According to data, 56 percent of Americans have broadband data caps, prompting groups to ask the FCC to investigate the matter. ISPs argue that it is only fair that those who use the most bandwidth pay for the higher than average costs they generate. That is an incredibly flimsy argument. Bandwidth is rather cheap, with gigabytes available for mere cents at regular bulk rates, and ISPs tend to pay even less. The notion that they somehow “need” this extra income on top of their already heavily marked up monthly rates is both asinine and insulting to consumers’ intelligence.
So then why data caps? In part, because no corporation would ever say no to more money. But the larger reason is because many of the same companies that operate ISPs also own enterprises threatened by the growth of the net. The Internet threatens journalism, movies, television, music and almost every conceivable form of content. But if they can make it prohibitively more expensive to utilize Hulu, Netflix, Pandora and other competitors, then they do not have to compete on a level playing field at all. Superior alternatives to their existing products exist, but as they often have majority control of the territories in which they operate, they can simply prohibit entire areas from being able to take full and equal advantage of these competitors. Data caps are not about making users pay their fair share, but it is about anticompetitive practices. These companies are prepared to hold onto their profits even if they have to hold back America to do so.