Cox cable customers are about to join many of the rest of us nationwide in a club that nobody particularly wants to be in: the not-so-illustrious crowd of those who have usage limits on their home broadband service, and have to cough up extra cash for any extra bits and bytes.
Verizon and AT&T are big players (and getting bigger) in broadband landline service, but they seem to take a mobile phone mindset with them everywhere they go. Not only do they think that home broadband doesn’t need to be faster than your phone, but also now they’re saying that data caps on your home internet use are perfectly reasonable, too.
Broadband data caps might not be affecting everyone just yet, but that could easily change as the current wave of ISP merger mania continues. A preliminary government report taking a look at data caps, both wired and wireless, was released this week. It finds that ISPs and subscribers are far from being on the same page when it comes to how much data consumers move.
Mobile data caps might be almost universal, but home broadband data caps are much less so. Some providers have them, but many don’t. At the moment, Time Warner Cable is in that “doesn’t” category — but Comcast keeps trying to expand theirs. If the FCC grants the corporate union of the two its blessing, a whopping 78% of Americans could find themselves living under the new normal of limited home broadband.
With providers like AT&T and Comcast adding on limits to how much bandwidth you can use per month, Netflix has rolled out a feature that lets you downgrade the streaming video quality so you don’t use as much data and incur overages.
Remember when you called up your ISP and, after an unholy modem screech, were billed for every minute you spent online? (Actually, it occurs to me that many Consumerist readers probably don’t remember this.) If ISPs’ current efforts pay off, we may all soon be paying for every little byte of Internet that we use.