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Re: Comcast rate limits at 250G / month

     On Thu, 09 Jul 2009 00:52:06 -0700 "Please Sir, Do a Wheelie"
<evoltech@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>I had a relay set up last month on a new high speed comcast link
>(19M/6M ... FAST!).  It turns out that over half a month I racked up
>about 900G in traffic.  I assume that this came almost exclusively from
>my tor relay. 
>Just this week I got a call from comcast tech
>support saying that comcast caps it's usage at 250G a month.  They
>also told me that if I continued to go over this limit that I would be
>banned from comcast service for the following year.
>Just thought I would pass this on to the larger community.
     Yes, this has been reported here by others, including myself.  Comcast
stands in opposition to stated "national policy" here in the U.S.  They are
completely unreasonable and inflexible about it.  They have apparently
underestimated their need for QoS-type management of traffic, adequate
network infrastructure, satisfying business and residential customers with
high data-transport needs, and so on.  They aim, along with several other
large, corporate provider networks (e.g., Time-Warner Cable), to block/retard
expansion of the Internet in the U.S. in any way that involves higher data-
transport volumes.
     Their marketing is deceptive and probably illegal.  When I initially
contacted Comcast and agreed to get their Internet service, I was told a)
that it was "unlimited" service and b) a list of prices and data rates
corresponding to those monthly prices.  I was not told of a monthly cap,
and I was not told that paying a higher price merely bought me the dubious
privilege of exhausting my monthly allotment faster than a lower price would
allow me to do.  They provide no information, such as a web page, by which
one can discover how much of the monthly allotment has been consumed so far,
so the customer, having once been warned by their "security division", has
no means of even finding out that they are in danger of being cut off for
a year, so that the customer might avoid that outcome by disconnecting from
the Internet immediately for the remainder of the month.  The customer has
to go by guesswork.
     For Comcast's cheapest data rate, the average traffic rate over a
31-day month, IIRC, comes out to just under 98 KB/s of both transmitted and
received data *combined*.  That means, to be perfectly safe, one must limit
one's tor relay to less than 50 KB/s in the BandwidthRate and BandwidthBurst
statements in torrc.  Of course, current versions of tor refuse to advertise
a DirPort in published descriptors when the BandwidthRate is less than 50 KB/s.
     Comcast's service has other unlikeable aspects, too.  For example, it
does not support IPv6.  Routing table information is not available to
residential customers.  The name servers it provides in its DHCP leases
appear to be overloaded at times because their responses exceed timeout
limits.  To initialize one's account, one *has* to have a working Windows
system.  (Mac OS X might also work.  I don't remember whether that was an
option.)  So a UNIX/LINUX user still has to have a Windows system available,
if only to initialize the Comcast service (unless, possibly, the UNIX is OS X).
     Where I live there are, unfortunately for customers, only three ISPs
available.  The local business, TBC Net, has "service" that varies in quality
from unreliable to unusable, requires a one-year contract with about a $100
penalty if the customer decides to bail out of terrible service (i.e., failure
of TBC Net to uphold its end of the contract), and has absolutely no idea what
"customer service" means.  Verizon has a good reputation, says it has no cap
other than the limitations naturally imposed by its various ADSL speeds times
the number of seconds in a month, requires a one-year contract, and only
offers residential service in combination with a land-line telephone
subscription from Verizon.  Comcast is the third undesirable option.
     If you live in a large, urban area, then you probably have more ISPs
to choose from.  Shop carefully, and the best of luck to you!

                                  Scott Bennett, Comm. ASMELG, CFIAG
* Internet:       bennett at cs.niu.edu                              *
* "A well regulated and disciplined militia, is at all times a good  *
* objection to the introduction of that bane of all free governments *
* -- a standing army."                                               *
*    -- Gov. John Hancock, New York Journal, 28 January 1790         *