We have all been there.
You’re watching TV and notice that the internet is slow and the screen is black.
Then you look at the router, and you see that it’s working well, but there’s no internet.
You start researching, and then you find out that the broadband provider that’s providing internet service is actually a huge internet service company.
The new breed?
The internet service providers (ISPs) who are trying to sell you a bundle of broadband.
It’s a new, lucrative industry, one that has exploded in the past two years, as broadband providers have sought to make money from customers’ internet usage.
And, in fact, ISPs are making huge profits from the internet.
“They’ve seen a spike in their revenues,” says Mark Pecoraro, the executive director of the advocacy group Free Press.
Pecorgaro says ISPs have also seen an uptick in complaints about their services, which are becoming more popular and more expensive as people start using more data and more devices.
ISPs are also trying to get people to use more of their bandwidth.
But a lot of people still use their mobile internet connection for surfing, streaming video, and other basic tasks.
“You can’t say, ‘We’re going to charge you $200 for a 5Mbps connection,'” Pecoro says.
“There’s no reason for them to charge more than that.”
The internet providers are also doing it in ways that have people worried.
A lot of ISPs have become big players in the broadband market by offering services that consumers don’t need.
Many of them have bundled services with large companies that provide their own broadband.
And in the case of cable, ISPs have pushed for better rates for internet users, including a “paid prioritization” option.
“The ISPs have been pushing a lot for these pay-per-use services, so they’re trying to charge consumers more,” Pecore says.
It all adds up to a lot more competition, Pecomaro says.
ISPs have seen a surge in their revenue.
Many have gone as far as charging users more than they charge their competitors, which in turn can make the companies more attractive.
But Pecorsaro says consumers aren’t happy with the way ISPs are treating them.
“We know that most people don’t want to pay a premium for internet,” he says.
Pekka-Karin Räikkönen is a member of the Helsinki Chamber of Commerce.
She says the companies are “increasingly trying to be the gatekeepers of the internet.”
“It’s a different world, a world where we’re not really able to do business with the providers,” Räikönen says.
Räikeens concerns include things like “zero rating” that allows ISPs to charge internet companies different rates for different services, and things like zero-rating that lets ISPs charge people different rates based on what kind of content they are.
“If they’re charging us $15,000 for a video, I’d prefer to have my money going to the company,” Råikkön says.
The companies are also getting into the data-collection business.
“Some of these companies, like Comcast, are collecting information about customers in order to improve their business,” Raukönen tells The Verge.
She adds that the companies have started doing it with their customers.
“And then the data is shared with other companies,” Rüikköns worries.
“That’s kind of a violation of consumer privacy.”
ISPs have not been shy about trying to control internet users.
In 2013, a major ISP in Finland, Telekom, was caught spying on customers.
The ISP’s CEO admitted that he had been spying on his customers for five years.
“I didn’t even know what I was doing,” the CEO said at the time.
In 2015, the ISP began requiring internet users to buy an annual subscription.
“A lot of consumers, they’re just happy to buy a small plan with no plans, no data,” Raulen says.
Now, Räkkönen wants to see an end to these practices.
“This is a world in which we don’t have the power to be informed, to speak out,” she says.