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By imposing data caps on consumers, ISPs can charge content providers to be exempt from those same caps.
The quest to determine why data caps really exist may be starting to wind down. ISPs have admitted, either explicitly or implicitly, that monthly data caps have nothing to do with network congestion. And, while some have started to portray data caps as legitimate forms of price discrimination, that argument did not hold up to close scrutinty either. So what's left? Why are ISPs going to all of this effort to make customers deal with something they hate?
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has finally let the cat out of the bag. Data caps are all about forcing content creators to pay in order to reach subscribers. By creating data caps, ISPs create a new market that never needed to exist and never existed before: the market for not being counted against data caps. And that market can be big money. But it can also fundamentally change the way the internet economy functions.