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The Hypocritical ISP
April 28, 2009 - Dave Hecei
The Internet has become an important part of our lives. We use it to communicate, learn, entertain, find lost friends, etc. The World Wide Web will soon get to a point where you won’t be able to use it unless you have a high-speed connection. Some feel we may already be there.
If you use the Internet for occasional web surfing or for emailing friends and family a dial-up connection will work. But even if you spend short times on the web, keeping your computer up-to-date with security patches and software updates can be painfully slow with a dial-up connection. Apple updates are regularly in the 20-100MB range. The updates to Leopard, upgrading from 10.5.4 to 10.5.6, usually require something called a ‘combo patch’. The last patch from Apple was over 650MB. This would take days to download on a dial-up connection.
Having a high-speed connection to the Internet allows a user access to things that is prohibited by dial-up speeds. While you can listen to Internet radio on dial-up, video was out of the question. With a high-speed connection you have access to video files and video streams. Video files are just that, files you can download and watch any time. Streams are videos that you watch on-line and they stay online. You cannot save them to your computer for later viewing. Because of this, streaming is used by sites like Hulu, ABC, NBC, etc. where they want to keep control of the copyright ownership.
With a high-speed connection computer owners cannot keep their computers up-to-date. With a fast connection you are more likely to have automatic updates turned on. It’s also so much faster and easier to download other software to try. Adobe has most of their software available to download and try for a month. This is an easy way to find the right software for your needs when you can try it before you buy it.
So hopefully I have convinced you that you need high-speed Internet. Now I can tell you about the problem that is starting in the Internet industry. You have probably seen lots of ads on TV how this Internet provider is promising this speed, and this cable provider is promising this speed. I’m faster than you, but I am cheaper than you. It’s all advertising of course.
While these companies are promising you faster and faster speeds, some of them have started putting limits on how much data you can use in a month. While it hasn’t hit in our area yet, some of the cable companies and ISPs have started putting data caps on usage. One cable company announced near the end of last year that it would but a cap on heavy users at 250GB per month. While some protests where heard, most thought that unless you were abusing the network, no one should hit the 250GB cap in a month.
Unfortunately, one company has announced this spring that it would put a 50GB cap per month. While you might think that 50GB is still huge, it really isn’t when you are the type of person who is thinking of or has canceled their cable or satellite service. The bigger problem is that these providers will hit you with ridiculous charges for the amount of data after the 50GB.
With services like Boxee, Hulu, and Netflix, plus many of the other networks, putting more and more of their shows online, it’s possible to cut the cable and get your TV online. When you start streaming two or three shows a day, plus a full movie here and there, it is quite possible to hit that 50GB limit well before the end of the month.
So I think it’s safe to call some of these ISPs hypocrites. They advertise that they have all the speed you need to do all the things you want to do on the Net, but don’t download anything because we put a limit on the amount of data you can get.
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