What Will an Internet Cap Cost You?


For many of us Internet use may soon get a bit more costly.

Starting October 1, Comcast  (CMCSA), the second largest Internet provider, will place limits, or a cap, on the amount of data sent and received each month. U.S. Internet customers who send or receive more than 250 gigabytes of data can expect to be taxed additional fees.

So How Much Internet Activity Will Exceed this Limit?

Sending 50 million emails at 0.05 KB an email.

Downloading 62,500 songs at 4MB a song.

Downloading 125 standard-definition movies at 2 gigabytes a movie.

Uploading 25,000 high-resolution digital photos at 10 MB a photo.

That might sound like a lot, but look at your email inbox and view the size of the last few messages received. You may see few 5 KB ones. If you have a family of four, and they are uploading and downloading on a daily basis, you may begin to nudge up against this limit, says Cara Borsoi, the Vice President of Research and Analytics at Ask.com.

As the Internet becomes more popular than television, consumers may begin to fear potential Internets surcharges. “When people don’t understand all of the pieces, that’s where it gets tricky, and [caps] can dampen interest in going online,” says Borsoi.

And, sure enough, it’s not just your wallet that is affected. Comcast customers that exceed the limits and are among the heaviest users of its Internet service twice within six months will have their service suspended for a year, according to published reports.

While the decision to cap internet usage is said to only affect 1% of the Internet service provider’s users, the cap brings an end to unlimited service for some and could change the way cable companies begin to bill customers.

Such caps are reminiscent of the Internet’s early days when time spent online was used as a measurement for charges by American Online, according to Borsoi. That all went out of style in 1996 when the AOL began to offer a flat rate plan. Now this 90s fad is back. Cox Communications highest package, Premier with Power Boast, limits its customers to a maximum monthly consumption cap of 60 gigabytes for uploads and 15 gigabytes for downloads. That’s 1/3 of the allocation from Comcast.

In Beaumont, Texas, Time Warner (TWC) is testing out a cap plan that allows subscribers to choose from a four levels of service. The fees for service range from $30 to $55, with the 40GB offering the largest cap.
Are you next?

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