I am writing this post in order to put together some ideas I have been going through since I read that Telefónica was planning to limit (or at least penalize) users with a heavy bandwidth use. For what I know, they already started in the UK last september (with a bandwidth cap of 20 gigabytes per month).

Well, I currently live in Samoa in the South Pacific. There I have a bandwidth cap of five megabytes per month. I am in general quite happy with the service in Samoa, is up most of the time and is a decent speed, I believe is some 512 kbit/s (in theory). Then I realize how hard it is to do my “normal” internet life. This is the service I have in Samoa, the prices are in Samoan Tala. That meant several things I had to say no to:

  • No more YouTube.
  • No more Vimeo.
  • No more Spotify.
  • No more LastFM.
  • No more video podcasts.
  • No more updates of iPod/ iPad firmwares.
  • No more system updates.
  • No more software updates (bigger ones).
  • High limitation on the podcasts I listen to.
  • Very limited number of magazines I can get on Zinio.
  • No more watching movie trailers.

Just to name a few. Again, I was happy to at least have decent internet access (for a very high price, though). I never thought I was so dependent on internet access. But here is what I find interesting:

I went for twelve days to New Zealand, so I was happy I will get all my gadgets updated, and all my obsolete operating system and software back in shape. My surprise was big when I realized that in New Zealand there is a bandwidth cap too. There is only Telecom New Zealand as Internet Service Provider and they used to have traffic manage “unlimited” plan to avoid limitations but the plan was later cancelled on 20 May 2010 after trouble with supplying so much data to what were called the “bandwidth hogs”. The ISP will limit your internet speed to 64 kbit/s if you go over allocated allowance. WOW.

I was very surprised, how would this affect the services I was describing before? Is this a global trend? Are ISPs going to stop completely the unlimited bandwidth services or they will only penalize heavy users with even more expensive rates?

I have to admit that this is an issue that worries me, as a user, as a professional working on online services that require high bandwidth and as an investor on companies that will be damage for such decisions.

Can you guys share your ideas?