Comcast will cap Internet usage of its broadband subscribers at 250 Gigabytes per month—a very large amount of data, the equivalent of 62,500 digital songs—starting Oct. 1.
The operator Thursday posted an amendment to its terms of its “acceptable use policy” on Comcast.net, outlining the new guidelines.
The cap of 250 Gbytes per month is “much more than a typical residential customer uses on a monthly basis,” according to Comcast. Currently, the median monthly data usage by residential customers is approximately 2 to 3 Gbytes.
Separately, Comcast faces a Sept. 19 deadline, under an order by the Federal Communications Commission, to disclose details of how it has been “blocking” access to peer-to-peer applications and submit a compliance plan describing how it intends to stop the practice by the end of 2008.
Comcast has announced that it is migrating to a “protocol-agnostic” approach to managing its Internet bandwidth by the end of 2008, which will limit the bandwidth available to only the most excessive users.
Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas said in an e-mail that the new explicit bandwidth cap has "nothing to do with the FCC's inquiry. This is a completely different program that has been in place for years."
To hit the 250-Gbyte ceiling, a customer would have to do any one of the following, according to Comcast: send 50 million e-mails; download 62,500 songs or 125 standard-definition movies; or upload 25,000 hi-resolution digital photos.
Less than 1% of all users exhibit Internet usage that even comes close to 250 Gbytes, Douglas said.
If a customer uses more than 250 Gbytes, he or she may be contacted by Comcast to notify them of excessive use, the company said. “At that time, we'll tell them exactly how much data per month they had used,” Comcast said. “We know from experience the vast majority of customers we ask to curb usage do so voluntarily.”
Comcast said it will notify customers of the new policy via banner notices on the Comcast.net home page and on the Security Channel Web page as well as directly by including a bill stuffer in an upcoming monthly billing statement.