Comcast to Reinstate Bandwidth Caps: Fair or Foul?
It appears as if one of the largest cable and home Internet service providers in the United States is planning to reinstate monthly bandwidth limits on its many customers. The news is raising new and old questions about net neutrality, Internet fairness, and bandwidth usage caps in general.
Recently, Comcast executive vice president David Cohen told a New York audience that his company plans to reinstate monthly bandwidth caps sometime in the next five years.
Bandwidth Cap System More Fair, Says Exec
Bandwidth is loosely defined as is a measurement of available or consumed data communication resource on a network, such as an Internet connection. (Source: wikipedia.org)
According to Cohen, a bandwidth cap is not a bad thing. He insists limiting bandwidth represents a much fairer system because those who do not consume much bandwidth (by streaming video or downloading large files, for example) will be able to pay a lower fee.
"People who use more should pay more and people who use less should pay less," Cohen said. He then suggested that, should his company keep bandwidth limits at arm's length, everyone would pay more for their monthly subscriptions. (Source: pcworld.com)
In an effort to test these bandwidth limits, Comcast is carrying out several pilot projects across the U.S. These projects allow subscribers to choose a download speed and bandwidth cap that fits their needs, with prices increasing as speeds and caps go up.
Comcast Eyes 300GB Monthly Bandwidth Cap
Comcast is also reportedly exploring a plan that would start all subscribers at a 300 gigabyte (GB) monthly bandwidth cap, with subscribers paying an additional $10 for every 50GB after that.
For the time being, it's unlikely the 300GB limit will present a problem. A recent report from Sandvine showed that the average "cord cutter" -- or someone who has eliminated their cable and satellite television subscriptions in favor of streaming video -- uses about 212GB of data each month. (Source: digitaltrends.com)
But as more video streaming services emerge and those services begin offering more high definition content such as 4K video, that limit may once again present serious issues for Comcast subscribers.
Bandwidth Cap Controversy Not New
This is not the first time Comcast experimented with monthly bandwidth caps.
Back in 2008, it unveiled a 250GB monthly cap that became increasingly unpopular as more and more people turned to video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. In 2011, it was estimated that Netflix consumed approximately 22 percent of all Internet traffic; in 2013, that number grew to 50 percent of all peak Internet traffic in the United States.
Back then, Comcast refused to offer users a higher bandwidth cap for more money, choosing instead to throttle (or heavily downgrade) Internet service to people nearing or exceeding the 250GB cap. This raised a furor among Comcast's many customers, who demanded change. In response to these concerns, Comcast phased out its bandwidth cap in 2012. (Source: pcworld.com)
What's Your Opinion?
What do you think of bandwidth caps? Do you believe monthly bandwidth limits are fair, or just the opposite? Do you think a 300GB bandwidth cap is reasonable for today's average Internet user? Or is this a sign that America's top Internet service providers, like Comcast, are out of touch with their customers?
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