When I first heard about the concept of metered Internet, my response was anger and disgust. (It's the end of freedom of speech! Death of a nation! The masses are being silenced!) Shortly after, it started to make some degree of sense--you have to pay extra to biggee size your value meal, right? You want more, you pay more. Same concept.
But, don't despair friends--I'm back to anger and disgust. I've been racking my brain for a compelling argument as to why this is wrong, because I know it is. It's one of those things that is deeply rooted inside you: it can't easily be explained, but you have no doubt about it.
Before I get into why it's wrong, let me recap the news. A recent article on MSNBC.com reports that many of the leading ISPs are fighting to put caps on regular broadband access with additional fees for those who surpass the caps. Every company is looking at a different amount: Time Warner has started offering (in test areas) 100GB cap plus $1 for each extra GB per month. AT&T started trials with a 20GB plan for $19.95 and a 150GB plan for $65, with $1 for each extra GB in both plans. There are other plans, but you get the point.
There are a lot of potential advantages to this. For one, it could make Internet access more affordable. Because let's face it, for low-income individuals, a computer is a decent expense (much less now than five years ago) and broadband Internet is typically at least $40 (dial-up is as dead as email on your TV). That certainly adds up, and likely has kept people out of participating in the world wide web. Of course, there are more significant implications on third-world countries--cheaper, limited-access Internet could bring many more in the world up to speed. And even just for the everyday user, like my father who hops on to shoot out a few emails a day (mostly mind-numbing forwards), the cost savings could be pretty significant.
But, don't believe the hype. This is not a good idea--and here's why. It might start out relatively innocent, but as the world continually becomes channeled through the Internet, this metered system will be one massive choke chain that lets ISPs pull us back into the 20th century. Think watching your favorite movies and TV shows on the Internet is the new way to do things? Well, consider this: with metered Internet, the same companies looking to make a buck off of those movies and TV channels are controlling your Internet. And, something tells me they don't have your best interest at heart.
But, look on the bright side: your kids will be forced to quit uploading vlogs to YouTube, updating their Facebook accounts, and digg-ing the latest news articles. They can go back to The Simpsons, you can go back to your daily newspaper, and everything will be as it should be.