When Comcast announced last week that it was instituting a formal usage cap for residential customers--a total of 250 gigabytes of data transfer (uploading plus downloading), as described here--I didn't think much of it, except to be happy they finally defined a critical element of their service guarantee. The previous level of ambiguity was annoying and arguably unlawful, as I described here last October.
Few Comcast customers will ever consume that much bandwidth, and in fact it's probably several times what Comcast's network can provide to all users anyway. If a large fraction of Comcast's customer base is now encouraged to start sharing its own high-definition home movies on peer-to-peer file-sharing services, network congestion will impose a much lower limit.
But over the weekend I read some of the news coverage and blogger opinions of the cap, and I have to say that some of it is just astonishing. People are making claims and demands that violate the basic rules of mathematics and the laws of physics. It looked like a digital form of mass panic, like the sky was falling.
In this story, the falling acorn was represented by Karl Bode at Dslreports.com, whose article announcing the cap (here) was highly speculative but still reasonable.
Blogger Om Malik volunteered for the role of Chicken Little in calling the cap "the end of the Internet as we know it," assuming other carriers follow Comcast's lead.
But Malik's analysis is preposterous. The video-on-demand services Malik claims Comcast is trying to block… Read more