Sunday, October 16, 2011


The other day I got a call from an unfriendly Charter "security specialist" that was trying to inform me my bandwidth was being stolen. Evidently in the last month I had used 10x their unadvertised limit for my internet service. I told them that there was no way that someone else was using my bandwidth but that it was likely me from online backups, watching HD movies and the like. I told them I didn't know about any limits and they pointed me to some fine print in their "Acceptable Use Policy" which had been updated long after I first signed up for internet with them. When you sign up for plans or switch plans they never mention the limit, in fact you have to go looking for this policy to find it as its never sent to you or mentioned during sign up. Don't believe me? Go look at their plans on the site. The plans mention the speeds but not the usage limits. Charter isn't alone in this practice. They told me if I continued that usage they'd cancel my service. I asked them what options I had and they went through the plans.

For their "Max" package, which has 25Mb download speed and 3Mb upload speed the limit is 250GB/month combined transfer limit. This plan costs $55/month. If you start downloading at the max speed you use up your entire monthly allocation in 22 hours. Yes, for $55, you get less than a day of that advertised speed. If you only upload then it will take you 7 days to use up your limit.

After talking to them they offered to sell me their "ultra" package. Thats 60Mb download, 5Mb upload and a combined limit of 500GB/month. For this price of $100/month you use up your allowed limit within 18 hours at full speed. If you only upload then it will take you 9 days to use up your limit.  What a deal.

The limits sound ok when you put them in terms of HD movis.  HD movies (according to the charter rep) are 8GB in size, and SD movies are 2GB. So I could watch 31HD movies a month with the "max" plan. But when you work in online backup then things go crazy. They suggested rather than watching HD movies I should watch SD on my HDTV and to try to limit my use of the HBO Go that they have been advertising since that uses bandwidth too. And that online backup program (Jungledisk, Carbonite, Mozy, etc) should be turned off because my $64 1TB drive will take too much bandwidth to back up online.

In other words, they advertise great speeds but you can't really use what they sell you.

Since they're a monopoly and there are literally no other providers where I live, I ended up switching to Charter Business. There for $129/month I get 25Mb download 3Mb up but there are no limits. So I can actually use every bit of the speed i've been sold for the entire month and actually do the things they advertise that you can use your internet for. This industry needs change.
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