Internet Data Caps… omg

I was reading a few of my regular news stops this morning when I was bombarded with these big headlines: “AT&T: Internet data Caps, Overage Charges Inevitable!”, “Time Warner plans to Meter Internet Usage”, and a slew of other ridiculous and at the same time horrifying headlines. I’m someone who spends most all of their free recreation time on the internet. I write on a blog daily, I write articles for gaming sites, I upload podcasts, I play and download PC games, our household has 3 consoles connected to the internet and we regularly download games from Xbox Live, and our household has 4 computers connected to and using the internet at prime time every single night – AND we use AT&T! *facepalm*

“Tiers will range from $29.95 a month for relatively slow service at 768 kilobits per second and a 5-gigabyte monthly cap, to $54.90 per month for fast downloads at 15 megabits per second and a 40-gigabyte cap. Those prices cover the Internet portion of subscription bundles that include video or phone services. Both downloads and uploads will count toward the monthly cap.” – Kevin Leddy, Time Warner Executive

Two months ago I was downloading 32gb every other week for the Age of Conan betas. Both Graev and I bought new PCs and had to redownload all of our Steam games (6+gb per). We’re buying digital content including games on Xbox Live and Wii Virtual Console on a regular basis. According to AT&T DSL (Our provider), 5% of their users are using 46% of the bandwidth. Where does this put a household like ours? I assume that the biggest consumers are those who are constantly downloading and p2p file sharing to get HD movies and things like that, but those with habits like mine can’t be too far down the totem pole.

I’m already assuming the worst. Just like gas prices we’re going to be gouged and overcharged by these companies just because they can. It’s only going to get worse as the years go by and these corporations become even more greedy. Soon ISP’s will start offering digital downloads from THEM that won’t count towards your monthly bandwidth. These caps are just a stepping stone to bigger bags of money.

If you’re like me you probably have little understanding of how much 1gb of bandwidth can get you. I found a nice explanation of how much just ONE GB can get you:

  • View 26,000 Web pages OR
  • Send 105,000 e-mails OR
  • Attach over 2,000 Microsoft Word documents (of about 10 pages each) OR
  • Receive up to 1,000 digital photos OR
  • Download more than 200 songs OR
  • Stream 18 hours of music from the Web OR
  • Download 1.5 movies (or 2/3 of a movie in High Definition) OR
  • Play games online for 240 hours (or 10 days)


At the top of the list things sound just fine to me. Then as the list goes on my heart started racing faster…and faster.. and faster.. 240 hours of gaming in 30 days starts to get a little scary because that alone starts impeding on the threshold. Add onto that my regular internet usage and my uploads/downloads and suddenly I’m starting to sweat. Then compound that by DOUBLING it because Graev plays/uses a comp in this house too, then compound that AGAIN by the two other computer users here and I’m “losing it”.

From reports that I’ve read the basic packages being offered are all over the place. Comcast is offering 250gb to their users with a $15/per gb overage charge. That’s something I can work with because 250gb is A LOT of usage according to the information above. But on the flip side there is Time Warner offering only 5gb to their users with a POS 768kb/s connection – spiking to $54 a month for 15gb… GTFO Time Warner.

My message to my provider (AT&T) is this: You’re considering a plan that I consider to be heinous abuse. I urge you to also consider the ramifications of any decision you make. If you go the way of Comcast you’re going to anger a lot of customers. If you go the way of Time Warner you’re going to LOSE customers starting with myself. You’re aiming to alienate and exclude a HUGE (perhaps the biggest) market out there that is growing every second. Is that what you want? Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

  • Wow this makes my blood boil! Time Warner’s service is already crappy enough, if they expect me to pay more because I use more bandwidth than a normal user then they can go pound sand. My connection gets significantly slower during primetime sometimes resulting in frequent d/c’s on my games. Verizon please bring Fiber Optic to central Florida! I will love you forever!

  • As an internet user this kills me, my in laws already suffer though “service” like this from Directway and there is no way in hell I will use something like it.

    As someone who works at an ISP, I hope they do it. Especially Suddenlink. I for one will never support *any* policy here at work that would implement something like that. Please oh please let Suddenlink do this and we will crush them! =)

  • I have a terrible ISP that already forces this crap, it’s horrid. It’s $60 a month of only 40 GB of usage , I have to drop the extra $10 a month on top of that for the extra bandwidth(Otherwise I get charge twice as much for the same amount if I don’t pay ahead of time). I’ve gotten to where I download all patches and Steam games by going to a coffee shop in town.

  • That sounds awful… There’s no way I’m dragging my desktop around to download patches, so I would likely be srewed into paying for more bandwidth. UGH ^ nth degree!

  • “Just like gas prices we’re going to be gouged and overcharged by these companies just because they can.”

    This, this and more this.

    Frankly, I am not the least bit surprised. It was only a matter of time before someone figured out how to make MORE money from a resource so widely used and fantastic as the internet. Big companies are finally figuring out how to force us all to squeeze through increaingly narrow holes and pay more money at the same time.

    That is the horrid part of supply and demand in an economy run by big companies. They have the resources and money needed to 1. Destroy all competitors 2. Cosolidate all of the resources under their company umbrella 3. Run the price up as high as they please.

    “Hey, if you don’t like our internet fees…don’t use the internet. HAW HAW!”

  • In theory, paying for bandwidth equates into paying for patches.

    Example 1: I pay $50/month for 5gb of bandwidth per month. Microsoft releases a new Service Pack that is 500mb. In theory, my ISP is now charging me $5 to download Microsoft property that I am licensed to use. I am now required to pay $5 to keep my computer system up to date and secure, and the ISP reaps the rewards.

    Example 2: Conspiracy Theory – ISP’s give financial incentives to software companies to release patches and updates to unsure customers are exponentially consuming bandwidth.

    Right now I pay to use the internet and I’m fine with that. But when you put a price tag on how much I can use it, I feel like im being taken advantage of. ISP’s charging per use is taking a step back in terms of technology and civil progression.

    The level of indecency and lack of concern for fellow human beings these corporations are reaching; in my opinion, is disgusting…

  • It’s nice to see that as bandwidth gets cheaper, faster, and more available . . . the big corporations feel a need to charge more for less. Hey, that makes perfect sense!

    As long as we’re taking a step backwards in internet costs, why not just jump all the way back to hourly access charges! Woo, the big corporations could roll in the money then, since hourly internet usage is way up from the 90s. $4/hr sounds fair, right? That’ll stop that nasty internet from killing off dvd and cd sales. Why spend 8 hours (and $32) downloading an HD movie when you can buy it on DVD for $19.95. Time warner saves the DVD industry!

    Sigh.

  • And this is why we need government that can’t be bought off by these money-grubbing bastards. Capitalism is all fine and good but to completely gouge people like this is totally unfair.

    It’s like… Hmmm, we’re already making hundreds of millions but making billions would be better, so screw you Joe. You’ll pay what we tell you to.

    Vote Obama? πŸ˜›

  • This is bad… this is really really really bad.

    I guess i have to go to the local Panera to download windows updates and reinstall my steam games.

  • Also, do you think Obama, or any politican for that matter, would give a rats ass how much a whiny upper-middle class brat is paying for a privilege that 0.01% of the worlds most elite human beings on earth ever will able to utilize?

    get over yourself

  • I don’t want this to degrade into a political discussion. πŸ˜‰ Let’s all channel our hate towards the idiots thinking about limiting internet access. πŸ˜›

  • I read about the Comcast thing a few weeks back. My wife does the Comcast bill but I told her to be on the lookout for any “official” changes. The moment they do anything along these lines is the same moment I change providers. I vote with my wallet.

    The Obama-McCain thing doesnt even enter into this discussion. No politician has any clue about how to regulate or tax anything related to technology.

  • Australian’s have had it this way for as long as I can remember. Just be happy that you have had unrestricted usage for this long.

  • @Pelkor – Because this isn’t my blog and Keen doesn’t want this to turn into something political, I’ll have to restrain myself from responding to your oh-so intelligent remarks. πŸ™‚

  • so you tell me you never had a bandwith limit before? ive always had one, ranging from 20gig download/10gig upload to unlimited with a bigger plan(59.95$ +txs)

  • I have never – EVER – had bandwidth limitations. Back when Dialup was new my household received letters from our provider wanting to make sure we weren’t taking their connection and acting as a server for others. We had to explain that we just enjoyed online gaming A LOT (this was back in like 1998). That’s the most I have ever had any provider hassle me.

    I don’t take kindly to my once enjoyed freedoms being encroached upon. πŸ˜‰

  • Seems US ISP’s have been watching what Sol Trujillo from Telstra/Bigpond (Australia’s largest ISP) has been able to get away with here in Australia, and they like it! The only reason Telstra managed to get away with it here is because they are a monopoly, no one here had a choice, even the other “independent” ISP’s had to use Telstra as their backbone provider.

    Seems you can expect pricing like this http://my.bigpond.com/internetplans/broadband/adsl/plansandoffers/default.jsp

    My advice is to go for a plan that gets throttled to 64kbps once you go over your cap. Theres far too many horror stories here about folks with 12yo’s that kept DLing stuff once the cap was reached (at $0.15 a Mb) and ended up costing their parents $6,000 thanks to the combined upload + download cost of our plans…

    Good luck guys, if you can keep the US ISP’s honest, we may still have a chance to get this kind of thing done away with here.

  • I use just the basic telephone DSL service in my area. No caps, 3mbit/384kbit, decent latency with everywhere, and no phonecalls. I download stuff all the time. Sorry!

  • I’m not worried about it. I think this is another totally ridiculous idea that the huge public outcry will kill. No way in hell they are going to get away with charging for limited usage from your home when most cellphone companies are offering unlimited data of some kind now.

  • Suddenly the Nations work producitivity lowers as people surf the net at work now since it cost too much to do it at home lol

    yea, if TW does this, screw em, i’ll cancel and stick with SP games. The hell with the Net if I have to pay $100 a month to enjoy it.

  • Anyways if someone does start charging per hour like AoL used to. Then some company will not and take all the business and get richer!

  • This is crap. Does anyone have the figures for what the average gig per year inflation rate is? WOW required very little downloading vs AOC for patches. This better scale every year, or we are ALL going to end up paying out the ass 3 years from now when you can’t find a game that uses less than 40g on a harddrive.

    On a side note, this sucks bigtime for a game like EVE where there is no disc, and the entire game is downloaded from their client.

  • This would absolutely crush digital media distribution. While companies like Steam would feel the hurt there would be some companies that can not survive (like EVE’s creators).

  • Comcast was planning a very similar cap to Time Warner, only Comcasts cap was much higher. Mostly targeting file sharing folks and people downloading tons of music and movies per month.

  • “if they expect me to pay more because I use more bandwidth than a normal user then they can go pound sand.”

    Let me have a look at this, you use more bandwidth than the normal user but you still want to pay the normal use price?

    I’ve lived on a 40gb limit for the last 3 years and previous to that was even worse and it’s fine for someone who juts constantly games online (mmo’s and fps games) and also uses that bandwidth for my company which really is about market research, web design and also company branding which requires heavy internet usage, but I’ve only exceeded the bandwidth once since I’ve been capped … ever.

    Any normal users (people who are not heavily using p2p OR streaming media) should have no trouble, but I can see it putting pay to stuff like download movie services such as the Xbox360 live rental service, 12gb for a HD movie is more than 1/4 of you b/w gone in one go.

  • No problems here. My current ISP has an 80GB cap which I don’t ever see myself or my roommate reaching, since all we do is game and torrent an album or two once in awhile.

  • out in the country no where ville hicks and rednecks all around, have to use satellite.

    1mb down 200kb up 12gb cap. WITH 1.2 latency.

    60 bucks they get away with it cause there is no other service.

    when another service comes in they lose business. it will be the same when 1 company does the cap another will not and will gain all the business of the other pushing them out.

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