The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

The file-swapping scourge is increasingly being combatted at the source: the hardware and the pipes. The latest tactic is taking aim at the amount of bandwith an individual account can use up in a set period of time.

Basically, an ISP subscriber would be limited to a set amount--2, 10 or 20 gigs--that they can use up in a month. That means for anything: sending and receiving email, surfing, etc. Most regular online tasks won't come close to using up all that bandwith. The only thing that will is the downloading and uploading of large files. That pretty much means music and movie files through file-swapping programs like Kazaa and BearShare. The idea is that such a cap would effectively kill the decentralized network that makes file-swapping work. With this cap in effect, no one would leave their computer on 24/7 for uploading because they would reach and exceed their cap in no time flat. Similarly, downloading would also be curtailed.

The only speedbump is that ISPs are fearful of ticking off their customers, so they very cautious of implementing this. Still, I see this as the wave of future, unfortunately. After all these years of all-you-can-eat Internet access, it looks like we may have to get used to these limits.