Metered Broadband

Predictions 2011: If Pay-Per-Use Comes to Broadband, Then What?

If broadband pricing plans are no longer “unlimited,” but increasingly granular and usage-sensitive, one can predict massive disruptions in the current ecosystem. As with all such shifts, this will create new opportunities and drive new technology breakthroughs. Here are some thoughts

Is Pay-Per-Use for Broadband Inevitable?

Two decades ago Tim Berners-Lee invented the browser, HTML, and the web, but things took off six years later when America Online switched from pay-by-the minute dial-up to unlimited flat-rate plans, causing usage per sub to more than triple. But pay-per use is coming back.

Can Usage-based Broadband Billing Be Done Fairly?

The debate over the implementation of usage-based billing frameworks (so-called “metered billing”) for broadband services is far from over, but some execs view it as inevitable. If that is indeed the case, what would be a fair construct? Or is it even possible to be fair?


With Metered Broadband, No One Wins

Internet service providers are facing a quandary. Back in the late ’90s, in hopes of boosting their businesses, they stopped charging people by the hour for online access and began offering unlimited, always-on broadband connections. The freedom to surf for as long as one wished and the faster load times attracted more and more households to the web. According to Nielsen data, between 2000 and 2006 broadband subscriptions grew from less than 10 percent of the country to 69 percent.

Today, that growth has started to stagnate. Only about 75 percent of the population is online and, of those who aren’t, 17 percent say they don’t see the point of getting connected. It’s not a question of access either; only 1.3 percent of those that aren’t online and are interested in broadband don’t have access to it, according to a Pew Internet and American Life study issued in January. So broadband providers, eager to show revenue growth in a relatively stable market, are trying to squeeze more money out of the existing subscriber base.

While some providers are experimenting with offering premium services like faster speeds at higher prices, others such as AT&T and Time Warner Cable are trying to revoke the all-you-can-eat broadband plans to which we’ve become accustomed. But when it comes to metered broadband — charging customers based on the amount of data consumed — just about everyone loses. Even the carriers.

Why Metered Broadband Is Bad for Microsoft, Google & Us

The usage-based pricing plans being considered by AT&T, Time Warner and others will force us all to wonder about the size of our connectivity bill on a monthly basis. Which means it won’t only be bad for users, but for some of the Internet service providers’ largest customers.

Why Tiered Broadband Is the Enemy of Innovation

Like it or not, the reality is that broadband is becoming an alternate video network, and the video traffic is going to keep increasing, putting the entire business model of cable companies at risk. By responding with bandwidth caps, however, they are trying to put the genie back in the broadband bottle, which in turn risks the entire innovation ecosystem. Continue Reading