web hosting media

Is Your ISP Ripping You Off?

Posted by kevin On November - 18 - 2009

internet-service-providerIs your ISP ripping you off? Recently, my ISP decided to go the route of setting a download limit for all their data accounts. Unfortunately, this is a trend that seems to be on the rise. Many of the major ISP’s in the US are now limiting the download limit, and their justification for doing so is really quite odd. The most common points that are brought up about the download cap are:

1 – Few “normal” customers will have to worry about coming close to the limit.
2 – It helps ensure that the network is not overloaded.
3 – Reduces the likelihood of customers using file sharing services.
4 – Allows the ISP to easily manage the number of connections to a hub.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for companies making a profit from a service that they provide, but in my case, the cap is an extremely difficult thing to have to work with. I’m lucky enough to have a very good relationship with one of the leads for my ISP. He’s a great guy that is trying very hard to defend a policy that is really indefensible. You see, my ISP just bumped up the download speed available on my current tier to 25mbps. Now that’s a pretty fast connection, but they even offer a 60mbps connection! Of course the price for the 60mb connection is almost $100 per month. Add to that, the bandwidth cap was only raised 50gb per month and you begin to see the point. The odd part is that they did not increase the download cap limit after increasing the speed.

I called my contact immediately after receiving my first warning of coming close to the download cap. I explained to him about working from home, and some of the basics that I use my connection for. My next question to him was to ask if there was an unlimited service plan that I could subscribe to. He replied that there wasn’t, and probably never will be. We tossed around many different ideas including the possibility of using a business package, but even those are not unlimited. Finally settled on a potential solution of putting in a second modem and bridging the connections to form one. This would in theory double my download limit as well as double my available speed. Unfortunately, it also means doubling my current bill.

This type of solution is not by any stretch of the imagination ideal. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to even see if it’s possible because the line strength of the cable coming into my home is not strong enough to support 2 modems, and so I’m forced to wait until they can send out a tech to drop a second line into the house.

Now all that being said, the most irritating part of this entire situation is the fact that there is no other viable alternative for me to switch to. Sure there is a DSL provider, but the best speed they can offer is a 7mb connection and it is also capped.

All this got me to thinking about why an ISP would choose to implement such a policy, especially considering the fact that they maintain that less than 1% of their entire customer base comes close to their designated limit. Now in my particular case, they charge $1.50 per GB downloaded past the limit. Granted this might not be such a huge hardship if you only go over a few GB, but if you were to go over 35GB, that would add an additional $50 to the bill.

There are all sorts of services available to those that have broadband connections. Netflix has the option available for instant streaming of available videos. This option alone is quite interesting, especially if you choose the 1080p version.  Each 1080p movie will run anywhere between 27 – 40gb per movie! That’s almost half of my allotted quota per month for just one movie! Then you have streaming internet radio services, and streaming video.

As evidenced by past leaps forward, there are sure to be more things that will become an integral part of our online lives. Those things are almost certain to utilize a broadband connection like never before. What happens then? Will a class action lawsuit be required in order to force ISP’s to retool their packages? What ever happened to the United States being the most technologically advanced country in the world? In the Netherlands for example, virtually every household is wired directly with fiber! No download limits, no caps, and blazing speed. What about getting the government involved?  Some kind of overlord to bring the various ISP’s in line?

There are so many facets to this issue, none of which make much of a difference until the customer has some kind of leverage to make their ISP’s listen. I fervently hope that day is not far in the future.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.