After a leaked memo spilled the beans on their plans last week
, Suddenlink has gone live with new usage caps and overages. Suddenlink tiers of less than 10 Mbps will face usage caps of 150 GB per month. 10, 15, or 20Mbps customers will see caps of 250 GB per month. Customers on 50 or 107Mbps service packages will see a usage cap of 350 GB per month. Users of all tiers will pay $10 per every 50 GB of additional bandwidth consumed each month. The company's allowance plan FAQ
has gone live, via which the ISP tries to suggest they're capping usage because bandwidth is the same thing as water:
Water consumption provides a useful analogy. Imagine a situation in which 99 percent of households use less than 100 gallons of water per month, on average, while one percent of households use more than 1,000 gallons per month, on average. Because water is a limited resource, the few households using a disproportionate share of that resource will reduce the supply available to others and/or cause water prices to increase. The fairest solution is to ask the heaviest users to either use less or pay more. Like water, the Internet is a limited resource. Usage allowances establish a fair and equitable approach to further enhancing the Internet experience for our customers.
Except, as so many people have previously noted
, broadband is a non-consumable. Costs to deliver the service continue to drop, and despite prognostications of apocalyptic network strain
, Internet growth has been quite reasonable, and is managed by fairly basic upgrades. Also in the case of real
consumable utilities like electricity or water, regulators carefully oversee meter accuracy. You'd be hard pressed to find any ISP eager to have regulators regulate their bandwidth meters.
In reality there's no driving economic or network necessity to impose such limits. So why is Suddenlink? Because like every other ISP that attempts this, they want to protect traditional TV revenues from Internet video, so they're artificially constricting the pipe and charging customers even more for broadband -- while putting on a song and dance about how it's good for you
How can they get away with it without customer defections? The tech press certainly helps -- few if any asking ISPs real questions about their motivations and the real cost of service. But the real reason is that there's limited competition. Suddenlink's primary competitor AT&T already imposes caps. However, AT&T has had a difficult time accurately monitoring usage
, and despite announcing their caps last May have yet to charge for a single additional bit. Inaccurate meters have been an ongoing problem in the U.S. and Canada, and it's worth watching Suddenlink's efforts on this front.