By: Billy Beerslugger
So I’ve been waiting for this to happen for a while now. I believe this is the beginning of the end of “Unlimited Bandwidth” through Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) in the United States.
Like a lot of my generation, I get a good portion of my news online. Actually, I get pretty much all my news online. It’s much more convenient, I can read it when I want to and I can read what I want to as opposed to Network TV news who are at the mercy of Advertisers and their own networks shows (i really don’t need to know who got kicked off of American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, Survivor, Amazing Race or Big Brother). I recently read an extremely interesting article from the NY Times. It makes some really good points including the issue over Bandwidth Consumption, Internet Prices and Government regulation.
First, the article states that most ISP’s in the U.S. want to end the unlimited bandwidth option from their subscription services. As long as I’ve been using Cable internet it has been browse as much as you want, download as much as you want. Now they want to measure usage and bill accordingly just like the electric or water company. On the surface this may seem fair to you, especially if you don’t watch movies and television online or don’t do a lot of downloading or youtube viewing. If someone else is using the Internet more than you maybe they should pay more and you should pay less.
However, just because a person uses more bandwidth than someone else doesn’t effect the ISP’s profits or the availability/speed of the internet. The ISP makes just as much money when no one uses the internet as when everyone is glued to the internet checking out the latest Brittany Spears upskirt shot. Think of Internet use the same way you would think of Cable TV usage (Both use the same technology and have about the same costs). Does the person who is at work all day and not watching TV pay the same as the person who is at home watching TV all day? Yes, they do. Each pay for a service and can use as much or as little as they want for a flat fee.
The main costs in running the ISP are investment in network equipment and expanding the networks but just like everything else computer related, costs continue to fall as technology advances. Most if not all of the Major ISP’s profit margins are stable. So why change to a consumption based business model? I’d say to make more money. ISP’s like Comcast, Time Warner etc pretty much have a monopoly on providing Internet service. Much like before the phone companies prices were regulated by the U.S. government, ISP’s can charge pretty much whatever they want because there’s not that much else out there.
As some ISP’s are beginning to offer higher Megabits per second than are currently offered, they are also raising prices disproportionately than countries like Japan who offer this higher MBit/s for about $5 more than their regular plan. In the U.S. prices for this service would increase your bill sometimes twofold and more. There is a lot more competition in Japan in terms of ISP’s.
There’s other theories out there that suggest Cable Company’s that also supply Internet want to increase prices to Internet Service because online video etc is eating a hole in their Cable TV revenue. This could also be a reason.
Overall, I would say don’t let an ISP, government or whomever else limit your access to the Internet. It is essential to free speech and will continue to play a more integral part in our daily lives as the years progress. As computers, cell phones and Televisions seemingly stay on a path to converge continue to look for ways of how the Corporations that control access to these services may try to screw you and speak out and fight against it.