TechSpot

Broadband data caps are having their intended effect: punishing cord-cutters

By Shawn Knight
Apr 23, 2016
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  1. During a recent conversation with a close friend of mine, I mentioned the fact that I’ve gone over my 300GB broadband data cap a handful of times since switching from AT&T U-Verse to Comcast for my home Internet needs last September. He was flabbergasted and questioned how I could possibly be using that much data each month.

    While I do work from home and am actively online for several hours during weekdays, I don’t game online or download torrents. I am, however, a cord-cutter so all of our television watching comes from streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Sling TV.

    I’ve only exceeded the data cap a few times – once or twice during college football season when I camp out on the couch or in bed each Saturday to take in the day’s slate of games and another time when my girlfriend was stuck at home for a few weeks recovering from surgery.

    Interestingly enough, I never ran into overage issues when I had U-Verse. At the time, AT&T didn’t offer a way for customers to check their monthly data consumption (I asked multiple times) nor did they ever communicate that I was even subject to a data cap.

    That changed recently, however, as AT&T announced it was increasing monthly data caps for U-Verse customers and would even do away with the cap entirely so long as you also subscribe to its cable television service.

    The move highlights a growing concern among millions of people like me that no longer choose to pay for cable television service.

    ISPs, who once fed us lines about excessive bandwidth usage and network congestion in order to upsell people on higher-tier “business class” Internet packages, are now essentially using the same tactics to punish cord-cutters, many of which were likely former cable subscribers.

    They can’t stop people from ditching cable subscriptions but they can make their streaming TV experience miserable enough that maybe they’ll come crawling back. Granted, none of them will come right out and say that to your face but that’s exactly what they’re doing. Trust me, rationing your home broadband service each month in order to avoid overage fees isn’t much fun.

    Network congestion is no longer a valid excuse for bandwidth caps, either – if it was, they wouldn’t be offering unlimited options. Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell nailed the issue on the head more than three years ago when he said ISP data caps are about monetization, not network congestion.

    Consumers aren't the only ones getting the shaft as streaming video providers are also finding themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. If their users are forced back into a cable subscription, there's a good chance they're also going to cancel their online video subscription(s) in the process.

    As a cord-cutter, your options are currently pretty slim. You can limit your reliance on streaming video services (perhaps by deploying an over-the-air antenna which should probably be part of any cord-cutter’s arsenal anyway), pay the overages when they occur, pay for a more expensive Internet package that offers more / unlimited data or concede defeat and jump back in bed with your local pay-TV provider.

    One workaround that we’ve found is to use my girlfriend’s smartphone and stream content through T-Mobile’s Binge On service. Sure, the quality is downgraded to 480p but when using a Chromecast to beam content on our television, it’s not so bad… and it sure beats paying monthly overage fees.

    Permalink to story.

     
  2. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,702   +1,886

    I love that picture! They both have the stupid looks on their faces of people with a severe "I need 500 channels of TV or I'll go into withdrawal" of TV addictive behaviour. Not to mention how ripe they look for the plucking by their ISP.

    I'm really curious as to whether these two are models being paid to sit there and look stupid, or actual TV addicts in the wild....

    I suppose it's good work if you can get it, being paid for doing what you do naturally, along with free popcorn! (y)
     
  3. TheDreams

    TheDreams TS Addict Posts: 610   +61

    That's why I prefer to stick to company's such as Centurylink or Boingo that do not limit the amount of bandwidth you use.
     
  4. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus TS Evangelist Posts: 1,661   +311

    Er.... uh, um... do you think a little more competition might change this? Oh, right, they control the wiring to your house... so I guess there won't be any competition unless someone wants to put in another wire.
     
    Reehahs likes this.
  5. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,702   +1,886

    Oddly, there is some legislation on the books which forces major utilities, (like Verizon), to share their infrastructure with would be competitors. At one time here in Philly, we had "Cavalier Telephone". As far as I can tell, they went bust.

    One cell phone company on TV advertises thus: "we don't have to build or maintain cell towers so we offer you a better price".

    Dunno what the back story is there, but I suppose it would be worth investigating.
     
  6. SouthernEagle

    SouthernEagle TS Rookie

    Only thing I have is a hotspot with Verizon. No cable or high speed broadband available...I pay $130/mo for 18 GB. Try to stay under that cap
     
    Darth Shiv likes this.
  7. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,702   +1,886

    Holy s***!
     
  8. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 1,676   +780

    Looks like another challenge for the FCC and Govt. regulators....sounds like it possible case of monopoly similar to the price fixing issues that came up a couple of decades ago. Might be exactly the push they need to force the cable companies to offer their ware's on an a la carte basis as most would like.
     
  9. Alpha Gamer

    Alpha Gamer TS Guru Posts: 330   +93

    In Brazil, we've never had data caps. But five days ago, ISPs all over the country announced they would implement it. There was a huge uproar and yesterday, ANATEL claimed that the decision was against consumer rights and forbade such practice. Later, ANATEL clarified that data caps would only be considered legal if ISPs also provided a tool with which people could check not only their monthly usage, but also usage history and, to top it off, ISPs would be obliged to warn their clients by email whenever they were close to reaching said cap.
     
    Reehahs likes this.
  10. BeachDogDaytona

    BeachDogDaytona TS Rookie

    Holy sh*t indeed. I use Brighthouse in Florida and get unlimited bandwidth at 120 Mbps for $ 54.00/month. Cut cable Tv years ago and have never missed it. I've never noticed any throttling either. Very satisfied with their service.
     
    Reehahs likes this.
  11. Camikazi

    Camikazi TS Maniac Posts: 817   +231

    Well expect data caps to be added if that is all that is needed, adding in those things would be easy to do for them and WELL worth it if they can start charging.
     
  12. rusty spitfire

    rusty spitfire TS Rookie

    Simple solution - stop watching television. Listen to some music, read, take a walk, go to the gym, sit outside and watch a sunrise/sunset, talk to your spouse. I stopped watching television completely two or three years ago and don't miss it at all. Hollywierd is poisoning your mind - DUMP THEM!
     
    Peter Farkas, SirChocula and Reehahs like this.
  13. Danny Carlisle

    Danny Carlisle TS Rookie

    I'm with Cable One here in southwest Mississippi and proud to be on a cable. I presently pay $200 mo for t.v. and internet after dropping my land line to go to the widest bandwidth they offer -- 7/70mbps which they doubled(I average 12mbps uploads/120mbps downloads) with a 500gb data cap that I use an average of 70gbs of.

    This is after leaving an apparently unfixable problem with AT&T - 1 year, my phone got seriously staticy and my internet fell to kbps -- 14(+/-) months later, I totally lost phone and bandwidth hit less than 100kbps. This is after paying for 7mbps bandwidth and only getting 2 to 3.

    My only regret these days is Cable One doesn't do cell, too -- I use Verizon for $100 mo for unlimited calls and 3gbs data . . . and, here I have roughly 400gbs I never touch with C.O.
     
  14. Danny Carlisle

    Danny Carlisle TS Rookie

    I omitted something: You can shove AT&T
     
  15. Kahless01

    Kahless01 TS Rookie

    You shouldnt be going over for college football. even if you cut the cord all you need to do is buy a damn hd antenna for 20-50$ and you should be able to pick up all the local channels that will be showing college football. and unlike cable or satellite OTA is actually 1080p. no compression bs and still no monthly subscription.
     
    Reehahs likes this.
  16. rcj22001

    rcj22001 TS Rookie

    Paying $60/mth for 10 gb of satellite internet, which is the only thing available in the country where we're at. It's $100 for 18 gb/mth, and you can pay them $10/mth so that when you do hit your limit and get throttled, instead of giving you .3 mbps they only throttle you to 1.0 mbps. It's a joke.
     
  17. robb213

    robb213 TS Addict Posts: 315   +93

    Do you mean local-loop unbundling? Unless I'm confusing that with something else you're thinking of.
     
  18. hope foster

    hope foster TS Rookie

    Google totally wants to put in another wire. They've already done it in my town of Kansas City. Only problem is they've done 98% of KC and my house falls into the 2% that don't have Google Fiber yet.
     
  19. Colorblind614

    Colorblind614 TS Rookie

    I'm using TimeWarnerCable and so far in Columbus, OH there is enough opposition to keep Google out that the Cable companies are listening to the local population and changing as needed. Punishing cable cord cutters because we don't want old crappy service, we want on demand stuff and we can't afford to pay this outrageous cable tv bullcrap for 200 channels when we only watch a few different shows, is just ridiculous and it's a clear sign this is a monopoly and needs dealt with. I personally think TV Cable services should be broken out from Internet Providers and new ISP's should be created that are not allowed to data cap users. We have 2 netflix accounts and watch it all day long on the weekend and for about 8 hours during the day when the kids are home. I honestly hope that with the use of social media, if cable companies start trying to punish people, everyone needs to band up and just cancel their service all together and ruin their stock so someone who gives a **** can then buy it and make a company FOR THE PEOPLE. It is very feasible for local municipalities also to start offering internet to their local populations. After all they own the city rights to the land, poles and underground conduits that carry the cabling. Makes sense they say the hell with the the cable companies and just start offering public access to their towns and cities and just include the costs in taxes.
     
    Reehahs and Ralph Chastain like this.
  20. UncleNine

    UncleNine TS Rookie

    Multiple credible studies, done around the world, have repeatedly shown that broadband capping and Metered Billing is price gouging and a consumer rip-off. So, why is it allowed to happen? Because it is the POT OF GOLD that the monopoly cable companies have been seeking for nearly a decade. The incremental cost to the ISP of delivering that next Gigabyte of data, over some phony cap, is nearly nothing, almost unmeasurable. The only reason some of the monopolies are allowed to do it is because the -entire- system is corrupt. Congress and the FCC have been bought off, through campaign contributions, and, yes, bribery, into allowing this rip-off. Powell and others have publicly predicted that the average consumer bill for internet service--just the bits, no content--will be $200 to $300 per MONTH, in 3 to 5 years. You're getting screwed and you're letting it happen.
     
    SirChocula and Reehahs like this.
  21. Draconian

    Draconian TS Member Posts: 27

    You can find resellers selling Verizon unlimited 4G LTE data plans on eBay for around $120 a month.

    No need to pay Verizon $130 for 18 GB. Just do an eBay search for "Verizon 4G unlimited data plan"
     
  22. Ralph Chastain

    Ralph Chastain TS Rookie

    Not buying cable ever. I will cancel both before they can get me.
     
  23. smoken

    smoken TS Rookie


    BS.....im in tampa.....we only have 15mb down with 1mb up for 60 bucks a month here from brighthouse......no other options.....but no data caps
     
  24. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 910   +388

    Well, don't look for legislators or the FCC (USA) to help. The cable/ISP monopolies pay them BIG BUCKS
    to do what they want. You think they will give up that gravy train just to listen to the people that were dumb
    enough to put them in DC?
     
    SirChocula and cliffordcooley like this.
  25. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,509   +2,056

    All that's wrong with the pic is bro and sis are missing and there's no million dollar smiles, complete with astronomically priced dental work carved into their faces.
    Every ad these days seems to have a mom, dad, brother and sister grinning like Cheshire cats in them.
     

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