Seems like a week doesn’t go by without a new announcement of bandwidth metering (the politically correct term is network management) these days. The newest service provider to join the bandwidth metering parade is Charter. Charter’s bandwidth metering announcement was joined by Time Warner Cable, the pioneer in bandwidth metering, announcing their intention to expand the practice beyond their initial trial market of Beaumont, Texas. The lone ranger among tier 1 providers sitting on the bandwidth metering sideline (for now) is Verizon.
The practice fuels passionate arguments on both sides. Some are calling bandwidth metering an attempt by the service provider community to expand the monetization of bandwidth and avoid the ‘dumb pipe’ role. More cynical views suggest carriers want to limit competition and steer customers to exclusive walled gardens. The carriers themselves argue that revenue and subscriber growth in no way is proportionate to the insatiable demand for bandwidth, driven primarily by rich media consumption. This growing bandwidth demand requires expensive network upgrades and something has to give, they argue. Hence, bandwidth caps. As is the case with most complicated arguments, elements of truth lie on both sides. The debate will certainly continue, but for all intents and purposes, bandwidth metering increasingly looks like broadband’s reality.
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