Metered Broadband – Just Say No!

Ironheart April 7, 2009 Editorial & Site News 20 Comments

Imagine the following…

You are sitting down to watch your favorite show (if you have good taste perhaps it’s something like Battlestar Galactica or Fringe). Thirty minutes in at the mid-way point of the show a message box pops up on the screen, saying:

“Your monthly allocation of 150 hours of television viewing has almost expired. Additional blocks of 10 hours are available for the low price of $1 / 10 hours which will be reflected on your next bill.”

There are two buttons you can push at the bottom, one to turn off your TV and the other to accept the additional charges and continue watching your show.

For most people the above example would be absurd to the point of idiocy. Any provider trying to enforce such a policy would be laughed out of town and their competitors would be literally falling over themselves to sell you “unlimited TV viewing” at a similar price point.

Now, change your television usage in the above example to your Internet bandwidth usage and you have what is beginning to take shape in today’s broadband Internet market.

Several companies, including AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable are either actively trialling so-called “metered broadband” in test markets or have rolled it out to all of their customers already. So what can you do about it if you are “lucky” enough to be in one of these test markets or instead use an ISP who has already enacted bandwidth caps on their users? Simple – tell them to take a hike.

Accepting smaller caps now in the hope that they will lead to higher caps later is something that the companies want you to do. By doing so you have already bought into their thinking that “caps = good” or, at the very least, “caps = bad”. The only way to ensure that this is a not a victory of degrees is to simply switch to another provider in your area, one that does not have any bandwidth caps. And when you call your original provider to cancel your service, make sure that you tell them that the bandwidth caps on their Internet service are the specific reason you are canceling.

Once enough people start doing this they will begin to get the message. At that point they will have a choice – they can either continue with their policy and have customers leave to go to other providers – OR they can draw a line in the sand, abandon the idea that they need to nickel and dime people and fall back into the good graces of the individuals who pay their wages, their customers.

The years 2008 and 2009 have seen many advances in the area of high-bandwidth HD content. Hulu offers literally hundreds of hours of television available online for free, most of it accessible with HD streams. YouTube is now also beginning to promote HD video on its site, and they are certainly not the only two providers doing this. HD high-bandwidth content is becoming more and more prevalent, but there’s no use in the content being out there if you cannot access it without incurring additional charges from your ISP. And as for digital distribution of software, games and applications purchasable on services like Stardock and Steam, they become much less attractive when you figure out that the $20 game is going to end up costing you closer to $30 by the time you have factored in your overage bandwidth charges for downloading your content.

The future will rest upon your shoulders. If you look the other way and think to yourself, “This isn’t so bad, I will never be close to the caps so it won’t affect me” and then a couple of years down the line find yourself paying overages to your cable or DSL provider then you can have no complaints. Instead, write now to your local municipal councilperson, your state representative or state senator and tell them why caps are a bad idea. Tell your friends and family, and have them tell their friends and their family, and so on.


Only you can prevent forest fires, and only you can reject metered broadband.

Just say no!

[Editor’s Note: Ironheart is our first contributing author here on StoptheCap! This project is a joint effort, and we welcome those who would like to contribute their own articles for the site.  Please consider registering for an account and using the contact form to request more information about writing articles here and join the team!]

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