Mobile // Mobile Applications
Commentary
8/28/2008
09:19 PM
Dave Methvin
Dave Methvin
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Comcast Orders Extra-Large Customer Caps

Yesterday, DSL Reports broke the news that Comcast is planning to implement a 250-GB monthly bandwidth limit, starting in October. All I can say is that it's about time.

Yesterday, DSL Reports broke the news that Comcast is planning to implement a 250-GB monthly bandwidth limit, starting in October. All I can say is that it's about time.A real policy is much better than Comcast's stealth bandwidth management. In the past, the company has cut off big downloaders but refused to say what level of bandwidth use might trigger The Wrath of Com. Comcast also has tried to lighten its network load by interfering with peer-to-peer traffic, a practice that recently brought a rebuke from the FCC.

Comcast's hybrid-fiber-coax (HFC) network was an incredible thing when it was started a decade ago, but it's showing its age and bandwidth limits. At the same time high-definition television channels are growing to become standard and filling bandwidth, users are finding Internet applications that can use up the bandwidth as well.

What really brought this problem to a head is Verizon's FIOS service, which competes against Comcast in several major markets. FIOS offers the potential of much higher bandwidth because the fiber goes all the way to the home, rather than being converted to coaxial cable for neighborhood distribution. As FIOS has offered download speeds of 20 Mbps or higher, Comcast has needed to compete and raise customer download speeds for marketing reasons. Yet Comcast's infrastructure can't handle the same kind of loads in many of those places.

The failure of Comcast's stealth bandwidth management, combined with its infrastructure limitations, has nearly forced them to implement some sort of caps. As limits go, though, these are extremely generous: 250 gigabytes per month. You could download or upload nearly two DVDs worth of data every day of the month -- 100 kilobytes per second of continuous data transfer during every single second of the month -- and not exceed this cap. So, as it stands, this cap should really affect only the true bandwidth hogs.

If this is as far as it ever goes, Comcast's bandwidth caps won't be much to complain about. However, I worry about whether Comcast and other Internet service providers will ratchet down the limits, create tiers and classes of services, or turn this into a a pay-as-you-go nightmare on the order of cell phone plans. Don't even try going there.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Among 688 respondents, 46% have deployed mobile apps, with an additional 24% planning to in the next year. Soon all apps will look like mobile apps and it's past time for those with no plans to get cracking.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Government Tech Digest Oct. 27, 2014
To meet obligations -- and avoid accusations of cover-up and incompetence -- federal agencies must get serious about digitizing records.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
A roundup of the top stories and community news at InformationWeek.com.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.