Word on the street is that Comcast will be implementing a 250 GB/month usage cap on their internet service. This is, apparently, in response to the FCC smackdown they recently received for selectively blocking traffic on their network.
Comcast’s argument during that dispute was that blocking traffic (BitTorrent, to be specific) was necessary to maintain the integrity of their network. Their arguments touched on capacity and Comcast’s ability to maintain service levels. Essentially, they were saying that, if they couldn’t block BitTorrent traffic (and, by extension, any traffic they deemed necessary to block), their network wouldn’t be able to reliably support traffic.
And now, all the posturing has brought us back to the stupid days of the Internet; metered traffic. The industry that was supposed to deliver 45mbps to the home, upgrade their infrastructure, and develop better protocls (and failed) has fallen back to their old chestnut for management. Comcast has long had a mystery threshold for what constitutes “excessive usage”, but it appears they’re ready to codify it for all users.
On the one hand, this is a barbaric step in Internet service. Broadband in the US has long been advertised as unlimited, although the advertising rarely coincided with reality. On the other, it’s a hard number that Comcast hasn’t been willing to disclose before.
It also sets the precedent and an opportunity for Comcast’s competitors. If there’s a huge backlash against this move, other ISPs won’t be as eager to make the same move. The opportunity comes in not imposing their own caps, keeping the “unlimited” dream alive.
Personally, I have no idea how much bandwidth I use a month. But I do know this; if I get a overrage charge, I will leave Comcast as fast as I can.