from the do-not-pass-go,-do-not-collect-$200 dept
For decades, consumers have mostly wanted one thing from their ISP: a semi-affordable dumb pipe connection for the Internet. For just as long, US ISPs have bucked this demand, routinely trying to saddle users with higher costs and additional services consumer never asked for, while finding strange new ways to make an additional buck on the back of what are usually captive customers.
Take Comcast, for example. The company is preparing to roll out long awaited faster upload broadband speeds for its subscribers. But in order to actually subscribe to these new speeds, they’re forcing Comcast customers to use Comcast hardware they may not want. Hardware that’s basically a glorified home data monitoring subscription service costing an extra $14 to $25 a month.
When asked about the dumb decision by Ars Technica, Comcast pretends that there’s some kind of unforeseen technical challenge that’s preventing them from providing faster speeds to users who own their own hardware any sooner than “later next year”:
“We intend to extend the experience to customer-owned modems later next year and are working through the technical requirements as we learn,” Comcast said. “We started offering it with our own equipment first and now are working through how to extend to customer-owned equipment.”
Comcast also said that giving the upload boost to xFi Complete customers first follows its “typical validate, test, and certification process for a new network innovation.” But if the reasons for limiting the upload boost to Comcast hardware initially are purely technical instead of revenue-based, it’s not clear why people who rent the gateway for $14 a month shouldn’t get the same benefit.
Keep in mind, Comcast already forces users to use this hardware if they want to avoid Comcast’s arbitrary usage caps and overage fees, which are another, different, pointless cash grab. And this hardware restriction will likely be expanded to the company’s “full duplex” upgrades next year that aim to finally provide cable users with fully symmetrical upload/download speeds.
As Comcast continues to lose video subscribers to streaming customers, they’ll increasingly be looking for creative ways to nickel-and-dime their captive broadband subscriber base to provide Wall Street those sweet, improved quarterly returns. Forcing you to use overpriced hardware you don’t want is just one of many.
But an estimated 83 million Americans live under a broadband monopoly, so they have no alternative ISP to flee to when their own provider engages in this kind of behavior. That’s where we are as a country where regulators generally couldn’t give any less of a shit about consumers being ripped off and policy leaders pay endless lip service to the importance of innovation and competition but do nothing to foster it.
Filed Under: broadband, cable, caps, competition, digital divide, fcc, high speed internet, speeds
Source by www.techdirt.com