Not So Fast, Broadband Providers Tell Big Users

Firms impose limits even as demand rises By Carolyn Y. Johnson, Globe Staff | March 12, 2007

Amanda Lee of Cambridge received a call from Comcast Corp. in December ordering her to curtail her Web use or lose her high-speed Internet connection for a year.

Lee, who said she had been using the same broadband connection for years without a problem, was taken aback. But when she asked what the download limit was, she was told there was no limit, that she was just downloading too much.

Then in mid-February, her Internet service was cut off without further warning.

For Lee and an increasing number of people, a high-speed Internet connection is a lifeline to everyday entertainment and communication. Television networks are posting shows online; retailers are lining up to offer music and movie downloads; thousands of Internet radio stations stream music; more people are using WiFi phones; and "over the top TV," in which channels stream over the Internet, is predicted to grow.

That means that more customers may become familiar with Comcast's little-known acceptable-use policy, which allows the company to cut off service to customers who use the Internet too much. Comcast says that only .01 percent of its 11.5 million residential high-speed Internet customers fall into this category.

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