Could OnLive be the app that kills bandwidth caps?

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Perhaps Netflix has found a friend in its lonely battle against broadband caps, as a U.K. site is reporting that gamers playing the OnLive service can use up to 20 GB in six hours. Cable.co.uk, a broadband comparison shopping site, also reports that some folks using the service have run afoul of British ISP Talk Talk’s network management¬†policies, which meant players were unable to connect to the service at peak times. From the story:

Amid concerns that taking advantage of the service could lead broadband customers to consume substantial amounts of data, Techbeast.net conducted a trial to discover how much would be used during a typical gaming session. Playing Just Cause 2 through OnLive for around five minutes used around 200MB of data, meaning gamers can expect to get through around 20GB in as little as six hours.

Before you dismiss the plight of a few gamers across the pond, consider that now that AT&T has implemented broadband caps joining Comcast, more than 50 percent of U.S. homes have some kind of limit on their broadband connection in place. And this week, Suddenlink confirmed¬†it, too, has started implementing caps that range from 150 GB to 350 GB per month depending on the level of service customers subscribe to. Comcast doesn’t use speed tiers to differentiate between its cap, which is set at 250 GB per month, but AT&T has a lower cap of 150 GB per month for DSL users and 250 GB per month for its faster U-verse offering.

So what we have are more ISPs setting caps as well as a sense of what kinds of caps they are planning to set in the U.S. It appears that at the slowest tier, we’ll see caps of about 150 GB, and those willing to pay up for faster speeds will also get higher caps. It’s unlikely we’ll see ISPs raise these caps anytime soon, especially if they can milk $10 per GB overage fees out of users.

But by adding gamers now to the groups of those affected by broadband caps, are we getting to a critical mass of consumers affected, so when an ISP says that less than 1 percent of their users hit those caps, folks will look around and realize that while they may not be in that 1 percent they’re getting a little too close for comfort? The outraged gaming community can join consumers who cut the cord, remote workers, confused folks trying to back up content to the cloud and BitTorrent users in the ranks of those who have bumped up against broadband caps and found it painful.

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