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Comcast users get UK-style capping, throttling

Is 120 movies a month enough?

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The Network Neutrality pigeons are coming home to roost, with Comcast formally announcing a British-style capping regime.

The restrictions might make British cable users envious, however. From October 1, Comcast broadband users who download 250GB of data a month will receive a warning. 250GB, Comcast reckons, is equivalent to about 125 movies, and affects less than one per cent of subscribers.

"Thank goodness I'm only downloading 225GB of porn per month," one San Francisco Chronicle reader smirked.

Comcast rival Time Warner reckons that five per cent of its cable users use 50 per cent of the network's bandwidth.

Comcast has published an FAQ here, but it's vague about what penalties bandwidth hogs face. The company has been experimenting with throttling, which isn't mentioned. But heavy users won't, it seems, be billed for exceeding the cap.

According to a leaked memo reported by DSL Reports in January, Comcast rival Time Warner is experimenting with data caps ranging from 5GB to 40GB a month for its Roadrunner broadband service.

Britain's cable monopoly Virgin quietly introduced usage-based throttling earlier this year, with punitive caps. Users on the mid-tier package are throttled if they download more than 350MB in an eight hour period, with their download speed restricted to a crawl (192Kb/s) if they hit 750MB in peak time. ®

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