Imagine the following scenario: you go to your kitchen to pour yourself a glass of water only to find that no water comes forth from the tap. Looking in the cabinet underneath the sink reveals a small computer display that reveals the following: you have reached your monthly quota of drinking water for the month and so you are no longer permitted to pour more water until the beginning of the following month.

It is entirely true that Internet connectivity cannot and should not be compared to drinking water, as people lived without internet access for many years and could live without it, however it does seem to contradict the notion of internet access as a human right to force an entire nation onto a metered plan that would effectively go from charging a reasonable price for unlimited access to increasingly absurd prices for even standard access.

“Extensive web surfing, sharing music, video streaming, downloading and playing games, online shopping and email,” could put users over the 25GB cap, TekSavvy warns. Also, watch out “power users that use multiple computers, smartphones, and game consoles at the same time.”

It is very true that as recently as only a decade ago, many people did not have wide access to internet services and the net was not as wide and far reaching as it is today. The people who did have it for the most part did not need to have quite so many gigabytes of data flowing to them every month because there weren’t such excellent web sites with streaming video content or the ability to purchase movies or even rent television shows, nor were there so many options for buying software directly from the publisher without getting a physical copy.

The fact is that internet providers that put such harsh caps on internet access are living in 1995 and thinking that all of our many internet needs can fit easily in a small amount of bandwidth because, after all, what is there to do online besides checking your e-mail and looking at a few Web 1.0 pages? In their minds, anyone who is using more than the allotted space and requests, nay, demands an unlimited sort of access to the internet must be pirating music, television shows, and movies and stealing money from the multimillionaires that snort cocaine along the Hollywood Boulevard.

The reality is closer to us being just ordinary people who want to get the downloadable content we want for our games (sometimes coming to nearly a gigabyte at a time) and watch our Hulu if and when we would like to do so. Killing our ability to get online through metered internet access is just a slap to the face and we as paying customers cannot get behind it — but will we have an option?

15 Comments

  1. Great article, Gordon!

    I don’t understand the reason for metering bandwidth. If our online lives are getting more intensive with streaming media and live video and such — and if we want to keep up with the rest of the world — we need full-on, unrestricted internet access. The government should make broadband access free and a human right. We’re going the wrong way with these silly limits on what we can do online!

      1. We need to fight back. We need a “Wisconsin of the Internet” moment where people fight for their right to be heard on the internet. I don’t mind bandwidth limits at stepped valuations, but having a hard end where you are cut off — without even having the option to buy more bandwidth — is just cruel and snarly and anti-American.

  2. Its a ridiculous idea, and I can’t help but wonder whether record industry and movie makers have something to do with this obsurd idea as a way to capitalize on lost revenues. Canadians get ripped off on everything, Cable, Cell, internet..

      1. They see it as a way of squeezing us dry as they currently do with Cell phones. Internet is going to take over television in the near future and the powers above are quickly developing of idea’s of how they can capitalize in the biggest possible way. People wont stop using the internet regardless and they know it. Just like people addicted to cigarettes

  3. My wife Susan and I are Americans living in rural Canada and 90% of our culture connection comes through the internet. We’re both professional artists, and keeping abreast of the outside zeitgeist is essential to making sure our work stays engaged and relevant. Thank heavens we have broadband. We’ve been aware of this talk up here, and are monitoring it, but so far, the worst case scenario doesn’t seem likely. To be bend-over-backward fair to all sides, something that is often lost in discussions of the cost-of-living in Canada –especially rural Canada– is that the incredibly low population density means bringing any goods or services to such a small, spread out population is very costly on a per customer basis. Given that any supplier needs to have a fair and profitable business model, I’m sometimes amazed we get anything! One of the ongoing discussions in Canada’s government is finding the balance between the desire to support remote communities and the economic necessity of focusing services in population centers. Sometimes this makes for tough compromises, but Canada is a great place to live and work.

  4. I have this problem right here in the USA with my iPad and 3G service. Sure, I love my iPad, and no, I don’t really do anything that out of line with it, but I have bumped up against the bandwidth limit some months. I think it’s crazy! iPad 2 is supposed to have FaceTime, right? How will adding a lot of bandwidth like that — yes, people will use FaceTime on 3G I’m sure — make the iPad 2 a better product than the first? These limits actually make new technology less good than what we already have because we want more but can’t have it.

    1. Janna,

      Curious. I thought that you were an early adopter of the iPhone? When Elizabeth and I got our phones we were given unlimited data and even when they stopped offering that to new clients, they had to keep giving it to us — for now! FaceTime will be excellent for the iPad but useless if you have strict limits on bandwidth!

      1. Yes, I dropped my iPad and broke it. It was replaced

        http://blog.bolesuniversity.com/2010/07/09/the-best-apple-store-support-story-ever-told/

        but by that time AT&T changed their billing plans. Because it was a replacement, AT&T was supposed to keep me on the same unlimited plan, but it always seems to go wrong around billing time if I go close to going over. It always works out in our favor but with an added layer of frustration.

        When the iPad 2 comes, there won’t be any more unlimited plans, so this problem with bandwidth will get even worse.

  5. I sure think we’re going down the wrong path here. And I know Netflix is having a cow over bandwidth limits. One or two movies and you’re done for the month on many cellular plans.