Throttling High-Bandwidth Users
September 7th, 2007

When it comes to broadband, the United States increasingly feels like the cyberspace third world. While countries like Japan and Korea have a wealth of hot and cold running bandwidth, service providers in the US are cutting service to “abusive” customers – people who actually use broadband service full bore to view videos and listen to online radio. Even worse, you can’t find out what your limits are, or how to monitor compliance.

Companies have argued that if strict limits were disclosed, customers would use as much capacity as possible without tipping the scale, causing networks to slow to a crawl.

Some customers are unaware they are using so much capacity, sometimes because neighbors are covertly connecting through unsecured wireless routers. When they are told of that possibility, many curb their use after an initial warning, Douglas said. Others, however, may be running bandwidth-hungry servers intended for small businesses from their homes, which can bog down a network serving a neighborhood. Comcast said it gives customers a month to fix problems or upgrade to business accounts before shutting off their Internet service.


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