Data limits for the internet are not like pizza – where taking a slice could mean everyone gets fewer slices. I do not think so Verge readers have difficulty understanding this concept? It is well known that ISPs have no problem providing unlimited data, even during – say – a global pandemic where large groups of people are suddenly working from home.
However, this happened not stop WideOpenWest (aka WOW!) from using pizza to justify brand new, possibly unprecedented data caps for its cable internet subscribers, starting June 1, 2021, as Ars Technica reports
Here are some of the email subscribers who receive:
What is a monthly data usage subscription? Let’s illustrate …
Imagine the WOW! network is a pizza. Boiling hot. Toppings galore. Every WOW! the customer gets his own slice of pizza, but the size of his slice depends on his internet service plan. While customers who subscribe to 1 Gig get the largest slices, those with Internet 500 get a slightly smaller slice, and so on. But it’s all the same delicious, fast pizza you know and love.
Now say you are not full after your slice and you grab another one. That extra segment is like a data overrun. Don’t worry – we’ve got extra pizza … umm, data … just in case. If you exceed your data limit, we will automatically apply 50 GB increments to your account for $ 10 for the remainder of the current calendar month. The total cost for overage does not exceed $ 50 per billing statement, regardless of how much data you use. Even better, the first time you experience a data overrun, we will proactively waive fees
To explain how nonsensical that is, here’s a paragraph from a story I wrote late last year that I think you’d enjoy reading too:
Forget for a moment that Comcast itself was caught in the act when explaining that data caps have nothing to do with network congestion. Forget the CEOs of several smaller ISPs have admitted that internet capacity is anything but scarceForget that Comcast has disabled its own congestion management system because it felt it was not necessaryIn fact, forget that Comcast is a hugely profitable company whose cable division publishes only a tenth of its annual revenues to keep that network strong. Proof that data caps are a scam you probably saw for yourself earlier this year: Comcast, AT&T and T-Mobile all suspended their data caps when the pandemic hit, and the internet continued to run smoothly.
The kicker here is that WOW knows very well that its network doesn’t look like pizza – because for years, including during the pandemic, the company proudly marketed its lack of data caps. It was the reason to choose WOW over Comcast, one subscriber said Ars Technica
“No data limits” means unlimited access to your world. Like a WOW! Internet customer, you are not limited by data limits. In times like these, it’s important to have this benefit so you never have to worry about data usage – and it’s already included with WOW! Internet. #WOWWay pic.twitter.com/JkdMapzGAr
– WOW! (@WOW_WAY) March 26, 2020
WOW! does not have any #datacaps and ensures a fair, neutral internet – no matter what. WOW! does not distort the content. We put the customer first. -Ryan
– WOW! (@WOW_WAY) December 14, 2017
To which I say: wow.
What would make WOW leave its values for profit? I can’t say for sure, but I suspect it may have been encouraged by Comcast’s recent decision to make data caps the norm in the United States, starting
March July sometime next year. Because that’s the state of internet “competition” in the United States: so few real choices that when an ISP turns up the profit, it’s probably safe for neighboring ISPs to do the same. If you’re stuck with just one or two bad choices where you live, I recommend that you let the FCC know about it.