The Truth about Comcast Cable Internet!
Comcast likes to brag about their internet service speeds. But the truth is different than the hype - learn here!
First off, the biggie. Comcast brags about 6mbps or even 12mbps speeds. But since day one, they have been limiting users ability to actually use this service in many ways: most of which were secret. Users who exceeded secret, undisclosed usage caps were summarily kicked off of Comcast service. (1)
Only in August 2008 did Comcast make public what the cap was (2). It's 250 GB per month - a limit that means if you exceed an average usage of only 768Kbps (12% of the 6Mbps service, or 6% of the 12Mbps service) you will be booted. In short, Comcast promises fast Internet but they will penalize you if you actually fully use the service.
Slowing down the Competition
Comcast was just recently sanctioned by the FCC, for illegally and secretly slowing down internet web sites that Comcast decided it didn't like. (3, 4) These include 100% legitimate services like BitTorrent, a service used widely for the legal distribution of movies, TV shows, and software updates (5).
Comcast also just recently signed a special agreement with Vonage not to "block or degrade" Vonage service when run over Comcast services (6).
Clearly, Comcast reserves the right to block or degrade competing services of any kind that run over their network. In short, Comcast is selling "high speed internet service" but only with a long list of limits - many of which are still not disclosed to their customers. And given their history, you will never be sure whether Comcast is slowing down your favorite web site.
You share your cable internet with your neighbors
Your actual performance with cable internet can depend greatly on what your neighbors are doing, because you are sharing the internet connection the same way you are sharing viewing the same TV shows.
Cable companies get you in with low up-front prices, then jack up the rates
Average Cable rates have doubled nationwide in the past 10 years (7). While Comcast gets you hooked with a $99 per month "triple-play" introductory rate, the fine print is that the price goes to normal after as little as 6 months - "normal" being $150 per month or more. With cable services, you can be sure of one thing: the price will be going up, up, up, up, up.
Is Comcast Evil?
No, not really, even though their disregard for full disclosure to their customers is troubling.
All these limits are because of the nature of Comcast's network: you are actually sharing the internet connection with dozens, or maybe hundreds, of other users in your neighborhood. Cable TV is a "broadcast" medium - remember, it was created to efficiently send the exact same broadcast TV programming to every household. But Internet service is different, each user is going to be looking at something completely different.
This conflict between the old "shared" cable TV network and how people want to use the Internet, is the reason for Comcast's limits.
What's the solution?
DSL Broadband is a dedicated, point to point service that can guarantee the user 100% full utilization of the service. Compared to Comcast's sharing of a connection with maybe hundreds of users, a DSL line is dedicated to, and serves only you.
With cable, a lot of people are sharing a little bandwidth in your neighborhood. With DSL and other point to point services, a lot of people are sharing massive bandwidth. For example, foreThought.net's central node aggregation points are currently fed by a Gigabit (1000 Mbps) of Internet connectivity, and this can be easily scaled to 10 Gigabits (10,000 Mbps). By comparison, Comcast cable internet is limited to maybe a few 10's of Mbps per neighborhood - nobody is really sure, since Comcast does not publish this information on their network limitations. But it's known that many Comcast users experience unexplained slowdowns in their service.
Comparison to foreThought.net
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