The bandwidth cap that Cox Comms doesn’t want you to know about!

I ask this question of all Cox Communications customers, did you realise that they have a 250GB cap on their Preferred, 300GB cap on their Premier and 400GB cap on their flagship $100 per month Ultimate Service? I certainly didn’t until today; I was told just four weeks back when comparing Cox and AT&T Internet service that Cox does not restrict bandwidth or traffic in any way. At least the AT&T rep was honest and said upfront that the cap existed, so kudos to AT&T for being honest!

The obvious reason these caps have come into force is because more and more people are using streaming services such as Hulu Plus and Netflix, entertainment on demand and in most cases, the same programming as broadcast television with usually only a single day delay. Cable companies like Cox are making far less money because nearly everyone has a cellphone, which negates the need for a home phone and Cable TV is going the way of the dinosaurs because of streaming media!

For me, it’s not the fact that Cox are using caps, it’s their methods of selling their product, completely forgetting to mention the usage restrictions. And in my case, straight up lied to get the sale, I repeat the rep straight up told me there was no usage limits, when I ask the question directly. We use a lot of bandwidth, we have four internet connected computers, two tablets, two smartphones, PS3 and a Roku HD, all of which we stream to via our home wireless network.

The only reason I found out is because I was poking around the Cox Kansas website and found a link titled ‘Data Usage Meter’, I click on the link fearing the worse and yes, there is a 250GB cap on our Preferred package and we are 81% into it with a third of the current month remaining. We are definitely not going to stay under the cap, 53GB remaining, which sounds like a lot but when you are watching HD streams which can use as much as 5Mbps, that’ll be gone in a matter of 5 to 7 days.

As I said if I was told upfront instead of being lied to over the phone by the Cox customer service rep and in all the ‘promo’ pages and literature, I didn’t see one mention of these caps. I believe it’s quite a major consideration when choosing an Internet Service Provider. I’m sure that it’s hidden in the small print of the service agreement, but no-one reads the 30 pages of legal bullshit, there is no transparency in the United States, it seems to be acceptable to deceive customers out of the box.

You know the worse thing of all, I bet there are many people completely unaware of these caps and only find out when they get Emails or calls from Cox, trying to upsell their more expensive products or face disconnection if they continue to violate the usage restrictions; basic bully-boy tactics!

We will more than likely upgrade to the Ultimate package which costs $100 per month which will give us a 400GB cap, which should be sufficient; and a mega connection to boot, 150Mbps download and 20Mbps upload. I can do this because I replaced the aging Scientific Atlanta DOCSIS 2.0 modem that was supplied with the latest Motorola Surfboard DOCSIS 3.0 modem. Even without changing service tier, I am seeing a much faster and responsive connection, and thusfar in seven hours it’s been running, not a single dropout of connection, which were frequent with the Scientific Atlanta!

Update [Apr, 10 2013, 17:06]: I have just gotten off the phone with Ryan at Cox and he was very nice but Cox as a company are determined to bleed every last penny out of it’s customers. I have to pay a $35 “professional” installation charge, else I will not be allowed to have the “Ultimate” package. I know that my equipment is capable to receiving the 150Mbps speed that Ultimate provides. But I was told no exceptions, I’d have to have it “professionally” installed, despite there being no installation involved apart from maybe call the office and have the speed turned up. I’m not happy but I am not going to take my frustration out on the representative because he doesn’t make the rules; the people that make the rules never have to face customers directly!
Update [Apr, 12 2013, 13:35]: Ultimate has been ‘installed’, but for the life of me I don’t know why I needed to have an engineer come around costing me $35. I could have done everything that he did with the help of a technical support representative, I know they can change tier remotely, I am quite capable of running a broadband speedtest, which is basically all he did. America, it’s set-up to relieve you of your hard earned money one way or another. Internet Speeds have jumped to 126Mbps download and 36Mbps upload, so I am happy with the speed at least!

30 thoughts on “The bandwidth cap that Cox Comms doesn’t want you to know about!

  • Bholcombe commented on June 24, 2013 at 21:21

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!
    Finally someone with answers and information. I have cox personal come to my house constantly because of poor internet or cable service reception. Never has anyone explained this problem as you have. At least now I understand the problem.
    This has been going on for several years!
    Can Not Wait To Resolve This Problem!

  • RockHop commented on September 5, 2013 at 16:01

    The reason that a tech has to come out to instal the highest speed package is that to actually see the plan’s rated speeds you have to ensure the wiring to the house and through the house to the modem is is in pristine condition and often the connection needs to be adjusted and filtered depending on where in the house you have other TV’s connected. Having a technician come all the way to your house with expensive metering equipment for $35 is a bargain… quite whining and enjoy the blazing fast speeds when the installer leaves.

  • The thing is RockHop; the tech didn’t do any of the things you describe, if the tier was upgraded and speeds weren’t as expected, then it would make sense for an engineer to visit my home, but not before. The only reason I upgraded is because of the data transfer restrictions placed on the lower tiers didn’t meet our needs, I don’t need 150mbps, I barely use 30% of the connection speed, I could have saved myself $47 per month if the connection wasn’t capped at 300GB.

  • David Turner commented on September 19, 2013 at 12:21

    I am a computer and network technician and what rockhop has stated is complete BS. They are quite capable of testing your connection from their end and unless your connection has been experiencing problems already there is absolutely no reason to require a tech at the site of an existing customer. The cable companies put on this charade to bolster the belief that you need them and one way of reinforcing this belief is to send a “technician” thereby giving the impression that what they do is highly skilled and not something that the average homeowner is capable of. Most of these technicians, and I said most not all, are minimally trained kids who can just about install a splitter correctly. In truth the cable companies are making huge profits and have us believing that we are at their mercy, at least until the day that we all realize it’s all smoke and mirrors. The bandwidth cap is also an illusion. You can exceed that cap all you want. You may receive some vaguely threatening notices and when you call them they will try to sell you a more expensive plan. I would advise that you counter with the threat of taking your business elsewhere. They will back down and you will stop receiving the notices. This is based on actual experience, mine and others. They have no reason to disconnect you and lose another customer. They have plenty of bandwidth but they will never ever admit it.

  • Carson Anderson commented on September 26, 2013 at 16:46

    Honestly, Cox sets up soft bandwith caps in place. Yes there are the ones listed at 200, 250, and 400GB however Cox does not currently as of Septmber 26, 2013 limit you in any way for going over. I have always been an Ultimate subscriber in my area. Typically with this new package I average about 400GB of download in 24 hours. I get the occasional e-mail from cox telling me that my data usage is high, but sorry to tell you they sold me an Unlimited bandwith.

    You can take the verbiage to court I suppose if you were ever restricted or they cut you off. However with all these caps, the courts really haven’t determined what bandwith means. Does it mean the speed at which you receive your internet? In that case, yes they provide that usually 99.99% of the time, or does unlimited bandwith mean the amount of data throughput, aka data caps?

    Typically when you’re talking bandwith in technology terms its just how fast something goes. My video card has so much bandwith to handle polygons, my CPU has so much bandwith to handle computations, my ram has so much bandwith to handle tasks.. and so on.

    What I can say for sure is that their measurement’s are all sorts of incorrect. I typically require all my browsing sessions to be ingnito or SSL. Two reasons to always go SSL, the traffic can’t be decrypted in most cases and it’s a lot safer.

    From my bandwith totals, coming from my custom built router I can average on a slow month about 400-500GB transferred, on a busy month I can go well over the 2-6TB range. That’s mostly when I have an upgrade to my steam account and need to re-download every game or im backing up some Blu-Ray sized data to my own off-site location.

    Netflix estimates that in HD you will use about 1.5-2.6gb per hour, however with certain ISP’s and Cox Communications being one of them, Netflix now offers “SuperHD” which I think is an uncompressed format streamed from your local ISP’s datacenters.

    Obviously your ISP wan’ts to keep it’s cost down and how it does that is with last mile charges. When you watch a video from Netflix it starts out at the Amazon Cloud servers, with the way Netflix encryption goes it opens and closes streams every few seconds so that you can’t really just download a video. However most of how it works is that netflix will transfer the entirety of that file to your local ISP’s cache servers and then it streams to you. The way current technology works is that Video and other streams take priority packets making the rest of the network connections degrade. Therefore if a bunch of people are netflixing it up, it’s possible that your Voip or regular internet speeds will be degraded because of where the data has to go to retrieve the information.

    Your ISP may house giant server caches of commonly accessed features such as sites or media that their network sees as being used a lot. They want to save money too and it’s cheaper for them to cache the content locally and distribute it to you, than for them to have to go get it from the provider (netflix/amazon) then pass it through it’s network again and send it to you. It’s possible that this type of stuff doesn’t count towards your bandwith caps towards the end of the month.

    I’m an avid watcher of netflix and we have about 10 devices/TV’s in the house that are generally getting watched all the time. With neices, nephews and family watching whatever it is they want almost all the time in HD I can tell you that Cox HSI is amazing.

    Be thankful we aren’t Canada. They have real Telco problems.

    You could be on Comcast, where they offer super high speeds but actually cut your service off after you reach your bandiwth cap. It’s like getting to drive a Ferarri only to be told you can’t leave the driveway on the premier package and you can’t leave your block on the ultimate package. =(

  • Wow, upto 6TB per month, I don’t even get close to that, infact I haven’t broken the 400GB per month soft cap as yet, we have two Netflix/Hulu devices plus cellphones and tablets that connect to Netflix/Hulu, the other machines are my work PC’s which don’t use much as it’s mostly uploading websites, not large files and general Email/Internet.

  • James commented on December 2, 2013 at 18:10

    @RockHop. Please, if I didn’t know any better I’d say that you are a Cox agent that is out trolling the internet. When I purchased my new house, I was told the $35 dollars was so the “tech” can come out to remove the “filter” that Cox had put in place, so I can use internet, really? When did Cox came around to put in the “filter”, the previous owner cancelled the internet only after my loan officer turn over the final payout check. There is basically less than 24 hours between the house is actually sold and the time I moved in. So you are telling me in less then 24 hours Cox rushed out to my house and slap on a filter? Oh ,and by the by, I was home all day there was no body that even came close to the house.

    I have no problem with Cox charing money (that’s just typical american company been greedy and putting a little padding for the shareholders). But, just come out and ask for it, just call it a processing fee or something (which is also another BS).

  • John commented on February 10, 2014 at 09:48

    I have went over by more than double my limit for the last 6 months. They are not enforcing this and its a scare tactic to scam people into upgrading and paying more.

  • Lance Malone commented on March 14, 2014 at 08:02

    This is not a scam. I am on the phone right now because I have a letter from them saying I have gone over my limit of 300gb and that I have to purchase the upgrade plan to continue my internet. They are trying to compensate for the fact that people are disconnecting there HIGH rate TV service to just watch Netflix, Hulu, etc on there new smart TV’s or compatible devices. It’s nothing but greed and greed always kills companies in the long run.

  • Mike M. commented on March 23, 2014 at 11:15

    I too received a notification that I exceeded my 300GB bandwidth cap. Cox doesn’t actually suspend service or charge more unless it becomes a constant problem. Quite frankly I expected this with our Netflix subscription and Amazon Prime video streaming. My toddler watches a number of kid shows and movies from these services which kills the cap rather quickly.

    I will check my own router logs to see where the usage is going and then I’ll put together an XBMC machine and download all the shows and movies he watches and stream them internally.

    As soon as Centurylink gets the gigabit fiber up and running in Las Vegas where I live, Cox will get a final goodbye from me. No reason to pay exorbitant prices anymore for subpar service.

  • Andy commented on March 30, 2014 at 01:55

    @Mike. Good to know they aren’t strictly enforcing this. I have AT&T and they charge $10 for every 50gb consumed over their limits. As someone subscribing to internet only and using Netflix, MLBtv, MLS live, and Pandora constantly, I think I’ll be switching to Cox ASAP (at least until a better option arrives).

  • I received my first Email telling me I went over my bandwidth limit; apparently I was over by 31GB. I’m not going to stop using my Internet connection; I pay Cox $202 each month for Contour TV & Ultimate Internet, I should be able to use my Internet connection as much as a want. 400GB isn’t much bandwidth for the modern Internet; these large cable companies should be pushing the boundaries, not trying to hold back evolution of the Internet!

  • Chuck Meek commented on May 30, 2014 at 07:44

    Look at Europe and their internet connections, unbelieveable speeds.

  • John B commented on June 23, 2014 at 09:22

    So I’ve received two emails in the last year from cox stating I’ve gone over the limit. They are a monopoly in most cities and they are just following suit from ATT and Comcast.
    The last one I got was for going over by 5gb (305gb total) for the month. Yes the biggest hogs are Netflix, JustinTV, and the file downloads (for Operating systems, movies, Adobe CC) are no longer 100mb, rather most file downloads for programs are in the GB range.
    As far as I’m concerned, I’m gonna keep using my internet the way I’ve been since 1995 when we first signed up with them, no caps, no worries. If they want to loose another customer, then let them turn off the connection because I want to be the one who makes a big stink about this unlawful practice of measuring data usage. The next thing they’ll do is try to charge for the size of your monitor or hard drive.

  • Louis McIntosh commented on June 30, 2014 at 13:40

    I don’t have cox, but wish I did. I live out in the boonies.

    I have Exceed which isn’t bad but my limit or cap is 10 GB. By the way ten was not a typo.

    I haven’t went over my limit yet, but have came close. But I read that if I do go over the limit they will either slow me down or limit what I can do. I would be able to stand it if they just slowed me down since I use to be on dial-up a long time ago.

    But if they limit what I can do….that’s where I draw the line and wait for the contract to end.

    If I had cox I would definitely watch a lot more video’s.

  • How on Earth do you manage with just 10GB? that’s just 3.3 hours of HD Netflix video streaming or 1/3rd of a modern game download from Steam, I’m finding it hard to keep under 350GB with the 50Mb connection, I downgraded from the 150Mb connection as I rarely use that speed, but I’m still paying $180 for HD TV and Internet.

  • Louis McIntosh commented on July 1, 2014 at 18:38

    I don’t stream Netflix, DVD Only. But what I do the most is Email, Facebook and Goldtoken. But it does give a time for several hours at night where you are not limited. I have come very close to going over my limit. But if I do videos, there not many and there not long.

  • Jeremiah Tounzen commented on July 13, 2014 at 00:40

    The caps that Cox has are just soft caps. I got a letter in the mail about going over mine and called in and talked to a really awesome customer service person that basically said it is no big deal. He basically said unless it looks like you are running a server from your home on a lower tier then they won’t really do anything.

  • Jeremiah, I know it’s a soft limit, I go over nearly every month since downgrading to 50Mb, I get the notices which I ignore. My question is; why publish caps at all; just add that servers are not allowed to be run to the T&Cs. Not that it’s possible to run a server on a Cox connection anyway as they block ports 21 (ftp) and 80 (web).

  • K Luc commented on July 24, 2014 at 23:11

    Try to get a router that able the monitor data usage vs cox usage.

    this is from my own router
    2014-07-13 5.07 GB
    2014-07-12 8.81 GB
    2014-07-11 4.26 GB
    2014-07-10 19.66 GB
    2014-07-09 4.52 GB
    2014-07-08 20.65 GB

    cox numbers:
    07/08/2014 34.14 Gigabytes
    07/09/2014 11.83 Gigabytes
    07/10/2014 29.34 Gigabytes
    07/11/2014 20.23 Gigabytes
    07/12/2014 24.98 Gigabytes
    07/13/2014 14.07 Gigabytes

    I haven’t got a clue of how can they arrived at that number. The only advise that I got from them is to change my router password. But let just said somebody is stealing my wireless signal then it should reflect in my router log.

  • The funny thing is that Cox have doubled speeds for Premier and Preferred customers, so instead of 50Mb, I’m getting 100Mb, but when I ran a speed test it came back with a speed of 131Mb, which is basically what I was getting on the Ultimate Internet package, but the data cap remains the same, so I can reach my cap in half the time. I realize that the cap is a soft limit, but still, what’s the point in faster when customers are severely limited.

  • John Mooney commented on July 26, 2014 at 14:47

    Just got the first warning from Cox as well for exceeding the 300 Premier plan. Ironically, this is the first time in 12 years and just happened one month after I got rid of the bundle plan and switched to satellite. The rep I spoke to told me that there’s always been a cap, (news to me) and they don’t charge currently however that will change moving forward at somewhere around $1.50 per overage gig.

  • It wouldn’t surprise me to see Cox charging for overages on their HSI connections; and if and when that happens, I will be taking my $180 each month somewhere else, maybe even upsticks and move to Kansas City to get me some of that Google Fiber pie. My job is online, so I can work from anywhere unlike many people who have a physical location to work at, so moving is out of the question for many and the limited competition in many areas allow companies like Cox to massively overcharge their customers without fear of losing out to competition.

  • Jim D. commented on September 2, 2014 at 12:13

    Been getting messages for months about going over the limit. They haven’t done anything about it yet. If they do I’ll just call up and threaten to cancel. They have a customer retention department that they will transfer you to. Complain enough and they will make the overage charges disappear…

    Using this tactic I have been able to keep a 50mbps plan and only pay 24.99 a month for it due to a promotion they had a while back…

    I just call back every month complaining about how I thought it would be 24.99 a month forever and not just for the first month. they put me on hold for a few minutes, I get transferred to the retention department, complain to them for a few minutes, threaten to cancel my service and viola! Another month of 50mbps on the cheap.

    So if you don’t mind talking on the phone for about 20-30 minutes once a month, give it a try. I’m pretty sure someone else made a lifehack about this a few years ago. It pretty much works with all the big companies.

  • John. Cox commented on November 19, 2014 at 04:40

    Here’s something to think about if cox sets limits on the preferred package
    Why would anyone keep the preferred package if you can’t stream video
    When you can downgrade to a lower speed and still have sufficient speed for doing most things

    You also need to make sure you can get to speed Of the service you are buying
    If there are a lot of people in your area you may never get up to that speed or depending on your modem

  • The thing is John, if Cox can not provide the advertized speeds, then they need to stop selling service in that area to maintain the level of service for existing customers, or upgrade their network to support the additional customer base. Connection speeds are clearly not an issue as Cox just upgraded Preferred and Premier customers to double the speed. WE all know that these data caps are an attempt to force people to buy cable TV and DVR as well to reduce the bandwidth they use as the trend is moving away from TV to online streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu etc, meaning lost revenue from customers and advertisers alike. Additionally, the cost of high speed Internet in the US is stupidly high compared to most of the rest of the western World.

  • Gesteiger commented on December 19, 2015 at 20:12

    I see this everywhere Bandwidth is NOT Traffic, but rather the frequency or speed at which the DATA travels over the Media. I.E. Cable or wireless frequencies. Example: 1GB of DATA travels 50Mbps, that’s Mega Bits Per Second, and is it’s speed, not it’s Bandwidth. the Bandwidth is directly proportional to the speed via the amount of Frequency it has. Think of the water pipe apology. A large vs small pipe moves water faster and more of it. More Bandwith = faster data travel. data limits measured in Bits is what’ Bing capped. When I had DSL 6 Mbps nobody cared about how much I used. Now there is speed they started to become greedy and want to limit the use. It’s like the ISP is saying cause you get more data faster it cost more, while there is a wee little truth to it, it’s not that revel ant to charge crazy prices for overages. It does cost the ISP more in material to increase the Bandwidth, for example Copper wire vs Fiber optics.
    It’s great to be informative but better if you actually know what you’re taking about.

  • Yes, I can accept that I used bad terminology in the title, but the point remains the same, Cox like to hide the data usage cap and then send threatening Emails when you go over the cap that you never realized existed. Things have changed significant since I wrote the article back in 2013, Cox have now upped their data usage cap to something more reasonable for the speed offered.

  • CF commented on August 23, 2017 at 09:50

    Well, when you wrote this little diatribe were there no data caps, for one. Secondly, I have Cox, and work at home (So online around 8 hours a day for that alone) and watch Netflix constantly (several hours a day) and use wifi on other devices (Almost exclusively to stream music or video) when not working, and at it’s peak, I have only used about 17% of the data limit. So you either need to remove or edit this post as I seem to see that all the information you’re going off of is very old and not relevant anymore.

  • I will admit that Cox has gotten better, however, I will not change this article, it was true at the time, some 4 1/2 years ago, whether Cox actual acted on their threats or not, the cap existed, they had their little bandwidth meter on their website with a max of 400GB on Ultimate before going into overage. Read the other comments from others on this article, it backs up what I wrote.

    So here is the current story, Cox offers 1TB or data usage and after that, there is a $10 charge per extra 50GB past 1TB unless you happen to take up one of their additional data packages, $30 more for 500GB extra or $50 more for unlimited data.

    As for you using 17% of your 1TB, good for you, I use about 900GB of data as often, especially over the summer when my kids are home, I have four devices streaming HD video + what I use for work, which can be 150GB over the course of a month. Telling me that you only use 17% of your allocation has no relevance to the data restrictions.

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