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Internet data caps are monthly limits on the amount of data you can use over your Internet connection. When an Internet user hits that limit, different network operators engage in different actions, including slowing down data speeds, charging overage fees, and even disconnecting a subscriber. These caps come into play when a user either uploads or downloads data. Caps are most restrictive for wireless Internet access, but wired Internet access providers are also imposing these caps.
Whatever the variation of data cap, they all have the same effect—they discourage the use of the Internet and the innovative applications it spawns.
Think of the effect data caps have on visual artists, for example. Films, photographs, images of paintings, and other works of art are often data-rich, requiring significant bandwidth. These artists rely on the ability of new audiences to easily discover their work, but in a world with data caps, people may be less inclined to explore new things because of concerns about exceeding their cap.
PK is working to increase oversight for the implementation of data caps.
In January 2014, Public Knowledge sent a letter to the Chairman of the FCC to call for an investigation of data caps and AT&T's sponsored data agreement.
PK Vice President Michael Weinberg also wrote an op-ed on the AT&T sponsored data agreement, featured in The Daily Beast in January 2014.
We also produced a podcast exclusively on the topic of data caps.