March 11, 2009

1299 words 7 mins read

Comcast sells you cable internet for $12 an hour

I recently caught a press release from Comcast that I thought was interesting, “Comcast to Roll Out Extreme 50 Mbps High-Speed Internet Service in Bay Area”. It really caught my eye because, I live in the area, so theoretically I could call them up and have 50 Mbps internet by the end of the month. Cool… or is it? We all remember that Comcast isn’t the best ISP in the world because they love to use Sandvine to tinker with your internet (namely disable anything they don’t like) and they think it is a “good idea” to cap bandwidth. Though since this service is something like five times faster than their previous offerings, it is possible, if unlikely, that they changed or removed the cap. Curious, I went into the Comcast live chat system and asked them.

What they said: “the service is still under the cap”.

This reminds me of the old AOL days, when they started sending out CD’s offering you 1000 free hours a month. Cool… except there are only 731 hours in the average month, so you can’t use it. Comcast is doing the same thing, “Here is THE FASTEST home service ever!!!! Except you still can’t download any more than you could previously”. Wow. How fucking useless is that? And for this “honor”? You pay $139.95/month (not including any fees or taxes).

Why is this service so amazing? Well according to Comcast, you can download an HD movie in just 16 minutes. Of course the service is “ideal for households or businesses simultaneously using several computers”. Say you have a family of 4, all of whom have their own computers, and with this blazing fast service they start downloading (or streaming) HD movies (say from Netflix). Congrats, you each get to download 10 movies a month. That isn’t a bad number per say, but it is easy to watch more than that. Of course if you do that, you can’t use your internet for anything else. No VoIP, no email, no surfing, no music, no streaming radio, no Xbox Live.

Let’s take a quick look at the real numbers though. 250 GB * 1024 * 8 = 2,048,000 megabits / 50 Mbps / 60s / 60mn = 11 Hours 22 minutes. If you max your line, you get internet for 11 hours. That’s it. Not a few days, not 3/4ths of the month, just 11 hours. Oh and don’t forget, you are paying $139.95 month / 11.37 hours = $12.30/hour. Why would you pay that, when you can pay less per DAY at a Starbucks.

I’m sorry, but we’re moving into the internet age. More and more content (and media) is being provided over the web, sites are getting “richer”, downloads are getting bigger, and bandwidth requirements are getting larger. The genie is out of the bottle, so to speak. Comcast is trying to put it back in the bottle by capping net usage. Maybe I have a valid (and legal) reason to download (and/or upload) large quantities of data. I download Linux distributions over Bittorrent; I have to update them often (alpha’s and all that); I regularly download tens of gigabytes from Microsoft (MSDN); I stream legal TV shows (thank you Netflix, Youtube, Hulu, and all the other providers, like CBS and ABC who let me watch from their own page); I have 4 computers running (at the very least); the list goes on. I’m just one tech enabled person. Imagine the family of four with two teenage kids who are technically competent. Frankly, if I want to saturate my connection, I’m going to do it as often and for as long as I want, especially if I am paying for it, which I do with my 6 meg DSL line.

Comcast can go screw itself with their fool’s promise of fast internet. I’ll keep my DSL line and sleep well tonight knowing that I can download 2 terabytes a month if I needed to.

In the extended body (IE “Continue Reading”) I’ve included the entire (unedited) chat transcript.



The following the transcript between me “user AssistedBuyflow” and the live chat “analyst Nerasa” of Comcast


user AssistedBuyflow has entered room

AssistedBuyflow(Mon Mar 09 2009 21:12:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>

analyst Neresa has entered room

Neresa(Mon Mar 09 2009 21:12:05 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))> Hello AssistedBuyflow, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Neresa. Please give me one moment to review your information.

Neresa(Mon Mar 09 2009 21:12:09 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))> Hi, how are you doing today?

AssistedBuyflow(Mon Mar 09 2009 18:12:24 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))> Fine. Your “Extreme 50” service still have a 250GB a month download cap?

Neresa(Mon Mar 09 2009 21:14:29 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))> Let me please check on that.

Neresa(Mon Mar 09 2009 21:14:30 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))> May I please know your name?

AssistedBuyflow(Mon Mar 09 2009 18:14:50 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))> Jon

Neresa(Mon Mar 09 2009 21:15:54 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))> Thank you, Jon. For your question, were you asking for the download speed of our “Extreme 50Mbps” service?

AssistedBuyflow(Mon Mar 09 2009 18:16:04 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))> yes

Neresa(Mon Mar 09 2009 21:19:01 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))> Thank you for patiently waiting, we apologize for the delay. The download speed of our Extreme service is at 50mpbs, and the upload speed is at 10mbps.

AssistedBuyflow(Mon Mar 09 2009 18:19:16 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))> I know that

AssistedBuyflow(Mon Mar 09 2009 18:19:20 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))> Is the service capped

AssistedBuyflow(Mon Mar 09 2009 18:19:29 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))> Just like all the other comcast products

Neresa(Mon Mar 09 2009 21:21:36 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))> I am sorry but according to the information, the service is still under the cap

AssistedBuyflow(Mon Mar 09 2009 18:21:48 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))> Well that is useless

AssistedBuyflow(Mon Mar 09 2009 18:22:03 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))> you expect me to pay over 150$ a month for 11 hours of internet service?

Neresa(Mon Mar 09 2009 21:26:25 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))> I understand that Jon, but it is one of our policy regarding internet usage. If you want I can transfer you to our Internet tech department to explain further regarding the details and technicalities of the policy. Would that be fine with you?

AssistedBuyflow(Mon Mar 09 2009 18:29:03 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))> I dont care about further details. I just want to know why YOU (Comcast) expect ME (The customer) to spend 150$ for 11 hours of internet access. That is 13$ an hour — It costs less to buy a day pass at Starbucks.

Neresa(Mon Mar 09 2009 21:42:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))> We apologize for this inconvenience that we have caused you. I am sorry but I don’t have a good and better explanation for you about your queries, since my cope responsibility is only limited to Order fulfillment processing order online. However, these are the only information that I have here, Comcast establish a specific monthly data usage of 250GB/month per account for all residential customers. 250GB is far beyond the current median of data usage for a typical residential Internet Customer in a month, so this amount of data accomodates any reasonable definition of typical monthly residential usage.

AssistedBuyflow(Mon Mar 09 2009 18:44:10 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))> What about business lines? What are those capped at?

Neresa(Mon Mar 09 2009 21:51:02 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))> We only processed residential lines in our end, there’s another team who deals with Business lines or commercial lines, they can better explain and assist you on your questions. Please contact this number 1-888-205-5000.


At this point I left the chat at they had nothing more of use for me. I was somewhat distracted during this since I was playing Halo Wars with John.