Friday, August 29, 2008

Comcast Sets Subscriber Bandwidth Limit

How much is 250 Gigabytes/Month? To me, its like asking how much Electricity do you consume per month or how many gallons of water you use. What if those companies limited you to an amount. If you don't know how much you currently consume, how can you know whether it is enough or not. And how would you measure your usage so you don't run out before the end of the month. And what would happen if or when you exceed that amount.

Comcast is painting the picture that it represents more than enough. "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." It is made to sound impossible to hit, doesn't it. So then why that number? If its so unreachable, why worry.

Clearly, Comcast is most concerned with who they describe as bandwidth hogs. More typical users are meant to feel that it won't affect them. But I look at these heavy users and see opportunity for Comcast, not a problem. These are your best customers, consuming your product at a high rate. "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.'" Could their be a way to monetize and manage that important customer base without causing such bad pr. It's almost like you want to drive them away to your competitors. And I'm sure Verizon would love to take them!

To Comcast's credit, they are trying to support the speeds to the many, by limiting the heavy user fews. But today's heavy users will in the near future become the majority. As more of us utilize the web and grow increasingly more comfortable with large file downloads, more of us will be affected by these download limits. It is a bandaid cure to a much bigger problem. A better solution is clearly needed.

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