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Beep! Virtual Toll Booth

Beep! Virtual Toll Booth

When you first hooked up to the web, you searched for the best deal and price in your area. Of course, internet connection pricing varies from one service to the next…but now three of the biggest internet providers, Time Warner, Comcast and AT&T, may start charging more to download addicts.

Yes, this means you—heavy-duty users who spend all day, every day, filesharing and downloading videos. The big three corporations think that these individuals should pay more for the service than someone who just checks email. This may sound great for that email reader, but we have to wonder the impact this would have on social network sites like Facebook or video sites like Youtube. These social sites rely on open data as a means to deliver their products.

Currently Time Warner is in a trial period, testing three plans with different gigabyte caps: 5-, 20- or 40-gigabytes. The customer chooses one, pays a monthly fee and if they exceed their plan limit, they pay $1 per gigabyte they go over. Critics of the broadband limit say that capping network use will hold back innovation and trying out new ideas, not to mention the convergence of television, computers and internet.

Aha! We knew there was a reason—if there's a convergence of the most popular media types, such companies could be losing money when consumers stop paying for things like cable. What's the point when they can watch their favorite shows on the internet?

Tell us your thoughts. Are these corporations imposing the limits because they think those who use more should pay more? Or is it a misguided attempt to keep their bank accounts full? [New York Times]

Posted: 6/16/08