ISP Feebly Tries To Defend Usage Caps By Comparing Them To...Oreos
from the words-are-like-wind dept
Apparently worried the FCC might take Netflix advice seriously (there's zero indication of such), a cable broadband ISP named Mediacom filed its own complaint with the FCC trying to defend the practice. Mediacom, which imposes usage caps as low as 200 GB on its users, tries to complain that criticizing ISPs for imposing caps is hypocritical...because Netflix charges different tiers of service for higher quality content and more streams:
"Ironically, those who think ISPs are greedy pigs or evil villains because they charge based on consumption through caps or usage-based pricing do not direct the same moral outrage toward edge providers who price their services in basically the same way. Netflix, for example, charges $7.99 a month for its “basic” subscription. A basic subscriber does not get unlimited usage of Netflix’s library for that price but, instead, is limited to videos in standard definition format and on only one screen at a time."Of course, Mediacom knows it's comparing rotten apples to oranges. In broadband, users have no competitive options, so if an ISP (or both of the duopoly ISPs in a market) imposes usage caps, a consumer can't vote with their wallet. In contrast, users frustrated by Netflix's practice of charging more money for HD (or 4K) streams can just go get content from another streaming or traditional cable TV provider.
But this type of ill-suited comparison is trotted out again and again in the FCC filing, with the ISP going so far as to compare broadband service to game consoles, video games, socks, and cloud storage. Ultimately the core of the ISP's astonishingly flimsy argument leans heavily on Starbucks coffee and...Oreos:
"Imagine you are out for a walk and experience a sudden, irresistible craving for Oreo® cookies. You only want to spend two dollars, which means that you will be able to buy a two-pack or maybe even a four-pack but for sure you cannot get the family size of over 40 cookies. For that many, you have to spend more. Of course, it would be nice if your two dollars bought you the right to eat an unlimited number of cookies, but you know that is not the way our economy works. It is the same for the Starbucks latte you might want to drink with your cookies and for socks, gasoline and just about every single one of the thousands of other products and services that are for sale in the United States, including essentials like water and electricity."Again that's so misleading as to be insulting. Consumers have a myriad of competitive options for both coffee and cookies, whereas Mediacom is very often the only ISP available to its customers. It's that lack of competition that encourages ISPs to begin charging more money for the same money via caps and overage schemes where -- unlike utility markets -- nobody confirms usage meters are accurate. As for how the economy actually works in broadband: incumbent ISPs buy state legislatures and federal regulators to ensure nobody lifts a finger as they price gouge the living hell out of a captive subscriber base.
You know, just like the damn lederhosen industry.