Bandwidth caps are a big issue for anyone spending a goodly amount of time on the Internet, especially if they are a fan of streaming media or open source projects.  ISPs have long maintained that it is necessary in order to provide good service to all customers and that it is just plain expensive to provide; not that this has stopped a slow increase in caps as the ISPs try to attract customers from other providers.  Ars Technica looked into the profit margins to be had as a big ISP and it turns out your provider may not be providing you with the full story, let alone your full bandwidth.

Data caps and metered billing have generated significant consumer resistance not because the idea of metered billing is always bad, but because the new packages on offer feel like highway robbery. Proponents of such caps, like Time Warner Cable, often claim that people need to “pay their fair share” in order to fund future upgrades, so we rounded the quarterly earnings statements out last week from the major US ISPs in an attempt to gauge how accurate that argument might be.

: It turns out that just about everyone is making huge margins in Internet access, revenue is surging even as costs drop, and companies like Time Warner Cable have actually reduced (significantly) their capital outlays on infrastructure.”

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