Netflix Is Wrong About Usage Caps

| by Mark Jones
A wireless iPad shows the Netflix mobile application. A wireless iPad shows the Netflix mobile application.

Netflix was wrong to ask the Federal Communications Commission to ban data caps on home internet connections and low caps on mobile data connections.

Every year, the FCC conducts an investigation of broadband deployment in the U.S. Congress mandates the investigation under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, according to Ars Technica.

Essentially, Congress requires the FCC to investigate whether media is reaching the American people in a reasonably expedient matter.

Netflix wrote a letter to the FCC to request it use its investigation to ban data caps that prevent Netflix users from streaming online video at times, reports The Verge.

“Data caps (especially low data caps) and usage-based pricing discourage a consumer’s consumption of broadband and may impede the ability of some households to watch Internet television in a manner and amount that they would like,” wrote Netflix representatives.

Most internet service providers and mobile data services place limits on the amount of data a customer may use in a given period of time, explains Make Use Of.  A customer’s internet or phone bill can rise dramatically if he or she exceeds the set data limit.

The data caps are “ineffective” and “do not appear to serve a legitimate purpose,” added Netflix representatives.

Many users would agree, saying the sole purpose of caps is to increase their monthly payments.

Contrary to the popular video streaming website’s accusations, data caps serve a significant purpose in national internet usage.

Around 64 percent of American adults own smartphones, according to research conducted by the Pew Research Center. If every individual were using unlimited amounts of data on wireless internet devices, internet congestion would become uncontrollable.

Data caps exist to limit internet usage, to an extent, according to Make Use Of.

Of course, those who are not concerned with the price of their internet and phone bills can use all of the data that they would like. However, the threat of having to pay increased rates for excessive amounts of internet certainly limits usage for many budget-conscious Americans.

Communication is essential for a functioning society. In 2016, internet is the most effective means of transporting information. With congested airwaves, a country runs the risk of slowing important messages.

Netflix’s desire to remove data caps is understandable. The company’s success depends on user satisfaction, which is dependent on ease of use and accessibility. As more and more users move away from desktop computers and toward wireless mobile connections, data caps make streaming video increasingly difficult, notes The Verge.

Netflix must accept that data caps will not cease to exist. The FCC has important information to study in its annual investigation. The ban of data caps will and should remain low on the FCC’s list of priorities.

Click here for the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: Ars Technica, The Verge, Pew, Make Use Of / Photo credit: Avijeet Sachdev/Flickr

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