Charter, the second-largest Internet provider in the country is looking to get permission to impose data caps on its customers starting in 2021. The move is also tied to an interest in using its power as a distributor to charge streaming companies like Netflix to deliver their services. See here for the public notice regarding the request.
The move comes four years after Charter completed the merger and is the first time it had the opportunity to ask to opt out of the conditions of the merger, in which Charter agreed not to impose restrictions on customers or services until 2023.
The corporation for its part says that it has no plans to impose any new conditions on customers. But wants the option to do so as the industry changes. This of course does not mean that it could not do so a week after being given permission to either. Not everyone is buying Charter’s line.
“With millions of Americans working from home, and countless K-12 and college students participating in distance learning, it would be disastrous to allow Charter to institute data caps on their customers as early as next year,” U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi Brindisi wrote in a letter to FCC Chairmen Ajit Pai.
“No worker should have their internet access crawl to a stop because they hit their data cap, and no family should be put in the position of having to pay their internet service provider more so their 8-year-old can participate in their third-grade class,” Brindisi said.
There is no doubt that the internet has become more vital in society every year since its existence and in this time of pandemic has become more important to every aspect of life as it is used for school instruction, medical appointments, work, and commerce. It is possible that depending on the regulatory environment and the mood of the country that the Internet could become seen as too important for normal societal functions to be sold in a way that would create disadvantaged populations based on access to the resource.
It has long been expected that as ISP’s lost revenue from television that they would turn to the Internet as their main profit source. But the time to lock in those kinds of expectations may have passed considering that many ISP’s/Cable companies suspended data caps during the spring and did not collapse under the pressure. With 5G on the way hard-wired and fiberoptic providers had better start figuring out how to make people happier with them. Not angrier.