The 5 GB Cap of Mobile Broadband & Sensible Reasons To Hate It

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The 5 GB cap is upsetting.

Why?

Because there’s money to be made. But, greed (yes, greed) has kept mobile broadband companies from seeing it.

Allow me to explain.

Mobile broadband carriers usually give the following statement (or some variation of it) as the reason for having usage caps:

"1% use the majority of bandwidth making it difficult to provide service for normal users"

In the ‘defense’ of other users, they deem it necessary to create usage caps to make it affordable for them to provide quality service to the majority of users. While there is some truth to this, it’s a double-edged sword.

While a small percentage of the population users more bandwidth than others, the underlying assumption made by carriers is that they only consume and not produce. While there may be some that ‘leech’, there are others that ‘seed’ new content, ideas, and information that benefits their specialized niche (and in turn everyone else).

Does this mean we should simply remove the consumers and leave the producers? No. Power consumers of the web also provide a benefit to the network. Without power users, networks would have no incentive to increase the capacity of their networks. Without a force to challenge the limits of what is currently available, nothing new will be produced. It’s simple economics. Without demand, there will be no supply.

There’s Money To Be Made Here

Here’s another way to look at it.

Let’s say Wal-Mart has 20 bags of chicken for sale. Most people buy 1 bag of chicken. However, there is one person who buys 10 bags of chicken. Here chick chick chick...

Single handedly, he has cut the supply of chicken available in half. Wal-Mart could react to this a number of ways.

It could ration the amount of chicken someone can buy or it sell more chicken. By reducing it to this simplistic level, it’s not hard to see that an opportunity to profit exists here.

Supply and DemandWithout going too much into pricing strategies here, it is possible for them to survey power users to see what they would be willing to pay for increased consumption.

This would offset the cost to them for increasing capacity.  In addition to this, they can implement better systems/technology to reduce universally unwanted bandwidth consumption.

I’m talking about junk mail.

Junk mail, also known as spam, accounts for 80-85% of all email in the world by some conservative estimates. That in itself is an incredible opportunity for Internet Service Providers to reduce unnecessary bandwidth consumption on their networks. It would save them a lot of money.

What The Future Holds

The estimated household is expected to use 200 Gigabytes per month by 2012. It’s pretty obvious the current 5 GB cap on most mobile broadband plans in the United States will be grossly insufficient. Bandwidth Caps

A laughable joke a best.

Adopting a usage cap based broadband marketplace will only stifle creativity on the internet as users contemplate the cost of doing business.

While those with deep pockets will be able to afford it, in effect, it is against net neutrality (free of restrictions on content, sites, or platforms, on the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and on the modes of communication allowed, as well as one where communication is not unreasonably degraded by other communication streams).

As prices rise in such an environment, it is the very average user that companies now claim to ‘protect’ who will bear the brunt of the financial and opportunistic costs.

Long story short:

Companies need business models are good for them and their customers. Not just themselves.

We will now resume or regularly scheduled programming.

For more info on this, read "Is the 5 GB Cap Enough?

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7 Comments

  1. Karl Friedland says:


    Hi Mark,
    I have written before of my dilemma.
    It still hasn’t changed and I am seriously thinking of putting my Verizon HotSpot into the trash can!

    This is my second month with mobile broadband.
    I live in Massachusetts and Florida half-and-half the year – so the HotSpot made a lot of sense.
    As I do noting but my 3 times a week paying my bills on my bank account and send maybe 6-8 text only e-mails a MONTH, The HotSpot should have been great!

    The truth is that every time I connect I loose from 1 to ½ gig of data from the 5 GIG LIMIT!
    I have my Norton disconnected and Windows update – there is nothing else to draw.
    The usage is so – so – so far from what is advertised!

    My solution was to have a dryloop DSL installed at one of my houses – what a relief to have the gun off of my head.

    I did speak with a Florida friend (with the same mobile service – but a UBS stick) that insists she can use all that is advertised.
    I do not dispute her. But – she is on the web a lot and does things I could only dream of on mine.
    I blew right through my 5 gigs in 10 days – looking at my record – I DID NOTHING!

    What can be wrong?
    What is the truth?

    I have counted the web pages change on the bank – Logon and Main page then maybe 5-6 changes.
    This access was done about 5 times.
    Then – the 6 to 8 only text messages (12 kbs max I checked each). That was for the month.

    That was it – 4.85 gigs
    From then I used only McDonalds free service.
    I have spoken to Verizon – they read the usage as do I – but that does not explain why the amount.

    So I have DSL here in Massachusetts now – but what of Florida?
    Get a DSL line there too?
    This HotSpot is a useless trinket paperweight next to my window – too fast on data to be useful.

    Despondent
    Karl


  2. Joel says:


    Karl, there’s got to be some program silently chewing thru your 5gb plan, if your usage is as you say. There’s quite a few network monitoring programs available, or get a free firewall program, and whitelist your browser & other programs that you know & want to be online.

    If these don’t solve the issue, maybe your bank website is really hungry. Maybe they have a mobile version? Try “m.yourbank.com”…


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