Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Death Of The Web Is Here Now


Today is the day that will bring us one step closer to the death of the cloud. That crucial new part of the internet that is gaining popularity due to the likes of Hulu, Netflix, MobileMe, DropBox, Crashplan, etc. is about to get another blow — AT&T on Monday started restricting the amount of data its millions of broadband customers are able to use in a month. Data is now restricted to as little as 150GB a month.

That isn’t good news — users should an uproar over the whole thing. It means that a large number of people using broadband in the U.S. will be severely limited in what they can do online. They might risk extra charges or even total loss of their broadband access. This comes as Apple is rumored to be on the verge of introducing a more Cloud-based model of computing for millions of customers.

The changes AT&T has made bring new monthly limits of 150 GB for DSL and 250 GB for UVerse. AT&T joins Comcast, which applied a 250 GB data cap to their broadband services several years ago. The companies claim that 99% of users won’t be affected by the data caps, but I’ve exceeded them already, just by using an online backup plan.

The changes come, as the internet sees explosive growth. The number of online services that require huge transfers of data has exploded: YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Crashplan, DropBox, and MobileMe, to name just a few.

And so have the number of devices: Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, etc. Modern homes generally have multiple devices accessing the internet, multiple users, and on demand streaming is gaining popularity as a means of watching TV on the internet instead of paying for cable.

This shift in consumer demand puts us at a crossroads. Many people like myself are considering dumping cable TV and switching to the internet. Some of my friends have already made the switch and they now access over-the-air HD TV and use their internet connection to catch their favorite TV shows, movies, etc. using services like iTunes, Hulu, Netflix on their Apple TV, Mac, iPhone, or iPad. People are also moving to cloud services on the internet like video and music streaming, cloud storage, etc. Cloud services and all the other services that originate on the internet are going to get killed or severely impacted if something isn’t done about data caps.

Comcast is my ISP and their 250 GB data limit, which they claim impacts less than 99% of their users, has already caused me some concern. You see for the first time that I can recall I consumed 200 GB of data in February, 523 GB in March, and 271 GB in April for downloads. I’ve exceeded my download cap twice in less than 12 months. The reason – I bought a subscription to CrashPlan, an online backup system.

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