Comcast Redefines Unlimited Bandwidth - Future Outlook
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As far as bandwidth consumption, things are only going to get worse before they get better. The Post article noted that other Internet service providers, including Time Warner Cable, Verizon and AT&T, have said that they reserve the right to manage their networks, but haven't suspended service to any subscribers. Translation: we haven't done it yet, but we might do so in the future. Michael Coe, a spokesman for AT&T, notes that the company has some customers that use large amounts of Internet capacity, "but we figure that's why they buy the service."
Cox Communications has had to adjust its network to its subscribers' bandwidth demands, which have doubled every year for the past six years. It has boosted its speed twice in the past year and a half; heavier users can take advantage of the company's tiered service plans. "We don't spend a lot of time enforcing [bandwidth] caps, but we contact customers when their usage is egregious enough for it to impact the network," explained Cox spokesman Alex Horwitz.
In the face of competition that is, at least so far, more inclined to be accommodating to customers, how long can Comcast keep up their bad habits? It might be a while yet before the cable provider feels the pressure. Frank Carreiro, another Comcast customer cut off due to excessive bandwidth use, blogged about the experience of being stuck with dial-up speeds for himself, his wife, and his six children. Eventually, he was able to sign up for DSL service. "For a lot of people, it's Comcast or nothing," he pointed out.
There is hope for change, however. Bruce McGregor, senior analyst at research firm Current Analysis, said that Comcast and companies like them need to learn how to handle people who use excessive amounts of the network's capacity without making their customers angry. "They're not the only game in town anymore," he explained. Even so, it may be a while yet before the market catches up with the changing environment, to say nothing of Comcast's shoddy treatment of its heaviest users. At the very least, the company owes it to these customers to get out its dictionary and look up the meaning of "unlimited," to say nothing of "truth in advertising."
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