The Internet data limit is not like a pizza – where taking one slice can mean fewer slices for everyone else. I don’t think Verge’s readers have a problem understanding this concept. It is well established that ISPs have no problem providing unlimited data, even during – say – a global pandemic when a vast population suddenly found themselves working at home.
This, however, did not prevent WideOpenWest (also known as WOW!) From using pizza to justify new data limits, possibly never seen before for its cable internet subscribers, as of June 1, 2021, as reported by Ars Technica .
Here is a part of the emails that subscribers are receiving:
What is a monthly data usage plan? Let’s illustrate …
Imagine that WOW! network is a pizza. Too hot. Plenty of toppings. Every WOW! the customer gets their own slice of pizza, but the size of the slice depends on the Internet service plan. While customers who subscribe to 1 Gig get the biggest slices, those with Internet 500 get a slightly smaller slice, and so on. But, it’s all the same delicious and quick pizza you know and love.
Now, let’s say you are not satisfied after your slice and take another one. That extra slice is like an excess of data. Don’t worry – we have extra pizza … hmm, dice … just in case. If you exceed your data limit, we will automatically apply 50 GB increments for $ 10 to your account for the remainder of the current month. The total overage charges will not exceed $ 50 per billing statement, regardless of the amount of data you use. Better yet: the first time you have an excess of data, we will proactively exempt fees.
To explain how absurd this is, here’s a paragraph from a story I wrote last year that I think you might also like to read:
Forget for a moment that Comcast itself was caught red-handed explaining that the data limit has nothing to do with network congestion. Forget that the CEOs of several smaller ISPs have admitted that Internet capacity is anything but scarce. Forget that Comcast deactivated its own congestion management system because it considered it unnecessary. Forget even that Comcast is an extremely profitable company whose cable division spends only a tenth of its annual revenue to keep the network strong. The proof that data limits are fraud is something that you probably witnessed earlier this year: Comcast, AT&T and T-Mobile lifted their data limits when the pandemic hit, and the Internet continued to run smoothly.
The problem here is that WOW knows very well that its chain is nothing like pizza – because for years, including during the pandemic, the company boasted proudly of not having a data limit. It was the reason for choosing WOW over Comcast, a subscriber told Ars Technica.
To which I say: wow.
What would make WOW abandon its values for profit? I can’t say for sure, but I take a guess that it may have been encouraged by Comcast’s recent decision to make the data limit the standard in the United States starting in March July next year. Because this is the “competitive” state of the Internet in the United States: so few real options that when an ISP increases profits, it is probably safe for neighboring ISPs to do the same. If you’re stuck with just one or two wrong choices where you live, I recommend telling the FCC.