Broadbandits: Data cap craze spreads to Charter Communications

via DVICE by Charlie White on 2/6/09


You know how we warned you about Time Warner’s plans to limit broadband usage in more cities? Now the nearly-bankrupt Charter Communications has decided to set limits, too, but they are significantly more lenient than Time Warner’s stingy 40GB/month cap.

Charter will bring the hammer down on Monday (2/9/09), limiting heavy downloaders to 100GB/month on its 15Mbps (megabits per second) tier, and 250GB (equal to Comcast’s limit) on the higher tier of up to 25Mbps. The company’s easing into this draconian measure — Charter isn’t saying anything about consequences of running over those limits, and adds that the caps won’t be strictly enforced … at first. The good news: those lucky users of Charter’s recently announced $140/month 60Mbps top tier reportedly won’t be metered.

What’s next? Verizon FiOS? We deplore these kinds of limits on broadband access that was formerly called “unlimited,” but really, how many of you are downloading more than 250GB of data per month? That’s equal to two 720p HD movies every day. What would be a fair limit?

DSL Reports, via Ars Technica

Do You Fear Monthly Internet Service Limits?

via geeksugar — Geek is chic. by geeksugar on 8/29/08

Comcast dropped the bomb the other day that it’ll be placing caps on Internet service — 250 GB per month. When a customer goes over, they’ll be contacted by Comcast and asked to curb their usage, and there’s also a possibility that the company will charge $15 for every 10 GB over the limit.

Considering Comcast is the country’s second-biggest Internet provider, this should affect tons of people (yours truly included), and in general, I’m wary of new limits on services. On the other hand, 250 GB is a whole lot of uploadin’ and downloadin’; SFGate reports that the average user only utilizes about two or three GB per month. Of course, setting a limit now could set a precedent and usher in eventual lowered limits.

What do you think — are you bummed that Comcast is capping usage, or does it not make a difference to you?


Comcast stomping HDTV signals to fit three channels into the space of two

via DVICE by Charlie White on 3/31/08


No sooner had Comcast relented on its BitTorrent spoofing scandal than we see the company cutting corners elsewhere, now compressing HDTV shows so much that blocky noise is plainly visible on most of its HDTV channels. The company’s doing this to fit three HD channels into a space occupied by two just a few weeks ago.

The eagle eyes at AV Science Forum compared Comcast HDTV images with the same frames received over competing video service Verizon FiOS, and demonstrated a readily apparent drop in quality of the Comcast signal over the past few weeks. Apparently Comcast hopes none of its viewers will notice the reduced picture quality, and will be more impressed with the increased quantity of HD channels.

We’re wondering if Time Warner isn’t compressing its signals a bit more, too, because when watching the CBS coverage of March Madness basketball this weekend, we noticed a lot of suspiciously grainy-looking HDTV. So is HDTV picture quality going the way of cell phone sound — with companies stomping on the quality as much as they can get away with? Anyone else notice this? Follow the link below for more damning evidence.

via AV Science Forum

FCC to Comcast: Get Moving on CableCARD

The FCC has told cable companies to get moving in supporting CableCARD technology, rejecting a bid Wednesday by Comcast to receive more time to implement the platform in set-top boxes it provides by July.

Speaking at CES in Las Vegas, chairman Kevin Martin chastised the cable industry for dragging its feet in offering the technology, and said its advent would lead to new options for consumers in viewing cable television.

Instead of renting boxes from the cable providers, long a cash cow for companies like Comcast, devices would be able to be shipped from the factory “cable ready” for today’s digital cable networks. Additionally, boxes would be able to be sold at retail.

Comcast has vowed to appeal the decision. The company says the FCC policy carries no benefit for consumers, and may cause rates to increase as much as $2 to $3 per month. While smaller operators would have more time to comply, the bigger providers would be required to comply by the July deadline.

The technology is more than a decade late. Congress passed laws in the mid-1990s saying that cable companies were to come up with technology that would allow consumers to plug cable lines directly into televisions to receive advanced services.

However, the cable industry won repeated delays, and only in the past few years has CableCARD technology been offered as a solution. While the first implementation did not support the advanced features, newer versions do.