How Internet metering changes everything

Did you really think the major ISPs' quest for enforced Internet tiering and metering was about bandwidth?

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This is why services like Netflix and YouTube drive the ISPs crazy. It's not just that these services require more bandwidth than Facebook and Twitter. It's because they are delivering a product to the user that the ISP thinks it should be getting paid to provide -- using the ISP's own network to do it! The sheer temerity of these companies! How dare they offer a better mousetrap and utilize network connections that are already paid for on both ends! And the users of those services, well, they clearly need to have their thinking adjusted.

And that -- adjusting your thinking -- is precisely what the big ISPs are aiming for. They want you to consciously think about the bandwidth you're consuming whenever you access the Internet and to begin self-limiting your Internet and entertainment choices. This will ultimately lead to the ISPs offering their own on-demand entertainment that does not affect your Internet usage meter even though it runs over the same pipes, using the same protocols. Rather than fire up Netflix and watch a movie, you will think twice because that movie will take a chunk out of your bandwidth allotment for the month -- and direct more money into the pockets of the carrier, rather than the competition.

But it's not just entertainment at stake here. Besides the burgeoning consumer market for Internet-connected devices throughout the household, there are plenty of uses for the Internet besides TV shows and movies. Rather than peruse media-rich websites that provide valuable content, metered Internet users may skip those entirely. Rather than allowing their child to download ISO images of a Linux distribution and learn about computers and programming, they'll punish them for "using too much Internet." Rather than using Pandora, Spotify, or iTunes Streaming, they'll sign up for the ISP's poorly designed alternative because it won't count against their cap. Rather than sign up with a cloud-based consumer backup company, the metered user will sign up for the one offered by their ISP because it won't count against the meter. Rather than burn valuable bytes on software updates and security patches, they'll turn all those updates off.

And those are just the impacts of metering. In the case of tiering, none of those things may be available at all. A tiered user's ISP will essentially send customers through a time warp back to using AOL in 1995. The Internet will largely cease to exist for those people.

No, the ISPs aren't really worried about bandwidth hogs. They're worried only about their own monopolies -- that they're not monopolistic enough. Their ultimate goal is to turn the Internet into cable TV, with themselves at the center, getting paid coming and going. They want the whole pie, and it would be a wholesale disaster if we were to give it to them.

This story, "How Internet metering changes everything," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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