By - Spacelab Research Staff
Everybody put your data caps on. It's time to learn about the new trend in internet service: cutting off your bandwidth when you've used up your monthly allowance.
Comcast will start a 250 gigabyte-a-month cap in October for its residential users, an amount that is said to be 100 times higher than the average user, which means they're targeting the heavy downloaders. P2P, torrents, daily video consumption builds up over time, and they've seen the handwriting on the wall. Qwest repotedly has the same policy already in place.
There's also the growing prospect of better quality video over time, which will turn tomorrow's average low-capacity user into today's bandwidth hog. By the time we get there, today's excessive use will be tomorrow's normal use.
Comcast may also be targeting rival media companies, and the ability to view their video on demand services (NetFlix, Hulu, etc). It would be easy for Comcast to allow you to exceed the bandwidth cap if you stay on their network and view their video content (and perhaps an ad or two while the video plays).
Mobile phone companies like Sprint have offered incentives in the past, in which they treat calls within their own network as a lower cost than others. One Sprint customer calls another Sprint customer = lower cost call. Call someone on a rival carrier (when Sprint has to access their network and get charged for that access) and Sprint will pass that cost on to you.
This could also be a result of a poor strategy in developing their network over time. The U.S. is heading into even tougher economic times than we've been in, and Comcast could be in a poor position to upgrade its network. So how do they add more users without adding more bandwidth? Go to the peeps taking up the most of it do something about how much bandwidth they use.
Om Malik at GigaOm sees this as the end. "Expect other carriers to follow suit and make tiered broadband a reality. Much as I would like to think otherwise, this is the end of the Internet as we know it.
As apocalyptic as that sounds, there's some truth to that, until you consider that some Internet provider is likely to roll out services with no caps to compete with companies like Comcast. It does mean that the idea of open usage is growing unpopular with some internet providers at the top of the food chain, who see a small amount of users demanding most of their available bandwidth.
What's perhaps a little freaky about this, is that Comcast is reserving the right to suspend the user's account for 12 months if they exceed the cap twice in a six month period.
Maybe the could do overage charges like cell phone companies? Big money in that, there is. Imagine how much you could rack up in charges when they start measuring every extra megabyte of stuff you've downloaded beyond your monthly amount.