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Time Warner Cable Tries Metering Internet Use

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the been-there-done-that-gave-it-up dept.

Communications 589

As rumored a couple of months back, Time Warner is starting a trial of metered Internet access. "On Thursday, new Time Warner Cable Internet subscribers in Beaumont, Texas, will have monthly allowances for the amount of data they upload and download. Those who go over will be charged $1 per gigabyte... [T]iers will range from $29.95 a month for... 768 kilobits per second and a 5-gigabyte monthly cap to $54.90 per month for... 15 megabits per second and a 40-gigabyte cap. Those prices cover the Internet portion of subscription bundles that include video or phone services. Both downloads and uploads will count toward the monthly cap."

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589 comments

Welcome to our world (3, Insightful)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636445)

Many many ISPs in many many countries operate this way. It's not as nice as "flat rate" in some folks eyes, but at least you get what you pay for (assuming no BT throttling, etc shenanigans).

Re:Welcome to our world (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636477)

Many many ISPs in many many countries operate this way. It's not as nice as "flat rate" in some folks eyes, but at least you get what you pay for (assuming no BT throttling, etc shenanigans).
Exactly. That is how every industry works. The rich have nicer cars, better food, and now better internet access. You could argue that the beauty of the internet is that everyone gets an equal share of the information online. I argue that all that knowledge will fit into a 5 GB/month plan. It is the entertainment that will not fit into those plans. I also download the occasional Linux distro, and a Fedora or Windows update can be over 200 MB. At 5 GB/month thatâ(TM)s 4% of oneâ(TM)s pipe. A large amount, but livable.

Re:Welcome to our world (5, Informative)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636543)

I also download the occasional Linux distro, and a Fedora or Windows update can be over 200 MB

In Australia the plans are usually for bandwidth/month, so you pay according to line speed, GB/month etc, but it's fairly uncommon (except for wireless broadband) to be charged for excess usage (they just drop the speed to something painful like 64kbps).

Many of the ISP's have unmetered content, such as local mirrors for major linux distro's, file repositories and some entertainment related stuff. So, for example, all the Ubuntu updates for our computers are not metered - in some circumstances that's VERY useful (eg: an office with 10 computers).

But Australia's internet is a horrible state of affairs generally - just putting in our experience here FWIW.

Re:Welcome to our world (3, Informative)

OneSeven (680232) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636647)

Some Australian ISP's used to let users elect to have either the painful throttling you describe, or to be charged extra for excess usage. These days most (all?) just do the throttling - most likely to try to get users to upgrade to more expensive plans. I'm currently on 64k thanks to exceeding my allowance for the month, and 'painful' barely describes it. I'd happily pay $10 extra for another few more GB this month, but certainly don't want to lock myself into a higher plan, as most months I won't be using as much.

Also - if you've got 10 machines running the same OS, wouldn't it be worth setting up an internal mirror / patch distribution server so you only need to pull the data down your internet pipe once?

Re:Welcome to our world (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636709)

Also - if you've got 10 machines running the same OS, wouldn't it be worth setting up an internal mirror / patch distribution server so you only need to pull the data down your internet pipe once?

Yes and no. It's an elegant idea, but it might still be too much work for many smallish offices (10 computers is not really very big) to have to implement maintain something like that. Certainly worth doing if you DO have restrictions on bandwidth.

I believe, also, that some ISP's are offering one-off upgrades to a higher bandwidth plan (pay the higher bandwidth plan's price for one month then revert to your usual) for times when you exceed your allocated GB's for whatever reason.

Caching proxy server a better solution (3, Informative)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636739)

> wouldn't it be worth setting up an internal mirror / patch distribution
> server so you only need to pull the data down your internet pipe once?

To mirror the entire Ubuntu update repository would probably be pretty wasteful unless his office is quite extraordinary. And just mirroring the files needed by one computer will not necessarily be OK for all the other ones, unless he's very careful to install packages only on an office-wide basis. I think a better solution for him would be to use a proxy (like Squid) to cache the update files.

Re:Caching proxy server a better solution (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636805)

I think a better solution for him would be to use a proxy (like Squid) to cache the update files.
Indeed. But that costs hours of work and considerable expertise - not easily generalized to most office situations.

Re:Welcome to our world (2, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636695)

Uh, yeah. Except that Time Warner isn't likely to do things like host local mirrors for major Linux distros. As it stands now, if you run Linux, you are. officially at least, unsupported as they only officially support Windows and Macintosh. And they only added official Macintosh support in like 2001 or 2002 -- before that it was just Windows.

Re:Welcome to our world (2)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636767)

Uh, yeah. Except that Time Warner isn't likely to do things like host local mirrors for major Linux distros. As it stands now, if you run Linux, you are. officially at least, unsupported as they only officially support Windows and Macintosh. And they only added official Macintosh support in like 2001 or 2002 -- before that it was just Windows.
Have you written to them and complained? What's the address? I'll write to them, I make a point of writing to a different company asking for Linux support once a week.

Re:Welcome to our world (2, Informative)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636775)

As it stands now, if you run Linux, you are. officially at least, unsupported as they only officially support Windows and Macintosh.

But honestly, who cares about that. Nowadays the support of the ISP effectively ends at the router, if they supplied it (or it's a model they support). I know AOL had stupid software you had to install etc., but that's not the case in the vast majority.

Back in the days of dial-up internet where you had to set up your modem, your winsock application, proxies, etc...etc.. they had experts who knew how to do things for a specific OS (too bad if you had mac in those days - go to a apple-specific ISP!), but now it's not really relevant.

Re:Welcome to our world (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636705)

And I bet there are still some bigpond accounts around charging excess of 15c per MB. That used to be the big killer here. Shaped accounts were seen as great because you didn't get hit for excess charges.

Re:Welcome to our world (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636863)

everyone gets an equal share of the information online
I don't buy the equality line in this case. Wealthier people can afford better access. It's not like the less wealthy people are being denied access. Even in the poorest school districts, schools have around a 95% access rate to the Internet, which is on par with wealthier schools. The equality issue here is just a petty complaint. I want to drive a Porsche, but I'm stuck driving a Mazda (required car analogy).

sponsorship (2, Interesting)

alxtoth (914920) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636497)

I use the web for browsing and VoIP. Rarely I need to download some source code, or distro, or security update for OS. I always pay the lowest ADSL subscription (unlimited). By under-utilizing my net connection, does it mean that I sponsor the bandwidth of others who do..?

Re:sponsorship (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636783)

Of course it does... well no, not anymore.

Now, if you under utilize your connection, you're just giving the cable companies free money, since they're charging people who go over.

Also... rogers has been doing this in canada for several months.

Re:sponsorship (1)

redxxx (1194349) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636843)

By under-utilizing my net connection, does it mean that I sponsor the bandwidth of others who do..?
Yep, and thanks. There's really no way I can actually afford 30+ gigs a month at 10mbp.

Re:Welcome to our world (3, Insightful)

PontifexMaximus (181529) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636551)

But sadly, there WILL be BT throttling and other shenanigans going on and everyone in America knows it. Instead of investing in technology here, the big Telcos (and ROT IN HELL for this Billy Tauzin, et al) have a stranglehold on the market and can dictate everything. Therefore we're stuck in the bleeding Dark Ages while everyone else on the planet is sporting >=10Mbps at HOME.

Bastards, every single one of them.

Re:Welcome to our world (5, Interesting)

JPLemme (106723) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636673)

Actually, the reason there will BT throttling and other restrictions on using the PC as a media device is because almost NO ONE in America knows it. Try discussing these issues with anyone who's not a regular on /. and watch the glassy stares they give back to you.

If everyone in America knew what was happening there would be a hue and a cry to do something about it, just like with health care or gas prices.

Re:Welcome to our world (2, Insightful)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636797)

what health care? and your gas prices are lower than almost anywhere else in the world...

Re:Welcome to our world (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23636847)

It's not a matter of our gas prices being lower than elsewhere in the world, it's a matter of the profit being extorted from us to the oil companies.

Record profits for what, 6 years in a row or thereabouts? How do you foreigners oil price to profit ratio compare?

Re:Welcome to our world (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23636577)

Well, here in the UK I get around 16Mbps Down / 1.3Mbps up ADSL from Be. I haven't found anything to be throttled, shaped or 'managed.'
There is no bandwidth cap. They have set up their service precisely for 'heavy users' - they were one of the first ISPs to use ADSL2+ over here. Be it torrents, usenet, ftp or http, it just works - at around 2MB/sec. Even better, latency is minuscule when it comes to gaming - something else they consider important. You even get the choice of increasing your latency and dropping a little download speed in return for another megabit of upload.

Cost? £22 a month. Best ISP ever, even if they are now owned by O2. I think that works out a bit cheaper than Time Warner's offering, anyway.

Re:Welcome to our world (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636643)

I'm on Rogers in Ottawa, Canada and that's exactly how they handle it. They offer rates as low as $25 per month for 256 kbps/2GB cap all the way up to $100 a month for 18 mbps/90 GB cap. It's really a better way to do it. Personally, I have the 1 mbit/60 GB cap myself, for under $35. It's fast enough for most stuff on the web, and even movies can be downloaded in 5-6 hours if I'm maxing out my connection. Linux distros take a day or two, but I only download those twice a year. I like the idea that you get to choose a plan, and pay less if you actually use less. If you use more, you should be paying more.

Re:Welcome to our world (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636719)

Well, they still have to prove that the traffic you were sending is traffic you wanted to send. They can't charge you for zombie traffic when your machine got infected from other machines on their own network, so I think that may be a loophole many users can exploit to not have to pay full price for a ton of bandwidth ("your network made me send that much traffic, etc")

Re:Welcome to our world (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636773)

They can't charge you for zombie traffic when your machine got infected from other machines on their own network

We may have different definitions of what "can't" means. Have you read your Terms Of Service recently? You probably should.

Re:Welcome to our world (3, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636829)

Well, they still have to prove that the traffic you were sending is traffic you wanted to send. They can't charge you for zombie traffic when your machine got infected from other machines on their own network

No, they don't have to prove anything of the sort. All they have to do is point to their TOS and the clause that is likely already there today stating that YOU are responsible for all data coming from your computer, legitimate or otherwise.

Re:Welcome to our world (5, Interesting)

treuf (99331) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636723)

Seen from the country I live in, all this is just unbelieveable.
We have ADSL lines with speed up to 28Mb DL (remove ATM overhead) for prices starting at 18â per month.
No cap, no bullshit, nothing.
Usually for a higher price (starting at 29â), you get unlimited phone calls to many countries (japan, us, europe, etc...) and video over IP (TV, video on demand, other funky services)
All this without even talking about fiber which is being deployed, and cable.

I cannot understand how the country where the internet was born is going this way ...
Looks like there is either no competition, or no incentive to upgrade the network.

Re:Welcome to our world (1)

brainlessbob (973044) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636753)

I couldn't stand living in your world.
I pay 30Euro/month for my internet 20mbit down and 3mbit up and its not the cheapest company either. Never been any major downtime only a few hours in total, I get up to 4 external dynamic IP addresses I can use and in the last 6 month I have uploaded 700-750 GB and downloaded around 400-500GB and I have experienced no throttling at all.
Guess the ISP operate a little different here in Sweden.

Re:Welcome to our world (1)

samos69 (977266) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636769)

The issue is that you still never actually get the advertised speeds, you just end up paying the same (or more!) for a capped account as you were for flat rate. If the ISP's (I'm looking at you Xtra.co.nz) actually provided what you pay for under their metered scheme I'm all for it.

Less than 13 minutes use per day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23636801)

Using Time Warner's service for less than 13 minutes each day of a month, pulling/pushing 15 Mb/s of data you'll use up the quota.

isn't this a breach of contract? (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636451)

didn't those subscribers sign up for unlimited usage?

someone's getting sued.

Someone has to challenge the legality of the "terms subject to change without notice" clause. This essentially is not a contract if its terms can change.

Re:isn't this a breach of contract? (5, Informative)

risinganger (586395) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636501)

No it isn't (yet). You obviously didn't read the short article as it states this trial is only running with new subscribers and not existing ones.

Re:isn't this a breach of contract? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23636737)

That is, if they can get new subscribers under these conditions...

Re:isn't this a breach of contract? (1)

bconway (63464) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636511)

No. ISPs in the US stopped referring to unlimited bandwidth or usage 5+ years ago, and it was certainly never written into any contract. Occasionally you might see a reference to unlimited access, but that's just that, access.

Re:isn't this a breach of contract? (2, Interesting)

emmjayell (780191) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636545)

didn't those subscribers sign up for unlimited usage? someone's getting sued. ...
For service contracts with the 'terms may change clause' when the terms change, you are typically free to leave the service without penalty.

As far as being sued goes - If I were an ISP, I would think this makes sense. It's easier to defend limits that are the same for everyone, vs. arbitrarily notifying subscribers who happen to piss off a network admin for interfering with their bittorrent download.

Re:isn't this a breach of contract? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23636557)

Look for a section in the contract that says they can change the terms at any time, with notice, and your recourse is to accept the changes or cancel the service.

About time too (5, Insightful)

samael (12612) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636457)

Let's have some honesty here. If we're going to have limits then let them be clear and open ones, where customers can make decisions about which limits they want, and how much they're prepared to pay for them.

Far better this approach than one which says "Eat what you like, so long as you're reasonable."

Re:About time too (2, Insightful)

risinganger (586395) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636523)

I'd have to agree. Of course agreement comes with the caveat that if you're now paying for the amount you use then it should not be tampered with in any way. No throttling or use of forged reset packets etc. The sceptical part in me wonders if they'll do so.

Re:About time too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23636787)

Let's have some honesty here.
[..]
Far better this approach than one which says "Eat what you like, so long as you're reasonable."
To be equally honest, those prices for those caps are horrible. For the same top tier price I can get a 100GB cap here in canada.

And as far as 'informed decisions', I think we've seen enough evidence as to just how few customers can make those when it comes to computers or even electronics in general.

So stupid.. (2)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636463)

Well, thankfully (for now) FIOS is unmetered and most certainly will be hyped by Verizon. The cable companies may rake in money for a year or two, but their greed will get the best of them and they won't know when to stop. By that time, Verizon's FIOS infrastructure will be pretty much complete in most markets and everyone will be switching.

The only reason that TW is even testing this in a limited market is probably because there is 0 competition there. I'm pretty positive in a market where there is actual competition they will lose out.

I know damn well that if Comcast starts capping my usage with a "meter" like this, particularly this low, I'll move to a lower end DSL line without a problem. Sure I'd take a speed hit, but I can live. So it takes me 45-60 minutes to DL a TV episode instead of 15 minutes.

Why do I have to pay for someone's ads then? (4, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636559)

because one problem I have is the trend towards FLV ads. If I am getting metered internet I want any ad server filtered out from the charge or I should have the option of having it filterd out at the ISP.

Re:Why do I have to pay for someone's ads then? (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636585)

Good question, why doesn't Comcast add up all the time in the commercials I watch and subtract that percentage of time from my bill as well?

Re:Why do I have to pay for someone's ads then? (5, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636727)

Good question, why doesn't Comcast add up all the time in the commercials I watch and subtract that percentage of time from my bill

      Quite the contrary. Comcast will soon be introducing a "Promotional Materials Viewing Fee", since after all you are watching their Intellectual Property. They plan on charging you a very modest 55 cents per commercial per view. Of course for $10 a month you can view all their ads an unlimited number of times per month.

Re:Why do I have to pay for someone's ads then? (5, Interesting)

LordKaT (619540) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636757)

Slashdot really needs a +1 Scary, because I laughed at first, then thought you were serious and realized that Comcast might actually do some sort of shit like this.

Are you watching metered TV? (1)

hassanchop (1261914) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636751)

Good question, why doesn't Comcast add up all the time in the commercials I watch and subtract that percentage of time from my bill as well?


Is your TV metered? No? That's why. You don't get charged if you exceed your "TV allowance" as there is no "TV allowance".

I think GP's question is perfectly legitimate.

Re:Why do I have to pay for someone's ads then? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636601)

If I am getting metered internet I want any ad server filtered out from the charge
Then you'll have no way of getting the cryptographic token from the ad server that certifies that your computer has downloaded the entire advertisement, and thus no way of providing that token to the server that holds the video that you wanted to see.

Re:Why do I have to pay for someone's ads then? (1)

Curmudgeonlyoldbloke (850482) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636873)

It's your choice to watch adverts - block them in the browser if you don't want to see them.

If you choose not to do that, why shouldn't your ISP charge you for the traffic? They still have the cost of carrying it, and on third-party sites don't get any cash directly from the advertisers.

Good (1, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636475)

The very reason that companies like Google have been told that they are "freeloaders" by the telecoms and ISPs is because the access providers wouldn't point their fingers at their own policies and customers. Unlimited broadband is ridiculous at this stage of the game. There simply is not enough infrastructure to allow everyone to consume whatever they want, whenever they want, without making them pay for it.

The fact is, metered bandwidth is good for our own freedom because it gives us a greater argument for demanding a hands-off approach to regulating protocols. If you pay for the bandwidth itself, rather than just a simple monthly access fee, it's easier to argue that it's your bandwidth now and the ISP needs to piss off if they think they'll tell you how to use it, the law notwithstanding.

Re:Good (5, Insightful)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636521)

Not necessarily. It's not easier to argue that it's your bandwidth, because it's not. It's still their bandwidth, and they will still want to QoS it however they please.

Metering the bandwidth has little to do with them wanting to finance new infrastructure and a whole lot more to do with new ways to extract more revenue from their existing customer base. I mean, once you lock someone into a $150/month package deal of internet service, you can only do so much more to get money from them.

So this is how they're going to do it. Beyond this, they will still look at providing "premium" service rates for quality of service assurances.

Not to mention they will still QoS competitive products down. This will stifle innovation, as companies such as Netflix, who want to start online delivery, will now not be able to be as successful. Your freedom of choice to choose who you get content from is now limited to precisely your cable company because guess what? They aren't going to be metering your cable TV as part of the internet service.

Re:Good (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636663)

There simply is not enough infrastructure to allow everyone to consume whatever they want, whenever they want, without making them pay for it.
This is not the consumer's problem, but the provider, and to put the onus back on the consumer for using what was advertised to them is just wrong. Don't sell me 1.5Mbps DSL if you intend to throttle me down to 128Kbps on certain transactions. I am paying for 1.5Mbps. That IS my bandwidth and I am paying for it. Metering is just another way of adding complexity for the consumer and money for the telecoms.

Re:Good (1)

sricetx (806767) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636669)

There simply is not enough infrastructure to allow everyone to consume whatever they want, whenever they want, without making them pay for it.

You do realize that they already charge for internet service -- well over $50/month for most cable internet plans. How is that not making the customer pay for it? In fact, compared to the rates many in other parts of the world pay, consumer grade US internet service is very expensive.

Re:Good (4, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636867)

Which cable company do you work for?

ISPs and telecoms are greedy bastards calling Google and the like 'Freeloaders' for absolutely no reason. They pay for bandwidth the exact same way everyone else does. Time Warner and the like have practically 0% of their cost of business in the infrastructure once its built. You're on slashdot, we've discussed this on god knows how many occasions and anyone with the technical knowledge of building such an infrastructure and providing the bandwidth they provide for the price the provide knows how ridiculous their profit is. Don't try to pull this bullshit and expect not to be called on it.

Metered bandwidth is retarded. The lines are there, they dont' cost any more when they get used versus when they don't. The charge is artificial. They have oversold their external links and aren't upgrading. Have you paid attention to their quarterly reports and notice the ridiculous amount of profit they turn or are you just oblivious to that part of the equation?

There is no such thing as freeloading when buying bandwidth, so just cut that crap out. We all pay for our portion of the bandwidth we use, thats the way it works in shared networks. I pay my upstream for service, they are either a NAP or they pay their upstream and for their interconnects to others. Explain how its somehow different for the telecos than it is for google?

> There simply is not enough infrastructure to allow everyone to consume whatever they want, whenever they want, without making them pay for it.

First off, they should have considered that before they sold it to us, not my problem they can't provide what they said they would.
Second, telephone service in land lines has been unmetered for local service for decades. Cell phones don't charge extra for long distance any more, any metered charge is an artificial charge added because people are willing to pay it, not because it costs them 'extra'. Carriers typically have recipical agreements so its not like they charge each other for long distance anyway. Backbone providers do this as well.
Third, I've had plenty of bandwidth on my cable modem for the last 8 years. Unmetered. That is freedom. Charging extra and having limits is not freedom. I'm amazed that you even considered making such statement. Do you also believe warrentless wiretaps and being held without reason as a terrorism suspect is freedom? So now that they need to perform upgrades to compete with FiOS and the like, now they don't have enough bandwidth? Why is it that Time Warner has just bumped up residential service from 5mb/s to 7mb/s for standard service, and 7 to 10 for their 'turbo' customers, but they can't keep up with those people who use it without limiting them? Do you not see the wool being pulled over your eyes?

Perhaps they should fix their 'overloaded' backbone rather than sell more bandwidth that they claim they don't have and it costs too much to build out.

Perhaps they should implement fair queuing across the board rather than pick on specific protocols to control. If I'm using 10mb/s of my 10mb/s 'always on, unlimited' bandwidth, and someone else wants 10mb/s on theirs, and they can't provide it or figure out how to fairly share the bandwidth, they shouldnt' be in business. I was doing that at the ISP I worked at in 1996, without considering anything above layer 2, was there implosion in technology that suddenly caused this ability to be lost? I'm pretty sure that if they can provide machines capable of doing deep packet inspection, they can probably come up with a box or two that is capable of doing fair queuing at layer 2, don't you think? They can also probably spend a little bit of cash on network infrastructure.

I ask you again, which cable company do you work for?

I would take that deal (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23636479)

Looks fine to me. I don't know what prices are like in the USA but that $55 (=35â) for 15 megabits is better than you can get in most places of Finland (I know I pay more for 8 megs) and I don't, on average, use much more than that cap... Well, I guess that sometimes... If you download more than 10ish dvd quality movies (4 gigs) per month, you get 4 dollars more to price of each exceeding the 10 but still, I think that for quite a majority that's pretty good deal.

Hmm, after a post like this I propably got to add a disclaimer that I am not assosciated with the company ;)

Cool (3, Interesting)

arivanov (12034) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636481)

This is much better than the current large telco pactice of throwing people off the network or throttling them. Make people pay for the capacity they use and let economics sort it out.
As a matter of fact most small ISPs around EU have been running this as a standard practice for ages with a considerable degree of success The approach is either a tiered system like this or a system where if you exceed your monthly quota your traffic gets the lowest possible priority on the network. There are also various variations on this using daily peak periods and so on. In any case, while introducing them at first has always caused a few grumbles on the overall, the users like them. As a result the network is not hogged by 5% who pay the same as the remaining 95% while using 99% of the capacity.

What comes around . . . . . (5, Insightful)

bogidu (300637) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636483)

I could have swore we already fought this battle. As I recall, my first internet provider in 92 had caps and limits and due to popular demand eventually even the mighty AOL dropped them. Do the people that run these large corporations not understand Internet history??

VOD? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23636487)

I think this is a terrible thing for the consumer. The internet is now a crucial resource for video content. Someone who is heavy into video podcasts or steaming live audio or video would potentially have a really hefty "data" bill. Bandwidth could be dirty cheap as it is and now the ISP's seem to be becoming even greedier. At least (for now) most people have several ISP's to choose from. Maybe is TWC looses some customers over this they'll realize its a bad idea.

Re:VOD? (5, Informative)

bishiraver (707931) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636849)

At least (for now) most people have several ISP's to choose from.
Bzzt. Wrong. Most areas have local-government-mandated sole cable ISPs. Ie, this neighborhood is given to TWC, this neighborhood is given to Cablevision, this neighborhood is given to comcast. Sometimes it's more like towns instead of neighborhoods, but the concept remains the same. Your basic choice is: Cable for decent speeds, DSL for shitty speeds. And if you're very, very lucky you can opt for FiOS.

So, whats the news? (4, Insightful)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636509)

Providers of pay-per-GB-transferred internet exists since forever, at least here in Europe and especially for mobile access. It was never popular among users and never will be, because people don't like to think about amount of data transferred all the time. Plus, there are programs like Skype and Windows malware that transfer data all the time when computer is on. However, 40GB cap sounds much more reasonable then anything I saw here ...

Re:So, whats the news? (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636793)

I moved to my company broadband offer to "eat my dogfood" recently.
Prior to that I was with 2 independent ISPs for nearly 7 years. In both cases I had 50G caps with off-peak periods and free upload. I used on average 3-5G a month at most even while running off-site backups for several friends. If we take the off-site backup out my usage (unless it was a Debian release month) was under 1G. So 40G is not particularly bad.

In my humble opinion ... (4, Insightful)

Saffaya (702234) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636529)

Having capped internet access in any developped country in 2008 is a shame.

Next Month's Headline: (5, Funny)

shadowcabbit (466253) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636539)

Time-Warner Sued By A Bazillion Customers Over Bandwidth Charges

$slashdot_user writes: "Time-Warner today was served with a class-action lawsuit from nearly every single subscriber to its metered internet service, launched in June. The suit claims that Time-Warner willingly and complicitly installed spyware onto its subscribers' computers to run up bandwidth charges. The program, which affected primarily Windows-based computers, repeatedly downloaded and uploaded a 1.5 MB file of random, uncompressable data up to a thousand times per hour each way, causing subscribers' caps of 5 GB to be reached within hours. Further GB of bandwidth was charged at $1 each, with some subscribers receiving 'overage' bills stretching upwards of $700. Representatives for Time-Warner were unavailable for comment." .....seriously, I don't think TWC would be stupid enough to deliberately install spyware on its subscribers' computers, but this will fail as soon as hundreds of thousands of clueless Windows users running zombie botnet boxes start cancelling their service en masse "because they jacked up the price". This is not the way to either fix broadband usage policy nor to stop botnets.

Re:Next Month's Headline: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23636837)

And the downside to that is?

comparative prices (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23636553)

how much is their unlimited plan?

b/c its like 49.99 or 54.99 (+/-) for unlimited 5mb through-put on charter and comcast

if the ISP companies want to role out metered bandwidth, and make it attractive then they are going to have to make it cheaper.

i switched from 3mb cable $54.99 to 1.5mb naked DSL for $42.00, when i called the cable company that i was dropping service (after they charged me $54.99 for a month (b/c my one year deal had lapsed)) they said they could give me 5mb for $29.99 for 6 months. i said they should have done that to KEEP ME AS A CUSTOMER before they charged me regular price rather than caring about me as a customer.

DSL has tiered service (768 / 1.5 / 3.0 [some places 6.0]) options, but there arent caps. and their prices (and latency) is much better than cables' massive speed. (and prices)

Where's the bottleneck? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23636561)

What exactly is the technical network congestion that the cable companies are looking at? The article implies DSL doesn't face the same problem so it sounds like it's last mile congestion.

If that was the case though I would think they'd gain far more by seeking to give incentives for heavy users to download during off hours or some such.

Re:Where's the bottleneck? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636833)

What exactly is the technical network congestion that the cable companies are looking at? The article implies DSL doesn't face the same problem so it sounds like it's last mile congestion.
There's a large architectural difference between DSL and cable. With DSL, you get a dedicated line that goes straight to your ISP. With cable, you are on a shared network with 500 of your closest neightbors.

Sure, in the end you are still sharing bandwidth, but it is this architectural difference that makes the congestion happen on that last mile.

Getting closer to the right answer (1)

SithGod (810139) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636571)

I think this is one of the first plans where they've mentioned being able to tier your usage. I personally would have no problem if they set up the system like they do cell phones, you pay x amount for y minutes/GB, with overages being relatively expensive. If they could also add in something similar to cell phones where if you "call in plan" it doesn't count against your total, where the in plan refers to getting the data from a source close enough to you that it is less costly for the ISP, we would see massive improvements in the efficiency of P2P programs. At least with that everybody would be happier, consumers get the same data and ISPs use less bandwidth.

Bit pricy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23636581)

I would not pay that much for such low speeds. I have never been throttled by ISP yet, although I use BitTorrent often and for long periods at once. Maybe if I lived in a country where ISPs were that bad to customers, I would think of paying premium for those few that do not interfere in my net traffic.

PS. Captcha was "throttlingsuxx0rz" :)

Sounds cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23636583)

$1 per gigabyte sounds pretty good, though the initial cap is a little low.

My ISP has had a 20gb cap (which they never enforced... thank god) since 2004 but if you go over it they will charge you â10 per GB.

GO FREE MARKET GO (0, Redundant)

abscissa (136568) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636589)

The invisible hand will build FIOS to the McMansions in the wastelands and eliminate all bandwidth caps! Tax breaks will allow consumers to choose between all the free market competition out there, just like in my area where I can choose between exactly *one* high speed provider. At least that's better than a government monopoly where I would only have ONE internet provider!

Rollover bandwidth? (1)

GeorgeMonroy (784609) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636593)

If they are going to cap you monthly then you should be allowed to rollover the unused cap space. If you are paying for it then it is yours.

Canada too... (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636595)

My ISP (Newfoundland, Canada) Rogers Cable just started metering this month too. I now pay $55.95CDN for 95GB of transfer (up and down) per month.

Here it comes (2, Insightful)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636597)

I guess we got lucky with the Internet in a way. It was designed and developed in large part, not by private companies, but by scientists and engineers in a peer-reviewed academic environment who were mostly employed by the government. Profit was not their goal.

What Time-Warner is doing probably has less to do with consumption and more to do with figuring out a way to nickel and dime you for every trivial service they can think of. First it'll be quotas, then they'll be a BitTorrent surcharge, then there'll be a 'speed-up' charge for port X. Before you know it your ISP bill will look like your phone bill.

Financial solution to downloading? (3, Interesting)

WarwickRyan (780794) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636603)

With those low caps it can be nothing else. Make the internet so expensive that no-one can complete with your multimedia sales (cable, dvd, music).

With the added 'benefit' of them being able to effectively gouge movie downloaders.

How-to measure? (1)

pben (22734) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636611)

So does anybody know of good tools to measure the total upload/download usage on the three platforms (Mac/PC/Linux)?

There is only two providers here, AT&T and Cox. Everybody knows that AT&T is already disrupting Bit Torrents and metering is coming next. I would like to get an idea on my usage. My guess is about around 300k a day on podcasts and the web but it is only a guess.

Any tools you know of would help me get a handle on it, thanks.

Re:How-to measure? (1)

Paralizer (792155) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636677)

You'd have to put it on some device in between your modem and your network, otherwise you are only counting usage per machine and not per connection. Maybe some application on your router? Cisco has one called NetFlow; it would be nice to have something like that but for cheaper LinkSys devices, maybe some 3rd party firmware? DD-WRT has a nice looking moving usage graph, but afaik it doesn't do any history or per-port/per-mac address stats so you wouldn't be able to tell where on your network the rouge bandwidth hog is located.

Re:How-to measure? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636717)

300 K? That seems pretty low. This slashdot commenting page, when saved to disk, with all it's content, takes up about 500 KB. You probably meant 300 MB. Which I personally find a bit large. But it still only comes in around 9GB. I'm surprise that it's not a feature in more routers to tell you how much bandwidth is being used by each MAC address that connects to the network. I think it would be a really nice feature.

$1/GB? Not bad (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23636623)

Seems reasonable to me. Better than 40 cents/minute overage on your cell phone.

Of course, there needs to be an easy way to check your usage at all times. It amazed me how awkward it was to see my cell phone usage in the first few years I had one.

Cancel (4, Insightful)

snarfies (115214) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636625)

Cancel your service immediately. Please. Its the only way to let them know that you don't accept their new terms. Stop the experiment in Beaumont.

What about Internet "noise" (1, Redundant)

Alworx (885008) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636633)

I wonder what happens about so called "internet noise", that continuous flow of traffic (typically bots trying to hack your devices) that yanks up your total traffic throughput although you're not doing anything particular.

Or, for that reason, what about all those pesky updating programs (adobe, java, apple, windows update...)?

I think the best way would be some sort of "best effort" approach. If you need to download something big, great, you'll get all the bandwidth you need... for a short time, though.

If your hooking up to bittorrent (et al.), then your bandwidth will be throttled downwards, depending on what you pay.

uk (1)

aeiah (937509) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636659)

the ISPs in the UK have been doing this for years, although some still have an ambiguous 'fair use policy' like virgin that'll bring your connection to its knees during peak hours if you're doing something like, say, using the internet.

all the ISPs market their service with all these multimedia capabilities. i use these capabilities, and my bandwidth doesnt go below 140GB a month. what the hell am i meant to do on a 5GB limit?

Mixed feelings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23636671)

I have mixed feelings about this one. I can see how a lot of people would complain about being put onto a metered service. However, I think that 15 MBps and a 40 GB monthly cap for $55 is a good deal. Not to mention, going over the cap is only $1 per GB, which I consider to be a good deal. I mean, think about how much they cell companies charge for going over your monthly minutes...

There are a few gotcha's though. First, if its a metered network, I would want a solid 15 MBps at all times while I was within the cap. Not any of this "peak" business. Also, a lot of people (most of which would not be reading slashdot) might run into problems with apps consuming network resources that they dont know about (Anti-Virus, Application Updates, Spyware, etc.).

Personally, if they could guarantee a constant connection speed at whatever it is that they advertise, I would go for it.

Did they announce a free trial period? (1)

fuzzy12345 (745891) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636681)

My ISP (Rogers) did. Like any good economically rational consumer, I used it to grab while the grabbing was good. Last month I downloaded "Video Store 1.0 (beta)" and the bill they sent indicated I'd have been charged $1,000 in overages.

2666 seconds of service before going over? (1)

freshfromthevat (135461) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636683)

Seriously? Did I do my math correctly? 40GB per month? 15MB/sec? It would take under an hour to go over the monthly allowance? That's nuts. This would be like getting a cellphone plan that only has 40minutes of plan-minutes per month, with no nights and weekends or in-network calling. Who would go for that? I guess there is a subtle difference in that a computer doesn't NEED to saturate its pipe for the entire time but still.

I'd go with DSL and to heck with the peak throughput.

Re:2666 seconds of service before going over? (1)

devman (1163205) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636803)

Its closer to six days (like full 6 x 24 hours) and change of fully saturating your 15Mb/s pipe. 15Mb/s == 1.875 MB/s. Again I stress the fact that that is 100% saturation for 6 days straight.

from the domestic terrorist identification book (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23636721)

paying more, getting less, that one way we're being held hostage. you may continue to pretend that all is well. the lights are coming up all over now. see you on the other side of it? conspiracy theorists are being vindicated. some might choose a tin umbrella to go with their hats. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be yOUR guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices. if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

http://news.google.com/?ncl=1216734813&hl=en&topic=n
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/29/world/29amnesty.html?hp
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/06/02/nasa.global.warming.ap/index.html
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/weather/06/02/honore.preparedness/index.html

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=weather+manipulation&btnG=Search
http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html

& pretending that it isn't happening here;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece

A more realistic figure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23636733)


I think you should put a more realistic figure on the real cost of Internet traffic. Down in Australia, Optus has offered a competitive rate of $150/GB. This brought the price down from Telstra who were charging in excess of $300/GB.

 

solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23636743)

I will have to start stealing bandwidth from my neighbor if this practice comes my way. /who doesn't secure their network?

Eve on the low end, even wireless carriers beat th (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636745)

Even Tmobile's Blackberry plan is more competitive than this Time-Warner piece of crap that they are putting out there.
Tmobiles = 30$/month unlimited edege.

In the meantime, why did some random town in Texas get chosen to test this?

Why didn't they try somewhere that there are enough people who will voice their opinions that the idea is garbage and just a money extraction?

Re:Eve on the low end, even wireless carriers beat (1)

theM_xl (760570) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636835)

Why didn't they try somewhere that there are enough people who will voice their opinions that the idea is garbage and just a money extraction?
You've just answered your own question. Because it's a money extraction. "Why no sir, I don't see why you're complaining, nobody in our testing area did."

A little unfair hosters vs providers (5, Insightful)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636747)

I'm paying $90/month for a dedicated server, 24/7 amazing tech support and 1.2TB bandwidth per month. How is $60/month for no dedicated server, crappy tech support and 40GB/month (0.04TB) any where near a reasonable offer?

Re:A little unfair hosters vs providers (5, Informative)

devman (1163205) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636853)

All the equipment is consolidated in a server farm where ever your hosting company is, so they buy bulk bandwidth and resell it to you cheaply. With residential services customers are spread out and require last mile infrastructure.

definite profit center (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23636749)

So you are chugging along moving a large file when "oops" that last packet in the file somehow get's lost. Now geeks here would be using a recoverable transmission tool, but grandma will just have to re-get that tar ball of the grandkids pictures.

Drop a few packets here and there when you need to increase the billable bandwidth!

This isn't cost recovery, it's profiteering. (5, Interesting)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636755)

I've got no problem with heavy users paying more, light users paying less. But $1/gigabyte is so far in excess of the "going rate" for bandwidth that it's not even funny.

For instance, my current web hosting provider [dreamhost.com] offers me 5 TERAbytes of transfer for six bucks a month. Now, it's possible they'd try to change the terms of the deal if I actually approached that level of usage, but still, it shows the cable company in TFA is charging more by roughly a factor of 1000.

I'm guessing that Dreamhost probably serves up roughly as many bytes as a cable company does in a large town or small city. Now, I totally agree that providing internet access to a bunch of houses spread out over square miles is going to cost more than providing it to a couple rows of rackmounted servers. But that's a *fixed* cost to provide access, regardless of bandwidth usage.

I'm okay with charging more for using more, but this is so out of proportion it's simply highway robbery.

a quarter of a kilo bit per second bandwidth? (1)

methuselah (31331) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636795)

30 days 5 gigs aprox 171 megs a day
            24 hours aprox 7.1 megs a hour
60 mins a hour aprox 121.1 kB per minute
60 secs a min aprox 2.0 bytes per second
8 bits = byte aprox 0.25 kilobits per second

this is a fair deal???

Dial Up is better.....

Like my cell phone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23636809)

Maybe they'll also start charging for accessing servers in Europe. Seriously though, why do we just now get the option of unlimited cellular time and now TW wants to charge per GB? Will I get to buy a block of "Whenever bytes"? Free nights and weekends maybe?

I guess under this plan when a program decides to secretly phone home I can sue the company for using my bandwidth. I guess if this catches on I'll have extra reason to get re-acquainted Lynx. Stretch your monthly allotment by going text-mode!

Holding out on us (5, Informative)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636817)

I talked to a TimeWarner rep when I lived in San Antonio last summer and he told me that they've had the infrastructure for 15mbps connections in place for a year or two, but cap the speeds between 5-10 on purpose. The "purpose", I see now, is that they want to try and milk every penny out of us for something that wouldn't cost them any more to deliver. I imagine it actually costs them money to cap our bandwidth anyway, so this is pretty dumb...especially now that I live in a market with another major provider (AT&T) for competition.

The situation in Belgium (4, Interesting)

anerki (169995) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636825)

The same situation has been present in Belgium ever since cable and *DSL made the market. There is simply no choice to get an ISP that doesn't limit your monthly bandwidth usage.

Recently however, a new company surfaced offering low prices (30 euros / month) for a 100 Gb / month limit and a normal price (50 euros / month) for an unlimited connection. This new ISP is limited to a very small region in Belgium though, the services they offer outside their home city is similar to the other ISP's (more max download/upload, less speed).

There is however no throttling, an almost 100% uptime (varying on location of course, but if you live anywhere near a city you can expect uptime of 100% ... Me I've never had my internet go down, and when I do play a game I tend to get a ping between 20-25 so it's all about what's important to you I guess.

Most ISP's offer a nighttime discount too. Everything you download/upload between midnight and 10 AM only goes half towards the download limit.

Also, the default option if you cross your limit is not to make you pay extra per Gb, but to put you on "smallband" which is (if I remember correctly) 64Kbit Up/Down. In other words: hell compared to the 20Mbit / 2Mbit (Down/Up) we usually get. You can change that default option to paying extra for Gbs of course ...

Also I'd like to point out that Belgium is the only country in Europe where there is no viable option to choose for an ISP without transfer limit.

Absurd! (1)

EmperorKagato (689705) | more than 5 years ago | (#23636827)

This plan is absurd!

$30 / month for DSL speeds and a bandwidth cap of 5 GBs.

Are they trying to sell internet service to people that are living in 1998? I was there when AOL tried to do that in 1996.
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