Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

AT&T Embraces BitTorrent, Considers Usage-Based Pricing

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the waving-the-gray-flag dept.

Networking 279

Wired is running a story about AT&T's chief technical officer, John Donovan. He contrasts his view of BitTorrent and P2P in general against the controversial policies adopted by other ISPs. Donovan also explains why AT&T is considering usage-based pricing, citing the cost of network upgrades which only affect a small number of users. AT&T is expected to test the new pricing scheme later this year, which should give them plenty of time to see how Time Warner's customers respond to the idea. "'I don't view any of our customers, under any circumstances, as pirates -- I view them as users,' Donovan said. 'A heavy user is not a bad customer.' What he wants to do is gently encourage more efficient usage of his network, and usage-based pricing may be one of the ways that happens. Such measures may not even be necessary, as Donovan admits that users self-adjust their habits to take advantage of off-peak times. For instance, he said, BitTorrent on the company's network peaks around 4 a.m., when other traffic is at an ebb. Overall P2P traffic accounts for about 20 percent of the network's usage, Donovan said."

cancel ×

279 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Been Done (1)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | more than 6 years ago | (#23692847)

Isn't that an **AA policy? If you use BitTorrent, YOU WILL PAY!

Re:Been Done (5, Informative)

Yer Mum (570034) | more than 6 years ago | (#23692961)

No, this is rather like those night usage electricity tariffs for washing machines, dishwashers, etc...

For home packages the ISP just needs to set a low peak cap during the evening and a high off-peak cap during the rest of the day (e.g. ADSL24 in the UK [adsl24.co.uk] ).

Whatever protocol you use (BT, eMule, or HTTP download) doesn't interest the ISP, all they want to do is move non-interactive usage to off-peak times so that interactive usage during the evening works for everyone.

Most users will understand if things are set things out clearly at the start instead of suddenly receiving a fair usage warning e-mails when some mysterious unknown limit is hit. Indeed many P2P users may choose an ISP with this kind of peak/off-peak tariff as they know exactly what they signed up for.

Re:Been Done (1)

Nossie (753694) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693293)

and that's what they are scared of... competition? they've heard of it.

I moved from freedom2surf/tiscalli/pipex/vodafone whatever the fuck they want to call it this month from an 'unlimited' business account to a limited ADSL24 business account.

They SO badly started to suck my speedtest results werent even funny (I also managed to get bumped down to a home users upload speed and had to fight to get that back, which was the last straw) Fuck I was paying £70 a month for it.

Now... I download as much as I like, as fast as I can and I'm paying £30 a month less than I was before

Period: 20/04/2008 - 19/05/2008

PEAK and OFF-PEAK USED

Peak download: 18.44 GB
Off-peak download: 22.43 GB
Peak upload: 13.96 GB
Off-peak upload: 17.59 GB

TOTAL USED

Peak: 32.41 GB
Off-peak: 40.02 GB

TOTAL REMAINING

Peak: 102.59 GB
Off-peak: 319.98 GB

Long live ADSL24 :D

Re:Been Done (3, Interesting)

FinchWorld (845331) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693661)

In the UK currently with demon, £17.99 for 50GB peak hours, Unlimited off peak, off peak is set as 11PM to 9AM. Downside is 12 month contract when you first sign up and customer services is based in the part of india were people take it as a challenge to speak with an accent so thick you could drown in it.

Re:Been Done (1)

anomalous cohort (704239) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693689)

I am certainly no expert in the BitTorrent protocol but it is my understanding that BitTorrent actually saves overall bandwidth because the BitTorrent client gets a part of a file from the closest copy (of which there are many) instead of the original copy (which could be much farther away, therefore saving hops).

Put another way, if everyone downloaded Hardy Heron using HTTP or FTP instead of BitTorrent, then the impact to the Internet would be much greater.

If my telecom bill was based on traffic usage, then I would keep a very small list of torrents running in the BitTorrent client. If everyone did that, then the effectiveness BitTorrent in reducing traffic would diminish and we would be back to a HTTP and FTP only world which would require the telecoms to add even more hardware in order for Internet latency to be tolerable.

Of course, people would also be billed for downloading Hardy Heron via HTTP or FTP also. So, the net affect would be fewer copies of Hardy Heron being downloaded. Billing individual subscribers for usage would reduce the wealth creation effect of the Internet.

It's not *AA (1)

gerf (532474) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693063)

They're trying to not spend as much on bandwidth. It's basic business: their bandwidth is a cost and they want to lower that cost.

What I don't understand is why they don't go to an individually tiered model. Your first 5 or 10GB are at their normal, or even higher, speed, (5Mb/512kb here) and the rest after that are at a fraction of that, but still high speed. Perhaps 1Mb/256kb. Those speeds alone would limit egregious down/uploaders to a more reasonable level, while still being able to operate normally.

Why? (5, Insightful)

mark_hill97 (897586) | more than 6 years ago | (#23692861)

If users are self restricting themselves to off-peak why the need for usage based pricing at all? AT&T received federal funding to get a fiber network in as well, so far they have failed to do so.

Re:Why? (1)

aceofspades1217 (1267996) | more than 6 years ago | (#23692897)

I agree...you're raking in massive profits. Heck on top of that even the government is giving you money why can't they just upgrade their network instead of staying with the status quo.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23693241)

you're raking in massive profits
Post proof or retract ..

Re:Why? (1)

aceofspades1217 (1267996) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693407)

Hey nice job being a troll! Proof.....I don't know its quite simple:

Their network is almost 10 years old with only modest upgrades yet they have been charging us the same as they were 5 years ago. I still pay as much for DSL as I did 3 years ago. Apparently they don't follow the same principles as most tech companies. Instead of lowing their prices as their costs have gone down they level off their prices even as the technology becomes cheaper.

It's called moore's law. Though it was originally for CPUs it applies to all of technology. Stuff gets halved in price every 18 months.

I haven't seen my bills go down in last 18 months. I haven't seen any new DSL offices built. I haven't seen fiber being put down anywhere but the southeast. Heck by now we should have city wide wireless internet considering how cheap wireless networking equipment is. It only costs a million to wire whole city which is pretty damn cheap by any metric.

I mean seriously I know this ain't Europe because in Europe they don't allow themselves to get raped in the ass. They do something about it and put their monopolies to task.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23693535)

AT&T is a public company, you can look it up too. You'd know that they've been giving out dividends of $0.40 a share over the last year.

Re:Why? (2, Informative)

Artuir (1226648) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693211)

What, you can't be arsed to even read the summary now?

We are going backwards . (5, Insightful)

aceofspades1217 (1267996) | more than 6 years ago | (#23692877)

Instead of trying to make internet more expansive the United States telecoms want to make it cost more. I mean jesus christ we are one of the worst developed nations when it comes to internet connectivity. In Europe you can get double our speeds for the price of dial-up. Obviously their is very little costs on simply maintaining a network yet they continue to charge and rake in profits. These telecoms have no excuse. We fork over our money so you can maintain and grow your network...use it. Upgrade the Seconds Mile and start putting more efficient internet pipes. Obviously it has gotten to a point where it is becomes almost as bad as the oil companies. Just raking in profits and not using it for anything.

Re:We are going backwards . (1)

rgarner11 (1091089) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693081)

The US is not like Europe. I think this is an effort to slow down or minimize a growing portion of file-sharers. AT&T and other are charged by the quantity transfered. So unabridged and unneeded network usage could eventually hurt the average customer by raising prices. Every company rides the survival line. There is no free ticket. If you drive 200 mph through every state, every day, I think you should have a bigger daily gasoline bill than Mr. Joe Average.

Re:We are going backwards . (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693161)

The thought of AT&T getting a massive overage bill due to people going hog wild on their networks because the people in question are not as impacted by the resulting cost pleases me.

Greatly.

Re:We are going backwards . (1)

aceofspades1217 (1267996) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693323)

That is not the point. People don't understand that we are getting LESS value than before. They need to stop making excuses...upgrade their damn network and stop pocketing all our money...and btw your wrong that P2P is the biggest problem. 60% of internet traffic is video streaming.

Where is the "OMG THESE DAMN YOU TUBERS AND VIDEO GAME PLAYERS ARE SLOWING DOWN OUR NETWORK!".

They are just targeting P2P because everyone looks at P2Pers as leeches and because a lot of P2P of piracy noone will care if we cripple P2P networks so that we don't have as much load on our network.

Re:We are going backwards . (4, Insightful)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693729)

Actually I think they're targeting P2Pers because P2P uses as much or more UPSTREAM bandwidth as downstream, which none of the major ISPs have designed their networks around. Cable networks are the worst about this due to how cable internet works, but all the ISPs built their networks around the idea that most users upload less than 2% of what they download. Now P2P is forcing them to realize the intended functionality of the internet, and it's becoming clear to them that their "download only" systems aren't going to cut it. So naturally they're going to do everything they can to curb upstream bandwidth. Otherwise, they might actually have to spend money upgrading their network, at which point they'll be replaced by their shareholders for failing to maximize profits.

Re:We are going backwards . (0, Offtopic)

sayfawa (1099071) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693141)

Obviously it has gotten to a point where it is becomes almost as bad as the oil companies. Just raking in profits and not using it for anything.

You call this modest allocation of hard earned profits [gizmodo.com] nothing?!!? :)

Re:We are going backwards . (0, Troll)

aceofspades1217 (1267996) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693375)

IMO and do you really want to see the telcoms get to a point where they can tell us what we should pay and we pay it beause we have no choice. When I fill up gas I'm always pissed but I am completely powerless. all i can do is bend over and say "Chevron do your worst*.

On a side note: anyone want to join in a class action suit against Chevron and all the oil companies for repeated ass raping. Every time I go to the pump I feel like a prison bitch.

Now the point is...do you want AT&T and Comcast to become even more Oilesque

Re:We are going backwards . (5, Informative)

Jurily (900488) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693491)

I'm switching providers next month, my new connection will be 20M/20M, truly unlimited (already tested, thanks to my neighbor), for [4500 HUF = 28.8765 USD] a month.

And I'm not even in the developed part of Europe, either.

My current connection is 5M/1M, for [6900 HUF = 44.2773 USD].

Bittorrent and Usage (4, Insightful)

stokessd (89903) | more than 6 years ago | (#23692895)

Traditionally the best bittorrent users also seed the files they have grabbed for a long time. So under the usage model, being a good torrent person means being penalized for extra bandwidth that I'm using to seed.

Sheldon

Re:Bittorrent and Usage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23692983)

Don't leech what you can't seed back.

AT&T has speed based pricing and they can't ju (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#23692903)

Right now AT&T has speed based pricing and they can't just set caps based on speed as some people are to far way to get higher speeds and why should they have to pay for more for going over the cap then if you where able to get a higher speed with a higher cap. If they have caps on dsl then give the users the max speed that the line can handle.

Re:AT&T has speed based pricing and they can't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23692967)

Dude.. There's this neat little key next to the slash - it's called a "period." Try using it more often for $deity sakes!

Welcome America (1, Interesting)

kaiwai (765866) | more than 6 years ago | (#23692929)

Welcome America to what the rest of the world is subject to; we all pay on a usage basis, whether its mobile phone internet or ADSL internet connection. When you make something flat rate - it will be subject to abuse.

In New Zealand we have already have experimented with flat rate; around 10 years ago there was cable internet setup for $90 per month, flat rate, unlimited internet - under the Chello brand. Within months the network was crippled, people were barely downloading above dial up speeds.

Fast forward to 1 years ago - Telecom tried the same thing again; flat rate internet with traffic shaping. Again, even with all the maneuvering they did - it was killed off because people abused the system.

People here go, "well, upgrade the network" - explain to me why they should keep upgrading the network at a frantic pace and never making enough money to recoup the infrastructure costs. Telecoms are businesses, they invest, they make their money back (with profit) then upgrade the network again. The abuse of the network which flat rate plans do simply result in unsustainable traffic growth.

Re:Welcome America (4, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23692977)

People here go, "well, upgrade the network" - explain to me why they should keep upgrading the network at a frantic pace and never making enough money to recoup the infrastructure costs. Telecoms are businesses, they invest, they make their money back (with profit) then upgrade the network again. The abuse of the network which flat rate plans do simply result in unsustainable traffic growth.

Apparently your telecoms are horribly run if they can't manage to make a profit off of Internet access. In America, many (most?) ISPs are small private companies who receive no federal subsidies at all, but still turn enough profit to keep growing and offering new services.

The fact that your local companies are incapable of doing so says that 1) they're all dumb, every single one, or 2) there are market forces there that we don't have, so your whole premise is inapplicable here.

Re:Welcome America (1)

Yer Mum (570034) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693087)

A lot of this depends on how wholesale prices work in each country. For example, NZ may work as in the UK, where small ISPs are changed by their upstream ISP by the bandwidth they use but sell access to their home users a flat rate.

This kind of arrangement usually ends in tears; several years back in the UK a lot of modem dialup access companies folded one by one, ADSL seems a little better (if only because they have no hesitation in enforcing usage limits).

I suppose the economics of ISPs in the US is different.

Re:Welcome America (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693143)

For example, NZ may work as in the UK, where small ISPs are changed by their upstream ISP by the bandwidth they use but sell access to their home users a flat rate.

That's pretty much how it works in the US, too, or at least how it was when I was in the business a few years back. It looks like our wholesale bandwidth is probably a lot cheaper than yours, which again goes back to the idea of market conditions being different everywhere.

In America, I don't think people would be willing go to metered usage when it's always been flat-rate and everything else is going the opposite direction.

Re:Welcome America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23693215)

> Apparently your telecoms are horribly run if they can't manage to make a profit off of Internet access.

Apparently you aren't aware that Australian/New Zealand ISPs currently pay over $200/Mbps for transit.

Re:Welcome America (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693245)

Apparently you aren't aware that Australian/New Zealand ISPs currently pay over $200/Mbps for transit.

Didn't read the rest, huh? *pats you on the head*

Re:Welcome America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23692991)

"world is subject to"

I'm not sure where you're coming from, but...

I live in the Netherlands and pay about $80/month for a solid 12/1.5 Mbit connection. It's flat-fee, there is no x GB/month limit, and best of all it gets faster every half year to year, scaling perfectly well with the increased use and bandwidth of internet applications.

Besides, NZ and the surrounding areas are notorious for their bad internet connections because the countries have a small population/km ratio, and thus less people who pay for the infrastructure. Just because it doesn't work there doesn't mean it won't work anywhere else.

The above system has been in use for a good 8 or so years now, and I've only ever had trouble in the first few years while things were getting set up. Ever since I have barely ever lost my connection, and at the same price speeds and reliability have only gone up.

Re:Welcome America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23692995)

When you make something flat rate - it will be subject to abuse.
Since when has utilizing a service I paid for been classified as abuse?

Re:Welcome America (1)

Nossie (753694) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693357)

which is why it shouldnt be flat rate... then you know EXACTLY what you are paying for. In theory competition should then make it so you find an ISP with the capacity that you wish/can afford and then the isps find the true cost of their network.

In theory... without monopoly.

Re:Welcome America (4, Interesting)

kwark (512736) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693019)

You must be confusing New Zealand with the reset of the world. I'm not aware of any non flat-fee adsl/cable providers over here (NL). Even the dutch Chello is (and always has been AFAIK) flat-fee.

Though there used to be some a couple of years ago, mainly for people switching from dialup to dsl thinking they wouldn't use more than 1Gb per month. Which would have been true if their surfing habits didn't adapt to the always on mode.

Internet governance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23693027)

It all changes when Metascore [sourceforge.net] starts running the government(s).

Re:Welcome America (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693073)

Cool.

now all you website owners cant bitch when I help set up Ad blocking systems at all my friends, family and associates.

we are not paying for your advertisement to come to my screen. Either make it very tiny in bandwidth used, or get used to the fact that many many more people will be using blocking tools to eliminate your ad's.

Re: !Bitching about Ads (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693415)


Killer point.

Isn't most news text plus static pics? Not counting Must-See footage, all the news accounts for 10% of the usage and the super-interactive ads account for the other 90% ads.

Therefore, under usage pricing, allowing only "low-usage" ads keeps hard-earned dollars in our pockets.

Is this AT&T Exec smart enough to be operating at a meta level, enough to encourage less obtrusive ads?

Re:Welcome America (1)

Timmmm (636430) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693089)

Here's some example prices/conditions in the UK:

Bt Broadband (aol-like rip-off):
£16/mo, 5GB/mo, 8 Mb/s
£21/mo, 8GB/mo, 8 Mb/s

O2 Broadband
£7.50/mo, unlimited, 8 Mb/s

Be Broadband (now owned by O2)
£14/mo, unlimited, 8 Mb/s
£18/mo, unlimited, 24 Mb/s (this is what I have, it also has a 3 month contract and static ip which is useful)

For all the above you need to pay £11/mo line rental to BT. There are others such as Virgin, and talktalk where you don't.

How do these prices compare to Americas? (£1~$2)

Re:Welcome America (2, Interesting)

Scuzzm0nkey (1246094) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693249)

Well, I pay USD$70 a month for "8Mbps" cable from comcast. I use the quotation marks because it'll be a cold day in hell before I actually get 8. I typically top out at 6 on a nice day, 4 most of the time. I hate comcast so much.

AT&T has $150,000/customer ***SURPLUS*** (4, Insightful)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693125)

Since the Government Attorneys aren't going to hold AT&T responsible for their unlawful spying on every customer, with statutory penalties of $150,000/each, they have *plenty* of money, so shouldn't be crying poverty, should they?

The alternative is being held accountable, and liquidating AT&T to pay the damages, which would prove the point that *every* entity is held accountable TO THE LAW.

If Martha Stewart can go to prison for fibbing while NOT UNDER OATH, why the hell is AT&T getting a pass for it's crime?

Re:Welcome America (4, Insightful)

Smauler (915644) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693205)

It is most definately not abusing a service if you've paid for it and are within the rules. If someone sells me a 1 megabit always on connection, it is not abuse if I use it fully 24/7.

If you replace 'abuse' with 'use', your post makes a little more sense. Companies always oversell what they can deliver, and if they screw up, it's up to them to fix it.

I'd guess that in a market which is not dominated by flat rate lines, starting up a flat rate service would be a lot tougher, since you're naturally going to attract the heavy users. In a market in which nearly everyone's on flat rate, companies get all different types of customer.

Re:Welcome America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23693409)

This is how I feel too. I pay for a flat rate 1.5mbps connection. Why shouldn't I be able to use _MY_ 1.5mbps constantly, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year if I'm paying the monthly bill?

I do happen to use AT&T and if they start imposing limits or charging me more for using my service "too much", I'll slap them with a fucking lawsuit.

Re:Welcome America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23693277)

I live in Midtown Manhattan NYC
Every month i fork over a total of 160 dollars US to Time Warner.

100 dollars covers 2 tv feeds with all the good channels and road runner high speed, 60 dollars is a built in basic cable fee the coop building charges if i want it or not they get (double dip) and that doesn't include a few pay per view movies.

I must say it is extremely reliable, static ip for years, very fast and caps my uploads approariatley, but i live in the middle of midtown i probably get what i pay for.

However, I think i pay enough, and i could upgrade and they could also but its a ploy to take more money and double dip trust us Americans on this one when we start to bitch.

We're already paying out the ass and how hard is it to lay a little more fiber good god you can't transfer but so much you've got to sleep eat and work at some point.

Re:Welcome America (1)

BlueCollarCamel (884092) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693335)

"People here go, "well, upgrade the network" - explain to me why they should keep upgrading the network at a frantic pace and never making enough money to recoup the infrastructure costs."

Because the government (here in the US) gave them tons of money to do so.

Re:Welcome America (1)

mdmkolbe (944892) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693645)

When you make something flat rate - it will be subject to abuse.

Counter example: Local phone access. Flat rates have worked for that for decades.

It's True,Unfortunately (1)

PRES_00 (657776) | more than 6 years ago | (#23692931)

Donovan admits that users self-adjust their habits to take advantage of off-peak times. I'm in the habit these days to start torrents during my free time at the workplace (remotely). Bell is doing a lot of heavy throttling these days.

Not *totally* awfull (4, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23692939)

To a point, I don't think that's a terrible idea. What I do have a problem with is the technical difficulties behind actually doing it fairly. For example, suppose I'm sharing files with my next-door neighbor, and our packets are never going farther than the first switch we have in common. Should I be billed the same as someone streaming gigs to Tokyo? Of course not, but that's probably not technically possible to accurately track without massive hardware upgrades, and even then it sets a bad precedent of charging extra depending on destination.

I'm not sure what to think on this one. I mean, they're acknowledging that they can't offer unlimited access, which we all knew anyway but is nice to hear them actually say. And yes, P2P probably is costing them lost of money. I don't think variable pricing is the answer, though, and I don't think their customers will either.

Re:Not *totally* awfull (-1, Troll)

blantonl (784786) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693021)

Why this post is insightful I don't know.

You are paying for a service! Imagine if your cell phone provider decides to charge you based on the distance your call is from the tower. Are you kidding me? You are joking right? Did you actually mean to post what you did?

In the words of John Stossel, Give me a break!

Re:Not *totally* awfull (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693035)

Imagine if your cell phone provider decides to charge you based on the distance your call is from the tower.

They already do. Calls to their other customers are free.

Re:Not *totally* awfull (1)

pinchhazard (728983) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693109)

Have you never heard of long-distance calling? It's where you pay based on the destination of your call and is ubiquitous on landlines. They don't charge you based on the distance you are from the telco itself. Traditionally they have charged you for the DISTANCE OF YOUR CALL FROM END TO END, which is really a much better analogy for what the GP said than your "distance your call is from the tower" idea.

Re:Not *totally* awfull (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23693029)

Sounds simple to track, and all the ISPs I have used with usage limits (non-US) did exactly that. Internal traffic didn't count towards your quota.

Doesn't seem hard to track the traffic as it crosses some boarder router.

Back in the olden days at University I remember departments being billed based on usage with international costing more than national costing more than AARNET and local to the University being free.

How is that a bad precedent? If it costs the provider why shouldn't they pass the cost onto the person causing it. Why should I who only use my internet to access local web sites have to pay for other users who upload/download gigabytes from Tokyo?

Re:Not *totally* awfull (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693041)

Should I be billed the same as someone streaming gigs to Tokyo? Of course not, but that's probably not technically possible to accurately track without massive hardware upgrades, and even then it sets a bad precedent of charging extra depending on destination.
I think the precedent has already been set. Telcos have been doing this forever, with both landline and cellular calls, and some ISPs offer free/unlimited access to their FTP servers, for example. I don't think it's a stretch to say that traffic that stays on their network gets charged at a lower rate than traffic leaving their network (on the reasonable assumption that they buy their upstream bandwidth). It might be tricky to track it to the switch level, but tracking to the network gateway level should be no problem. In my country, it's win-win too, because free local traffic means less traffic over the few pipes out of the country, and that benefits everyone.

Re:Not *totally* awfull (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23693049)

I don't see how P2P is "costing them money". They pay the same for their infrastructure whether it's used or completely unused.

It's not like their switches get worn out faster because there are so many bits traveling through them.

Re:Not *totally* awfull (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693071)

I don't see how P2P is "costing them money". They pay the same for their infrastructure whether it's used or completely unused.

True, but they have to pay proportional amounts for traffic that leaves their network. If their current bandwidth isn't cutting it, the extra doesn't come for free.

Re:Not *totally* awfull (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693065)

not necessarily, I assume you mean your next-door neighbour is usiong the same ISP you are, as if he's not your packets are going off way into the distance and back again.

If he is, you're still using the network as far as that switch, which is probably in their regional hub, so you're still using as much of the network as you would for anything. Sure, their peering arrangements mean they pay extra for you to send packets to Tokyo, but anyone sending packets from Tokyo to you would also pay them extra through their peering agreements so that roughly works out even.

I'm sure they could bill you by destination (a UK ISP I knew once offered more bandwidth if it was uk-only rather than international as it was cheaper). They'd probably only need software reporting/billing upgrades, but that can be very expensive.

As for variable pricing.. their 'ordinary' customers won't care so much, especially if it ends up slightly cheaper for them. The 24x7 P2P customers will hate it and leave. Which is possibly what they're trying to achieve.

Re:Not *totally* awfull (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693105)

If he is, you're still using the network as far as that switch, which is probably in their regional hub, so you're still using as much of the network as you would for anything.

Yeah, things get screwy with DSL, and I was almost hesitant to use that an an example. Just pretend that the switch is in the same city as the DSLAM, would you? :-)

Re:Not *totally* awfull (1)

m94mni (541438) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693203)

So, this bashism is no longer that funny?

http://bash.org/?142934 [bash.org]

docsigma2000: jesus christ man
docsigma2000: my son is sooooooo dead
c8info: Why?
docsigma2000: hes been looking at internet web sites in fucking EUROPE
docsigma2000: HE IS SURFING LONG DISTANCE
docsigma2000: our fucking phone bill is gonna be nuts
c8info: Ooh, this is bad. Surfing long distance adds an extra $69.99 to your bill per hour.
docsigma2000: ...!!!!!! FUCK FUCK FUCK
docsigma2000: is there some plan we can sign up for???
docsigma2000: cuz theres some cool stuff in europe, but i dun wanna pauy that much
c8info: Sorry, no. There is no plan. you'll have to live with it.
docsigma2000: o well, i ccan live without europe intenet sites.
docsigma2000: but till i figure out how to block it hes sooooo dead
c8info: By the way, I'm from Europe, your chatting long distance.
** docsigma2000 has quit (Connection reset by peer)

Re:Not *totally* awfull (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693289)

What I do have a problem with is the technical difficulties behind actually doing it fairly.

How about basing it off of the TTL count of the packets you receive? The TTL is basically a measure of how many hops the packet has made. Since each router that the packet passes through decrements the TTL count, it is a reasonable indicator of how much network infrastructure gets used to deliver that packet to you. Just bill based on the accumulated remaining time to live.

Re:Not *totally* awfull (1)

Jorophose (1062218) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693369)

I think what we'd all agree on as the best compromise, is that you are given a certain amount of bandwidth for "free" each month.

With Rogers' Ulralite service, something like ~64kB/s (the hughest speed I've ever seen it go, averaging at 50kB/s-60kB/s), I get 60GB, and it seems they do this for all the plans. Now, I know somebody is going to be like "60GB?!? WOAH THAT'S HORRIBLE!". But look at it this way; running at that speed for 24/7 for 31 days seems to use ~150GB. Assuming you're using it for 12 hours of maximum usage it's about 75GB. That makes it pretty damn fair.

If you're going to be downloading 24/7 your ISP should be allowed to charge you more. If this means cheaper plans for those who need less bandwidth and a quicker network with more upgrades coming, then so be it. If we paid 0.05$ per GB in bandwidth, it's peanuts. Of course, I'm thinking they'd try and charge a bit more, because at that pricing 60GB is only 3$...

But how much does the average torrenter download, anyway?

A reasonable change in rhetoric (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23692943)

But what remains to be seen is whether the actual pricing reflects this. WIthout knowing anything about the supply side, as a broadband customer, I'd be ok with a $1/GB during peak hours and $0.25/GB in the off peak. And I'd want to see the base monthly fee lowered.

Why all the fuss about cost. Should be cheap (1, Troll)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23692963)

According to the CIA World Factbook [wikipedia.org] there were 200+ million Internet users [wikipedia.org] in the US in 2007.

Given that the Internet was designed in large part by DARPA to be cheap and scalable. And indeed, the Internet is just a bunch of wires and switches. And given that even if every user pays just 1$/month, where the hell is all the money going?

Re:Why all the fuss about cost. Should be cheap (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693173)

Theres a significant difference between end-user cheap and military-cheap.

Re:Why all the fuss about cost. Should be cheap (1)

Dopeskills (636230) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693279)

Given that the Internet was designed in large part by DARPA to be cheap and scalable. And indeed, the Internet is just a bunch of wires and switches. And given that even if every user pays just 1$/month, where the hell is all the money going?
Very simple answer from the article: "Traffic on our backbone is growing 60 percent per year, but our revenue is not,"

Re:Why all the fuss about cost. Should be cheap (1)

max born (739948) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693723)

Why was that modded troll?

If you look at the amount AT&T, Comcast, Verizon spend on marketing you'll find it comaparable to what they spend on upgrades.

Comcast spends millions on TV commercials to tell you how Comcastic they are.

These companies are government sanctioned monopolies that run humongous bureaucratic hierarchies. They have diminished incentive to be efficient because entry level into the market is so high as to preclude real competition.

My Sad theory is : (1, Interesting)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 6 years ago | (#23692975)

The internet is a series of highways and the
ISP provides me with a rental car, and I pay
for the gasoline.

It is NOT for the ISP to tell me where to drive
or how many times I can drive to a given location.

When they sell me unlimited gasoline(bandwidth) it
becomes none of their business where I choose to
use the gasoline. I may make many cross-world trips,
it is none of their business where I go.

Now it seems like they want to control my driving habits.

Fsck That. Yeah, the DSL/Cable Modem is the car. Duh!

Re:My Sad theory is : (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693013)

Your rental car costs more if you want permission to take it to Mexico.

Road tolls might be less at night (e.g. London Congestion Charge is only between 07:00 and 18:00).

Anyway, it's free market America, isn't it? If you don't like it, don't buy it!

No it's not! (0, Offtopic)

Rhapsody Scarlet (1139063) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693059)

The internet is a series of highways

It's a series of tubes, you idiot!

Re:No it's not! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23693123)

In my experience, the internet is mainly a series of sets of assholes.

Re:No it's not! (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693273)

Rectums are tubes...

IDIOTS !! was that too hard ? (1, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693009)

its the LOGICAL method in which goods/services are sold for the last 5000 years for f@ck's sakes.

you pay as much as you buy. thats the basis of goddamn trade.

why it took you so long to realize that ? ill gladly pay premium bucks if you ensure that i get full bandwidth at any given time of day for downloads, and low latency for games.

Re:IDIOTS !! was that too hard ? (4, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693153)

So you also want to pay per mile of road you use? No, bandwidth should be flat rate. Just like roads and air.

The ONLY reason the internet is what it is today was the switch away from that archaic pricing structure. ( think CompuServe and the old school AOL ).

This is 2008, it doesn't mean something from 5000 years ago still applies. ( i suppose you also propose we trade chickens for bandwidth? And how about offering a cow before you can get married? )

Re:IDIOTS !! was that too hard ? (2, Interesting)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693303)

I'd like more bandwidth as much as the next guy, but I find it odd that comcast has doubled my connection recently while sending RST packets because their network can't handle traffic. Perhaps these companies should advertise and sell what their networks can handle instead of claiming rediculous speeds that they can't provide. I also think they should offer more than a few packages. Let people pick from a wider range of packages for their needs. I'm willing to pay more for more bandwidth, but at a fixed rate that I can anticipate. If they're not willing to do that, they better provide me with a way to cap myself via the cable modem/router (business package) they provide or another method. I shouldn't have to setup my home network with traffic shaping/throttling to keep myself from paying too much. If it's a hassle for me, imagine what would happen to my mother.

Re:IDIOTS !! was that too hard ? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693487)

I had a similar problem just before my isp was bought by comcast.

They doubled our rates, then sent me a complaint the next month that i was using too much bandwidth.. wtf?

They refused to tell me what the new limit was so i could throttle my router ( there was no limit before ).. then finally admitted there was still no limit and 'just be reasonable'.

If you don't have the bandwidth, don't advertise it as being there to suck customers in. Should be considered bait/swtich.

Re:IDIOTS !! was that too hard ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23693631)

Why wouldn't I pay per mile of road I use? That's a significantly more logical way to pay for roads, and will avoid my federal (in America) tax dollars being used to subsidize interstates I don't use or care about. Here's a thought: maybe we should pay for the things we use and care about and not the things we don't. Wow! Logic is awesome!

Anyway, did you have an actual argument? Because all I saw was an attempt to compare bandwidth to air. Scientists actually say there's a difference between the two now, you know.

Re:IDIOTS !! was that too hard ? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693329)

you pay as much as you buy. thats the basis of goddamn trade.

      Except we don't live in the world of 5000 years ago nowadays. When I want to buy another goat from you, you have to recover the cost of having fed that goat, raised it, cared for it, etc.

      What happens when the cost of providing an additional unit to me is practically nil? Why would I be interested in paying you forever for a one time upgrade in hardware/technology that would fix your "congestion" problems (and at the same time allow you to provide even more service to more people in my neighborhood)? You know, the cable is there whether I use it or not. It has been paid for. Depreciation has been taken. In many cases it's even "off the books" by now. The telcos just don't want to re-invest in their business and deliver new technology to deal with the "overload". Much easier to "charge rent" and just do "maintenance". Much more profitable.

      This is the typical argument of the "strong" vs. the weak. It's not about "the market". It's about telcos wanting to charge you for everything they can get away with simply because THEY CAN, and you not being able to do anything about it. The strong will do what they will, and the weak will suffer what they must. Government was meant to prevent this sort of abuse but nowadays it turns out that they actually enforce it, making the strong even stronger. I have no doubts you will get "pay as you go" internet.

      However this will break many business models and new socializing/communication methods. That's the REAL point - controlling the flow of information, through price. The rich can have their webcams and their VoIP and download/share all the video and files that they want, and the poor can only get the most basic services. Capitalism has come to the internet at last.

Re:IDIOTS !! was that too hard ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23693343)

Why is everyone USASsian on slashdot obsessed with getting a lesser deal? What's the deal with complaining about getting more than you need?

(I'm from Australia, where unlimited internet does not exist - though I wish like buggery it did).

Re: Americans wanting better deals (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693493)

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of..." Lesser Deals. (Subset of Happiness.)

It dates from the second paragraph of our existence.

Re:IDIOTS !! was that too hard ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23693521)

And as soon as you come up with a metric which is a) simple enough to be marketable, b) useful in the sense that it models the cost of the infrastructure for providing the service and c) doesn't cost much more to implement than simple realistically tiered flat-rate plans, network access will be metered (again.)

Gigabytes per month is useless because it doesn't say anything about peak usage, which is what drives network infrastructure costs.
Percentiles are too complicated and bear too much risk for consumers, so they are not a marketable metric.

Here's the real problem (3, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693039)

It's not just about fat pipes, either: AT&T also wants to bring you content and applications.
I don't think that the corporation that owns/maintains the connection should be the same one that provides the content. It allows them to compete unfairly by pulling dirty, underhanded stunts. In Ontario, when Bell was forced to open up its network to other telcos, those other telcos were put on the noisy lines, while the pristine lines were kept for Bell customers. The same thing is happening to DSL providers. We saw a similar thing happen with Microsoft. They provided the OS, and the applications. By crippling the published APIs and using non-crippled private APIs, they made their apps look better than their competition's.

Give me one fat pipe, and let me choose which VOIP, IPTV, and ISP companies I wish to deal with.

We have this in Australia... (0)

jonwil (467024) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693147)

We have this in Australia and despite those who say "its stupid", it does actually WORK. Combining fixed caps (e.g. "you get 40GB per month on this plan and once you use it, you drop down to dialup speeds/have to pay for more") with QoS so that BitTorrent and other bandwidth hogs are sent to the back of the queue is the correct solution to (as Comcast calls it) the "P2P menace"

Re:We have this in Australia... (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693269)

No, it doesn't 'work'. You are just stuck with it.

Re:We have this in Australia... (2, Informative)

jonwil (467024) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693353)

Even in America, bandwidth isn't free.
ISPs cant go on offering "unlimited" bandwidth anymore, they really have 3 choices: 1.Tell people that they only get a certain amount of bandwidth per month (i.e. the .au model) and charge people based on that number 2.Give people "unlimited" bandwidth (with no caps) but limit their usage (blocking BitTorrent for example) so they cant actually USE the bandwidth they are given (i.e. the Comcast model) or 3.Give people totally unlimited bandwidth with no restrictions on BitTorrent etc and watch as the ISP goes out of business because everyone is using far more bandwidth than they are paying for (and the ISP doesn't have enough money to pay its bandwidth bills)

Re:We have this in Australia... (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693565)

Or #4: Throttle all your traffic at a paid for predictable level, but still allow unlimited use at that rate per month. ( i see the AU model as being the opposite.. variable speed, but a cap on amount of total data, am i wrong? )

In other words, actually provide what you are selling.

And yes i know technically its effect is capping your actual usage at Xmb a month, but its predictable and your allocation wont run out 1/2 thru the month if you happen to get hit with a DoS or a huge amount of spam. Its 100% predicable. You now you get Xmb/s all month long and no hassles.

If you want to go faster, you pay more. But, again, no overselling of the lines, you have to sell what you actually have.

Errata (1, Troll)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693171)

"What he wants to do is gently encourage more efficient usage of his network" should be read as "he wants to maximize profits and gouge his customers as much as he can get away with without going to jail", because after all mindless and perpetual expansion of PROFIT is what communications (or any other business) is all about, isn't it?

      In the beginning telcos set up "toll booths" at the content provider level, and you had to pay more depending on how much content people downloaded from your site. But now that people have found a way to efficiently break up data and move it around, you might as well tax the whole world. Data is being moved without the appropriate compensation. We can't have THAT!

(begin sarcasm mode)
      I know - maybe if we suck the government's metaphorical penis hard enough by providing them any info they need (under the guise of "terrorism") they will be nice to us when we try to screw consumers out of another $100 a month for something we've currently managed to provide for "free" - in fact we built and expanded internet access to what it is today at current market prices but suddenly we can't make money anymore. Those cables and routers have gone on strike and are asking for more money! I mean $60 a month for a cell phone and $60 a month for a land-line just isn't enough! Our telephone poles keep getting ripped up by tornadoes or crashed into, and our cell phone towers are rusting! Oh and we've invested billions of dollars into technology to let us screw our customers or read/modify their data but zero dollars into making our networks more efficient/increasing our capacity. We need more money!!!
(end sarcasm mode)

Oh these Internetz costs so much!!! (1)

MrSnivvel (210105) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693201)

At least this cat said that he wasn't about blanket blocking of various types of usage.

But, the whole notion that they should charge more because of the higher demand on the network is bullshit, when all things are considered. Since the telecoms have gotten (maybe still getting) massive subsidies to build a high bandwidth optical network since the late 1980s, their excuses now are pathetic.

Unfortuantely I have Verizon, but ATT does serve areas close to be, so the following is still applicable. I live about 50+ miles away for Austin, TX where high bandwidth is no problem in acquiring. The best I can get, albeit it's in a rural area but not isolated, is dail up, not 53Kbps, but 26.4Kbps. For this grand luxury, I pay about $20 for a local only telephone line, no long distance, no features, just a dail tone. The kicker is that the line charge itself is just $7, while $13 is for all the taxes and other charges (a whole fucking $6 is for that Federal Interstate Line charge, which was supposed to be for the building of that previously stated optical network).

So to all you big-wigs at the telecoms, Fuck You and The Horse You Road in On. Y'all have had both the time AND money to build the network's capacity, but all you did was lie to Congress, defraud the American people, and sit on your asses for the entire time.

Enough with the excuses AT&T, build FTTH ! (4, Insightful)

Brian Stretch (5304) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693243)

I am sick and tired of the excuses and outright lies from AT&T for their kludgy FTTN U-verse network when Verizon has already proven that you can profitably build a FTTH network in America. But no, AT&T would rather milk their balky copper plant and put off the one-time expense of running fiber like they'll eventually have to do anyhow.

Every time I ask an AT&T droid about that they make wild claims of Verizon having so much trouble building their network, charging $hundreds to rewire your home, etc, etc. All I know is that my grandmother, in the middle of nowhere, can get FiOS and I, in a major university town, am stuck with U-verse.

Yes, Verizon's stock took a hit when they announced FiOS. I used the opportunity to buy shares for my IRA on the cheap. That's worked out well so far.

Re:Enough with the excuses AT&T, build FTTH ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23693715)

...I, in a major university town, am stuck with U-verse.
Boo-hoo, there are still tons of Americans who can't even get cable or DSL. The corporations won't build out the infrastructure because "it's not profitable in the short term".

I'll take U-verse any day, thanks.

New Zealand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23693251)

Actually, here in NZ some ISPs are creating plans for P2Pers. Take Xnet's HSI Torrent plan [xnet.co.nz] , $1.50/GB on peak (8am-midnight), and 75GB/Month free off peak. I will be going on this plan very soon, and will be making the most of my 75GB a month

"A heavy user is not a bad customer" (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693261)

BS. This is like saying its 'for the children' while the government takes your rights by the bucketful.

This is just a "public friendly" way for the *AA to get their way without the average Joe having a clue it happened. Make it so expensive to download that its cheaper to buy their crap at the store ( and if you actually do buy it online, you get to pay more ).

They cant stop things via technology, so they will kill it ( and most everything else online in the process ) via monetary.

And you get to pay for incoming spam to boot. Grrr

Wasn't there just a story... (1)

physman_wiu (933339) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693301)

...about outlawing P2P?

_e?p!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23693305)

Something dobne [goat.cx]

Use based pricing... (1)

Eric Damron (553630) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693337)

A scheme to start down the path of making HUGE profits by extracting money for every little thing a user does online...

This brought to you by AT & T... i.e the beloved phone company... Some things never change.

The rest of the story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23693389)

Donovan smiled nervously, flashing his gold teeth. "Trust me, you can trust AT@T!" he said.

Why change plans? (4, Insightful)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693465)

Why? If you're on AT&T then you're already using bittorrent and have an unlimited package, why would you want to transfer to something usage-based? Why would this attract people from other ISPs? Why should bittorrent even be singled out, it's just another packet on the wire. If people start downloading a ton of videos due to subscription service, will they have "plans" that spring up to help charge you more for that too?

The Best Up Side - SPAM reduction (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693517)

Ok so it will not work everywhere but if you are charged for usage you will very quickly clean up your systems once you get your monthly usage bill.

Paying for being spammed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23693529)

Under the pay for usage model, then the spam and zombie problem needs to be fixed by the networks. Customers will then be paying to receive spam and that will not go over well.

Self-adjusting? (1)

chrylis (262281) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693545)

Donovan's comment makes me curious as to whether he understands networking at all. BT data transfers happen over TCP, which naturally contends with other TCP connections and ends up sharing available capacity more or less equally among connections. The fact that BT traffic is heaviest when other usage is lowest is therefore a truism--those BT connections go faster when they're not competing for bandwidth.

AT&T should try to keep P2P traffic on their o (2, Insightful)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693595)

What AT&T should be doing is trying to keep the P2P traffic entirely on their own network. The most expensive thing any ISP can buy is generalized Internet bandwidth. And yet P2P traffic could just as well stay within their own network, as the content for any one transfer is the same everywhere.

The problem is... (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693601)

Like with hosting rules don't seem to apply and you can promise everything under the sun. An 8 meg unlimited connection probably will be anything but 8 meg or unlimited. So why in the hell is it ok to advertise it as such?

It's a free market, let the ISPs do what they want with their traffic but they better tell the consumer *exactly* what is done so the consumer can make a decent decision.

Tiered pricing, and QoS (1)

brteag00 (987351) | more than 6 years ago | (#23693657)

Whoa. There's a little ire in the above posts - obviously this isn't a popular thing.

I personally think this could be implemented in a manner that is "fair" to everyone involved. What I'd like to see is a tiered setup similar to that of the IgLou ISP [iglou.com] : their DSL customers pay for a fixed amount (say 10 GB) of "high-priority" traffic, and the rest is de-prioritized to "bulk." Thus, a DSL subscription is truly "all-you-can-eat", but users with greater needs are encouraged to pay for what they're using.

I think this kind of scheme could work great if paired with a QoS setup on the end-user's part. What if I could prioritize my own traffic? (Not something I think IgLou lets its residential DSL customers do.) Then, you could de-prioritize P2P traffic and super-prioritize VoIP or shell traffic (maybe "pay" double?) -- everything runs more smoothly. The casual users' web-browsing speeds stay high, and the power users have an incentive to mark bulk traffic for what it is.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?