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Network Businesses Communications The Almighty Buck United States

Data Cap Analysis Found Almost 200 ISPs Imposing Data Limits in the US (arstechnica.com) 41

An anonymous reader shares a report: BroadbandNow, a broadband provider search site that gets referral fees from some ISPs, has more than 2,500 home internet providers in its database. BroadbandNow's team looked through the ISPs' websites to generate a list of those with data caps. The data cap information was "pulled directly from ISP websites," BroadbandNow Director of Content Jameson Zimmer told Ars. BroadbandNow, which is operated by a company called Microbrand Media, plans to keep tracking the data caps over time in order to examine trends, he said. The listed caps range from 3GB to 3TB per month. That 3GB cap seemed like it couldn't be accurate, so we called the ISP, a small phone company called NTCNet in Newport, New York. A person answering the phone confirmed that the company lists 3GB as its cap, but said it is not enforced and that customers' usage isn't monitored. The cap is essentially a placeholder in case the ISP needs to enforce data limits in the future. [...] BroadbandNow excluded mobile providers from its list of ISPs with data caps, since caps are nearly universal among cellular companies. The list of 196 providers with caps includes 89 offering fixed wireless service, 45 fiber ISPs, 35 DSL ISPs, 63 cable ISPs, and two satellite providers. Some offer Internet service using more than one technology. Some of the providers are tiny, with territories covering just 100 or a few hundred people.

Data Cap Analysis Found Almost 200 ISPs Imposing Data Limits in the US

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  • It would be news if they were imposing the caps while saying they were uncapped.

    Only some ISP's here even have an uncapped plan on their books.

    • > It would be news if they were imposing the caps while saying they were uncapped.

      Which is redundant. You could just as easily say "ISPs which don't list what their limits are". All ISPs have limited resources, they can only transit a certain amount of data. Only the tiniest, with fewer than 1,000 customers, can't afford a decent network engineer who will prevent one customer from hogging all the resources.

      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday August 07, 2017 @05:12PM (#54958587)

        All ISPs have limited resources, they can only transit a certain amount of data.

        That isn't the point. Of course there is a physical limit to what they can provide. That is different from ARTIFICIALLY limiting data while advertising no data caps. That is dishonest and deceptive.

        If I go to an "all-you-can-eat" buffet, I understand that they may run out of some items, and if it is crowded, the kitchen may not be able to keep up. That is different from them telling me "You've had enough, so pay extra if you want more food."

        • Wrong argument (Score:5, Insightful)

          by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Monday August 07, 2017 @05:18PM (#54958625)
          just because they correctly advertise something awful doesn't mean it's not awful. Providing the last mile service that cable companies do costs almost nothing (around $9/mo according to Comcast's SEC filing, though that figures a few years out of date so it might be up to a whopping $11-$12). The infrastructure was built with tax breaks and subsidies so there's no investment to recoup. It was paid for by our tax dollars and we basically just handed it over to a private company to profit from and don't question it.
        • It is the US. You probably can get sued if you promise something and you do not comply. Lawyers do sometimes show common sense, but they tend to try to get any advantage from the law. As stupid as it sounds.
        • In appears that in some US states, there are laws prohibiting metered connections - and this makes no sense for me. How will any backbone network sell its service there? Only tier 1 networks with access to internet exchanges give out geniune unmetered connections

          • How will any backbone network sell its service there?

            Because backhaul is almost entirely 1:1 in terms of data transit? Unless you're an edge player like an ISP, you 'up/down' ratio is going to be almost equal.

        • Sign says "all the lemonade you can drink for $1"

          "Great! I'll have a glass. Yum, that was good, I'll have another please"

          "That'll be another dollar."

          "But your sign says 'all the lemonade you can drink for $1'"

          "You had a glass already. That's all the lemonade you can drink for a dollar"

        • > Of course there is a physical limit to what they can provide

          And an incompetent network engineer would allow one user to hog it all up hosting a tube site, as I said. Any network of appreciable size is going to have competent admins who set it up so that the distribution of resources is roughly "fair" - you don't have one guy hogging it, leaving little for everyone else.

          There are lots of ways to configure "fair". One of the best strategies is to say every individual definitely gets th

          • so the marketing people have a challenge in how to be both completely upfront and understandable at the same time.

            Bull. Chit. And that's the charitable opinion. if you don't think Verizon and Comcast and their ilk aren't actively conspiring to cheat consumers....just wow.

            • Certainly the biggest ISPs tend to treat consumers poorly, and they implicitly "conspire"* with the politicians they have on their payroll. Which has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with trying to explain traffic shaping and policing to the average consumer, such as yourself, who has no idea what traffic policing is, nor even such basic parameters as jitter.

              When I buy an upstream network connection, there is a full page of specifications describing how "good" that connection is. Things like percentage

              • whatever. the technical jargon you're using to obfuscate the issue says volumes about your intentions here. Being HONEST with your customers is far far far from what ISPs are doing. It's not just 'marketing' it's outright fraud.
    • I have higher 4G data cap in Kazakhstan: https://m.imgur.com/xzzGSjh?r [imgur.com]

      And that for $12 per month. $4 will buy you additional 5Gb package

    • I've got home internet service from AT&T. I have a data cap on my service but have no idea what it is. I don't think I've ever been close to hitting it and we've had four people streaming video at all hours.

      I'd be really curious to know, of the ISPs with data caps, how often does someone actually hit the cap (and have the ISP actually do anything). Like the guys in Newport, maybe AT&T doesn't actually enforce the cap.

      So, open question: has anyone personally had their data throttled or been charged f

  • You cannot rate an ISP as a whole. For instance, CenturyLink DSL is capped, but CenturyLink Fiber is uncapped.

    • I bet money they have language in TOS that says otherwise about it being uncapped. They may not have a listed number but generally all TOS has some section about excessive usage which can be enforced when ever they want.
      • by darkain ( 749283 )

        Shockingly, it specifically states there isn't a cap.

        CenturyLink is committed to providing an optimal Internet experience for every customer we serve. It is for this reason that CenturyLink places data usage limits on residential plans. The data usage limit applies to residential HSI. It does not apply to business-class HSI. Residential 1 Gbps plans are also not subject to data usage limits.

        - http://www.centurylink.com/abo... [centurylink.com]

  • by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Monday August 07, 2017 @06:05PM (#54958989)

    Why does it matter as long as the data cap isn't hidden or abused (throttling implemented before the cap is reached)? I know my Comcast account has a 1TB limit, and that it will cost me extra for exceeding it. Moreover, they warn me when I'm approaching the limit. My phone service has a 6GB limit, after which you're throttled. They don't hide the fact. Unless the company is doing these things without telling the customer, why is it news?

    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      So 1Gbps capped to 550GB at $110/mo is somehow fair compared to a ADSL2+ connection for less than half the price with a 1TB cap?

      It's news because it's a slow march toward being double billed.
      With cellular you are billed for data not speed. With broadband you are billed for speed.

      The introduction of caps allows them to bill for speed and data.

      • by gfxguy ( 98788 )
        There's nothing unfair when you sign up for a service and agree to the terms and conditions. If you have a complaint about monopolies, then great - I agree with you.
        • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

          I ain't agreeing to that.
          I don't use that much now but I'm sure if I had gigabit I could hit that cap easily.

          As of yet no ISP in town is offering anything over 50Mbps
          As it happens neither ISP offering 50mbps service has caps.

  • I have BendBroadband ISP service. My cap is 250GB for 50MB/s service. Their report says 750GB.

    There are different caps for different levels of service. If I wanted to "save $$$ by bundling cable TV" (for an extra $35 / mo), I could get no data cap.

    Good effort to gather this data, but it is not accurate. I would have highlighted the lowest data cap.

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