Use too much bandwidth and pay the price. That's the word from Comcast, which has launched a broadband throttling system to prevent power users from hogging its network. The plan slows traffic for heavy Net users, such as fans of P2P networks, during times of heavy Internet congestion. Broadband Reports has a fairly detailed summary of how the new Comcast policy works. Basically, sustained use of 70 percent or more of your downstream or upstream bandwidth triggers the usage delays, during which time a bandwidth hog's traffic may be delayed, or even dropped.
But wait, there's more. Comcast also recently implemented a 250GB monthly download cap, so heavy downloaders will need to monitor their activities closely. The usage caps come despite a recent report indicating that P2P traffic is decreasing online. Despite its aggressive throttling, Comcast is busy promoting faster broadband service in some markets, including its Extreme 50 offering, which has download speeds of up to 50 megabits per second.
It's likely that Comcast's throttling strategy will impact only a small percentage of power users. But with the rise of video streaming and other bandwidth-intensive applications, it's only a matter of time before average users get snared by usage caps too. Meanwhile, ISP continue to market pricey and powerful broadband services-Extreme 50 costs up to $140 a month in parts of Oregon and Washington-and it's doubtful that many customers are reading the fine print.
To be fair, Comcast isn't the only ISP capping power users. AT&T, for instance, is testing monthly data caps as well.