If you’re a high speed Internet customer in the USA, particularly of Time Warner Cable, you can’t have missed the exploding controversy about their plans to impose bandwidth (download?) limits and charge customers who go over that limit.
Let’s just establish some facts here: bandwidth is not a product which is manufactured and consumed. It is 100% recyclable. No bits, bytes or gigabytes are being destroyed in the process of providing it to people. Bandwidth does not really cost ISPs anything to transmit beyond the cost of keeping the network equipment turned on and air conditioned! Bandwidth is merely the equivalent of a certain percentage of the network’s attention for a certain period of time. If everyone shut their cablemodems off at the same time for a day, TWC’s costs would drop only by an insignifigant percentage!
Another fact: there is no such thing as a “bandwidth hog”. Customers who download very little do NOT “subsidize” customers who download more. Bytes are not manufactured things which are consumed in the course of use. It is not ounces of fuel or kilowatts of electricity. Customers have contracts for “as high as (LOL)” speeds, and unlimited bandwidth over the course of the billing period. No one actually manages to acquire that much bandwidth, let alone exceed it! It’s true that the telcom monopolies have oversold their Internet service, but that is not the fault or problem of the customer. We’re not “hogs” just because we download and upload a statistically higher percentage than the grandma living next door!
There’s simply no other fair way to provide and bill Internet service other than by rate/sec over the billing period!
Another fact: a fully-utilized network costs only 7% more to maintain than an idle one, due to slightly higher cooling expenses, and long-term equipment wear.* THERE ARE NO BANDWIDTH SHORTAGES except where TWC and other monopolies are causing them as a pretense to raise prices and ration it!!
TWC would rather spend their magnificent profits on yachts for every day of the week than to upgrade their networks to meet their customer’s needs. They have no substantial competition! The bottom line is that in the short term, TWC is trying to kill video and voice services other than their own, by placing such an insultingly low threshold to start charging “overages”. In the long term, TWC is trying to link a fixed price to an irrelevant unit of measure, when the cost of providing the service is really dropping, even though technology makes much higher speeds possible.
If TWC imposes bandwidth caps of ANY KIND, I will abandon them immediately. If there are no alternatives, I will form a co-op with all of the neighbors on my block: those of us with Internet service will pool our connections together with the multi-WAN router I have sitting on this shelf here, and we’ll sell it to the rest of the neighbors and split the cost all around. A little bandwidth monitoring and management will ensure that we rarely go over our “limits” and if TWC feels “screwed” about this, then all I can say is that i’m not bringing any lube.
Customers of Time Warner Cable: please click the link below to join the online petition opposing their bandwidth caps:
Time Warner Cable Road Runner Bandwidth Cap
4/14 Addition: I am beginning to suspect that this is all another trick. Last year, ISP monopolies “gave in” to their customers who opposed packet filtering. And while people were still cheering, they blithely added “we’ll just throttle instead”. And isn’t that what they wanted to do all along, hmmmm? Now here we have what looks like a similar setup: absolutely ridiculously, insultingly low downloading caps that are guaranteed to raise a public outcry. Let us begin to anticipate what it is that TWC really wants, if it is not tiered downloading caps and Draconian overuse fees. Let us not be fooled again. TWC is probably following in some other telco’s footsteps here, and TWC’s experiment will serve as a testbed for every other greedy monopolistic ISP in the world, and believe me, the only kind of monopolistic ISP is a greedy one.
4/21 Addition: It seems that Time Warner is in tears, is taking it’s ball and going home. News is coming in that they’re not going to roll out DOCSIS 3, or offer higher speed connections. Sounds like punishment to me. TWC to Customers: You Don’t Want Tiers, You Don’t Get Super-fast Broadband
*I learned about this a couple of years ago, in an article which quoted a frank admission by a company president of a big backbone provider. I have been unable to find the URL, because the search terms “network neutrality” have too much noise to signal in a Google search. However, here is a new NYT article that makes the same point almost as well as the one I remember:
As Costs Fall, Companies Push to Raise Internet Price