Column: Data limits are a greedy attempt for more money

Data caps work against progressive technology.

Hunter Gilbert is a freshman at MU. He is an opinion columnist that writes about rights and tech for The Maneater.

Data limits are a step backward for technological progression. In a time period that is driven by access to the internet and ease of access to different forms of entertainment, it is hard to reason why it is even being limited at all.

Effective Nov. 1, Comcast has implemented a 1 terabyte data cap on its customers, and it is not hard to believe that other internet service providers will implement similar restrictions in the future. Such restrictions work against consumers and limit the actual consumption of various forms of media.

For starters, it has been pointed out that capping fixed line networks is not an effective way of mitigating and controlling internet traffic. It also does not affect the strain on the system or increase upkeep costs, as the wiring ages regardless of usage. This is just an attempt to compensate for lost revenue from cord cutters, people who cut their subscription to TV services, as well as shift to internet-based entertainment consumption. At its core, implementing data caps is nothing more than an additional way for ISPs to increase revenues. ISPs profit from a lack of competition and hidden fees.

Comcast and other ISPs are attempting to force consumers into paying for higher premium services, like cable TV subscriptions, in order to avoid implementing data limits. This is evidence the company prioritizes retaining cable subscribers over giving their existing internet subscribers a positive experience.

What further adds to the complexity is the fact that some ISPs either are owned by cable provider or own a cable provider themselves. For example, if I only watch Netflix or HBO programs, the ISPs would technically lose me as a cable subscriber. To compensate for this, ISPs have data limits and charge overage fees. This works well for them since streaming video, especially 4k video, syphons large amounts of data. ISPs ultimately get the same amount of money, just by deceptive means.

Americans are using devices in their homes at an increasing rate. This began with a significant rise in data usage by mobile devices that slowly transitioned into the home environment. One can argue that this is due to consumers’ attempts to avoid costs for data limits on phones. The usage of Wi-Fi in your home may not run up your cellular bill but it can potentially raise your monthly internet charge. Many ISPs are also directly tied with cellular providers such as AT&T or Verizon, so they make money whether you use too much mobile data or household data.

Data limits are the beginning of a backward progression for a technology and information-based society. It is simply unthinkable that one would limit something that leads to growth in society.

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