In a nutshell: Though many countries and states have begun to re-open their economies amidst the Covid-19 -pandemic, thousands of people are still working from home, and are thus putting a much more substantial strain on internet networks across the globe. Unfortunately, instead of upgrading its network infrastructure to cope with increased demand, it seems cable provider Cox Communications has decided to take slightly more harsh measures.
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."
Until July 15, 2020, upload speeds in select areas have been reduced from 35Mbps to 10Mbps -- a substantial decrease, but one Cox stands behind. In a statement to Ars, the company said "10Mbps is plenty of speed for the vast majority of customers to continue their regular activity and have a positive experience."
Ars was able to clarify that the throttling is actually the result of a few specific customers using particularly high amounts of data: "100-200 times more upstream bandwidth," to be precise. In other words, it seems that Cox is punishing entire neighborhoods for the actions of a few data hounds.
Whether or not these measures are reasonable is another matter. One could certainly make the argument that extraordinary problems require extraordinary solutions, but that likely won't be much consolation to the customers that pay $100 or more for high-speed internet and are now expected to live without it for the next month.
We will be reaching out to Cox to determine whether or not affected customers will be receiving service credits or discounts for the time that they won't have access to their normal upload speeds. We will update this article if we receive a response.
Masthead credit: Ilnur Khisamutdinov