A few days ago you read that Netflix wants data caps to be declared illegal. This is because data caps constrain people when they are watching streaming videos. After reaching your data cap, you either have to manage with a very slow Internet connection, or you have to purchase more bandwidth, which can be quite costly. So when people are watching Netflix, for which they have already paid a monthly subscription fee, they don’t want to spend more money getting extra bandwidth. This is why, Netflix feels that data caps should be declared illegal.
But using the Internet is like eating Oreo cookies, says one of the ISPs trying to counter the Netflix claim. You have already purchased your cookies. You have paid for them. If you want more cookies, you have to pay more for them. The same holds true for the Internet bandwidth. You want more Internet bandwidth? Then pay for it. The argument has been presented by the cable company Mediacom to the FCC. The company has 1.1 million Internet subscribers in 22 US states.
The Mediacom Senior VP and General Counsel Josef Yound wrote in a filing with the FCC, “Imagine you are out for a walk and experience a sudden, irresistible craving for Oreo cookies. You only want to spend two dollars, which means that you will be able to buy a two-pack or maybe even a four-pack but for sure you cannot get the family size of over 40 cookies. For that many, you have to spend more. Of course, it would be nice if your two dollars bought you the right to eat an unlimited number of cookies, but you know that is not the way our economy works.”
But it is not as simple as that. Using an Internet connection is not same as having an Oreo cookie. You can purchase Oreo cookies for small amounts and you can purchase them from almost every outlet. Normally this is not the case with Internet service providers. When there are not many Internet service providers, the one that provides the Internet service gets an undue advantage. It’s like a monopoly.
That said, the ISPs need to be paid. They can definitely come up with unlimited plans. For example, right now I have an unlimited plan for a fixed fee. The ISPs fear that some individuals are going to exploit the unlimited data caps and will upload and download massive amounts of data. This may happen and this may not happen. And anyway, it will even out because there will be only very few individuals who will do this and the rest of them won’t go beyond 200 GB-300 GB, and even less. At my parents place they hardly use 20 GB every month. Besides, with improving technologies, Internet connections would be a lot cheaper than they were a few years ago.