Cox Communication is slowing down internet speeds in entire neighborhoods, based on the “excessive use” of just one resident. Ars reports that Cox has been notifying some customers that they’re using large amounts of data and warning of speed decreases for the whole neighborhood if data usage isn’t decreased.
The report shared the information of one customer in Florida, called “Mike” by Ars Technica. Mike pays $100 per month for service with 1Gbps download speeds and 35Mbps upload speeds, plus $50 for unlimited data, to avoid the 1TB data cap. Cox flagged Mike’s account when he was using 8TB to 12TB of data per month, which he explains is used for the most part from 1 am to 8 am, for his job which requires scheduled device backups and sharing data through encrypted channels.
Cox left Mike a voicemail saying that his data usage was “extraordinarily high” and warning that “Internet will be scheduled for termination” unless changes were “made within five days.” Cox does not specify what it counts as “extraordinarily high” usage in its Acceptable Use Policy.
Cox followed up with an email, again alerting Mike of his data usage, saying that it “is negatively impacting Internet service of other customers.” As a result, the email said, the company would be dropping its upload speed from 35Mbps to 10Mbps for the entire neighborhood.
The company defended the decision, telling Ars Technica that it has been lowering speeds in some neighborhoods where “performance can be improved for all customers in the neighborhood by temporarily increasing or maintaining download speeds and changing upload speeds for some of our service tiers.” Cox says that “10Mbps is plenty of speed for the vast majority of customers to continue their regular activity and have a positive experience.”
A Reddit thread shows that Mike was far from the only customer to receive a notice of slower speeds as a result of the neighborhood-wide traffic throttling.
While Cox, like all other internet providers, is struggling to keep up with increased usage during the pandemic, the decision to not provide the quality of service that customers are paying for at a time when many are still working from home, seems like the wrong move. Cox told Ars Technica its “network is performing very well overall” during the pandemic, with 98-99% of its neighborhoods “performing with adequate capacity even with the tremendous level of increased peak usage.”
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