Comcast’s Got The Meter Running

Tonight I stumbled upon an email from Comcast. It was sent ten days ago to an account I never use and seldom check. It said Comcast is now providing me with a tool to check how much Internet I’m using.

I knew this was coming. Comcast announced a 250 Gb monthly data limit a while ago. What wasn’t clear was how close to the cap we get? The simple answer is “not very.” We were well under what I assumed we used. That’s still not reassuring. More on that in a second.

The past few months have averaged in the 20 Gb neighborhood. We probably suck up more than most! Of course baseball season is just around the bend and Helaine and/or I will watch the vast majority of the Phillies games in streaming high def video over the Internet. Our usage will climb.

If you are wondering whether you are at risk of exceeding this 250GB threshold, you should know that the vast majority – around 99% – of Comcast customers use significantly less than 250GB per month. – Comcast website

It wasn’t that long ago we were using dial-up service. My 28.8 kbps modem (which never connected anywhere near that fast) was only good for downloading a few megabytes per hour. Tonight I uploaded at 30+ megabyte file before I could finish typing the description for it.

Comcast’s limit seems reasonable today, but will it be used to rein in their online video competition going forward? That is my worry. The more video and rich content we get online the less we’ll buy from Comcast. They want their Internet side to be successful, but not successful enough to cannibalize their pay TV side.

For now bandwidth is cheap and plentiful. Any artificial limits Comcast (or other ISPs) impose are just that, artificial limits. They’re getting us used to being on a leash.

Blogger’s note: As a very small portion of my retirement plan I own some Comcast stock. Of course what I just wrote doesn’t promote my best financial interest with that stock, but I thought this disclosure was only right.

7 Responses to “Comcast’s Got The Meter Running”

  1. Josh says:

    UConn’s internet (taxpayer funded) is an extremely fast LAN connection which a recent speedtest rated at 40mb/s. Students are allotted a bandwidth share of 14gigabytes in a 10 week period. The fact that this has doubled since my first day here 5 years ago indicates an exponential growth in the consumption of the resources of the internet.

    Btw, if one crosses the 14gb threshold, the powers that be throttle your computer to dial-up speeds as a punishment for 7 days or until you fall below 75% of the limit. Unfortunately, Ive experienced this more than once.

    The FCC needs to find a way to increase competition among ISPs. In my home area (Seymour), the only two choices are Comcast at $30 a month or AT&T DSL at $30 a month. Both services can be extremely slow depending on “how far you are from the substation” & “peak usage” as customer service reps are quick to point out.

    I envy your 250gb limit.

  2. Gary says:

    If I remember correctly, the original reason Comcast set this cap was to combat illegal file sharing & bit torrents – they had been accused of throttling user’s download speeds if they were using bit torrents, then they decided to go this route instead.

  3. David Sachs says:

    Geoff- I don’t think it is at all necessary for you to disclose what stocks you own just because you are a blogger. First, blogging is not defined, so far as I know, under the law, as any sort of profession. Second, your profession, correct me if I am wrong, is meteorologist or weathercaster. Neither of those is relevant insofar as publishing what your finances are. As long as we have a First Amendment, what you say online, in your blog is protected. (Hell, even without the First Amendment, you are protected, since freedom of speech is a natural right)

    I respect your sense of ethics, but I worry that it may be “chilling” your free expression. You are not a financial adviser, making recommendations. You are a very cool, very talented guy, observing life. Keep doing what you do and don’t worry about the nit-pickers.

    BTW- that is the second best looking dog ever. (Mine is the first…)

    • Geoff Fox says:

      Glad to err on the side of caution. And, as a long time Comcast ahreholder maybe people will think I had an early understanding of the potential of their technology.

      David, let me add one thing I’ve said here before. Though I try and write the truth as I see it, it is not the whole truth. There are faults and weaknesses shown by friends and relatives and even by me that I don’t publish. The same thing goes with privileged information I have about my employer. You won’t read that first here.

  4. Dave says:

    Most of my use comes in the form of sharing live music (legally). I’ve been recording live music for years, and sharing in such places as:

    Live Music Archive
    http://www.archive.org/details/etree

    bt.etree.org
    http://bt.etree.org/

    The Trader’s Den
    http://www.thetradersden.org/

    I record in 24-bit, and upload (and download) in lossless formats (FLAC), rather than MP3, so the file sizes are a lot bigger than lossy formats.

    I’ve also somewhat recently started recording video (full 1080p), and have been sharing those as well (again, in full quality). The bandwidth gets eaten up pretty fast over here, as you can see.

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