The Irrelevance of Internet Data Capping

Stop trying to make it happen, nobody wants it to happen.

The 21st century ushered in the Digital Age as people become fully engrossed with the wonderful existence of the world wide web, as the months and years pass, more and more applications, devices and people found their way towards the internet regardless of where they’re from, or how old they are. But, as the number of internet users grow rapidly, the amount of internet usage is threatened to decline as ISPs or Internet Service Providers have concocted ways to put limits to internet usage which we call Bandwidth or Data Capping.

So What is Data Capping?

It's Data with a cap.
It’s Data with a cap.

As Wikipedia would describe it, bandwidth caps or data caps is a rule that limits the transfer of a specified amount of data over a period of time most especially when a certain channel intended to be shared by many users reaches a certain amount of load or becomes overloaded, be it because of the more number of people accessing the internet through the said channel, or the large amount of files being accessed, downloaded or uploaded. The rule falls under the so called “Fair Use Policy” imposed by numerous ISPs which aims to grant equal usage to internet consumers, and has its history together with the emergence of Internet Service Providers.

A brief history lesson

The Internet was first conceived in the 1980s with its backbone being the research pieces of the 1960s concept of an interconnected computer network using packet switches, which eventually lead to the creation of the platform that we know and widely use today that is the World Wide Web in 1995. The history of ISPs can be traced back to as early as 1989 with the first ones being in Australia, and the United States, as the public is granted access to the interconnected network of the digital web. Today, there is an estimated 10,000 companies that provide Internet Access services worldwide, and an estimated 3.1 Billion people accessing the internet all around the world. Here in the Philippines’, our history with the internet can be traced back in 1987, through the form of a Bulletin Board System, the grandfather of the Online Forum, called First-Fil RBBS, which was operated by Dan Angeles and Ed Castañeda whereas the very first Philippine connection to the rest of the world via Internet was initiated by Benjie Tan through a PLDT Network center in Makati on March 29, 1994.

The 21st Century

Note: not the ACTUAL 21st Century
Note: not the ACTUAL 21st Century

The 21st century ushered in the Digital Age as people become fully engrossed with the existence of the digital web, ststistics reports from Statista.com show that there is an estimated 3.1 Billion internet users worldwide or about 46% of the entire global population exchanging more than trillions of amounts of data. Here in the Philippines, there is an estimate of about 44 Million Filipinos that have access to the internet one way or another, with a huge chunk coming from Mobile Internet users, which subscription count exceeds the country’s very population as it peaks at 119 Million subscriptions.

How do we use the Internet?

A large portion of Internet usage here in the Philippines is accounted on Social Media Access with social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter getting most of the traffic followed by Online Gaming and Multimedia streaming. Over the course of time however, how we use the internet is changing as many devices are becoming reliant on the network of the Internet for their functionalities, devices such as GPS, Video Game consoles, Instant Messaging devices, and even Medical devices. Consumers are also exploring new ways to use the internet as more and more internet related services are conceived, such as online shopping, bills payment, account management, and even home monitoring. The internet has already surpassed as the concept of luxury which it had in its early days, and has now become a needed commodity as everyone continues to starve for the constant flow of information that the technology provides.

So why limit data?

As the internet is a free-flow of data, the only way to measure your usage is through the amount of data that you access via download or upload measured in bytes, while during the early days of internet and ISPs, certain calculations of Data consumption were made and predicted and internet service providers have used those calculations to determine the intended average allocation for a consumer. During the earlier years of the 2000s, consumer internet expenses, particularly those who are subscribed to mobile data plans, are based on the set amount of Data that they are given according to their preference, whether in Megabytes or Gigabytes, with the trend continuing to change, but still following the same concept up until today. While an “unlimited” form of mobile data is also being offered, certain limitations such as speed throttling rules are implemented once a consumer reaches a certain amount of consumption, which then resets on a 24-hour basis. That being said, there are currently 2 ways on how Internet access is limited through Data capping, one is fully cutting off access one a certain limit is reached, and the other is throttling or downgrading speeds once the data consumption reaches a certain point.

Is it really relevant in the present day Internet?

The ways to use the internet has changed overtime, with the introduction of new services and devices that are reliant on Internet connectivity, the idea of capping or limiting internet data is downright relevant as the numbers grow bigger when it comes to the count of people accessing the internet, and the amount of data being accessed. The constant stream of downloads and uploads has already turned the internet into a necessity rather than luxury, a need rather than a want, as a huge portion of the information is accessed directly on the technological platform.

The annual average for Internet data usage here in the Philippines amounts to 150,000 terabytes of data, in fact, we are among the top 20 nations with the largest number of internet users. From socializing, shopping, gaming, mnultimedia streaming, account management, and even home and office security, the Filipino is catching up to newer ways of utilizing internet access together with the rest of the world, paying for internet with limited access just doesn’t make sense EVER.

Turnarounds based on present day data.

Even with data cap rules being implemented, internet service providers are putting in new offers for their internet service plans such as the inclusion of multimedia provider access like Audio and Video Streaming sites, as well as granting unlimited access to select Social Media platforms, and other specialized promotions. This is based on present-day data that is continuously collected by ISPs, as they rank how Filipino consumers access and use the internet. As good as it may sound however, data plans such as these are only aimed to a select portion of Internet consumers, as it presumes that subscribers are willing to fully take advantage of the promotional inclusions, while disregarding the other usage methods, leaving them to the mercy of data limitations.

What needs to be done

As the Filipino internet consumer is plagued, not only by data limitations, but as well as speed limitations, internet service providers are suggested to break off from the bandwidth capping rules, and reassess the idea of data throttling in this fast-paced world. Truth be told, it’s ironic how Internet services use the terms “surf without limits” or “do everything at amazing speeds” when it fact they are the ones who put limitations, not only to access, but also to consumption and speed. Even though deals are being made in order to asses the long problem of internet connection speed and costs in the Philippines, data caps and consumption limits should also be going away, if not have better compromises as to not fully sacrifice the consumer experience, but as considering  the amount of time it took before the said deals are agreed in order to assess the speed and cost, the removal of these limitations might just be another long road for Philippine Internet.

 

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