Comcast and their Network Management Policy

Not only does Comcast consider it “too much bandwidth” use if their customers use more than 70% of the bandwidth they pay for, for more than 15 minutes, Comcast representatives also have no clue about this policy being in place.

My last YouTube video was rather large. About 4.2 GB to be precise. The upload started out fine and then all of a sudden dropped down to about 1 MBit/s and later to 300 kBit/s. What happened? Network problems? YouTube having problems? I remember the exact same thing happening with older video uploads. So it was something consistent that happens every time I upload a video. After a bit of research, I found that Comcast actually has a Network Management Policy that lines out when and why they throttle bandwidth [1].

Can you give me some “real world” examples of how much bandwidth consumption would be considered too much? For example, how many movies would I have to download to be affected by this congestion management technique?

Since the technique is dynamic and works in real time, the answer really depends on a number of factors including overall usage, time of day and the number of applications a customer might be running at the same time. First, the local network must be approaching a congested state for our technique to even look for traffic to manage. Assuming that is the case, customers’ accounts must exceed a certain percentage of their upstream or downstream (both currently set at 70%) bandwidth for longer than a certain period of time, currently set at 15 minutes.

Alright, so using just 71% of the Bandwidth I pay for, for more than 15 minutes will get my bandwidth throttled to a ridiculously small amount. Naturally, being pissed off about this, I fired a tweet at Comcast:

My initial Tweet directed at Comcast

My initial Tweet directed at Comcast

Now watch this, Comcast is slick. While normal companies respond to problems directly from their main account, Comcast has Mike Lewis. Mike Lewis is a Comcast guy responding to customer complaints. In reality, Mike Lewis is, of course, more than one person. But giving that account a personal touch is their idea of giving the customer a warm and fuzzy feeling, I guess. By using a secondary account, they of course make sure that the main account doesn’t draw any attention to your problem so that other Comcast customers don’t read about your issue.

But the amazing thing is his statement. He insists that they don’t throttle bandwidth. Which is funny, because we just read in their official policy that they do. Interesting, isn’t it?

Mike Lewis from Comcast promptly responds

Mike Lewis from Comcast promptly responds

I gave him some education on the fact. Turns out he didn’t want to help me with this issue anymore after that. Go figure.

And Mike Lewis from Comcast gets a quick lesson on their own policiy

And Mike Lewis from Comcast gets a quick lesson on their own policiy

So what’s the workaround to the problem? Luckily, I have a more advanced router with Quality of Service (QoS) profiles. I pay for 15 MBit/s upload speed. 70% of this is 10.5 MBit/s. So, I set the QoS profile up to never allow the outbound traffic to exceed 10 MBit/s. That way, I can never possibly exceed the 70% condition of Comcast’s Network Management Policy. So even though I throttle myself to about 2/3 of the bandwidth I pay for, this is still a whole lot better than 1 MBit/s or even 300 kBit/s.

It’s still sad, though, that Comcast does heavily limit you this way. If you pay for 15 MBit/s upstream, you expect this to be available 24/7. What’s even more sad is that apparently the customer service representatives at Comcast don’t even have a clue about their own policies.

Links and Sources:
[1] Comcast, Network Management Policy: http://customer.comcast.com/

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