Comcast Shuts Down Customer That Exceeded Bandwidth Cap

Comcast Shuts Down Customer That Exceeded Bandwidth Cap

For Comcast customer Andre Vrignaud, the internet is an important part of everyday life.

Vrignaud, a 39-year-old gaming consultant in Seattle and a former Microsoft technology evangelist for Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE, has a lot of data: he has a 12TB basement server that he uses to store all of his music, which is ripped into lossless FLAC format and amounts to about a gig per CD. He saves all of his photos in RAW format, which can run over 10MB per picture. He uses the Carbonite online backup system, he uploads his music to the Amazon cloud music service, and he even does a little bittorrenting. All of this, on top of a roommate who is quite fond of multimedia streaming services, turned out to be too much of a burden for Comcast, so they shut off his service.

"If someone's behavior is such that it degrades the quality of service for others nearby -- that's what this threshold is meant to address," said company spokesman Charlie Douglas. "It can negatively affect other people."

Douglas says the company imposes a 250 GB limit on users, which came into effect in October 2008 after protests from customers kept them from throttling peer-to-peer traffic. Median data usage for Comcast cable internet customers is 4 to 6 GBs per month, according to Douglas. He says that the limit is intended to keep users like Vrignaud from impacting their neighbors, which can occur during peak data usage times. 

Vrignaud, who pays $60 a month for a 15Mbps download speed, went over this limit twice. The first time, he called in to figure out what the problem was. Upon finding out that he had been using too much data, he and his roommate attempted to curb their usage. Vrignaud did not, however, know that Comcast was counting uploads against the quota, as well.

Vrignaud assumes that the music is what caused the problem, but he's not sure. All Comcast will tell him is that he's cut off for the next year - he can't even switch to an uncapped, higher-priced, lower-speed business connection. Comcast says it's his fault for not monitoring his bandwidth better.



"Looking at the facts, it appears that it is a straightforward story," said Douglas. "There's not much we can say. We called and reiterated the policy and told him if he did exceed it again in six months, he would face suspension. That is our policy."

What Douglas failed to mention as that the cap hasn't increased at all since it was instated, even after Comcast has adopted and aggressively improved a system called DOCSIS which allows them to send more data through the same lines. Douglas also did not mention that data usage is not expensive for such a large ISP: it's somewhere around 2 cents per GB sent to or received from the greater internet, and the prices are continuously dropping.

AT&T recently joined Comcast in the "cap club" when it placed a 150 GB per month restriction on its DSL service. Time Warner Cable trialed services with extremely low caps a couple of years ago, but were fought back by customers and politicians.

Vrignaud thinks that Comcast is trying to protect its core video business from online competitors like Hulu and Netflix.

"I struggle when I watch Comcast raising broadband speeds, and at same time, saying they can't afford all this internet usage, without doing deep packet inspection and other invasive things," Vrignaud said. "They haven't laid new cable in 15 years. I'm pretty much a nonregulation guy, and I'd just rather let the market be competitive. But I get really frustrated in situations like this where what is truly a bad company is not being forced to improve because it doesn't have to. I really don't have any choices here."

Douglas disagrees. "People should be careful if they have a terabyte of data to back-up," he said. "They should manage their consumption carefully, and do it over time." However, it seems that Vrignaud wouldn't be able to if he wanted to.

Vrignaud says that he's trying to find alternatives for now, but all he has access to are some relatively slow DSL connections and the Clearwire 4G to the home service. He vows to not give up quietly and plans on contacting politicians and regulators about the issue. He has also posted about it on his blog to much coverage around the web.
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That's such a joke, though here in Canada we've been facing the same issues for years. The best service we can get at the moment, in terms of caps is unlimited on 5Meg DSL, or 300GB/m 5Meg for $41/m. Sadly the market is pretty much cornered by a 3-headed monster Bell, Rogers and Telus, controlling something like 90% of the communications network and likely involved in collusion to continually offer less for more, like attempting to switch EVERYONE to 30Gb/month, most recently.. Hopefully our newly elected Government will continue to push for foreign investment and ownership and we can get some real competition like the US.

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You realize that Comcast is in the US right? The competition there is a big of a joke there as it it is here. The fact is Harper is as anti-regulation as you can get and has previously said he would rather let the "free market" dictate the prices of the internet.

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There's very little "real competition" even in the US; monopoly charters were granted to many providers in many municipalities years ago to "encourage infrastructure growth" so it's often impossible to find comparable services at reasonable prices. For example, my boss has a choice of 56k dialup, satellite (capped at 5GB/month), or paying to have a T-1 laid to his house and then paying over$800/month for 1.44 Mbps. There are no other options for him, period.

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"While I'm and advocate for unlimited Data usage and or less restrictive measures, I think this guy in particular is a Bandwidth hog and I think that for regular folks like me and everyone else on Comcast, 250GB is more than fair, I'm mean this guy is running a freakin server with massive files. He had been warned about going the over the limit and did it again."

-Optimus

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>> Median data usage for Comcast cable internet customers is 4 to 6 GBs per month, according to Douglas.

Hahaha... They're high.  That's not the median for people who actually use internet services. That's the average that you get when you throw in all the grandparents e-mail connections that are never used.

Say you go to the Steam store and download *one* of their free-to-play games. That's 8.6GB for Forgotten Worlds in *one* day. Want Global Agenda too? Now you're up to 15.1GB in one day. God forbid you have two kids and they both want the games too.  And did I mention how many more free games there are?

Reformat your computer and forgot to backup your Steam games? You'll be downloading 150GB if you're me (probably way more if your Bob <g>)... in one day. 4-6GB is a joke. I probably burn through that just streaming Internet radio stations.

I hope people on Comcast don't buy Chromebooks... They'll harassed in no time once all their data's in the cloud.

They're penalizing people for actually using the "unlimited" Internet connection that was advertised before caps, whether their use is legal or not.

 

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It is always funny when someone with no life refuses to accept their sad life.

MOST people spend less than an hour a day online.

As I said to someone else...this is something that should haunt you until the day you put a shotgun in your mouth and pull the trigger after discovering what a wasted life you have...No one will EVER say on their deathbed "I really wish I had spent MORE time online when I was alive."

Tell me something...how do you cope with years long celibacy?

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DAMN! I have a 250GB limit on O2 in UK but i average about 1TB a month ( mainly Blu Ray Rips and Videogames ). I hope they dont cut me off :-(

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This is just the pre-cursor for them starting to charge by the GIG. That's always been the goal.

Watch when that happens, these so called bandwith hogs will be the ISP's favorite customers and you won't hear about bandwith issues anymore from them.  On the contrary they'll probably tag those of us who download too much an "inactivity fee".

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I live in Romania and I have 100Mbps up and down, UNCAPPED, Fiber to the Home. I pay the equivalent of 22 US Dollars per month for this internet + TV. All for $22.

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Yeah...but you live in Albania...so it is awash. You have nothing else to do in your country.

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Abanc, that sounds wonderful.

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I've had Comcast tell me I was using like 10gbs for the next month when it was still like 5 hours away. More often than not on the last day of the month, the meter is not working, making it hard to really gauge how much bandwidth you are using on the most critical day.

Anyway, when comcast contacted me about my problems (I also got the 6 month warning), it was only when I was like double the limit. I think I was 560gb, but it turned out that I had been over 250gb each of the past 4 or 5 months and they didn't do anything about it until I doubled the limit. I went over last month by like 6gb - I am very careful now - and did not receive another warning. I suspect that they give customers some leeway.

Regardless, the basic idea doesn't even make sense on its face, let alone from a business perspective. I'm sure most people who download that much don't mind being throttled if they really are contributing to bandwidth congestion (I say rank those who use the most bandwidth and those who use the most should be throttled the most if there is congestion). What they are doing is actively turning people away from their business. Indeed, it is the customers who get the most value out of their service that they are turning away. They're not even offering to charge them more or a different level of service.

I'm sure there are better ways to solve this problem.

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It is customers like him..or you...that COST the ISP's money. People who have active lives...people who get out of the house once in awhile...people who have seen members of the opposite sex naked, and not just on a monitor...should not have to subsidize YOUR lack of a life.

Seriously...just something that should haunt you...no one will EVER say on their deathbed "I wish I had spent MORE time on the internet."

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@TPost

People who have active lives...people who get out of the house once in awhile...people who have seen members of the opposite sex naked, and not just on a monitor...

...probably wouldn't spend so much time trolling on a tech website.

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"that's what this threshold is meant to address," said company spokesman Charlie Douglas"

That's utter bullshit because he could be downloading/uploading during off-peak when it affects no one.

The limitation doesn't stop anyone from downloading 249GB only during on-peak! If it wasn't true then the limitation would not be counted during off-peak. Plain and simple. I hope the guy somehow wins the battle.

Also it doesn't make sense how paying more would make it unlimited. If the lines truly are saturated by the laws of physics how is throwing a bit of money in the company's bank going to do anything? I mean they sure as hell won't upgrade the lines.

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So, I am supposed to feel sorry for a pathetic "hipster doofus" he swears HE can "tell the difference" and therefore must have everything in lossless formats and feels the need to back up everything online?

Oh and dude...you are 39 years old. Time to lose the roommate. That will solve many problems...first, the bandwidth part. Second, the celibacy part.

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@TPost how do you know they have no sex life.... maybe their TB of data streaming is porn videos.. while watching with their partners!?? The only one with obvious celibacy issues is probably the one trying to call others on it.

While we all love a good conversation with conflicting opinions, your negative/hateful comments should be used elsewhere, where they permit trolling.

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Well this is one of my major peeves about internet. I know not all places are like this but our average data is 2-4 terabytes but we get bounced around like a hot potatoe. From place that have supposed unlimited service you call check website check your bill. But then they have all these hidden caps. Or they didnt have caps they just drop you and say some crap about changing policys and blah.

Not to protect users from throttling to protect themselves. From having to actually provide the service they say. Theyre equipment is too old to actually provide the service they sign people up for.

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