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  1. Senior Member Nobylspoon's Avatar
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    #1

    Default Comcast Xfinity throttling

    2 months ago I had to switch from 50Mbps FiOS to 20Mbps Xfinity when I relocated. I didn't notice the fine print about their 250GB bandwidth cap on all residential services. Last month, I was unable to take a scheduled exam (WGU) through the online proctor because I didn't have sufficient bandwidth. Comcast's magical speed test showed the full 20Mbps but both Speedtest.net and Speakeasy showed 600Kbps. I wrote this off as a fluke and a few days later, it was all back to normal (new billing cycle started).

    I am now 2 weeks into my billing cycle and it happened again. This is when I finally learned about the 250GB cap. After several minutes on my account, I found the meter showing that I have just exceeded my limit. While looking at my account, a live chat popped up so I decided to inquire further...

    Chris: Thank you for being a Comcast customer! What services do you currently have with us?

    You: Xfinity
    You: internet

    Chris: Going back from your inquiry awhile ago, Comcast has established a 250GB monthly data usage threshold for all residential XFINITY Internet accounts. This threshold is in place to provide a clear definition of excessive use of the service.

    Chris: All our internet plans really provide a data bandwidth of 250 GB.

    You: That's unfortunate to hear. I will be shopping around for another ISP

    Chris: We have different internet plans you might consider that has higher speed than 20 Mbps.

    You: So I can reach the 250GB cap faster?

    Chris: Yes, possibly.


    Chris: May I know what specific speed do you wish to have?

    You: I am happy with my current speed of 20Mbps at the start of my billing cycle. I WISH to have that speed throughout the billing cycle. However, I reach the 250GB cap halfway through the month.

    Chris: I understand your point. It is a standard data bandwidth we have for our internet plans.

    You: Is this business model expected to continue as we migrate further to cloud computing?

    Chris: Let me check the information for you.

    Chris: If you wish to have an unlimited bandwidth, you can take advantage of our Business offers.

    You: Can you provide further information on your business plans available?

    Chris: We do not have enough information regarding our business offer. For questions on our business services, You may call them through 866-682-7927

    Chris: For the business plan, you can click on the "product" tab located on the upper portion of your page then click on the Comcast Business.

    You: Sounds like it would just be easier if I switch back to Verizon DSL until they expand FiOS service in my area. Thanks for your time and assistance.

    Chris: I understand your consideration to other providers.

    Chris: With Verizon, they charge up to $15.97/month for Verizon Internet Security Suite, costing you more than $383 extra over 2 years. Comcast includes the top rated Constant Guard software which includes Norton Security Suite with every internet plan (a $360 value).

    You: I have no need for either of those products. I am only interested in internet service.

    Chris: In as much as I would want to cater your request, I am sorry, that as an Online Sales Agent, I'm only allowed to offer deals that are existent on the website.

    You: Understood. Thank you for your time.

    Chris: You are always welcome.
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  3. Senior Member
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    #2
    Yeah. The 250GB cap burned my ass too, enough that I actually did switch to Verizon... err... Frontier. The good news with Frontier DSL is that you don't have a 250GB quota. The bad news is that you don't need one, there's no way you'd ever download that much on this slow crappy "broadband". When my year of DSL is up, I'm going back to Comcast...err..Xfinity.

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  4. M&C: Far Side of the Net vinbuck's Avatar
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    #3
    First of all, what are y'all doing that you're blowing through 250 GB in two weeks? Netflix STAYS running at my house on multiple TVs and I topped out on Comcast's meter at 189 GB one month and that's about as high as it got.

    Here is the bad news...service providers are moving to usage based billing. The demand for bandwidth is exceeding the ability of carriers to upgrade the public network infrastructure to continue providing unlimited bandwidth on into the Terabytes for each customer. 40 Gig and 100 Gig interfaces are SUPER expensive and the routers/switches they run on are even more so. The average customer isn't going to exceed 250 GB a month unless you are downloading and streaming 24/7.

    It can be a pain, but it's gotta happen
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    #4
    I apparently cursed myself. I'm posting this from my phone because my dsl just went down. My data usage was very high for months when I switched from Mozy to Crashplan for online backups. Plus the usual video streaming and stuff.
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  6. Senior Member dead_p00l's Avatar
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    #5
    I agree with vinbuck. Metered usage and caps are the wave of the future, at least the immediate foreseeable future. With that in mind providers should be willing to offer either higher caps or no caps if a customer is willing to pay an additional cost. I dont know if any providers currently do this but it would make sense.
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  7. Network Security tpatt100's Avatar
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    #6
    Yeah I see caps becoming the norm just to get us used to the tiered plans when the entertainment industry fully adopts online media as a true alternative to cable and OTA. That way they can sell you tiered plans with different prices like long distance charges were back in the day. I could see this since we are so used to tiered or metered plans for all of our current utility needs. Comcast wants to curb the high end users as long as they can since the majority of their users do not use that much.

    Eventually when the mainstream users moves everything online cable wants to be in a position to become a utility company like water, sewer, gas and electric when you no longer need their cable service.
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    #7
    Believe it or not, there actually are pretty good reasons for the bandwidth caps.

    I can say with a reasonable degree of certainty, however, that they won't be that low forever.
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  9. Senior Member Nobylspoon's Avatar
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    #8
    I would be fine with a cap if it was dependent on your speed package. I pay twice as much for my service but I am still limited to the same amount as someone with a slower package. The only difference, I am able to reach the cap faster. I am still billed twice as much for the same 250GB.

    Cloud computing and data throttling can not both be "the future" as they conflict with each other greatly.

    @vinbuck - Reaching 250GB is quite easy. 1hr of HD streaming from Netflix is 2.5GB (figures are from Xfinity FAQ). That is 3.3 hours a day. There is always someone home in my house so it is quite easy to max the cap with just Netflix alone. Xfinity FAQ solution - Switch to a lower quality streaming. Sounds to me they just do this to push for people to subscribe to their own HD service so they want to block access to competitive services.

    I have found a way to bypass their throttling mechanisms. I need to do some testing to see if this still is reflected on my 250GB allocation or not.
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  10. Matrix(Config)# Roguetadhg's Avatar
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    #9
    Actually ISPs will be throttling connections, not just comcast xfinity.

    ISPs to Start Throttling Pirates, More by July 12

    mind you, this says for pirates. However, I doubt it won't apply as a generic umbrella that's a "cap" period.

    which to say, if you use gaming a lot, or multiple users using the connection - your up a creek without a paddle.
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  11. Learn it, Do it, Know it! Asif Dasl's Avatar
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    #10
    I'm kinda surprised you guys have such low bandwidth caps... the ISP I'm with now has a lower 40Gb for irregular users but then next one up is 300Gb then for a few Euros more it's 350Gb - and the ISP I'm moving to has a 500Gb cap for all 25Mb, 50Mb & 100Mb packages... if anything I thought you guys would be unlimited on top packages
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  12. Premier Field Engineer Everyone's Avatar
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    #11
    Read the fine print even closer. They can actually ban you from their service for exceeding that cap. You're supposed to get a warning letter the 1st time you do it, and the 2nd time they ban you. That is of course unless they've changed this within the last 8 months or so, as that was the last time I looked at it.

    Switching to Business Class service was the best thing I ever did. I did it BEFORE I ever came anywhere near the cap. Cancelled the TV side of my cable, switched the internet to Business Class, picked up Netflix. I have 2 TVs, and while I'm working, my wife is usually watching Netflix on 1, and the kids are often watching something else on Netflix off the other. Cut my monthly expense for TV + Internet in half, have a better internet connection, and don't have to worry about any caps.
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  13. Senior Member Nobylspoon's Avatar
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    #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Asif Dasl View Post
    I'm kinda surprised you guys have such low bandwidth caps... the ISP I'm with now has a lower 40Gb for irregular users but then next one up is 300Gb then for a few Euros more it's 350Gb - and the ISP I'm moving to has a 500Gb cap for all 25Mb, 50Mb & 100Mb packages... if anything I thought you guys would be unlimited on top packages

    I wouldn't mind a 500GB cap. I hit 250GB in 2 weeks so that would get me through the month. You can only get unlimited with a business account. As you can see in the chat I posted, they didn't have pricing info for me on that. Some ISP's like FiOS have unlimited regardless of speed package. Not sure how long it will last though, they recently put a cap on wireless data plans.
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    #13
    Remember, you can adjust your Netflix bitrates via your account settings on their website to save your butt. Most people don't know that.
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  15. Premier Field Engineer Everyone's Avatar
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    #14
    Quote Originally Posted by WafflesAndRootbeer View Post
    Remember, you can adjust your Netflix bitrates via your account settings on their website to save your butt. Most people don't know that.
    Yup, but the video quality goes down when you do that. I love being able to leave mine at max quality.
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  16. Senior Member
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    #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Nobylspoon View Post
    I wouldn't mind a 500GB cap. I hit 250GB in 2 weeks so that would get me through the month. You can only get unlimited with a business account. As you can see in the chat I posted, they didn't have pricing info for me on that. Some ISP's like FiOS have unlimited regardless of speed package. Not sure how long it will last though, they recently put a cap on wireless data plans.
    To put it simply, it's a capacity issue. Data usage has grown exponentially over the last 5 years, and upgrading backbone circuits, turning up new cross connects and peering sessions, etc, is not a quick process, nor a cheap one. It's only in the last couple of years that 100g links have started to roll out, for awhile we were all stuck on 10g and 40g links. When you have 20 million subscribers, and each subscription usually has more than one person making use of it, it's pretty easy to fill 10 and 40 gig links. Traffic engineering is no joke. European countries have the advantages of much smaller populations, and less distance to cover between their IX's on a country by country basis.

    As far as pricing for Comcast business plans go... it's not difficult to find.

    Business Internet Plans, Business Internet Prices - Comcast Business Class

    I'll bet dollars to donuts you were talking to a virtual agent instead of a live person, so I'm not surprised the responses were... less than satisfactory.
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  17. PMP-Wannabe! erpadmin's Avatar
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    #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Forsaken_GA View Post
    I'll bet dollars to donuts you were talking to a virtual agent instead of a live person, so I'm not surprised the responses were... less than satisfactory.
    I'll take that bet. I'm sure the agent was live, but was probably in a typical outsourced country, like India or the Phillipines. If the agent was in the good ol' USA, I'm guessing it was still a live agent.
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  18. PMP-Wannabe! erpadmin's Avatar
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    #17
    Net Neutrality, folks....Net Neutrality.

    Read up about it as you would for any cert/tech fad like the cloud. Then find a coalition that ISPs are NOT a part of and join that....the consumers' voices (and dollars) have to outweigh those of the ISPs....only then can we further delay the throttling of data.
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    #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Forsaken_GA View Post
    To put it simply, it's a capacity issue. Data usage has grown exponentially over the last 5 years, and upgrading backbone circuits, turning up new cross connects and peering sessions, etc, is not a quick process, nor a cheap one. It's only in the last couple of years that 100g links have started to roll out, for awhile we were all stuck on 10g and 40g links. When you have 20 million subscribers, and each subscription usually has more than one person making use of it, it's pretty easy to fill 10 and 40 gig links. Traffic engineering is no joke. European countries have the advantages of much smaller populations, and less distance to cover between their IX's on a country by country basis.

    As far as pricing for Comcast business plans go... it's not difficult to find.

    Business Internet Plans, Business Internet Prices - Comcast Business Class

    I'll bet dollars to donuts you were talking to a virtual agent instead of a live person, so I'm not surprised the responses were... less than satisfactory.

    Thanks for giving us the skinny. Sometimes when I hear "sales" or "management" folk talk about capacity they don't sound sincere.
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  20. Matrix(Config)# Roguetadhg's Avatar
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    #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Forsaken_GA View Post
    To put it simply, it's a capacity issue. Data usage has grown exponentially over the last 5 years, and upgrading backbone circuits, turning up new cross connects and peering sessions, etc, is not a quick process, nor a cheap one. It's only in the last couple of years that 100g links have started to roll out, for awhile we were all stuck on 10g and 40g links. When you have 20 million subscribers, and each subscription usually has more than one person making use of it, it's pretty easy to fill 10 and 40 gig links. Traffic engineering is no joke. European countries have the advantages of much smaller populations, and less distance to cover between their IX's on a country by country basis.

    As far as pricing for Comcast business plans go... it's not difficult to find.

    Business Internet Plans, Business Internet Prices - Comcast Business Class

    I'll bet dollars to donuts you were talking to a virtual agent instead of a live person, so I'm not surprised the responses were... less than satisfactory.
    Agreed. Im sure greed does play a role in it. With the internet growing into a "Cloud", streaming video, etc. Things will get clogged. I believe most people would rather be thottled and not capped. Atleast, I would be happy to take a slower speed, if that meant I can keep on doing what I needed to for the month's service. Or thottling at steps. After 50% of bandwidth used, 50% speed - or something like that.
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    #20
    My actual throughput increased when I moved off of Comcast's 50/10 service and onto Qwest's 20/5 service. I have done a few sustained throughput tests with my computer and my buddy who has a higher level of "speed" through Comcast. FTP and other bulk downloads went faster on Qwest. This is not some out of the ordinary behavior either, I see this behavior consistently on Comcast's network. I watched a video online of someone doing a packet analysis where he actually pointed out the drop packets that Comcast was inserting into the data stream. I wish I could find that video.
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  22. M&C: Far Side of the Net vinbuck's Avatar
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    #21
    Quote Originally Posted by erpadmin View Post
    I'll take that bet. I'm sure the agent was live, but was probably in a typical outsourced country, like India or the Phillipines. If the agent was in the good ol' USA, I'm guessing it was still a live agent.
    I'm gonna bet that you're gonna lose that bet
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  23. M&C: Far Side of the Net vinbuck's Avatar
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    #22
    Quote Originally Posted by erpadmin View Post
    Net Neutrality, folks....Net Neutrality.

    Read up about it as you would for any cert/tech fad like the cloud. Then find a coalition that ISPs are NOT a part of and join that....the consumers' voices (and dollars) have to outweigh those of the ISPs....only then can we further delay the throttling of data.
    For the sake of simplicity, i'm not going to get into the costs of upgrading and maintaining public distribution, core and backbone networks but focus on just the access side...

    It takes hundreds of thousands of dollars initially to serve a neighborhood of about 300 homes with roughly a Gigabit backhaul of voice and data in a DSL model (I'm sure the Cable SP guys can provide numbers for their part but i'm guessing it's similar). It then takes thousands of dollars to keep it going on a monthly basis. Take those numbers, do the math and tell me how we pay for an infrastructure that will get everyone on the internet (just in the US) with unthrottled data usage?

    This is assuming a copper plant for access (the majority of the US) and a fiber backhaul. Use fiber on the access side and it gets even more expensive...

    ISPs want you to have as fast a speed as possible because it gets you on and off their network as quickly as possible. The problem comes in when you want to use that data stream on a 24/7 basis. Suddenly only a handful of people can get on the local access network in that neighborhood. The OP mentioned a 20Mbps rate for his connection. That means without throttling, 50 homes out of 300 in the neighborhood get their full bandwidth and everyone else gets Dial-up. As backhaul and backbone speeds are able to be upgraded then things will get better, but someones got to pay for it somewhere and the 40 bucks I pay Comcast for the speeds I get isn't a bad deal at all.

    The Internet is like any other utility - it costs money to get it to you and the more you want, the more it costs. You wouldn't jack your neighbor's water or power...why do you want to take his ability to watch Netflix?
    Last edited by vinbuck; 03-16-2012 at 05:18 PM.
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  24. Network Security tpatt100's Avatar
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    #23
    I think developers are going to need to focus on intelligent/ effective middle ground alternatives to help accomadate providers until they either invest or are forced to invest in building up the back end. I know Android was talking about implementing data usage tracking for apps into ICS which I dont have yet but sure app developers are like "you got data and i'm going to use it".
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    #24
    Quote Originally Posted by shodown View Post
    Thanks for giving us the skinny. Sometimes when I hear "sales" or "management" folk talk about capacity they don't sound sincere.
    Well, I'm a Comcast customer as well. I'm not trying to be an apologist, and believe me that when I say the operations side is aware that the caps are a pretty unpopular move. With that being said, the caps effect a *very* small percentage of the customer base. And even without most of the populace approaching the cap per month, I spend a good chunk of my time each week doing traffic engineering due to capacity issues.

    While the sales and marketing folk were quick to seize on what the caps could mean for them, and have moved to capitalize on it (and really, I can't blame them, it's their job to sell after all), the reason for the caps is rooted in practicality. I'm not saying the network would come crawling to it's knees and crash and burn without them, but it does serve a purpose. And I can say with a reasonable degree of authority that Comcast is adding capacity as quickly as it's practically and financially responsible to do so. Some capacity issues are the results of congested backbone links, some are the result of markets which have grown their subscriber base beyond their equipments capacity to comfortably handle. The issues are identified and do have upgrades in the works, but it's not going to be quick. It's a *big* network, and you can't make too many changes at once, or else you run the risk of a total outage, and trust me, the only thing that pisses customers off more than being throttled, is not being able to connect at all.
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    #25
    Quote Originally Posted by erpadmin View Post
    Net Neutrality, folks....Net Neutrality.

    Read up about it as you would for any cert/tech fad like the cloud. Then find a coalition that ISPs are NOT a part of and join that....the consumers' voices (and dollars) have to outweigh those of the ISPs....only then can we further delay the throttling of data.
    I know folks like to rally around big evil companies doing bad stuff to other big not so evil companies in the name of the almighty dollar. I can assure you that in the Comcast situation, the caps don't exist for that reason.

    You want proof? I've had to explain to more than one friend/family member exactly why they're seeing stuttering/buffering/quality drops on Streampix after the sales guys told them it would work better than the issues they were having with Netflix.

    There's only so much that traffic engineering and QoS can do, the pipe only fits so much, and if you try to force more down it, well, the pipe breaks!
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