It seems that in the rapidly approaching future I may have to pay extra to my ISP to download my collection of Steam based games when I upgrade my PC or wipe a hard drive. Forget about streaming movies over the net. In fact, best keep your quality internet time to surfing text pages, email without pictures, and IMing. Okay, not quite that bad, but close, if some ISPs have their say about it. The Associated Press covered a story in which a man in New York changed from his cable company to his phone company based on the offer of a year of free service on a two-year contract, an attractive deal. Soon afterr Frontier Communications quietly updated its policies saying it would limit internet activity each month to 5GB. That’s the same figure that several other companies are trying out.
This story is particularly interesting because it’s a phone company trying the cap, not a cable company. Since in this man’s particular area the cable company is Time Warner, which is trying a pilot program in Beaumont Texas with a 5GB cap on its cable service for new users, it might not help to switch even if he can get out of his phone company contract. That is a scenario that we could see repeated in many areas if this catches on.
These scenarios are tough sells to customer that aren’t interested in having additional fees tacked on to their bills, especially after the fact. If consumers are left without a choice because all of their area ISPs are capping their downloads, it’s customers that lose out and it becomes pretty easy for ISPs to charge more money for less service. 5GB of data isn’t much at all.
Do you think this will backfire on ISPs? Sound off below.
Comcast is not about to stop in its attempts to manage heavy users on its network after the hand slap from the Federal Communications Commission that found that Comcast had improperly blocked peer-to-peer programs.
Bloomburg reports that Comcast now has plans to slow Internet service to the heaviest users during periods of congestion. The internet speeds for targeted customers will be reduced for periods lasting from 10 minutes to 20 minutes, to keep the service running smoothly for other users.
How much of a slow down? Mitch Bowling, Comcast's senior vice president and general manager of online services said it would back down to “a really good DSL experience''.
Internet Service Providers need a way to control bandwidth hogs during peak times in order to keep things profitable. The only other way is to add additional bandwidth that they would never even touch the rest of the time, which comes off their bottom line. Comcast’s first mistake was being sneaky about it and not disclosing the practice to consumers.
I actually like their latest idea, but from the sounds of this, they are about to repeat their second mistake; not defining what constitutes a heavy user and what exactly is this penalty phase with the bandwidth cap? The generalities just make users uneasy. Those same uneasy users will backlash if they unknowingly get caught up in Comcast’s heavy user slowdown, with what they see as reasonable usage. That reasonable usage is completely subjective, unless Comcast chooses to define it.
What do you think? Is Comcast’s latest plan an improvement?
eWeekbrings two pieces of sobering news on the broadband front to our attention this week: much slower median speeds than other advanced nations, and a big shortfall in new customers.
The US may think of itself as a broadband leader, but that's a perception that doesn't fit the facts, suggests a new report from the Communication Workers of America (link in PDF format). Their SpeedMatters.org website offers a free upload/download test, and the data from that test was used to compare US broadband speeds with typical speeds for other countries. According to SpeedMatters, the US is 15th in the world in broadband speed, with a median speed of 2.3Mbps, compared to world leader Japan at 63Mbps, South Korea at 49Mbps, Finland at 21Mbps, France at 17Mbps, and even Canada at 7.6Mbps. Median upload speed in the US is just 435Kbps (corrected 8-15-08).
Don't blame me, by the way. I use Insight's 10.0 (10Mbps) broadband service, and the SpeedMatters test clocked my download speed at 9347Kbps, and my upload speed at 952Kbps, both very close to the rated maximum. The problem is that 10Mbps or faster speeds (Insight also offers 20Mbps service at an extra charge) are not typical in today's marketplace.
To learn more about why the US is sucking wind in the Broadband Olympics, and what's happening to new broadband customer demand, catch us after the break.
Complaints over bandwidth limits and Bittorrent filtering have made it so Comcast can't catch a break in the press, so you'd think the cable giant would be eager to stop shooting itself in the foot. Instead, Comcast is once again making headlines, this time over a PowerPoint presentation created by an account executive and being passed around inside one of its call centers. Read on to see what has customers both laughing and crying at the same time.
But it’s not your fault. You spend an hour or so arranging your desk, moving your monitor, setting up your speakers—the last thing on your mind is cable management. When it comes time to plug everything in, you just want to fire up your rig and commence fragging, or movie watching, or minesweeping. You don’t want to get arm-deep in the mucky muck you’ve created behind your computer. What you can’t see won’t hurt you, right?