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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Shortly after she downloaded the entire second season of “Desperate Housewives” from iTunes, Meredith Jimenez got a letter from Mediatti threatening to turn off her Internet service.

The letter said she had exceeded the monthly download limit of 30 gigabytes.

“But the whole season was under five gigabytes,” Jimenez said. Turns out someone else was doing the heavy downloading courtesy of a security problem with Jimenez’s wireless Internet router, she said. But she’s not alone in getting warning letters from Mediatti.

The company sends out about 20 letters a month to broadband customers who violate the company’s Internet fair-use policy, which allows no more than 30 gigabytes of downloaded material each month, said Blake Williams, Mediatti’s president and general manager.

The letter basically says the user must change his or her download habits or service will be permanently shut off. No one has had that happen yet, but lovers of iTunes and other video download outlets should beware.

Mediatti looks at usage on a daily basis and compiles a weekly report of the customers who do the most downloading and uploading. A one-day snapshot of usage is used to estimate how much someone is likely to download that month. If Mediatti believes a customer will exceed the monthly limit, then that account is flagged by the company and more daily snapshots are taken.

The average hourlong drama — actually around 43 minutes without the commercials — is about 200 megabytes, with a full season coming in around five to seven gigabytes.

So if Jimenez had decided, for example, to download season one of “Desperate Housewives” the next day and the latest season of “Lost” the day after that, she would have gotten the warning letter even without the security problem.

But for most customers, Williams said, “30 gigs is pretty liberal. Two years ago, a 30-gigabyte hard drive [for an entire computer] was the largest you could get.”

He said the typical Mediatti user averages less than 20 megabytes a day, which equals about four or five iTunes-downloaded songs.

The company has the policy in place to prevent customers from bogging down the system and slowing the connection for other users, Williams said, adding many broadband providers in the States have similar download limits.

Mediatti bought expensive equipment last year to monitor Internet traffic and easily keep track of how much customers are downloading, Williams said.

“With this equipment we can take the policy and patrol it and then enforce it,” he said. “We’re pretty good at taking a look at how people are using our network.”

Top download sites

The top 10 Web sites from which Mediatti users downloaded content this week:

BitTorrent.NEO Network.Gnutella — file transfer.eDonkey.Gnutella — networking.Warez.iTunes.Winny.Fasttrack — file transfer.Fasttrack — networking.iTunes downloading averages:

One song is typically 3 to 5 megabytes, depending on length.An entire compact disc of music averages 45-50 megabytes.An hourlong television show is about 200 megabytes.A standard season of an hourlong show is about 5-7 gigabytes.— Megan McCloskey

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