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 1.4 million Web prospects throughout 22 states, is telling heavy uploaders to cut back their information utilization—even when these customers are nicely beneath their month-to-month information caps.

Mediacom’s fastest Internet plan affords gigabit obtain speeds and 50Mbps add speeds with a month-to-month information cap of 6TB. However as Stop 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 pace throttle or the potential closure of their account.” Mediacom instructed Ars that it’s contacting heavy uploaders “extra continuously than earlier than” due to elevated utilization triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The corporate stated that heavy uploaders “could also be below their whole bandwidth utilization allowance however nonetheless have a damaging affect on Mediacom’s community.”

Mediacom’s terms and conditions say the corporate expenses $10 charges for every further block of 50GB utilized by prospects who exceed the info cap. However customers could also be warned about their utilization lengthy earlier than they danger overage charges. One consumer in East Moline, Illinois, who described the predicament on a DSLReports forum in early January, stated 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 consumer wrote:

So, acquired a name from the Mediacom fraud and abuse division in the present day. The rep instructed me they had been calling prospects which have “larger 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 instructed me my add was 450GB over their common and if I did not cut back my utilization they’d both throttle or disconnect me. I argued that I used lower than half of the entire information allowed by my plan, however he stated my 1.2TB of add was an excessive amount of and that this was my warning.

One other gigabit consumer in Missouri named Cory instructed 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, establishing a cloud backup of my laptop. At most I can ship information 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 stated, “your account’s utilization is larger than 99.5 % of all Service prospects. On account 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 policy 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 by way of 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 stated the corporate’s “community is constructed to permit for extra downstream utilization than upstream utilization.” Mediacom’s letter to the FCC additionally described the info cap as “a big conduit with a smaller conduit inside it… On account of historic tendencies, 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 below the entire information utilization allowance however nonetheless be negatively impacting the community.”

Mediacom blames pandemic

Even with out the general information caps, Mediacom’s Web plans have built-in limits on uploading. Whereas the gigabit-download plan limits uploads to 50Mbps, the 60Mbps-download plan limits uploads to only 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 completely help the add speeds and information 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 heavily hyped by the cable industry, can help symmetrical obtain and add speeds of 10Gbps. Even an earlier model of the DOCSIS 3.1 normal that is now widely deployed theoretically permits 10Gbps downloads and 1Gbps upload speeds. However the cable {industry} has been sluggish to boost add speeds.

When contacted by Ars, Mediacom pointed to cable-industry statistics displaying 31.8 % progress in downstream visitors and 51.1 % progress in upstream visitors because the pandemic ramped up in March 2020. Mediacom spokesperson Thomas Larsen additionally instructed us:

Given the surge in visitors in the course of the pandemic, we’ve been reaching out to the shoppers who fall into the highest 0.5 % of upstream customers extra continuously than earlier than. This isn’t the simplest subject to clarify as a result of Web utilization is rising quickly on this work at home/examine from dwelling atmosphere, so it’s tough to provide an actual quantity that places a buyer into the 0.5 % class as a result of that quantity modifications from month to month.

Ideally, we can assist the shopper determine the reason for the upstream overutilization subject and assist them take steps to handle it. We will supply enterprise class providers which might be designed to help better 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 stated. “Since our community is engineered to have the ability to deal with considerably extra downstream visitors, this occurs much less continuously.”

As for whether or not prospects who do not decrease their utilization will face throttling or account terminations, Larsen stated, “use that causes a damaging affect on Mediacom’s community is prohibited and Mediacom might implement vital community packages to deal with such use or droop or terminate the service.”

Switching ISPs “not an choice”

Mediacom’s dealing with of uploaders is paying homage to steps taken by Cox Communications earlier in 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 executed something that drastic, however telling customers to cut back their add utilization once they have not even come near hitting their information caps is irritating for patrons.

“If there have been some other Web choices apart from horribly sluggish AT&T DSL, with a small information cap, I’d change 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 choice.”

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