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Charter Communications Quietly Eliminates Usage Caps That Were Rarely Enforced Anyway

Phillip Dampier March 5, 2015 Broadband Speed, Charter Spectrum, Consumer News, Data Caps 12 Comments

charter spectrum logoCharter Communications has quietly dropped usage caps and allowances from the company’s terms and conditions, once again giving Charter broadband customers unlimited access to the Internet.

Like Cox Cable, Charter almost never enforced their usage caps, which were specified as 100GB for its “base” service, 250GB for “Plus” and “Max” tiers and 500GB for “Ultra” service. Customers threatening to cancel service over usage cap matters were assuaged with a commitment by retention specialists that the caps were just a “guideline” and would not be enforced except in the most egregious instances of customer “overuse” of the Internet.

In place of the caps, Charter has returned to boilerplate language found in almost every ISP’s Acceptable Use Policy:

Excessive use of bandwidth that in Charter’s sole opinion, places an unusually large burden on the network or goes above normal usage [is prohibited]. Charter has the right to impose limits on excessive bandwidth consumption via any means available to Charter.

Customers routinely exceeding a terabyte of usage a month have never been contacted by Charter, so such usage apparently does not place a burden on their network. However, Charter also reserves the right to cut your speeds through “reasonable network management tools,” some that may now be forbidden by the FCC’s Net Neutrality policy:

Charter uses a variety of reasonable network management tools and practices consistent with industry standards. In the event the periods of congestion necessitate such management, Charter has available the following tools and practices (without limitation and as may be adjusted over time): (i) use of an upper limit of bandwidth allocated for uploading of files during congested periods; (ii) Subscriber Traffic Management (STM) technology to temporarily lower the priority of traffic with the greatest impact on peak congestion; (iii) spam filtering and detection techniques; and (iv) measures to protect the security and integrity of its network, resources and subscribers. In limited instances if employed, these techniques may affect the throughput rate at which subscribers may send and receive data, the ability of users to establish session connections within the network, or result in the delay of certain traffic during times of peak congestion.

Charter has “simplified” their Internet offers down to two for most customers: 60/4Mbps for Spectrum Internet ($59.99) and 100/5Mbps for Internet Ultra ($109.99). A source at Charter tells Stop the Cap! the company is conducting very limited trials raising speeds to 100/25Mbps for its base package and boosting its Ultra tier to 300/50Mbps, in case fiber competitors arrive. Those tests are not expected to become widespread however as the prevailing view at Charter is to wait until it deploys DOCSIS 3.1 and then raise speeds to 300/50Mbps for its entry-level package and 500/300Mbps for Ultra.

Starting in January, Charter began notifying its broadband-only customers it was raising prices $5 a month (from $54.99 to $59.99).

Currently there are 12 comments on this Article:

  1. Bob says:

    Sure, Charter notified its customers of a rate increase… After several press releases touting the fact that it was raising speeds without a price increase, it then notified customers of a rate increase by inserting a single line into the miscellaneous verbiage at the end of their monthly bill. Once. No press release for that! No notification on their website either. Or an email. Or phone call.

    At least I can say that I typically do get the service speeds promised. Now if only they could get their customer service to work as well as their internet connection…

  2. Robin says:

    I do not have cable, and rely on streaming for TV and movies. For the past week I have not been able to stream at night from about 7:00 pm until well past midnight. Everything works great early morning and during the day. I can’t help but wonder if Charter is either secretly enforcing caps, or trying to make sure everyone subscribes to their cable service. I am at the end of a promotional contract, and if so, this sure isn’t a good way to get me to continue!

  3. jason says:

    wow… same here…

    My bandwidth dropped from 100 mbit to 1-5mbit over the last 24 hours. Before it was lagging every night from 5pm-10pm; with netflix and hulu completely unwatchable.

    I called in and they said its because I dont have there new spectrum modem…

    • Lars says:

      Check the modem you have. I was having problems awhile back and they sent a tech out.
      He took one look at the modem and said “Wow, how long have you had that antique?”.
      They had upgraded to Docsis 3.0 months (years?) earlier but I had gotten missed.
      His paperwork had me listed as having the correct modem but the hardware had not gotten changed.
      He changed the modem out and I was not billed for a service call.
      Currently getting at least 60MBs on basic service, most of the time.
      Drops to 40-50 some days in late afternoon when the WoW kiddies get out of school.

  4. Robert says:

    What a load of crap. Any docsys 3 modem is capable of handling up to 100 Mbps traffic.

    I have noticed a repeating pattern in the last few weeks. After being a customer for two years, now in the last two months, I am experiencing the same drop in speed from 9 pm lasting all the way up until after midnight- every night!

    I have gotten all kinds of excuses from service techs about this, including that maintenance is being done in the off-peak hours the next town over. I was also told by more than one tech that our trunk does not have enough traffic on it to cause such congestion that the speed would drop radically from 60 Mbps to 12 Mbps.

    A tech just told my wife today that those hours are probably when the most network congestion occurs.

    I’m not buying it.

    What’s going on is they are throttling the network speed again. The hours are too regular to account for normal network congestion, and our lines have been checked over and over again. Charter is doing something hinkey and not being forthright about it.

  5. Jimmy says:

    Charter is throttling me EVERY NIGHT during peak hours. I cannot watch HBO Now or Netflix without severe quality reductions or continuous buffering. The internet works fine otherwise, it’s just when I stream that I am being affected. They can call it whatever they want, but when you put lipstick on a pig you still have a pig.
    I’m dropping my TV and phone service tomorrow because of a rate increase, I’ll drop the internet as well and switch to AT&T if they continue to mess with my streaming service.

    • Jimmy says:

      Update – Got rid of cable and phone service due to a bill increase. Plugged the modem directly into the PS3 and started watching HBO Now. 30 minutes into my show I was throttled (Data Managed, wink…wink)! Ran a wireless speed test and was hitting 50Mbs consistently. Called support and the tech wanted to troubleshoot my wireless issue. I told her I was directly connected to the modem through a LAN cable and she continued to question me about my wireless connection and router. She offered to send out a tech but I told her there was nothing wrong with the service. My data was being “managed” (throttled)! Google fiber is moving into my area and cannot get here soon enough!

      These cable companies are on their last legs and they know it. The only thing keeping them afloat is their lobbying. America will remain a shell of it’s former self until we can break the grip of these oligarch’s who control every facet of our lives.

  6. Calvin says:

    Been with Charter over 5 yrs and has had throttling problems early on. After techs swapped out modem 2 years ago the problems ended. I avg 30 down and 3 up and I do notice during peak hours it drops down to 10 down and 1.5 up but not slow enough to stop streaming…Oh, it does drop pretty slow in summer months when it’s over 90 degrees outside here in Henry County GA. At&t and Comcast are no better so I deal with Charter and waiting for Google fiber.

  7. Dustin says:

    Been Charter Customer for 10+ years. You have to be proactive about your own equipment. I get 65/5. I’m paying for 60/5.

    If you are you’ll get the service, but they aren’t going to upgrade your equipment for you.

    All you need to do is lie and say it’s broken at main office to get new up to date equipment. You’ll hand in the old equipment, and they’ll give you new stuff without testing or questions.

    They also aren’t great at keeping signal levels in check. You’ll get slower speeds and connection drops with bad signal levels. If you are like me, I’ll pay 40 dollars to not deal with service calls. You can buy a 40 dollar amplifier to fix most problems.

    http://www.pctstore.com/Amplifier_s/26.htm

    I got an amplifier w/ adjustable active return. I was getting connection drops. The upstream signal level was too high. I put the amplifier on my line until they randomly showed up and tweaked the line. I then took the amplifier off. The amplifier solved my problem until they fixed an upline issue. No service calls to fool with.

    Just check your signal is in spec. Use an amp if not right. If issue persist, then deal with 4 hour waiting windows.

    Other issues that will kill your internet is water in the line and worn/weathered/water in splitters

  8. Natalie says:

    I do not like how much I pay for Charter but I will say compared to other options it is inexpensive and very good service.

    I got angry a year ago when my introductory price of 19.xx a month expired in Dec so the price was raised to $29.xx a month and then in Jan it was raised again to 39.xx a month. I switched to ATT DSL. (Uverse was only available to me at 768Kbps/256Kbps) which promised me 1.5Mbps.

    I was so happy when my contract expired. Movies routinely paused. Games would stop (I would die). With DSL there should be a guaranteed speed with zero collisions requiring resending of data. I do not know what I was getting but my speed seldom was 1.5Mbps. It was seldom even 768Kbps. I would run speed tests and report to them the ping, download, and upload speeds. No help. I would routinely get an error during speedtest where it would fail because it never finished.

    I am not saying I have not had Charter have a speedtest fail too, but I would have someone working on the problem and it would get fixed. ATT never fixed the problem of routinely slow speeds in a year. I was told the problem was the length of the line going from the node to my house was 50% over what it should have been. Then why offer it, my home was listed as good for Uverse at 3Mbps. I have an easement on my property for ATT. I asked one of the people that came out to work on the problem why. I was told the line physically actually starts in front of my property then runs underground to the back of the subdivision and winds its way back to the front where I live. ??? So I am closest to the node but farthest the way they laid the cable???

    Oh and ATT cost $44.xx per month for that service.

    No, until something better comes along, I am sticking with Charter and what since they found the problem almost always tests out at 130Mbps or better on both Speedtest.net and speedtest.charter.com. Oh and since being back on Charter again, I am probably a 500MB – 3GB per day user. Hooray for no caps.

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