Germany's incumbent broadband provider Deutsche Telekom is taking immense heat this week for the announcement that they'll not only be capping and throttling its broadband subscribers, but that the company's own video content will not be hindered by the cap. The company announced
on Monday announced that they'll be imposing caps as low a 75 GB per month on users starting May 1, and if exceeded, users will find themselves throttled back to a paltry 384 kbps unless they pony up an unspecified fee for additional bandwidth.
The justifications being provided by Deutsche Telekom for throttling DSL users are the same we've seen here in the States from companies like AT&T
: it's necessary because otherwise the network will implode, DSL costs an incredible amount to deliver and we barely make any money as it is, and hey -- it's only fair.
Granted if you've been following this debate for any length of time with a modicum of critical thinking ability, you know none of these things are true. A well run DSL network shouldn't see much congestion, lines are often at such low speeds they cost very little to provide, and flat-rate broadband has long provided healthy earnings. Caps, especially on DSL lines, are imposed to gouge consumers while protecting a company's own TV revenues from Internet video.
The ISP assumption that all consumers are too stupid to realize this usually adds insult to injury.
While caps and overages are nothing new, Deutsche Telekom is taking particular heat from network neutrality groups in Germany
because of the fact that the company's own Internet video content won't be impeded by the cap -- effectively the network neutrality equivalent of a hat trick. Even some of the more aggressive and anti-competitive companies here in the States **AT&T cough** haven't been quite willing to attempt that for fear of angering regulators.
And indeed, the moves appear to have caught the eye of German government watchdogs. Spiegel
notes that German Federal Minister of Economics and Technology Philipp Rösler sent a letter to the company's CEO stating he was "concerned about the company's announced changes to its rate structures for Internet usage" and that regulators would be watching closely. It's not clear what's left to watch, given the aggressive anti-competitive plan goes into effect May 1.
German consumers meanwhile have launched a petition
in an attempt to shut down the company's plans, and have taken to renaming Deutsche Telekom "Drosselkom" or "Throttle-kom."