Broadband Providers Pretending Metered Billing Is About Helping The Poor

from the yeah,-right dept

Broadband Reports has a trio of posts pointing out the latest in ridiculousness coming out of the cable broadband industry. It kicks off by pointing out that, despite the claims of the industry, moving to metered and capped broadband is certainly not inevitable. Flat rate broadband has been amazingly profitable for these companies, but they’re looking to squeeze even more money out of people. Yet, those on Wall Street who take an incredibly short-term view on how broadband companies make their money are pushing hard to get them to start offering metered billing and broadband caps. And, to top it all off, the cable industry’s top lobbyist is trotting out the old ridiculous line that metered billing is really about helping out the poor by offering them more reasonable broadband deals.

Except almost none of that is true. While various attempts at putting in place metered broadband usually will include some “low end” offering so that the companies can make these kinds of claims, if you look more closely at those offerings, they are almost universally terrible. They’re not designed to “spur adoption by price-sensitive consumers at the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder,” as the industry claims, but to aggressively upsell people to higher rate plans by making the low end plans as crappy and unusable as possible.

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Comments on “Broadband Providers Pretending Metered Billing Is About Helping The Poor”

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40 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Uncle Sam, Wikileaks wage cyber guerilla war

Uncle Sam, Wikileaks wage cyber guerilla war
Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN, Dec 3, 2010, 06.51pm IST

Read more: Uncle Sam, Wikileaks wage cyber guerilla war – The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Uncle-Sam-Wikileaks-wage-cyber-guerilla-war/articleshow/7036499.cms#ixzz173rTWPSs

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Uncle-Sam-Wikileaks-wage-cyber-guerilla-war/articleshow/7036499.cms

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Uncle Sam, Wikileaks wage cyber guerilla war

You may recommend it but that was not the objective.

You see if one recommends a story the link does not become available to the audience only to the editors of the blog which would then deprive the audience of understanding what the US government is up to.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Uncle Sam, Wikileaks wage cyber guerilla war

and if the link provided is relevant to TechDirt, it will be published. Hell, it may be in the works already.

Posting it in the comments of an unrelated article takes focus away from the article and takes credibility away from the new story. I haven’t even clicked on the link due to it just being posted in a random article by some rude guy.

JEDIDIAH says:

The ugly truth

You know, some of us are old enough to remember “metered Internet”. Although it wasn’t the Internet back in those days. It was certainly not something that was terribly acessable to the poor. Been there. Done seen that. Don’t want to repeat it.

This is something that will be used to FLEECE the poor, not “empower” them.

Companies will play on their ignorance and inability to flee to better options and will end up charging them more for less.

Add it to a long list of soak-the-poor options along with pay day loans and rent to own.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

That’s actually what we’ve been arguing for a while now. Internet providers, telephone providers, cable providers don’t operate in a free market. They operate in a government controlled market that makes it almost impossible for new competitors to start. Kinda hard to be a free market when no one is allowed to step up and say “we can do this better”.

Anyone hear about Google’s decision on their FiOs?

Greevar (profile) says:

Typical tactics...

Of those that wish to make more money without earning it. The corporate mind is a twisted and sick place of psychosis where profit trumps all other priorities. Companies have a bad habit of dividing up a service or product into as many pieces as they can and selling to the public for as much as possible. Cable does this with their TV offerings. They sell us “packages” where you get access to certain networks for a fee and to access all of the channels, you need to buy all of the packages. Now, it would cost less if all the channels were in one package, but if they divide them up into smaller packages, they can charge more per channel and therefore make more money on those that buy more packages than other consumers.

This is exactly what they are doing with the internet. They want to divide the service into as many chunks as they can (in this case, by the MB) and sell that at a basic rate. The cheapest offering will obviously be terrible as Mike predicted and you will be forced to chose the more expensive offering to get acceptable service. All the while, they are getting more money by offering less service. They can do this because they are often one of only two options at best. This needs to change. Prosperity of humanity as a whole is retarded by companies like these because their insatiable pursuit of profit overrules the public good, which used to be the governing core of all corporate charters.

ThatDutchGuy says:

How unexpected

Gee, I was wondering when this was going to happen. Just when streaming video is becoming a big thing, and people dropping cable TV like a brick, hey, let’s introduce metered connections again!

What better way to insure a steady stream of revenue than to have people watch a movie or two over Netflix or Hulu, right?

FreezingInMinnesota says:

What this country needs...

What this country needs is broadband competition. I think there is a HUGE market for an enterprising company to swoop in and offer broadband only, no cable, no phone, JUST broadband. That way there wouldn’t be the conflict of interest we see in the cable companies with broadband competing against their legacy cable TV. If it was affordable I’d jump on it immediately, dump cable and phone service yesterday!

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: What this country needs...

In this country we have, at most, two choices for ISP per market. We can sign up with the phone company for DSL or the cable provider for cable internet. There are other providers in the area for DSL, but they rent their lines from the phone company and still requires a phone line. There are a handful of locations that have access to fiber optic service, but they are few and far-between.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What this country needs...

In the USA?

There is no market, anybody trying to build a network will be stopped in its tracks by legislation.

That is why other countries made laws to guarantee line sharing and build their own networks.

It takes a really long time to deploy cables not because of the cost of raw material or the digging but because of the politics of it.

David (profile) says:

Wireless Broadband

I think the industry is trending towards wireless data at true broadband speeds. It will be in the next decade or so that all of the copper in the ground becomes meaningless. That is why Comcast is an investor in Clearwire. Hopefully, this will mean choice of providers.

We can only hope that competition between wireless service providers is better than the monopolies granted to cable providers. I (naively) think it will be.

DanVan (profile) says:

Broadband is right on and it is sickening.

The iPad being given TOPS 2gb as the ceiling use per month is an absolute JOKE and shows how AT&T and others want to continue FORCING people to not use much while ENCOURAGING more to use it

Why? So more can hit the caps and hit penalties

2gb cap….what a freakin joke

I hit that cap almost monthly and I don’t watch Netflix, etc….I am FAR from a “heavy user”

NickMc says:

It's already in Canada

You guys are way ahead of us. In Toronto we have 60Gig a month broadband caps. Followed by massive overage charges capped at JUST $50 per month.
Then, wireless we have a puny 500meg/month cap for smartphones. Wonder why things like Netflix will never catch on here? Not because of a lack of content but because it costs us more in overage fees than going to the damn store and renting the DVD. And forget streaming content on the iPhone anad Android. Can’t do it.

And of course we have the same monopoly/ legacy system here too. If you don’t like it there’s nowhere else to go. They all charge the same. Absolutely no competition and no Govt’ willing to face the issue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Flat Rate Electricity

What we need is flat-rate electricity, too. Just get rid of those stinkin’ meters. I hate having to think about how much electricity I’m using every time I crank up the air conditioning or take a really long, hot shower. If they would just get rid of those meters and switch to flat-billing, I’m sure everyone’s bills would go way down. Meters are just a way to rip people off.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Flat Rate Electricity

You can find ways to reduce your electricity usage and still enjoy the benefits,

You can find ways to reduce your internet usage and still enjoy the benefits, too.

You can’t produce your own internet access can you?

You can’t power your house with internet access, can you?

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Flat Rate Electricity

What you just said is a bunch of nonsense. You could try to find ways to reduce your internet usage, but that’s such a sysyphian task. It’s easy to use more efficient devices to keep your electricity usage down. You don’t have that kind of control over your internet connection. A 1000 MB video is still a 1000 MB video. Anything else is just going without. If you’re going without such things, why even bother having the internet at all? As I said before, you can find ways to produce your own electricity (i.e. solar, wind, etc), but you cannot produce your own internet access. That would require you to create your own internet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Flat Rate Electricity

What you just said is a bunch of nonsense.

Strange, that’s just what I was thinking of *your* comment.

You could try to find ways to reduce your internet usage, but that’s such a sysyphian task.

Why’s that? Your saying so doesn’t make it so.

It’s easy to use more efficient devices to keep your electricity usage down.

Oh really? If I already have the most efficient devices on the market, how is it so easy to “use more efficient devices”?

You don’t have that kind of control over your internet connection. A 1000 MB video is still a 1000 MB video.

I guess you never heard of compression or anything like that. You’re sounding more ignorant all the time.

A 1000 MB video is still a 1000 MB video. Anything else is just going without.

Hey, guess what: 1000 Watts is still 1000 Watts, too. Anything else is just going without, huh?

If you’re going without such things, why even bother having the internet at all?

If you’re going without such things, why even bother having electric power at all?

As I said before, you can find ways to produce your own electricity (i.e. solar, wind, etc),

But, I can’t produce my own power grid, now can I?

but you cannot produce your own internet access.

But I can very well produce my own network access.

That would require you to create your own internet.

Easily done.

Really, you seem to have no idea what you’re talking about.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Flat Rate Electricity

Oh really? If I already have the most efficient devices on the market, how is it so easy to “use more efficient devices”?

Then you need to be a patriot and start producing your own energy and contribute to the distribute grid which is better than the “smart grid” proposal.

http://sustainabledesignupdate.com/2007/08/honda-co-generation-for-homes/

That one uses gas but you can retrofit it to use hydrogen or syngas from organic material gasification.

Instead of paying others to throw out your garden clippings, food leftovers and other things that would have gone to the incineration anyways you use it to produce your own energy, which saves you money to spend on other things, but hey the choice is yours, you can continue to spend thousands of dollars in utility bills just don’t come crying when katrina like events strike you or you get browned out, you choose to let your faith on the hands of others remember that when it happens.

But, I can’t produce my own power grid, now can I?

Yes you can!

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Broadband

Two points for an otherwise excellent article:

1. When a service is shared, and has only a certain amount of capacity, there will always be, for example, teenagers who get bragging rights by endlessly downloading nonsense, in hopes that they will become “notorious” – the thing that makes violent video games so popular. In that case, the service should increase their service AND at least temporarily cap for fairness.
2. I don’t like AT&T, and I know they are not working in the consumer’s best interest – but I use AT&T DSL, and it is both cheap and pretty good; and they aren’t spamming me to improve the service.

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