Innovation usually gets blocked or slowed down by monopolies. A company with barely any competition can make decisions that concentrate more on the profits and less on the satisfaction of their customers. Time-Warner is currently testing metered bandwidth plans for new customers in Beaumont, Texas. New customers have to select a metered bandwidth plan with a combined bandwidth consumption of 5 to 40 Gigabytes with no option to upgrade to a flatrate.
Every additional Gigabyte that will be transferred will be billed with $1 which could spill trouble for Youtube addicts or users whose Internet connection gets hacked. The interesting question is obviously why. Why are they testing metered bandwidth plans when the whole world, and most part of the United States, are going in the other direction.
Bandwidth demands are still rising globally which can be largely attributed to video portals who slowly but steadily raise the resolution of their videos but also file sharing, multimedia distribution and gaming.
Back to the why and the consequences. Cable Internet is limited by design which is probably the main reason why a company like Time Warner wants to reduce the bandwidth consumption of everyone using their lines to be able to squeeze more users into the existing hardware and offer everyone a better experience by reducing the chance that someone else is using most of the bandwidth on the shared line.
This in turn however means that users who have the financial means will be able to experience the Internet to its fullest while users with less financial resources will be left in the dark, so to speak.
It will be interesting to see if metered bandwidth will spread throughout the United States if the tests are successful in Texas. There is however hope. Innovation will come from other means of connecting to the Internet, for example mobile connections.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.