Comcast VP Claims Data Caps are Business Policy & Not Technical Necessity

/ 2 years ago

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Many of you with home internet plans may have to deal with monthly data caps. For some this cap can be a real pain as a full household streaming and consuming content can easily rack up the gigabytes. While ISPs claim many different reasons to justify their caps, one common excuse is that the heavier users should pay more if the network infrastructure is not capable of handling the constant load.

Major US ISP Comcast  recently started rolling out a 300GB “data cap” in certain regions. While the company is loath to call it a cap since customers can go over it, the heavy overage charges essentially make it a cap. When questioned about the low cap, VP of internet services Jason Livingood tweeted that-

No idea—I’m involved on the engineering side to manage the measurement systems but don’t weigh in on the business policies”.

Implicit in that statement is that the data caps are managed as a business policy and that there is no real engineering or technical need for data caps. This makes a lot of sense as data caps do not help manage network usage at any point in time, rather, they only control the total usage over a month. Congestion however, happens on a very small time scale, meaning time-based limits would make much more sense, with users moving their more bandwidth heavy but not urgent usage to off-peak times.

This statement from Livingood pretty much confirms that Comcast, and probably many other ISPs, only have data caps in place so they can charge customer overage fees. Given the ever increasing bandwidth demands and the relatively low caps, ISPs can pretty much reap in the extra cash without having to really do anything. Why do you think data caps exist?

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  • Jeff Ward

    Yeah, my current connection has no cap, and its only ADSL, but the connection I am going to be moving to, which is 100mbps down / 10 mbps up, has a 350gb cap, after which every few gigs over the cap is another 10 bucks added to the bill. My current provider maxes out a 20mbps down / 1mbps up and has no cap, the one I am moving to has a 350gb cap on their 100mbps package, and they offer up to gigabit speeds. Now, which one do you think is more likely to have load issues on the network? Certainly not the little 100 meg cable pacakge on a gigabit-capable network.