YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Internet users at Yokosuka may face additional charges for using more than their fair share of bandwidth, according to Americable International officials.

The on-base Internet provider began sending e-mail warnings in December to customers they identified as excessive bandwidth users, or those who exceed 200 gigabytes per month.

“Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen the usage triple,” said James Smith, regional manager for Americable Japan. “And our subscriber numbers don’t change for the most part. They fluctuate a little when the ships pull in and out, but not drastically.”

Smith attributed the increases to a small percentage of subscribers who use the Internet primarily for video downloads, which he said is slowing down service for others.

“That e-mail only went out to about 5 percent of our subscribers,” Smith said. “So it’s a very small number ruining it for everyone else.”

According to a copy of the e-mail, those who exceed the allowable limits face fees of $10 per additional gigabyte. Additionally, Smith said those who exceed their monthly allotment will have limitations put on their bandwidth during peak hours. Online file-sharing programs such as Kazaa and BitTorrent are cited as some of the problem areas, Smith said.

He said the peer-to-peer networks, which allow users to download movies, music and files, can also set up subscribers for potential legal trouble.

One hundred ninety-eight copyright infringement notices were sent to Americable in December for computers being operated on their network, Smith said.

“Once a person downloads a movie, those file-sharing networks often allow others to upload it from them,” said Brad Shows, Americable’s system engineer. “At that point, they’re illegally distributing it.”

According to Smith, once a user is identified as being in violation of copyright laws, their service is immediately shut off and they are required to sign a statement of understanding on Americable’s user policy, acknowledging that downloading copyrighted material isn’t allowed.

“We’re trying to manage the network so everybody can use it and get a pretty good service from us,” Smith said.

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