Usage-based pricing plans provide consumers with a fixed amount
of monthly data for a set price. Once you reach your data cap for
the month, access to data either becomes restricted or extra fees
are levied. This system provides a great deal of income for ISPs,
particularly from online streaming and video viewing. In Canada,
most ISPs have data caps.
Internet streaming pioneer Netflix opposes such caps, for
obvious reasons, and now it is taking action in the United States.
They recently submitted a filing asking the U.S.
Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") to declare that
home internet data caps are unreasonable and limit customers'
ability to watch online video. This filing was made under Section 706 of the U.S. Telecommunications
Act, which empowers the FCC to "determine whether
"advanced telecommunications capability" is being
deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion."
ISPs typically take the position that data caps and overage
charges are placed to manage network congestion. If consumers have
unlimited access to data, high levels of data use by some may end
up making broadband channels slower for everyone else. Simply put,
the argument is that people who use more data should pay more for
it. As data use keeps ramping up, ISPs argue that they need to
charge more in order to keep their networks fast.
Netflix's filing strongly contests the technical and factual
basis of this argument. Netflix posits that usage-based pricing is
simply a strategy to get more money out of consumers, and is
completely unrelated to network performance.
Technically, for the most part, total data usage in a month
("quantity" of data) is irrelevant when managing a
network, what is important is the data rate (quantity per second).
"Bandwidth" and "broadband" are
measures of data rate. That being said, total data usage can be
correlated to bandwidth use in certain circumstances.
Several reports and studies also support Netflix's line of
reasoning. A leaked internal Comcast memo in 2015 revealed
that the company's data caps are not related to network
performance. Andrew Odlyzko, a mathematics professor at the
University of Minnesota, published a paper in 2012 arguing that the
pace of technology has matched the rise in demand of data, such that
higher usage rates should not result in an overload in the
broadband capacity. Finally, Netflix's filing references a
U.S. Government Accountability Office survey in 2014, where
ISPs said that congestion wasn't an issue on their
Software license agreements generally require the customer to pay fees for the software license and related services, which fees are usually based upon the duration of the license and the manner in which the customer is allowed to use the software, together with applicable taxes and withholdings.
In less than nine months, on July 1, 2017, persons affected by a contravention of Canada's anti-spam legislation will be able to invoke a private right of action to sue for compensation and potentially substantial statutory damages.
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