Disclosing the bandwidth caps

It has been a dirty little secret of the broadband business – large access providers cap the bandwidth, especially for their power users. In recent times, we have seen Comcast and Verizon (Wireless) put bandwidth caps, and at times even taking extreme actions, like banning the bandwidth hogs.

The problem is not that these bandwidth providers took these actions, but instead it is that they were not upfront about it, making a mockery of the word, ‘unlimited’ and took draconian actions.

Perhaps they should take a cue from UK-based cable-broadband Virgin Media, which has become the first broadband service provider that discloses upfront: unlimited does have limits. In a notice to its customers, Virgin wrote,

“And we’re not talking about just a few video clips. In some cases, the top 5 percent of users were downloading as much as 3 GB, just during peak times. That’s around 750 music tracks in the space of a few hours”

The company will slash speeds of those who hog the network during the peak hours, mostly because the company found that in certain areas, the bandwidth hogs were downloading so much that they were bringing down the network experience for rest of their customers.

While personally, I might find it distasteful that unlimited data users will have to suffer for their habits (after being told and sold they have unlimited data), but at least the punishment is in keeping with the crime – slower speeds for four hours, instead of total disconnect.