In Ongoing Net Neutrality Battle, Internet Providers Consider Metered Connections

As the FCC prepares regulations to ensure unfettered access to the internet, AT&T and Time Warner are weighing the possibility of charging customers based on their usage, as in the days of dial-up access. The providers contend that if the FCC limits their ability to control the traffic on their networks, they will have no choice but to meter their customers’ access. Already, some broadband carriers are experimenting with metered access, while others have imposed extremely high limits that affect only a minority of users. After having unfettered access for many years, however, either option currently being explored could cause consumers to reduce their use of online services. Largely for psychological reasons, users may avoid data-intensive services for fear of exceeding their allowance, even if the allowance is so high as to not pose a problem. Some may argue that metered access will stifle the growth of the internet, but its widespread use makes that unlikely. Instead, it seems that metered access will become little more than a negotiating point in the FCC’s deliberations on net neutrality. After all, as The Wall Street Journal reports, the amount of data consumed by the average internet user would cost $20 under AT&T’s plan.