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Internet by the Mile

We're all used to cabs charging by the mile, and shrinks charging by the hour. But are you ready to pay for the Internet based on how much you use? Major providers, especially those selling overpriced cable TV services, hope you are.

The rationale from the cable/Internet companies is that a few users -- heavy file sharers, movie downloaders, and those with rich and popular Web sites -- use an inordinate amount of bandwidth, and therefore should pay more. There are a few problems with this line of reasoning: These new metered charges could apply to the majority, not the minority of users. And as the number of customers increase, the cost of serving each actually falls. Worse is that these companies are really just trying to keep you from dumping cable TV and watching shows over the 'Net.

I guess what really galls me are the price creeps we've already seen. I spend about $50 a month for home Internet mainly because DSL is so darn flaky. I spend the same amount during the summer at my vacation home, so for half the year I shell out $100 a month for Internet. Add to that the $20 a month for tethering so my BlackBerry can serve as a laptop connection, and we're talking serious dough. And I haven't even added in cable TV for the two homes, or all the cell phones my family uses.

All in all, my family gives service providers over $500 a month. I could lease a BMW for that! And now they want to hit me up for more? I don't think so. What about you -- do you want metered Internet? Do service providers provide a fair deal? Tell us what you think at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on May 11, 2009 at 11:53 AM


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