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Internet usage cap from service providers?? Scary!

I don’t normally do posts that are commentary per se, but I figured I’d make an exception here.  There has been murmurs, rumors, whispers, etc. of ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) like Time Warner, AT&T and Comcast as putting caps or ceilings on the amount of usage the average customer can get in a particular month. I see this as bad for consumers, bad for their customers and bad for business.

The idea in and of itself sounds fairly innocuous, but the ramifications are potentially very large (at least in my opinion).  I can see these companies wanting to clamp down on people who are ripping movies from bit torrent or songs, etc.  but my support of the providers here is because I don’t believe people should be stealing stuff from the rightful owners. 

BUT…what if I’m an avid movie nut and like to watch movies online like Hulu.com and suddenly I am paying for this supposed free content?  How?  If I pull down content via streaming that exceeds my usage, I’m going to be hit with a penalty – meaning money.  More to the point, how is hulu.com going to recognize revenue if people are seeing the embedded ads? Another question is whether this cap is upload only or upload and download?  If it is upload only, then the hulu example doesn’t work, but what if I upload a lot of photos to flickr or kodak?

You might not think that this is a big deal, but I for one see it as impacting the economy.  More and more business is transacted on the web.  One of the things that I have thought to be absolutely astounding is the rapidity with which the world has embraced the Internet as a means to do business.  Ten years ago, most people didn’t know what the Internet was much less were they connected to it!  Now, imagine the Internet being out tomorrow and what it would do to the economy.  ouch! 

I think that putting the ceiling on usage is ignoring the larger problem of maintaining and improving the Internet infrastructure and recognizing the importance of it in our daily lives,  I mean after all, how many people are using the Internet just for email these days? 

So, enough of the soap box for now.  I certainly hope that America and the rest of the world are working on improving the Internet infrastructure so that this problem doesn’t have to happen, since we know that Internet usage isn’t going to go down.

Below are a couple of links that are representative samples of what I’ve looked at.

New York Times article on T ime Warner as an example

Michael Kleeman – “Fixing our fraying Internet infrastructure”


If I remember correctly, isn’t almost everyone but the US on limited access anyway? I know that most (if not all) of the EU has bandwidth limits that you pay for.

Regardless, I believe a lot of this falls into the same bucket that the “AOL will start charging $.10 for every message)” rumors did.

The larger ISPs in the US have been trying and trying to extract more money from their internet groups. At first there were the rumors of them trying to coehierse money out of places like YouTube/Google, Hulu, etc. to compensate for this bandwidth. With Congress watching so closely on this issue (Net Neutrality), they are starting to fish for other ways. Bell out of Canada just this week announced tiered pricing for consumers.

What I think you will see is the larger ISPs give you content from their sites (with advertising, of course) for FREE, and charge per MB for other sites like Hulu or YouTube. This will drive all the traffic that once went to these sites to their own (even if they are not nearly as good), making them the media empires they want to be.

[DR – Stop Nick, you’re giving me nightmares!

In all seriousness, I could see this play out as you describe, but ultimately, I think it would be unsuccessful as the democracy of the Internet trumps what the big telcos or ISPs can enforce on us. I still think the answer lies in getting a wider highway deployed through the world, that has a higher ceiling of total overall traffic.

Thanks for the comments Nick.]

The problem with many of these companies is that they advertise day and night their “Unlimited” internet packages, and the also push the fact that you can download music and movies at blazing fast speeds, blah blah.

What they don’t tell you is their is actually a limit. They don’t advertise the limit, nor will they share it with you over the phone, it’s at their discretion to cut people who are “Abusers” So it’s not truly unlimited as they claim, and that’s a major reason why people are upset.

Truth in advertising means people know what their getting into. If there’s a limit, then advertise as such and let people make up their own minds whether they can live within the limits.

Interesting Blog. But I believe that internet providers have had a cap on dl data for a while. It didn’t used to be a problem for those of us with legal habits. Now my lifeline depends on the New Media in IPTV, and we’ve done everything we can to make high quality, low bandwidth videos that even 5 years ago the internet couldn’t handle.

As my business grows- this could seriously be a problem until the technology is out there to super compress video to the relevant size of a JPEG image – for legitamit businesses.

But by then, won’t we be teleporting ourselves to the virtual reality movies anyway?

[DR – Siotha, don’t forget that we’ll have CPU’s attached to our heads to make us think quicker! 😉

Seriously, this is an issue that I’m just beginning to look into. As an Adobe employee who probably pulls down (at least) 10GB per month of this or that, I have never seen a cap or surcharge for what I do, but perhaps the threshold for this is higher than what I’m using. Additionally, I’ve not seen any reports from Optimum Online (my provider) that they’re looking to pinch my data usage.

I’m also waiting for Verizon Fios to give it a try, but what’s all the additional speed, if I can’t use it as much as I want?

The big question to me is will Internet demand outstrip our supply like what has happened with world demand for oil?

like I said in my title – scary.


Ps – your site looks great, you just need video courses! hint hint!]

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