Most "all you can eat" wireless Internet access offer these days do come with a traffic limit per month after which the connection is either cut, the speed is decreased or further charges apply. The aim of these measures is to ensure that a few users do not disproportionally use the network. Especially in wireless networks, where air interface capacity is the limiting factor, network operators try to bring some fairness into the game. However, the throttling is not happening at the air interface but in the core network. For the sake of fairness, however, I wonder if that is the right place to do the throttling!?
Wouldn't it be better to to have a sort of a soft limit and control it via the base station traffic scheduler? Here, the scheduler could take into account how much data each user has already transmitted in the past hour or day and thus give the packets to or from this user a higher or lower priority. Doing this at the base station would have the advantage that while the cell is not loaded, even heavy users get the full bandwidth while under heavier load, users that only browse the web get a higher priority and are thus not significantly slowed down by streaming or downloading activities of other users.
The scheme doesn't work for moving users but I assume that most power users with a notebook use bandwidth hungry applications in a stationary mode. I am also aware that taking the user identity and past use into account at the base station scheduler is not standardized in 3GPP and I am not sure if the base station scheduler can keep track of a users identity over state changes (i.e. from Cell-DCH to Cell-FACH to Idle and back). Nevertheless, an interesting "Gedankenexperiment".
Oh yes, and by the way, this kind of soft-priorization is not new, it's done for satellite Internet connections already.