Data Caps — Are They Really That Big a Deal?
Guest Post by Matt
I have to be honest. Before writing this article I had the mindset that data caps weren’t that big a deal. See, I do business online, as well as consume content. So my days are filled with emails, web browsing, YouTube videos and uploading/downloading files. I’m currently a Comcast customer, and have never hit their monthly data cap. So my thoughts were that since I did so much online, and never hit the data cap, that most others don’t either. Therefore, all the complaining you see in the forums and in the comments of blog posts was just that — complaining, but with no real rhyme or reason why. They’re just complaining to complain about something.
But the more I researched and dug into the details, I’ve come to find that many people do have a legitimate reason to complain about data caps. Some have even been shutoff from their service, or at the very least threatened to be shut off.
Others are upset over principal. There are reasons why Internet providers put caps on their services, but their reasons make you wonder if they’re only looking out for their best interests and not so much the interests of their customers.
So the point of this post will be to examine the reasons for data caps and the pros and cons, so that maybe at the end of this you (and me too) can answer the question, are data caps really that big a deal?
The common answer from Internet service providers is that data caps exist to prevent anyone from abusing the service. To keep people from hogging all the bandwidth. Those that do will face the consequences, usually in the form of overage fees, or in a worse case scenario, loss of their service.
This answer only creates more questions though. For example, why not setup a system to monitor and control how much bandwidth is used during peak times, since this is usually when the lines are congested anyway. Another thought is to segregate the “power users” from everyone else, and set them up on their own special plan or charge them extra amounts for the bandwidth they use.
What’s more is that Comcast has even said that the majority of their user base uses 10 GB or less of data each month, so hitting the 250 GB (now 300GB) cap is very unlikely. But then why have a cap in the first place? Just to prevent the 1% or 2% of users from using up all the bandwidth?
Does that really make sense?
That’s their (the ISPs) core reason. However, other people feel that there is more to it.
For example, it’s been suggested that the data caps are in place to protect the Internet provider’s best interests. Ok, that might be obvious. More specifically, though, their TV service. By placing a cap on their bandwidth, users won’t be able to consume excess amounts of Hulu or Netflix, therefore not feeling tempted to shut off their TV service altogether.
I can see that as a possibility – can you?
There are both pros and cons to data caps. Obviously, so pros will favor the ISPs more than consumers and vice versa, but when determining if data caps are really that big a deal, it’s important to look and consider both sides of the argument.
Here are the pros and cons that I’ve come up with.
There’s definitely no question that there are two sides to argument of data caps, even if you forget the reasoning of punishing (or preventing) heavy bandwidth users.
But as we continue to cut the cords and shift away from traditional the traditional sources for our utilities, like the phone and TV, it’s clear that data caps can certainly get in the way. But still, there are people out there that feel like data caps aren’t that big a deal — that Internet providers will accommodate the users as needed.
What do you think? Are data caps that big a deal?
About the author: This post was written by Matt, co-owner of Plug Things In. Plug Things In has written detailed Internet guides that help you understand how Internet service works, what your options are and how to “plug into” them.
Related ISP 1 Post:
Comcast to Shift from Broadband Caps to Usage-Based Pricing – http://isp1.us/blog/comcast-to-shift-from-broadband-caps-to-usage-based-pricing/