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Much Ado About Very Little

August 4, 2011 7:16:35.780

I see that a (supposed) public interest group is upset over data caps in the 4g world (never mind that they also exist in 3g):

"Activities that are made possible by 4G, such as watching movies or uploading video to the internet, are made impossible by the data caps," wrote the report's author, Michael Weinberg.

Well - I can certainly speak to that, as I use tethering on my iPhone quite a bit. As most of you know, I travel to Texas on a regular basis for work, and the class of hotel I'm staying is often, shall we say, bandwidth challenged. Quite frequently, I use my iPhone instead of the hotel wifi to upload my daily screencasts, and I haven't come close to going over the bandwidth cap. Heck, I've downloaded a bit over 5gb since July 2010, using the 3g network pretty heavily.

I'm not sure what the alternative is - making it all unlimited and "free" is likely to lead to a tragedy of the commons situation. Like it or not, the airwaves are a much more constrained resource than, say, a fiber optic line. We'll end up paying for usage one way or another, either directly via tiered usage plans, or indirectly via rationing. There's no magic bandwidth fairy out there who can create more spectrum.

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posted by James Robertson

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