Plenty of American geeks are in a tizzy over Time-Warner Cable’s recent announcement to test usage-based billing for bandwidth in Texas. Like, say, water or electricity, you’ll pay based on how many gigabytes you use per month. This seems pretty reasonable, actually–I’m not sure why everyone’s got their panties in a twist. Mark Evans has some reasonable commentary on the topic.
Plenty of bandwidth goes unused each month. Wouldn’t it be cool if big downloaders could, like polluters buying carbon credits, buy unused bandwidth from people who weren’t using it? It could be automated, based on some kind of auction model. Maybe such a system already exists?
I expect there would be some technical barriers, as well as some very disinterested cable companies. Still, I like the model. If we’re going to treat bandwidth like a resource or utility with scarcity, then there ought to be a marketplace for it.