Today Comcast detailed its new "network management" policies. Basically, they set a 250 GB cap on users, effective October first. It should be noted that for years people have complained about a "hidden" cap that Comcast had, whereupon it would terminate a user's account without giving him or her exact numbers. Now we have an exact number. The question is: do you feel better or worse now?
We've listened to feedback from our customers who asked that we provide a specific threshold for data usage and this would help them understand the amount of usage that would qualify as excessive. Today, we're announcing that beginning on October 1, 2008, we will amend our Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) available at http://www.comcast.net/terms/use/ and establish a specific monthly data usage threshold of 250 GB/month per account for all residential customers.So what they've done is bring clarity to the "hidden" cap, assuming, of course, they didn't lower it at the same time. In reality, this is generous, when you consider Frontier's cap. And there are no overage fees detailed.
Ah, but don't think you get off scot-free. Comcast also says:
If a customer surpasses 250 GB and is one of the top users of the service for a second time within a six-month timeframe, his or her service will be subject to termination for one year. After the one year period expires, the customer may resume service by subscribing to a service plan appropriate to his or her needs.
They've detailed the punishment which was always associated with the "hidden" cap, so now we know what triggered past terminations.
What's interesting is that anyone who's been watching has seen a number of new services offered, just begging consumers to use more bandwidth. Examples would be Netflix's Roku box, or HBO's download service, and that doesn't even count things like iTunes. While few will run afoul of a high cap like this, as time goes on, more and more may actually be affected. It's something we should all keep an eye on. You can expect more, not less caps like this in the future --- and perhaps not quite such a generous one.