There's not a broadband provider out there who wouldn't instantly begin billing you by the byte if they thought you (the consumer) would sign off on it. Unfortunately for them, Time Warner Cable's recent PR disaster illustrated that consumers aren't sold on low caps and high overages when broadband delivery costs continue to drop. Many customers may be stupid, but they can apparently read an ISP's 10-K form, which shows that flat-rate billing provides broadband operators with very healthy profits.
There's only one way that the broadband industry is hoisting metered billing on a wary public, and that's if all broadband carriers embrace the idea at once. Since most broadband users only have the choice of one or two carriers, if the industry made a collective shift to per-byte billing there's very little consumers could do about it. With AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable all either engaged in metered billing trials or consistently thinking about it, that leaves Verizon standing in the way of the ultimate investor pipe dream: billing you by the byte.
Right now, the competitive threat of uncapped FiOS acts as a deterrent to companies in Verizon's territory eager to cap or meter. Verizon has consistently told they have no plans for metered billing, though they've been careful to use vague language that left the door open to the possibility. Back in May the company's CEO strongly hinted at a metered future, and today Verizon CTO Dick Lynch gave investors the strongest hint yet (see Telephony Online and GigaOM) that a per-byte future awaits you:
It's not a matter of if, but a matter of when. And when Verizon decides to fully embrace metered billing, watch out. While Time Warner Cable flubbed their attempt to ransack your wallet like a randy teenager over-eagerly fumbling with consumer bra straps, Verizon, who's a little more experienced in nickle and diming, will make no such mistakes. Verizon's shown they're a lobbying, PR and spin juggernaut, and if anyone can convince American consumers that paying already very profitable companies more money for less product is wonderful and fair, Verizon can.