Cable ISP warns “extreme” uploaders, says community can’t deal with heavy utilization

A pair of scissors cutting an Ethernet cable.

Mediacom, a cable firm with about 1.four million Web prospects throughout 22 states, is telling heavy uploaders to cut back their knowledge utilization—even when these customers are properly under their month-to-month knowledge caps.

Mediacom’s quickest Web plan presents gigabit obtain speeds and 50Mbps add speeds with a month-to-month knowledge cap of 6TB. However as Cease the Cap wrote in an in depth report on Wednesday, the ISP is “attain[ing] out to a rising variety of its heavy uploaders and telling them to cut back utilization or face a velocity throttle or the potential closure of their account.” Mediacom informed Ars that it’s contacting heavy uploaders “extra steadily than earlier than” due to elevated utilization triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The corporate mentioned that heavy uploaders “could also be underneath their complete bandwidth utilization allowance however nonetheless have a detrimental influence on Mediacom’s community.”

Mediacom’s phrases and circumstances say the corporate expenses $10 charges for every further block of 50GB utilized by prospects who exceed the information cap. However customers could also be warned about their utilization lengthy earlier than they danger overage charges. One person in East Moline, Illinois, who described the predicament on a DSLReports discussion board in early January, mentioned they paid for the 6TB plan “to verify we would not go over the cap” and had by no means used greater than 4TB. The person wrote:

So, acquired a name from the Mediacom fraud and abuse division right this moment. The rep informed me they had been calling prospects which have “increased than common” bandwidth utilization as they’re having community points. I hurried up and checked my account and solely used a bit over 2.5TB final month. He informed me my add was 450GB over their common and if I did not cut back my utilization they might both throttle or disconnect me. I argued that I used lower than half of the entire knowledge allowed by my plan, however he mentioned my 1.2TB of add was an excessive amount of and that this was my warning.

One other gigabit person in Missouri named Cory informed Cease the Cap that the 6TB month-to-month cap “is far more than I’ll ever use, however I nonetheless obtained a warning letter claiming I used to be importing an excessive amount of. I found I used about 900GB over the past two months, organising a cloud backup of my pc. At most I can ship recordsdata at round 50Mbps, which they declare is interfering with different prospects in my neighborhood. I do not perceive.”

An excessive amount of utilization in “Mediacom’s sole opinion”

Letters despatched by Mediacom to heavy uploaders mentioned, “your account’s utilization is bigger than 99.5 p.c of all Service prospects. As a consequence of your extreme use, you might be negatively impacting Mediacom’s community and different customers of the Service.”

The letter goes on to say that it is a “violation” of Mediacom’s acceptable use coverage to “use extreme bandwidth, whether or not upstream or downstream, that in Mediacom’s sole opinion, locations an unusually giant burden on the community or goes over regular utilization. Mediacom has the precise to impose limits on extreme bandwidth consumption through any means obtainable to Mediacom.”

Mediacom supplied barely extra element to the Federal Communications Fee in response to buyer complaints. A Mediacom letter to the FCC mentioned the corporate’s “community is constructed to permit for extra downstream utilization than upstream utilization.” Mediacom’s letter to the FCC additionally described the information cap as “a big conduit with a smaller conduit inside it… As a consequence of historic traits, the smaller conduit permits for upstream utilization whereas the rest of the conduit is reserved for downstream utilization.” Heavy add use can stress that “smaller conduit,” that means that prospects “will be underneath the entire knowledge utilization allowance however nonetheless be negatively impacting the community.”

Mediacom blames pandemic

Even with out the general knowledge caps, Mediacom’s Web plans have built-in limits on importing. Whereas the gigabit-download plan limits uploads to 50Mbps, the 60Mbps-download plan limits uploads to simply 5Mbps and the 100Mbps-download plan limits uploads to 10Mbps. The 60/5Mbps plan has a 200GB month-to-month cap, and the 100/10Mbps plan has a 1TB cap.

We requested Mediacom why it hasn’t upgraded its community sufficient to totally assist the add speeds and knowledge allotments that its prospects pay for, however we did not obtain a solution. New variations of the Knowledge Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS), which have been closely hyped by the cable {industry}, can assist symmetrical obtain and add speeds of 10Gbps. Even an earlier model of the DOCSIS 3.1 customary that is now extensively deployed theoretically permits 10Gbps downloads and 1Gbps add speeds. However the cable {industry} has been sluggish to boost add speeds.

When contacted by Ars, Mediacom pointed to cable-industry statistics exhibiting 31.eight p.c development in downstream visitors and 51.1 p.c development in upstream visitors for the reason that pandemic ramped up in March 2020. Mediacom spokesperson Thomas Larsen additionally informed us:

Given the surge in visitors through the pandemic, we’ve got been reaching out to the shoppers who fall into the highest 0.5 p.c of upstream customers extra steadily than earlier than. This isn’t the best subject to clarify as a result of Web utilization is rising quickly on this earn a living from home/examine from dwelling setting, so it’s troublesome to provide an actual quantity that places a buyer into the 0.5 p.c class as a result of that quantity adjustments from month to month.

Ideally, we might help the client determine the reason for the upstream overutilization difficulty and assist them take steps to handle it. We will provide enterprise class companies which are designed to assist higher add capability, however that is actually not the purpose of this train.

Mediacom additionally contacts heavy obtain customers “when their utilization negatively impacts” different prospects, Larsen mentioned. “Since our community is engineered to have the ability to deal with considerably extra downstream visitors, this occurs much less steadily.”

As for whether or not prospects who do not decrease their utilization will face throttling or account terminations, Larsen mentioned, “use that causes a detrimental influence on Mediacom’s community is prohibited and Mediacom might implement needed community packages to handle such use or droop or terminate the service.”

Switching ISPs “not an possibility”

Mediacom’s dealing with of uploaders is paying homage to steps taken by Cox Communications earlier within the pandemic. Cox imposed neighborhood-wide slowdowns in some circumstances, lowering the gigabit-download plan’s add speeds from 35Mbps to 10Mbps. Mediacom would not seem to have performed something that drastic, however telling customers to cut back their add utilization once they have not even come near hitting their knowledge caps is irritating for patrons.

“If there have been every other Web choices aside from horribly sluggish AT&T DSL, with a small knowledge cap, I might swap in a heartbeat,” the Mediacom buyer in Illinois who posted on the DSLReports discussion board wrote. “Sadly with my job and dealing from dwelling, going with out usable Web will not be an possibility.”

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