Comcast Sets Bandwidth Cap for Customers

By Blake Ellison, Aug 29, 2008 9:31am PDT Internet provider Comcast has announced that it will limit residential cable internet bandwidth to 250GB per month starting October 1st.

The plan, according to The Channel Wire and SFGate, does not specify a charge for going over that 250GB cap, but will have Comcast notifing customers of overages and terminating the accounts of repeat offenders.

Comcast claims that median high-speed internet use in the United States is 2 to 3GB per month, making the 250GB limit generous in most cases, but the cap looms over gamers who consume increasing amounts of bandwidth to use digital distribution services ranging from Valve's Steam, to iTunes, Netflix, Xbox Live, and the PlayStation Network.

For example, a single high-definition movie download from the Xbox Live Marketplace typically weighs around 4.5GB. Die-hard multiplayer gamers, including World of Warcraft players, need not worry: the bandwidth used by online games is far below Comcast's 250GB limit.

Gamers on other internet providers, however, may have cause for concern. Some sense that Comcast sets a dangerous precedent with the possibility from here forward that Comcast may gradually lower that cap. Other large cable providers, including Time Warner and Cox Communications, are currently testing bandwidth caps as low as 5GB.

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27 Threads | 71 Comments

  • The median usage is 2-3GB, eh? To my knowledge, "median" means is that if you list your subscribers in order of bandwidth used, the subscribers at the 50th percentile use 2-3GB. It doesn't give any information on how much is being used at other percentiles.

    Notably, assuming the top percentiles use exponentially more bandwidth, the median is likely a significantly lower number than the "mean", i.e. what we conventionally consider the "average". Compare incomes in the US in 2005: the median is $24,000 (that's the income in the 50th percentile), but the mean is $35,000 (that's the total national income divided by the total number of people). If "heavy" broadband users are a high percentile of broadband users, then median and mean will differ even more than this example.

    This cap is reasonably high, but the US is getting stagnant for broadband growth, and it doesn't seem like the companies have much reason to invest more in the infrastructure if they can continue to push this line of limits of usage.

  • Reading the comments from our friends in Europe, Oz, etc. I guess we can't bitch too much about this but I hope Comcast sees this as a necessary, short term evil and will double or triple this cap within a few years. Everybody knows that future economic growth and new applications are going to require pipes that can handle multiple HD streams and GB worth of software downloads/updates. Problem is, I trust Comcast to sit on their laurels and count all the $$$ from their existing subscriber revenue as opposed to using that money to upgrade their network with fiber optic cable. If I was an investor, Verizon is where I'd put my money because at this rate they are going to win in the long run.