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Time Warner Transfer Caps May Inspire Fair-Price Legislation

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the what-have-you-got-against-monopolies dept.

Businesses 382

Time Warner's recently announced plan to expand their broadband transfer caps to new markets drew heavy criticism, which prompted their attempt to smooth things over with a ridiculously expensive "unlimited" plan. That wasn't enough for New York Representative Eric Massa, who now says he will draft legislation to "curb tiers, particularly in areas where a broadband provider owns a monopoly on service." Massa said, "Time Warner believes they can do this in Rochester, NY; Greensboro, NC; and Austin and San Antonio, Texas, and it's almost certainly just a matter of time before they attempt to overcharge all of their customers," adding, "I believe safeguards must be put in place when a business has a monopoly on a specific region."

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Up next (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27550689)

Unlimited water and electricity for flat rates plus a pony.

Re:Up next (0, Offtopic)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550719)

plus a pony.


Re:Up next (0, Offtopic)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550843)

I love rainbow ponies! I have a collection of them. Real ponies not so much. I want a FPS where I can play a rainbow pony.

have a SecondLife account yet?? (0, Offtopic)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551175)

Not exactly a FPS but im sure you could somehow come up with a RainBow Unicorn that shoots whatever from its horn

Re:Up next (1)

Sam36 (1065410) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551185)

Although ponies are smaller than a regular horse, they definitely have full sized dongs.

Re:Up next (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27551201)

Carmageddon pink pony edition.

Re:Up next (4, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550871)

If you try to keep the competition out of an area the the gov should cap your fees and that's not the same as getting unlimited amounts of a more scarce resource, like clean water, for one fee.

Re:Up next (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27550911)


you think that the internet is unlimited/
that the bandwidth you get is just random bits that didnt cost anybody anything?

are you serious?

do you know anything about the internet infrastructure at all?

Re:Up next (4, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550981)

It's much more unlimited than water and if there's no competition then how can you honestly say that they're going to be the one and only good company and charge a fair price?

You'd have to be really slow to believe that.

Re:Up next (2, Funny)

rackserverdeals (1503561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551013)

you think that the internet is unlimited

Seriously. We all know the internet is limited. Fits in a shipping container [] .

Re:Up next (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551207)

The network is the computer, not the opposite .. :D

Yes, quite a bit... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27551203)

"do you know anything about the internet infrastructure at all?"

I do and you have this quaint notion of the internet where Comcast buys T1's and DS3's and they each pay a telco charges.

Sonny boy, that vision of the internet faded about 10 years ago.

Peering between giants like comcast, verizon and others their size happens in data centers at speeds unimaginable. There is no "cost" of doing this peering (if you can use this term) other than running the fiber lines between racks.

Most of Comcast and Verizon core infrastructure is fiber as well, with Verizon having fiber to the premises. There is more bandwidth available than you and I can imagine, and while there is cost associated with adding it, it is a fraction of what you believe it costs.

Really, we're getting close to 2010. Time to drop the 1998 view of how the internet works.

Re:Up next (5, Insightful)

sinrakin (782827) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550901)

Since the subscriber has no control over the amount of data sent to him from a site (ads, flash videos and music that play automatically, etc) it's hard to see how people would be willing to accept a pricing model that charged them for data they hadn't asked for and didn't want to receive.

Re:Up next (2, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551111)

cell phone billing much?

Re:Up next (1)

Charles Dodgeson (248492) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551003)

Thank you for this. The reality of the situation with bandwidth is that a very small percentage of the users consume most of the bandwidth. And anyone who offers an unlimited service is either deluded or a liar.

A properly priced system will be better for everyone. For the heavy users, they will know that they won't be kicked off or silently capped since they will be explicitly paying for their heavy usage. For everyone else, it should mean lower prices and more stable service.

Re:Up next (3, Interesting)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551137)

For everyone else, it should mean lower prices and more stable service.

Can I have whatever it is that you're taking that's making the sky such a pretty rosy color? Check their tiering structure, they didn't drop prices when they put caps on it. They won't in the future either.

If this were truly a competitive market, then you might actually see that. The problem is you're looking at a monopoly marketplace for the last mile. With Cable & DSL being the only 2 viable broadband technologies in place for 90% of the people who can get them, there isn't significant enough market pressure to force any price lowering.

Why do you think they are taking the Chicago suburbs to court over community laid last mile? If the Cable/Telco companies have to actually compete on price & service quality, then you would see low tier service at a lowered price. Until then, expect them to make low end tiers out of their normal price & rape you for using enough bandwidth to actually use anyones VOIP or Video service but theirs.

Re:Up next (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551161)

For everyone else, it should mean lower prices and more stable service.

I guess you didn't notice that in this Time Warner announcement, there weren't any reductions in any of the prices...they just jacked up the prices for some users.

There never will be "lower prices and more stable service" when the company is a de-facto monopoly for an area. Well, at least not as long as local government can still be "encouraged to see things from Comcast's point of view" (i.e., bribed with campaign contributions).

Re:Up next (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551237)

That's the real reason. People like to think they are on the "High Speed" and love the "Unlimited" keyword in a plan.

Companies don't want to put down real hard limits in writing because "Unlimited" and "High Speed" are both relative terms that are hard to compare making it difficult for customers to shop around or demand more. While one cable company might have the monopoly on cable broad band in a market there are probably also satellite and DSL even regular tel-modem services that could be used.

Putting down real numbers means that customers will have more information and competitors can undercut them, also real numbers means that customers can demand a minimum of service and will be more likely to notice if they are not getting those numbers.

Re:Up next (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27551145)

"Unlimited water and electricity for flat rates plus a pony."

That's an outrage. Two ponies, at least.

Massa gits da cat: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27550699)

Eric Massa: "Boy, I heard you been holdin some'a my watamelons."
Jeffrey L. Bewkes: "No Massa, I ain't been holdin' watamelons!"
Massa: "Boy, my customers sayin' that you been skimpy with the watamelon sales and that you are overcharging fo the big ones. Son, you know all melons be the same price. What's wrong with you, boy?"
Jeffrey: "I'm sorry Massa, I jus' though that I could make a few extra bucks to go eat some chikkin on my birfday"
Massa: "I'm the whipmassa here, and you know I don' approve of that. I'm sorry, boy, but I'm gonna have to let the cat 'o' nine have a talk with you..."
Jeffrey: "No Massa! Pleaze, no lawd! Not the cat!"

#2! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27550701)

I just dropped a big fat obama!

Re:#2! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27550723)

Obama was dropped off at the local swimming pool to cool off in the hot summer weather. However, due to a freak accident with a powerful vortex in the pool's drain, he was flushed into the sewer system and never seen again.

Tomorrow: will his twin brother suffer the same fate?

The real solution (5, Insightful)

halivar (535827) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550715)

The real solution is to get rid of government-enforced monopolies on utilities.

Re:The real solution (2, Insightful)

fortunato (106228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550751)

One of the reasons for enforced monopolies is that for an infrastructure service that is considered "crucial", like electricity, phone and water you don't want the inevitable pressure to cut costs by scrimping on reliability in order to compete. That is why these enforced monopolies are, in theory, regulated heavily.

Of course, I personally don't think that precludes heavy competition with heavy regulation, but what do I know. :)

Re:The real solution (2, Insightful)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550857)

Yes because that's worked so well in the UK where prices have rocketed along with profits.

Re:The real solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27550893)

Also, see Texas Electricity pricing fiascoes of recently.....

Re:The real solution (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27550955)

Ah, the libertarian solution to every problem. Even the ones, which aren't the problem in question.

It might have slipped your attention, that Time Warner having a monopoly on broad-band in certain regions is not government enforced.
That is, unless you ascribe every monopoly per se to governmental enforcement.

Re:The real solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27551087)

It might not be government enforced, but the government certainly don't help. You try laying some new cables to people without paying the government some serious money and see if you still think the monopoly isn't government enforced.

And this is a problem because the proposal is for Fair-Price legislation. What on earth does that mean? What counts as a fair price? who gets to decide it? how many businesses will the government bankrupt?

Re:The real solution (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551157)

It might have slipped your attention, that Time Warner having a monopoly on broad-band in certain regions is not government enforced.

Even in places where Time Warner's monopoly isn't "government enforced" in the sense of prohibiting competition, the government was still responsible for its existence by giving Time Warner (or cable companies that were bought by Time Warner) subsidies, right-of-way, etc. when the cable networks were initially being built. This allowed Time Warner to become incumbent in a market with huge barriers to entry (insurmountable except with government assistance) and thus a natural monopoly.

Re:The real solution (2, Interesting)

Whillowhim (1408725) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551187)

Unfortunately, this isn't economical. Utilities are one place where monopolies are inevitable, we just need the government to put real limits on them because they are so prone to abuse. Or heck, nationalize the infrastructure, then rent it to service providers for a fee to cover maintenance.

Based on some numbers I heard a while back, the basic problem is this: It takes about 40% of the people in an area subscribing to your cable service in order to make up for the cost of installing the wires in the first place. You'll never get 80% of the people in an area to sign up, and they'll likely never split evenly between two services if they were available, so a second cable company in the same area is just a recipe for both companies failing.

However, for things like phone service and internet access, there is a way around this problem. The "must have X% of people signed up" only applies to the actual infrastructure project, the wires to everyone's house. If there were a real split between the infrastructure company and the content company (i.e. government controlled infrastructure or government mandated breakups of current companies) then you can have fully equal access for ISPs to everyone, and consumers would actually have a choice for their service provider.

There are some issues that make this difficult and not really as straightforward as I presented, but I think it is the only real hope of giving consumers a choice. You might end up with some sort of limits from the local infrastructure, but local bandwidth limitations tend to be much less of an issue from what I've seen.

I wonder what fraction of US broadband customers (2, Insightful)

ridgecritter (934252) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550721)

are in a similar position, with only one broadband provider? Here in Portola Valley, a stone's throw from the heart of Silicon Valley, we have ComCast as the sole broadband provider and the lack of competition shows in the prices. It's crazy - my neighbors and I would switch to DSL in a heartbeat if it were available. Wimax can't happen too soon!

Re:I wonder what fraction of US broadband customer (2, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550755)

Since the majority of the USA have only one cable provider I would say the majority. Local governments have been granting monopolies for decades. As they upgraded to high speed internet. you get cable and random pockets of DSL. I day random as I can't DSL in my home though people within 2 miles of me can.

Re:I wonder what fraction of US broadband customer (3, Insightful)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550895)

you both probably get better and faster service for both TV and internet than I do with Embarq and shantel. We've got no cable option for internet and embarq's had a monopoly here since before it was Embarq, the wires are literally disentegrating and calling for support on anything will half the time get you hung up on because they have no need to do anything to keep you as a customer.

Caps are about broadband video (5, Insightful)

sdo1 (213835) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550747)

These ridiculous caps are all about cable companies protecting their becoming-outdated business model. Right now, they charge for content (HBO, various extra channel packages, etc.). Customers getting high quality video (for some definitions of high quality) from places like Hulu is eventually going to eat up the cable monopoly cash cow that Time Warner Cable currently enjoys. So how do they stop it and protect their outdated business model? Caps. Insanely low transfer caps that all but eliminate high amounts of streaming video and that protect their cable company business.

If there's a reason the gov't should step in and put a stop to low transfer caps, it's this.


Re:Caps are about broadband video (3, Informative)

DaveM753 (844913) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550849)

Right on! The government needs to FORCE both the cable and telco companies to separate the data, television and telephone components. They should be regulated as separate companies and therefore separate monopolies. Grrrrr...

What I have in Western Washington (near Seattle) is Comcast and Verizon. They both charge basically the same price for all services. If there were TRUE competition, i.e., many different companies, there's NO WAY they'd be able to charge such high prices without losing customers. But, since there are only 2 companies, they basically have all the benefits of collusion, without any actual collusion. I mean, if one of them decided to charge some arbitrary fee, the other one would follow. Double-Grrrrr....

America against Bandwidth Caps (2, Insightful)

bluesatin (1350681) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550753)

Is it just me or do I find the complaint against Bandwidth Caps ridiculous?

I only seem to see people complaining about it in America, most of Europe (afaik) has gotten used to having bandwidth caps. For example in England I'm with the ISP wholesaler Entanet, you have your on-peak bandwidth (mon-fri 8:00am to midnight) and then off-peak is free to use as much as you want.

The reason it annoys me is that everyone is complaining about having their bandwidth shaped, and the cause for that is there is too much bandwidth being used (the companies obviously aren't going to increase their limits as shown by previous experience, and it's unrealistic to expect the ISPs to allow every single person their full bandwidth 24/7 anyway).

So if they're not going to expand their limits, the only solution is to reduce the amount of bandwidth people use, thus reducing how much people 'waste' it.

I just don't get why people are opposed to bandwidth shaping while the only way the ISPs are going to be happy solving this is to introduce bandwidth caps, and besides it's better having the bandwidth caps out in the open rather than having undefined 'unlimited' packages.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (5, Insightful)

japhering (564929) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550799)

It is not so much the caps.. it is the fact the the rates are 3-5x what people are paying now which is, antidotally, 2-3x times what most people around the world pay. Caps wouldn't be so bad if everyone got some benefit.. as it is it is just an excuse for the ISPs to grab a 3-5x price increase.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (2, Insightful)

bluesatin (1350681) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550891)

I realised just after I posted my original rant that there may have been a good reason why everyone was against Bandwidth Caps.

From what I've read it seems the major ISPs in America try and hide as much as they can from users, rather than try and teach them about things. I can imagine they'd make it extremely awkward to check your current usage, while my ISP (Entanet) in the UK has an RSS feed you can use to check it.

I can also imagine they'd make all bandwidth count towards your cap, not only when bandwidth is at a premium (in the day when people want quicker speeds).

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (1)

japhering (564929) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550991)

For the most part, it is impossible to know what your actual usage is. Supposedly TW and Comcast have put up pages that detail specific usage, but from what I've heard, they aren't live data .. they are any where from hours to days behind.. kind of like the cell phone companies -- "you have used X minutes.. but this page may not be accurate and can not be used as proof of service."

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (1)

master811 (874700) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551005)

The problem is Most ISPs in the UK don't have an easy way to check your usage, especially some of the bigger ones like VM and BT etc.
VM is also extremely guilty of advertising "unlimited" services, when in reality they hit you with traffic shaping as soon as you go over a pathetically small limit (1.2GB is the limit in the evening on the 10Mb tariff and knock you down to a much smaller 2.5Mb for 5 hours). I'm pretty sure other ISPs in the UK do exactly the same still.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (4, Insightful)

jim_deane (63059) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550807)

I pay X amount of dollars to have Y data download rate (and Z data upload rate). My ISP advertised the rate, I bought the rate, that's what I expect them to be able to deliver "most" of the time.

Now, if they want to put a cap on my useage, say C gigabytes per month, then if that limit is less than (2592000 s * X bits/s), I expect my useage fee to decrease proportionately to however much smaller my new download limit becomes.

DECREASE. Not increase. They will be taking away value that I expect based on the advertised service. I expect to pay less for less value.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (0, Troll)

nacturation (646836) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551019)

So let's say you go to an all-you-can-eat restaurant. The restaurant advertises you can eat as much as you want for stays of up to 2 hours, as long as you don't waste food, and that they will clear used plates from you table within 2 minutes. The cost the restaurant charges for this is $19.95.

Assuming you can eat one plate of food in 5 minutes, and that it takes you 3 minutes to get a new plate of food, then you can consume one plate of food every 8 minutes. The 3 minute refill time is also enough for their 2 minute plate clearing to come into effect. Thus, over the course of 2 hours or 120 minutes, you could consume 15 plates of food.

For a $19.95 price, this works out to be $1.33 per plate. If you go into the restaurant and only consume 3 plates of food, do you expect your bill to decrease to $4.00?

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (4, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551081)

No, I wouldn't. But if I go in to that restaurant and start eating and, after 5 plates, they tell me that they won't give me any more, that I've reached my cap, then yes I will expect a refund. They didn't include a 5-plate cap in what they offered, it isn't included in what they offered. If they want to change the deal to something that does include it, then you better believe I'm going to want to change my end of the deal too to reflect what they're offering from their side.

The difference between TW and your scenario is that in your scenario the consumer's deciding not to use all he's entitled to, with TW it's TW deciding the consumer won't be allowed everything he's entitled to.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (1)

mathx314 (1365325) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551089)

Your metaphor is wrong. He's not saying that if he doesn't use the limit, he shouldn't be charged full price. He's saying that if it is physically impossible for him to use the limit, then he should not be charged by the contract that he signed under the old ToS. If they change the physical maximum that he can download so that he can't download everything he used to be able to, they shouldn't charge him the same price he used to be charged.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (1)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551209)

TWC is not going to charge him the same price, they are going to charge him more. Point is they advertised 'x" speeds up and "y' speeds down and implied if not stated that connection was always on and it was unlimited. And TWC and the other telcos and cable companies got a bunch of money to upgrade speed and service areas and did not, pocketing tax dollars. Fuck them, I would like to see TWC and the rest of the cable companies and telecos seized and sold at auction to someone who would realize that service and product is worth money, while crappy service and shitty product is not worth money. And for the person who was wondering, most cable companies are monopolies in the US of fuckin A.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27551107)

If the restaurant advertises "all-you-can-eat" and then limits me to 3 plates of food, yes, I would expect the price to go down proportionally. It is unreasonable to expect that I would have eaten 15 plates, but it is also unreasonable to expect a limit of 3 plates in an all-you-can-eat restaurant. If on the other hand I choose to eat only 3 plates even though the restaurant would have allowed me to eat 15, then that's the deal I expected for $19.95, and there is obviously no expectation of a price reduction.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (2, Informative)

Draconix (653959) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551117)

Uh, I don't think you understood what you're replying to. Your analogy applies to pre-cap service, which no one was complaining about. To further your analogy, the addition of the caps is like having gone there for years and typically eaten 2-4 plates, then one day they take your plate away after you've finished your first helping, and tell you there's a one-plate limit. Suddenly, it doesn't seem like nearly as good a deal.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27551123)

Why the FUCK is this insightful?

He isn't only consuming three plates of food. That would be "I expect my useage fee to decrease proportionately to how much bandwidth I use." He is having the restaurant advertise as much as you can eat, but then refusing to give him more than 3 plates.

If that happens, then yes, I damn well DO expect the price to decrease.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27551171)

Your analogy is all wrong. The consumer is currently paying for the ABILITY to download (2592000 s * X bits/s). The parent is not claiming that by choosing to download less per month that his bill should decrease. He is stating that since the provider is changing the contract and restricting his ability to download the amount of data that he previously could that the price should be less than the current rate.

To put it in terms of your buffet...
An restaurant advertises all-you-can-eat within a two hour period. However, once you are seated and begin eating, they inform you that the base price only includes 2lbs. of food. Any food over that limit will be charged at $3/lb. So now your $19.95 all-you-can-eat transforms into $9.98/lb + $3/lb. for any overages. Not quite a deal anymore.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551055)

For a 8mb/s connection, you could theoretically transfer over 2.5TB in a single month, and that's just counting downloads. If the cap is, say, a rather reasonable 100GB, do you really think the plan that used to cost $50 should now cost $2? Does that sound reasonable to you, or maybe you're missing something?

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (4, Insightful)

Selanit (192811) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551063)

I'm in Austin, so I stand to be affected by this in the near future.

I wouldn't be opposed to a metered plan if it was really a metered plan.

The electric company doesn't care how many toasters I own, or how often I make toast, or anything. They charge me an activation fee when I start service, and then they bill me for the electricity I use. THAT is a metered plan. If I could do that with bandwidth (at a reasonable rate per GB), I'd be perfectly happy.

This Time Warner crap is NOT like that. They want to charge me an activation fee, a monthly usage fee, AND a dollar per gigabyte for every GB over their arbitrarily imposed limit. That's NOT cool.

The basic point of the pricing structure appears to be to control my behavior online, and it irritates me no end.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (2, Informative)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550877)

These caps don't seem to have anything to do with peak time usage. If the caps were only on peak time it'd be something different entirely.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (2, Interesting)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550917)

England still has the problem of companies offering unlimited bandwidth that doesn't exist. There is a clear abuse of the word unlimited amongst ISPs.

I'm fine with caps when I'm told what I get for what I pay for and not "hey we're giving unlimited bandwidth but oh hey don't use more than 2 gbps per month and we'll shape the shit out of your traffic between noon and 9pm".

ISPs should be forced to advertise only what you get and tell you what they do to your traffic so you know exactly what you're getting. If they do that then fine, put limits on it. I fully understand that limits need to exist.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550995)

I made a complaint to the ASA in the UK about mobile broadband providers claiming "unlimited" when in the small print it stated that a "fair use" limit of 3GB would be imposed therefore making it in no way unlimited. They told me that as it didn't affect many consumers my complaint had no merit. I wonder if the wired companies get similar freedom to mislead their customers.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551053)

Do you mean mobile broadband as in on a phone or mobile broadband as in a USB stick that goes in your laptop?

In the case of the USB stick then yes people could easily run into that limit with iPlayer, itunes, etc.

But even with mobile phone, eventually more of these bandwidth intensive things will come to phones so why allow this deceptive practice? If most people don't hit the limit then there should be no problem advertising the limit. Clearly they don't understand what the word unlimited means.

It's a shame that the No. 10 petition site doesn't actually provide decent outcomes for popular petitions. I'm sure getting people to sign up for a petition related to this sort of tactic wouldn't be that hard.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551091)

The USB stick variety although I'm guessing it also applies to mobiles as well. I just objected to the lie that it was "unlimited" when it wasn't. However the truth in advertising watchdog didn't seem to mind.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (4, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550937)

The main problem we have with it is the industry should be providing MORE service for less money, not the opposite.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (2, Insightful)

JakFrost (139885) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550947)

So if they're not going to expand their limits, the only solution is to reduce the amount of bandwidth people use, thus reducing how much people 'waste' it.

The purpose of a Data Usage Cap is to increase profits out of thin air by creating a new metric for billing. You're gravely mistaken if you believe that a Data Usage Cap has anything to do with actual usage since there is no scarcity for bandwidth and there are no bottlenecks that need to be unblocked. This is all simply a marketing device being implement to increase profits and has nothing to do with capacity control.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27550999)

Huh? I'm from Europe - Germany, to be precise -, and I don't have any caps. I happily use about 150 GB / month by my own estimates nowadays (all legal, too, mind you); Torrent shows a total transfer volume in excess of 2500 GB already, and my ISP, who I've been with since 2001, has never complained to me.

Stupid astroturfer.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (1)

Rickz0rz (831049) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551025)

Yeah, we (Americans) generally have solid caps, and radically different pricing tiers that not only include different caps but different speeds you're limited to. Either pick one or the other: give a cap at the fastest your network will allow, or limit people to what they're paying but don't cap. I'm not sure about how it is in Europe, but if that's how it is there too then I feel sorry for you guys.

Even more annoying, the ISPs here that are starting to cap offer no 'off-peak' times, which is a better solution for me, I concur, as any heavy downloads I do are mostly at night, but I can't say that for everyone--like people who use Netflix to watch HD content; they only offer capped internet (Example being the target of this story, Time Warner Cable, 50 GiB/$50) or you bust the cap until you hit unlimited ($150). Some companies like Comcast don't have anything remotely like the unlimited. You breach your cap, you get warned. Do it enough, and your service is cut off.

I think what annoys people most about this is that they raise rates all the time, in the name of 'improving infrastructure and bringing new technology' and in the process, everyone sees a declination of services while they trumpet increased profits, all while the people supporting their efforts ("heavy downloaders make us pay more", "if you use xxx amount of bandwidth, get a business account", "you make the network less reliable", etc) just don't get it, IMO.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (1)

paul.opensource (1525069) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551037)

They are not ridiculous at all. Time Warner is trying to shut out competition by putting caps in place and charging for exceeding those caps. They are trying to compete with Netflix, Apple Movie, etc and by charging for bandwidth, they make those other services unattractive because of the cost involved. Since TW owns the lines, they can push out their own content and no one pays, but pulling in content over the web, they cannot control except by charging for it. We (as humans) have the technological capability to bring high-speed Internet to practically everywhere on the planet. Here in the US we do not do that because the good of the people comes secondary to the good of the corporations. Always has, always will because money is involved and here the corporations run the country. Sad yes, but unfortunately true.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27551051)

In the country with the biggest European economy, Germany, bandwidth caps are unusual, at least for wired network access. Whenever a company tries to impose bandwidth caps despite calling the service "unlimited" or "flatrate", it turns into a public relations disaster. Germany has a heavily regulated telecoms market where the former state monopoly, German Telekom, must offer several kinds of wholesale services to competitors at regulated prices, so even though there are only Telekom owned last-mile wires in most places, the customer can choose from a number of DSL internet providers. This is where competition is important: The last mile connections are not congested. Basically each customer has an exclusive connection to the central office, and from there it is feasible to have competing network operators for the actual internet service. What the US should do is to force local monopolies to offer access to the last mile at a price which is lower than the lowest of their own plans which makes use of that last mile connection. The competition can then sell their own backbone uplink capacity cheaply with a high contention ratio or provide always-fast connections for a higher price. The market will decide what the customer really wants and what he's willing to pay for it.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (2, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551133)

I think there was a fundamental problem with the marketing of broadband which either poorly communicated the intent behind the term "unlimited", intentionally misleading, or they didn't expect that people would actually try to use the service as if it was unlimited. The companies claim that "unlimited" meant "always on", as in, you don't have to dial in or disconnect. I can understand that, but given how it was marketed, I think it's more like the marketing was intentionally misleading.

Frankly, I had no problem with a 250GB cap, but most of the lower caps was putting the squeeze on heavy users of legitimate media.

I also don't trust these companies either, my expectation is that they won't offer an easy way to track their use, won't tell the users if they're about to go over, and tell people "tough nuts" if they go over and charge a high rate per kB.

Another problem is the monopoly systems here, for each kind of connection, you're basically only allowed one provider to serve that kind of connection for the given area. Despite the fact that public right of ways are used to string these wires, I don't see why they shouldn't be required to lease those lines out to other ISPs. Many areas might only be served by cable, others, only by DSL, if you're really lucky, you might have a choice of cable & DSL, but only one provider each. If you're really lucky, you might have a fiber internet option. Then there's the lesser options such as wireless/cellular, satellite and modem. So it's not something that I would call a competitive arrangement.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (1)

Sir_Real (179104) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551205)

If they stop using the word "unlimited" I would have no problem at all.

Re:America against Bandwidth Caps (4, Informative)

dnaumov (453672) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551213)

Is it just me or do I find the complaint against Bandwidth Caps ridiculous?

I only seem to see people complaining about it in America, most of Europe (afaik) has gotten used to having bandwidth caps.

Are you out of your mind? The reason why you see people complaining about it in America and not in Europe is because a lot of European countries do not have any kind of download caps whatsoever so we don't have to complain about it.

Complaining when you got what you asked for (0, Flamebait)

Burdell (228580) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550759)

People complain about providers advertising "unlimited" that they can't provide for the price. People complain when providers have unpublished caps. People complain when providers publish caps. People complain when providers offer an "unlimited" service for a price that supports it.

Bandwidth and infrastructure cost real money. Providing "unlimited" access means allocating more bandwidth for those customers; why should they not charge for that? I work at a relatively small ISP, and our Internet circuits cost us $50-75/meg (plus we have multiple paths for redundancy), and that doesn't include our infrastructure (routers/switches, UPS/generator, A/C, people, etc.). If you want a guaranteed 6 meg pipe, you shouldn't expect to get it for $99.

Re:Complaining when you got what you asked for (1)

japhering (564929) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550827)

People complain about providers advertising "unlimited" that they can't provide for the price. People complain when providers have unpublished caps. People complain when providers publish caps. People complain when providers offer an "unlimited" service for a price that supports it.

That just it.. for what you were paying $50 per month .. you will now be paying $150 a month and there has NOT been any change in equipment or total capacity of the network.

TW is just putting an extra $100 into the profit pile

Re:Complaining when you got what you asked for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27550831)

If you want a guaranteed 6 meg pipe, you shouldn't expect to get it for $99.

Even if it's advertised?! Why do you expect customers to know what your costs are?

Re:Complaining when you got what you asked for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27550851)




Re:Complaining when you got what you asked for (1)

Hollovoid (942476) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550867)

Your ISP and time warner are two completely different animals methinks. They don't guarantee anything whatsoever, they just inflate the numbers to make us think we are going faster. Turbo my ass, My line has never achieved 15Mb/s, and it will never achieve 10 if I pay the retarded 150 a month for unlimited. So until they provide the speed they promise, why should we pay for the bandwith used?

Re:Complaining when you got what you asked for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27550869)

Bullshit. How come other countries offer substantially faster connections for cheaper costs? Simple, they rarely allow the fscked up situation we have where there's generally a single broadband supplier, plush shitty DSL if you're lucky. It doesn't cost TW any more for 1TB than it does 1MB. They tier. Don't know what that is? Go and learn something about the major ISPs operate in the US.

If you think "6 meg" (no such thing) is worth $99, you're a fscking idiot.

Re:Complaining when you got what you asked for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27550879)

That's funny. I recall the US Government giving the largest telcos 200 billion dollars worth of tax cuts in exchange for upgrades to the infrastructure that never materialized.

Re:Complaining when you got what you asked for (2, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550927)

No. That's just completely wrong.

Look at this way: If [insert favorite food vendor here] advertised filet mignon at $0.50/lb, even though I know there costs are higher, I better damn well be getting real filet mignon at $0.50/lb. Internet connectivity is no different.

Don't advertise unlimited if it's not unlimited. If you are advertising a 6 Mb pipe, it better be a 6 Mb pipe. That's that. 6 Mb, unlimited. Your costs are none of my business.

Long story short: don't write no check your ass can't cash.

Re:Complaining when you got what you asked for (1)

drmerope (771119) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550941)

That's not a fair comparison. You're paying for a five-9 reliability factor. Each '9' carries an exponential cost increase.

Second, the proposed incremental transfer costs are disproportionate to the wholesale costs.

Re:Complaining when you got what you asked for (2, Informative)

penfold69 (471774) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550973)

One of the tech gurus at my local ISP posted an excellent thread which details how UK ISP's are charged for their bandwidth.

It is certainly UK specific, but it does go into some depth as to how and why there are bandwidth limitations on ISP services in the UK. By far and away the most expensive part of the connection is between the Customer and the ISP, and not between the ISP and the Internet.

The blog post is available here [] . Makes for some interesting reading.

Re:Complaining when you got what you asked for (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551029)

"Bandwidth and infrastructure cost real money."

The difference is BANDWIDTH unused over time is gone forever, you're confusing "hardware costs money" with "bandwidth is scarce like goods", bandwidth is NOT scarce like goods, any bandwidth unused is gone forever, there is natural upkeep costs to hardware but that should already be priced in the business model, if it isn't then who-ever is running the company is clueless.

Oh and let me say - my ISP had unlimited download until two years ago... So I enjoyed UNLIMITED bandwidth for close to 10 years. Also many DSL providers where I live provided unlimited bandwdith/month. So if you're telling me that suddenly something changed overnight then certianly all the ISP's that are offering unlimited bandwidth shouldn't be capable of doing so.

Most importantly it's just smoke and mirrors trying to squeeze the customer. Now... especially where I live right now, anyone who would say my local ISP is oversold and needs the $$ I'm not going to believe them since I know the people that work at the ISP personally.

Re:Complaining when you got what you asked for (5, Informative)

Jewfro_Macabbi (1000217) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551035)

From Time Warners' financial filings:

"High-speed data costs decreased for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2008 primarily due to a decrease in per-subscriber connectivity costs, partially offset by subscriber growth.

"In 2007, TW made $3,730 Million, on high speed data alone, and then had to turn around and spend $164 Million to support the cost of the network. 2007 total profit on high speed data: $3.566 Billion"

"In 2008, TW made $4,159 Million, on high speed data alone, and then had to turn around and spend $146 Million to support the cost of the network. 2008 total profit on high speed data: $4.013 Billion"

Stop shilling for corporations. Clearly the unlimited broadband model has been extremely profitable.

Wake up and smell the non-corporate content suppression.

Re:Complaining when you got what you asked for (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551079)

The above post is awesome. It clearly shows how much TW made from their high speed data services, and how much they had to spend to make that amount of money.

Mod parent up.

Re:Complaining when you got what you asked for (2, Insightful)

myspace-cn (1094627) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551197)


1. Hellish TOS/AUP
2. Data Caps
3. Blocked Ports
4. Newsgroups

While Big Media consolidates, they now execute the cinching down of grassroots alternative communications.

it's AT&T

It's all about moving everyone to a "Certified Identity", Controlled Content, zero privacy, no constitution without big money, no choice for the middle class.

What are customers going to DUMP TW? no.. They HAVE NO CHOICE!

Re:Complaining when you got what you asked for (4, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551047)

Bandwidth and infrastructure does cost money.

But heres the reality. In the Greensboro area (where I live and know what goes on at the TWC datacenter) they charge approximately 100 times what it costs them to provide the bandwidth and infrastructure.

We complain because some of us who work in the industry know how much bullshit the prices are and more importantly we know for a fact that their traffic shaping and caps are not because its expensive, they are because they simple do not want to pay for the bandwidth they've sold.

The infrastructure they have is more than enough to support much more bandwidth with the switch to DOCSIS 3.0, which they are already doing.

The only limit is the pipes from them to the rest of the world.

When they drop services, they don't lower my price.

Why am I still paying the same price when they outsourced their news servers and put the entire north and south carolina region on a single link to giganews which was saturated during the TRIAL PERIOD, before the moved everyone on to it. It was never upgraded, users just get slower and slower news service, and they spend less and less, and I still pay the same thing.

Until you actually know what you're talking about, don't try to convience those of us with a clue about how much it costs to run a network. Some of us have done it and know its bullshit.

Their prices are hardly fair, take a look at their rate plans, do the math, compare them to what a normal business pays for unreliable service like the provide to the home, then get a clue.

Re:Complaining when you got what you asked for (2, Insightful)

Renraku (518261) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551099)

Why are you paying more?

Because you and others are willing to pay more for less. The market will continue to go in this direction until enough people drop service to make it unprofitable. They'll find the high point on the profit/effort graph and go with that price.

I don't think its a bad thing for companies to want to profit, but I DO think its a bad thing for them to offer less and charge more. This is the opposite of progress.

Re:Complaining when you got what you asked for (4, Insightful)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551067)

Because cable companies have increased their rates at about twice that of inflation for years. My bill has gone from $40 dollars for a platinum package (all channels) 10 years ago to $150 for silver package and far less service than I had then. My internet speed has been increased by 2.5 Mb/sec in 10 years as technology advanced (when they switched to fiber a few years back).

In addition, these companies took millions of dollars in funding from the government to improve their infrastructure for just this very reason. To plan for future capacity. They did nothing with it other than spam additional channels in tiered packaged that no one wants and are now overselling internet bandwidth (according to them) even though I never see a slowdown and haven't for years, even before fiber.

On top of that, they have a monopoly in most areas where people who want broadband have no choice but to pay if they want to retain anything other than dial-up. They expect me to pay what I pay now for an unlimited plan, with cable and premium channels, just for the internet access I have now.

It's obvious they are doing this to prevent competition from sites like Hulu. With the internet, you really don't need cable tv. Given a good pipe and content providers offering up content directly, it severely compromises their business model. This technology should be dirt cheap these days as usually happens with wide adoption, yet the price for broadband keeps skyrocketing. There is no where near enough competition.

Cable companies have been gouging consumers for years with anti-competitive agreements with local municipalities that prevent other telecoms from entering the scene. If I had another option, I'd take it in a heartbeat. Perhaps this will put some regulation back on them until there is competition or at least an environment that fosters competition.

Re:Complaining when you got what you asked for (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551231)

To be fair a lot of the price increase you see in your cable TV bill is due to content providers pushing their prices up as much as possible. There needs to be more choice in what gets bundled in your service plan. I get what maybe 250 channels of which I watch less than 10% of.

The service tax that you are talking about was supposed to be used to provide rural internet access, so it is not really expected that it would be applicable to most users.

Internet TV is a real bugaboo for ISPs because the internet backbone is built on a statistical packet switching best effort delivery model. Streaming TV over this is not an application that the internet handles well; it requires a quality of service that is not baked into your ISP's infrastructure design.

On the other hand this whole monopoly thing is a big mistake. There really need to be alternatives. And by alternatives I don't mean Fios + Cable; where I live I have a choice between the two, and it isn't really much of a choice, rather it is Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee. Oligopolies aren't much better than Monopolies.

Re:Complaining when you got what you asked for (2, Interesting)

Kaboom13 (235759) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551075)

It's not the fact that heavy users pay more that bothers me so much, it's the details of it.
1. The connections at the isp are sold by speed, not total data transferred. SO it seems highly questionable when cable companies repeatedly bump everyone's speed, then at the same time introduce caps. Furthermore, they need the pipes to support peak load, but at non-peak times they have lots of excess capacity. Yet the caps don't take this into effect at all. It seems a much fairer way to do it would be to adjust for the % of your connections speed you are using as well as the time of day. A voluntary cap at peak times in exchange for extra bandwidth at low load time would save the isp money and provide most heavy users with all the bittorrent bandwidth they could use.

2. The reporting tools on your cap usage are generally either non-existent (if you are lucky enough to even have published caps) or extremely basic. Unless you have the equipment and technical know-how to set something up yourself, you are generally left with a very rough educated guess at how close the cap you are. And if you do monitor it yourself, and have a discrepancy with the ISP's monitors, there is no mechanism for contesting or debating it.

3. The overage fees are always ridiculously out of sync with the extra costs involved. Considering that presumably your basic subscription pays for all fixed costs, such as maintaining the physical connection and networking, billing, tech support, etc. the only difference between a user at the cap and a user at double the cap is the extra bandwidth used. Yet the fees are often so high at to be ridiculous. $1 per gigabyte? You mean to tell me after all the fixed costs have been paid for, it costs them $1 per gigabyte? If that were true, there is no way they could be making a profit off regular subscribers. It's obvious this is not a "pay your fair share" price. This is an extortion price. They know heavy users make them less profit (the downside of a fixed rate "unlimited" model) and they know the grandma's of the world want a flat rate price even if they never use more then 5% of their capacity. So the caps and ridiculous fees are a way to slant the table in their favor, chasing off heavy users while still maintaining the pretense of flat-rate prices. They know in many areas they are a defacto monopoly, so if they were to just tell people "No we won't sell our service to you" they would be in trouble. So they create pricing policies that have the same effect.

Re:Complaining when you got what you asked for (1)

mariushm (1022195) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551113)

I can rent right now a dedicated server in a datacenter with a 10mbps internet connection for $50 or a dedicated server on a 100mbps port with 2 TB of bandwidth allowance (that would be about 8mbps constant) for the same price.

So if a datacenter can give me that I expect the ISP to also be able to give me that, and if they advertised a plan, they should keep their promise and actually deliver.

If a ISP in Romania where I am can give me 20mbps download and 2 mbps upload at any time of day for about 20$ why shouldn't it be possible in US also?

Prices (2, Interesting)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550767)

I understand that there are prices to data throughput, and that maximum throughput correlates with bandwidth. The service providers built themselves a losing battle, though. If they start selling tiered plans, then people will feel limited (even if they never went over 10GB/month before). People that are the heavy users (over 50 GB/month, say) have seen their access available at a certain price point for a long time will feel ripped off when it suddenly jumps to 3x what they have been paying. For instance, I pay $45 per month for a 10mb pipe. I probably do 20-30GB just with tv shows (streaming or downloaded), and my roommate does similar. In the new plan, I'd end up with a higher cost, even though until this point my usage has been acceptable (no warnings, etc). My point is that by subsidizing more expensive users with the money from people that use less, while providing "unlimited" service to people that don't use that much data throughput, they've set themselves up for disappointment in all of their markets.

Re:Prices (1)

skine (1524819) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551023)

I agree completely, and for that reason I can't wait until FIOS comes to my town. While they do offer a plan at $145, it's for 50 Mbps down, 20 Mbps up, and unlimited usage.

America can have the Australian experience! (2, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550789)

Your Internet can feel like the Australian one [] .

Common Sense (4, Insightful)

Renraku (518261) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550791)

I don't see why this wasn't enacted many many years ago.

Comcast, for example, would buy all of a region's smaller cable companies and make them fly the Comcast banner. Then prices would jump 20-40% in the next year. Usually the buy-outs would have to be approved, and would be approved under the condition that Comcast provide similar service for similar prices.

Granted monopolies need to be policed like this. This isn't a case of other companies not wanting to bother with the cost and time to set up competition.

This is exactly what Time-Warner was banking on. You don't see cell phone companies deciding that unlimited text messaging is no longer unlimited, or that your 500 minutes isn't sustainable, so now you get 200 minutes. Mainly because cell phone companies have competition everywhere. If you don't like Sprint, try US Cellular or Verizon. Maybe even T-mobile. They all have their ups and downs, but more importantly, there are alternate choices. ISPs aren't always that way.

Hourly-fee dial-up ISPs went away pretty quickly once competitors started popping up. I think most broadband ISPs were starting out at the unlimited level to compete with dial-up ISPs, and now that the dial-up ISPs are no longer a threat, they want to reneg on the contracts they made us all sign. Not our fault your business model wasn't able to be supported, now honor our damn contracts.

Re:Common Sense (4, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551077)

Not our fault your business model wasn't able to be supported, now honor our damn contracts.

If that were true, I wouldn't be so bothered. The reality of it however is that they are making a killing in profit NOW with 'unlimited' service. The business model is fine, they've just beaten every other ISP out of the market and now how no competition (as you said) and are coming up with new ways to rip people off.

Re:Common Sense (1)

deraj123 (1225722) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551105)

To start, let me say that I agree with the monopoly issue. Monopolies should either be heavily regulated or abolished.

What I'm confused about is this whole "contract" argument. I've purchased broadband service from 5 different companies over the past 10 or so years. I don't recall ever agreeing to any length of service - I could cancel at any time I liked. I also don't recall ever seeing any promise from these companies to maintain their current offerings. What contracts are you wanting them to honor?

Also on the "unlimited" level. Sure, I don't recall reading all of the advertisements in detail, but what I recall is a promise of "never having to disconnect". I never remember "download as much data as you want". In my experience, the "unlimited" promise was always in comparison to "pay by time" dial-up ISPs. Was there some other implication of unlimited?

Why Higher Rates? (4, Interesting)

TheRon6 (929989) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550805)

I see so many articles about ISPs hiking up their rates or beginning to use bandwidth caps but what I want to know is why?

Yes, a customer who downloads 300 GB a month is more expensive than someone who doesn't but that sort of customer behavior is something that all service businesses have to deal with. I work in the webserver management department of my company. For a flat monthly rate, we will fix, upgrade, secure, and do whatever other odd jobs you want to your server. Some customers make fifty (stupid) requests per month and take up tons of our time but they get billed the same amount as the customers who only make one or two requests. But at the end of the month, both customers are getting the same level of service. How did my company figure out how to reasonably deal with this sort of overuse and underuse behavior while large ISPs can't?

Another problem I have with raising rates and imposing limits is the lack of justification. The only thing I've ever heard is "It's those evil pirates! They're making your bills go up!" Yeah, right. There was a time when illegal media downloading was pretty much the only kind of media downloading that existed but now we have Netflix and iTunes and a whole slew of completely legitimate streaming sites. So let's say I do pay $150/month for unlimited bandwidth. Where is my $150 going? I'm sure there is an answer to this and I would be much more willing to pay it as long as it doesn't include "into the pocket of our CEO". Anyone have a link to an article (preferably written by an unbiased third party) that would explain this?

Rochester DSL (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550813)

Meanwhile my DSL from the local provider in Rochester has plummeted from 4.4Mbit to 2.4Mbit due to line quality issues and I'm powerless to do anything about it. I don't want to be raped by TW and need to run a server so I'm stuck for now.

YES! (1)

Hollovoid (942476) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550833)

I hope Mr. Massa does something with this, I literally have NO option here in the Rochester region (dial up is not an option, satellite is not an option, at least not an option i'll use). And im not paying 150+ a month for some of the slowest cable service ive used.

Data Usage Caps = New Profit Center (2, Insightful)

JakFrost (139885) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550853)

These Data Usage Caps are just a marketing tool instituted by the company to create a new Profit Center basically out of thin air since there is no actual cost difference for the amount of data that you transfer once the infrastructure has already been built and connected. Yes, there are costs associated to bandwidth when dealing with up-stream ISP connection contracts but in these cases these Data Usage Caps include all data, even local network data, or P2P data coming from neighboring peers on the same internal Time Warner network.

These caps are the equivalent of mobile phone companies charging you usage minutes for calling your voicemail box on their own network to check your message, even though you might have a phone plan with unlimited domestic calling or unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling that should cover in-network calls. (If you didn't know this, check your own phone bill minutes usage.)

These Data Usage Caps are just there to cut off the most demanding users, most of which are computer savvy hence their large usage, and to penalize them for their usage to force them to pay substantially more or to force them to terminate their service. Currently these users are probably very few but with the growth of streaming high definition video content becoming more common these caps will start to become bottleneck for average users in the upcoming days.

This is the equivalent of medical insurance companies putting a maximum yearly usage cap on benefits, penalizing those people who are most in need for insurance coverage for catastrophic medical events to force them to suffer from lack of funds for medical services or to force them to discontinue their insurance coverage since it stops providing any coverage. (If you didn't know this, check your own medical and dental insurance cap per year.)

These data usage caps are a symptom of today's social and economic lack of respect for the consumers by the companies who service them and they are the result from the lack of consumer wisdom or caring about the service that they are getting.

Any legislation that is passed short of banning data usage caps will legitimize this practice and the days of per-minute charges will be back in the form of per-megabyte charges. If this economy continues on the path that it is going and start really hurting people in the pocket book then maybe we'll see some real action to stop these kinds of anti-consumer practices, but if the economy doesn't slide down too far then this type of behavior by companies will stick and become "the norm".

What about an oligarchy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27550923)

In my city there are a few options for broadband, but every provider implemented very similar tiered schemes within the same week. So, sure, I can switch away from AT&T DSL, but the other providers will have the same caps.

Ditch the monoply (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 5 years ago | (#27550939)

They need to outlaw exclusive arrangements with municipalities.

More competition = lower prices and more options. IF it is real competition.

Include appropriate prohibitions against collusion, etc.

Re:Ditch the monoply (1)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551227)

How exactly would you measure collusion though? Companies could probably do the same thing and just offer periodic 'sales' to keep up the illusion that there is competition. What would be interesting is if consumers organized and just bought into one provider to force the other to compete. If the lack of competition forces a company to lose a significant amount of customers, you might see some fairness/greed creep back into the system.

wow. /. just lost all credibility (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27551017)

all you morons were whining about unlimited plans and companies selling stuff they didnt have the capacity for. that it was bad about fair use and shit and how it would be much better to just have a clear cap. now u have the caps u still whine. bye bye /. i cant stand it here.

The big problem with caps (0, Troll)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 5 years ago | (#27551229)

lets see (pulling the numbers from /dev/null and /dev/urandom)
in a 1 gig block of data you have
200 megs of overhead
200 megs of retransmits due to the ISP [redacted]ing with the data stream
300 megs of ads and DRM [redacted]
100 megs of wasted data due to fancifed download links and redirect pages
200 megs of actual useable data

so if they want to do caps then they should be hands off of the data stream (no protocol blocking or shaping
unless they have an actual with pen signed QOS agreement AND THIS AGREEEMENT STANDS UNLESS RESIGNED)

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Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

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"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>