24 thoughts on “Bandwidth Caps

  1. I can’t help but laugh at the fact that they think that 250Gb per month on residential internet is restrictive.

    We’ve had restrictions on the volume of data available on broadband in Australia since about 1997 when it started to become widely available and initially it was less than 1Gb month which was lifted to 3Gb! These days it isn’t quite so restrictive, however all you can eat is long gone – the economics of that just don’t work in Australia due to the price of international bandwidth.

    Regardless of the price of the bandwidth though, the reality is that no home user, not participating in illegal activities can consume that much data.

  2. Pretty much everyone realizes that 250gb is a more than a substantial cap. As you pointed out it’s pretty difficult to exceed such a cap unless involved in illegal activity. However, it’s not the cap size that bothers me…It’s the fact that they’re flaunting it around and putting it in the fine print. I’m not sure you’re aware of this but Comcast has been very mischievous lately and it’s not been good for them nor their customers.

    I’ve actually wrote an article about Comcast… Frankly quite a few.

    I welcome you to review


  3. Everytime the telephone or cable companies try to introduce bandwidth limits for broadband internet in Brazil they have to give it up a later on. So it’s really funny hearing that in Australia there’s actually a limit. And the internet access has really been growing in the last few years…

  4. @Al: That’s quite a contention that large bandwidth at home == illegal activities.

    If I’m following your argument, it goes something like: “Bandwidth in Australia sucks, suck it up. And you’re probably a criminal anyway.”

    Are you *sure* you’re Australian? I thought that kind of rigorous logic was only taught in our American public schools. Your pairing of this fantastic fallacy with the label “reality” makes fit it all the tighter in the current American mold.

    In my reality, bandwidth need increases along with the utility of the network. In a complex analysis, both would likely be seen to feed and to feed off the other. I am concerned that the growth of either will contract in the absence of its counterpart, and the authors of the whitepaper seem to be as well.

  5. Sorry Al, but I have to disagree, in part. I agree that I would find it hard to go through 250gb in a month. However, to say that the only people that would use that much in a month are those involved in illegal activities is something that I don’t agree with.
    More and more legal content is available on the internet that wasn’t available 3 or 4 years ago, or even last year! Music downloads are a prime example, with places like iTunes being a major vendor these days. DVD movies are now starting to become available, legally, and with HD video cards and monitors now available, I wouldn’t be surprised if soon we see HD movies available for download as well. On-demand streaming of TV programs as well is starting to come about, and will also consume bandwidth as consumers make the switch from TV’s to complete media centres where they stream more than they watch broadcasts.
    Then there’s the gaming aspect, with programs such as Steam allowing you to download games legally, and then take into account online gaming as well.

    Unfortunately, here in Australia, I have yet to venture into online gaming (due to our shoddy phone lines), so I am unaware of how much bandwidth it consumes. But I do not think that it is unlikely to think that 250GB will cap some legal users.

    Personally, I hardly think that Australians should have to pay extra for our bandwidth, considering how slow our internet speeds are because Telstra refuses to upgrade their infrastructure, or allow anyone else ti.

  6. Breaking 2.5 G’s in a month is easy! That’s only like 5 movies in a month on netflix. That’s LESS than one modern PC Game download from direct2drive.com etc. etc.

  7. I currently consume between 300 and 350 Gigabytes of bandwidth every month through my residential internet service, and I’m not into any illegal activities at all. The main sources of this data is through Internet TV (which is streamed legally to the TVs in the house), and through server replication (something I do for work). Restrictions certainly need to be put into place for international bandwidth, but it would be nice to think that national data transfers would be unlimited.

    Luckily, Japanese ISPs don’t care about how much bandwidth you use, or where it comes from 🙂

  8. I agree with Al, 250GB per month is in no way restrictive, people in the U.S. are just starting to be told that they can’t download everything they see anymore because it’s not economically viable and they don’t like it.

  9. Just because you have adjusted or currently live in an online world where 250GB is a lot doesn’t mean everyone else does.

    -There are such a thing as free games, in the multiples of gigabytes for download online.
    -FREE OS’S abound and many like trying what’s new, often times near GB in download size.
    -High definition streaming video exists now, just because YouTube hasn’t adopted it yet doesn’t mean there aren’t other popular sites.
    -Working from home is becoming more popular and even MORE so with gas prices and other economy strains becoming tighter. Imagine sending HUGE files back and forth to your work from your home connection and worrying about a cap.

    Lastly, what’s good for the goose is not always good for the gander.

  10. Comcast’s digital pipelines aren’t the problem, the problem mainly lies with their management which needs to have a reality check.

    Now, this being a company with little respect for its paying customers, that’s not likely to happen soon.

    Unless their paying customers -vote- against their evil “bandwidth limitation” plan by signing on elsewhere (assuming there are alternatives left), Comcast will -not- get it.

  11. I should really put my comment in perspective, they need to focus on what they have been doing in Australia for a while and what Akamai do, which is finding ways of viably utilising the national links. This is done by trying to mirror content locally so that people get their content locally rather than from the other side of the country, so that the national and international links can be freed up for other content and content from other countries.

  12. 250GB isn’t very restrictive and it doesn’t infringe on network neutrality since you are paying for that known limitation on bandwidth.

    What some of the earlier comments were talking about was how Comcast limited the Quality-of-Service for specific protocols, such as Bittorrent. They’ve also been accused of limiting the quality of service for BellSouth and Vonage VoIP so people would buy their own VoIP service instead.

    There is a difference between limited total bandwith and restricting just particular services you don’t like.

    The US has the advantage of most American’s visiting North and South America sites which don’t have high costs for overseas transmissions. I don’t think I’d be affected by a 250GB cap…but I do have over 500GB on my 1.4TB RAID array. It’d feel like a challenge to see if I could max it out .

  13. I pay a premium for 1.8 TB of bandwidth monthly. Nothing illegal either. I have several sites that stream a large volume of videos.

    Several times I have maxed that out. All it takes is the word to get out that you have something unique to offer and bang, they can overwhelm you in a matter of days.

  14. Doy said: “A cap, by definition, is restrictive.”

    This is the point.

    As systems and infrastructure develop at exponential rates, limitations on either can discourage or encourage innovations in the other. (think it through)

    It doesn’t matter if an individual considers a particular cap to be generous or stingy; the question is “why is there any cap at all?”

    Economic reasons are just a crutch, because innovations at either end of the spectrum are capable of rewriting the economic equation.

    Moreover, if you’re willing to accept a cap of any sort, who will administer it? Your ISP, your local government or civil admin,… or your uncle Pete and his tin cups?

    The intertubes belong to us, and they doesn’t like restrictions.

  15. I’m on TPG (in Australia) and I have 150GB of quota each month. Usually by the 20th of each month, my internets will be capped. And no, its not because we’re torrenting every hour, but rather, my housemates and use sites like Vimeo a lot. 250GB may seem a lot right now, but as more HD sites pop up, it won’t be enough.

    Bandwidth caps are a stupid and seriously retarded idea, and should go away asap (sorry to Comcast users, but hey, you have more than me)

  16. Okay, on the one hand, I’m not in favor of restrictions, of any kind, but that’s a personal issue. These people are making a business decision based on resources and costs. It may prove to be a bad decision, but only time will tell.

    I find it interesting, though, that the examples I’ve seen given so far of people going significantly beyond the proposed caps all involve something that would be considered non-personal. For instance, replicating business servers or hosting servers that stream video in large volume. Those both sound like business applications requiring business-level accounts, not personal accounts.
    I have what would be classed as the lowest level of business class service to my house, just to make sure I get enough throughput for things like internet tv, movies, and the like. And, I’ve always paid more for it. Always. Right here in the U.S. of A.

  17. As an Internet service provider I am familiar with these caps and why they are coming into being. They are not directed at user that browse the Internet or even people that download extensively. That is evident by the generous amount of bandwidth.

    The true test of these caps will be when HDTV becomes more predominant on the Internet. The intent of bandwidth caps is to limit the amount used for high definition video in the future.

    Rod Jordan
    Sleek Communications, Inc.

  18. How can you exceed 250GB/mo legally? How about:

    – Download or seed Linux/BSD/Solaris distros
    – Host your own blog
    – Make large commits on CVS/SVN/GIT
    – Backup your HDD with a backup service like MobileMe
    – Use cloud services like Ulteo, S3, etc.
    – Host online games
    – Publish your own multimedia content
    – Download free music from Jamendo, Magnatune, Last.fm, etc.
    – Watch HiDef videos and trailers from Vuze, iTunes, Vimeo, etc.
    – Stream internet TV with sites like saya.tv
    – Use a combination of Comcast’s own VOIP service and any of the above

  19. I think the point here (which has been said before) is that it is COMCAST’s choice to implement the cap. The US has a free market with several competitors to Comcast. Granted, in some local areas options may be more limited, but if enough people are displeased with the cap, it will come.

    CrazyTaxi and Sumit have good points in their comments about the ‘How’ and ‘Why’ of the action.

    If the US government had mandated the rate caps, then we have a serious problem that can stifle innovation. Having a private company trying to cap resources for a certain price is certainly not new. To some extent privatized power and water companies cap usage. In a market as competitive as the cable/telecom area the simple fact remains that whether it’s HD or gaming or data backup, if someone’s needs aren’t being met by Comcast then they will seek out an alternative which, by definition, the market will be there to provide.

    I currently have comcast and have zoomed through a few GB in the first day doing basically nothing i consider ‘heavy’ so I’m going to see how it goes. If I trip the limit, I’ll look into some of the new high speed DSL lines or maybe have a T1 or T3 dropped straight to the house….

    /rant off

  20. Again, Sysad_Chris, great examples, but at least three of them are questionably for personal accounts. If you use more than 250G bandwidth for your “personal” blog, maybe it’s time to look at hosting that on a network, or account, designed to serve it up. Same thing with on-line games and publishing content, of any kind.

    Realistically, for economic and business reasons, the line has to be drawn somewhere.