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May 7, 2009

Can I borrow some bandwidth?

Posted: 10:43 AM ET

Online video is growing faster than a Chia Pet.

According to a recent Nielsen report, the number of American users frequenting online video destinations has climbed 339 percent since 2003, and time spent on video sites has shot up almost 2,000 percent over the same period.

Increased bandwidth, social networks, and sites such as Hulu and CNN.com Live that provide high quality web programming have all contributed to video's explosion onto the Internet. However, before you can say ch-ch-ch-Chia, some Internet Services Providers (ISPs) are threatening to spoil the party.

Time Warner Cable, Charter and Comcast have each tested data caps (or download limits) in certain markets. Fortunately, the caps, which have been called price-gouging by Ars Technica, met with resounding disapproval from consumers. Let's keep it that way.

Unlimited bandwidth is the driving force behind the internet's growth and development. If users begin to closely monitor their downloads to avoid data caps and overages, innovative sites that employ rich media and streaming video will be the first to suffer.

I don't get nostalgic when I recall the days of scrutinizing my AOL time limits, and I'm not looking forward to doing the same with my downloading.

Does your ISP limit your bandwidth? Do you believe the caps are necessary to maintain fairness by limiting excessive downloaders or are they strictly revenue generators for ISPs?

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Filed under: computers • file sharing • Hulu • Internet • online video • social-networking sites


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Brian   May 7th, 2009 3:05 pm ET

If mine ever even thought of trying that, I have 3 other companies I would call that very same day. How do they even have a concept of what usages you have with your bandwidth? Let's say the average youtube video is 5megs, you'd reach 5GB with only 1000 videos. iTunes users...assuming Apple gives you high bitrate of 192kbps+, that's at least 6megs per song. CNN video, flash websites, all these will nickle and dime your limit easilly per month if you spend a lot of time online. Better not need any new software of beta test anything either, Windows 7 being over a gig in size. Bandwidth is among the cheapest resources around, ISPs need to learn we're not all completely stupid.


greg   May 7th, 2009 3:10 pm ET

It is ridiculously cheap to provide high speed internet access these days. It's true that some people use far more of their bandwidth...so what? Those people just have more interest and probably more experience using the internet to meet most of their media needs.

What companies, especially TWC, are doing now is just price-gouging. With TV ad revenue expected to drop next year, and many consumers looking to netflix and other online video instead of cable TV, TWC is simply trying to monopolize the market once again.

They are even trying to negotiate with TV channels who offer free video online, to make this video only available to cable TV subscribers. Horrible...The second a viable choice besides roadrunner is available in Charlotte, NC I will be canceling all my accounts with TWC!


JimK   May 7th, 2009 11:38 pm ET

In B-school it is called a 'value proposition'. If it does not have value, don't buy it. Health care and bandwidth fall in this category.


Carla   May 8th, 2009 8:40 am ET

Arent the big companies always trying to rip us off. Its not there internet to leverage.

I'm still amazed people sign contracts for limited phone usage like Verizon.


dont limit bandwidth   May 8th, 2009 4:19 pm ET

would cancel my service...


Art   May 9th, 2009 6:31 am ET

Capitalism at its finest. I can't believe either that people sign a "contract" for a phone.


Gary   May 10th, 2009 1:25 am ET

Wild Blue does this and I didn't know it until they sent an email saying that I was getting punished for downloading to much, they call it fair access but what they did was kill the connection to 10K making it impossible to even browse the web for three weeks. They say that when I reached 70 percent they will kick it back up and they did do that, I found out they allow 5gigs download limit per 30 days. Forget about downloading large files such as video because the punishment is severe. It is absolutely stupid and even the CSR that took my service call agreed and said he himself was dinged for the same thing and was kicked down to a slow speed for it. Wild Blue does this to customers and employees, it sucks period.


Jason   May 12th, 2009 8:18 pm ET

This concept has been floating around for a while, and it always gets shot down.

This is strictly money the cable companies are trying to make up. I'm a case in point myself. I recently called my cable company and switched off my Movie Channels (HBO, Showtime, etc) I netflix any movies I want to see, or just DL them. All the cable company sees though, is $$$ lost.

In this day and age, where online streaming is becoming the norm, cable companies are going to need to get with the times. Not only will people not allow them to throttle bandwidth, people will be increasing their usage exponentially in years to come.


jack phoenix, AZ   May 13th, 2009 1:30 pm ET

QWEST DSL is DOG Slow. I think dialup is faster.


Charlotte   May 13th, 2009 5:34 pm ET

As soon as I heard that TWC was testing these caps, I immediately contacted the customer service department to let them know that I would cancel both my cable and internet services if these caps were instituted in my area. I frequently use YouTube and Netflix to watch videos, which would likely make my service much more expensive. I simply cannot afford any added expenses in this economy.


Josh   May 13th, 2009 6:58 pm ET

This spells trouble for online gamers, who are already paying more than anyone else for their entertainment experience. Think about it this way: I am paying nearly $70/mo for Comcast internet, plus $10/mo for Netflix, and $50/year for Xbox Live. Over the course of one year, that's $1,010 a year. If the Internet company started charging me for going over a bandwidth limit, which with today's online games could easily happen, I'd probably end up spending closer to $2,000 a year for Internet-related expenses. That doesn't count any downloads from iTunes or the Xbox Live Marketplace, which has downloads ranging from less than 100 KB to over 1 GB.


Brad   May 13th, 2009 9:05 pm ET

Funny how the cost of bandwidth is also decreasing... With Time Warner's recent attempt to cap bandwidth, they were not able to provide one shred of legitimate evidence that necessitates such a limitation.


steve   May 13th, 2009 10:04 pm ET

I agree with Jason. The way people use/ view tradional media outlets is changing and people are moving toward the internet, duh. The internet is faster and free, everyone has an established idea that 95% of internet content should be free (most of that other 5% is porn). They are loosing big money and trying to grab a slice of the pie. With a fast enough internet connection and the right equipment one can completly eliminate many traditional services/ entertainment mediums (TV cable FM radio phone). Gasp the consumer can lessen the onslaught of advertisment and telemarketers.


TJ   November 18th, 2009 4:49 pm ET

Has anyone with timewarner noticed limited bandwith on certain sites like hulu. In the past 2 months for me when i watch something on hulu it has a hard time keeping up and i have to let it buffer. I didn't have this problem before and i've used timewarner for well over a year now. I would have first thought the problem was on hulu's end but after 2 months they should have been able to do something about it. Any ideas?


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