Bandwidth Pirates Take Heed

This world just can’t stop trying to bring us down, and now even the companies that provide us with the content that you’re reading as we speak are trying to shut us down with every fiber in their being. Today’s devil happens to be none other than your cable internet king, Comcast. This news isn’t breaking or brand new, but it’s recently come to my own attention that this is going to become a major issue.

So what is it that Comcast is doing, you’re asking. Starting October 1, 2008, Comcast users will now only be able to use 250 GB worth of bandwidth per month. I’m pretty positive this means both up and downloading. This is going into their “Comcast Acceptable Use Policy”, and will be heavily enforced, based on what I have read. The first time you go over your 250 GB limit, Comcast will call you and politely tell you to stop, but if you do it a second time, Comcast will shut down your internet service for an entire year. Yes, that means 365 days of not using Comcast internet, which basically means, if anyone does go over, they’re going to stop doing business with this overpriced, overbearing giant now.

Comcast seems to think that “most residential customers” use between 2 to 3 GB worth of bandwidth in a month. I can tell you based on personal research that I am conducting, I was able to double that within the matter of three days. High Definition video and online backup services are basically going to slam you over Comcast’s limit, without any hesitation at all. And according to Comcast, they won’t be offering some sort of extra charge for people who go over, since it isn’t a part of their “residential service”, but rather, one would have to upgrade to their “commercial service”.

Comcast, and other technology websites who have been covering this story, have been trying to lighten this blow on us, by finding us ways to monitor our bandwidth consumption. Unfortunately, there is no way around this limit, so all we’re going to be able to do is play by their game if we want their internet. In lieu of this, I downloaded one of the recommended bandwidth monitors, called BitMeter. The major downfall to this application is that it can only monitor the bandwidth coming from the computer it’s attached to, and not the whole network. In my case, I have two desktops, one laptop, and my parents each have a desktop, with my sister having a laptop of her own as well.

The results have proven to be grim. BitMeter has an “ISP Restrictions” feature to it, in which one can set what their limit is, and BitMeter will warn them if they reach a certain percentage of it. I haven’t been limiting my network usage, in order to test this theory, and have been going about my daily internet surfing as usual. My usual day includes many sites, including some online gaming, both on my PC and my PlayStation 3, as well as surfing video game websites such as GameSpot, which uses HD videos now as a standard for their site. Also, I am paying a subscription fee for GameSpot to be able to view their videos in High Def, and there would be no point in me wasting any more of my money if I can’t even watch them.

As of the moment of me posting this, I have used 1.30% of my quota, in three days, which comes out to about 3.2 GB. At this rate, one would expect me to end just fine, at somewhere of a maximum of 39% even. But what worries me is that I have just been surfing lightly so far, and haven’t used any of my Instant Messengers on this computer either. While 250 GB seems like a lot, I wonder what might happen in the future. I have many plans in the future to create projects that I would be uploading to the web. According to Comcast, at a size of 10MB per photo, I would be able to upload 25,000 high-resolution images. On top of that though, with the dream and idea that I have had, I would also be uploading videos, of which can come to a whopping size of 50 MB per video.

Once again, while that comes to 500 videos to be uploaded before a limit is hit, if one happens to be watching videos AND uploading them, that limit becomes lower and closer every second. I also did some research on Comcast’s website. While this limit doesn’t start until October 1, for those who are looking to get their internet now, there is no indication of this limit anywhere, including in their Terms & Conditions pop-out that can be found in their Shop page when looking at “High-Speed Internet”.

It took me a good half hour to find, but after clicking on the “Ask Comcast” link, and sifting my way through the terrible auto-answers that their bot gave me, I WAS able to find an FAQ on what they are now calling “Excessive Use”. This page does nothing but clarify and solidify what’s already been stated, but still shows exactly what kind of unobservant, uncaring people Comcast really is. I know that is quite a large accusation to make, but this will become an issue for more than their 1% of customers that they claim on their website. This issue couldn’t be more of an issue for a lot of people, including myself, who has dreams that use the internet “excessively”, as Comcast claims to call it now, and I could not be more unhappy at the moment.

Editor’s Note: As of publishing this Blog, I would like to make it known that I am holding off my final verdict on this limit and Comcast’s events until I have finished my month-long bandwidth experiment. It is possible that one will be able to keep under the 250 GB limit, even though they are watching high definition video, but I worry about the months, such as ones that include the Electronics Entertainment Exposition [E3], where people will watch literally hundreds of hours of high definition footage in the matter of a single week. Again, I will hold off my verdict for the time being, but this is a collaboration of the research that I have done.

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