Cable companies considering download limits

It has been reported that cable companies AT&T Broadband, Charter Communications, and Cox Communications are considering moves which could see the end of cheap bandwidth as they look towards limiting users and forcing them to pay more for additional downloads.

This would be a huge blow for people using file sharing programs like KaZaA and other popular P2P services as they rely on the widespread availability of cheap bandwidth. The cable companies are now hoping to introduce limitations, which could mean the exchange of huge files (or huge numbers of files) could become costly, and the people sharing the files could see growing bills. Packages which could be introduced will force people to pay a fixed fee for a certain amount of bandwidth and if they exceed this additional charges will be implemented.

There have been experiments with different broadband packages by Charter who have been allowing users to make a choice between high and low download rates, with the quicker connection priced higher. In this 60% of people who joined them opted for the slower connection and this is an indication that people are willing to make compromises for cost.

A P2P expert has told Business Week: "This is one of the greatest threats to peer-to-peer file-sharing,", he then went on to say: "If a critical mass of broadband providers institute pricing structures that make people sensitive to the amount of data they transmit, there will be less sharing.". A spokesman for the record industry also said: "Tiered pricing won't help artists or labels get paid, but it's a step in the right direction".

The main reason for the price changes isn't to stop P2P sharing, however, but is for broadband providers to lure custom as the prices currently charged are seen as too high by many people. In the US $60 billion has been spent in recent years building the networks and providers are struggling to recover this.

News source: BusinessWeek

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