Broadband caps and “overages” are controversial, because financially speaking, they’re largely a gimmick: most cable companies charge the prices they do on networks they built decades ago. They also allow cable companies to, say, punish you for watching lots of Hulu and Netflix, instead of using their services.
And unfortunately, the government seems to think that’s A++ totally awesome, you guyz!
Julius Genachowski, head of the Federal Communications Commission, just announced his support for capped, tiered, broadband. Essentially, anybody who goes over 300GB on certain cable provider connections will wind up paying an extra $10 for every 50GB they use. Watching an hour-long show in HD on Hulu or Netflix will set you back about a gig.
Technologically speaking, that’s actually pretty much completely nuts. It doesn’t really matter to cable providers if you stream 300 GB over their pipes or if you stream 3 GB. It’s just data. Yeah, they have to manage the infrastructure, but there’s nothing getting in the way of offering free, unlimited data except greed. It’s not a physical product, after all. It’s an infrastructure, a lot of which paid for itself around the time you hit high school. Treating it like we’re eating at a buffet or filling up at the pump is not just disingenuous, it’s flat-out stupid. Heavy Internet users do not increase costs for light Internet users: that’s not how the Internet works. Anybody pretending otherwise is selling you something (probably cable).
Genachowski stated he hopes that it will allow cheaper Internet for the broke, which is a noble goal, but we really don’t see this going anywhere but wrong. If you’re a big fan of Hulu and Netflix, better either start shopping for another provider, or seeing who in your area offers the highest caps.