The only thing that worries me right now about the future of cord cutting is data caps.
2017 is already off to a great start with a host of new streaming services on the horizon; Britbox, a new service offering British TV to Americans; and live TV services from Hulu and YouTube, to name a few, will soon be available to cord cutters.
But there is a shadow over what looks like could be the best year ever for cord cutters: DATA CAPS…
Data caps are imposed by internet service providers and put artificially low usage limits before you start seeing extra charges on your bill. This limits cord cutters’ ability to access the content they want without fear of going over their data cap.
Increasingly more and more cord cutters who stream a lot of 4K content are going over their data caps.
So, what can we do to stop data caps?
Many have pointed to net neutrality as a way stop data caps, but the truth is net neutrality does nothing to stop data caps. Net neutrality will cause ISPs to treat all data equality, but that just means ISPs will count all data equally against your data cap.
The only way to stop data caps is through competition. ISPs can get away with forcing data caps on customers if it is the only option in town. Often households only have one or two ISPs to pick from and both have data caps.
So what we need is more competition. Competition creates situations where if one company raises its data caps others quickly follow or get left behind.
So how do we get competition? Right now our best bet for more competition in the Internet service provider market is gigabyte wireless Internet. Right now Google, AT&T, and others are testing a new wireless Internet standard that promises to offer super-fast over the air service. This new standard will allow new ISPs to skip the expensive step of laying wires to every house. Now they can just build off of cellphone towers to cover a whole town quickly and inexpensively.
The idea of gigabyte wireless Internet is almost the holy grail of Internet services. And both Google and AT&T have test markets going on right now and many are expecting the service to go public sometime in 2018.
So what can you do to fight back?
The best thing you can do is contact your representatives in government. Tell them you want more ISP competition to fight data caps.
If you live in the United States: Visit Congress.org to find the names and contact information of your member of Congress and two senators. You can call any member of Congress toll-free by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 1-866-338-1015, 1-866-220-0044, or 1-877-851-6437 and asking for your member of Congress.
If you live in Canada: You can find your member of Parliament using your postal code from the Parliament of Canada website. You can call the Parliament Information Service toll-free at 1-866-599-4999 and ask to be connected to your MP’s office.
Let them know you want them to support laws and policies that oppose data caps and open up the ISP markets to municipal and wireless ISPs.
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