Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Broadband data caps are now migrating to wireline access

Just as we have seen the tendency of operators putting volume caps on mobile broadband tariff plans spreading from the US to Europe and further on to emerging markets throughout 2010, as I described in articles on Network Neutrality Mobile Broadband Caps and spreading to the UK last year, we are now seeing the same initial tendencies coming up for wireline broadband access introduced (once again) by AT&T in the US.

This is the practical way by which the network operators are trying to solve the issue that they are addressing in the Net Neutrality discussion on future congestion problems, in which Verizon has already come to understanding with Google in 2010. In many cases network operators are afraid of becoming utility companies like energy companies. Compared to the same tendencies as when electric energy generating became centralized, and the parallel to the effect of cloud computing, as described by Nicolas Carr, one of the roles that the network operators offering broadband access are taking, is in fact the role of a utility. In the sames manner you can now see governments in Brazil and Finland for example, working on making broadband connection a human right, just same way that we have right to electricity and water. This is also the reason that the roll-out of Internet access often suggested candidates to receive public subsidies, which is also apparent in the Telebras discussions in Brazil.

My conclusion is that heavy users should pay more than the average users, as we are used to in other businesses, expect for street lightning, but there is no direct connection to how much light you enjoy and the cost of providing it. Telecom regulators must see to that the price-point established in the industry is fair and in line with the benefit that the broadband access bring to society at large, and governments would be better off using their funding to create incentives to the telecom industry, in stead of using the tax payers money to compete with the current broadband providers. We end up paying twice.

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