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Man Cut Off for a Year for Exceeding Comcast’s 250GB Cap-Story Going Viral

Phillip Dampier July 18, 2011 Comcast/Xfinity, Data Caps, Editorial & Site News, Video 13 Comments

Last week, Stop the Cap! shared the story of Andre Vrignaud, a 39-year-old gaming consultant in Seattle who found his Comcast Internet service shut off for a year for twice exceeding the company’s arbitrary 250GB usage cap.  The story continues to draw media attention, including this TV news report from Seattle station KOMO-TV.  Cloud computing is implicated, but Vrignaud’s cure — paying more for additional usage, strikes us as the wrong answer.  Monetizing broadband usage is a provider’s dream come true.  The better solution would be to fight to remove the cap or at least ensure residential customers can upgrade to business service, if they choose, without the year-long “ban” in place.  (3 minutes)

Currently there are 13 comments on this Article:

  1. Scott says:

    Regular broadband users need to hear this story to understand it’s not the “1%” of users as claimed that are getting slapped with overages or having service cut, everyone is affected.

    Even with providers like Comcast that’s hundreds and thousands of people having to pay large fees or face assinine policies.

  2. Ben says:

    Glad the news team blew up the spot saying this guy is now stealing Internet off a neighbors network. Comcast can now monitor that and charge him with Theft of Service and slap him with a HUGE fine!

  3. siouxmoux says:

    Comcast Should adopt ATT Business plan. If you go over 150gig dsl or 250gig vdsl data caps they will charge you $10 for every 50gig. Comcast is missing out in this hugh cash cow, Anyone notice this guy owns one those twitting scales, the same one Leo Laporte owns.

    • Alex Perrier says:

      That is 10¢ per GB, a rate at which they still make a significant amount of profit. Ever heard of TekSavvy, a Canadian Internet service provider? They charge $31.95/month for their 300 GB DSL plan at 5 Mbit/s. That’s exactly 10.65¢/GB.

      UPDATE: Cheaper by the Cable. At $27.95/month, TekSavvy’s 3 Mbit/s offering includes 300 GB per month. That’s less than 9.32¢/GB, a lower rate at which the company still makes a reasonable profit.

    • That’s monetizing broadband usage, one of the things we are very much against. They already have a cash cow offering unlimited service. They just want to overmilk the cow.

  4. Ben says:

    Well, then here is my beef. If they force “Consumption Based Billing” then the FCC should IMMEDIATELY REQUIRE ALA CARTE CABLE! They can’t have it both ways. They say subs should only pay for what they use – fine. Then we should only pay for what channels we want too.

  5. jr says:

    Brian Roberts makes 31 million while his customers are only supposed to use their internet account for emailing birthday wishes to their relatives

  6. Duffin says:

    I am still amazed that there is more outcry for netflix raising their prices slightly than there is for ISPs pulling stuff like this. I don’t buy that customers “agreed” to it, as they said. This guy said he had Comcast for 8 years. The cap policy is apparently only something like three years old. So, he was forced into agreeing to it. I’m assuming there are no alternative ISPs or he would have just switched. So, that means that the customer was essentially forced into accepting the caps with no alternative. That’s some crap right there…

    • It is no surprise to me because even seasoned computer users often have no idea what their usage is like. Take Netflix for example. How do you know if/when they adjust their video quality up or down. What used to consume 150MB for an hour show could quietly run more than 400MB if they increase the quality of the stream without your knowledge. High quality streamed video can be a real bandwidth piggy, and trust me most people have no idea by how much.

      It used to be people were called pirates and torrent thieves when they consumed a lot of usage. But today’s online cloud storage schemes, file backup, and online video will eat plenty.

      The reason Netflix got backlash is the Overcharging applied to everyone. With Internet Overcharging, people only start screaming when they realize it will impact them, which is why providers strenuously claim only 2% of their users will be affected. Of course, what tomorrow brings is another matter.

  7. Richard says:

    If the FCC wants America to survive in the 21st century and they want to keep their lobbyists happy it can be done. Take away all franchise agreements for Comcast et al that impose caps on their users. If they don’t want to share their lines yes this goes for you Verizon FIOS that is fine. Any third party that wants to build fiber networks to compete with them should be allowed to do so. Those networks should be open access and the users should own their own lines even if they don’t pay to have them instaled.

    I wonder what agreements Time Warner forced the people of Maine to go for in order to install the new fiber to the home network. http://bangordailynews.com/2011/07/18/business/time-warner-to-deploy-fiber-in-downtown-bangor/?

    I don’t disagree with the user that says that they want only specific channels for their cable TV. I do as well this way my bill can drop to below close to $200, if Time Warner forces us to be capped. They’ll probably over charge again. Those of us who can should drop all but the absolute basic channels if at all possible. This way we can use the money we save if any to pay off time Warner’s new scheme considering how low it was the last time it was tried.

    • I agree that open access is at the heart of today’s marketplace duopoly. During dial-up days, large telcos had to open their networks and sell wholesale access to the network of dial-in numbers people used to use to avoid long distance access charges. Then, the very-business friendly Bush Administration hearted Big Telecom’s arguments that their broadband networks should be closed to wholesale access. That means AT&T, Verizon, and the cable companies can refuse to sell access to third party resellers. The only exceptions are some minor voluntary agreements with companies like Earthlink, who offer very little (if any) savings to the customers they have who sign up for service using cable or DSL providers.

      In Canada, Bell is required by law to sell wholesale access to all-comers, which is why there are independent ISPs who can undercut Bell’s pricing, all while selling service over Bell’s DSL facilities. Bell limits customers’ usage – TekSavvy, which comes across Bell’s DSL lines, does offer unlimited plans. Bell wants to impose their pricing models on every independent provider in Canada, which is what all the screaming is about up there.

      Unfortunately, the CRTC foolishly did not extend the open access laws to cable companies, so consumers are stuck with lower speed DSL for independent providers.

      In other countries, the dominant providers are mandated to open their networks to resellers to promote competition. Customers pay a much lower line charge, which sustains the costs to provide the physical line to your home, and then you pay an ISP for the Internet access.

      Republicans didn’t like this notion last time this was debated, claiming providers should have the full fruits of their labor. Telling competitors to build their own networks is nice in theory, but investment capital is very difficult to obtain when Wall Street abhors competition interfering with revenue.

      Banks don’t want to hear about how competition will lower prices, because that is exactly the opposite of what they want. In fact, when too many competitors exist, the only thing you hear from them is a drumbeat for mergers and acquisitions to reduce competition and increase revenue.

      For us, it’s going to take a deep pocketed entity like Google to truly disrupt the entrenched market. They already have sufficient capital and power to invest in fiber networks to compete with traditional providers. The only other entities will be individual communities who decide they have been held back by monopolists long enough and decide to treat broadband as a utility service, sold to their residents at a reasonable rate to sustain and grow the community.

  8. Richard says:

    I don’t disagree with Google being one of the few who has the power to directly challenge ISPs on their own turf. I may be wrong but I do believe that Docscis 3 has a 100 mbps symmetric limit per user if it is not oversold. Cut that in half if it is over sold. Time Warner thinks that 20 mbps down 2 mbps up is worth an extra $20, I say hell no.

    The reason that Google may not want to expand is not only the money involved, but the rules and regulations that the ISPs and government have put in place state by state. We’ll see what our next Presidential candidates have to say, or will say when those kinds of questions are thrown at them. I’ve got 1-2 gigs of stuff to back up online if I want to. The main reason I won’t is because even on the wire it will take between 2-4 hours if the speed is throddled.

    I don’t disagree, torrents are a big part of upstream bandwidth legal or not. It is one of the few applications that can use a bigger upstream pipe. Since Microsoft could use torrents to release Windows updates or newer versions. As could Apple. Linux isos are already released as torrents for each cd image or collections for lets say the entire Debian 6 cd iso set. I think that Final Fantasy onlline updates are released as torrent file sets as well.

  9. Richard says:

    There’s a long pdf that explains why the communities that are able to deploy ftth muni networks should. We’ll see what happens after our next Presidential election. We’ll see if we head down the path that South Korea et al have taken. Or if we head down the path of Canada and other heavily capped and sensored countries.

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