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"Leaf" Vision & Broadband Usage Caps (Part 6 in a Series)

Near hysterical opponents of broadband data usage caps need to breathe slowly, drop their magnifying glass, look up and take in the big world all around them. They are not just missing the forest for the trees, they are missing the leaves, stems, branches, trees, forest and sky, because they can't take their magnifying glass off of the leaf with which they are myopically obsessed.

Broadband data usage caps are a very small, normal, and essential part of a healthy and economically-sustainable Internet ecosystem. Pricing is the central mechanism for any marketplace to balance supply and demand and to create economic incentives and disincentives for behavior that can drive costs. There is nothing wrong with pricing caps, tiers, and other pricing mechanisms that are used to manage networks, avoid network congestion, achieve a return on investment, manage a business model, differentiate a business, and/or earn a profit.

Does an average consumer get indignant when an all-you-can-eat buffet limits them from: piling food on a tray and not a plate; sharing their food with someone who hasn’t paid; or putting it in a bag to take home? No. Does an average consumer expect to be able to run their AC at max 24-7 during a heat wave when the system is at peak usage? No. Does an average consumer imagine that they can pay a flat rate for water, electricity, or gasoline, and then consume it without any usage limit or extra payment for high-usage? No. Most all American consumers understand the most basic economic principle that if one uses more of a good or a service one can expect to pay more for it. Only the small but very vocal group of Internet commons radicals that are currently indignant over broadband data usage caps imagine that broadband communications should somehow be a public unlimited free good.

Internet users in general, and high-Internet-usage users in particular, know that they are not captive or without options to deal with any data cap or pricing concerns that they might have. Most of them know they can offload some of their data usage to their home WiFi or another free WiFi hotspot away from home. America has tens of thousands of free WiFi hotspots all over the place as there are innumerable businesses that give free or low cost Internet access in order to attract people to come and stay at their particular location for a wide variety of business reasons.

For wireless broadband, they know they have at least four national wireless broadband providers to choose from, because they watch TV, listen to the radio, and read offline/online where they are constantly bombarded with ads for different broadband wireless offers with different speeds, data usage options, and prices. If consumers don't like the limits they face, they can take their business elsewhere, and tens of millions of Americans have done just that and taken their business elsewhere.

And concerning wire line broadband caps in one's home, someone can have the choice of watching video on their TV, which has long been engineered for maximum usage, and then not pay more, or if a user wants the extra convenience of viewing as much video as they want from a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer, rather than a TV, they can do that too, but they may need to pay extra at some point for this technically sub-optimal, high bandwidth usage.

In sum, the near hysterical opposition to reasonable broadband data caps we are seeing in some of the blogosphere and media borders on the ridiculous.

  • Internet commons activists, are claiming that the highest end Internet users, users who can afford high-end, more expensive digital devices that can provide a high definition mobile video experience, are somehow being unfairly treated because they have to pay more for their greater benefits than the average user gets.
  • How ridiculous is this when the people who ostensibly have more are indignant because lower-usage users aren't forced to subsidize their chosen luxury-level usage?

Anybody that steps back and looks at the big picture here can see what the data cap opponents are complaining about is trivial and ridiculous in the full scheme of things.

  • One would think that there must be real problems out there that these critics could focus on rather than demanding average consumers subsidize high-end Internet users out of some upside-down warped notion of Internet "fairness." 

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Previous posts in this series:

  1. Consumer Group's Advocacy Hypocrisy
  2. Is Netflix the AOL of Web Streaming?
  3. Debunking the Carping over Broadband Usage Pricing
  4. Netflix Uneconomics
  5. Netflix' Glass House Temper Tantrum over Broadband Usage Fees
Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths