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Bill Proposes Regulation of ISP Bandwidth Caps

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 50 comments

Sounds consumer friendly.

Not a fan of bandwidth caps? Neither is New York Congressman Eric Massa, who is proposing a bill (PDF) that would give the FTC the power to put a stop to internet service providers who implement unreasonable bandwidth caps.

The bill refers to the itself as the “Broadband Internet Fairness Act,” and aims to “authorize the Federal Trade Commission, in consultation with the Federal Communications Commission, to review volume usage service plans of major broadband Internet service providers to ensure that such plans are fairly based on cost.”

According to the bill, Congress found that the increased adoption and use of broadband Internet is a factor in economic recovery and growth. It also said that the Internet today plays a key role in “agricultural, medical, educational, environmental, library, and nonprofit purposes.” Ars Technica reported that Eric Massa said at a press conference that he discovered the problem of bandwidth caps when Rochestor doctors said that limits imposed by ISPs would triple their bills.

Massa said that the cable and phone company duopoly has allowed them to run their Internet services in anticompetitive fashion, in hopes to draw customers to its traditional services. The bill suggests that ISPs are trying to halt the use of broadband for TV and movie delivery so that consumers will have to rely on the cable company’s offerings.

“The market for video delivery is effectively controlled by companies operating both traditional cable delivery and broadband Internet access services, increasing incentives to raise prices for Internet use in high volumes, to discourage consumers who may wish no longer to subscribe to traditional cable services,” read the bill.

The bill proposes that ISPs offering or planning to offer bandwidth caps will have to file with the FTC a service plan analysis that includes information on the different service tiers and prices along with an analysis of the economic reasonableness and necessity for imposing such tiers based on costs.

Essentially, if the bill were passed, ISPs would be required to justify to the FTC not only why it must impose bandwidth caps, but also the pricing structure that’s behind each tier.

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  • 30 Hide
    tipmen , June 19, 2009 12:53 AM
    taybIf you don't like what your cable provider is doing vote with your wallet. Tell them to f*** off and switch providers. They will change their policies or they will go out of business. Regulation is only needed for areas where a single company holds a monopoly over the area. The government has no business regulating competitive markets, stay the hell in Washington and focus on better ways to waste my tax dollars. Time Warner tried to cap Dallas, a city with multiple ISP options, and look what happened? The consumers spoke loud and clear, Time Warner got the message, and they indefinitely curbed their data capping plans. No government "help" needed.



    Some People can't switch or if they switch they get even less.
  • 21 Hide
    chripuck , June 19, 2009 12:57 AM
    taybIf you don't like what your cable provider is doing vote with your wallet. Tell them to f*** off and switch providers. They will change their policies or they will go out of business. Regulation is only needed for areas where a single company holds a monopoly over the area. The government has no business regulating competitive markets, stay the hell in Washington and focus on better ways to waste my tax dollars. Time Warner tried to cap Dallas, a city with multiple ISP options, and look what happened? The consumers spoke loud and clear, Time Warner got the message, and they indefinitely curbed their data capping plans. No government "help" needed.


    Problem is there aren't very many options. In Atlanta I have AT&T DSL and Comcast Cable.
  • 16 Hide
    hopiamani , June 19, 2009 1:05 AM
    taybIf you don't like what your cable provider is doing vote with your wallet. Tell them to f*** off and switch providers. They will change their policies or they will go out of business. Regulation is only needed for areas where a single company holds a monopoly over the area. The government has no business regulating competitive markets, stay the hell in Washington and focus on better ways to waste my tax dollars. Time Warner tried to cap Dallas, a city with multiple ISP options, and look what happened? The consumers spoke loud and clear, Time Warner got the message, and they indefinitely curbed their data capping plans. No government "help" needed.


    In Las Vegas there isn't much competition, either you get Cox Cable or slow DSL.

    What we should be rooting for is the removal of monopoly rights for cable companies in an area. Then you'll be right, we won't need this regulation.
Other Comments
  • 30 Hide
    tipmen , June 19, 2009 12:53 AM
    taybIf you don't like what your cable provider is doing vote with your wallet. Tell them to f*** off and switch providers. They will change their policies or they will go out of business. Regulation is only needed for areas where a single company holds a monopoly over the area. The government has no business regulating competitive markets, stay the hell in Washington and focus on better ways to waste my tax dollars. Time Warner tried to cap Dallas, a city with multiple ISP options, and look what happened? The consumers spoke loud and clear, Time Warner got the message, and they indefinitely curbed their data capping plans. No government "help" needed.



    Some People can't switch or if they switch they get even less.
  • 21 Hide
    chripuck , June 19, 2009 12:57 AM
    taybIf you don't like what your cable provider is doing vote with your wallet. Tell them to f*** off and switch providers. They will change their policies or they will go out of business. Regulation is only needed for areas where a single company holds a monopoly over the area. The government has no business regulating competitive markets, stay the hell in Washington and focus on better ways to waste my tax dollars. Time Warner tried to cap Dallas, a city with multiple ISP options, and look what happened? The consumers spoke loud and clear, Time Warner got the message, and they indefinitely curbed their data capping plans. No government "help" needed.


    Problem is there aren't very many options. In Atlanta I have AT&T DSL and Comcast Cable.
  • 16 Hide
    hopiamani , June 19, 2009 1:05 AM
    taybIf you don't like what your cable provider is doing vote with your wallet. Tell them to f*** off and switch providers. They will change their policies or they will go out of business. Regulation is only needed for areas where a single company holds a monopoly over the area. The government has no business regulating competitive markets, stay the hell in Washington and focus on better ways to waste my tax dollars. Time Warner tried to cap Dallas, a city with multiple ISP options, and look what happened? The consumers spoke loud and clear, Time Warner got the message, and they indefinitely curbed their data capping plans. No government "help" needed.


    In Las Vegas there isn't much competition, either you get Cox Cable or slow DSL.

    What we should be rooting for is the removal of monopoly rights for cable companies in an area. Then you'll be right, we won't need this regulation.
  • 15 Hide
    ravewulf , June 19, 2009 1:13 AM
    taybI guess you must have missed this sentence. It was only the fourth sentence on the second line so I can see how you could miss it..."Regulation is only needed for areas where a single company holds a monopoly over the area."

    There are MANY areas that only have one ISP. Coverage for each ISP isn't accross the entire US and people with only one ISP in their area get shafted as far as prices go
  • 5 Hide
    gorehound , June 19, 2009 1:36 AM
    I will go to a slower krappy connection rather than pay slime warner the BS rates they are tryingf to pull off.
    unfortunately i live in portland maine so it would be a change to a real krap connection but when and if that type of billing hits here i dump slime warner and then i do everything i can to get as many folks as possible to do the same.
    i will make up posters and stand outside on my lunch break protesting those slimeball rich bastards.
  • 8 Hide
    NuclearShadow , June 19, 2009 1:41 AM
    Currently I am very angry at Comcast which cut my speed in half. I use to get 12 mb/s down and 2 mb/s up now I get 6 mb/s down and 1 mb/s up. With no notification and of course the monthly fee remains the same. Do they really expect that no one will notice? When I called them about it they refused to give me a explanation on why and then offered me a costlier plan which I rejected because why the hell should I pay more just in hopes that I get my speeds back? Whats worse is that I am stuck with them as they are a monopoly in my area.
  • 5 Hide
    dokk2 , June 19, 2009 2:08 AM
    IF,,it was up to me I would just enact a law requiring fiber optic everywhere replacing copper and everything phone,tv,internet,government,the whole 9 yards would be available at speeds that we can only dream of,after all it is the way of the future,what the hell are we waiting for???????????..:) 
  • 10 Hide
    Anonymous , June 19, 2009 2:39 AM
    We're waiting for our government to catch up to the 21st century. We will be waiting a while longer at this pace. Obama, though I don't agree with some of his strides, would do well to push his techy administration that he had when he was elected into office. I can't believe he gave in when they made him keep the decade-old Windows network in the White House. Cable companies have an incredibly un-American monopolistic system in place. The Comcast smack-down was the first of what I had hoped was the first wave of the internet broadband revolution that we so desperately need.

    I see other countries like Japan and Switzerland making huge advances in their technological infrastructure, and what are we doing? We're coasting along on 40 year old technology. Sometimes you have to start over and throw away the old to allow for the new.

    The United States of America still has a chance to remain the most powerful nation in the world, but if we don't wake the hell up... we're going to lose that title. Transportation infrastructure and information infrastructure are so important right now, yet we sit on our laurels hoping that we can get by another year without having to do anything. We know that oil is not infinite. We know that corn will cannot supply our entire country with fuel, but here we sit hoping we can put temporary fixes in until we have no other choice but to make something feasible. We need a 5 year plan, not a 30 year or a 40 year plan. Write down a list of options. Figure out the cost. Decide what we have to give up for 5 years. Then make our move. Foreign policy is a huge deal for our President. There are so many international messes that we're trying to resolve that we are not able to focus enough to realize that we have glaring problems of our own. I'm not saying that we should lock ourselves in our room, so to speak, but I am saying that we need to take our heads out of the sand and start working on solutions to problems that will not go away on their own.
  • 8 Hide
    joex444 , June 19, 2009 2:46 AM
    I think once one ISP can come up with tiered structure and it becomes expected by consumers that ISPs will follow this structure, then the customer has already lost. You can't vote with your wallet anymore, whatever you chose is a poor decision.

    This bill is designed to prevent us from getting to that point. Time Warner is obviously the company that prompted this bill, no doubt about it. But the mere fact they thought of it, and really its only a step further than Comcast, shows that ISPs across the nation want to implement this tiered structure. And the congressman has it right -- its to maintain a viable cable TV structure. If you can stream movies with Netflix, why rent them through VOD services? I doubt cable ISPs are concerned about customers pirating cable TV shows, I don't think a significant enough percent of people do that -- but they are no doubt aware of it and will want tiers to discourage it.

    My point? If you vote with your wallet and get rid of all tiered ISPs you're left with a monopoly. And they will gouge and tier you all day. Then you come crying to the government about their unfair practices and claim they have jurisdiction. Why not just support a bill today that can prevent that whole situation? And if you pay attention, it doesn't make tiers illegal. It merely forces justification for the tiers.

    As an example:
    An ISP currently offers unlimited 10/1Mbps service for $60/mo.

    If they tier it like this:
    10GB/mo: $60
    20GB/mo: $80
    50GB/mo: $100
    100GB/mo: $150
    all extra GB at $0.75/GB.... the FTC would be forced to reject that plan. It has no rational basis.

    But if they offered this:
    10GB/mo @ 5Mb/512k: $10
    20GB/mo @ 5Mb/512k: $15
    50GB/mo @ 5Mb/512k: $25
    50GB/mo @ 10/1: $35
    100GB/mo @ 10/1: $50
    unlimited @ 10/1: $60
    unlimited @ 20/2: $90
    I'm sure the FTC would accept that. It clearly benefits consumers who use less bandwidth. The slower speed tiers allow more customers, and the data caps ensure that they won't be using massive amounts of bandwidth so that they can ensure a fast connection near 100% of the time.
  • -4 Hide
    rdawise , June 19, 2009 2:57 AM
    taybIf you don't like what your cable provider is doing vote with your wallet. Tell them to f*** off and switch providers. They will change their policies or they will go out of business. Regulation is only needed for areas where a single company holds a monopoly over the area. The government has no business regulating competitive markets, stay the hell in Washington and focus on better ways to waste my tax dollars. Time Warner tried to cap Dallas, a city with multiple ISP options, and look what happened? The consumers spoke loud and clear, Time Warner got the message, and they indefinitely curbed their data capping plans. No government "help" needed.


    Actually, though I agree in part with you, I'm pretty sure it was the fact that the same congressman as well as others (I believe, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) started to got involved this matter. That's what put pressure on TWC. The "test" markets they were going to deploy the caps on had no other high speed ISP competition (I know, I live in Greensboro). If customer got upset with TWC in those markets, they would be forced to downgrade to DSL (or maybe clearwire). I agree that the customers should fight for more High Speed ISP competition in all markets it would force ISPs to rethink caps.

    The only way I would agree to a limitied cap would be if the Cable company agreed to update all their network infastructure to fiber optic with 3 to 4 years. Then promptly remove the caps since their main arguement for caps is that the network "may" not be able to handle demand.


    mudman1948We're waiting for our government to catch up to the 21st century. We will be waiting a while longer at this pace. Obama, though I don't agree with some of his strides, would do well to push his techy administration that he had when he was elected into office. I can't believe he gave in when they made him keep the decade-old Windows network in the White House. Cable companies have an incredibly un-American monopolistic system in place. The Comcast smack-down was the first of what I had hoped was the first wave of the internet broadband revolution that we so desperately need.I see other countries like Japan and Switzerland making huge advances in their technological infrastructure, and what are we doing? We're coasting along on 40 year old technology. Sometimes you have to start over and throw away the old to allow for the new.The United States of America still has a chance to remain the most powerful nation in the world, but if we don't wake the hell up... we're going to lose that title. Transportation infrastructure and information infrastructure are so important right now, yet we sit on our laurels hoping that we can get by another year without having to do anything. We know that oil is not infinite. We know that corn will cannot supply our entire country with fuel, but here we sit hoping we can put temporary fixes in until we have no other choice but to make something feasible. We need a 5 year plan, not a 30 year or a 40 year plan. Write down a list of options. Figure out the cost. Decide what we have to give up for 5 years. Then make our move. Foreign policy is a huge deal for our President. There are so many international messes that we're trying to resolve that we are not able to focus enough to realize that we have glaring problems of our own. I'm not saying that we should lock ourselves in our room, so to speak, but I am saying that we need to take our heads out of the sand and start working on solutions to problems that will not go away on their own.

    To quote Stewie Griffin..."What the Duece?"
  • 3 Hide
    randomizer , June 19, 2009 3:13 AM
    Now why the heck can't they pass a bill like that here?
  • 3 Hide
    kewl munky , June 19, 2009 3:17 AM
    I have midcontinent cable and I can't complain. Hell they just bumped up everyone's plans for free, though removed unthrottled and made it 25Mb/s. My internet went from 10Mb/s download and 512Kb/s upload to 15Mb/s download and 1Mb/s upload for FREE!
  • 1 Hide
    truehighroller , June 19, 2009 3:32 AM
    In my opinion this is still a bad thing for us because this means that they will still be aloud to put in place bandwidth caps. I say no caps period... I signed the petition for it though.
  • 0 Hide
    Efrayim , June 19, 2009 4:01 AM
    hopiamaniIn Las Vegas there isn't much competition, either you get Cox Cable or slow DSL. What we should be rooting for is the removal of monopoly rights for cable companies in an area. Then you'll be right, we won't need this regulation.


    I live in Las Vegas and I don't know what your talking about DSL being slow. Right now I have COX but I recently made a call to Embarq and now they offer 10mbs Now for alot cheaper price then cox. SO I switched Services. Now I get 10mbs net speed, Unlimited Phone and Dish network with a DVR for $115 a month. No that's a Deal. My friend also has Embarq 10mbs and we tested and its true so I don't know where you live.
  • 0 Hide
    randomizer , June 19, 2009 4:11 AM
    I get 15Mbps on DSL, but we don't have speed caps on DSL in Australia, just bandwidth. Speed is whatever you can get up to a maximum theoretical of 24Mbps.
  • 4 Hide
    deltatux , June 19, 2009 4:29 AM
    I wish they would get a bill like this here in Canada ... the monopoly situation is even worse here since all cable in the Greater Toronto Area is all owned by Rogers. Most satellite TV is owned by Bell Canada with the only competitor to that being StarChoice. Bell Canada has a monopoly on all the phonelines in the province of Ontario which DSL needs for it to work. Even smaller ISPs rely on Bell for connection. So we have a nationwide duopoly here. Bell Canada owning all the phone lines and Rogers (east coast) and Shaw (west coast) owns all the residential cable services.

    As always when duopolies appear, the consumer gets f**k'd.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , June 19, 2009 7:48 AM
    Not sure if this question has been asked before, but this is a good context to ask it in. I have friends and family that live in Europe and Asia, and when they see news like this they ask me, why do so many people go up in arms over it. Mainly it's because many people don't have an option to switch to something else. In some places in Europe, you can get a 100mb/100mb, 100mb up and down, for $50 a month. We're all accessing the same network known as "The Internet". Why do these companies get to put such hefty limitations on specific subscribers, and why aren't there any other options. You don't need fiber to run at fast speeds, thick-net (coax) and ethernet are plenty capable of handling speeds of 1000mbps. The true limit of fiber hasn't been established yet so whining about trenching new cable really shouldn't be up for discussion. I am a subscriber to Comcast and I have many, many bones to pick with them. Whether it be downtime with no fair warning or explanation, or lack of support for some of the end-user devices. Now don't get me wrong, I understand that you can't please everyone at the same time, nor can you guarantee up-time, but I would at least appreciate a reason why my internet connection has suddenly disconnected. If you have ever called Comcast when your connection is down, you will most likely receive a recording stating this, "There has been a service interruption in your area and we are aware of the issue. Comcast technicians are working on the problem to determine a solution." Just tell me a squirrel but the line or someone spilled coffee on something to at least give me a laugh. I don't feel like if this bill will be passed that it will be anything groundbreaking or that providers will drastically change their business process, it still doesn't address the fact that these companies pretty much have a monopoly on the market.
  • 1 Hide
    SAL-e , June 19, 2009 7:51 AM
    EfrayimI live in Las Vegas and I don't know what your talking about DSL being slow. Right now I have COX but I recently made a call to Embarq and now they offer 10mbs Now for alot cheaper price then cox. SO I switched Services. Now I get 10mbs net speed, Unlimited Phone and Dish network with a DVR for $115 a month. No that's a Deal. My friend also has Embarq 10mbs and we tested and its true so I don't know where you live.

    I think you are living in new area where Embarq has fiber. If you live in area where only copper is available you can't get this level of service. I have to say that Embarq is doing better job then old local Sprint, but COX sucks big time. They block ports and slowing the torrents.
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