Broadband

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
broadband, broadband caps, competition, fcc

Companies:
cox



ISPs Are No Longer Even Bothering To Provide Bogus Excuses For Their Expanding Use Of Bullshit Usage Caps

from the pay-more-money-for-the-same-exact-service dept

A few years ago, large ISPs began taking advantage of a lack of competition in the broadband market by imposing arbitrary, unnecessary and confusing usage caps and overage fees. Initially, these companies tried to claim that this was necessary to manage congestion on their networks. As data emerged indicating that this claim was bullshit, large ISPs were ultimately forced to acknowledge as much and back away from the claim.

Shortly after that, ISPs instead began claiming that these glorified price hikes were necessary as a simple matter of "fairness," and the industry narrative-du-jour became that it only made sense that heavier users should pay more money for broadband.

This excuse was bullshit too; Americans already pay some of the highest prices for broadband of any developed nation under the flat-rate pricing model, which any large ISP earnings report will show you is perfectly profitable. And if "excessive consumption" really was a problem, it was a problem caused solely by a small number of users that could easily be shoved toward business-class tiers. It didn't require saddling everyone with confusing and expensive surcharges.

These days, after being hammered for years for bogus justifications, large ISPs no longer even provide a reason for these rate hikes. Take Cox Communications for example. The company has quietly announced it would be expanding usage caps into several new markets, charging users $10 per each additional 50 GB of data users consumed over a one terabyte limit. The e-mail being sent to users, which is getting widespread attention on Reddit, doesn't even really bother to offer a justification for the price hike:

Several news outlets and reporters (including myself) tried to get Cox to explain its reasoning for the hikes, and the company simply refused. Of course there's a simple reason ISPs no longer try to justify this behavior: they don't have to.

Consumers in captive markets can't vote with their wallets, and cable providers are slowly but quietly enjoying a growing monopoly over next-gen broadband as telcos refuse to keep pace and upgrade their DSL networks. The end result is the ability for these companies to impose massive new rate hikes that not only result in users paying more money for the same-exact service, but help incumbent ISPs penalize the use of would-be streaming competitors. Zero rating an ISPs own services -- while still penalizing competitors like Netflix -- adds another layer of anti-competitive adventure to the proceedings.

But fear not! Cox did tell some news outlets that the company would soon be letting users avoid the caps and subscribe to an unmetered connection, for an added, unspecified cost. In other words: if you don't want to pay us more money for the exact same service, please pay us more money for the exact same service. Why? Because we can, and regulators couldn't care less.

Whenever the conversation about broadband caps pops up, many people quickly get bogged down in debate over whether or not a terabyte is fair, losing sight of the fact that these limits are utterly unnecessary, and we wouldn't be seeing them at all in a healthy, competitive market. What's deemed "fair" today won't necessarily be fair in the multi-user 4K streaming households of tomorrow. And without competitive pressure, there's nothing ensuring these caps scale with use. In fact, ISPs are incentivized to tighten the noose further once you've agreed to have your usage metered.

And with the current Ajit Pai-led FCC clearly intent to turn a blind eye to both a lack of competition and the predatory behavior that results from it (be it violations in privacy or net neutrality), there's plenty more anti-competitive shenanigans and feebly-justified nonsense waiting in the wings.


Reader Comments

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  • icon
    Rapnel (profile), 30 Jun 2017 @ 6:58am

    Caps are theft of wireline service. That's not how networking works. That's how thieves operate in a captured market.

    ISPs, that I happen to be able to count on one hand that's short two fingers, are cunts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jason, 30 Jun 2017 @ 7:09am

    If there was any actual issue with network congestion, management, excessive consumption, or "fairness" that had to be dealt with by caps and extra fees, then the ISP should also be able to pass along a refund to each and every user who doesn't hit their cap every month.

    After all, if their networks are so full that 1.05 terabytes costs $10 more than 1.00 TB, then if I only consume 500 GB in a month I ought to be getting a huge payback for all that bandwidth I'm not using.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Hugh Jasohl (profile), 30 Jun 2017 @ 7:10am

    Caps are proof the ISPs have no competition

    Caps are only possible where there is no true competition. Use caps as a legal excuse to get community ISPs started.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Jun 2017 @ 7:37am

      Re: Caps are proof the ISPs have no competition

      You will find that "regulations" allow ISP's to block those!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Chip, 30 Jun 2017 @ 10:26am

        Re: Re: Caps are proof the ISPs have no competition

        WAR IS PEACE
        LACK OF REGULATION IS REGULATION
        PAINT CHIPS ARE DELICIOUS

        Every Nation eats the Paint chips it Deserves!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          JoeCool (profile), 30 Jun 2017 @ 10:54am

          Re: Re: Re: Caps are proof the ISPs have no competition

          You need to mix it up a little. Your spiel was funny the first time, now it's just sad. Remember one of the fundamental rules of comedy: once - you're a wit, twice - you're a nitwit, thrice - you're a half-wit... and you've used this same post far more than three times.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 30 Jun 2017 @ 3:08pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Caps are proof the ISPs have no competition

            So long as the one they're trolling continues to use the same arguments over and over again, why would Chip bother to change what they say?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Jul 2017 @ 9:40am

          Re: Re: Re: Caps are proof the ISPs have no competition

          That is not true. Most american people are good people that just want to work and have a happy life, but they have been lied to, manipulated, brain washed, scare-mongered and etc by some evil few fuckers that really want everything for themselves and don't like others having as much as them.

          War is war. And peace is peace. And America has never been at peace, despite the majority wanting peace.

          Lack of regulation is lack of regulation. Regulation is good but has been played, abused, lobbied and corrupted by few huge companies with huge corrupting pockets.

          The problem is not regulation.The problem is the conspiracy between corporation and government officials to rig the laws, in their writing, in their interpretation and in their application, for their own benefit.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Jul 2017 @ 9:35am

        Re: Re: Caps are proof the ISPs have no competition

        Then such regulations are wrong and of course were paid out by ISPs through corruption I mean lobbying.

        But that does not mean that we need ZERO regulation. Zero regulation will be even worse.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 30 Jun 2017 @ 9:15am

      Re: Caps are proof the ISPs have no competition

      Back in the 1990s, everybody had caps. And then it became clear that the real money was in unlimited, always on internet. The companies that offered that sort of service got filthy rich.

      Well, it's a new generation and all of those companies that got rich off of unlimited service are now wondering why they offer such a thing when they can make people pay for every byte. I expect that in a decade or so, some brilliant young MBA will have the novel idea of providing unlimited internet, and running all of their competitors out of the market.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        jupiterkansas (profile), 30 Jun 2017 @ 9:25am

        Re: Re: Caps are proof the ISPs have no competition

        Back in the 1990s there was massive competition for dial-up service. If there was competition today, data caps would never happen.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Bruce C., 30 Jun 2017 @ 4:41pm

        Re: Re: Caps are proof the ISPs have no competition

        Even a brilliant MBA will have a hard time cracking this one unless we get to a point where we can have un-metered wireless. Building infrastructure for Fiber to the home is too expensive even for Google to do nationally.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Ana, 30 Jun 2017 @ 5:15pm

        Re: Re: Caps are proof the ISPs have no competition

        I don't recall ever being capped in the 90's or the 80's in the US. Can you show some correlating data to verify this?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Thad, 30 Jun 2017 @ 5:48pm

          Re: Re: Re: Caps are proof the ISPs have no competition

          Prodigy used to split its pages up into "FREE" and "PLUS" sections. You'd get X number of minutes per month on Plus with your subscription, and when you used them up they'd start charging you by the minute.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jun 2017 @ 7:26am

    I don't mind the idea of data caps, but I hate spending months or years well under the cap but getting no credit for it when I bust the cap on very rare occasions and then have to pay through the nose.

    It would be nice to be able to resell my unused bandwidth, or at least join a pool of other users to equalize usage so no one would ever gets hit by a surcharge.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 30 Jun 2017 @ 7:46am

      Re:

      "It would be nice to be able to resell my unused bandwidth, or at least join a pool of other users to equalize usage so no one would ever gets hit by a surcharge."

      Isn't it easier to ditch data caps so you can use the whole capacity of the pipe you hired (ie: your speed) to the fullest if you so desire?

      Everybody is paying for an allocated speed (or pipe capacity) and the ISPs are denying such use as the customer sees fit.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jun 2017 @ 8:10am

    In addition, some ISPs are charging more to keep your privacy. I imagine they still sell your info but charge you for the impression that they do not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jun 2017 @ 11:46am

    What I would like to see...

    I would like to see a requirement for ISPs that insist on having data caps that they have to include how long you get at maximum speed before you hit the data caps.

    With Century Link at the 50mbs speed I could hit the data cap in a day and a half. (Even more interesting was that their data cap policy was a cut and paste from Comcast's data cap policy.)

    Part of this is to move high bandwidth users to the much more expensive business class service which has no data caps.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jun 2017 @ 12:29pm

    For Cox customers

    If you are looking for the list of areas that Cox does this now:

    https://www.cox.com/residential/support/data-plan-and-usage.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jun 2017 @ 12:29pm

    For Cox customers

    If you are looking for the list of areas that Cox does this now:

    https://www.cox.com/residential/support/data-plan-and-usage.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 30 Jun 2017 @ 3:06pm

    "That's not rain Cox, and you're not fooling anyone claiming it is."

    If they feel safe enough to just hit people with caps, they should at least be honest enough to tell people why.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Satanist, 30 Jun 2017 @ 7:21pm

    henceforth

    they will not lie

    WE ARE GREEDY BASTARDS and wot ya gonna do about it

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Jul 2017 @ 9:56am

      Re: henceforth

      Until you or someone you love gets killed by some psychopath police asshole...

      We are greedy and savage bastards, what you gonna do about it?

      That is terrorist thinking you idiot.

      We put bombs in public places and kill innocent because we are savages what you gonna do? We do it because we heard the same: "We are the american government and we will invade you for your oil and what you gonna do?".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jun 2017 @ 10:05pm

    Mobile Carrier Dejavu

    This is dejavu from what happened with the cellular carriers. Unlimitted, usage tiers, competition (t-mobile) comes in with unlimitted, and now unlimitted (throttled) is back with every carrier.

    The $10 BS will be a thing until a real other option (ie. 5G) comes. Then watch the overcharge transition to a rate limiting throttle after you consume your full speed tier.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Jun 2017 @ 11:56pm

      Re: Mobile Carrier Dejavu

      It was worse with cellular, particularly in the pre-Iphone era, when all the service providers pushed "unlimited" service of the kind that had a semi-secret cap (with shocking overcharges) buried deep in the fine print of their TOS, which basically gives the company the right to essentially do anything as they see fit.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 2 Jul 2017 @ 5:15am

    A marriage of the rich, corporations and the government is Fascism.

    A Republican world

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 2 Jul 2017 @ 8:49am

    Comcast

    Comcast put me on a limited plan (1TB/month) and then a couple of months or so later told me I'd gone over my limit, despite averaging something like half previously. I got on customer service chat and asked for an accounting of my usage, and they immediately said they'd drop the charge. Shady.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Jul 2017 @ 10:13am

      Re: Comcast

      Shady indeed. Any company that requires you pay ever more, any company that is fine with leaving millions without access (as in too expensive) is shady at best, immoral.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jul 2017 @ 10:10am

    Unlimited Mobile Internet at a low price is the ultimate frontier people.

    Once we get that we will be able to use same connection aka the same same fee, for everything:
    - different places, different houses
    - your cell or your laptop or any other device
    - use it mobile while out or as wifi while at home

    Once this is achieved, the ISPs business model will stop booming and it will flat out. There will be no more growth in this and they will be forced to either conform or to provide other services for continued revenue growth. And this requires actual hard work, actual innovation and actual competition.

    It is not a matter of if this will happen or not. It will happen. The question is when and how. We need to do everything in our power to accelerate this as much as possible and at the lowest price.

    It has to be unlimited, it has to be unrestricted, it has to be mobile, and the low price component is to give EVERYONE access. No point of having the best internet ever if no one or almost no one can make use of it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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