Pay Per Use Broadband?

GigaOm recently ran an article on Predictions if Pay Per Use Comes to Broadband.

This topic has interested me as my travels over the past two years have made several points abundant:

  • We take reliable networks for granted
  • Hotel Wifi is usually slow, and often connection throttled (both quantity and duration)
  • Many worldwide providers have a fairly low “fair-use” cap (e.g. the most expensive BT Broadband plan has a maximum of 100GB a month before they throttle your usage from 4pm to midnight each day (which happen to be peak US Pacific business hours)
  • 3G and 4G networks are getting faster and more reliable, but contain extremely low caps
  • Any normal usage of video blows through caps (wow does Netflix use a lot of bandwidth)
  • The proliferation of Ajax and Comet Apps (my bread and butter) has significantly increased the amount of data we consume, as well as the system resource constraints for each tab open

I believe that in order to sustain the open web going forward, we need at least a 2 orders of magnitude in performance improvement in browsers (memory and cpu usage, not just page load), a better way to handle concurrent http requests on a single page (the tricks we do like image sprites, script concatenation, etc., while useful, are just dirty and wrong), and a way to significantly improve network performance.

Networks currently somehow believe that large producers of content should be paying them for allowing their content over their network (e.g. NetFlix). I’m sorry, but the end user is already paying for this bandwidth.

Developers need to be more efficient with regards to performance impact, but the platform as a whole needs to get fixed, become sane, and reduce resources or else we’re in for some painful years ahead. Unfortunately, until this is fixed in a major way, I believe fair use caps around the world, and pay per use in the USA (since we don’t seem to get the concept) are here to stay.

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