Comcast’s Bandwidth Limit Will Limit Innovation

Next month Comcast cable modem customers will have to start watching their bandwidth. The large Internet provider has announced that they will limit users to 250GB per month of data transfer. Previously, users have had unlimited data transfer, although there are many reports of heavy users being kicked off the service when they hit an invisible limit.
Now 250GB is a lot of data. If you downloaded one HD movie per day, at 5GB per movie, it would add up to 150GB. If you streamed live video at .5MB per second for two hours each day, it would be about 216GB. If you downloaded a new version of your entire operating system every day, it would be about 180GB.
So 250GB is hard to hit. Now. For most people. But soon it will be easier. And we want it to be easier. People are creating more and more content — video content — for online distribution. It is not hard to subscribe to 10, 20 or even 50 video podcasts, updating each day or week, all with hundreds of MB or even GB in file size.
And the idea from the creator’s side is to get viewers. People are trying all sorts of different shows: news programs, comedy, vlogs, commentary, artistic, etc. This is a renaissance period for video, where all it takes is an idea, talent and hard work to make something, not a million dollar budget.
But if a large portion of the Internet audience suddenly starts watching their bandwidth, counting each byte for fear of losing their Internet connection, then they will stop download video because it looks interesting. They will get more picky, sticking with what they know and avoiding new things.
And this won’t just stay with Comcast. Since they took the first step, expect others to follow. Other cable providers will look at this as a way to set bandwidth limits without causing a fuss, because Comcast did it first. And competing services like DSL will do the same, claiming that they need to match Comcast’s service terms to remain competitive.
And don’t forget that Internet video is the primary reason, I’m sure, for this bandwidth cap. Or at least it will be the primary victim. And what is Comcast’s primary business? Video. So this is an anti-competitive move. There is no bandwidth limit on Comcast’s video services, only on the Internet, which competes with Comcast’s cable channels.
So we might be seeing the beginning of the end here. The end to innovation and creativity in Internet video. Soon it may require big budgets again, at least in marketing, to get your video noticed by the bandwidth-strangled public. Noticed enough that they are willing to spend some of their precious byte allotment to risk seeing if your show is worthwhile.

Comments: One Response to “Comcast’s Bandwidth Limit Will Limit Innovation”

    9/5/08 @ 10:18 am

    Didn’t Google buy youtube? Maybe it’s time for them to buy Comcast!

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