With the recent merger of cable giants Comcast and Time Warner, customers are already worried about what the future holds for them. Will everything stay the same and the purchase just be about money? With no laws to stop a possible cable monopoly, customers don’t any real say in the matter. The big question remains as to whether this merger could mean yet more Internet usage limits.
Mergers Equal Limits
In the past, company mergers and take overs haven’t boded well for Internet users. Take the Alltel buyout by Verizon. In less than a year, mobile broadband users lost their unlimited packages. Those who were grandfathered in discovered they suddenly had spotty coverage or no coverage at all. While the rates were the same or higher, users lost access to unlimited Internet.
In recent years, Time Warner wanted to limit Internet bandwidth, but customer outrage kept them from implementing their plan. Part of the problem was due to competitors offering unlimited Internet packages. Now that the two main cable providers are together, is there anything to stop them from limiting users?
Destroying Internet Companies
If Comcast decides to limit Internet bandwidth or even go to the point of not offering unlimited packages, it could destroy any streaming companies. It would also spell disaster for online gaming. While cable companies want to save money and limit users to take the strain off their equipment, limits prevent users from actually using the Internet.
Many users can’t afford higher fees just to stream Netflix, Hulu or Pandora. Yet everywhere you turn, you’re asked to stream shows, movies, music and news. If the bandwidth isn’t available, how will these companies survive?
No Other Options
Cable companies are the only widely available options for high-speed, unlimited Internet. Despite what many surveys say that only poll a few thousand people, millions of Americans don’t have access to cable. Their only options are satellite, mobile broadband and dial-up. Some are unlucky enough to only have dial-up as an option. While the first two are often unlimited, you get bumped to dial-up like speeds after a certain point.
Satellite Internet is limited to 15 GB a month which isn’t nearly enough to stream more than a few YouTube videos, check email and play on social media each day. That’s millions of customers that streaming Internet companies are missing out on.
Mobile broadband or even using mobile data from your phone or tablet is even more limited. Most mobile providers limit users to 2-3 GB per month. They expect you to connect to Wi-Fi most of the time, but if your home Internet is limited, you’re still out of luck. Plus, you’re likely to get hit with overage charges by going mobile.
Fewer Companies, More Limitations
With each merger and company expansion, Internet options become more limited. These companies don’t seem to realize their impact on Internet culture. In a society where we’re supposed to be always connected, we’re becoming increasingly less able to be connected. Perhaps this merger could mean unlimited cable Internet that’s available to everyone. Or it could mean yet another set of limits that further destroy the future of the Internet.