It seems another provider is joining the hunt for a way to throttle Internet traffic. Most of you who read my blog aren't very "literate" in the bittorrent world, but basically you can just consider it an easy way to download TONS of information from the Internet; movies, games, tv shows, pictures, programs, etc. (Some are legit, some not so)
If you were watching back in November, you might remember the lawsuit brought against Comcast by Jon Hart, a California resident who had his Internet service shut off for violating the "unlimited Internet" policy of his provider.
Today, in an attempt to use another method to slow down bittorrent users, TimeWarner released that they are performing a market test in Texas to see if applying overage charges to high-bandwidth users will result in better control of their Internet pipeline.
I'm not sure I agree with the philosophy, but I do respect the networks right to protect their flow of information.
It's coming down to the fact that almost 80% of our media interaction is performed over the Internet. (that percentage is my personal guess, not a fact). Internet innovation in recent years has brought us new creations such as you-tube.com, google mail (allowing 6 gb of mail storage per user for free), myspace videos, SkyDrive, online television shows, and a myriad of other high-usage inventions we routinely take for granted.
While there is no finite amount of "pipe" available to us, there is a certain amount of limiting based on what our carriers can afford to provide. Laying fiber, buying satellites, leasing line from major telcos, and other fees make being an ISP a venture that runs in the millions of dollars per month to operate.
Rather than face the HUGE amount of Internet flashback that Comcast experienced, Time Warner is going to try throttling the Internet usage of their customers by charging an "overage fee" for customers who use up the most traffic, based on some mathematical formula for determining what amount is considered fair use. This correlates to the ISP saying "Dude, you're using WAY too much of our bandwidth. Stop it or we're going to charge you more."
The ramifications of this can be seen two ways in my opinion. If what Time Warner claims is true, then 5% of their users are using up more than 50% of their available network. To put that in Greenville, NC perspective would mean that of the estimated 60 thousand Internet users here, 3,000 of them are using up HALF our available Internet speed, causing the rest of us to lag and experience service problems. Illuminated in that way, I too would agree that the "super" users should be charged a higher rate. (The effort is NOT go garnish more money from consumers, but instead to offer an incentive to slow down to what the provider considers "normal use" thresholds.) The desired effect is that the super-users will quit using this ISP and go rape someone else's connection instead. ( I just though of something: Does this mean I'll have to worry about bandwidth pirates constantly attacking other wi-fi networks to gain access to other people's accounts? Would they be iPirates? or maybe PipePirates?)
On the other hand, Jon Hard had it right in my opinion when he sued for being shut off for exceeding his "unlimited Internet" access. If you want to advertise UNLIMITED then you can't LIMIT it. This is the other camp in the debate roiling in the user community.
Of course there are also the extreme wilders out there screaming that The Man is just trying to squeeze more out of the average user in a communist based attack that impinges purely on their ability to download illegal content.
How do you feel about being charged for Internet usage depending on the amount you use? I'm curious to know. Personally, I'm against the idea. Of all the people I know in my social groups, I probably consume the most bandwidth. However, if you consider applications like Microsoft Groove, then those applications should be fair use and should not be governed under rules like this, though it certainly will if it becomes policy. (Groove is a program I use to keep all my work files synced between all my personal computers and my staff as well, sometimes transferring 4 to 6 gb of data in only a few days.)
Take some time to keep on top of the information. Small things like this could truly affect users like us in the semi-near future. Throttling the Internet, in my opinion, would be the single largest murder weapon to new innovation I could think of.
If you'd like to read the official stories, you can do so here: