Give It Up, Comcast

Ever go to an all-you-can-eat buffet that offers you tons of stuff you have no interest in eating? Well, then you know what it's like to be a customer of Comcast's (Nasdaq: CMCSA  ) new Internet service.

Called "Extreme 105," the service is designed for customers like me. I'm a heavy user of cloud computing services. So while I'm usually getting better than 30 megabit-per-second download speeds from my existing Comcast Internet service, my bandwidth-crunching Mac sometimes fills my data pipe enough to kill VoIP calls.

So the idea of a hyperfast plan is appealing. There are just two problems:

  1. At $105 a month (with a corresponding Triply Play bundle) it's priced to be ignored.
  2. Comcast's 250-gigabyte monthly data cap still applies.

Anyone notice the conflicting messages? Here, have a Maserati. All we ask is that you stay within the 25 mph zone. Vegas nightclubs don't tease this much. It's surreal, like watching a Steven Wright stand-up routine after a 48-hour bender.

To be fair, Comcast isn't the only one teasing users. AT&T (NYSE: T  ) has held back on delivering the 4G service it's been advertising while it upgrades the backbone of its wireless network. Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) has also promised to limit speeds for some of its heaviest data consumers. I've got two words for all this:

Buzz. Kill.

If you're serious about offering us this service, Comcast, lose the data caps. You'll only annoy users who would otherwise pay to experience the digital equivalent of gunning the engine of a top-down Corvette on a sun-soaked desert highway.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think about data caps, networks, and who'll profit from further buildouts of the world's cloud computing infrastructure using the comments box below.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy never, ever drives 55.


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  • Report this Comment On April 26, 2011, at 11:10 AM, BlondOverBlue wrote:

    When Comcast announced the cap, I too was annoyed as I am also a heavy user of "the cloud", gamer, and YouTube user (uploads, mostly).

    However, I checked Comcast's usage meter over the course of 3 or 4 months and I never even broke a quarter of the cap's allotment. I think Comcast is right when they say over 95% of their user base never sees the cap's limit. Everyone's usage varies, obviously.

    I think users need to actually engage themselves and check their usage over a good chunk of time to assess how much bandwidth they actually consume before crying foul.

    Caps are here to stay, like it or not. However, I think a standard, across-the-board cap of "X" GB across all tiers of service is foolish.

    As the article mentions, there is no incentive to buy premium speeds if the overall package deal is not appealing if in fact the cap is truly an issue.

    Usage caps should be based on the level of service. Higher speed for a higher price should equate to a higher cap.

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