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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dear Comcast, Fuck You

posted by on August 28 at 16:30 PM

Comcast—which provides service to 14 million customers, including me—has just announced that beginning October 1st, they will cap customers’ data usage at 250 gigabytes a month. Users that go over could be fined or booted altogether.

Comcast says sending 20,000 high-resolution photos or 40 million emails, Downloading 50,000 songs or watching 8,000 movie trailers would put you over the limit. However, there’s already a heated debate raging on tech site message boards like Ars Technica, where one poster notes that:

250GB does sound like a lot, but by my calcs, this would limit me to roughly 30 hours of (perfectly legal!) Instant Netflix viewing on my Roku box, which streams at around 2Mbps. Please someone correct me if my math is wrong on this.

250GB = 250,000Mb -> 250,000Mbp/(2Mb/s) = 125,000 sec = 34.7 hours!

Then of course you’ve got to account for online video gaming, email, browsing and porn hunting in that 250gb of data. As Dominic Holden put it: “What is that, like, an hour on Xtube?”

It’s unclear whether this will account for both uploaded and downloaded data. DSL Reports, citing an anonymous source, says no, but it doesn’t look like there’s any official line yet.

Why is this so fucked? Well, obviously if you’re a heavy data user—or have several in your household—you’re gonna take it on the chin at some point. It’s also unbelievable that Comcast’s—rather than upgrading their infrastructure, like so many other countries have done—is just cutting users off at the knees. With the huge growth in online video distribution—like the Netflix Roku box, or upcoming video streaming on Xbox Live—this just blows my mind. The internet is not a finite resource and it doesn’t have to be this way.

I’m going to start looking around tonight to find out if Verizon or Qwest have rolled out any of their fancy high speed lines in my area.

End rant.

RSS icon Comments


So much for the broadband revolution, and the Web replacing TV/movies.

Posted by Just Sayin' | August 28, 2008 4:35 PM

Let us know about what you find elsewhere. I've stuck with Comcast through all their ridiculous behavior; this is probably the last straw.

Posted by Fed up | August 28, 2008 4:35 PM

despite my gigabytes of porn I still haven't hit the magical 250gb. Which is concerning given the possibility i'm missing out on some really great porn.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 28, 2008 4:35 PM

Last year, my roommate and I switched from Comcast for our cable/internet to DirecTV and Clearwire, which has no limits that I know of. Plus, we were rewarded for our efforts with the news that we will get Friday Night Lights this fall before the rest of the world does, woot.

Posted by brinsonian | August 28, 2008 4:39 PM

The math above is quite wrong - this person is confusing megabits with megebytes. 8 megabits equal one megabyte. So, they're actually being limited to roughly 275 hours/month of 2 Mbps Netflix streaming, not 34.7 hours.

Posted by Trey | August 28, 2008 4:39 PM

For the first time I'm glad that I have Qwest. This is completely ridiculous and people need to start switching to other providers, and calling Comcast up to tell them.

Posted by N | August 28, 2008 4:41 PM

I've had endless agonizing customer service issues with Qwest, namely, never setting me up for auto-bill pay when I requested it then cutting off my service when I failed to pay FOUR TIMES then letting me know they were doing me a favor by not charging me the $30 reactivation fee each time. Then when they finally got the auto-bill pay going, they double-charged me each month until I dumped the incompetent idiots. Qwest is absolute shit.
Don't know about Verizon.

Posted by city_kitty | August 28, 2008 4:43 PM

Qwest customer service is an industry joke.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 28, 2008 4:45 PM

I don't know what my usage was back when I had Comcast cable. I might have downloaded 50gb worth of music and patches in a day at best (and that be an exaggeration on the high side). When I get out of this frigging nursing home and into my own place again I will go back with Comcast. It was a lot faster than whatever the library uses.

Posted by elswinger | August 28, 2008 4:46 PM

Clearwire is the worst Internet in the whole wide world.

Posted by Mr. Poe | August 28, 2008 4:49 PM

I'm gonna have to tell my room mates to stop looking at so much pron.

Posted by uh oh | August 28, 2008 4:50 PM

This is ... illegal.

And, considering they are rolling out 160 GB per MINUTE service in time for Christmas, just plain stupid, cause you'd cap out just turning on the modem.

Thank the FSM the UW has Internet 2 and not that dog slow pony you civilians suffer with in the rest of the US while Japan and South Korea - and Canada - laugh at how slow our Internet speed is and how we pay 10 to 20 times as much per GB.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 28, 2008 4:50 PM

Actually, whoever did that math is off by a factor of 8. They're mixing big "B" bytes with little 'b' bites. 1 Byte is 8 bits.

250GB doesn't equal 250,000Mb, it equals 4,000,000 Mb. Which is 2,000,000 secs at 2Mbps, which is 555.5 hours, which is 23 days. Basically, they are capping for people who are using all the bandwidth constantly.

Posted by Andrew | August 28, 2008 4:54 PM

Earthlink, baby. Free long distance plus interwebs for $30 less a month than Comcast. And the stoner that installed it configured my wifi network out of human decency, even though they're not supposed to.

(Will, you're just kidding about everything you just said, right?)

Posted by elenchos | August 28, 2008 4:57 PM

Whoops, I'm way off to. It's actually 2,000,000 Mb, which is 1,000,000 secs, which is 277.7 hours. Which is only 11 full days. But that's 11 full days of using the maximum bandwidth the entire time.

Posted by Andrew | August 28, 2008 4:58 PM

The math is wrong. 250GB (gigabytes) is 2,000,000 megabits. If they're using binary GB instead of decimal, then it's even more. At 2mb/s, that's two hundred and seventy-seven hours of streaming video per month, not thirty-five. The author is confusing bits and bytes.

Posted by Alex | August 28, 2008 5:03 PM
17 DSL: $33 (256Kbps) to $58 (5Mbps+) per month. "Answers to FAQs. Yes, you can run servers on your DSL connection; just don't spam, host porn or violate any laws. Yes, you can use a Cisco 678 (and perhaps a 675) if you are a geek and know how to work in CBOS. No, your throughput is not metered. In general, if something seems reasonable to you, it is probably reasonable to us."

Posted by Phil M | August 28, 2008 5:11 PM

I got so fed up with Comcast I chucked them. I live outside Chicago and AT&T just done installing broadband in this area so I jumped on that bandwagon. I now get TV and internet for what I use to pay Comcast for just TV. AND (this this is key) that is what I will always pay. They don't have those "for the first 6 months only" deals like Comcast has.

Posted by amy | August 28, 2008 5:16 PM

In the UK, the limits are pretty regularly much lower than that (1-10GB). I regularly exceeded the limit in the 6 months I had access there and never received a word of notice.

I think it's likely comcast is only going to pick on you if:
1) you're in the top few users in terms of bandwidth
2) you're in a really congested neighborhood

Just hope you're not #2 (and you're not torrenting enough to be #1).

Posted by Chip | August 28, 2008 5:20 PM

Many folks are ready to jump off the handle based on a single self-questioning post.

And they sure aren't considering that most of Comcast's costs are per-bit, not per-user, which means everyone else is paying for folks who run P2P clients 24x7 at full capacity.

Many of these folks are all for "net neutrality" without having any idea what it, let alone why it's a bad thing for 97% of users. But the term sure sounds good.

Posted by Troy | August 28, 2008 6:00 PM

a great example of why people should check their calculations before launching into huge rants.

Posted by josh | August 28, 2008 6:12 PM

They gotta try to keep you a little bit addicted to cable tv or else a third of their business goes right out the window.

Posted by monkey | August 28, 2008 6:13 PM

Switch to a local Seattle provider, bandwidth caps.

Oh yeah I work for them, but still...

Posted by Nicholas Barnard | August 28, 2008 6:20 PM

This Jonah Lee guy is such an idiot. Josh Feit, your talent is missed so very much.

I'm seriously embarrassed for the Stranger's recent editorial hiring decisions. WTF, people.

Posted by Non | August 28, 2008 6:33 PM

We've been thinking about switching from Comcast to DSL (in Seattle) but can't figure out if that's going to cause speed problems. Is anybody here a DSL user who does a lot of online gaming (where lag can be deadly!) or uses a Roku Netflix player? We thought about just trying it out, but there are so many connection/disconnect fees that if we ended up wanting to switch back quickly to cable, it would cost a lot.

Posted by Jane | August 28, 2008 7:14 PM

Hooray for getting FiOS this weekend!

Also, I'm preparing my stated reasoning for cancelling Comcast, and it's going to be this and the whole FCC thing.

Posted by V | August 28, 2008 8:38 PM

Ha. Just posting to be a jerk towards someone who doesn't know the difference between megabit and megabyte.

Posted by Brian | August 28, 2008 8:54 PM

Comments 5 and 13 FTW.

There is only so much bandwidth, an ever growing number of users, and this is aimed at the serial downloaders of bloated data such as movies.

Posted by Gomez | August 29, 2008 10:42 AM

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