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.
Data caps also make it impossible to do all the important things 4G LTE supposedly lets you do. Recently, T-Mobile released evidence that showed that users with capped or throttled broadband use 20x-30x less broadband than users with uncapped broadband. and 37% of subscribers don’t use streaming media because they fear going over their data caps. This hurts not only the ability of consumers to use broadband to its fullest potential, but it has serious implications for net neutrality.
What PK Is Doing…
PK is working to increase oversight for the implementation of data caps.
To learn more check out the following:
We released a statement in June 2015 about the FCC fining AT&T $100 million for misleading consumers about data caps, and about our letters to AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint questioning data throttling practices.
In November 2015, John Bergmayer wrote a blog post about the 2015 Comcast data caps “trial” and the competitive implications from data caps that need to be considered by the FCC.
We also produced the below video about the problem with data caps.
Here are the PK experts on this issue: