Cable modem providers have always been a bit sensitive about how much their users upload, usually setting a rate cap to keep individuals from hogging all the bandwidth. One reader though recently discovered that Comcast also has its download limits, although no one at the company will tell him what it is.
"I just got a call from Comcast saying I'm downloading too much and I have to cut it back or they will suspend my account for a year," the reader wrote. "Of course, I asked what I have to cut it back to -- they don't know. Just cut it back 'drastically,' they said. So I asked what the limit was and they don't know that either. It's the top X percent in a one-month period -- they don't know what 'X' is either. So asked if there was an account where there was no limit and they said I could open a commercial account. So I asked what the limit was on that and they didn't know -- just that it was higher."
The reader thinks he knows why he was the recipient of this threat to cut off his service. "Last month my wife downloaded a lot of videos she got from a pay site, plus I downloaded a lot of DVDs from MSDN after Office 11 and Vista got released," he wrote. "So we did use an abnormally high amount of download bandwidth and that's apparently why we showed up on their radar. We don't run any servers since the uplink is limited to something like 250 kbps and high-bandwidth hosting services are cheaper than Comcast anyway."
Since no one at Comcast would tell him what the download limit is, the reader will just have to hope he and his wife don't go over it again. "I've now talked to a number of people at Comcast," the reader wrote. "It took quite a number of calls before I found that there really is a download limit -- the normal customer service reps are unaware as are their supervisors -- but they apparently use it to differentiate between 'residential' and 'business' customers. It seems I could avoid the issue with a business connection but we're not a business."
"In any case, the guy that called first did not offer that -- just that they would disconnect us for a year. But in no case have I been able to get any absolute numbers regarding downloads. If they're so worried about usage, why don't they just throttle back when someone uses 'too much'? I really didn't appreciate the threat about disconnecting our service for a year. That's the behavior of a monopolist, but of course Comcast is a monopoly."
Got a case of the broadband blues yourself? Call the Gripe Line at 1 888 875-7916 or write me at Foster@gripe2ed.com.
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