More tidbits on the new Comcast cap (updated)

The controversial Comcast monthly bandwidth cap has caused a stir, but what about some of the things not mentioned in the FAQ section?

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
3 min read

Thursday's news about the upcoming 250 GB monthly cap for Comcast data subscribers left some questions unanswered. I shot a few of my own, as well as some from readers over to Comcast to get them answered. These are mostly items that did not appear in both the post about the amendment, or the otherwise comprehensive FAQ page.

Update at 5:05 p.m. PDT: In a bizarre twist, the previous answers to my questions were answered by someone named Bill G., who Comcast says is not an authorized spokesperson for the company, despite answering my e-mail sent through the company's press contacts page. Charlie Douglas, who is Director of Corporate Communications for Comcast's Online & Voice Services, wrote me back to let me know the "correct" answers to these questions. I've highlighted where the previous unofficial answers differed for the sake of continuity, although the only major differentiation from the unofficial contact is the mention of Comcast developing its own bandwidth monitoring and notification service for its customers, which is apparently not happening.

Q: Will people who go over for the second time be able to challenge the account suspension, or is the two strikes and you're out policy the standard?
Charlie Douglas: If a customer receives a call that he/she has exceeded 250 GB in a month, then we ask them to please moderate their usage. The vast majority of customers do so voluntarily. During that first call, however, we also explain that, per our Acceptable Use Policy, if they are among our heaviest users for a second time in the following six months, that we reserve the right to suspend their account for 12 months. Again, this is an extremely small number of customers--far less than 1 percent--and is a policy that does not affect more than 99 percent of our customers.

Will there be a usage meter available on Comcast subscriber's online account information?
Douglas: There are numerous free or fee-based meters that are widely available on the Internet to anyone who wants one.
(Editor's note: This differs from our unofficial contact who said "Comcast is developing a meter to track your bandwidth." We've got a write-up of ways to do this using various software tools.)

Will you be offering larger bandwidth packages for home businesses or "excessive users?"
Douglas: Our excessive use policy is only for residential service customers. As of today, this policy does not apply to our commercial services customers.

How does this factor in with users of your Digital Voice service? On average how much bandwidth does that service take up?
Douglas: Comcast Digital Voice is a completely separate service and is not a factor.

We've also had some questions about the bandwidth averages cited on this page. 2-3 GB median monthly bandwidth seems incredibly low, as does the figure for how large an e-mail is (0.05KB/e-mail). Most messages in my inbox hover between 10-50k. Was it a typo for 0.05MB?
Douglas: 2 to 3 GB/month is the median monthly amount used by our residential high-speed Internet customers. The examples we provided at www.comcast.net/networkmanagement are illustrative of how much activity would be required to reach 250GB in a month. More than 99 percent of our customers do not come close to using more than that amount.

Got any other questions you feel are unanswered? Leave them in the comments and we can send out a second round.