While he was of course speaking to his audience at this week's Cable Show in Boston, FCC boss Julius Genachowski gave his full-throated support to the cap and overage pricing model. "Business model innovation is very important," told the Cable Show attendees
, adding that "usage-based pricing could be healthy and beneficial." "There was a point of view a couple years ago that there was only one permissible pricing model for broadband," said Genachowski, adding that "I didn't agree."
The problem is that while many people (including us) have argued many things about metered billing, that there should be only one pricing model has never been among them. Most of the conversations have centered around things like the fact the caps and overages imposed aren't fair, aren't tied to economic realities
, and have major anti-competitive implications
if abused by a broadband duopoly.
One of the larger issues, utterly ignored by Genachowski, is that while ISPs want to bill like utilities -- they refuse to be regulated like utilities -- so nobody, including the FCC, is checking to confirm meter accuracy
. As such, it's not that people don't want ISPs to explore new pricing models, they just don't want them to be punitive -- and when you've got a marginally-competitive market, it's more than likely that they ultimately will be.
While the FCC professes to be concerned with "bill shock" and high subscriber prices, they generally brush aside aggressive and anti-consumer pricing as "creative." One prime example: ISPs have been burying below-the-line fees to subscriber bills to jack up the advertised price post sale -- a practice the FCC has never been even-slightly concerned about
. New broadband pricing is fine, but not if the FCC's going to ignore anti-competitive abuses, meter accuracy, or aggressive over-billing.