll be fine.

That or pony up the cash for a better class of service. I hesitate to recommend Speakeasy now that Best Buy owns them, and in fact that's why I switched to business class cable (Cox, not Comcast), but they don't do any restrictions at all on their high end accounts. They aren't the only provider out there that does that. However, you do pay a bit more. Expect to pay about $100/month for a 6mb/768k DSL like. That is generally equal or inferior to what you'd get with $30-40 cable service. However, Speakeasy is charging an amount sufficient that they can afford to have you run servers and and use that line fully. The cable company is not (for the consumer account).

Re:If it really is 300GB (5, Informative)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369117)

Business class of service? According to comcast, the EXACT same rules and limits apply to business accounts. In fact, business accounts have been banned for too much bandwidth, too.

I went out of my way to call comcast and say "Look, I don't want to abuse anything. I want to be a good, paying customer. I need XYZ amount of bandwidth per month and I'm willing to pay for it. I'll take a business account or two residential accounts (or three if you want). Just tell me what I need to pay to get the services I need and not be kicked off by you guys?".

The answer? "Yeah, we don't have anything like that -- sorry".

Re:Not that bad... (3, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369105)

The reason Comcast doesnt tell you is if they did, asshat downloaders would lawyer the total and if lets say it was 100, they'd use 99.9999 then whine if they were denied that much. The approach would backfire. Plus its a competitive disadvantage for Comcast if their competitors know what a soft limit on dl's is.

Bullshit on two points.

First, the people comcast is complaining about are ALREADY using more than that amount. Hence the notices. So define a limit that you want to stick to and that you can handle and tell them that. If your system can handle 200gb a month, don't tell them that. Say 100gb/mo. Since they're already exceeding that, it's not going to hurt to tell those specific users "keep it under 100gb or you'll be booted next time". Further, since they appear to be doing it by a simple percentile of use for your region, then if EVERYONE was using 100gb, that presumably wouldn't be a problem? How so? If 50% of people use 100gb or 200gb or 300gb, isn't that a lot worse than 5% doing it? But if most people were, then they wouldn't complain, apparently?

Second, how is it a competitive disadvantage for Comcast? I live in a big and advanced metro area. I have the choice of 8mbs with Comcast, 144kbps with DSL (actually, less than that because I'm too far away from the local DSL office) or 56kbps dialup. Yeah, I can see how they're worried about all that competition, eh?

I wouldn't call them asshats (5, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369167)

Look, I'm not a high downloader myself. In fact, most of my bandwidth usage is from playing MMOs, because the rest of time is, well, spent like now: my connection idles while I type a huge message on a board or another. I'd even be a fan of returning to a pay-per-MB scheme, since I don't see why I'd have to subsidize those downloading terrabytes of porn and ripped HD movies. Plus, let's face it, shiny-happy communal resource schemes just result in the poor subsidizing the rich, and "tragedy of the commons" situations.

That says, I'd draw the line at calling people "asshats" just because they use the bandwidth they were sold. They got sold a service on the explicit claim that it's unmetered and unlimited, and they're actually using it as such.

I'm not surprised that the text you quote comes from another ISP, because it's a widespread disease: sell based on outright lies, then try to demonize the users who actually use what they bought. And I find that lame.

It's like advertising an all-you-can-eat breakfast hour at your restaurant, then starting calling people names when they take more than a cup of tea, two slices of bread and a slice of cheese. Or like advertising that a hotel includes a free swimming pool, and then starting treating people like thieves if they're in there for more than half an hour a day. I'm betting not many people would go to that restaurant or hotel again.

Talks about what "normal people" should use or about downloading porn are just a stupid strawman there, plus some appeal to shame when invoking the downloading porn all night argument. It's just freakin' irrelevant. Those people never signed a contract that said "thou shalt not download more than thy neighbour" or "thou shalt never use it for porn", and that's certainly not the service that the ISP advertised. If they're against downloading porn, just advertise as "the family-friendly network where porn is forbidden and a termination offense" and see if that flies in the market.

Those people were advertised unmetered, unlimited access, and there was no talk about what they can't use it for, either. Period. Now deliver what you sold.

Because all the talk about "asshats" and "bad network citizens" and such is just weasel wording to justify a _fraud_. The ISP sold something he can't deliver, and now is calling the customer names when he actually wants what he's bought.

It's no different than, say, me selling you a PS3 on ebay and then starting calling you names when you actually want it. "Auugh, he's an asshat! If all people actually received their PS3s we'd go bankrupt! I bet he just wants to watch Blue Ray porn on it all night! Someone shame him and drive him away already!" It's just not right.

So basically my message to those ISPs is: fuck you, if you can't afford to really offer that kind of service, then fucking stop selling it. Because presenting people as some kind of supreme-evil arch-villains for just using the service they bought, is just lame. Go back to pay-by-hour or pay-by-MB if you can't afford to live up to the unlimited service you promised. But have the fucking _decency_ to not demonize people who just use the service they were advertised and sold.

Re:I wouldn't call them asshats (1, Redundant)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369207)

I've tried pretty hard to GIVE comcast more money. I've said "look, I could easily demand more than you want to let me have -- so rather than being a leach, how about I buy two residential accounts? Or even three?". That way if I'm using more than they want me to, I'm at least also paying triple the price.

But nope. No dice. Inflexible.

Could really hurt work-at-home folks (2, Informative)

ystar (898731) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368729)

I'm always connecting to the servers and especially my own box at school when i'm at home. I'm swapping huge data files back and forth, backing stuff up, and vnc-ing. Comcast can only see that everything is going through ssh. Add all the non-copyright infringing youtube videos, linux distros and kernels, so on and so forth, to that and I'm already a huge drain without even pirating anything. If they announce their secret limit, they better let their customers see some reports on our own traffic, especially *according to what they're measuring.*

If they include as part of the limit all the packet and port snooping they're apparently doing on their customers, I want to know.

Re:Could really hurt work-at-home folks (1)

h3llfish (663057) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368935)

No, I don't think this will hurt any home business. I can't think of any that would reach the cap limits that people have been discussing - whether it's 100 GB or 300 GB a month, few businesses need to download that much information in a month.

Photographers can generate large amounts of date, and videographers even more. But they don't download that data to their home office nearly as often as they need to upload it - to the printer, to the web site that hosts their images, to where ever people are using the data. So it's the cap on upload speeds that kills this type of home business vastly more than the cap on total data per month. I worked at a digital photography website until recently, and photographers could never understand why it took all night to upload a whole weddings worth (or sports tournament, etc) of image files. Very very few of them were aware of the fact that their upload speed was vastly slower than the download speed they could get.

And this is obviously not pirated content. These are the people who created the content, attempting to use it in a totally legal way to make money, and Comcast is not making it easy for them. People in this situation really don't have a good option available to them. Their only choice is to start the upload before they go to bed, and let it work all night long. Customers want the images to be available right away. Photographers sell most of their images and prints soon after the event. But with the current state of broadband in the US, that takes a while.

Re:Could really hurt work-at-home folks (1)

ystar (898731) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368965)

Home business users know they're better off with a busines package from Comcast or other ISPs, or with a dedicated symmetrical line. But I'm talking about just working from home - I can't afford a pro connection to work on large data sets, especially as a student. My point is that if Comcast is going to enforce caps, they can't justify avoiding disclosure just because folks must be using all that precious bandwidth to pirate stuff, or to run servers from home (which is probably against their ToS)

Re:Could really hurt work-at-home folks (1)

h3llfish (663057) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369037)

No, the home business users that I very often talked to in my old job we not even aware there was such a thing as home business package. And like you, many couldn't have afforded it if they did know. They didn't know that their upload speed had been capped, either, until they asked me why it took so long to upload 2 GB of images. Users who are tech-savvy enough to know that they have asymmetrical connections are a real minority in my experience.

So what kind of data sets are you working with that you're worried that you might download more than 100 GB of it in a month? Whatever it is, I don't think that people like you are a large percentage of Comcast's customers. Are you a grad student who wants to download and analyze SETI data or something? Those are some large files I guess...

I'm not really disagreeing with your point per se... I just can't think who needs to download 100 GB of stuff in a month for work, whether they are a small business owner or someone working from home.

I certainly do agree with you that it's sneaky of Comcast to not tell us the monthly limit.

Re:Could really hurt work-at-home folks (1)

ystar (898731) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369089)

Sorry for not specifying; I meant to suggest users *on slashdot* reading my previous comment would know about the option. You're right, it's a rare situation. As an aside, I'm working with video compression so even short uncompressed sources quickly spiral up to hundreds of gigs. That's definitely a minority usage pattern as far as comcast is concerned, but if I sat down with the head of their series of tubes division, I'd explain to them that I pay the same bill as everyone else and I deserve to know if I'm going to lose my connection two hours before a problem set is due.

tricky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20368737)

This type of thing isn't really new from any ISP. The problem for anyone to define acceptable is that depending on your location, node, etc. acceptable can be different. Remember this is based on "hindering other uses experience" and if you are on a node that supports 250 people but only 25 people are on their your limitations could be different than if 225 people were on there.

As for the customers experience where he talks about trying to get 50 GB. This *may* be true. However, I know someone that called for bandwidth abuse and the account holders had no idea what it was being used for in the house. Asking the members of the house they found their son had downloaded over 400GB of movies in a week. Another scenario is that someone could have been tapping into an unsecure wireless network, taking an average amount of usage into something considered high.

Re:tricky (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368863)

The problem for anyone to define acceptable

      How about "AS ADVERTISED"?

Re:tricky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20368947)

It's not advertised as unlimited. Speed is the big draw.

A simple question (-1, Troll)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368745)

Is this non-story going to get reposted until someone actually gives a fuck? I'll give 3-1 odds that it takes 5 more times if anyone wants some action.

Well this would be news if... (1)

Bin_jammin (684517) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368749)

it were 6 or 7 years ago. I'm sort of surprised nobody's been able to get anything out of them after all this time, maybe some type of suit will happen someday. It's the American way isn't it?

Dupe (1, Informative)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368759)

Seriously, this is a dupe. Eventually people are just gonna have to accept that "reasonable" limits do exist on a service.

I think they should specify what those limits are, but lots of limits in life are not strictly specified, basically be reasonable. speed limits might have a specified limit, however everyone goes at a speed of whats reasonable and ignores the hard limit.

this is a dupe because it is now known comcast does this. it isnt news, it isnt shocking, it is well known, it is stupid but it isnt gonna change.

they should just specify somethign in their agreement and be done with it, "250 gig transfer per month"
no one really gives a shit if its called "unlimited" anyways, all they care about is how fast it is.

Actually people do (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368987)

And that's the problem. Companies found that with all kinds of lines. For example back in the earlier net days providers wanted to offer metered high bandwidth connections for companies. Something like you get a DS3, maybe even full DS3, but only only get so many GB/month on it. They figured it was a win/win. People want fast downloads, but don't need to use them all the time. They can handle that without expensive backbone upgrades. So they sell you a line that has limits. You get tons of speed, but only so much you can use it. Just buy the amount you need.

Great right? Wrong. They were massively unpopular. Everyone wanted unmetered lines. Didn't matter that you had to have slower bandwidth, didn't matter that it cost more, they didn't want to have to pay overages. So instead of getting something like a full DS3 with a 700GB/month limit, they'd get 2 DS1s for a bunch more money and then only use 200GB/month.

Dialup providers found the same thing. Phone lines are expensive, especially when you are talking digital lines that you need to provide 56k access. Now if people are reasonable and only stay connected when they are actually using the net, you find you can pack a good number of people per line and still never have busy signals. For a reasonable pool of subscribers it is at least 5 people per line usually, and can be as much as 10. So you have 500 subscribers, but only have 50-100 phone lines. Saves money. Problem is some people will leave their connection on all the time.

So the solution is to just add a reasonable limit, like 5 hours per day right? Wrong. Even customers who used waaaay under that bitched. They wanted "unlimited". Didn't matter that the limit was something that wouldn't affect them, and in fact would make their service better, they worried it might and thus didn't want it.

So same deal with broadband. Customers don't want to pay the prices for truly unlimited service, and most don't need to as they don't use it. However they don't want to buy a non-unlimited connection and as such that's how the companies advertise. It would be nice if someone could advertise that they do have limits but those limits make it better service, but nobody would buy it, they'd go for the "unlimited" competitor instead.

The problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20368767)

comcast has to do this because a heavy internet user can bring down a whole neighborhood, where DSL does not have these problems. They are cutting off bittorrent use because they see that as giving away bandwicth uneccessarily to nerds who pirate music.

With everybody signing up broadband and everybody using bandwidth intensive activities like video, comcast probably sees no alternative in their own eyes.

What's an easy way to tell? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368789)

I'm a Comcast subscriber with heavy usage, but I don't pay much attention to exactly how much I'm using or how fast it is. I've been noticing slow speeds every once in a while for a long time now, but I have no idea how to go about carefully measuring it. What's an easy way to do so?

Re:What's an easy way to tell? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368893)

You can benchmark your connection via speed test from As for keeping track of your up/down bit count on a monthly bases, I'm not sure. Perhaps there's some utility out there. Let me know if you find one being that I subscribe to Comcast too. []

NetMeter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20369169)

Get NetMeter []

Hidden Danger (4, Insightful)

biocute (936687) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368795)

By introducing, or FUDing a secret limit, Comcast users are now in fear that they could be cut off at any time. While some are likely to switch ISP, most will try to slow down a bit "just in case". Overall less data will be used.

If Comcast sets a public limit, most users will try to get to that limit just to get the money's worth, and this tends to increase overall usage.

13. BINDING ARBITRATION (5, Interesting)

Fedhax (513562) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368801)

This year, Comcast has issued a revised Subscriber (Residential) Service Agreement. In this agreement, you agree to arbitration only unless you opt out within 30 days of receiving this agreement.

If you don't opt out of this clause, your chances of receiving any civil compensation are greatly reduced. All of the other posts that talk about turning your team of lawyers loose on Comcast would be wise to review the entire agreement first. shx []


jskline (301574) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369119)

This was expected. Many other companies will be attempting to do this as well. The idea is that if you go into arbitration, the awards are minimal if ever, and there are no consequential awards, etc. It is; from a business sense, the most profitable way to handle customer complaints.

You are also more likely to loose in arbitration than you are with going to small claims courts. They are trying to lock you into arbitration however I wonder how long it will be before someone comes back on Comcast and says that legally you can't do that.

Limits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20368813)

I'm using at least 200kb/s down 24/7 with bittorrent plus my normal internet usage, games, etc. That's over 500GB a month. I'm a Charter subscriber in Socal and I've never been throttled, cut off, or warned.

We should be thanking Comcast (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368907)

Less people clogging up our tubes.

What do you expect from a monopoly? Do you expect them to play by rules or in any way seem competitive? There are a lot of places in the US that do not even have broadband.

Message to Franz Kafka: (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368911)

Here is the subject material for a new story.

thnak god im not with comcast anymore. (1)

luther349 (645380) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368929)

i moved to a area that does not have comcast. its a smaller privet cable provider cable hear is pretty new. wile they lack the sheer speed of comcast at least i dont gotta worry abought getting cutoff. becides witbh stuff like fios and iptv coming i think cable companys better start worrying net will be alot faster then they provide and thers some direct competion to the tv market as well. greedy companys like comcast better get there act together.

Re:thnak god im not with comcast anymore. (1)

redwoodtree (136298) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369189)

thank you making my eyes bleed.

Re:thnak god im not with comcast anymore. (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369249)

So you are conserving bandwidth by leaving out punctuation.

Secret limit could be better in some cases... (2, Insightful)

Improv (2467) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368933)

With a secret limit, especially if it has a slightly random element to it (say, 10% off by either way), one wouldn't need to worry about every putz throttling themselves to 98% of the limit all the time and hogging the bandwidth. "Be reasonable" is fuzzy advice from a math standpoint, but generally a better way to organise things than the alternative.

Serious useage (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368955)

Dude if you're pushing 200 gig to 300 gig a month band useage it's time to look into T1 lines or dump the torrent. I don't have the time to download that much let alone tie up equipment doing it and I have five machines running. I'm going to move in the Spring and I've considered a T1 line. I do transfer a lot of data at times but almost the bigger consideration is reliability. They've been working on the local cable service and my internet keeps going down which results in hours lost trying to explain to the moron on the other end of the phone that it's not my equipment it theirs. I'm running a graphics business out of my home and I don't want to worry about consumer service limits or the "what do you want me to do about it" attitudes from the service people. T1 service may beyond the average consumer but for heavy users it's pretty afordable compared to the old days. Since it's wired through traditional lines it has the added benifit of being available in areas that lack high speed service. Installation is still pricey but if you own your own home and plan to be there for a few decades look at it as an investment.

Comcast is a cable-tv company (1)

randolph (2352) | more than 7 years ago | (#20368991) anyone surprised that they treat their customers poorly?

Unlimited Service is Economically Inefficient (1)

phizix (1143711) | more than 7 years ago | (#20369003)

Unlimited service is economically inefficient and should be abandoned for metered service. Why do power companies charge based on metered usage? Because people like this guy would crank the air conditioning to 60 F and then complain about rolling blackouts (I'm sure it maximizes profits as well). This customer would likely not be very happy with the price Comcast would charge for 300GB/month usage.

About this bandwidth thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20369283)

"without defining in their AUP exactly what the bandwidth limit is."

OK, it's a rant and it's OT. There are lots of people on /. that know better, so you all can move along. For the rest--"Bandwidth" relates to the usable amount of spectrum available to a communications channel, measured in Hertz. "Capacity" is the maximum number of bits per second that can be reliably sent over a noisy channel; a channel's capacity depends on the bandwidth and the signal to noise ratio, as famously set out by Claude Shannon in or around 1948. This confusion of "bandwidth" with "capacity" is the usual confusion by people who like to sound like they know what they're talking about (e.g., press). But this piece's head, confusing "bandwidth" with "bits" or "bytes" is simply beyond the pale. Come on kids, pay attention. This is Slashdot.

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