Justice Department reportedly looking into broadband caps

Broadband Internet caps have been an issue for many Internet users over the past few years, especially since companies such as Netflix and Hulu have become more popular with their offerings of thousands of streaming movies and TV shows. Now The Wall Street Journal reports, via unnamed sources, that the US Justice Department is conducting an antitrust investigation into these broadband caps.

The report claims that the government has spoken to cable companies such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable to find out more about their broadband cap policies. The report also claims that they have spoken to companies such as Netflix and Hulu, who might be adversely affected if such broadband caps restricted the amount of video their customers could receive from their services.

Cable TV companies that offer Internet access also have their own video services, including on-demand programming. However, Netflix and other companies have said that cable companies are worried that their customers might drop their cable TV portion of their business in order to just use their broadband services to stream video from other sources.

The report claims that the Justice Department investigation is taking a particular look at a decision made by Comcast earlier this year. Comcast subscribers who have an Xbox 360 console and stream video from Comcast's Xfinity app get a pass when it comes to Comcast's own broadband caps. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that such a move by Comcast violated federal laws that prevents Internet service providers from favoring some content over others.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

iPad app removal could leave family unable to communicate with daughter

Next Story

Skype to insert ads on Skype-to-Skype calls

16 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Here in Canada a few years ago you would never hear about bandwidth caps. Most consumers didn't even know what the term meant. I remember Rogers' lowest cap was 60GB for 'lite Internet', and everything else was 100-150GB. Now, the cap is a mere 2GB and twice the price, what a joke! Canadians are so afraid of letting American competition in here that we pay ridiculous prices for mobile, TV, and Internet.

its about damn time!! I got a 250GB a month thru comcast but IMO that is a cap I don't want. I shouldn't have to worry about what I use for the price I'm paying.

Bandwidth caps has been the norm here in Australia since the internet's introduction.

I'm on 200GB a month and barely hit it. sometimes I hit it, other times, just barely. Damn steam and movie downloads. The next plan up is 500GB but that costs $120 a month! Some other ISPs here have truely unlimited plans.

Bandwidth caps stop competition.. just that.

If they can sell you a speed, how can they also sell you a limit?

What they really should be looking into are 3G and LTE data caps, and ridiculous pricing for overages, and charging extra for the data you already paid for if you intend to "tether" to a tablet or laptop while on the road.

It is worth looking into if that's how Comcast is playing it but...

"Broadband Internet caps have been an issue for many Internet users"

I'd like to know how many people that effects. I mean, when I got my 25Mbit connection last month, I downloaded anything and everything, between reinstalling games that used to take ages to download, software, keeping everything up to date, downloading self-study material around roughly 15GB worth alone, AND streaming shows via Hulu, Xfinity, and other third party places... I didn't even get to hit 50% of my 250GB cap.

Now that Comcast will be upping it to 300GB, I don't think I could hit it even if I tried without having to buy another hard drive just to hold all this data.

Is this really an issue for so many people? And does streaming really eat up that much bandwidth? Because I stream all the time, on top of everything I download...

dead.cell said,

Is this really an issue for so many people? And does streaming really eat up that much bandwidth? Because I stream all the time, on top of everything I download...

I download an average of 200GB/week, and stream half of that per week as well.
As a result, I'm using the only provider in my area that doesn't have bandwidth caps. Oh, and I'm in Canada.

dead.cell said,

Is this really an issue for so many people? And does streaming really eat up that much bandwidth? Because I stream all the time, on top of everything I download...

Not sure about everyone else, but a lot of local ISPs suck. My bandwidth cap is 40gb a month -_- ... I've gone over it before and nothing really happens, but they're known to terminate your service if you use it excessively during peak hours.

Kondrath said,

Not sure about everyone else, but a lot of local ISPs suck. My bandwidth cap is 40gb a month -_- ... I've gone over it before and nothing really happens, but they're known to terminate your service if you use it excessively during peak hours.

Yeah, I've heard a few horror stories. That just sucks though.

Comcast used to say they'd give a warning on the first 1-2 offenses of going over the 250GB cap, before actually terminating your service. However, now they're bumping it to 300GB and slapping a $10 fee for every 50GB you go over after the cap.

@deadonthefloor, I guess I don't watch as much TV as I thought I did then heh.

Keep in mind that it's not just downloads but total consumption. So if you were to be posting tons of videos to Youtube or doing offsite backup with Carbonite or something that counts against your "300GB" cap too.

So while I don't hit that cap either (no cap on my ISP however), still nice not to have to watch the meter. Summer months are light for me as i'm generally out more, did 300MB total yesterday. When my GF gets back from Germany however i'm sure that'll jump again as she watches all these German shows online and she's backlogged she says by about 2-3 weeks already.

dead.cell said,
It is worth looking into if that's how Comcast is playing it but...

"Broadband Internet caps have been an issue for many Internet users"

I'd like to know how many people that effects. I mean, when I got my 25Mbit connection last month, I downloaded anything and everything, between reinstalling games that used to take ages to download, software, keeping everything up to date, downloading self-study material around roughly 15GB worth alone, AND streaming shows via Hulu, Xfinity, and other third party places... I didn't even get to hit 50% of my 250GB cap.

Now that Comcast will be upping it to 300GB, I don't think I could hit it even if I tried without having to buy another hard drive just to hold all this data.

Is this really an issue for so many people? And does streaming really eat up that much bandwidth? Because I stream all the time, on top of everything I download...

If an ISP has caps they are simply setting their customers up for a fall, caps=more money for the ISP from overage penalties, an ISP will claim that it's to prevent bandwidth hogs but in reality it's nothing more than a cash grab.
It's the same with cellular, nothing more than a cash grab, and as long as the general public allows it to continue then it will continue.

Except the cellular level is a hell of a lot more restricting, if you're not on a true unlimited plan. I was just curious as to how many people are even capable of hitting the 250GB cap was all.

@Shotta35, I'm aware of that. I utilize my SkyDrive account as well.

Most people actually share their connection throughout the house; whether is be with house mates or family. And if all are streaming video then 250 is not enough.

dead.cell said,
It is worth looking into if that's how Comcast is playing it but...

"Broadband Internet caps have been an issue for many Internet users"

I'd like to know how many people that effects. I mean, when I got my 25Mbit connection last month, I downloaded anything and everything, between reinstalling games that used to take ages to download, software, keeping everything up to date, downloading self-study material around roughly 15GB worth alone, AND streaming shows via Hulu, Xfinity, and other third party places... I didn't even get to hit 50% of my 250GB cap.

Now that Comcast will be upping it to 300GB, I don't think I could hit it even if I tried without having to buy another hard drive just to hold all this data.

Is this really an issue for so many people? And does streaming really eat up that much bandwidth? Because I stream all the time, on top of everything I download...

jesseinsf said,
Most people actually share their connection throughout the house; whether is be with house mates or family. And if all are streaming video then 250 is not enough.

I never thought about that since its only me and the wife.