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How Does Your ISP Handle Top-Usage Customers? 489

davidwr (791652) writes "Does your ISP cap overall usage? What happens if you go over the cap? Does it force you into a higher-priced plan, throttle you for the rest of the month, cut you off for the month, or terminate your service entirely? I don't mind paying for what I use, but I'm looking for a list of cable and DSL providers that won't leave you high and dry like Comcast does if you go over the official or unofficial limits."
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How Does Your ISP Handle Top-Usage Customers?

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:14PM (#18622995) Journal

    I don't mind paying for what I use, but I'm looking for a list of cable and DSL providers that won't leave you high and dry like Comcast does if you go over the official or unofficial limits.
    Well, since it's highly unlikely my similar story I submitted this morning [slashdot.org] will be accepted after this is the on the front page, I'll just submit it to Slashdot as a comment.

    The telecommunications giant Comcast has severed its services to internet hogs [physorg.com] who use more bandwidth than others. From the article,

    Carreiro said he received a message from a Comcast Security Assurance representative in December, who warned him that he was hogging too much of the company's bandwidth and needed to cut down. When Carreiro contacted customer service about the call, they had no idea what he was talking about and suggested it was a prank phone call. Unconvinced, Carreiro contacted Comcast several more times, but was again told there was no problem. A month later, he woke up to a dead Internet connection. Customer service directed him to the Security Assurance division, which Carreiro said informed him he would now be without service for one year.
    This is quite alarming to me, considering that I am forced into using a particular ISP based on some deal my neighborhood made many years before I moved here.

    And, if I may elaborate, I feel I am a hog though I have never ever been threatened with this action before. What interests me is that they have my bandwidth capped and even that cap seems to fluctuate with how much my neighborhood is using. But, I'm pretty sure that the cable modem I have is physically capped at a low level because I've read stories of people uncapping them and being pretty much black listed [google.com]. If that's what these "hogs" are doing, then I have little sympathy for them. The only time I had an uncapped connection was when I was in Bailey Hall at the University of Minnesota my freshman year. They had just installed ethernet and I soon discovered that they trusted me a little more than they should have. An unproductive dumbass freshman with a bass amp/speaker combo, a computer, a modded dreamcast and an uncapped connection to mIRC/morpheus/gnutella/etc made for some interesting nights ... rest assured that rooms adjacent to N410 knew the 8 bit emulated glory of contra theme song as I destroyed Red Falcon night after night.

    Back to the topic, though, I have often used BitTorrent while playing World of Warcraft and using Ventrillo with no problems. Me and my roommates pay for the highest upload/download rates but, as I've said before, we never get close to those numbers.

    Here's a better question, how does your ISP handle telephone calls by unsatisfied customers who complain that in the middle of the day using a third party site [internetfrog.com], their bandwidth is pinched FAR BELOW what they've been paying for? In my case, as a current customer of Cox, I can speak from first hand experience that those calls go largely unnoticed--although I've had different results from different providers at different locations.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Back when I lived in the dorms at Minnesota (Pioneer Hall), they had just upgraded to gigabit ethernet throughout campus. On the P2P network that was set up between students, I could sometimes get downloads as fast as 40 MB (yes, with a capital B) per second. There were months where I would approach 500GB just in upload bandwidth. I miss the Hub...
    • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:31PM (#18623275) Journal

      But, I'm pretty sure that the cable modem I have is physically capped at a low level because I've read stories of people uncapping them and being pretty much black listed [google.com]. If that's what these "hogs" are doing, then I have little sympathy for them.
      You're totally confusing two different things.

      The bandwidth cap we're talking about is "GBs per month", not "how fast does my modem go". Your modem goes as fast as the service you paid for, while "GBs per month" is some magical number that Comcast doesn't tell you.

      From what I've read, Comcast warns you to lower your usage at some point after 100GB.
      Uncapping your modem = bannination if/when as they notice.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Red Flayer ( 890720 )
      Here's a nifty quote from Comcast (emphasis mine):

      "The customers who are notified of excessive use typically and repeatedly consume exponentially more bandwidth than an average residential user, which would include, for example, the equivalent of sending 256,000 photos a month[1], or sending 13 million e-mails every month (or 18,000 emails every hour, every day, all month). In these rare instances, Comcast's policy is to proactively contact the customer via phone[2] to work with them and address the issue o

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by timeOday ( 582209 )

        which would include, for example, the equivalent of sending 256,000 photos a month[1], or sending 13 million e-mails every month (or 18,000 emails every hour, every day, all month).

        It is interesting that these are all uploading examples. It's not bandwidth per se that't the problem, but uploading. Clearly Comcast would rather leave content distribution to the big boys (itself), and has built their asymmetrical network to fulfill that (questionable) vision.

        Even so, banning people outright is stupid. W

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Shakrai ( 717556 )

          It is interesting that these are all uploading examples. It's not bandwidth per se that't the problem, but uploading. Clearly Comcast would rather leave content distribution to the big boys (itself), and has built their asymmetrical network to fulfill that (questionable) vision.

          Is the backend of their network really asymmetrical though? The cable segments obviously are, but the backend? I would assume that they have an equal amount of incoming/outgoing bandwidth at the edge.

          What's more interesting is

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by onx ( 956508 )
      I also have cox at home (currently I am in another state at college) and like you, at home I have their fastest residential plan (12Mb/1.2Mb) however my experience has been much better. We have had Cox high-speed internet for several years, and they have upgraded our service over the years several times. From what I understand Cox (at least they did about a year ago) had a transfer limit of 20GB down a month. A first time violation gets you nothing, no notice phone call or anything of that sort. Repeatedly
    • "Here's a better question, how does your ISP handle telephone calls by unsatisfied customers who complain that in the middle of the day using a third party site [internetfrog.com], their bandwidth is pinched FAR BELOW what they've been paying for? In my case, as a current customer of Cox, I can speak from first hand experience that those calls go largely unnoticed--although I've had different results from different providers at different locations."

      Depends on the type of account you have with Cox.

      Pre-Kat

      • by dosius ( 230542 )
        I have a business account with Verizon DSL, never been more satisfied.

        Downloaded 3 DVDISOs last month, uploaded several AVIs to bittorrent, no complaints.

        -uso.
        • by Shakrai ( 717556 )

          I have a business account with Verizon DSL, never been more satisfied.

          I have a residential Verizon DSL account and I've never had an issue. Back in August I downloaded a 46 gigabyte torrent. Took about 7 days during which I was running about 80kb/s down. I've been seeding it ever since at full speed for a total of about 600 gigs. And I haven't heard one word from them.

    • What interests me is that they have my bandwidth capped and even that cap seems to fluctuate with how much my neighborhood is using.

      This isn't a bandwidth cap but a consequence of the way cable internet works. The cable company doesn't promise so much bandwidth per customer, but so much per segment of cable. If you're the only person on that segment using a cable modem, you get it all. As others join in, it gets divided up evenly among all, so your bandwidth goes down as others join in. There's nothi

    • by JaffaKREE ( 766802 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @01:54PM (#18624597)
      I live in the Philadelphia suburbs. Comcast is our only high-speed option (No DSL, no Fios).

      Late last year, we got a call from Comcast's legal department. They were basically whining that we were in the "top 10%" of bandwidth users in our area, and that if we didn't reduce our bandwidth immediately we'd lose service for 12 months. I knew what it was in reference to - we'd had a massive download spree a few months earlier, then stopped.

      A few MONTHS.

      Thing is, if we'd continued on that same mass-downloading using our "unlimited" bandwidth, and stopped the day we got the call, we would have been terminated a month later - because the legal department calls lag several months behind the actual bandwidth logging.

      Comcast is the ultimate example of a massively bloated company in which department subsection A has no idea what's going on in department subsection B - even if they're the same large department.

      Up until last Friday, our internet had been down for 2 weeks straight. TWO WEEKS. It's not 1996.

      We recently added Comcast's Digital voice service (not because we needed it, but because it made our overall bill cheaper).

      This began an utterly bizarre sequence of modem confusion, tech support chaos, and raw seething anger (on my end) at the complete uselessness of EVERY SINGLE PERSON I talked to at Comcast. I know this has been beaten to death, but this experience was something that shocked me even with my basement-level expectations.

      The first few calls went as they usually do. "TRY REBOOTING YOUR MODEM". "TRY UNPLUGGING THE COAX AND LEAVING IT OUT FOR LIKE... HALF AN HOUR."
      I went along, although I already knew the modem was getting a garbage IP address and nothing on my end was going to resolve it. Eventually, the ticket got escalated to "Tier 1.5".

      Then it got escalated to "Tier 2.5"

      Then it got escalated to the "Engineering queue".

      5 or 6 days later, I got an explanation. There was a "database duplication issue" which was causing our Cable modem not to be authenticated on Comcast's network. it was "very complicated and a known glitch". (I'm a DBA. I wasn't very impressed or confused.) All we could do was wait until they called us and told it the problem was resolved (3-5 business days), and I couldn't talk to anyone in the engineering department (No matter HOW much I yelled or escalated, BELIEVE ME). Fine.

      Saturday (Day 8) Comcast calls us. The problem is fixed and our internet should be fine !

      It wasn't.

      Begin again. "TRY REBOOTING YOUR MODEM". "JUST WAIT AND SEE IF IT COMES BACK UP." "LET'S TRY REBUILDING YOUR TCP/IP STACK" ( I love this one, it's like using a jackhammer to get your computer case open... PASS.)

      so I get another ticket. At this point, my patience is offically gone. it's day 9 of no internet.

      i get escalated to "tier 1.5" and get put on hold for a long-ass time.

      Tech support champion man comes back and says,
      There's a "database duplication issue" which was causing our Cable modem not to be authenticated on Comcast's network. it was "very complicated and a known glitch", and has to be escalated to engineering which could take 3-5 days to fix.

      ARE YOU KIDDING ME ?

      At this point, I flipped out and then "calmly" explained that we had already been through this a week earlier. I tried being nice, yelling, whatever it took to get to talk to person X's supervisor until i finally got the head of regional tech support on the phone. She sounded like a 55 year old woman with no technical knowledge whatsoever, of course. At that point, i couldn't get anywhere. She actually told me there was NO ONE IN THE COUNTRY that I could be transferred to who could fix the problem, and we would just have to wait 3-5 days for it to be fixed.

      Disgusted and thoroughly furious, I gave up and unplugged the modem.

      Friday (Day 14) comcast calls. Your internet is fixed ! I fell for this one before. Wasn't too optimistic.

      I plug everything back
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by arth1 ( 260657 )

        Sort of. There's some text, and the images are all replaced with "WELCOME TO COMCAST HIGH SPEED INTERNET" (the site that comes up if you can't get on Comcast's network). What the hell is this nonsense ? I check the cable modem's IP, and it's 24.0.X.X. 24.0 ? what the hell is that ? Comcast IPs are always 68.X through 72.X.

        Wrong. Comcast also has the 24.0.0.0/12 subnet. Try "whois NET-24-0-0-0-1" for full details.

        --
        *Art
  • AT&T DSL (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TodMinuit ( 1026042 ) <todminuit@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:15PM (#18623001)
    A company so large, they don't give a damn what any individual is doing.
    • same here, before it was SBC, then SBC-Yahoo...

      To my knowledge, we've never had a cap, and there's a lot of high-downloaders at the house.

      Still I'm thinking of switching to Wide Open West. I'd like the higher throughput (4x) even if it's slightly higher latency in most cases (~10-20% higher). It's still better than the only other major high-speeds around here (Insight/Road Runner), who tend to overburden the hubs in their neighborhoods.

      Any info on WoW from the /.ers?
      • by afidel ( 530433 )
        Yep, Wide Open West does not appear to have any cap or throttling. I have downloaded tons of ISO's and movies in a given month and never been contacted and never noticed any kind of continued slowdown. I'm on the 4Mb/s plan and regularly 350+KB/s which seems to be mostly limited by upload bandwidth for ACK's (only 300Kb/s). They also allow three dynamic IP's by contract but I don't think the DHCP server really limits you to that many. I use two, one for my main firewall and another for my wireless AP, the l
        • All the 4Mbit plans in Columbus Oh are 3-5 static IPs, I plan to move to one of those.

          Thanks!

          Currently on AT&T I have a 1280kbps connection that averages around 1500kbps, the plan was 768kbps (at the time it averages 1280kbps), but they had up the service.

          I will miss getting more bandwidth than I pay for... Didn't even have to mod the modem, plugged it in, turned it on, and it just does it's overpowered thing...
      • SBC/AT&T do, in fact, cap. After 5 or 6 GB/month they preferentially throttle the connection if the DSLAM you are on is over-subscribed. If the DSLAM is not over-subscribed there is no throttling.
        -nB
        • OK, well, there hasn't been throttling in months where I've gotten over that amount each week of the month, let alone the whole thing. Guess we aren't oversubscribed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BobPaul ( 710574 ) *
      AFAIK, QWest DSL is the same. I've only ever had problems with Cable. The local CableOne.net throttles your speed to half what you pay (eg to 768kbps for 1.5mbps service) for an hour or two if you go over some limit during an hour time span. Limits are in their cable modem acceptable usage policy, which is only accessible once you enter a zip code, so may very by locale.
    • by nxtw ( 866177 )
      I use AT&T and have transferred a few terabytes per year since 2002.
  • For Australians.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by danpat ( 119101 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:16PM (#18623027) Homepage
    If you were in Australia, you could use http://www.whirlpool.net.au/ [whirlpool.net.au].

    A consumer advocacy group, with an extensive ISP plan database that lets you search on all the criteria you've mentioned. Anyone know if there is an equivalent in the US?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Whirlpool is a great resource, they list pretty every plan offered by every significant ISP in Australia, including bandwidth caps. Which is important since bandwidth limits are standard practice for all ISPs. While some ISPs will gouge you with excessive usage fees (particularly in business plans), most will instead throttle your bandwidth after you've hit the max, normally to 64kbps. A few ISPs do offer unlimited plans, but they are expensive (over A$100 a month) and offer no real guarentees, as the "u
  • by Emnar ( 116467 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:17PM (#18623035)
    ...But be prepared to pay for it.

    Speakeasy used to be such an ISP. With their recent acquisition by Best Buy, I'd no longer gamble that way. But there are other ISPs who will be just as tolerant.

    You just won't get them for $30/month.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      Exactly. I always pay for a business class (or small office class, if available) connection. When you do that, you expect to not have to deal with any arbitrary "we're cutting you off" bullshit, port blocking, traffic shaping, etc.

      Within the next two or three years, I expect to move into a territory where I won't have the option of DSL (as soon as I find the right piece of land to build upon), and I'll end up on Comcast business, confident that they understand that as a business class customer, if they

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ivan256 ( 17499 )
        Comcast may not block ports on business connections, but expect to be blocked remotely... By e-mail servers, for example.

        Blacklists treat Comcast static business IPs as equal evils to their dynamic IP pools.

        Also, upstream sucks on cable, regardless of whether you pay for the business connection or not.
    • Been running torrents 24/7 off of my Speakeasy connection for the past 4 years with nary a peep. Then again, it does cost me $100/month for 1.5/768, but it's worth every penny. Really hope Best Buy doesn't screw with that.
      • You're lucky. (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ClintJCL ( 264898 )
        SpeakEasy terminated me after 6 months -- only after harassing me for 3 months and saying I can't exceed 100G/mo. They were total assholes about it, violating my contract with them and telling me that they would charge me the $300 early termination fee (THEY were the ones who terminated!) if I blogged about it. You are lucky. SpeakEasy is NOT honorable. This happened a year ago. I even pre-sale chatted to make sure it was okay; that was a lie: http://www.flickr.com/photos/clintjcl/76331380/in/ photostr [flickr.com]
    • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:53PM (#18623613) Homepage Journal

      You don't get Comcast for $30/month either. I'm currently paying something like $110/month for Comcast, although that includes cable. According to my bill it's something like $50/month for just the cable internet portion, and $60/month for the TV.

      Given the quality of service (ha!) that you get from Comcast, I'm beginning to think I might want to find a different ISP. Too bad my only other choice is Verizon, who have yet to provide me with working phone service.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tim90402 ( 1040444 )

      Speakeasy used to be such an ISP

      And it was such a great business that they bailed out of it for 97 million. Has anyone noticed that the only players left standing in the ISP game are large corporations who can subsidize it with some other business (TV, telephony)? Once everyone else is driven out of the business, they will start to turn the screws down. And consumers will have only themselves to blame for thinking they could have a free lunch. If you aren't paying for it, then someone else is, and then it really isn't yours.

    • Nope, one guy on broadbandreports is reporting that Speakeasy is threatening him for more than 100GB/month. This despite the fact that they sold him 250GB/month Usenet service. Sounds like a fraud case in the making if they press the issue.
    • by jpetts ( 208163 )
      Care to share the other ones besides Speakeasy? After the disastrous Best Buy announcement, I fully expect to have to go looking for a new ISP...
  • I had Comcast nearly 6 years and used HUGE amounts of bandwidth, and I had never been capped or left high and dry in any way.

    Anyone have experience with Bright House in Tampa? I just got the service a month ago...nothing bad so far, but ... ya know...
  • Mobistar, Belgium (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ford Prefect ( 8777 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:18PM (#18623059) Homepage
    Cheap and cheerful ADSL - I get 15GB a month transfer included, and every gigabyte after that costs 50 cents.

    No idea if there's an upper limit (but I doubt it) - but it has the benefit of clearly publicising how much you can transfer, and what happens if you exceed that. No hidden small-print or anything...
    • by SnowZero ( 92219 )
      If more companies were clear about their limits, like yours, everything would be fine. I think all people want is a clear indication of what the allowable bandwidth actually is. It should also have an easy way of tracking how much bandwidth the ISP thinks they have used. The companies should not claim "unlimited" if there is a limit, they should just state the limit. It's too bad if non-technical users don't know what a gigabyte is, but they should not punish the ones that know with hidden rules.

      Cell/mo
      • Cell/mobile phone companies, as annoying as some of them are, all have no trouble being forthcoming with limits and tracking usage. I don't see why ISPs should be any different.

        Interestingly, Mobistar [mobistar.be] is a mobile phone company - so much so that I got the mobile phone first, and signed up to the ADSL afterwards. My monthly bandwidth usage is printed on my phone bill.

        I wouldn't say they were a particularly good ISP, but they could be much worse. But still, anyone got information about other Belgian ISPs, in c

      • by Bert64 ( 520050 )
        Because then they would be admitting to selling a "limited" service, which atleast in europe people have been campaigning against for years.
        It's not so long ago we only had dialup, with per minute metering on the phonecalls, people were heaving campaigning to get rid of this metering, so now we just have a new kind of metering. If an ISP admits to usage limits up front on the service, it will drive a lot of customers away to isp's who are less up front.
      • Overselling (Score:3, Insightful)

        by grahamsz ( 150076 )
        The problem with defining the limit is that people will realize that they are far from it and make more use of their bandwidth.

        There's been talk of for-pay P2P services where you could actually earn money (or free movies) by providing the bandwidth to distribute stuff for the big movie companies. If i knew I could use 200 Gigs of comcast bandwidth each month, but i was only using 3, then i'd be able to sell 197 for something i could use.

        The problem with a cap is that I'm sure i can consume 50 gigs in a busy
  • Can anyone elaborate on Comcast, its limits, and/or actions?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BobPaul ( 710574 ) *
      I'd start here [google.com]
    • Re:Comcast? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Caffeinate ( 1031648 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @01:01PM (#18623769)
      As a low-level grunt for the company, I will confirm that Comcast does indeed cap bandwidth. The stated limited (and yes, it is in the TOS agreement which nobody reads - available on the Comcast.com website) is 60 GB/month. Yes many people exceed that and don't get cut off (which is the penalty), but be warned that the company can legally do so if they feel you are degrading the service for other customers.

      Luckily I don't even live in an area where I can GET Comcast, so it's a non-issue for me! I just have to deal with Rogers' packet-shaping, BitTorrent ruining behaviours :(
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Zephiris ( 788562 )
        Previous 'grunts at the company' have stated many different figures, where does the 60GB come from? I scoured through the Comcast TOS (which consists, separately, of the Comcast Service Agreement [comcast.net], Acceptable Use Policy [comcast.net], and Abuse Policy [comcast.net], and does not appear to be available from comcast.com), no mention of 50GB anywhere, or any hard numbers, anywhere.

        From the Service Agreement, though: Facilities Allocation. Comcast reserves the right to determine, in its discretion, and on an ongoing basis, the nature an
  • Bell Sympatico (Score:3, Informative)

    by zyl0x ( 987342 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:18PM (#18623073)
    I live in Southern Ontario, and I'm will Bell Sympatico's high-speed DSL. My family switched from their dial-up access as soon as their DSL service came out. I've hit download speed of up to 2.5mbps, which isn't supposed to happen, and we're supposed to have some sort of 8 or 10GB limit, but our online bandwidth counter has always been frozen at 0GB. No matter how much we download, we never get charged more than our flat-rate.

    I'm sure this is not intended, but you could always sign up and take a gamble. ;)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, I know Bell DOES charge some people for extra bandwidth -- I've seen such bills first hand. Some of their plans were unlimited, but they've introduced 30GB caps for new customers (just check their website). Currently, Bell has *NO* unlimited plan, at any price! Not to mention, their 5Mbit plan is kinda slow (tops I've seen using it is 350KB/s off a very fast server) -- very deceiving IMO. Not to mention their combined modem/shitty router (with ghetto firmware no less) equipment sucks hard. Their a
  • Shopping for cable? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:19PM (#18623081)
    Is there a place in the US where this is even possible? For most of my life (East Coast) I've known only Comcast, and Comcast was/is the only option.

    I now moved to New York and I now have the option of Time Warner or nothing.
  • No idea. (Score:5, Funny)

    by winnabago ( 949419 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:19PM (#18623083) Homepage
    I don't know what my usage is; I'll have to check with my neighbor, and see if he got any letters from his local PD, ISP, or RIAA settlement branch office.

    Is it my fault that his router is more reliable and has a stronger signal than mine from most parts of the house?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Is it my fault that his router is more reliable and has a stronger signal than mine from most parts of the house?
      Yes, it probably is.
  • 7.95$/Gb (Score:4, Informative)

    by Frederic54 ( 3788 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:19PM (#18623091) Journal
    My ISP, videotron, has a 20Gb/month cap, and charge 7.95$CAN per Gb after that...
    • Maaaan are you getting ripped off for over-the-limit. TELUS only charge $1.95/Gb on their business DSL connections. Monthly is usually about 20Gb or so, depending on how often I've been on the top of my ISPs leech list (not usually). I won't talk much about my ISP since they just resell TELUS service, but TELUS business DSL seems a not bad deal if you're not looking for insane amounts of downstream bandwidth.
      • by green1 ( 322787 )
        have you ever talked to ANYONE who has actually been charged for being over the limit on TELUS? their top residential plans give 60Gb/month transfer and the business ones are 80 and 120Gb/month... once you reach almost double that amount they send you an email, and I've never heard of anyone ever getting more than just that email... (they do reserve the right to bill, but I've never heard of it happening...)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gfilion ( 80497 )

      My ISP, videotron, has a 20Gb/month cap, and charge 7.95$CAN per Gb after that...

      I use Videotron too. Once I misconfigured a remote backup and used 95 Gb in a month! That would have cost me $556.50 in overcharges, but hopefully they have a $30 maximum for the overcharge.

    • Which is exactly why I use Sympatico at home. I'm supposed to get 5mbit down and unlimited bandwidth. Unfortunately, I live too far away from the switch and I get 1.5mbit down maxium.

      I've considered Videotron, but I needed to take their highest plan (10mbit) to get unlimited bandwidth. The price was about $90 a month. Really not worth it for residential use.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jacexpo069 ( 521719 )
      I am also a videotron subscriber. You only have to pay 7.95$/GB if you are an Extreme High speed internet plus subscriber. (which is 20Mbps) or High Speed (7mbps) and download 20GB. If you have just regular Extreme high Speed (which is 10Mbps), then there is no limit, and that is clearly posted here http://www.videotron.com/services/en/internet/comp arer-xtmplus.jsp [videotron.com] On the compare tab. Buyer beware! And yes I have gone over 20GB per month, and all I get is a notice that I went over 20GB per month (I thi
  • Speakeasy (Score:3, Informative)

    by internic ( 453511 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:21PM (#18623121)

    I've had Speakeasy [speakeasy.net] for years. Between my roommates and me, we've used quite a bit of bandwidth and never had any complaint from them. They generally deal fairly and honestly with their customers, so I think they'd be a good bet for getting clear rules and fair treatement. They actually have fair and reasonable terms of service, good reliability, good customer service, etc., but you do pay a bit more for that.

    On the other hand, they were recently acquired by Best Buy [slashdot.org], so I'm not certain how long they will continue to be good.

  • Honestly I figure that in order to get capped or warned you just have to be going over the top. I have done some serious downloading and even uploading (well what you can shove over 768k) so I cannot imagine what it takes to piss off an ISP.

    So just what do you do to do this and was is authorized by your contract with your ISP to do it?
  • That's what decent consumer protection laws will get you. If you want limits, you'd better be up front about it. The last company that did it lost so many customers they went with a simple speed limit too. And if they tried to terminate customers that only actually use what was advertised, they'd find themselves in a court room very quickly. I know they've created some form of throttling or prorization so the casual web surfing gets priority, but I've no problem maxing out my bandwidth 90% of the time. Then
  • I was recently thinking about this within my world of Roadrunner service in Columbus Ohio, from a usage standpoint. I had downloaded a few Linux distros, and started getting some stuff from EA Link (patches, games etc.) Command and Conquer 3 was scheduled to be released, and I hesitated to pull the trigger.

    4GB download.

    I don't know why; I normally just like getting things through the internet rather than having to travel to a store and what not. But I didn't want to be flagged as a top user or give them
    • I've downloaded many gigs in a month on columbus roadrunner and never been dinged for it. I certainly wouldn't be worried about a 4G download.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nxtw ( 866177 )
      Road Runner doesn't care. Downloading a few patches and ISOs isn't going to get you noticed and neither will using large amounts of bandwidth for P2P.
  • Business Class Line (Score:5, Informative)

    by SCHecklerX ( 229973 ) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:25PM (#18623159) Homepage
    Since my last ISP (suscom) saw fit to block inbound port 25 traffic, I was forced to pay extra for their business class line. This gave me 'less bandwidth' but a much more solid connection with a static IP address and no filtering.

    Suscom was bought out by comcast, and I am still a business class customer, but now with lots more bandwidth.

    I haven't had a serious issue yet other than rolling outages as comcast took over (grrrr).

    Anyway. Even for home use, especially if you want to run your own servers, my experience has been pay the extra for the more stable business class line and don't worry about it. You get the advantage of bypassing the level 1 support monkeys when you have problems then, too.
    • sorry for the followup clarification. 'less bandwidth' above did not refer to any cap. Just lower throughput (but the lack of fluctuation made up for it, as did being on a subnet that is not constantly blackholed by AOL and such when trying to send mail to my list members).
    • by nxtw ( 866177 )
      FWIW AT&T blocks port 25 as well (on dynamic IP connections) but will remove the block at the request of the user.
  • Finland, Sonera (Score:2, Informative)

    by hopopee ( 859193 )
    Back in my student days I got a 10/10Mbit connection from Sonera, which was in _heavy_ use. I did over 150GB in several months but got no complaints from it at all. Nowadays I have 2/2Mbit connection from the same firm and have done vastly more than 50GB on several months. No limits and no problems. Guess the Finnish ISPs are doing at least something right :)
    • by linhux ( 104645 )
      I have a 10/1 mbit connection from Welho in Helsinki, Finland, and I'm filling it up quite nicely, probably at the very least 20-50 GB/month. Never heard anything, although I've heard rumours (friends of friends) of people that have gotten warning e-mails.

  • I downloaded many G per day for months with no problems. I have slowness sometimes and never approach the advertised speeds except on the bandwidth test websites; but someone told me this is probably due to the physical connector. These need to be replaced from time to time; so I gotta call and work them over to come fix it I guess.

    Best,
    TimJowers
  • plusnet... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:27PM (#18623201)
    I don't know about the US, but you want an ISP that is intelligent about bandwidth. It is finite, and providing everyone with unlimited bandwidth would bankrupt the ISP. So... you need one that ignores your usage on non-peak times, that gives you a fair chunk of allowable bandwidth, and one that is upfront about its policies.

    I use plusnet (in the UK), I have really unlimited usage between midnight and 4pm, 30Gb the rest of the time. They are open about their policies [plus.net] and have 'been in contact' with users that have used the network at full capacity 24/7. Apparently less than 1% of users use a noticeable amount of bandwidth, for these, Plusnet say [plus.net]: Of course, for the vast majority of people who don't use up to the usage allowance every month, a shared design like this doesn't pose any problems at all. However, the nature of any product designed in this way is that there will always be a number of customers who end up with an unsustainable long term usage pattern. This may be deliberate in some cases, but more often than not it is because after choosing a product, a customer's usage habits subsequently change. For these customers there are effectively three choices:

          1. Upgrade to a different PlusNet product that is more suited to the new usage requirements.
          2. Moderate peak time usage, either by reducing the amount of large downloads, or by scheduling more downloads to overnight periods when demand for interactive traffic is lower.
          3. Find another ISP which is more suited to the specific usage requirements of that customer.


    Plusnet did send out warning letters to a few users (adslguide has a report on it here [thinkbroadband.com].
    It should be noted that this was 2 years ago when everyone was on 0.5Mbps lines.

    So anyway, for you - if you have a shortlist, ask them about traffic shaping and capacity management.
  • Hmm, I've been on mediacom cable and Qwest DSL in the last year, pulled and pushed tons of data via bittorrent on both. (Full line speed while I was at work and sleeping, 50% throttle when I was home at night from 5PM to 10PM) I've never had a problem on either. Then again if you're "Willing to pay for what you use" go leased line, you should be getting 100% sustained speed on those (Sans overhead).
  • Shaw@Home (Canada) gives you warning phone calls at first, then disconnects your cable modem if you go over. Mind you, their basic cable package gives you 60 GB up/down combined monthly. You only hit that if you go torrent happy. Least ways, that is how I hit it.
    • I remember one time when I was between jobs and I was sitting on usenet downloading and burning dvds cause I was bored waiting to hear back about work. They gave me a call and said that I had used 120gig(it was the second week of the month) and told me that if it continued I would have to get a buisness line. Well I got hired that week so I never had a problem again, but I have a friend to got kicked off without warning because they couldn't contact him while he was downloading stuff(he was at work or sc
  • T-com, Germany (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Raven737 ( 1084619 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:33PM (#18623301)
    I have been living in Germany for over a year an have signed up to T-com's 16Mbit/s Service, since then i have been downloading about 5-15GB a day. No nasty letters yet, but if they do come, i'll have to remind them that storing personal information such as the amount of bandwidth consumed is illegal in German: http://www.daten-speicherung.de/index.php/datenspe icherung/musterklage-ip-speicherung/ [daten-speicherung.de]
  • I am not about to defend the ISP practice of advertising "unlimited" downloads, then dropping customers using more than their "fair share". That's even stupider than presuming that high levels of bandwidth use is an indication of copyright infringement.

    However, if you are paying $30/month for DSL or cable, you should keep in mind that that is comparable to AOL/CompuServe/Genie/Prodigy rates 15 years ago. For that you got a minimumal connections speed (at the time typically 9600 or 14400 baud) into their

  • I'm paying for TW's 10mbit "turbo" service, which runs about $75/mo with a cable plan ($90 without). I have not been capped, and I do typically suck down usenet binaries most nights for 6-8 hours at close to 10mbit, so about 25 gigs or so every other day. I feel that if I see lower rates, it should be solely because of network utilization. And if they are coming close to 70-80% utilization, I expect the provider to upgrade their capacity. I expect full 10mbit all the time. With the expectation of futur
    • by Zed2K ( 313037 )
      They are already using switched cable in austin. And it is extremely buggy with dvr's. AT&T Uverse is coming to austin soon so that should open up the competition.
  • Two months ago I downloaded more than 100GB of data on my standard consumer 5Mbps cable connection from Time Warner/RoadRunner.

    The month after my download speed increased from 5 to 10Mbps (and my upload from 384Kbps to 1Mbps) for no apparent reason other than the fact that Time Warner apparently rocks.
  • Upstate NY area. No capping.

    I average probably 40GBs a month off Usenet, think that would break the threshold of any "caps" that they put in place. Although if their cap is 60GBs then I wouldn't experience it.

  • true story (Score:2, Funny)

    by yoprst ( 944706 )
    Back in the dialup days I was some ISP employee. All empoyees were granted unlimited internet access (from home). I was no 1 by both online time and downstream traffic. Once my boss gave me a huge pile of promotional cards. Each card entitled it's owner to a few hours of on-line time. He politely asked me to use those cards insted of my account at the company. All of those cards were issued by our competitor... I have no idea how he got them.
  • But, if you actually use what you have you get a phonecall complaining about it.
  • by isecore ( 132059 ) <isecoreNO@SPAMisecore.net> on Thursday April 05, 2007 @01:11PM (#18623899) Homepage
    I know this is a Mostly Useless posting, but in my case I've got to ask: what cap?

    (Disclaimer: I live in Sweden, so this post is pretty much worthless for all you USanians)

    Bandwidth capping do exist here among some dodgier ISP's, but overall I find that I will immediately sever my relations with a company who has bandwidth restrictions. Especially quickly will I sever my ties to them if they have secret restrictions where they themselves arbitrarily decide on some number and cut people off without telling them how, why or when.

    This is mostly my own philosophical standpoint, but the whole concept of having broadband is that there shouldn't be restrictions on use. If ISP's have problem with bandwidth-hogging on their high-capacity lines then maybe they should rethink their strategy and offer "slower" pipes with less limits on traffic? I also feel that customers are way to quick to accept this policy from ISP's, rather than protest it. This is mostly because people (and with people I really don't mean us Slashdotians, but Joe Schmoe and his wife Donna Who) are clueless as to the concepts. Most people are happy with the "always on and won't interrupt you phone!"-crap that a lot of cutrate ISP's still push as the main reason to switch to the new shiny broadband. After awhile they get upset because the ISP is limiting their fair use. This is also true for people who fall for the DSL bait-and-switch of having 24 mbits downstream and less than 512 kbits upstream. It's essentially a scam, in my opinion.

    Sweden is rather spoiled with options compared to the US. At the risk of sounding like I'm bragging, but I've got a 100/10 mbit/s (100 down, 10 up) LAN-connection in my apartment. I've never noticed any capping on this hookup; there's no official word on it from the ISP's homepage and when I've called them up a few times and asked they've chuckled in response. I run my own servers hosting legal independent music downloads for a friend, and get at least 4-5 gigabytes of traffic per day. Then add another gigabyte or so per day in traffic for my homepage, my brothers huge gallery of photos from his travels around south america, europe, africa and the swedish mountainsm, as well as the 4-5 other domains I host for some friends. Not once have I heard a grumble or annoyance from my ISP. In fact their motto is "Our customers are used to things going fast!" (translated, of course)

    As a fellow nerd I really feel for you guys over there having to put up with crappy ISP's who scale their operations the wrong way around. Rather than building a service that people can recommend and enjoy they prefer to keep things small and put arbitrary limits on their users fair use of the service. I especially hate ISP's who automatically assume that someone is a pirate just because a lot of things pass through to that one customer. There's a lot of perfectly legit ways to use up bandwidth as well.
  • by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) * on Thursday April 05, 2007 @01:13PM (#18623939) Homepage Journal
    Cablevision's Optimum Online service is great until you accidentally upload more than you should. The numbers I've heard for "more than you should" range from a few hundred megabytes to a few gigabytes, sustained over a few hours. There are no official answers to exactly how much you can upload or for how long.

    I've been capped four times now, since 1997. They keep a lifetime record of this. It's not like moving violations, where they drop off your record in a few years. If I fuck up again, at all, for the rest of my life, they will immediately disconnect my cable service and won't ever do business with me again.

    Apparently the free market hasn't made its way to the northeastern united states yet.
  • by tinkerghost ( 944862 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @01:23PM (#18624097) Homepage

    If you're going to ban someone, ban the idiots who refuse to learn. Start to finish - rent, electricity, hardware, 1800 time, payroll, etc - phone calls work out to about $3/minute. That means the 12th time you spend 20 minutes w/ Mrs Egghead trying to explain how to type in an URL, you spent $60 on that 1 customer - add in the other 11 times & you have spent more money on her than you will make.

    Even at $7/gig, they would be better cutting off the top users of tech support than the top users of bandwidth.

  • Azureus rates my ISP #1 in the way it treats it's
    customers :-P

    http://www.azureuswiki.com/index.php/ISPs_that_are _bad_for_BT [azureuswiki.com]

    I will be switching as soon as possible...
  • Is the question "what happens when you go over the limit" or "what happens when the filesharing script kiddie down the road goes over the limit". You need the same answer for both questions.
  • We upsell them to IP TV which has no bandwidth limit on the adsl. It's a glitch but a nice one.
  • by TrevorB ( 57780 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @02:46PM (#18625447) Homepage
    Vancouver, Canada here. Shaw cable has four plans for cable internet.

    There's a "Lite" version that's a bit better than dialup. 256Kbps SL/128Kbps UL with a 10GB/mo limit
    A "High Speed" version, for $40/mo. 5Mbps DL/0.5Mbps upload, with a 60GB/mo limit
    An "Extreme" version, for $50/mo. 10Mbps DL/1Mbps upload, with a 100GB/mo limit
    And a new "Nitro" version, for $100/mo. 25Mbps DL/1MBps upload, with a 150GB/mo limit

    All of these limits are "soft" limits. If you push them too hard, they email you a nasty message and start monitoring your usage. I'm pretty sure I've gone over these once or thrice, but have yet to receive an email about it, though my friends have.

    I've had the High Speed version for... yikes, 9 years now (was originally 3Mbps DL with a 1GB limit that was never enforced). It's been pretty good for me, though in some neighbourhoods people saw slowdowns and outages from time to time.

    Shaw is a decent company that isn't run by jerks. And no I don't work for them. (And their digital phone service is too expensive!)

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