Posted by: Jack | February 25, 2008

ISPs: The Truth Comes Forward

There has been much controversy lately over some practices of Comcast Inc., a major ISP. It was discovered that Comcast was limiting bandwidth allocated to very specific applications which are generally used by a minority of customers to exchange what are often very large amounts of data. Comcast rightfully claimed that if they did not do this, it would reduce general accessibility for a majority of customers. Comcast is being confronted on this issue as it violates the idea of net-neutrality but I feel like a more significant issue is being overlooked.

When I subscribed to Comcast, I agreed to pay a monthly rate in exchange for a specified quantity of bandwidth (something like 6 Mbps/768 Kbps). What Comcast is admitting here is that they cannot simultaneously provide all customers with the service they’ve sold. I see it as comparable to the equally-questionable airline practices of over-booking flights. They’re both selling a service which they can’t actually provide. Pretty sure this is referred to as fraud.

Granted, it would be nearly impossible for ISPs to guarantee such speeds for all customers. And doing so would likely increase the cost of service by an order of magnitude. What really needs to happen is for ISPs to offer a greater range of packages. A vast majority of subscribers never transfer significant amounts of data (emails containing the last 100 replys and some 640×480 images are not a lot of data). Such customers really are getting ripped off by the monthly fees they pay.

All that said, I am a subscriber who transfers quite a bit of data and a variety of subscription plans would likely leave me paying far more than I do now. So forget I brought this up.


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