There was a post about this on The Verge
, but the real beauty was in the comments:
There's a great discussion/argument between AntarcticOutpost and (eventually) Joao Sousa starting about here:
You can’t have everyone in the world simultaneously streaming Netflix, just as you can’t have everyone in the world simultaneoudly charging their electric car.
Actually, yes you can, and yes you can. Here’s why:
For this scenario, I’m going to use Pandora as the example of the content producer. Donno why, probably just because I feel like it.
So you and Pandora are on opposite sides of the street. You and Pandora are both already paying for your electricity, plumbing, etc. everything you need to make sure you can run at optimal efficiency. Now you want to connect to each other. Here is where your ISP comes in. You want to connect to Pandora, yes, and consume their content, but the flow is not one way. For every request there is an ack. Pandora also wants to connect to you.
So Pandora, obviously, being a big company and all that, wants to buy a corporate grade bandwidth pipe, with Gigabits of bandwidth. They pay the monthly fee for that, and with that money the ISP upgrades their infrastructure to connect them up to their network. But that’s just one half of the equation. You also pay for your own, somewhat lesser of course, connection to that network. Let’s imagine the comparison between these bandwidths:
So of course, whatever bottleneck occurs is because you haven’t paid enough for more bandwidth.
Now imagine suddenly that 5 more people want to connect up to Pandora. So the ISP uses their monthly fees to hook up the requisite routers and switches to make sure that they can all connect up to Pandora. But, whoops, now Pandora does not have enough bandwidth to provide them all with full-speed service for every customer (assuming every customer uses the maximum bandwidth). That’s actually Pandora’s problem. They need to pay more for more bandwidth.
Obviously things change as we move away from simple “across the street” analogies. However, the principle does not change. Every person pays to hook up to each other via their monthly ISP fee. This fee goes into expanding the infrastructure such that it can support at the very least that bandwidth connection to the rest of the network, if not more.
Want to see some proof that what I’m talking about is not actually happening? Try looking at the massive profit margins that these ISPs are generating. I’m not the first to point this out either. Further proof? The fact that when Google Fiber comes into town with Gigabit bandwidth, suddenly and almost instantaneously, competing ISPs are capable of transmitting at up to 3x the speed they were currently providing for no additional cost to the consumer.
The evidence is overwhelming. Data caps don’t make sense. ISPs are creating an artificial scarcity of bandwidth and then attempting to commoditize the flow of data to justify their lack of infrastructure investment.
There's some back and forth and more explanation and debate. I thought it was a good discussion.
And that bit near the end where he mentioned suddenly transmitting 3x the speed for no additional cost? I recently experienced that myself. I was paying $50/mo to my Cable company for 5 Mbps down and 0.5 Mbps upload speeds. For years it's been those speeds and those prices, and that the only rate/plan they offered. Just last Fall a DSL provider in the area installed some fiber cables and offered me a deal of about 15Mbps down & 1Mbps upload speeds for about $40/mo for the first sixth months, at which time it would go up to somewhere in the $60s I think.
So I called my Cable company and asked them to suspend my account (vacation hold) for 3 months so I could test out the new ISP without cancelling my current one. And after a month I felt satisfied with the speeds and reliability of my new ISP, so I called the Cable company to cancel my account. They told me I could get 50Mbps download speeds for $50/mo or I could get 15 Mbps download speeds (which is what the competing ISP offered) for only $35/mo (which was a.
So how come they could suddenly provide me with 3x the speed for $15 less, or 10x the speed for the same price I'd been paying them for years just because a new ISP came into town?