The Case for Unlimited Internet
The Internet is as fast a commodity as oil or food, thanks to user data, new technology, platforms and the like. ISPs offer a variety of Internet plans to entice consumers to go for unlimited plans. From copper wires to cable, the lines that pass on connections to the home vary. Though technical in nature, marketing tries its best to create offers highlighting features from these lines. But people are talking about plans that let them explore to their hearts’ content. And unlimited Internet plans are making consumers look closely.
Is it really unlimited?
Unlimited data has been so loosely used by ISPs that customers rarely read the fine scripts that come with it. Unlimited should supposedly mean providing data to customers with no restrictions at all. But some ISPs put data limitations such as data capping or data throttling.
In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission slapped a $100 Million fine on At&T for not disclosing the limits of its “unlimited” offer. Competitor T-Mobile calls its 1, 3 & 5 GB plans unlimited because they don’t cut off your connection even after you consumed your data allowance.
Verizon announced its plans on network optimization which has plans for data throttling but backed out of it because of the negative response it got from its customers. However, their terms and conditions will still experience “managed data speed”. Other vendors have followed suit on the data capping and throttling.
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s National Broadband, which plans to connect 84% of their residents by 2024 is spurring the change to unlimited. Fibre optic lines are much cheaper with better performance. The country’s ISPs are jumping on the unlimited trend. ISPs like BigPipe offer offer unlimited internet plans. But until recently, New Zealand ISPs have data allowances set for their customers. ISPs such as Inspire, Orcon, and Spark are among the few who still use data capping to manage usage.
Data Capping and Data Throttling
In the past, consumers might not mind putting a limit to their Internet usage. But recent trends show Internet consumption has been growing steadily. This is prompted by Social Media, the rise of video, Netflix and the connected lifestyle. Add on cloud and the Internet of Things, it’s no surprise that there is a negative reaction to limiting Internet usage.
Data capping or sometimes called broadband cap, is imposed by Internet Service Providers by limiting the amount of data that can be transferred to a user’s account. The corresponding data allowance usually comes with a fee.
ISPs put a monthly data allowance to every user. Once this is met, they have the option of cutting the connection or throttle. Data throttling happens when your ISP manage your connection speed to control your data usage.
While ISPs insist data capping and data throttling is for the “greater good”, this may not be so but for the purpose of profit. According to Dane Jasper, CEO of California-based ISP Sonic said that “the cost of increasing bandwidth capacity has declined much faster than increase in data traffic.” So, there is a strong hypothesis that there is no significant reason that there should be an allowance instead of providing unlimited connection.
No slowing down
While there are still ISPs who practice data capping, some of them opted to substitute the strategy with data throttling. But why settle for these ISPs when there are those who can offer truly unlimited Internet plans. ISPs who opt for limiting might have to rethink their Internet offers. The surge of Internet access adoption will only increase as countries prepare for their National Broadband Plans. In addition, the option to use fiber optic channels, with its ultra-fast performance more value than other Internet connection variant.
Consumers, especially the millennials are leading the pack to trends that veer towards video, binge watching and social media. ISPs better prepare.