Cox throttles internet upload speeds for entire neighborhoods to deal with data hogs

Cable company Cox Communications is slowing internet speeds of a whole neighborhood if one resident is a heavy user, Ars Technica reported. Cox confirmed that it does enact neighborhood-wide slowdowns to discourage what it calls “excessive use,” but didn’t specify how many users it would take for this to happen.

Florida-based Cox customer “Mike” recently reached out to Ars Technica to inform the outlet about some of Cox’s latest attempts to manage network congestion.

Apparently, the company left him a not-so-friendly voicemail that claimed he was using an “extraordinarily high amount” of internet data. The voicemail stated that if attempts to reduce usage were not made within five days, Mike’s internet service would be scheduled for termination.

To give some background here, Ars says Mike pays a whopping $150/month for unlimited gigabit download speeds and has been using upwards of 8TB of data every month for several years now. According to Mike, Cox did not offer him an explanation for why it has only taken action to reduce his usage now.

In addition to the service termination warning (which is now moot, as Mike has complied with Cox’s demands), Mike was informed by his internet provider that network speeds for gigabit customers in his entire neighborhood would be throttled due to these “unprecedented times.”

Mike and others speculate that Cox is struggling to keep up with increased broadband traffic brought on by the pandemic. Cox, however, said its “network is performing very well overall.” Mike’s situation isn’t typical — the average US household isn’t using 12TB of data each month. However, for Cox to not provide a whole neighborhood of customers with what they’re paying for because one person is using a lot of bandwidth, especially during a pandemic, doesn’t sound like good customer service

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