Bill Proposes Regulation of ISP Bandwidth Caps

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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  • Nick_C
    Sounds good - now we need a UK equivalent.... Listening OFCOM?
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  • Clintonio
    I'm pretty sure the UK has better regulation and competition standards in place already.

    You can get some quite good deals out there here, but my US friends get nothing similar (Like the Virgin Unlimited package here is a pretty good deal)
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  • Anonymous
    Depends on your provider there are quite a few that impose no caps to date, the reasoning is that less than 10% of an ISP's userbase use nearly 60% of their bandwidth (quite true in most cases) Usually if you have a cap it's not a true cap such as what you would find in a dedicated server for example if you exceed your bandwidth quota they may simply "throttle" your connection for the remainder of the month to a slower but quite usable speed. This is all just a dog and pony show since president Obama is pushing his own American Broadband Revitilization plans.
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