The nation’s largest cable operator, Comcast, has announced that it will begin limiting residential customer broadband use beginning Oct 1. The company is setting a monthly usage cap of 250 Gigabytes per account – roughly equal to 50 million emails or 124 standard definition movies. Customers who exceed the cap twice in a six month period run the risk of having their service terminated. As video watching and music downloading has exploded creating high demand on bandwidth, Comcast has been criticized for “throttling” P2P usage as a way to manage exploding network traffic. In the face of the recent FCC ruling which declared throttling to be illegal, industry watchers have been waiting to see what solutions companies would develop for managing network traffic. Comcast’s usage cap approach will initially impact only the very largest of the bandwidth hogs, an estimated one percent of their customer base. Time Warner has announced that they will begin tiered pricing based on usage for its broadband subscribers. In either case, growing apps and usage requiring increasing bandwidth will continue to put pressure on the existing networks, either pushing use caps down further or prices even higher. Constricting use of the net isn’t the way to grow the industry or profits and the broadband providers need to work fast on solutions to the demands of customers.
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