AT&T announced a little while ago that they’re going to start a bandwidth cap on their DSL and U-Verse customers. As I read this I giggled at first realizing that people still used DSL to describe a type of internet connection rather than just for girls with luscious lips but that quickly gave way to anger over AT&T capping anything on the internet. Upon reading deeper into the announcement I learned that they are capping their bandwidth at 150GBs/ month to DSL and 250GB to U-Verse subscribers.
This is not a fucking April Fool’s joke.
They go on to mention that only the top 2% of their users will actually be affected by the cap and that people will have a tool to view how much bandwidth they used that month so far. They also mention that there will be notifications when you hit 65, 90 and 100 percent of your usage. Lastly, they say that for every 50GBs over you will be charged $10.
Ok. OK! I’m easily excitable and anyone who knows me can testify that I tend to be angry like a.. well a bear when provoked.
After my initial anger subsided the worry set in. Lets think about what this means. Currently ISPs give you unlimited usage of the internet for a monthly fee, like cable for your tv. AT&T thought this wasn’t good enough and will now charge people for how much data their computers take off the internet. For those of you out there who think they can escape this because they don’t download anything, you’re mostly right: you’re not downloading things and taking up HUGE chunks of bandwidth. However, you’re dead wrong if you think you don’t take up any by viewing web pages. You are using bandwidth right now by reading this. Your computer is constantly downloading shit like images, texts and animations that use up that bandwidth.
This is like cable companies turning off your TV after a set amount of time is watched and then charging you for an extra 5 hours so you can catch the latest episode of Jersey Shore you just had to see. 2% isn’t a lot of users at all, that’s certainly not anyone I know. The thing here is the fact that they fucking did it. They made the move into a territory people didn’t assume anyone could or would go. They set a precedent that could have us all making a very vital decision every month: hulu a missed episode of gossip girls, download some internet porn or write a week’s worth of blog posts. Because that’s basically all you’ll have the bandwidth for to cover an entire month.
We are nowhere near this point yet but like all things, change happens slowly. Just like any shitty inspirational speaker (or heroine addict) will tell you: try it once now and the rest of them get easier. Well move further and further away from unlimited internet until people are forced to make those tough decisions. 2% are going to be affected. You can bet your ass that AT& fucking T is going to monitor that 2% after the caps are in place. They’ll find that those people will adjust their bandwidth usage until they are under the cap. The whole average of bandwidth used for AT&T just went down. AT&T lowers their cap to hit the top 2% again, only this time it’s now the top 2.5% that will be affected because it’s lower than before. So on and so forth until all the unlimited tits, blog posts, and shitty TV shows you only watch on the internet are gone. Oh and once they see more people are being affected by it, they will raise the price on overage charges. And once they start turning a massive profit off of previously unlimited shit other companies will jump on the ‘fuck up the internet wagon’.
Think about what this means for companies with websites (i.e all of them). They will need to optimize their shit to the point that people will get minimum bandwidth usage from visiting their site. Think Windows’98 era websites where if they had anything moving on the site people’s minds blew the fuck apart.
No one is going to use their precious bandwidth to see some fancy site. Give us the text and that’s it. Digital marketers are fucked (God..damn it). No one will host ads because it uses bandwidth that the customer needs to view their site.
What happens when this hits the mobile web? Everything on a phone uses bandwidth: Twitter, Facebook, texts, nude girlfriend photos, email, even phone calls. I’m gonna go a head and skip over the thousands of apps that constantly update themselves or post your Angry Bird scores . God forbid you’re lost out in Deliverance wilderness riding a ’91 Honda Civic hatch back with no gps and you used up your monthly cap.
Gamers are going to be fisted unrelentingly by this. Multiplayer (read: good) games need TONS of bandwidth because they are constantly talking to potentially dozens of computers at once. They are downloading and uploading tons of information on a faster than a fucking second basis which will bring you up to your bandwidth cap in a couple of hours.
I have faith in my fellow internet users that we will never let it get to this point, though. I hope to see riots in the street. We will never let it get to the point where gamers are planning their own post apocalyptic battle with the big corporations, girls are screaming and ripping their hair out over no more boy band stalking or streaming the latest Bieber song, boys and adult men are screaming and ripping their hair out over no more Facebook-stalking or streaming the latest BangBus update. Complete anarchy.