You do know there’s no such thing as ‘unlimited’ data, right?

“When a tech company tells you something is unlimited, don’t believe ’em,” Klint Finley reports for Wired. “Last week Microsoft nixed the unlimited storage option from its OneDrive service. Meanwhile, Comcast started billing users extra in some cities if they gobble more than 300GB of bandwidth per month. Last month Sprint followed the lead of most of its competitors and began throttling download speeds of its ‘unlimited’ data plan for customers who exceed 23GB per month of data usage.”

“The message is clear: if you want to download or store lots of data, you’re going to have to pay more for it,” Finley reports. “Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas says that about 10 percent of its customers nationwide account for 50 percent of all data usage amongs its customers. “The idea is those who use more pay more,” he says. And, increasingly, they do. In 15 trial cities, customers who use more than 300 gigabytes of data are charged an extra $30 per month.”

“Comcast and others have recognized that heavy users will generally pay more for their service than average users. A few people using far more than average are just outlier,” Finley reports. “But if enough people go over the average, that’s a market. ‘Unlimited’ is really just a placeholder for new tiers of service that companies haven’t invented yet.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We were working on backing up The Internet to Microsoft’s OneDrive for $6.99 a month. Sorry if we ruined it for you, Windows sufferers! 😉

As for Internet data, how are you doing with that? Are you among the heavy data users in the top 3% of data consumers?

SEE ALSO:
AT&T increases data allowance to 22GB before throttling unlimited plan users – September 16, 2015
AT&T urges FCC to drop $100 million fine, claims ‘unlimited’ customers not materially affected by throttling – July 29, 2015
AT&T may face U.S. FCC fine over data throttling iPhone users – January 9, 2015
AT&T defends unlimited data throttling, says U.S. FTC can’t stop it – January 9, 2015
Verizon explains why it’s throttling its ‘unlimited’ data customers – July 31, 2014
U.S. FTC suing AT&T over promises of unlimited data – October 28, 2014
AT&T Mobility limits ‘unlimited’ data plans – March 1, 2012
AT&T limits ‘unlimited’ data customers – February 15, 2012
AT&T won’t appeal decision in throttling suit, pays up – March 19, 2012
AT&T offers iPhone user a settlement in throttling case in exchange for silence – March 13, 2012
AT&T customer wins $850 in iPhone ‘throttling’ case – February 24, 2012

26 Comments

    1. It’s kind of messed up, what they’re doing, really. “We noticed that you depend on the Internet quite a bit, so we are forcing you to pay more just because we know you require the Internet and have no choice but to pay whatever we monopolistically demand of you.”

      1. If they try to charge me more, I will ditch my cable box once and for all, even if 3 of 4 of my channels don’t yet have Apple TV apps. Fvck it, I can always buy what I want to watch on iTunes for cheaper than cable anyway.

      2. I think what they are saying is that you are driving a fleet of 18 wheelers down the road slowing traffic for the ones it was designed for, therefor you have to pay a higher tax to offset your usage.

        Businesses are always charged more for usage. Check any phone bill.

        1. The providers never should have offered UNLIMITED data, then. Simple as that. They screwed up. And then they no longer offered the ability to sign up for unlimited data plans after about 2 weeks or 2 months, I forget — it was way back in 2007 or 2010.
          Liars!

      3. I think it’s “kind of messed up” that you feel that the rest of the users should have to subsidize the costs associated with these data hogs. If they are getting *that* much use out of it, they shouldn’t ask everyone else to subsidize them, they should pay for it themselves.

    2. The buffet-style “all-you-can-eat” services generally do not work. Too many people will needlessly use more of something because it is “free.” You ought to see the number of people running around conferences and trade shows filling plastic bags with swag.

      There is absolutely nothing wrong with a tiered system based on usage. An initial tier of <300GB seems reasonable. There could be additional tiers at 500GB and 1TB, for example. Or anything above 300GB could be based on a $/GB formula (doesn't have to be linear). There are many options. The point is, Internet bandwidth is a constrained resource. It costs money to increase capacity and it is foolish to let bandwidth hogs feed at the trough for a low fixed price. That just means that the rest of us are subsidizing the hogs.

      When in this country did it become a bad thing to pay for what you use?

    3. Another great way to change the system would be to force advertisers to pay for the bandwidth of distributing their spam. If they don’t want me to block ads, then don’t bloat web pages and slow down my performance. Every bit of improvement in my internet connection speed and performance improvements in browsers and new computers is being offset by web page overhead.

      1. While I totally agree with that sentiment, if somebody is using something like 50Gb of cellphone data per month, I don’t think that the adverts and spam will account for much of it. It’s much more of an issue with people using more modest amounts of data when when surfing. For those people, the unwanted overheads make a significant impact on their data usage.

  1. What Comcast is promoting is their content over your choice.

    They do not meter on-demand digital TV, or your use of HBO Go and Showtime Anytime. They do meter if you watch streaming video channels. They do not meter streaming audio they supply, but do meter third party streaming audio.

    The truth is that they are pushing data over their network and someone watching Vice or The Young Turks streaming is not using any more data than someone watching ESPN via the X1 Cable Box.

    The same is true of U-Verse, FIOS and other video/ISP services being offered. Someone like myself, who watches little TV via the cable box, but streams from the Internet really is not using more data, we are just using more metered data.

    Comcast has been metering in certain markets for well over a year now- including mine. If Comcast wants to save bandwidth, shut down the cable system and deliver all TV as IPTV.

    1. Leaked Comcast memo says data caps aren’t about congestion.

      http://www.pcworld.com/article/3002592/networking/comcast-data-caps-aren-t-about-congestion-leaked-memo-shows.html

      In a memo leaked to Ars Technica, Comcast arms its representatives with a list of Dos, Don’ts, and taking points, all aimed at making new 300 GB data caps seem more palatable. Among those recommendations: Don’t actually use the term “data cap,” and instead say “data usage plan.”

      The memo is full of these kinds of linguistic gymnastics. Comcast’s plans are “never limited,” the memo says, because customers can add “an unlimited number” of 50 GB data blocks beyond the 300 GB limit, priced at $10 each. Comcast is also offering a proper unlimited data plan for a flat $30 to $35 fee per month, depending on market.

      But perhaps the most interesting part of the memo is the admission that the data caps (or whatever Comcast wants to call them) are not about managing congestion. If asked to explain the new caps, representatives must say it’s about “Fairness and promoting a more flexible policy to our customers.” We’ve heard the “fairness” line from Comcast before, and the cable industry as a whole has acknowledged that caps and congestion aren’t related, but it’s rare to see Comcast admit directly that congestion has nothing to do with the new plans.

      Of course, the fairness argument is also just mind-bending rhetoric on Comcast’s part. Aside from a 5 GB plan that’s a mere $5 per month cheaper than the standard 300 GB offering, Comcast isn’t offering any more flexibility or price cuts for average use. In fact, the company is continuing to hike Internet rates across the board, so it’s not as if heavy Internet users are taking the hit for everyone else. When Comcast says the data caps are about fairness, the company really means that losing cable TV revenue to cord cutters isn’t fair to Comcast.

      The story behind the story: The new customer service script comes just as Comcast is expanding its usage caps to many more U.S. markets, hitting Little Rock, Arkansas; Houma, LaPlace, and Shreveport, Louisiana; Chattanooga, Greenville, Johnson City/Gray, Tennessee; and Galax, Virginia starting December 1. While the 300 GB limit is higher than an earlier 250 GB cap—which Comcast stopped enforcing a few years ago—families that have replaced more expensive cable TV packages with streaming video shouldn’t have much trouble bumping into overages.

      Customers can avoid eating into their data plans by streaming video from Comcast instead of competitors like Netflix, but customer service reps aren’t allowed to talk about that. Instead, the memo says that any mention of net neutrality is grounds for escalating the matter to Comcast’s “Customer Security Assurance” team.

    1. Admittedly i’m not in the US, however in the UK pretty much every ISP offers tiered products with data caps & unlimited services, you pick which you want when you sign up.

      I am currently on an unlimited plan and if my ISP decided to try and change the contract and charge me more for exceeding some arbitrary limit they have randomly decided on. I would simply inform them they are in breech of contract and move to supplier immediately.

      Although i’m not sure if that’s an option you you guys over the pond.

  2. I think the problem a lot of people have with this concept is that the rules are being changed in the middle of the game. “Unlimited” data is what was sold, but now that you’re locked in (or, in the case of many ISPs just have no other choice) we’re going to change the pricing on you. “Sure, you only get 300GB, but if you pay us 30$ more *then* it’s *really unlimited”. Until, of course, the next time they decide to change the rules again.

    Personally, I’m actually OK with the idea that those who use more pay more, however the entire system is broken and not in a position to support such a model fairly. Government sanctioned monopolies, or duopolies, have been established in many of the major markets. You have no choice but to go with one of the big companies and as such they’ll just do what they want because they really have no competition. This is why “pay for what you use” will never work; they have no incentive to make the pricing structures fair or reasonable.

    Unchecked greed leads to unchecked corruption.

    1. … also true unlimited here on BT in the UK too.

      But the US has a different way of doing business to the UK. We don’t pay a fee to withdraw cash from ATMs, and our cellphone SIM only plans are very cheap ( i pay GBP7.50, about $12 per month ). I have no doubt that some UK companies would like to charge customers in a way that they see US companies doing, but the first one to try would lose vast numbers of customers and if they all did it together, they would be investigated for unfair practices.

  3. Our WOW (wowway) service is truly unlimited. I’ve cracked 1 TB easily one month with no issues at all. The only limit seems to be our 30 mbps service speed, so my “cap” is on how much I can download based on that speed. It takes about 4 minutes to download a Gig.

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