Former FCC Chairman: ISPs Need to Implement Data Caps

Michael Powell, a former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman (under President George W Bush) and now President and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA), recently said that ISPs should be moving with urgency to implement data caps on their customers.

His remarks, chronicled by Multichannel News at the recent Cable-Tec Expo in Atlanta, were in response to a question about data caps.

Powell was also asked about usage-based broadband policies, which are permissible by the FCC. He disagreed with arguments that the window for usage-based broadband is closing or that it’s too late for MSOs [multiple-system operators] to implement usage-based policies when consumers have grown accustomed to unlimited access.

Cable, he said, “should be moving with some urgency and purpose” with respect to usage-based billing. Powell said operators have sound economic reasons to pursue a new model but acknowledged that the industry faces perceptions that usage-based billing is viewed as an anti-competitive move designed to disadvantage over-the-top video providers.

“I don’t think it’s too late,” Powell said, noting later that the wireless industry has been acclimating consumers on the concept of usage-based Internet access. “But it’s not something you can wait for forever.”

The NCTA could not provide a transcript of Powell's remarks at the event when asked by Ars Technica, instead directing them to the lobbying group's policy page on the subject:

"Since Americans are accustomed to paying for what they use, some broadband providers are developing usage plans that promote fairness by asking high capacity Internet users to shoulder a greater proportionate share of network costs," the NCTA argues. "But instead of applauding increased consumer choice and common sense pricing, some critics want to force average users to pay a flat fee akin to a 'universal' service, no matter if they are an occasional visitor or frequent 'super user.'"

While the FCC has implemented some "net neutrality rules" the agency left usage-based billing, or data caps on the table and at the discretion of ISPs in the country. For many watchdog groups and activists it was a major failure on the part of the FCC and deemed by some as a concession to companies who would have fought harder against the rules…

Source: Ars Technica

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