Comcast said to be mulling monthly download limits

The largest U.S. ISP is considering following Canadian ISPs in capping usage, albeit with much larger limits, according to a report.

Comcast Corp., the largest internet service provider in the United States, is considering taking a page from Canadian ISPs and implementing a cap on the amount of bandwidth customers can use a month, according to a report published this week.

The consumer broadband website, citing an unnamed source at Comcast, said Tuesday the company was considering a cap of 250 gigabytes per month cap.

The source said users would get one free "slip-up" in a 12-month period, after which they would pay a $15 charge for every 10 GB over the cap they used.

The proposed plan would mark a departure for U.S. internet service providers, which have traditionally offered "unlimited" download plans to subscribers.

But the proposed cap is still significantly more than most Canadian internet customers can currently access.

Most Canadian ISPs, including the two biggest — Rogers Communications Inc. and Bell Canada Inc. — already have data caps for users much lower than the one Comcast is reportedly mulling.

The most popular plans for both Bell and Rogers cap monthly data at 60 GB. Bell's high-end offering has a cap of 100 GB a month while Rogers offers up to 95 GB a month. Bell says 60 GB is enough for 30 high-definition movies at 2 GB each.

Comcast's move would seem to go against the growing trend among content providers to offer more and better quality media, such as high-definition movies, over the internet — either through regular downloads or through file-sharing applications.

Comcast has been in an ongoing battle with users of file-sharing technology and is currently under investigation by U.S. authorities for interfering with the traffic of its internet subscribers.

In February, it promised to cease discriminating against certain types of traffic by the end of this year after the Federal Communications Commission held hearings into the company's decision to block file-sharing applications.