Bandwidth Caps Threaten Future of Cloud Computing

Last month, we covered AT&T's decision to impose caps on its previous unlimited Internet service plans. An estimated 56 percent of Americans now pay for bandwidth-capped service, almost always at the same price point that once allowed them unlimited bandwidth.

Now, toss in the fact that you can't swing a dead cat two feet without smacking into another company eagerly talking about 'cloud services.' The offers are varied, the promises inflated, and the terminology uncertain. In virtually every case, today's cloud services are nothing more than what we used to call 'web storage' or 'sharing content across a network / the Internet.' The difference between these services of yesteryear and today's cloud services amounts to a paint job and some vague lip service to the idea that the individual receives a customized set of content/capabilities that somehow reflects the user's personality.

This is what happens when you grab a bunch of clouds and shove them all together.

The real threat to cloud computing, however, has nothing to do with vague marketing speak. The growing number of ISP's who've introduced monthly data caps is a serious problem. Customers who might once have wanted to adopt some form of cloud computing strategy could find that they can't afford to pay the overage charges they incur. The scope of the problem depends on the company in question and the amount of bandwidth they provide by default.

It's quite possible that the telcos and cable providers see third-party cloud services as a threat to their own businesses. Large ISPs, like AT&T and Comcast, may be planning to launch their own cloud services with an eye towards using them as part of an upsell strategy.

One of the reasons both cable and ADSL providers are resisting high bandwidth applications is that neither side wants to be what's referred to as a dumb pipe. The phrase 'dumb pipe' refers to a situation in which "an operator’s network being used simply to transfer bytes between the customer’s device and the Internet. The use of the term “dumb” refers to the inability of the operator to restrict services and applications to its own portal and primarily just provide simple bandwidth and network speed.

Cable companies have always relied on their ability to provide premium content as a means of attracting customers. AT&T's U-Verse product is marketed as a premium service that purports to offer best-in-class TV, wireless, and Internet speeds. There's no proof that AT&T or any other company is limiting / capping wired Internet access because of load issues--the sort of limits that make at least some sense on wireless devices mean nothing here.

The same restrictions that could cripple the adoption of cloud computing have already had a significant impact on the practical usefulness of a GoogleTV. The TV industry reacted very poorly when they thought GoogleTV could damage existing revenue streams--which, to be fair, were already under fire.

This situation is almost guaranteed to get worse before it gets better. ISPs have already attempted to claim that YouTube, Google, or Netflix owe them money for the privilege of moving data across network pipes. The telcos and cable companies could strike back by launching their own services while opting to classify data transferred from an AT&T customer's PC to an AT&T cloud service doesn't count against the monthly bandwidth maximum. That's a simple idea, and it's just one of a number of ways existing ISPs could make life difficult for nascent cloud-based companies.
LBowen 3 years ago

Very good article, I honestly have not thought about cloud services that much at all but the connections made in this article certainly make it more clear to me what it could mean further down the road for all of us as consumers.

Manduh 3 years ago

How do I get this damn autofresh to stop???!!! I just wrote a huge response to this article but before I could press submit I lost the whole damn thing! GRRRRR!

Long story short, Canadians have had bandwidth caps for a long time. We pay too much for crap speeds and low bandwidth and to top it off ISPs here more than likely throttle more than just p2p I have speed tests to prove it lol. it's terrible and it will only get worse. Enjoy your unlimited bw for as long as you can!

AKwyn 3 years ago

[quote user="Maduh"]How do I get this damn autofresh to stop???!!! I just wrote a huge response to this article but before I could press submit I lost the whole damn thing! GRRRRR![/quote]

I know, it pisses me off too. Maybe if they put the Ads in a separate frame maybe. Anyways, this is nothing new. Comcast saw Netflix as a threat to it's business, and they also saw torrenting as a threat to their business so they implemented network throttling for alot of their consumers.

The article does poise up some ideas but this will be destined to keep repeating itself in history, for the remainder of our lives. Someone will get all high and mighty over something that threatens their business and they will take steps to stop it.

KDaniels 3 years ago

If you think your ISP's are bad, try our ISP's here in SA. If you want decent internet speeds, you will pay heavily.

Lamar Kropf 3 years ago

@ Manduh I have found that I need to use notepad sometimes, then just copy and paste. Other then that, I don't know.

omegadraco 3 years ago

In my area of the U.S. we have two options Comcast and AT&T (U-verse not available) so I am stuck with a 150GB data cap on my network since I can't afford the $60 a month for Comcast when I get almost the same speed for $15 a month. I agree that it is a good article and find it utterly ridiculous that these large telcos are allowed to create a hostile environment for other businesses to compete.

slugbug 3 years ago

Things are worse in Canada with the big telecom's having caps of 20-60Gb, and charging outrageous over usage fees up to $3.00 per Gb. Our CRTC (Canadian version of FCC) is a total joke and seem to be more interested in bowing down to the big telecom's interests than protecting the consumer.

omegadoom13 3 years ago

Excellent article. I suspect industry lobbyists have been doing a fine job persuading relevant politicians to look the other way when the issue of bandwidth caps is up for debate.

AKwyn 3 years ago

[quote user="omegadoom13"]

Excellent article. I suspect industry lobbyists have been doing a fine job persuading relevant politicians to look the other way when the issue of bandwidth caps is up for debate.


Not that great of a job. There have been a lot of times where there were investigations for Comcast and other ISP's due to their usage of network throttling and uh... Netflix if I remember correctly.

And hey, they did manage to impose restrictions on what NBComcast can do right? Without those restrictions, I'm sure that Comcast would be forcing us to subscribe to their service in order to use Hulu and NBC content would exclusively gain front and center attention at Comcast.

rapid1 3 years ago

Hey Manduh Text Area Cache has been the only way I can beat the auto refresh personally. It auto caches every typed charachter so when it refreshes and you loose everything you can just open the taskbar icon copy paste and continues. It never seems to loose anything.

As far as this junk goes referring to netflix etc these services are already direct competition where I live and have been for over a year on both At&t and Comcast who both have there own in pipe version of movie rental with thousands available. While the At&t one is good the Comcast one is immense especially now that own one of the major 3 US networks. Comcast also owns or works with HULU it seems to some degree as well now.

As far as it all goes politically speaking with things like the court case in North Carolina I think it was where the state government basically gave all telco's and cable companies Cart Blanche over all internet in there state period point blank over residential dumb pipe services run by municipalities (which were generally not only cheaper considerably, but generally much more capable and bandwidth unlimited across the board) and communities.

As far as it all goes as well until the American Public realizes how deep we are being shanked by the politicians who of course preach about how they love the country, its citizens, and the freedom that used to be America (which are faster and faster becoming untrue) everyone might as well just get used to these kind of practices unless of course your willing to do something. Which in most places everyone may be willing to preach to some extent no one will actually stand up and do anything but preach.

To add to this record companies, RIAA, etc will now be able to prosecute you federally as a felon now if you copy your own CD and share it between your own families computers as well. Of course most people know nothing about this, but it is at least already partially if no completely in the law of the land by now.

Your freedom's and right are being lobbied daily for thousand if not millions of dollars (oh to get that federal law passed about illegal content sharing the lobbies basically funded 10% of all Senate re-election campaigns recently held and or funded the re-election of 10% of the US senate) so they could get the law passed. This is known and nothing has been done, neither is anyone even being discussed about being reprimanded, much less prosecuted for it.

No one in America seems to have the time or inclination to do anything about any of it either. So when they limit how many children or pets you can have in your house don't say you were not warned. Oh and if the federal, state, county, or municipal government decides they think a company should have your house and or land to bring better revenue to the area they will just take it with imminent domain which is also legal (the law was passed only for government building locations, and only when utterly necessary) and a current general practice in the US.

PFeenstra 3 years ago

Yeah this has been a big debate in Canada where providers with truly unlimited access are few and far between. Even then you're likely going to be stuck with 5Mbit DSL and paying around $40 - $50 a month, after taxes. Then you've got the major incumbents Bell, Telus and Rogers which provide internet, IPTV, land lines, cell phones and pretty much have cornered the markets. Capitalism at it's finest, eh? What a complete sham, there is no competition here and seems like despite all our efforts, the US following suit with caps is only going to lead to "well, the US is doing it" excuses. ugh it's looking bleak for both Countries, sadly.

animatortom 3 years ago

With clouds,...come things like tornado's, rain hail, and thunderstorms!

This has nothing to do with capitalism! This has left wing extremist written all over it. The crazy right just want limited government and relaxed regulations so you can have healthy competition and get the most bang for your buck.

Its the libs that want to over regulate, overcharge and limit what you eat and everything else that you do. Hell they will soon be regulating what kind of toilet paper you use and how much poop you can release each day! That way when you get sooo backed up we will all be liberals :P

Luckly we still produce White Cloud 3-ply Ultra soft toilet paper!

Kiristo 3 years ago

As long as there is still an option for uncapped, I don't care. Here, in Italy, I pay about 60 euro a month for uncapped internet, I don't even know how much the capped tiers are as I never considered getting one. I'm hoping there is something available with decent speed and uncapped bandwidth for $50-60 a month when I get back to the states, would still be cheaper than here.

And to comment on the pic, the only reason I ever went to McDonalds was to get 4-5 burgers for a dollar a piece.  2 burgers, 2 chicken sandwiches, and 2 hot apple pies for $5?  Hell yes.  It isn't quality I go there for, it's quantity at a low price.

deadmanet 3 years ago

Wow, thanks for the article. Never really thought about this too much. But decided to check out my details with Comcast. I can see why they should feel threatened. I only subscribe to the basic digital, and that's only because it is actually cheaper to have it bundeled with internet, than to have internet alone. I get most of my entertainment from places like Hulu, Netflix, etc...

After doing a little research on how they handle "excessive use", I found that upon first offense, you get a phone call, telling you that you exceeded the limit. Second time you are subject to account termination and not allowed to have service for 12 months. That's a bit over the top I think.

Guess I need to be a little more careful. Found that over the last couple of months i was over the 180gb mark and so far this month I'm at 149gb, with 10 more days to go. Looks like my movie watching will have to slow down a bit.

I guess you can say I fall into the group of consumers why they are doing this in the first place. I can get what I need from an outside source for cheaper than paying them, and they don't like it.

LLeCompte 3 years ago

its very sad that ways to make people lives easier will be hindered by greed. ATT is a very greedy company, and will find anyway to make a buck. Why cant people just get what they pay for these days?

rrplay 3 years ago

A fav of mine Mark Twain "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way."  

I can certainly feel the frustration with some of the folks in Canada lately & upset as well  so I thought that I would share this :

 others may have seen this before & may be appropriate for a civil discussion to continue 

>>>Please Read This Disclaimer :If you are offended by offensive language combined with critical thinking PLEASE DO NOT WATCH !!

I take no responsibility  for those that may be offended, ...besides the 'table is already tilted'.

It can be found here


NOTE If The HH TEAM and mods find this to be inappropriate, please delete this post ! &  I apologize .

slugbug 3 years ago

This video says it all:

JOffori 3 years ago

Glad I live in Japan, where the only cap I know of is a 30GB upload limit per day. (Yup, per day)

Bandwidth capping and throttling are ridiculous practices. If your network can't handle heavy users, then it's time to upgrade. Downloads are only going to increase in size, and if you're not equipped to handle that, someone else is going to come along and offer something better.

jamie_1318 3 years ago


What about bandwidth caps has left wing written all over it? Somehow I am not seeing liberal regulations cause bandwidth costs to increase. if capitalism worked with no restrictions. people wouldn't be putting restrictions on it. Right wing policies like removing all limitations are what allows health insurance to do what it does in the states. regulations exist in order to PREVENT monopolies, or in this case a group monopoly. I find your view sad and uninformed, I thought opinions like that only exist on fox news. The right wing is the one taking away your freedoms, not the other way around.

rapid1 3 years ago

That is very, very true Jamie_1318. The thing is most right wing or left wing only individuals believe what there group or party feeds them. Just for animatortom to consider, and I am neither right, left, or middle of the road specifically on anything, I think it should be whatever fits no matter what side or area of the body it comes from period, but as far as it goes animatortom any con man no matter his aim will tell you one thing, which is what you want to hear. The trick to it is your the one who decides that. So if you believe we should consider something they will let you decide it for them, and follow on from there totally snowing you from the side you have chosen for them. The only true conservative side is less, that being the key to the word which is conserve, and use only what is necessary.

If you are on the democratic or republican side they have a special division which you get housed in be it the Tea Party, the one in a pride parade, or the one smoking some dank he can get because his doctor gave him a scrip for 100 bucks it does not matter. The thing to recognize is that they are all lieing to you to get what they want be it money, power, women, drugs, land, cars, helicopters, cruise ships, computers, or companies. You will still in one way or another pay for those things, and those things do not matter what side they come from for they all want the same things if not all of those things.


animatortom 3 years ago
That is sooo true Rapid, they have only one word for those con men......Politician's!
This is why I always have to defend my thinking from the lefty loons because they only want to believe what they are told to believe. Just like Jamie saying I am sad and uninformed, without even knowing who I am because that is the tactical practice of the current democratic party! this starts early in school when they teach you to only  memorize and pass a test, then you become smart?! Without ever learning how to think for themselves. You can never teach people who don't want to learn for themselves!
What is sad and uninformed are those who keep buying those lies that Fox lies and the Tea party is evil! Without ever giving an example to back up those accusations. I am just glad I wasn't commenting on the White NZXT case, because then I would have been called racist as well:P  Everyone MUST absorb everything from Fox, CNN, even MSNBC and make up your own mind! If one cant do that then you become lambs to the slaughter just like what happened in Russia, Cuba and China, then those in power get to cover it up and make everything seem Rosy ending up with kids wearing Che pajamas!
This totally has the Lefts business policies all over it. They want to over regulate and overtax all businesses and individuals as much as they can. This is because they are so used to knowing that their money always comes from other people! Regulations do not prevent monopolies, especially when you are the ones making those regulations, it just ends up driving business out of business or overseas. Just like those regulations that were put in place during the Clinton years are the ones that put a cap on the number of operable insurance companies that allowed them to do what you mention! Like in Cali, if there were more choices than five insurance companies then there would be more competition. That is why they are pushing Cap and Trade so hard now! Just like NAFTA, it started out as the "Fair" trade agreement, then was signed into law by Clinton and became the "Free" trade agreement! Then when it abuses American companies and destroys domestic production, the Dems turn around and blame the GOP since it was introduced by Bush. They will keep doing this and keep turning around and blaming the GOP because they don't want to admit the truth! Even when they lie they act like they actually didn't lie! Then again I guess it depends on what your definition of IS,...IS? This is why we end up seeing business leaders and innovators like George Lucas sending his companies to places like Singapore, because of overtaxing and over regulating!
That's like I always say that Dems can never be true fans of Star wars or Star Trek, because they miss the underlying message and history that bore those franchises:P They just see the cool flashy effects and follow blindly without learning the moral of the stories. Read "George Lucas: The Creative Impulse"
So Jamie I hope you are here for fun Tech discussions and not just another Lefty liberal Blogger like Joel who hates FOX and the GOP. Who wants to push a liberal agenda with the same beliefs/tactics as the Hitler youth or Che Guevara:P I can never teach people how to think for themselves, I just know that those who follow the democratic party never think for themselves. The GOP may believe in some crazy ideals but at least they have an open mind and try to learn for themselves. But it doesn't mean I agree with them or anything about them!
Just for the record I can never be a Dem because I am for small govmnt, flat 15% tax, no regulations, anti-Illegal immigrant, pro-gun, anti-Communist, anti-Socialist, don't believe in a right to anything, and understand that the American dream is freedom and the opportunity to prosper, and not the right to handouts on the backs of others! I can never be Repub either, because I am Pro-Choice, Pro-gay rights, Anti-marriage rights, Pro-legalization and Atheist! So put that in the pipe and smoke it:P
Jamie_1318 3 years ago

yeah, actually thanks for your reply, I really wanted to hear more about what you had to say, I live in Canada so I never watch CNN or Fox news. I'd have to say out of almost everyone I know I am one of the people who spends time thinking and making their own decisions out of everything. It makes me depressed inside when I hear people taking opinions directly from our fairly corrupt news sources. I find that I definitely swing more towards liberal policies, but I don't like politicians either. One thing that I always find strange is that American people protest against free health care while health care companies continually screw them over. I definitely believe that making it for yourself is important, but there are a lot of people who just can't make it by themselves. The main reason I believe in liberal policies (not necessarily what the government is doing), is because I believe everybody should have the opportunity to try and make it, not so that people can live off the backs of others.

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