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freestocks.org/Flickr (Public Domain)
Our collective consumption of bandwidth has increased immensely since the rise of video streaming services. With this rise will likely come limits and rising prices on broadband usage, and as Motherboard points out, that’ll force users to hunt for competitive pricing or accept the rising cost of internet access.
Despite claims by critics that usage caps are unnecessary, most internet providers have data caps and fees for consumers who go over their specified usage limit. The idea that more usage could essentially clog up the internet made sense to the average consumer, at least until a leaked Comcast document revealed in 2015 that broadband usage caps were all about profit rather than preventing congestion.
This discovery did little to dissuade major players among internet providers from hiking up prices for increased bandwidth. Comcast continues to charge more for higher bandwidth despite being called out for the false narrative that their costs were to prevent congestion.
In an email interview, Matt Wood, Policy Director for Free Press told Motherboard, “Usage caps on wired broadband connections have always been a joke. ISPs have admitted repeatedly that they do not address any real network management problem, and they couldn’t.”
According to Cisco’s 2018 Visual Networking Index, the rise of 4K enabled devices will be the primary contributor to a sharp rise in global internet traffic in the coming years.
By 2022, Cisco projects our global IP traffic will increase to 396 exabytes per month—which, compared to 2017’s 122 exabytes per month, means a difference of 274 monthly exabytes in only 5 years. Cisco also predicts that by 2022, the majority of our collective IP traffic from mobile devices will skyrocket from 18 percent in 2017 to 44 percent.
The average data cap is set at around 1 TB. AT&T, Cox, and Xfinity are just a few of the providers who cap their data at 1 TB, each charging an additional $10 per 50 GB over that amount.
Providers are seemingly trying to squeeze what they can out of customers who are increasingly shifting to cheaper options like Netflix and Prime. The caps and overage fees seem like just another way to throttle the average consumer.
Nahila Bonfiglio reports on geek culture and gaming. Her work has also appeared on KUT's Texas Standard (Austin), KPAC-FM (San Antonio), and the Daily Texan.