Could Traffic Throttling Hinder Comcast Wideband?

Comcast has announced its "wideband" high-speed rollout for the San Francisco Bay Area, raising Internet speeds as high as 50Mbps for downloads and 10Mbps for upstream. But as sweet as that jump sounds, be careful when ordering business service from big companies like Comcast. Hidden limits can offset any speed gains.

Think of how much of your crucial, hopefully private company data is flowing through your ISP: essentially, all of it. You're trusting your ISP to keep from giving your details to the government or even private companies.

And will your ISP's super-fast unlimited plan actually have download limits? Will the company prioritize some of your download requests over others? It doesn't matter that Comcast got caught throttling peer-to-peer software; what keeps the company from slowing large file downloads in general, like a Windows 7 beta?

Maybe Comcast has changed its ways in the past few months, but be careful, especially if using a giant, consumer-grade ISP for your small business. Before signing up, scour the fine print and call the company to make sure that it doesn't hide any of the previously mentioned issues. And check out dslreports.com to find reviews from local customers in your area.

Zack Stern is a San Francisco-based writer and editor who likes the ethics and service of his independent ISP but hopes it can soon match competitors' speeds.

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