Bandwidth Limitations

Comcast (who, coincidentally, is my Internet service provider) has decided to dig themselves out of the hole they dug for themselves by arbitrarily limiting the monthly upload/download volume for some customers by making it official rather than arbitrary:

NEW YORK – Comcast Corp., the nation’s second-largest Internet service provider, Thursday said it would set an official limit on the amount of data subscribers can download and upload each month.

On Oct. 1, the cable company will update its user agreement to say that users will be allowed 250 gigabytes of traffic per month, the company announced on its Web site.

I hope they’ll also give us the tools to monitor how much bandwidth we’re using.

This move concerns me for a variety of reasons. The first is that I have no idea how much bandwidth I actually use on a regular basis. I haven’t needed to know. I don’t download music or movies but I’m sure I download considerably more than the average user. A lot of my data transfer is a consequence of the online backup service to which I subscribe. A considerable portion is also Microsoft updates. I have no control over the size and frequency of Microsoft’s software updates.

And that brings me to the other concern. It seems to me that this will have some impact on the various “software as a service” offerings which have picked up steam in recent years. Isn’t some of the niche for this stuff created by the existence of free bandwidth?

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  • Interestingly enough their competitor Time Warner Cable opted to go the opposite route by giving 20 to 30 second bursts of speed (up to 100 MBPS) in order to decrease network congestion. Its a less heavy handed way to solve the problem although I can see it being abused.

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