There's an appealing simplicity to "all-you-can-eat" service plans. But at the buffet, there's a natural limit to how much any individual can consume. Just think what would happen if a few large-volume eaters with virtually limitless appetites started slurping up virtually all the food at the buffet as fast as the restaurant could put it out. The rest of the diners either would face slim pickings, or would have to pay a lot more for the ticket to the buffet line, essentially subsidizing the mega-eaters, so the restaurant could afford to put out a lot more food. All of a sudden, "all-you-can-eat" wouldn't seem like such an appealing arrangement.
Broadband Internet service in the United States has been sold as an all-you-can-eat offering, but that pricing system is showing some cracks. Time Warner Cable in January announced a trial of usage-based pricing, albeit in just one town. This week BroadbandReports.com was reported that Comcast is considering implementing a monthly usage cap, with overage charges for those who exceed the cap more than once. Usage caps are common in other countries. Some say that users in the United States are accustomed to all-you-can-eat and will reject these new pricing models. But as in the buffet analogy, it depends what the alternative is. Flat-rate service for "unlimited" use sounds like a good deal, other things being equal It might not turn out to be such a good deal if the result is congestion due to a small percentage of users who engage in constant, high-volume file sharing or other high-volume activities.
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