Comcast Says 250GB/mo is Too Much; Updates AUP

Comcast emailed me this update to their Acceptable Use Policy this morning:

Dear Comcast High-Speed Internet Customer,

We appreciate your business and strive to provide you with the best online experience possible. One of the ways we do this is through our Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). The AUP outlines acceptable use of our service as well as steps we take to protect our customers from things that can negatively impact their experience online. This policy has been in place for many years and we update it periodically to keep it current with our customers’ use of our service.

On October 1, 2008, we will post an updated AUP that will go into effect at that time.

In the updated AUP, we clarify that monthly data (or bandwidth) usage of more than 250 Gigabytes (GB) is the specific threshold that defines excessive use of our service. We have an excessive use policy because a fraction of one percent of our customers use such a disproportionate amount of bandwidth every month that they may degrade the online experience of other customers.

250 GB/month is an extremely large amount of bandwidth and it’s very likely that your monthly data usage doesn’t even come close to that amount. In fact, the threshold is approximately 100 times greater than the typical or median residential customer usage, which is 2 to 3 GB/month. To put it in perspective, to reach 250 GB of data usage in one month a customer would have to do any one of the following:

* Send more than 50 million plain text emails (at 5 KB/email);
* Download 62,500 songs (at 4 MB/song); or
* Download 125 standard definition movies (at 2 GB/movie).

And online gamers should know that even the heaviest multi- or single-player gaming activity would not typically come close to this threshold over the course of a month.

In addition to modifying the excessive use policy, the updated AUP contains other clarifications of terms concerning reporting violations, newsgroups, and network management. To read some helpful FAQs, please visit http://help.comcast.net/content/faq/Frequently-Asked-Questions-about-Excessive-Use.

Thank you again for choosing Comcast as your high-speed Internet provider.

Ok… the marketing-speak made me throw up a little in my mouth, but I guess they do have a right to cap bandwidth as long as it seems to make sense… but with SO MUCH of what we do online these days, I can see bumping into this actually pretty easilly:

  • ALL of our household’s email is online.
  • ALL of our email is not plain text, it is EMAIL.
  • ALL of the photos and videos we take and store are uploaded both to an online service and to a secure backup location.
  • ALL of the music and movies we download are then uploaded to a secure online backup location
  • Our WII is downloading things ALL THE TIME.
  • Our respective iTunes apps download music, podcasts, movies and shows all the time.
  • One recent podcast-video was 384MB. I download 27 podcast shows a week, many of them having multiple episodes.
  • The last movie I downloaded (HD) was 5 GB, thank you.
  • WE have VOIP service, and it is NOT Comcast’s.

Still, the most AMAZING question I still have is weather or not Comcast really, actually, truly doesn’t do deep-packet inspection. Capping my total bandwidth is one thing. Looking at what I am doing is something totally different.

On another note, look at the ad Google placed above the email I received:

Above this email from Comcast explaining how un-evil they are, Google placed an ad for Bandwidth Monitoring. Google knows what you *meant* to say.
Above this email from Comcast explaining how un-evil they are, Google placed an ad for "Bandwidth Monitoring". Google knows what you *meant* to say.
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