For a years now, ISPs have advertised their Internet offerings as 'unlimited', even if what they mean is, "We'll watch you like a hawk, and the first time you download some video we'll send you a letter and then cut you off." Well, apparently the time will soon come when no ISP calls their offering unlimited, and we all pay for what we use.
Of course, as someone who downloads plenty of content, I'm opposed to the idea of getting an allowance each month of a few dozen gigabytes. I'm also doubtful that the consumer will understand usage limits. It's not like using a phone, where you can easily track the amount of minutes you're using. No one knows how much a streaming video uses, because the site doesn't generally tell you, or it's open-ended.
All of this has come about because of the way Internet access works in the UK. Basically, whether you buy your access from PlusNet, BT or most other ISPs, you're generally using BT's network to transmit and receive data. BT invested in the infrastructure in the first place, so it charges others a decent sum of money to use it.
The answer for people who want to download more than a few lolcats has to be LLU providers, who don't rely on the BT network. I recently asked Be how it was capable of offering unlimited access and it responded, "[Our customers] can surf as much as they like and make the most of without worrying about being charged more. Services like iPlayer are what we planned for right from the start. With an actively managed core ring and continually improved redundancy in the network, we can give our members the sort of service others struggle to provide."
So, we can have unlimited usage, we just have to make sure we get it from an ISP with an actively managed core ring. Phew.