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Comcast Needs to Update Their Infrastructure, Not Limit Their Customers

September 3, 2008

Comcast was big news recently.  They announced that all of their broadband customers were now under a monthly cap of 250 GB.  Supposedly, this cap was already in place but was not clearly stated and anyone going over this cap would have had their service disconnected without realizing that they have reached the cap.  (Whew! That sentence was waaaay too long) Some argued that this was at least a step in the right direction in that customers are now aware that they have a limited amount of bandwidth each month.  But I think that this ignores the root problem.  Comcast needs to update their infrastructure and not limit their customers.

Seriously.  I’m not an expert on Internet Service providers.  I’m sure that there are some customers who hog up a lot of the bandwidth.  But it seems that by focusing the discussion on whether or not there should even be a bandwidth cap for unlimited service,  Comcast is successfully directing our attention away from where it should be.  We should be wondering why broadband in the United States lags far behind many other developed countries.  It is certainly getting better, and I imagine my speeds will continue to slowly creep up as the years go by.  But I can’t help but look at other countries in the world and see that they get much faster throughput than I do.  Instead of hearing announcements by Comcast on how they have upgraded their networks to provide much faster speeds, I hear how they are now officially limiting their customers bandwidth usage every month.  The focus is on limitation and not expansion.  We’re not seeing improvements, we are seeing fixes to problems that will only continue as more and more people start using more more bandwidth.

Again, I’m not an expert on these things.  But when other countries can consistently get faster speeds then I can, I just wonder about the value of arguing over bandwidth when we should be complaining that we lag behind the rest of the world.  It is times like these that I really wish I had a choice in high speed Internet providers.  Basically I only have two real choices: AT&T or Comcast.  AT&T’s dsl is terribly slow and Comcast, while decent, is far from great.  And now I have the extra burden of trying to keep track of how much bandwidth I use every month.  I really don’t think I go over 250 GB a month, but now I’ll be checking my logs to see how much I do actually use.  I’m sure this will all die down very soon and people will continue to use the Internet as they have been.  But as more and more services require more and more bandwidth Comcast is going to face an even greater problem.  There are many services out there now and there will be more services in the future that use a great deal of bandwidth.  As people start streaming more movies from Netflix and other high bandwidth services, the hunger for bandwidth is only going to increase.  But I suppose if you’re the only real option for internet service than it really doesn’t matter about upgrading your infrastructure that much.  If people are not satisfied, then who really cares?  It’s not like they have anywhere else to go.

I guess I should stop complaining.  I just wish I had the same option for speed as my in-laws do in Japan.  A 100mb/sec fiber connection?  For $50/month?  Hell yeah.  12mpbs power boost compared to 100 up/down?  I guess I should just moved to Japan.  Then I wouldn’t have to complain so much.