Comcast may consider killing data caps, ISPs could learn from present experience

nanoguy

Posts: 458   +4
Staff member

With more and more people being bunkered down in their homes to curb the spread of the coronavirus, internet service providers have seen their networks capacities tested more than ever. Business and video app downloads have skyrocketed in March, which is why YouTube, Amazon, and Netflix have made some adjustments to video bitrates and default quality settings to achieve some much needed bandwidth savings.

In a world struggling to cope with the impact of an ongoing pandemic, some companies have seen the opportunity for easy profits. Take Qualcomm, who thinks this is the right moment to sue Netflix for allegedly infringing several of its video patents.

Other companies like Comcast have taken a different approach. The internet service provider recently suspended data caps, and noticed two things: there's been a dramatic shift in when and where people use the Internet, and peak traffic went up 32 percent in most regions.

However, there's one thing that stands out from the report: all things considered, the surge in bandwidth usage doesn't seem to have put a significant strain on its infrastructure. This raises some questions as to why data caps still exist, especially on wired connections.

It was only a few years ago that data caps were a hot subject for debate and the worst enemy of streaming companies like Netflix, who see them as a vestige from an era when broadband providers could more easily find an excuse to dig deeper into consumer pockets.

The common theme among ISPs has been that data caps prevent network traffic congestion, but this doesn't seem to be a problem in placest like Northeast United States, where there's competition from the likes of Verizon.

Comcast has a long-term plan to add fiber and capacity to its network and its engineers are already confident in its ability to serve customers during this surge, so it seems feasible to drop data caps entirely and thus make overage fees a thing of the past. The company told Ars Technica that it's too early to have that discussion, but the current waiver for data caps will last until May 13.

Verizon and AT&T have also removed data caps to its clients, and they will most likely brag about their networks working perfectly fine during the coronavirus pandemic. The simple fact that big ISPs are able to confidently allow everyone to use their Internet connections with no limits says a lot about how absurd data caps are today.

Even FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel thinks the FCC has done little to persuade providers to eliminate data caps and overage fees. The coronavirus pandemic could become an opportunity for broadband providers to advertise unlimited data as the normal evolution of their services, but that remains to be seen.

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ColdSoup

Posts: 24   +50
If anyone has ever believed that data caps have been necessary I have lots of land to sell you.

There used to be some truth in the 90s and early 2000s that QoS was needed to prevent slowing down an entire network to the point of being unusable, but there has never been a need to limit data usage with paywalls during off peak hours.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 5,133   +3,221
Verizon and AT&T have also removed data caps to its clients, and they will most likely brag about their networks working perfectly fine during the coronavirus pandemic.
Absolutely they will brag about it. This reminds me of Lee Iaccoca back in the day. He waged a fierce battle against including air bags in cars because they were "too expensive" according to him. Then when they became mandatory, he used air bags as a marketing tool to sell cars. There's always slime hiding in dark places.

IMO, this is no surprise to me that the networks can handle the traffic. Caps have always been about squeezing customers for more money.
 

Jeff Schmidt

Posts: 108   +88
I don't believe there should be any caps. But there will always be those people that will have Netflix running at 4k on several tv's just to see how much data they can use in a month. Throttle the hell out of those asshats.
 
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Hardware Geek

Posts: 217   +209
I don't believe there should be any caps. But there will always be those people that will have Netflix running at 4k on several tv's just to see how much data they can use in a month. Throttle the hell out of those asshats.
So data caps for people who use their service? If they are paying for the speed and service, why should they then be restricted from using it?
 
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Uncle Al

Posts: 6,946   +5,226
Slowing down your connection made sense when there wasn't fiber everywhere. But data *caps* NEVER made any sense.
And the real problem wasn't the lack of fiber, it was the transition to the DSS (Digital Switching Stations) and the TELCO's reluctance to dump the money into total change overs.....
 
Well, they MAY be able to handle the increased traffic in some areas, but not where I live..

Seeins how I pay for 50Mbs service, but just ran a speed test through 6 different servers (3 local & 3 in bigger cities), and barely got above 1.25Mbs, I would say that this story is full of half-truths :(

And yes, I have ALWAYS thought that data caps were BS and just another way for the ISP's to squeeze moar $$ from their customers....

Comcrapst & Veriziam have consistently raised their prices every year, sometimes 2x/yr, with very little improvement in their service or speeds...so they can KMA....
 
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p51d007

Posts: 2,374   +1,631
It's a "utility". The more you use, the more you pay. Or, that's how it should be.
Use a lot of water, gas, electricity, your bill goes UP. But, in the states, you are CAPPED
on how much data you use. At least one thing about this over hyped CARS (China Acute Respiratory Syndrome) is that it shows that the ISP networks in the states, CAN HANDLE THE LOAD.
But, when this is over, everyone will forget about it. :(
 

Kerodon

Posts: 20   +4
We're praising people for doing some most other ISPs already did years and years ago because data caps are trash?
 

war59312

Posts: 137   +13
Just goes to prove they are all lying about needing caps because of congestion. Basterds!

Go ahead and brag about it. Will use against you aholes.

Of course they are lying. As data caps is not the same as bandwidth. They pay for bandwidth, as in mbps or gbps, not how much data "consumed". It's been a scam from day 1 and too many stupid *** americans dont understand and pay up because they love their itunes, facebook, netflix, whatever.
 

kmo911

Posts: 189   +21
So limitid a 1 gb line and make it like a 11 mb line. it happened to me. had to tell mys isp to get it up again or loose costumers. I relly on 1 gb up down not a 12 bytes show when transfearing 4k movies (home made) up too youtube facebook. I dont want to wait forever. but somtimes ill run movies in low 144p to save some buks for fiber optic altibox signal isp. if they want too loose costumers fast they must hold/keep 1 gb speed. I can even run 10 gb from here. if they limited your connection to low speed show tell them to not doing that. it madness (300) bd version would use 2 ohurs to get it from netflix. then I would download it from tpb in 12 min. paid versions should have full speed streaming and n(u)ot low speed when c 19 plays fun. if I wanted a low fps I would use a telenor adsl 5 mb line instead.
 
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loki1944

Posts: 345   +204
Pipe dream. Verizon will never stop; unless they throttle everyone to their usual 24-350 KB/s as they do after you hit the cap. They've done it as long as I've had them; so not a NN thing. Same deal with Viasat and Hughesnet. It would take a federal law to straighten out the greed.