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ISP Capping Is Becoming the New DRM

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the upgrades-to-first-class dept.

The Internet 395

Crazzaper writes "There's a lot of controversy over ISP capping with Time Warner leading the charge. Tom's Hardware has an interesting article about how capping is the new form of DRM at the ISP level. The author draws some comparison to business practices by large cable operators and their efforts to protect cable TV programming. While this is understandable from the cable operator's perspective, the article points out how capping will affect popular services such as Steam for game content publishing and distribution, cloud-computing and online media services. Apparently this is also an effective way of going after casual piracy."

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In Europe (5, Insightful)

__NR_kill (1018116) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555019)

In particular in Belgium, there are just a few ISP's that do not have any capping. The major ISP's make BIG profit of the users who want to download lets say, more than the 40GB they offer. It's NOT a DRM, it's just another way to squeeze more money from their customers.

You know what today is children? It's kill a pira (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27555077)

You know what today is children? It's kill a pirate day/,/, Yay !!

Re:You know what today is children? It's kill a pi (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27555137)

I have facts for those who think and arguments for those who reason. In the text that follows, I don't intend to recount all of the damage caused by Time Warner's worthless ipse dixits but I do want to point out that I insist that the best way to overcome misunderstanding, prejudice, and hate is by means of reason, common sense, clear thinking, and goodwill. Time Warner, in contrast, believes that it's okay to abet a resurgence of selfish sesquipedalianism. The conclusion to draw from this conflict of views should be obvious: I like to face facts. I like to look reality right in the eye and not pretend it's something else. And the reality of our present situation is this: Time Warner's coadjutors are merely ciphers. Time Warner is the one who decides whether or not to compromise the things that define us, including integrity, justice, love, and sharing. Time Warner is the one who gives out the orders to fabricate all sorts of thrasonical ad-hoc rules and regulations. And Time Warner is the one trying to conceal how it occasionally shows what appears to be warmth, joy, love, or compassion. You should realize, however, that these positive expressions are more feigned than experienced and invariably serve an ulterior motive, such as to reinforce the impression that balmy practitioners of stoicismâ"as opposed to Time Warner's gruntsâ"are striving to promote the sort of behavior that would have made the folks in Sodom and Gomorrah blush.

One other thing: By allowing Time Warner to take advantage of human fallibility to make a fetish of the virtues of mephitic animalism, we are allowing it to play puppet master. I'll go over that again: Only the impartial and unimpassioned mind will even consider that dodgy carpetbaggers have exerted care always to use high-sounding words like "anatomicophysiologic" to hide Time Warner's plans to implement a drugged-out parody of justice called "Time Warner-ism". That's self-evident, and even Time Warner would probably agree with me on that. Even so, some vindictive condescending-types are actually considering helping it interfere with the most important principles of democracy. How quickly such people forget that they were lied to, made fun of, and ridiculed by Time Warner on numerous occasions.

According to Time Warner, we should all bear the brunt of its actions. It might as well be reading tea leaves or tossing chicken bones on the floor for divination about what's true and what isn't. Maybe then Time Warner would realize that if natural selection indeed works by removing the weakest and most genetically unfit members of a species then it is clearly going to be the first to go. It would be bad enough if Time Warner's representatives were merely trying to arouse the hostility and excite the cupidity of ethically bankrupt party animals. But their attempts to impede the free flow of information are just plain nasty. I have now said everything there is to say. So, to summarize it all, Time Warner is perfectly willing to show its embarrassingly poor reasoning and warped ethics in print.

Re:You know what today is children? It's kill a pi (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27555177)

Would you touch my pee pee?

Re:In Europe (3, Informative)

SalaSSin (1414849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555083)

With you there.
I live in Belgium too, and what they're charging here for bandwith and download limits is WAY of the charts compared to most other western countries in the world :-(
To make it clear: I'm paying 42,91 (that's $56,69) / month for 15 Mbps and 25GB limit...

Re:In Europe (1)

SalaSSin (1414849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555095)

Damn, the euro sign just got lost, i meant 42,91 EUR

Re:In Europe (4, Interesting)

Sumbius (1500703) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555331)

I'm paying 44EUR for 1Mbps but no limit. (well, not at least any real limit. They just check the stats and say "Hmm, that poor pirating bastard has used 5GB of our precious bandwith this month." and press the button. No letter nor anything whatsoever.) This is madness. My ISP cut the phone lines where I live (is that even legal?) and the only wireless connection available is by that ISP! They simply forced my neighborhood into using their pricey and low quality connection. (1Mb max, 6 hour waiting line in the service phone and sometimes the connection just vanishes for a couple of days.) No mattter, I'm moving out in a few months. It's rare that someone moves because of their ISP...

Re:In Europe (1)

SalaSSin (1414849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555855)

Actually, it isn't, i already did exactly that, because the ISPs where i used to live were more expensive.

Regarding what they charge you: DAMN, where in Europe do you live, so i avoid checking out houses there? ;-)

Re:In Europe (1)

vally_manea (911530) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555263)

Crap, that's a lot of money. I guess it depends where you are in Europe, for example I pay the same money for 110Mbps with no download cap.

Re:In Europe (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27555381)

I've got a really long cat5 cable. Do you have an extra spot on your router? :)

Re:In Europe (0, Redundant)

SpzToid (869795) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555705)

It doesn't matter, really. The maximum length specified for cat5, cat5e, or even cat6 cable is only 100 meters. Beyond that, you'd need to add hubs to connect the lengths.

Re:In Europe (2, Funny)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555707)

As fast as that is, I'd go with the next step down. My NIC can't even go that fast!

So who gets rationed? (1, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555113)

If there's not capping or charges for bandwidth, then somebody gets rationed. There's a fixed amount of bandwidth available, and you have to decide who gets it. Whether or not that's someone that pays extra to get more or just some random assignment, you still have to decide.

Re:So who gets rationed? (5, Insightful)

Ender305 (1504031) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555253)

ISPs just need to upgrade their backhauls to accommodate more traffic, they are selling people bandwidth that doesn't exist and hoping people don't use it, ISPs need to fess up about exactly how much bandwidth each customer will get. Here in the US, at least where I live, Verizon is one of the only ISPs left that doesn't do any sort of throttling or capping, and I've seen more than a few people switch to them for that exact reason.

Re:So who gets rationed? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555369)

ISPs need to fess up about exactly how much bandwidth each customer will get

Yes, they do.

I wish ISPs would be more transparent in their pricing policies, bandwidth and contention ratios, because then the people around here who want 8GB unlimited traffic for $10 a month would get the abrupt reality check they seem to need.

Re: fixed amount of bandwidth (4, Informative)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555269)

And not only is there a fixed amount of bandwidth, but they oversell this bandwidth by a large margin. To build out a system where each and every person could utilize 100% of their bandwidth at one time would cost a fortune...and it wouldn't be sold for 29.95 a month.

Go and look at some prices for services with guaranteed bandwidth. Suddenly, the tiered prices don't look so bad.

As someone who worked at an ISP, I do feel for them. I quit my job because I could see the coming bandwidth crunch where I worked and I knew that no matter how we tried to play it, we would piss people off.

transporter_ii

Re: fixed amount of bandwidth (4, Interesting)

andymadigan (792996) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555517)

http://stopthecap.com/2009/04/10/why-is-time-warner-saying-costs-increasing-to-consumers-but-decreasing-to-stockholders/

Time Warner spent $150 million on network upgrades while receiving $4.1 Billion in revenue from their high speed data services. We're a long, long way off from getting our money's worth on services here in the states.

Re: fixed amount of bandwidth (2, Insightful)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555729)

Revenue != Profit unless costs are 0. It costs a lot of money to keep such a large network running and Internet is one of many services they provide. I do feel your point, though.

Re: fixed amount of bandwidth (1)

andymadigan (792996) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555793)

Of course there are network costs, but I wonder, how profitable are their Digital Phone and Cable TV services? TW claims that light users are subsidizing the heavy users, what are RR users subsidizing that TW should just get rid of?

Re: fixed amount of bandwidth (2)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555903)

Apples to oranges comparison. One network upgrade vs the entire revenue for the entire service. You forgot the ongoing costs of maintaining the network.

Re: fixed amount of bandwidth (2, Funny)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555725)

Maybe you can tell me then - I figured that a certain amount of money used from out monthly subscription would be re-invested into the company to allow it to expand indefinitely (or nearly indefinitely). Is this not the case?

Re: fixed amount of bandwidth (3, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555815)

As someone who worked for an ISP, you should know pretty well that the connections were being oversold for profit margin, and this "coming bandwidth crunch" has been coming for what, 15 years? I have no sympathy for ISP's that couldn't see a slowly rolling tide that they have been putting off. Honestly they are the companies that provide the capacity and they know what's coming down the line as far as upgrades. Even now they bitch about small investments to increase capacity for longterm or longer-term.

Re:So who gets rationed? (3, Interesting)

ThatDamnMurphyGuy (109869) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555277)

Well, my ISP sold me a 6Mb Down connection, the cost of which is charged by month. All day, every day of that month. So why should I not be able to fully utilize that 6Mb speed all day, every day of that month?

Their capacity issues are not my problem. I'm simply using what I have paid for. IF their network can't handle it, only sell 3Mb or 1Mb connections.

This sort of cap and overage shenanigans will not work in the future when EVERYTHING is online.Steam is a valid us of high transfers. So it Netflix, and OS upgrades.

Re:So who gets rationed? (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555463)

Did you read the small print? I'd be very surprised if you are paying for 6Mb/s all day every day. Most likely, you are paying for a connection that supports peak throughput rates of 6Mb/s. It is possible to buy 6Mb/s connections, but they run to hundreds of dollars a month. If you think you can pay a few tens of dollars a month for a 6Mb/s connection that you can saturate 24/7 then I have a diamond ring to sell you.

The only thing I have a problem with is ISPs not advertising their caps clearly. When they started selling broadband connections, there wasn't enough interesting content for most people to use more than a tiny fraction of their capacity. Now there is a lot more, and people are starting to go over the invisible line that they drew with the maximum that an average user would need. If you really need a connection that you can saturate, then you buy a leased line, and pay for it. For the price of my (capped) 10Mb/s connection, I could buy something like a 256Kb/s connection which allowed me to saturate the link all of the time (it would more if I want an SLA that guaranteed a certain uptime it would cost more). This seems to be what you are suggesting ISPs offer instead, but for most users it would be much less valuable. Being able to download an ISO image in a few minutes, or watch streaming video, is a lot more useful than being able to constantly saturate a slower link.

Re:So who gets rationed? (4, Interesting)

ThatDamnMurphyGuy (109869) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555659)

I completely believe there is fine print. Regardless, they sold it as "unlimited". Yes, 6M is a peak throughput, but there was no restrictions on WHEN nor HOW LONG I use that 6M peak throughput.

I'm actually ok with caps as long as they're sane. 5GB per month is not sane. 1 Steam game can put you over that quite easily. Caps simply will not be viable in a future where everything moves over the connection; esp when it's the same ISP moving IPTV.

Metered would be ok with me as well. It would be interesting to see what happened if metered billing became the norm. I wonder if AdBlock would become a norm, and if there would be a movement back to more thin looking websites to save the bandwidth for the actual data rather than the look n feel.

Re:So who gets rationed? (2, Interesting)

ThatDamnMurphyGuy (109869) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555681)

And more to the point. If ATT tried putting a 5G cap on my DSL, I'd drop it in a heart beat. I can get my work done at Starbuck, McDonalds and any other place with free wifi for customers. Let THEM deal with the caps.

Re:So who gets rationed? (1)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555319)

Wrong. Bandwidth is very much available, if the companies would upgrade their routers and modems, or better yet, run fiber to the homes instead of pocketing absurd profits every year, along with taking money to upgrade their systems from the taxpayers of the USA and then sticking it in their pockets instead of doing as they were supposed to. It costs TWC approximately $.016 per GB they move from their lines onto the backbone providers, yet they want to charge us $1.00 per GB. This is the internet, not trucks or trains. It does not take more fuel or more wear and tear on machinery to move 10GB as opposed to moving 5GB. So the only added cost to TWC is the $.016 it costs per extra GB. Ripoff is what it is. I support the free market, yet in America there is no real free market for internet. Each community, if they are lucky, will have two high speed providers, cable and DSL, and the cable is an actual government sanctioned monopoly. The state of the lines in America is absurd also.I ran over 5 miles of fiber for the NCDOC, working at laying 4" PVC conduit and pulling the fiber by hand with myself and a helper as the only two people working. Working just a couple of hours a day( I had other duties) and burying it six feet deep with 4'x4'x4' concrete junction boxes every 400'. It took us about 4 months to get it all the conduit and boxes in place and two days to pull the fiber. I did not hook the fiber up. Now if two idiots (I had never used a backhoe before I started this project, nor pulled fiber and my helper was not very bright)could do this in 4 months, how much could professionals lay in a 4 month period working 8 hour days? The whole capping thing is a way for TWC to stop people like me from refusing to buy their cable programing and digital phone services.

Re:So who gets rationed? (2)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555841)

While I agree TWC is ripping people off, your assertion that it only costs $0.16 is stupid. First, they need to also pay electricity, pay for employees to take your service calls, employees to do line repairs, repair existing lines when they are damaged, the gas to get those trucks out to repair the line, the lease on the truck itself, and then still have enough for upgrades and to make a profit (there's nothing wrong with making profit... but the way they are going about it by overselling is not right either).

Oh, and add to your anecdote, TWC would also be hiring professionals (and those cost money) and also need proper permits and possibly getting right of way for totally new paths. Those also cost money.

Re:In Europe (1, Informative)

njen (859685) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555199)

This news heading has way too much sensationalism.
While capping may suck for those who have not experienced it, this has been quite normal in Australia for a long time. In fact, unlimited internet to me seems like the exception, rather than the norm. It's all what you are used to I guess.

Re:In Europe (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27555437)

Bullshit.

It may hold true for Belgium /in particular/, but Europe is too diverse to conform even loosely to the shenanigans you mentioned.

On the oposite side of the spectrum, less than two hours away by plane, we have Sweden, where a 100Mbps pipe costs less than a Big Mac meal per week.

Your neighbour, Holland, has pretty decent Internet, as does Germany, Finland and France.

Damn ignorant first-poster.

First Psot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27555023)

Frist Post!

qq (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27555033)

Ha, more crying over usage caps. Welcome to the internet TWC customers.

Why Not Just Metered Service? (5, Insightful)

blcamp (211756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555037)

Rather than have these ridiculous, confiscatory rates for so-called "unlimited" service (which will still be capped under some other excuse)... why don't the ISP's just provide metered service?

This way, Grandma who just wants a couple of recipies every now and then, and occasionally looks at baby photos posted on thier adult children's Facebook accounts (and is not pulling down 10GB/month)... only pays a little bit.

And the Torrent operators pay for what they use.

Pay for what you consume. Fair for everyone.

Or is that too much common-sense for all involved?

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (5, Insightful)

Akido37 (1473009) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555063)

Pay for what you consume. Fair for everyone.

Or is that too much common-sense for all involved?

Because that's bullshit.

The ISPs' costs aren't based on how much you download, but on the bandwidth they provide. A better limit, and more fair for consumers, would be tiered service based on speed.

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555239)

The ISPs' costs aren't based on how much you download, but on the bandwidth they provide. A better limit, and more fair for consumers, would be tiered service based on speed.

A lot of ISPs are already doing this and maybe that's why there aren't usage caps on mine (yet). They have 768K for $33/mo, 7 Mbps for $48/mo, 15 mbps for $58/mo and 20 Mbps for $63/mo. That's without any cable TV bundling.

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (1)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555771)

I pay 48 for half that rate :\

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (5, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555571)

Unfortunately, you are entirely wrong. ISP have two sets of costs. One is for providing a connection. The other is for the amount of data you transfer off-network. It costs them the same amount to provide me with a 10Mb/s connection that I use to transfer 1GB/month or a 512Kb/s connection that I use to transfer 1GB/month. The fact that they provide me with any connection at all incurs fixed costs in terms of infrastructure. The amount of data I transfer incurs costs from their upstream providers (or, in the case of the really big ISPs, the traffic affects the networks that will peer with them for free).

This is why ISPs have been slowly moving from tiers based on different speeds to tiers based on usage amounts. The cheapest packages generally don't seem like good value, because the cost of providing the line is a fairly major part of them, and per-GB they are very expensive. The only reason that faster lines cost more is that they make the usage spikes bigger. If you go from 0 to 100% usage on a 512Kb/s line, it produces a much smaller spike than if you do the same on a 10MB/s line, and this makes it harder for the ISP to estimate their maximum total transfer and therefore the capacity they need for their upstream links. This is part of the reason why a lot of them have started providing different on-peak and off-peak caps.

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27555135)

The thing is this:

I've paid $40 a month for the last 9 years, and I've regularly consumed over ~70GB of data per month on TWC. Now, suddenly, there is not enough bandwidth to go around and they need to charge me extra $1 for any gigabytes over 40GB?

Clearly, when I was their consumer for the last 9 years, they could afford to sell me data at ~57 cents/gigabyte ($40/70gb). Not once... NOT ONCE did I ever have any complaints from TWC about my usage. Even on months that I spiked to 100+ GB (not very often, mind you).

So how do they all of a sudden consider that the "Pay for what you consume; Fair for everyone" rate is $1 per gigabyte.

It's completely arbitrary. It's not based on their network capacity. It's not based on usage stats. It's based on some out-of-touch beancounter trying to pull the fast one on its customers.

It's a good thing that I can take my business elsewhere. If they didn't have a monopoly, I'd be screwed.

Oh wait...

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (1)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555829)

"So how do they all of a sudden consider that the "Pay for what you consume; Fair for everyone" rate is $1 per gigabyte."

Because now there are a lot more people with usage patterns like yours.

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (5, Insightful)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555169)

Because the cost to the ISP isn't based on how much I use. They have to maintain the infrastructure no matter how much it's being utilized. Their operating costs are the same whether their customers are using 50% of their bandwidth capacity or 99%. I shouldn't have to pay more because I use the resource that is available. If they are unable to deliver the service they are selling then they need to invest in upgrading their capacity. Bandwidth demand is only going to increase, gouging customers is not a solution to the problem.

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (2, Insightful)

u38cg (607297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555235)

I do agree with you that straightforward per-GB charging is not ideal. However, the fact is that if people actually paid a fair price for guaranteed service, they would be quite surprised. In the same way that hotels overbook rooms and airlines overbook flights, it cuts costs all round if this practice exists. Not an entirely simple problem, and not one that is easily solved by capping, either.

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (4, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555281)

> Because the cost to the ISP isn't based on how much I use.

No. Their last mile capacity depends on your peak uasage but as soon as you get far enough upstream to be dealing with the aggregation of a significant number of users it depends on average usage. There is no ISP that would not have problems if all its customers maxed out their connections at once.

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (4, Interesting)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555361)

If all the customers are using their connection in such a way then that is the capacity that is being demanded and that is the capacity that the infrastructure needs to be able to handle. If it can't handle it, then the answer is simple; upgrade the network. Now that's an exaggeration, but the truth that no one at the ISPs wants to deal with is that raising price to encourage people to use less is not a long term solution. Eventually there is just going to be too much data being moved around and they'll have to expand their capacity. This is going to cost money and no one wants to spend it, especially when it's easier (in the short term at least, but they're shooting their own foot) to just charge more and change their business model to an arbitrarily priced metered service with hard caps.

You're never going to convince the private sector that investing in more capacity is a good business move. Business can't look that far into the future. They see an easy way to make more money and that's what they will go for despite the fact that it's completely irresponsible and shortsighted.

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (2, Insightful)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555551)

Ok, let's assume the cost to the ISP doesn't directly depend on how much total download volume you use. The bandwidth they can provide is limited though (like you said, by their infrastructure), and the more you download, the more time during which you're taking up a portion of that bandwidth, which can't be assigned to somebody else. A cap on the download volume is, effectively, a cap on how much use you make of the limited good. Now, if you provide a good, and there is contention for that good, you need to upgrade the infrastructure, which is more expensive than upkeep. That means either consumption goes down, or somebody has to pay for the upgrade. Raising the base line for flat pricing is quite unfair on the lower-usage customers, so you charge based on the total traffic.

This said, I do agree that the actual prices (if not the metered scheme itself) are way off-base.

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (2, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555717)

Because the cost to the ISP isn't based on how much I use. They have to maintain the infrastructure no matter how much it's being utilized.

That's fantasyland. The only reason they need the infrastructure is because people use it. And the lion's share of that need for more infrastructure is people using it a lot. Otherwise, they could use less infrastructure and provide lower prices. Since you are the reason the rest of us can't get lower prices, it's in the interest of the rest of us to boot you from the shared pool and make you pay your own way.

In effect, you're the asshole who gets the filet mignon and wants to split the check. Uh, no.

I shouldn't have to pay more because I use the resource that is available.

Just so long as you're OK with the other side of that - namely, that by not paying for what you're using, they won't be investing in higher bandwidth.

Bottom line is, if there's a shared resource and you're using 100x as much as the average person, why the hell SHOULDN'T you pay more? I've no idea why people accept metered usage for cell phones but not network connectivity. There's no substantive difference in the argument.

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (1)

Xphile101361 (1017774) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555881)

Something like this will cause problems just like it does with the train lines. A "power" user will be worth more to an ISP, as they pay a lot more and thus help either maintain the infastructure to a greater degree or make the company more profit.

The problem with this is of course grandma is less important than our bittorrent power user, and when she wants to check her email, its more important for that power user to get his bandwidth than grandma.

This relates to trains as passenger trains, at least in west michigan, are given less priority than cargo trains, and thus will be told to wait for cargo trains to pass (which has created hours worth of delays). I really don't want to see this done with ISPs as well.

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27555179)

Because, unlike a real utility like water or electric, it doesn't cost big ISPs anything more whether you use the service or not. They peer their costs amongst each other.

So no, it's not common sense. It's pure greed. Maybe if the same companies would let you pay per view for the TV shows they carry they'd have a better moral position to stand from. But that's not going to happen. We pay for shit whether we watch it or not.

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (4, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555353)

Because, unlike a real utility like water or electric, it doesn't cost big ISPs anything more whether you use the service or not. They peer their costs amongst each other.

So laying cables and Cisco routers, they all come free if you're an ISP, yes? Where do I sign up?

Come off it. You can argue about the size of the caps, then I'll listen, but to pretend that increases usage doesn't impose any additional costs on ISPs in nonsense.

Most ISPs report that a very small number of users use the majority of their bandwidth. When their capacity hits a bottleneck, all their users start to suffer. The ISP has two choices - increase capacity, which could be straightforward by adding a couple of extra routers, or could be very very expensive such as installing new DSLAMs or laying fiber between locations.

So as an ISP what do you do? Eat the cost? Raise the rates for all your customers, even those that use 2GB/month? Kick off the high users for breaking an 'invisible' cap hinted at in your TOS? Or introduce tiered pricing, so those that use most, pay most?

If you want a debate about whether the level the caps are set at are fair. go right ahead. But to pretend that ISPs somehow have unlimited free bandwidth and that extra usage has no additional cost implication is an untruth.

I can see two solutions to the problem. Fairly set caps that accurately reflect the increased costs of increased usage, or a service like water or gas where you pay a connection fee and a per gigabyte fee, possibly with tiers so costs increase faster with very high usage.

There's a problem with this in the US - very limited competition. If you're not competing against anyone else, why try and lower your profit margin? Until the US sorts out local loop unbundling, so there's real competition over the last mile, US customers will continue to be gouged.

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (3, Interesting)

javilon (99157) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555223)

"Rather than have these ridiculous, confiscatory rates for so-called "unlimited" service (which will still be capped under some other excuse)... why don't the ISP's just provide metered service?"

Because the ones most screwed up would be the grand moms of the word. They would be charged a hundred times more per kilobyte than the pirates. The scale wouldn't be linear. It would be something like:

1GB cap -> 10$
10 GB cap -> 20$
50 GB cap -> 40$
100 GB cap ->60$
500 GB cap ->100$

At that point the grand mum would realize that she is paying 10$ per GB while the guy next door is paying 0.2$ per GB. At that point two things would happen. First, she would realize that she is not getting a good deal, and second, she would arrive at a nice arrangement with the guy next door where for 5 bucks she gets to connect to his access point.

The lesson to learn from this is that a byte is a byte and if you try to make the pricing steps too high, it won't work.

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (2, Insightful)

jaxtherat (1165473) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555723)

At that point the grand mum would realize that she is paying 10$ per GB while the guy next door is paying 0.2$ per GB.

*worlds smallest violin*

Welcome to economies of scale. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economies_of_scale [wikipedia.org]

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555401)

Ah yes, let's go back to the "good ol' days" of the late 80's and early 90's when the telcos gladly robbed you blind if you wanted to transfer data over their lines, because that was such an awesome idea...

Here's a hint: If they start to charge by the gigabyte or megabyte then they'll only do so because they figure they can rape their customers.

Of course, I'm swedish and I've never had any transfer limits on my internet connection, in the pre-1998 days when I was on dialup I did pay by the minute though, and that was a huge pain in the ass.

/Mikael

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (1)

RemoWilliams84 (1348761) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555409)

Why Not Just Metered Service?

I think you answered your own question.

Because,

Grandma who just wants a couple of recipies every now and then, and occasionally looks at baby photos posted on thier adult children's Facebook accounts (and is not pulling down 10GB/month)... only pays a little bit.

There are a lot more people who use the internet like grandma. They would lose a lot of money that way. What they would like to do is squeeze every penny from everyone, not just a portion of the customers.

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27555743)

Rather than have these ridiculous, confiscatory rates for so-called "unlimited" service (which will still be capped under some other excuse)... why don't the ISP's just provide metered service?

This way, Grandma who just wants a couple of recipies every now and then, and occasionally looks at baby photos posted on thier adult children's Facebook accounts (and is not pulling down 10GB/month)... only pays a little bit.

And the Torrent operators pay for what they use.

Pay for what you consume. Fair for everyone.

Or is that too much common-sense for all involved?

Simple: they would get LESS money, because they would have to charge the Grandma in question pittance, as she won't be using much bandwith at all, and she's in the majority of the userbase.

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27555875)

What about the fact that Grandma calls customer service twice a week to get her e-mail working, while I've called them twice in the 5 years I've had the account?

The total costs are not all tied up in the bandwidth.

Re:Why Not Just Metered Service? (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555893)

Because this has more to do with TW wanting to curb streaming video (since its competing with their video on demand services) than it does bandwidth use.

If they only charged for use they'd be out of business in a month.

Trust-busting, can we say it boys and girls? (0, Troll)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555073)

Too big to fail = too big to risk leaving whole. Too much concentration of power leads to abuses. When mergers happen and the CEO's gloat about efficiencies of scale, they're talking about putting Americans out of work. And where do all those savings go? Fat CEO paychecks. Keeping those jobs in pay ain't inefficiency, it's redundancy in the engineering sense, like "let's have redundant control cables on the airplane so if one set goes out, we won't fall out of the sky. Let's have lots of banks so if a couple fail, we don't lose the whole industry." When Republicans bleat about class warfare and wealth redistribution, they forget to mention that they threw the first punch.

This Time-Warner BS is no different from GE buying up a news network so they can create more favorable coverage of their business interests. Propaganda is wrong; propagandists are liars and should be treated as such.

Re:Trust-busting, can we say it boys and girls? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27555189)

I have to agree but you stated it badly. The capping is horrid and annoying and appears to just be a scam to generate more revenue. And anyone with half a brain would not pay for it if there were actually choices out there. Personally if my isp applied a cap I would switch isps faster then a snake down a greased pole. But I cant. The region I currently live in the USA only has 1 isp and I have to play by their rules to get on the internet.

Break up the regional monopolies and some of this should be self correcting. But I wouldn't put it past these CEO's to all decide to implementing this scam at the same time during one of their weekly golfing vacations.

the whole isp capping is a big scam (5, Informative)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555087)

I run several huge sites (bigger than slashdot)

and we use 1200 to 1500 mbit outbound at anytime

our agreements with datacenter and carries mean we pay $US 4.5 a mbit @ 95th percentile during peak hours ONLY (thats 12:00 to 24:00GMT)

outgoing bandwidth offpeak time is FREE

incoming bandwdith is FREE

alot of large isps such as Comcast or UPC can peer for practically free with datacenters (who are heavily outbound) as these isps are heavily inbound

this whole bandwidth cap is a joke, and site operators already pay alot of the privilege and were talking about pricing per mbit per month here not per GB

Re:the whole isp capping is a big scam (1)

Hieyeck (1531177) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555241)

Well datacenters usually only have dozens of fibre bundles purchased in bulk... Don't get me wrong, I disagree with bandwidth caps, but at least Rogers also has a price cap - no more than $25 (Canadian too! That's like 5 cents!) usage fees. And the service is good enough that I don't have to deal with their terrible customer service. Better the devil I know...

Re:the whole isp capping is a big scam (4, Informative)

mattbee (17533) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555397)

You're comparing apples and oranges - internet transit bandwidth is cheap because for a particular piece of switch or fibre infrastructure in a data centre (where your hosting is), there are multiple commercial uses and plenty of opportunity to sell your bandwidth so it's used maximally. This results in a multi-tier system where you pay for a commodity according to volume, and a handful of centralised engineers can maintain it. Your sites are reaping the benefits of that economy.

The infrastructure for providing data bandwidth to residential areas has usually been put down by one or (if the area is lucky) two companies, involving very expensive digging up of public land. The return on investment for a particular piece of cable can only be provided by the homeowners, who are very price-sensitive compared to businesses. This infrastructure is mostly single-homed, needs roving national teams of engineers to maintain, and for a return that is often heavily regulated.

That's why (as a relatively small player in broadband, but a larger one in hosting) we pay £300-odd per Mb for connectivity to *any home in the UK*, but only £5-15 for "internet transit", where we're not the ones paying for that expensive last mile of connectivity.

Re:the whole isp capping is a big scam (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555627)

Bandwidth is always going to be cheaper at the datacenter... that's where all the bandwidth is, at the NOC located nearby. What the ISPs need to find a way to control is the last mile, where bandwidth isn't as plentiful.

Re:the whole isp capping is a big scam (1)

PhoenixAtlantios (991132) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555691)

I imagine there's a slight difference in the cost to provide a connection in a highly centralised location to the carrier's network when compared to connecting a consumer in the middle of nowhere to that same network. The maintenance and upgrade costs are going to be far different when compared, and when you factor in the volume of customers and support costs... I think it's pretty silly to try and compare a datacentre connection to a residential one.

As for some of the other discussions going on: Bandwidth caps effectively reduce the amount of bandwidth a user utilises during peak periods by self-regulation, and allows the ISP to offer higher speeds to them when they do wish to use their bandwidth.

ISPs really have two options at the moment, they can either:

  • Oversell their bandwidth and implement a bandwidth cap. This approach gives users fast access when they use it and prevents 'power users' from utilising all of the oversold bandwidth.
  • Sell a slow speed connection and have no bandwidth cap. This allows the 'power users' to download as much as is possible but speeds remain slow and the ISP rarely uses all of their available capacity.

People seem to frequently argue that overselling bandwidth is wrong, but it actually works in favour of the majority of users. Joe blow that wants to use youtube occassionally wants his videos to download quickly, but doesn't want to pay for an expensive Internet plan. Buying an high speed plan with a bandwidth cap allows him to get his fast but rare downloads and the ISP doesn't have to worry about having a large number of users utilising 100% of the speed all the time and congesting their network because there's a bandwidth cap and the user self-regulates. This works pretty well because users don't all download large files at once usually so you can offer fast speeds and don't need to have all of the backhaul in place to provide that to all users simulataneously.

I guess my point is, based on the price most people are willing to pay for their Internet connection it's not currently feasible to provide the guaranteed high-speed bandwidth for everybody without bandwidth caps, particularly as more and more bandwidth intensive websites and applications are created. If you wanted a truly unlimited plan, you'd have to resign yourself to slower speeds in order for the ISP to be able to guarantee that bandwidth as it's not currently economically viable to give everybody guaranteed 100mbps connections. Most people opt for the "fast but limited" option because it's far more convenient when you want to use the connection, the argument that you should be able to utilise 100% of it all the time for the current price (which wouldn't facilitate massive backhaul upgrades across the country to provide that service) is asinine.

Sorry if that wasn't entirely coherent, but that's my experience with ISPs from Australia though. Even with the fibre-to-the-home upgrade that our government has proposed we will still have bandwidth caps because it'd be idiotic to lay enough fibre to give every internet-connected home in the country guaranteed speeds when only a tiny portion of the population would come anywhere close to using it (and let's face it, there aren't enough legal download services to really max out that connection for the average user).

Summary:

  • Fast
  • Unlimited
  • Cheap

Pick two.

In the UK... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27555125)

It's rapidly becoming impossible to find an ISP (especially where there's no cable coverage) who will provide reasonable limits. Many ISPs started out offering 'unlimited' plans. These ISPs ended up with fair usage policies- I pay for 30 gigs a month for the same amount I paid for unlimited, and this 30 gigs per month is actually only 15- at 15 they reduce everything except email/HTTP to a crawl, at 20 they block most things except email/HTTP, and at 30 it's just unusable, despite the fact that they claim I am still able to use everything but at a reduced speed.
I don't do huge amounts of downloading- I grab the occasional bootCD and download some TV shows, but considering the former only accounts for ~5 gigs a month and the latter is advertised as the main use for my connection (Or at least my ISP keeps telling me I should do it more!). I've called them up several times to ask them why they keep adding bandwidth usage on protocols I don't even use (VOIP I don't use, yet last month I had 4 gigs of usage on it. FTP likewise.), and their support was utterly useless every time I've called.
I'm currently with PlusNet, a subdivision of BT. My options are essentially A) Another BT Wholesale reseller, or B) An Entanet reseller. The Entanet reseller option was looking peachy but apparently sometime in the last few months they've gone for adaptive rate limiting and 'red flagging' high-bandwidth users. Where there used to be a 30/300GB (On/offpeak) package is now a 30/??? package.
Is there much scope for other telecoms companies? Does the cost of laying new cable and more fiber not get offset to some extent by the fact that people would use your service?

Re:In the UK... (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555231)

Entanet are largely a bt reseller too...
The problem is the wholesale prices... If you have an 8mb dsl and use it 24/7 for an entire month the isp will pay 30+k for that backhaul bandwidth from bt, not to mention the isp's own infrastructure costs.

Killing the Goose... (5, Insightful)

agorist_apostle (1491899) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555167)

Let's see...people back in the 90s bitched about having rationed access, so companies got rid of it and went to unlimited use because their competition was. How long is it going to take a competitor to again figure out they can have all the business they can handle if they don't charge for volume?

Re:Killing the Goose... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27555233)

Problem is unlike the 90's when dial up providers were rationing, there's no competition for broadband in a lot of areas. With dial-up it didnt matter what phone service you had, you could still get AOL, MSN, Netzero, Juno, ... Now with broadband, some people don't have that choice to make. Where I live, I have 1 option for internet, Comcast.

Re:Killing the Goose... (1)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555471)

Verizon already figured that out, that's why they built the FiOS network. The cable companies are too concerned about cannibalizing their TV revenue by going with low cost internet options like Hulu or Netflix to not impose the caps. When they got into the internet game it seems that they never really realized that their main business was probably on the way out, and now they're fighting like hell to stay relevant by attempting to make it impossible to use the other service because of the caps.

Re:Killing the Goose... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555807)

I wouldn't say that Verizon "gets it", per se, but they're getting it a bit better than the rest. I still don't have TV or VoD- mainly because I've got fixed IP service. I can have VoIP from them, but I can't have the others because the ONT's they're using are incapable of providing the others allegedly with the service I've got from them. Oh, well, no boob-tube for me other than OTA; which is probably better. Means I won't be watching much of the pablum they've been shovelling of late. :-D

Re:Killing the Goose... (1)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555905)

You can get both, but they've got to run a second fiber and install a second ONT. It's a pain in the ass, but they will do it.

Welcome to my world (3, Informative)

ewe2 (47163) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555191)

where capping is the norm here in Australia. It's just a wild guess but maybe this is just an ambit claim to make more money, you think?

Next they'll be filtering the internets...

Re:Welcome to my world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27555599)

Capping is the norm, and my cap is 5gb. I don't pirate because of it, but I also don't use Direct2Drive, XBLA, Steam, stream music or video or put up with shitty flash websites because of it.

Extreme example? Sure: but it's hurting legitimate use just as much as illegitimate. But hey, if I could be certain that I could actually install and run a game that I bought legitimately, or could see those tv shows that people elsewhere are raving about now, now all that illegitimate use would be nice and above board anyway.

I've been saying this since comcast instituted it. (5, Insightful)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555213)

A throughput cap will only hurt consumers and legitimate transfer-intensive services like steam, netflix, xbox live, and hulu.

The large few ISPs like to say that it's 1% of their subscribers who aren't playing fair. That's just not the truth. They see a trend emerging and they're not happy about it.

You don't institute major policy change because of 1% of your users. You do it because in less than a year, it could be 15%-20% using as much as the 1% currently uses.

Why? Online content providers are now offering larger quality services and more transfer-intensive services. Comcast certainly didn't like that. They have to pay for traffic outside their own network.

It really is a scam. They sold me unlimited service and they have reneged on their part of the deal. They altered the contract. That should be illegal, but they did it.

Caps and metered service are both money-saving scams. They will not prevent the inevitable.

The only real solution is to increase network capacity.

Re:I've been saying this since comcast instituted (1)

Paralizer (792155) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555317)

I don't understand why the ISP companies aren't excited about this.

If their network utilization is increasing then they must be doing something right as their customers are using their service more. Any other business would be thrilled about this.

Instead of limiting what their customers are able to do, they should invest more in building their infrastructure to accommodate the increase in demand and grow their business.

Instead they opt to shoot themselves by limiting their service and hinder growth so that they can make slightly more money now rather than potentially much more later on.

Also, why aren't we hearing more from the services you mentioned (hulu, google, netflix, etc) about bandwidth capping?

Re:I've been saying this since comcast instituted (5, Insightful)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555493)

They're not excited. They're terrified. With services like Hulu, YouTube, Netflix, and other legitimate online video sources, the draw of their cable TV services is weakened. Why pay the cable company $50 a month if all of your favorites TV shows are online? (Legally, again. Let's not consider pirated shows for the moment as that introduces different arguments.)

So they institute caps. Now you can download and watch a couple of HD movies from Hulu, but that could eat up your entire month's bandwidth allotment. So you're less likely to use online video and more likely to tune in on your TV. Cable wins. And if you decide to buck the system and view online videos? They charge you overage fees which coincidentally add up to approximately the cost of a cable subscription. Cable wins again.

And just to introduce a Network Neutrality wrinkle into the equation, I'm pretty sure that they'll exempt any online video services that they introduce. If Time Warner releases "RoadRunner Online" where you can watch your favorite shows on your computer, they'll keep that usage from counting toward your monthly bandwidth cap. The net result will be that ISP sponsored online video sources will be given an advantage (maybe they will thrive, maybe not) while other legal online video sources will be held back with every attempt made to get them to wither and die. All to protect the cable companies' bottom lines.

Re:I've been saying this since comcast instituted (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555651)

And let's not forget, the cable company now offers phone, and the phone company now offers cable.

Re:I've been saying this since comcast instituted (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555877)

I would rather pay them $30-50/mo for the pipe to the data and then an additional $10-20 for the video over that data pipe if they offer a compelling package. It's better, price-wise, than me spending what I'd spend on the two separately- and most people are the same. If they could economically do it for me for what I need out of FiOS (Peak data, fixed IP's...) I would be taking Verizon up on at least the TV service from them because it's better than Dish, which was already better than the Cable providers were shovelling (Heh... There's a hint there for you cable providers...)- for about the same as the HD service would cost me from Dish, with MORE channels present.

They're being silly about this, as is to be expected. They see the business being cannibalized, but what everyone else sees is a new business where they could, if they were visionary, get what they were getting out of people and then get more out of those that can afford it and hand them all more of what they're now really looking for.

But then, when have any of the media providers of our era been overly clueful? :-D

Re:I've been saying this since comcast instituted (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555853)

Deploying more capacity takes time. It typically takes around 2 years for a major upgrade, and most of the consumer ISPs somehow completely failed to spot the fact that a lot of bandwidth-intensive services are being deployed. They now have high demand and lack the ability to fulfil it, so they are doing what every other company does in the same situation: charge the early adopters a lot. This lets them get the biggest return from their existing infrastructure, while they deploy more just fast enough to finish before their competitors. Of course, in some areas, their competitors would have to start from nothing, so this can be done very slowly...

a market based entirely on Artificial Scarcity? (4, Insightful)

NZheretic (23872) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555251)

Monday, July 17, 2006 [blogspot.com]

Network Neutrality : Two question for the great debate. In California there was an outrage when it was disclosed that electricity companies had deliberately idled plants while supplies were tight and then waited for prices to skyrocket on the spot market. If the current Internet network infrastructure provided by the backbone providers and Internet service providers can currently support much higher speeds and data quantities to current customers, then is the act of packet filtering and setting arbitrary low speed and data caps also effectively providing an "idled" service? Is a tiered Internet service, where content providers would be effectively competing on a similar market to the electricity "spot market", a market based entirely on Artificial Scarcity?

What scares me.. (5, Insightful)

rotide (1015173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555255)

Caps are fine, at least in the sense that they ALWAYS existed under some vague asterisk following the word "unlimited".

But what's got me worried is the fact that when I started playing around on the internet, the most heavy web surfing was a few gifs and/or jpgs.

Now, we have full flash animations, games, interactive multimedia presentations. Not to mention embedded audio and video.

Downloads use to be smaller as well. Now with more bandwidth available, software gets bundled with more features and more multimedia. Game demos have gone from 10-20 meg up to 500meg to 2+ gig, easy.

Hell, I'm a legit user, I don't download music (anymore, I did when I was younger) and I don't pull pirated movies/software either. I don't run bittorrent except for the occasional WoW update (when I did play). But I've seen a large jump in bandwidth usage with my new Roku box for watching NetFlix on my tv. That's a lot of streaming video. Are they keeping tech like this in mind? Doubt it.

So, say the caps are aimed at the bandwidth of today, ok, fine. What happens "tomorrow" when demos START at 2gig+? What happens when the only video online starts at widescreen HD? Our bandwidth usage, for simple surfing, has been going up. It would be shortsighted to think it won't keep going up. If the companies with hard established caps don't keep growing your cap, you're going to eventually have to pay for the top tier.

Bandwidth usage inflates with time. I'm not holding my breath that the ISP's will generously increase caps over time.

Re:What scares me.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27555399)

Oh of course they are keeping Youtube, Roku, Netflix, DirecTV on Demand, etc. in mind. The whole cap BS is to protect their floundering cable TV product.

Re:What scares me.. (1)

S77IM (1371931) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555503)

But I've seen a large jump in bandwidth usage with my new Roku box for watching NetFlix on my tv. That's a lot of streaming video. Are they keeping tech like this in mind?

Yes. That's their primary motivation.

1. TW is a cable company. Streaming video is a direct competitor that they are trying to strangle.

2. As a poster above mentioned, this usage trend is going to become more prevalent among the general public. (Hasn't realtime video conferencing been a dream of the Internet since the early days of science fiction?) TW wants to get these caps in place now, before their everyday Joe User starts taking 500 Gb/mo worth of streaming HD video for granted, and the TW network really does become strained.

  -- 77IM

Re:What scares me.. (1)

alen (225700) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555513)

back in the day game demos came on CD's and then DVD's with magazines. if we go back to the days of too much data and not enough pipe, we'll just go back to the days of getting DVD's mailed to you.

for video we'll just go back to the DVD/Blu-Ray model

video over the internet took off due to the get it now factor. now that mobile devices can play movies we'll go back to having your own DVD's, rip and carry your entertainment with you.

Re:What scares me.. (1)

glop (181086) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555535)

About the Roku:
Yes the cable operators have that in mind. They probably are concerned that you are going to stop buying on demand movies from them. And they are probably scared that you might even cancel TV service if TV companies start teaming with Netflix or Amazon or Google to broadcast on the Net...

Re:What scares me.. (1)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555579)

Hell, I'm a legit user, I don't download music (anymore, I did when I was younger) and I don't pull pirated movies/software either. I don't run bittorrent except for the occasional WoW update (when I did play). But I've seen a large jump in bandwidth usage with my new Roku box for watching NetFlix on my tv. That's a lot of streaming video. Are they keeping tech like this in mind? Doubt it.

Of course they kept that tech in mind. Do you have any idea how much money the cable companies would lose if everyone canceled their TV services in favor of less expensive, on demand, online offerings? Enough that it makes sense to piss off some of their customers on the internet end, to keep all of their customers on the TV end. These bandwidth caps are designed to kill IPTV before it gets a real foothold.

the bigger picture (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555257)

I think they are restricting usage by being a monopoly and fixing limits.

The simplest solution I would think is to analyze what a user like myself would lose because I watch netflix.

Then simply force them to offer a cable package that was ala carte,on demand, 8.99, and commercial free in exchange for the caps.

The tired old excuse (1)

shking (125052) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555303)

The article should have read, "Apparently this is BEING EXCUSED BY PRETENDING THAT IT IS an effective way of going after casual piracy."

should be a law.. (1)

Jestrzcap (46989) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555311)

I wish in order to enact these kinds of changes companies had to cancel my service and then convince me to sign up again.

mod Down (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27555321)

Fuirst, you have t7o

how do you accept it? (1)

thesappho (1293114) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555387)

even in turkey without caps
1 Mbps no limit 28$
2 Mbps no limit 39$
4 Mbps no limit 51$
8 Mbps no limit 62$

you live in the heart of internet and you're capped?!.
consider your situation with japanese or korean
i'm thinking of starting cable company there :)

End around net neutrality? (5, Interesting)

MojoRilla (591502) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555391)

I wonder if this is an attempt by the ISPs to end around net neutrality. They set these caps low, users won't pay. But certain third parties who make revenue sharing deals with the ISPs (think Hulu, YouTube, etc.) are exempted from the caps. Since users won't pay higher for uncapped data, it will drive users to the "free" services, creating more revenue for the ISP.

Steam and clouds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27555449)

are inherently evil so I feel no empathy there. Casual "piracy" I have no beef with OTOH.

Comparing capping, how secretive ever, to DRM is pretty weird. Not even in the same ballpark.

You know how you guys have to handle this right? (2, Interesting)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555591)

Don't use their service. If you have to, get DSL or something.

I felt real good last week because my company had the discussion of going with a fiber line through Time Warner. Me being the Network Administrator told our Time Warner sales rep that we would not be interested due to the fact that the company practicing bandwidth caps. Yeah I know our company would not experience the caps, but it's a loss of business for them, and it gets the message across.

Workaround for Comcast Cap: Earthlink. (4, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555593)

Ask Earthlink's semi-automated chat service about the Comcast Cap applying to their cable-modem-over-Comcast's-wire service, and they'll tell you that it doesn't apply to you because you're Earthlink's customer and they have no such policy. You'll save a couple bucks based on the local Comcast price, but you'll be limited to to the 6mbps/768kbps which is Comcast's lowest speed level. (Though you'll still get the Comcast PowerBurst instant speed double.)

That, and people will wonder why you have a @earthlink.net e-mail address still...

Biz class (3, Interesting)

r_naked (150044) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555695)

My advice would be to get business class while you can, WITH a contract.

About a year ago Brighthouse royally pissed me off with their slow roll out of SDV (switched digital video), and their horrendous HDTV offering. My solution was to get DirectTV and keep BH only for Internet. The problem was that unless you purchased their "all in one" package (cable, phone, Internet), you couldn't get their highest speed tier (20/5). I was told if I wanted just Internet, at that speed tier, that I would have to get business class and pay extra. This really miffed me at first, but now I see it was a blessing in disguise...

Bottom line, I ended up paying ~20/mo MORE for DirectTV + BH biz class, but I got much better TV service.

Now it looks like I am also going to see the benefit of having a contract. I am locked into a 3 year contract, but I am guaranteed that I am not going to be paying $150+ for unlimited bandwidth since that is included in the biz class contract (which they can't just arbitrarily change). As it stands, I pay $75/mo and that gets me 20/5 unlimited bandwidth, static IP, and NO restrictions on services (IE: no blocked ports).

Something to think about,

-- Brian

is the new... (1)

RandomUsername99 (574692) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555703)

Inappropriate comparisons are the new Ford.

First! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27555775)

First!

perhaps they're worried about something greater? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27555791)

On the surface level, ISPs are attempting to throttle and cap bandwidth for piracy reasons, pressured by the RIAA. However, isn't it possible that they see the emerging end of their business- when the internet is so large it would be impossible for a single carrier to control all the data? What if data transfer demand increases faster than they can afford servers... and what if it's beginning to happen already?

From a business perspective, the only answer is- well we need to stop the increase of bandwidth... even if it costs us our business model. They believe that they essentially "own" the internet- it's their "product" that they "sell". they believe that if they want to give it out as they see fit, it's their right as a producer and distributor. from their perspective, they need to create awareness for bandwidth capping. High profile torrenting is sucking up some massive amount of data transfers as is their nature, which is why they're being targeted the most. A typical torrenting download could go through 200 connections, and several gigabytes of data. Rapidshare doesn't come over half as much scrutiny when they traffic plenty of copyrighted material- simply because they're a working business model that's not dying from traffic.

If this were to be mainstream- all over required bandwidth capping- it would the the death of the unified internet. However, you can't give people pitchforks, axes, and spears and tell them to sit at home while they take away your rights. We have the open source anonymous "criminals" on our side, inevitably, several new Internets would emerge. New, torrent like software protocols would allow today's ridiculously fast processing to distribute internet bandwidth. HTTP would be used by big business slots and advertising until they realize that our generation doesn't go there and they're paying for nothing because nobody visits http sites anymore... and from it's ashes will become a unified, vastly more pirate-y internet- one that's not afraid to jump ship and switch protocol when the feds arrive. This scenario is described by many big heads in tech prediction, which is why this is known as the "golden age of the internet". in 10, 15 years, it will be commonplace for the internet to fight to survive. And Slashdotters will be on the front lines.

Better Than DPI (4, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555857)

Total transfer has a cost. Your connection to the Internet, if kept running wide open full time, would be a money loser for the ISP. There are essentially three solutions to this:

1. High transfer users are subsidized by low transfer users. This will fail as everyone becomes a high transfer user. My Mom now sends me YouTube videos occasionally.

2. Deep packet inspection (DPI), with the high transfer user of services the ISP likes being subsidized by the high transfer user of services the ISP does not like. IE: They charge company A or inhibit customer B, while allowing company C to send high volume content to customer D. Some ISPs think this it the right answer because some services are inherently high volume. Others like the idea of being a toll-road and getting to charge monopoly rents. Ultimately this is insidious because it hides the cost and distorts the free market.

3. Tiered pricing based on the numbers of 1's and 0's you consume, but without regard to which 1's and 0's you consume. IE: net neutrality with tiered pricing.

Of those three options, is there really any question that option 3 is the best?

One may argue, "The ISPs are charging too much, their profit is too high, it's an inefficient market and prices are too high because of lack of competition." Fine, maybe that's true. The answer to that problem is increased competition. Asserting that the ISPs should not be allowed to use option 3 to solve a problem which may be real, however, can only lead to either option 1 or option 2 being used instead. Option 1 would imply increasing the price to everyone. Is that really fair? Should I really continue to have my Internet access subsidized by the guy next door who doesn't use high volume media? I mean, I like it and all, but it's not fair, it's not free market, and it makes the ISPs want to find ways to shut me off so they can focus their business on the guy next door.

Option 3, on the other hand, makes me the most important customer to the ISP. It makes them want high volume users. It makes them more money when we use more Internet. Suddenly the ISP's profit incentive is directly in line with making the Internet faster and encouraging high volume services. Seems like a pretty good thing, no?

So choose your poison:

1. Subsidization with the ISP hating high volume users.

2. Deep packet inspection with the ISP choosing which 1's and 0's are "good" and which are "bad".

3. Net neutrality with tiering, and the ISP becomes profit motivated to encourage high bandwidth and high volume services.

Gee, tough question.

Tom, I love ya. I was making banner ads for your site back in 1997, and loved every little review you put out. But you're off your nut on this one.

I honestly think my old ISP was fair with this (2, Interesting)

mdarksbane (587589) | more than 5 years ago | (#27555859)

They had a cap, but once you hit the cap you just had your speed reduced.

So up to X gb (I think it was 5, which is low, but it was a wireless service) you had the full 1.5 mbps speed. After that, they dropped you to 300k, or you could pay extra to increase your cap that month.

I think that you need a much larger cap on cable for it for fair (maybe 5-10g for the cheap, grandmother style connection, 50g for the $40 standard one) and just drop your speed to 1-2 mbps when you hit that so it's harder for you to keep going over. I think people would complain a lot less about bandwidth caps if they were softer caps like that - at least, living with it for a few months, it was worse than being uncapped, but it was entirely usable and bearable.

Australia is a ripoff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27555873)

Australia has the slowest and most expensive internet in the world. And if you go over your cap you end up having to take out a mortgage to pay the bastard ISP's, most non computer savvy people get burnt.

My sister pays $20/month for 1GB, doesn't know how to check her usage and got hit with $100 extra that month. Like most non savvy people they just surf away and wait for the bill. They should have it where your speed slows and you pay nothing extra.

I pay $40/month for 5gig... All the big Telco's in Australia are taking us to the cleaners

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