Tag: price gouging

ISP Cox HSI to end unlimited internet service, introduce overflow billing

Today, subscribers to Cox High Speed Internet received the following communication from their ISP:

Dear [Cox Customer],

We spend more time online today than ever before, streaming movies and TV shows, downloading music, sharing photographs and staying connected to friends and family. As Internet and data consumption grows, Cox continues to improve our network to ensure a quality experience for all our customers.

To better support our customers’ expanding online activity, we recently increased the amount of data included in all of our Cox High Speed Internet packages. About 95% of customers are now on a data plan that is well-suited for their household. In the event you use more data than is included in your plan, beginning with bill cycles that start onJune 15th, we will automatically provide additional data for $10 per 50 Gigabyte (GB) block for that usage period. Based on your last 3 months of data usage and our increased data plans, it is unlikely you will need additional data blocks unless your usage increases.

What this means for you
To help our customers get accustomed to this change, we are providing a grace period for 3 consecutive billing cycles. During this period, customers will not pay for additional data blocks for data used above their data plan. Customers who exceed their data plan will see charges and a matching credit on their bill statement. Beginning with bills datedOctober 15th and later, grace period credits will no longer be applied, and customers will be charged for usage above their data plan.

Understanding and managing your data usage
You are currently subscribed to the Preferred package which includes a data plan of 350 GB (Gigabytes) per month. To help you stay informed about data usage, Cox will begin to notify you via email and browser alert if you use 85% of your monthly data plan and again if you use 100% of your monthly data plan. Additional blocks of data will only be provided if you exceed your data plan. This will not change your Internet package and there will be NO change to the speed or quality of your service for data usage above your plan. To better understand your household’s historical and current data usage, you will find your household’s data usage meter and other helpful tools and information here.

Thank you for choosing Cox.

Sincerely,
Cox High Speed Internet Team

What this really means to Cox HSI customers

This is terrible news to users of what has been a reliable, relatively speedy service.

350 GB of data per month might sound like a lot, but if you look at what it is equivalent, it’s clear that Cox intends to screw its customers very badly.

I used Wolfram Alpha to tell me what 350 GB over 30 days amounts to. Here’s what it said:

350 GB/30 days is equivalent to:

  • 11.7 GB/day
  • 1.08 megabits per second

Comparisons:

  • ~0.7 * USB low speed (1536 kb/s)
  • 1.1 * StarLAN speed (1MB/s)
  • 0.8 to 1.8 x typical 3D data download rate

That’s right, for the $60/month preferred package, Cox will cap you to the equivalent of saturating a 3G cellular connection. My current speed with Cox Preferred is ~60 Mb/s, so when they introduce these caps, if I wanted to spread out the usage over my 30 day billing cycle, I’d have to restrict my usage to the equivalent of 1/60th of the speed I’m used to, assuming 24/7 usage.

 

“It is unlikely you will need additional data blocks unless your usage increases.”

News flash, Cox:

In the entire history of the internet, everyone’s data usage has always increased!

I’m a heavy internet user, and I expect that my data needs will only increase as time goes on, because they always have, like everybody’s. Better quality media streaming, more web services and web based applications, increasingly bloated web content, it all contributes. Web 2.0 would be unbearably slow in the 14.4 kbps world of 1993, and the 60 Mb/s that I have today limits and shapes what is conceivable to use that data connection for today. If I had a gigabit connection to my home, it would vastly change how I use the internet, the things that would become possible with such a connection would make 60 Mb/s look as slow as the 14.4 kbps we used during the dialup era seems today.

Today, I stream a lot of video, mostly YouTube, and I am on the internet pretty much all day long when I’m at home. I’m online most days from around 6pm until 1-2 am. Let’s assume 6 hours of internet use/day, which over 30 days amounts to 7.5 days of constant internet use. That would mean the 350 GB ration would afford me 46.7 GB/day, which is equivalent to 4.32 Mb/s, which Wolfram Alpha suggests is comparable to:

  • 0.9 x DVD speed (5 Mb/s)
  • 0.3 – 1.4 x typical 4G data download rate
  • 1.1 x token ring speed (4 Mb/s)

Token ring, for those who don’t know, is an network technology that more or less died in the 1990s. It’s 2015. It’s pathetic that broadband should be this limited.

Let’s say I wanted to actually use my 60 Mb/s connection for all that it’s worth, how much data use would that actually be?

Wolfram Alpha gives a figure of 60 Mb/s * 30 days = 19.44 Terabytes, which compares to:

  • 0.97 x text content of the Library of Congress.
  • ~5 x 4 TB hard drives

19.44 TB is a HUGE amount of data for most people, yet it would fill just one SOHO-class Network Attached Storage box populated with 4TB hard drives in a RAID5 configuration, which could cost around $1500-2000 today. So it’s a lot, but not a lot.

But what would that cost under Cox’s new billing?

The first 350 GB would be $60. The rest (19.09 TB) would be billed at $10 per 50 GB… 19.09 TB/50 GB = 381.8 * $10.00. So, my theoretical maximum monthly bill would amount to a grand total of: 382 * 10 + 60 = $3880.00

$3880.00 for 1 month of maximum internet use under the new billing structure.

But surely I’d never use that much data, you’re probably thinking. Well, what if you’re wifi isn’t as secure as you thought, and one of your neighbors is leaching? Or, what if you leave a computer up and running all day, and it gets infected with malware, and starts saturating your network connection with traffic without your knowledge or consent? And suppose the notifications Cox sends you don’t make it into your inbox due to improper spam filtering? Imagine the shock of opening your next bill and seeing charges for almost $4000!

The point is, Cox is trying to sell me internet service, but crippling it to an effective average speed of about 1/60th the speed at which I am currently able to use it — a speed which compares with the throughput of a USB 1.1 device or a 3G cellular data connection. This is not broadband service in any meaningful sense of the word.

Fight back

I urge Cox customers to fight back against this. And for internet users who are not customers of Cox, get ready. Other ISPs may be planning to do the same thing to you. We need to stand together and demand that our internet use

  1. Contact Cox Customer Service and complain!

  2. File a Consumer Complaint with the Federal Communications Commission!

  3. Write to your Congressman!

  4. Write to your Senator!

  5. Find another ISP!