Yah, I am a Comcast Internet subscriber.  No I do not love it, nor do I hate it.

Personal Opinion: I don’t mind a 250GB cap – I can live with that…I hope.

Subjective Opinion: But some of their numbers do not make any sense to me.

If you view their FAQ on the bandwidth capping, they may not have investigated what their users might use the Internet for or their data is based on the Internet of 2001.  UPDATE: Check out their new data usage meter information

  • Send 50 million emails (at 0.05 KB/email)
  • Download 62,500 songs (at 4 MB/song)
  • Download 125 standard-definition movies (at 2 GB/movie)
  • Upload 25,000 hi-resolution digital photos (at 10 MB/photo

Okay, so you look at the numbers – and wonder…

Email of .05KB is… 1024 * .05 == 51 bytes.  Who sends a 51 byte message?  The headers alone are larger than 51 bytes.  Is my math broken?  My email address with my name included is 36 bytes alone.


4MB song?  At what bitrate?  Checking my iTunes library the majority of items I have ripped from my CD collection is closer to 6MB per song using AAC and variable bitrate encoding.  Looking at Moby’s Play album (owned and ripped), the songs range in size from 2.1MB (Guitar Flute & String) to 6.7MB (The Sky is Broken).  Who listens to 128Kbps MP3s anymore?  Eeek!

Movies?  Oh my, you may want to continue reading where I give my (obviously) subjective views on this topic.

And photos at 10MB per photo.  Wow.  My Canon EOS-20D (8MP) is 7MB each.  My buddies 5D (12MP) is 11MB each.  My wife’s new Canon SD770IS (10MP) is 4.2-5.3MB each.  Most people I know don’t have photos of this size (in MB, not resolution).  Their math works, but only on the broken assumption that the photos really are 10MB in size.  This is the area where they actually overestimated in my opinion.

Complaint and possible solution to negative commentary: How about Comcast implements this new cap, and fixes their network so I no longer have to deal with subpar performance at any time of the day.  I regularly get approximately 4-4.5Mbps while I pay for 8Mbps.  Ignore that PowerBoost Technology, that’s just junk.  Sure, I have downloaded at the full bandwidth I have purchased, and downloaded for a long time at that sustained rate.  But I don’t normally get said speeds, and time of day doesn’t matter.  This has been tested via my firewall (Fortigate 60) and direct connecting of my laptop (a Mac Book Pro) and my workstation (Mac Pro).  Can be frustrating sometimes, but then it is time to just walk away and go check out the big blue room – scary stuff if you ask me.

Continue reading to see more of my (possibly broken) math dealing with television and movies and why the cap could hurt real people.

Now let’s look at the ‘movie’ thing.  I use the Internet every day, whether for work, for pleasure, for whatever!  And yes, I download movies and TV shows.

Wait, before you go all he’s a pirate, report him! – I have a TiVo HD and an AppleTV, both of which download content from the Internet, both capable of high definition content in fact.

Of the items I download via those 2 appliances, 80% (or more!) is high definition.  Figuring out the size of said files is a little tougher as both appliances do hide the data, but I bet it is greater than 2GB.

Going to http://my-tivo-address/nowplaying/ shows that a 30 minute HD broadcast is 2.29GB, and a movie I recorded from a high-def cable channel is 19.48GB for 3 hours and 30 minutes, and another television show recorded over the air from PBS is 4.97GB for 1 hour and 3 minutes.

For my AppleTV, I have a DVD reencoded (again, from my physical collection) 1 hour, 43 minutes, 38 seconds, encoded for the AppleTV at 852×480 resolution (I don’t know why it was set that way) and it is 3.31GB in size, or approximately 1.8GB per hour

Let’s update their math…I pay for the 8Mbps/2Mbps (down/up) service and I watch 80% (or more) high definition content (ignore just movies for a moment)…

1 hour high definition television off-air is 4.8252GB per hour.

1 hour high definition television on cable is 4.58GB per hour.

1 hour high definition movie on cable is 5.562GB per hour.

This gives me…based on 250GB of allowed download…

51.81 hours of off-air recordings (not downloaded, whoop!)

54.59 hours of on cable high definition recordings

44.95 hours of on cable high definition movie recordings

Before you go up in arms that this came over cable for recording, I am using these numbers as the numbers the size of my downloads would be if I downloaded via normal (and legal) means.

A.C Nielson Co. states that the average american television viewer watches 4 hours per day, or 28 hours per week.  cite

Going by the math of 28 hours per week (or ~112 hours per month), and my 80% high definition content (I’ll keep it as TV shows and not movies), the average customer could potentially download 410.37GB if all of their viewing is downloaded from the Internet.  Wow, even if you decide that new compression schemes will help further (assuming 50% further reduction), that’s still 205GB per month.  Thankfully we only send 51 byte emails or we could all have our cable service terminated!

Now for the math based on the AppleTV and MP4 format – ~112 hours * 1.8GB per hour will be 201.6GB – still getting pretty close to that 250GB limit.

And what about those people who use NetFlix and watch their shows via their computers?

So that’s for television…another fun comment via the FAQ I linked above is

Do you offer usage tiers based on bandwidth consumption?

No.  Comcast currently offers varying speed plans for its residential service as well as several business level services to support customers’ individual needs.

Ah, so there isn’t a reason to buy a higher tiered service (download speed) for multiple reasons.

First, you won’t get it most of the time based on my experience, save your dollars unless you need the higher upload speed.

Second, you can download faster, meaning more data to your computer or network, but you better not expect that ‘more data’ because if you do, you could have your service terminated if you go over the 250GB per month 2 months in a 6 month window.

Third, no facility is given to review your current usage.  In fact, Comcast says you should download your own tools to measure your usage.  Ah, that makes perfect sense.  Do not allow your customers to know or see what they are doing, but make sure to penalize them if they do.  Great!  AWESOME!

Why do I pay for the higher tier?  That is very simple, I work at home a lot, and the 2Mbps upload speed saves me a ton of time when I am moving files back to the office.  Would be even more fun if I could get even more.  Work at home could be actually fun!