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One Year After Imposing 250GB Cap, Comcast Customers Still In The Dark About Their Usage

Phillip Dampier August 24, 2009 Comcast/Xfinity, Data Caps 9 Comments
Open Media Boston's creative reinterpretation of Comcast's logo

Open Media Boston's creative reinterpretation of Comcast's logo

In August 2008, Comcast formally announced a 250GB monthly usage limit on their residential broadband customers, promising them that despite the fact only “the top 1% of customers would be considered excessive users,” a usage monitoring tool would be made available to customers to make sure they were under the limit imposed by Comcast.

One year later, Open Media Boston notes the usage measurement tool is still not available to customers.

Comcast’s “Excessive Use FAQ” points concerned customers to the McAfee security suite, which includes a bandwidth meter utility, and which Comcast provides for free for subscribers. Unfortunately, the software is only compatible with Windows machines, leaving Linux and Mac users out in the cold. To remedy this, Comcast suggests subscribers do “a search for ‘bandwidth meter,'” and find a meter on their own. This is true, but is akin to asking mobile phone customers to monitor their minutes with a stop watch.

Open Media Boston worries about the accuracy of some of the third party measurement software tools, claiming they are likely to also measure traffic moving between computers within a user’s home (such as backing up files on a network, streaming music on the home network, etc.) making consumers think they’ve already come close to exceeding their monthly limit when such traffic would not be counted by Comcast’s own measurement tool.

The cable company washes its hands of responsibility for third party tools, saying it cannot vouch for any of them.  But they have told Open Media Boston one thing for certain: “Comcast’s determination of each customer account’s data usage is final.”

So where is Comcast’s official tool?  “We have talked about launching a tool. We are committed to launching one. It is in employee testing,” Comcast spokesperson Charlie Douglas told Open Media Boston.

Comcast contacts the most egregious offenders of their 250GB monthly cap by telephone to give them a warning they are way over the limit.  Company officials claim most customers work to reduce their usage after getting such calls.  But should a customer find themselves on Comcast’s bad side a second time within a six month period, their service will be canceled and the company will prevent them from signing up again for service for a one year period.

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Papa Midnight
Papa Midnight
11 years ago

So for those in monopoly areas, what are they to do when stripped of a necessary service for a year?

Uncle Ken
Uncle Ken
11 years ago

The internet is becoming a utility if not one already A 2 edge sword. The internet runs billions in commerce and company functions every day. Yes the electric, gas, water, bills show up every month based on how much you used. Turn the word internet into utility and then it can be based on usage no questions except one. Is the internet the same type of utility? There are many ways to get your Normal utilities turned back on because peoples lives at are stake and courts are busy enough. I can’t think of a single person dying from lack… Read more »

Tim
Tim
11 years ago

Someone help me get through the Comcast logic. So they tell you to use a 3rd party tool to monitor your bandwidth even though they have one in place already to monitor your usage but won’t allow you to check your usage stats with that but only with the other 3rd party program. Also, they point you towards a 3rd party program yet won’t support the assertions of that tool if that tool contradicts with Comcast’s metering tool. Am I missing something here? Sounds like a total load of BS. You know, metering tools are really simple and Comcast saying… Read more »

Greg Glockner
Greg Glockner
11 years ago

I have mixed feelings about the Comcast cap. I think a 250GB cap is a reasonable limit. We are heavy internet users at home – both my wife and I are full-time telecommuters. We use VPN, VNC. I download Linux ISOs and occasional HDTV content. We do some Skype video chat with distant relatives. I installed a router with Tomato firmware and discovered that our internet use is about 30-40 GB/month. I’m sure we’re above average but clearly we’re far below the 250GB limit. But here is the problem. First, no ISP should say that they have a limit without… Read more »

Greg Glockner
Greg Glockner
11 years ago

The problem with your argument is that there’s no concrete definition of “excessive use”. Is downloading HD content excessive use? How about setting up a PC for remote access? What about using your internet connection for VOIP or video chat? What about downloading a Linux distribution? Or uploading a set of videos or an entire photo shoot? As an interesting contrast, I purchased one of the first prepaid 3G devices from Virgin Mobile USA. Unlike traditional 3G data service, you pay for data by the MB (or GB). There’s no cap. When you exhaust your GB, you buy another pack.… Read more »

James
James
11 years ago

Internet access is a utility, just like power, cable tv, or phone service and it needs to be treated as such. Pure and simple.

F***comcast
F***comcast
10 years ago

These caps are pretty ridiculous I live in a house with 5 other nerdy roommate and pay 250$ a month for 50mb comcast. According to there cap that mean 5 people can download for about 3 hours every month and then we are disconnected for a year…. How is that unlimited?????? How is that even sane? Why would even offer a 50mb service and then cap it at 250g a month??? Thats 11 hours of downloading a month!!!! 11!!!!!! Not even counting 5 people playing xbox 360 and downloading Netflix and watching Hulu… Comcast must really be big fans of… Read more »

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