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A Layman's Guide To Bandwidth Pricing

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the don't-grant-local-monopolies dept.

The Internet 203

narramissic links to IT World's A Layman's Guide to Bandwidth Pricing, writing "Time Warner Cable has, for now, abandoned the tiered pricing trials that raised the ire of Congressman Eric Massa, among others. And, as some nice data points in a New York Times article reveal, it's good for us that they did. For instance, Comcast says it costs them $6.85 per home to double the internet capacity of a neighborhood. But the bit of the Times article that we should commit to memory is this: 'If all Time Warner customers decided one day not to check their e-mail or download a single movie, the company's costs would be no different than on a day when every customer was glued to the screen watching one YouTube video after another.'"

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NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (5, Informative)

xmas2003 (739875) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666199)

While it is true that most costs are fixed and therefore the costs are no different if every customers takes an Internet break one day, one has to plan to for peak capacity ... or something like a 95% threshold. No different than other utilities such as electricity, plumbing, etc.

So the reverse is also true - if every customer decided to say, watch grass grow [watching-grass-grow.com] one day, the costs are also the same!

This is exactly why Tony Werner, Comcast chief technical officer said they engineer for the peak hour. Having said that, it would be nice to get 160mbps for $60/month (as in Japan) ... although I always find it disappointing that almost all of these stories focus on the download speeds and ignore the upload speeds which are at least of interest to folks such as /. readers.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (5, Informative)

DomNF15 (1529309) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666363)

It is actually different from other utilities - the electric company doesn't cap how much electricity you use, neither does the water company, you can use as much as you want, or rather, as much as can flow through given the physical limitations of your electric wires/breakers and plumbing pipes. Your bandwidth, on the other hand, is capped, and is well below the theoretical limits of the coax or fiber optic medium it travels through. When Time Warner etc. design their systems, they do so with these caps in mind. So they only reason they would need to add capacity (spend money) would be to add more users (make more money).

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (4, Interesting)

xmas2003 (739875) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666489)

We might be disagreeing on semantics, but at least for my water bill, we have tiered pricing as I live in the Western US.

I.e. if I use 10,000 gallons of water (ballpark numbers), I get charged a base rate per thousand gallons. However, for each thousand gallons above that, I'm charged 2x that base rate. And then for each thousand gallons above 50,000 gallons, I'm charged 5x the base rate.

And yes, this is a "monthly load" rather than an instantaneous load ... but I think somewhat similar to tier'ed ala-carte pricing that the bandwidth providers would like to do ... so seems like a reasonable analogy (?)

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (4, Informative)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666623)

I don't think there is anything wrong with the idea on principle, however TWC was clearly trying to restructure their internet market to protect their cable tv business. A dollar a gig is laughable.

Any sort of tiered pricing would have to accurately reflect cost and network usage...Being charged the same for peak and non-peak is ridiculous, as we've already established that all their costs are about meeting the peak.

Geeks being geeks, off peak usage is where the bulk of our traffic will already end up...Mom and pop will be in bed at 9:00 when the raids and the massive porn downloads begin.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (1)

cibyr (898667) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667365)

A dollar a gig is laughable.

My uni charges us $10/GB. :(

But staff accounts have unlimited quota :)

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (5, Interesting)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666823)

Read further into the article. The companies tell their shareholders that they're paying the same amount for the newest, fastest equipment that provides 50megabit connections as they did for the equipment for 6 megabit, but they're charging a couple times more for it than they've charged for their highest internet in the last 5 years. Their profit margins are solid but the amount they invest in the networks is falling. This at a time when youtube is drawing more and more bandwidth and sites like Hulu are becoming more popular. It's a pretty solid case of the ISPs milking their monopolies for all they're worth.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (2, Interesting)

umghhh (965931) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666859)

all these analogies are flawed which can be seen if you think for a while what you purchase and how it is delivered. In some countries in EU it is much easier because to deregulate the utilities market authorities require the producers and the grid owners to be different entities and the price at the end consist in principle of two parts: grid usage fee and pay per unit of delievered utility.
There is of course another aspect of this - utilities are common goods i.e. things that we all need. If there is no difference whether you use little or a lot people have no motivation for being reasonable and some are not. If the bandwith limitation that is caused by extreme usage by some causes then deterioration of service for everybody else then it is only reasonable to introduce progressive fees. They do not have to be drastic but I think they can have few thresholds. When the users are informed and the limits are set properly this should not be such a big deal me thinks.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (4, Interesting)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667095)

Not really. Water is a fixed commodity. Though there is a lot of it, there is not an infinite supply, and it is therefore subtractive. If you use 10,000 gallons of water, it inherently prevents anyone else from using that 10,000 gallons of water, and it is irrelevant when you use them.

In the case of computers, it is entirely possible to use an amount of data in excess of what everyone else is using, and yet still not deprive anyone of their bandwidth, by using it when no one else is using it.

They need to stop dicking around and use the sort of pricing structure that has worked excellently in the cellphone industry, where you pay by the minute during peak times (whenever that may be) and you do not pay a dime during non-peak times. I'd be happy to pay by the gigabyte during peak hours, and have an unlimited reserve otherwise.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667253)

And yes, this is a "monthly load" rather than an instantaneous load ... but I think somewhat similar to tier'ed ala-carte pricing that the bandwidth providers would like to do ... so seems like a reasonable analogy (?)

Except if you're proud of being the most advanced Water Technology country in the world, and then get to realize, in Japan everyone has their own Mississipi-sized river now.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (5, Informative)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666713)

Except that power companies charge by the unit. So do water companies. This is fine, because it costs money to create a KwH, and the price of delivering more KwHs rises as more KwHs are delivered, as it costs real energy and money to pump water.

Internet is flat-rate, and should be, IMHO because it represents nothing real. Although it costs something to provide infrastructure for more demand, once that infrastructure is created, the cost of delivery is very near zero.

Here's an experiment, in case this isn't absolutely clear:

1) Buy/borrow a 2 Kilowatt gas generator. Start it up, and run it for 1 hour with no load. Note how much gasoline it burns. This represents the energy used to overcome internal friction. Then run it for 1 hour with a 1,500 watt blow-dryer running continuously. Note how much gasoline it burns. You'll be surprised at the difference in fuel consumption!

2) Get a Gb switching hub, 2 computers, and an amp-meter. Plug the computers into the wall, plug the switch into the amp meter. Note the power usage of the switch with no load. Then set up a load where you are using 1 Mbps of traffic between the two computers, and note the Amp load. Then try 10 Mbsp, 100 Mbps, and 1000 Mbps. You'll notice that the amperage (for most switching hubs) climbs very little as you do so, and that the total power consumption is insignificant.

* * *

So bandwidth usage represents nothing "real". There isn't a significant energy or material consumption per bandwidth unit. After the cost of infrastructure, and a small fixed cost for powering the equipment, the cost of delivering 1000 Mbps is only marginally higher than the near-zero cost of 1 Mbps. There *is* an infrastructure cost that needs to be amortized over the life of the connection, and this represents the vast majority of the true cost of bandwidth.

It's just idiotic that the Nation responsible for building the Internets in the first place is so far behind other industrialized nations for using it!

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666977)

While it is true that the equipment doesn't cost more to use than not use, that doesn't mean bandwidth is cost free. There are plenty of costs involved in maintaining high bandwidth lines.

Now as it applies to consumer connections the problem is one of oversubscription. The reason they can offer you bandwidth for less is that they oversubscribe their lines. That is to say if they have a 10mbps uplink, maybe they sell 100mbps of bandwidth downstream. This works well, so long as everyone isn't trying to use their connection full blast all the time.

It is the same theory you see in a LAN. For example at work here we have gigabit switches to our desktop machines. However, those gig switches are only connected with a gig back to the distribution switches. There are about 20 ports in the room I'm in (we are computer support so lots of computers) but only 1 gig connection out. Likewise, the distribution switches are oversubscribed. Most of them are 48 port Ciscos, nearly full, and they only have 1 gig back to the core. That then in turn only has 1 gig to the firewall, and 2 gigs to the NetApp. However, despite all this oversubscription it is very fast. It is rare for a person to use their whole connection period, and then not for long. We can all share those links without a big problem.

However, that would break down if someone wanted to use their whole connection all the time. If someone was doing a solid gig to the NetApp without letting up, well I'd be going up and having a chat with them real fast. It would screw over everyone else.

Same deal with ISPs. They can afford to cheaply sell you a cable line with 10-15mbps. However they don't have dedicated bandwidth for that upstream. It is oversubscribed at a number of levels, just as with our LAN. So if you use it periodically, and leave it low/idle the rest of the time, it works out fine. However if you try to torrent on it 24/7 to 100% capacity, it is a problem.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (4, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667337)

That's why a flat-rate fee makes sense, though. There are costs for maintenance, but not incremental costs. More data doesn't cost them anything more. So a flat fee to give them a profit and provide for maintenance and upgrades. Any capping or per-unit pricing is simply a cash grab by a monopoly.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27667347)

There are plenty of costs involved in maintaining high bandwidth lines.

And you're implying that there are not similar costs involved in maintaining high-voltage lines?

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (0, Offtopic)

LotsOfPhil (982823) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666997)

It's just idiotic that the Nation responsible for building the Internets in the first place is so far behind other industrialized nations for using it!

America also invented the automobile.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (5, Informative)

Araxen (561411) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667635)

Wrong...Karl Benz from Germany invented the Automobile.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automobile [wikipedia.org]

"Although several other German engineers (including Gottlieb Daimler, Wilhelm Maybach, and Siegfried Marcus) were working on the problem at about the same time, Karl Benz generally is acknowledged as the inventor of the modern automobile."

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27668065)

America invented the mass-produced car. (Hail to His Fordship?)

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (5, Insightful)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667103)

2) Get a Gb switching hub, 2 computers, and an amp-meter. Plug the computers into the wall, plug the switch into the amp meter. Note the power usage of the switch with no load. Then set up a load where you are using 1 Mbps of traffic between the two computers, and note the Amp load. Then try 10 Mbsp, 100 Mbps, and 1000 Mbps. You'll notice that the amperage (for most switching hubs) climbs very little as you do so, and that the total power consumption is insignificant.

That's great, you've created an intranet and demonstrated it's pricing. Now, of course, try to get a peering agreement with a tier-1 ISP so that your bits can travel to and from the internet at large. Try one month at 10 Mbps and another at 1000 Mbps and see if your bill changes.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (2, Interesting)

nabsltd (1313397) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667277)

Try one month at 10 Mbps and another at 1000 Mbps and see if your bill changes.

So, you're saying that Comcast (or other ISPs) change their connection speed to the rest of the Internet on a monthly basis?

No, of course they don't. They know they need ###Mbps at times, so they pay for that much all the time, and they don't get any price reduction for not using all the available bandwidth.

This is why it shouldn't matter how much bandwidth end users use...the cost for the ISP is the same regardless. What ISPs should be encouraging is the reduction of peak usage, not total usage. This will allow the ISP to pay for less bandwidth on a long-term basis. And, if done correctly, it won't limit any of their customers in any way that reduces the usefulness of their connection.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (1)

wolrahnaes (632574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27668051)

That's great, you've created an intranet and demonstrated it's pricing. Now, of course, try to get a peering agreement with a tier-1 ISP so that your bits can travel to and from the internet at large. Try one month at 10 Mbps and another at 1000 Mbps and see if your bill changes.

Bad example, since unlike when I get an internet connection from Time Warner Cable and their ilk, if I get a 10 megabit connection from a tier 1 it comes with the expectation that I can use it to rated capacity 100% of the time and if it is underperforming/down I will be able to get credits.

Time Warner Cable gives me none of these expectations. All quoted bandwidth numbers are best case, if it's down sucks to be me, and if they had their way I could not even max it out for a week.

The model I've encountered most when shopping for dedicated servers/colo hosting is what I think is the most fair. I get the choice of an unmetered pipe with a bandwidth limit or a fat pipe with a quota. Either way the total amount of data I can move in a given month is roughly equal and I get to choose what fits my needs better.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667247)

1) Buy/borrow a 2 Kilowatt gas generator. Start it up, and run it for 1 hour with no load. Note how much gasoline it burns. This represents the energy used to overcome internal friction. Then run it for 1 hour with a 1,500 watt blow-dryer running continuously. Note how much gasoline it burns. You'll be surprised at the difference in fuel consumption!

2) Get a Gb switching hub, 2 computers, and an amp-meter. Plug the computers into the wall, plug the switch into the amp meter. Note the power usage of the switch with no load. Then set up a load where you are using 1 Mbps of traffic between the two computers, and note the Amp load. Then try 10 Mbsp, 100 Mbps, and 1000 Mbps. You'll notice that the amperage (for most switching hubs) climbs very little as you do so, and that the total power consumption is insignificant.

3) Buy ten 2 KW gas generators and sell power in your neighborhood. Run them for an hour with customers drawing power. Note how all your customers have power. Now start selling power to twice as many people in your neighborhood. Note how many customers were without power, due to insufficient supply. Buy ten more generators, and note how all your customers are now powered.

Up until saturation, the networking equipment uses (virtually) the same amount of power as when idle, but over that, you need to buy more equipment, which increases power (and maintenance) costs per transferred byte.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667903)

yea but you should know that doubling your customers doubles your requirements.

ISP oversell their service by a couple orders of magnitude a they think email and web pages are the end of the internet. things like youtube, and VOIP are sucking down as much bandwidth as bittorent but that little bit of information is missing.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (2, Funny)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667341)

Internet is flat-rate, and should be, IMHO because it represents nothing real

Reminds me of the joke that the power company, with it's alternating current, is taking advantage of us by charging for the same electrons over and over.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (1)

maxrate (886773) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667479)

You're forgetting that there is something called 'transport' that needs to be paid for. An ISP is much more complicated then 'switching fabric'

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (1)

thpr (786837) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666741)

It is actually different from other utilities - the electric company doesn't cap how much electricity you use...

Citation needed. I say that because I believe they DO limit how much electricity you use. Here's the proof: I'm on a residential rate, E01 [greenmountainpower.com] , to be exact. I can't exceed 5kW load under that rate, nor can I exceed 7600kWh per month consecutively while remaining on that rate.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (1)

Propaganda13 (312548) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667059)

I also believe that the water company has a charge based on the size of pipe. Water base and sewer base charge. I'm pretty sure there's an analogy there.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (1)

Beyond Opinion (959609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667287)

That's true, the size of the pipe leading from water main to house does affect the price, at least where I live. Basically there is a monthly fee just to be connected, then a charge based on the amount you use. The bigger your pipe, the higher the base charge. Someone else will have to make the analogy. . . .

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (1)

thpr (786837) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667403)

My water company is the town government, so the bill is sparse in the amount of detail it provides. My sewer charges are based on the number of gallons of water used. The sewer capital charge when building a home is based on the legal number of bedrooms (rooms with closets) in the home (I know this because I have a "study" that I didn't turn into a bedroom :) )... not sure what the capital charges on the water side of things is based on.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (2, Interesting)

blackest_k (761565) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667543)

It really does depend on how big a consumer of electricity you are, domestic supplies are rather small and insignificant. Industrial Electricity demands can be huge and quite often there are agreements about how much can be used and agreed low use times. it's a trade off better pricing by agreeing to cooperate with the electricity companies.

Electric companies do offer some incentives for domestic customers e.g Economy 7 in the UK offers cheap electricity in the night and a slightly higher than standard rate for during the day and evening. If you can adjust your usage to take advantage of this scheme you can make quite significant savings.

Virgin a cable provider seems to get this idea, and limits bandwidth over a certain amount (based on package) during peak times, knowing you can get faster rates after midnight, users can modify their downloading habits to suit.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667637)

another issue is that while electricity and water has a max supply (that is, you cant use more water then available in storage, and if you do there is nothing left for others on the same source. and when a power plant is maxed out, its maxed out, and it needs to be fuled by something that can run out, even when it comes to something like hydroelectric), data do not really have that.

but youtube can feed anyone as much data they want, as long as youtube has the outbound bandwidth and server capacity needed.

the best way to envision it is a video rental with unlimited videos, but with the roads and doors leading to it being narrow and/or metered.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (5, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666403)

Well, upload is a niche market (though I admit, I'd love to be able to get at least a megabit...Even half a megabit would be nice).

I think the whole lesson to be learned from TFA can be summed up with the following quote: "Why (is the 160mbit commection offered) so cheap? JCom faces more competition from other Internet providers than companies in the United States do."

We talk a good line about capitalism, but we don't walk the walk. Competition would change the whole game.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (2, Interesting)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666987)

"Competition would change the whole game."

Provided the ISPs are not in collusion in an attempt to manipulate market value.

http://www.comscore.com/press/release.asp?press=385 [comscore.com]

From the article:
"By contrast, only 4 percent of those with the fastest connections, over 1 Mbps, report they plan to switch providers."

The ISPs know this, and ALL bank on this fact when considering price hikes.

We (those with fast cable connections) are the least likely, and least ABLE, to upgrade out of higher pricing schemes.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (4, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667151)

That's where monopoly busting laws come in. That's what they were designed for...To keep capitalism from eating itself.

Anyway, most people can't switch providers right now, since they're locked in with local monopolies, or they don't want to buy new equipment to switch between DSL and Cable...Give them more than one option where they don't have to switch their hardware, and that number will go WAY up.

Personally I am a proud member of the 4%. I am the anti-customer: I switch every 3 months without fail. When the other company calls and offers me a sweet introductory deal I take it, and then 3 months later, I take the next one.

It's to the point where I leave all the hardware plugged in, and just switch "live" interfaces on my firewall...AT&T fucks with me, goodbye eth1, hello eth2. Cox fucks with me, goodbye eth2, hello eth1. What's wrong with that picture? I'm like a woman with two abusive husbands! I hate this shit!

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (1)

CleverDan (728966) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666999)

One could argue the aim of capitalism would be the maximization of wealth, not to maximize competition. The best way to maximize wealth is to control the market -- become a monopoly. It seems we walk the talk just fine.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (1)

pnuema (523776) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666433)

So how is there a "coming bandwidth shortage"? The only way there is a bandwidth shortage is if 1. They have oversold their networks (not my problem), or 2. Have shitty engineers (also not my problem). Why should I pay more for their mistakes?

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (4, Interesting)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666463)

While it is true that most costs are fixed and therefore the costs are no different if every customers takes an Internet break one day, one has to plan to for peak capacity ... or something like a 95% threshold. No different than other utilities such as electricity, plumbing, etc.

Exactly. This is what's so brain-dead about the argument that bandwidth is free - it's only free once you've built out infrastructure to handle capacity, but something has to pay for that. This is common, as you point out, to any industry in which one-time costs dominate per-unit costs.

I compare it to the pharmaceutical industry - pills cost, say, $0.05 to make. Why do they cost a great deal more on the market? Because you have to price in the cost of research and development.

I think the fairest thing is to do what many cell phone plans do; namely, metered or capped usage during peak hours, and free access off-peak. If a user is savvy enough to schedule iso downloads or watch video off-peak, it shouldn't cost him much since that traffic truly is nearly free.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667257)

This is what's so brain-dead about the argument that bandwidth is free - it's only free once you've built out infrastructure to handle capacity, but something has to pay for that. This is common, as you point out, to any industry in which one-time costs dominate per-unit costs.

BW is free on the margin and not free in aggregate. This means that the value is in getting a connection - incremental usage is a very shaky cost structure.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (0, Troll)

nabsltd (1313397) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667357)

I compare it to the pharmaceutical industry - pills cost, say, $0.05 to make. Why do they cost a great deal more on the market? Because you have to price in the cost of advertising.

Fixed that for you.

The average pharmaceutical company spends 5 times the money on advertising that they spend on R&D.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667395)

Pills actually can be quite complex and expensive to make. The chemical components are often hard to synthesize or isolate, and can take many different processes to get to the desired product. If that weren't the case, aged brandy would cost as much as water. I mean, they're both liquids, right?

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667673)

I compare it to the pharmaceutical industry - pills cost, say, $0.05 to make. Why do they cost a great deal more on the market? Because you have to price in the cost of research and development.

Right! because pharmaceutical companies never charge far more than the research costs and milk rich charities for all they have?

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (2, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666579)

Here is the quote that gets me:

Cable systems in the United States use the same technology and have roughly the same costs. Comcast told investors that the hardware to provide 50-megabits-per-second service costs less than it had been paying for the equipment for 6 megabits per second.

They are wining that they aren't making enough, even though upgrading the equipment is cheaper? Something's not right here....

Oh, yeah. Here it is:

By contrast, JCom, the largest cable company in Japan, sells service as fast as 160 megabits per second for $60 a month, only $5 a month more than its slower service. Why so cheap? JCom faces more competition from other Internet providers than companies in the United States do.

Competition. They have a monopoly, so if they can push it, why not? I can see dollar signs in their hair [dilbert.com] . I'm not going to say lots of regulation is the key here, but how about forcing them to let competitors use their networks? Competition is good for the consumer.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (1)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666615)

This is exactly why Tony Werner, Comcast chief technical officer

Did anybody else read the bolded part as "Time Warner, Comcast"?

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667023)

If they engineered for peak hour they wouldn't have capacity problems. Let's not spin things creatively.

Meanwhile, the backbone they use for HDTV is not even having real capacity problems but hey guess what they did! They gave you a free downgrade on the bandwidth for their HD channels!

What a value.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27667043)

upload is the true key in many online apps, i.e I connect to to my home remotely to view cameras, or slingbox, or manage PC's or to connect to my alarm system all use upload. There are half as much applications for upload today as for download, but only a fraction of the speed is given to upload.

Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (1)

IcyNeko (891749) | more than 5 years ago | (#27668037)

The restaurant analogy only works if it's an all-you-can-eat buffet. Only idiots pay for the buffet with small amount of items but charges large amounts of money. And only bigger idiots listen to the obese manager who comes out and yells at the customer who eats all the steak.

Thanks for fixin slashdot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27666269)

Your last round of bug fixes was as helpful as it was overdue.

I'd pay 6.85... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27666289)

I would pay 6.85 for double speeds... I may even pay $7 for that... but not $7.01 now that I know...

Re:I'd pay 6.85... (2)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667431)

That's a $6.85 ONE-TIME fee. They're making money hand over fist... it's simply the fact that broadband ISP's are completely unregulated and unabashed monopolies that is preventing us from getting better value for our dollar.

Why limit ourselves? (4, Interesting)

Statecraftsman (718862) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666303)

I prefer the government installs the fiber and leases it to companies that provide billing, maintenance, and tech support services. Let competition in those areas bring prices down. Internet access is a public good and greases the wheels of the commerce. It's not something to be taxed and exploited by large monopolistic corporations.

Re:Why limit ourselves? (1)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666443)

That would put the government in charge of maintenance on the system. This would guarantee poor service for everybody. Have you ever tried helping an elderly person get their medicare straightened out or get their SS benefits corrected?

Re:Why limit ourselves? (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667447)

Have you ever driven down a road? Oh, wait... that's government maintained, too. And much closer to what government-owned comms cables would be like than medicare or social security programs. Are you sure you aren't just an alternate login for BadAnalogyGuy?

Re:Why limit ourselves? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27667453)

That would put the government in charge of maintenance on the system. This would guarantee poor service for everybody.

Not necessarily it wouldn't.

First, even if a government owns the basic infrastructure they could still contract out maintenance work. So for those who believe any governement activity is inheirently incompentent, competition between private companies is still possible.

Second, I know it's popular on Slashdot to mock anyone who works in the public sector as being lazy and stupid, but some people have other motivations than maximizing their income. I'm not talking about pure alturism, but some people actually like to help others or have more time to spend with their friends and family. These people will take decent compensation for a job that allows to staisfy those desires over one that pays significantly more but doesn't allow them to fulfill their non-monetarily based motives.

Re:Why limit ourselves? (4, Interesting)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666503)

Yes, if we were really a capitalist society, government would maintain ownership of natural monopolies (roads, utilities) and set up competitive systems whereby businesses compete for operating (not owning) them.

Today, we let the businesses own these natural monopolies outright. That's the opposite of capitalism; there's no competition.

Re:Why limit ourselves? (4, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667329)

You are mostly right, but it is actually worse than that.

The natural monopoly is on the LINES, not the SERVICE. But the US government grants a monopoly for BOTH. I am okay with only having two companies providing lines to my house: cable and telephone. The problem is that there are only two companies offering service over those lines: the local cable company, and the local telephone company.

Re:Why limit ourselves? (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667449)

My hometown did that, and then sold the fiber network after a few years rather than continue bleeding money. That's not to say that it can't be done (there are a few other cities around here that seem to be doing it just fine), but there are risks and people need to be willing to research it thoroughly and stick to it. Unfortunately, governments in the US don't seem to be able to stick to anything for more than a few years.

I look forward to my new $13.7 (4, Informative)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666317)

In the mean time, support Massa get his bill passed. If we wait, TWC will just come up with something else equally bad and US taxpayers paid for $200 billion in infrastructure so there should be limits on what Time Warner can do.
http://blog.wired.com/business/2009/04/congressman-to.html [wired.com]
Write your congressman to support this bill
https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml [house.gov]
Get it passed.

no transit/upstream? (2, Interesting)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666331)

If all Time Warner customers decided one day not to check their e-mail or download a single movie, the company's costs would be no different than on a day when every customer was glued to the screen watching one YouTube video after another.

Does this just mean that Time Warner is big enough to only have settlement-free peering instead of paying anyone else for connectivity, or does it mean that their connectivity is priced by pipe size rather than data transfer?

Re:no transit/upstream? (2, Informative)

jcm (4767) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666429)

Does this just mean that Time Warner is big enough to only have settlement-free peering instead of paying anyone else for connectivity, or does it mean that their connectivity is priced by pipe size rather than data transfer?

No, they purchase transit from Level 3.

This is modern business (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27666393)

They don't want to do anything new, but they want more money, because business these days is about finding new ways to charge more while doing the same or less. I believe this is another cause of our current economic woes that is not getting enough attention, because we aren't creating any new value but the economy somehow continues to grow.

Not the way it works... (4, Insightful)

jcm (4767) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666399)

Disappointed in the "research" that went into the original article. Most definitely if everyone didn't use any bandwidth for a day or two, then a cable company would likely pay less that month for the their transit bandwidth. In Time Warner Cable's case, they get their transit bandwidth from Level 3.

I'd guess Time Warner Cable is paying about $10/mbps (or less) on the 95th percentile. So if the top 5% five-minute averages of traffic to Level is thrown out, then the top average left is what they pay for. I would bet there are a few samples each night that are in that top 5% of samples, if everyone did NOT use the Internet one night during peak, the sample that is left at the 95th percentile would likely be less and they'd pay less that month for transit charges.

Could there be another reason? (4, Informative)

FurryOne (618961) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666421)

TW announced that it was going to test market tiered broadband in Rochester and a few other cities, but just announced that they were shelving those plans. Most publications pointed to protests by TW customers as the reason. Was it? While it's true that there were protests, I think another "influence" caused them to take a second look at their plans. Here's what I think... TW right now works hard to bundle their Broadband service with their VoIP and TV services. Sure, they can hide the cost in the bundle, but they can't hide the bandwidth. Right now, they pump at 1.2MB/s, or about 10Mb/s. that sounds pretty good until you realize that some 3rd world nations provide 8 times that much for only the equivalent of $10/month! - but that's another story. So what could get TW's panties in a bunch? Let's see... Right now, my "old" iPhone is on the Edge network, which is, I think, around 750Kb/s. Not very fast, but slow & steady. The data plan for it is $20/month. No competition there for TW! How about the "newer" iPhone?... it uses 3G (HSPA) for it's data. Right now, 3G from AT&T goes at 3.6Mb/s and costs $30/month. Still no big competition, but for lots of users, it would suffice in place of TW if AT&T would allow "Tethering" - using the phone as the network connection. (Which they don't right now) What worries TW is what is coming next. AT&T and others are currently upgrading their HSPA networks to the next "bump" in speed, to 7.2Mb/s, and that's where they become direct competitors to TW's Broadband. What's even worse is that "NetBooks" from Dell, LG, and Acer are due to start shipping in the near future, and they have built-in HSPA & WiFi support. Who needs TW's cable when you can be connected almost anywhere, anytime - wirelessly. But it doesn't stop there. HSPA can be tweaked up to 14.4Kb/s, but the next phase - "HSPA+" is already proven. It requires more hardware changes though. AT&T's goal is to rollout HSPA+ by 2011, and that's 21Mb/s!! Yup, that's twice what TW is allowing right now over cable, and you'll be able to get that over the air. That's what's got TW scared shitless. The idea that you won't need a cable to get your phone, internet, or even TV shows. That makes their whole monopolistic infrastructure about worthless!! AT&T and Verizon will rollout plans for access not just for phones, but for loads of electronic goodies, from computers to cameras to game sets. The netbook idea has been tried before, but it always required a cable. What got this new paradigm started was the introduction of the iPhone - not just as another "phone", but as a "portable computer," or an extension of your office. More and more people are finding themselves using the mail, the browser, and other applications on a daily basis, and becoming dependent on a constant internet connection. Why do we need to sit at home in a room when we can be at the beach, or in a hammock, or even at a bar, and extend ourselves into the rest of the world?

Ha ha ha ha (3, Informative)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667133)

If you believe that you can get 3.6Mb/sec on a 3G phone continuously, you are in for a rude surprise. You can get this in short bursts but you can't get anywhere near that for longer period of time. How many phones are competing for the same bandwidth? 100? More like 500. Do you really believe any cell site has a 1.5Tb/sec connection?

No, you get your 3.6Mb/sec for about a second and they you wait for everyone else's phone. Fortunately, you get most things done in under a second and you aren't looking for a continuous high bandwidth connection. Because if you were, you'd be disappointed.

Re:Could there be another reason? (1)

airjrdn (681898) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667273)

You raise some excellent points, and if rolled out correctly, you're right, 21MB/s wireless will wipe the floor with wired connections for the masses. The problem is whether or not it's done correctly.

The iPhone ushered in the portable/handheld computer with internet access for the average person. You could get an add-in card from a carrier for your laptop, but most people wouldn't. If that same data plan was part of your existing phone bill and your phone had an actual (usable) browser...things get different.

If you look at how poor 3G is in a lot of the areas, it's clear something isn't right. In Springfield, IL 3G coverage is here, but regardless of phone type, network issues abound. Try doing anything remotely intensive w/the phone, and you'll see how slow their 3G implementation is. It's NO where near 3.6MB/s. If they couldn't roll that out right, what's to make me think they'll do it right at 7x faster?

...And no bandwidth... (1)

gavron (1300111) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666425)

Yes, if EVERY TW customer watched high-bandwidth video all day TW wouldn't pay more.

However all those customers would suffer lack of bandwidth.

TW uses an oversell model, meaning they sell the same bandwidth they buy to many people over and over and over. If all of them use it, it won't cost TW more, but the bandwidth won't be there for all those users.

E

The Kilowatt, minute, cubic foot, Gigabyte (3, Interesting)

Twillerror (536681) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666497)

At the consumer level power is generally sold by the Kilowatt. Phone converstaions used to be by the minute, still are for cell. Water is sold in cubic feet.

I think we have finally reached a point where bandwith should be sold by the Gigabyte.

Ultimately I think cable companies and straight ISPs should sell the fastest cable connection possible. Maybe charge a flat fee at first if the new
speed requires a new modem and that sort of thing. We are fast approaching speeds of 50mpbs which if we actually could obtain from
servers out there would be pretty close. Once we hit 100mbps we are good with speeds above only needed for special circumastance. Most content
won't be streamed live, but rather pre-cached almost as DVRs do it now.

Just like the other type of resources we can give breaks for per unit the more you purchase. So 1-20 gig is 50 cents a gig. 20-40 is 30 cents and so on.

Users who want to stream HD movies can instead of buying the HD channel package on their cable bill.

I wish it was possible to distinguish between the guy downloading a linux .iso and someone downloading a pirated movie, but we can't.
Either way both are using more than the grandma checking her email, but somehow pay the same amount.

This might not be popular, but I think deep down most of us know it's the compromise we need. If you want to drop you cable bill and
go with Hulu...fine. Just realize you have to pay. This idea that we can get everything we always had for 20-40 dollars a month just
because the magic internet came along is bs.

What really irks me about cable companies is they want to put caps, but provide absolutlely no way to contest it. My bill
does not have a usage number on it, but if I go over it they'll let me know. You can go look at your power meter, call your phone company, or look at
your water meter. Put in usage monitoring first then we can talk. You could even put out a bill with IP, number of packets, and amount of data.

Re:The Kilowatt, minute, cubic foot, Gigabyte (3, Interesting)

Immostlyharmless (1311531) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666827)

Just like the other type of resources we can give breaks for per unit the more you purchase. So 1-20 gig is 50 cents a gig. 20-40 is 30 cents and so on.

This would be fantastic if that were the actual price, but TW wanted to charge 75 bucks a pop and then a buck a gig after the initial cap. When it becomes more expensive to download something than it does to have it burned to a CD and sent via snail mail, the internet ceases to have credibility as a medium. (Case in point, a game I just bought online, 3 bucks to ship it, its 4 gigs in size on a DVD, why should it cost me more to download it, than to have someone pack it, carry it 750 miles, transfer it by hand onto 3 different trucks and walk it to my doorstep?)

Left to their own devices, TW/Comcast/Cox, etc would certainly price internet right out of the range of most normal beings. Witness the current price of messaging costing more on a per bit basis than controlling a satellite..

Re:The Kilowatt, minute, cubic foot, Gigabyte (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27667353)

Excellent example. Evidently, Fedex & UPS need to get into the ISP business.

Re:The Kilowatt, minute, cubic foot, Gigabyte (1)

BcNexus (826974) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666841)

Once we hit 100mbps we are good with speeds above only needed for special circumastance.

You're foolish to suggest that a certain amount of bandwidth is enough for an unspecified period of time. The influential Mr. Bill Gates has pointed that out quite nicely: http://web.archive.org/web/19970107024714/http://htimes.com/htimes/today/access/oldfiles/gates23.html [archive.org]

QUESTION: I read in a newspaper that in 1981 you said, "640K of memory should be enough for anybody." What did you mean when you said this? (L. Marshall, lmarshal@science.watstar.uwaterloo.ca)
ANSWER: I've said some stupid things and some wrong things, but not that. No one involved in computers would ever say that a certain amount of memory is enough for all time.

Re:Nice fallacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27666955)

Water and power have inherent costs to the producer based upon my usage, but there are no cost differences to my internet provider if I use 1mbit or 100mbit.

Nice fallacy tho, looks like you spend a while typing it up...

Re:The Kilowatt, minute, cubic foot, Gigabyte (1)

don depresor (1152631) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666971)

You realize that unlike all your other examples, using that bandwidth has no real costs versus no using it once it's instaled and running, right?

Bandwidth is like highways, the real cost is in the laying process, once you've done that, the maintenance is marginal when you compare it to the original cost. Of course you have those greedy bastards top level providers who are like the bastard companies that keep asking for expensive tolls once the highway has been more than paid (and the government pays for maintenance), they just care about their profits, and having a fair pricing isn't their goal.

The only real fair deal would if they made the numbers required to figure what kind of bandwidth infrastructure they would require to fulfill the needs of all their users, and make them pay that once... maybe as a subscription fee. And after that you would pay monthly the running costs, like the electricity the need to keep the net working... But that sounds a lot like those federal funds they got some time ago, right?

Re:The Kilowatt, minute, cubic foot, Gigabyte (1)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667223)

Bandwidth is like highways, the real cost is in the laying process, once you've done that, the maintenance is marginal when you compare it to the original cost.

You have no idea what you are talking about. Road maintenance over the useful life is a huge fraction of the total cost and is directly correlated with the number of vehicles that use the road, especially 18-wheelers. More trucks means more frequent maintenance which adds up very quickly.

http://ideas.repec.org/p/hhs/vtiwps/2007_007.html [repec.org]

Re:The Kilowatt, minute, cubic foot, Gigabyte (1)

don depresor (1152631) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667477)

Yup, because the whole world is a plain with no rivers, mountains or any feature whatsoever... Usually the most expensive part of highways are bridges, tunnels, and all kind of landscaping.

Re:The Kilowatt, minute, cubic foot, Gigabyte (1)

don depresor (1152631) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667629)

Nice paper, now tell me where it says that running costs are higher than the building costs please, because to me, it seems that the paper is about how having more cars and trucks running over a road makes maintenance more expensive :P

Re:The Kilowatt, minute, cubic foot, Gigabyte (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667025)

Do you understand how the cable infrastructure works? How about DSL?

What you are talking about might work, if there was a single unbroken fiber link between your home and the connection to the Internet backbone. It doesn't work that way. Instead, your cable connection goes to a network node which has a single fiber link to the cable company distribution point. Which then has one or more links to further on up until you finally reach a backbone point.

DSL is pretty much the same way - there is one shared fiber link between the DSLAM and the backbone.

Sure these links can be pretty hefty, but they aren't infinite in capacity. I seriously doubt they are more than OC3 (48Mbit) and probably less than that in reality. This means they can advertise all they want about getting 100Mbit connections between your house and the network node, but the node can't possibly give you more than its connection. And its connection is shared by the other 999 homes on the same node.

And yes, everything (TV, Internet, phone, etc.) is moving across that fiber link. The good news is the TV part of it is fixed - it doesn't change no matter how many people are watching. Which is why we're unlikely to move away from broadcast media in the near future. If everyone had their own pipe each node would require 100 times (or more) the bandwidth to the head end. No, I seriously doubt you are going to find any 4800Mbit fiber connections anytime soon.

To move beyond this we need to change the way that the Internet is delivered. Instead of network nodes being placed between the head end (any head end, cable, DSL, FIOS or whatever) we need individual unique connections all the way to the backbone. It is the only way that you could drop broadcast media and survive. Either that or continue to work within the confines of using the neighborhood network node as a shared resource with limited bandwidth.

Re:The Kilowatt, minute, cubic foot, Gigabyte (1)

Geoff-with-a-G (762688) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667099)

I think we have finally reached a point where bandwith should be sold by the Gigabyte.

Ultimately I think cable companies and straight ISPs should sell the fastest cable connection possible.

Except that the actual economics are the complete opposite. It costs a large amount of resources (both labor and equipment) to provide you with that fast connection. It's the "running coax or fiber to your house and connecting it to high-capacity network gear" part that's costly and difficult. Once you're connected, it's not cheaper to run your 100 Mbps port at 5% utilization than 95%.

The only part where your utilization costs them more resources is when they have to upgrade their upstream connections. But even that is also not on a "per GB" basis, but rather a "per Gbps" basis (again, adding cabling and network gear, or paying upstream providers). And what matters there is the peak utilization during the peak hours. On off-peak hours, that bandwidth is effectively "free". Giving everyone 100 Mbps links at the access layer is not a terribly effective way to limit peak bandwidth.

Re:The Kilowatt, minute, cubic foot, Gigabyte (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667137)

Just like the other type of resources we can give breaks for per unit the more you purchase. So 1-20 gig is 50 cents a gig. 20-40 is 30 cents and so on.

The economics of it work the other way. Most of the cost is fixed; there's little (though not zero) marginal cost for those first few gigs. When users start pulling enough that the capacity of the network is strained, THEN you start getting big costs. And of course time matters -- the user pulling 10GB distributed over the entire month is adding a lot less to the cost of the system than the user who pulls those 10GB all at 6:30pm one Friday, for example.

So as a matter of reflecting the underlying costs, usage-based plans don't make sense unless they are much more complex than simple metered billing. As a matter of simply discouraging use of the network, metered billing makes perfect sense -- and that's what TW wants. They want most to pay the minimum rate AND not use the network much. No additional capital costs for that, and big profit from those few who DO continue to use heavily (because there won't be enough of them to trigger a need to upgrade).

Re:The Kilowatt, minute, cubic foot, Gigabyte (1)

S77IM (1371931) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667241)

I think we have finally reached a point where bandwith should be sold by the Gigabyte.

Why, though? Why should someone who uses GMail all day pay less than someone who uses NetFlix for an hour every night?

Ultimately I think cable companies and straight ISPs should sell the fastest cable connection possible.

Why? Why not do the opposite -- sell unlimited bandwidth, and price it based on speed (so if you need to video-conference over Skype you pay more than someone who is just downloading WoW patches in the background)?

Why not do both (pay per Gb*Gb/sec)? Why not do neither (keep flat pricing as it is)?

A lot of people say how the pricing "should" be but then fail to justify their reasoning...

  -- 77IM

Re:The Kilowatt, minute, cubic foot, Gigabyte (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667293)

I wish it was possible to distinguish between the guy downloading a linux .iso and someone downloading a pirated movie, but we can't.

Agreed, then we could round up all those commies, and commend those consuming corporate content (even if they aren't paying for some of it)!

Wait! (3, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666551)

'If all Time Warner customers decided one day not to check their e-mail or download a single movie, the company's costs would be no different than on a day when every customer was glued to the screen watching one YouTube video after another.'

Wait! Are you trying to say that the cost of transmitting a bunch of zeros is no different than transmitting a mix of zeros and ones?

Re:Wait! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27666659)

Depending on the equipment, it could theoretically be more to transmit zeros. e.g., if zero is signaled as high voltage and 1 as low. [/tounge-in-cheek]

But seriously, 0,1 and nothing are all different voltages on the wire. Transmitting nothing will probably be close to no voltage. NICs don't just sit there and Tx 0s when there isn't anything to send.

Re:Wait! (1)

smallfries (601545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666875)

Unfortunately the internet tends to be packet-switched rather than circuit-switched, so yes, it costs more to transmit a bunch of ones and zero than (not) to transmit a bunch of zeros.

Besides, the zeros compress better :)

Compression used? (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667467)

You bring up a good point. Do cable providers use compression techniques? Could the cable modems be used to compress and decompress items as they come in and go out? I realize that anything leaving their networks would have to be decompressed but could they use an internal scheme to compress data once it's on their network?

Private Sector (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27666597)

A business should be free to price it's products as it chooses.
The market will naturally determine the price the public is willing to pay for such products. The only time a problem arises is with a monopoly (or price fixing - but anti-trust law should take care of that).
The only issue with cable providers is the lack of alternatives. Technically there is DSL, FIOS, and some slower alternatives, but the customer is locked into only one cable provider. In certain geographical area's (and high density buildings) these alternative choices are not be available, this creates a pseudo-monopoly.
I hope this problem can be solved with private sector alternatives and not with legislation. Government intervention in the free market tends to have negative consequences.

Bad Logic (4, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666715)

If all Time Warner customers decided one day not to check their e-mail or download a single movie, the company's costs would be no different than on a day when every customer was glued to the screen watching one YouTube video after another.

And if no tweenies show up to tonight's Miley Cyrus concert, the cost of putting it on will be pretty much the same. Does that mean that Miley should go to a flat rate, come-as-often-as-like model?

All retail businesses are based on assumptions about normal behavior. Hypotheticals that posit unlikely behavior aren't arguments. If they were, then we could suppose that every TW customer might decide to visit YouTube at precisely the same moment, and that TW should build out its network to support that and charge accordingly. Are you ready for $1,000 a month for DSL?

Let me anticipate the same lame point that gets made every time we have this discussion: Even if TW ripped off the government by pocketing the money they were supposed to use for expanding their infrastructure, we still have a "no free lunch" scenario. Even thieves need a sustainable business model.

Re:Bad Logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27667307)

Actually that's not quite true...if people show up there is a lot of cleaning that has to be done afterward in addition to breaking down the set. If no one shows up then all that has to be done is break down, which should be somewhat cheaper than clean and break down. Of course in the real world if no one shows up to a concert then usually you don't bother to preform...that's a lot less time that you have to be paying those people to run and clean your concession stands. Unless of course you pay your people on a flat rate model...not arguing with you just pointing out that your analogy is really really flawed

Upstream and downstream transfers are not the same (1)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666947)

If all Time Warner customers decided one day not to check their e-mail or download a single movie, the company's costs would be no different than on a day when every customer was glued to the screen watching one YouTube video after another.

No, but if each uploaded the equivalent bandwidth of a YouTube video to a non Time Warner customer, the company's cost would be quite different. The internet is fundamentally a sender-pays system at every tier -- you can only justify peering with a large provider if you can take from him roughly as much traffic as you load onto him. You can get your peering agreement terminated pretty quickly if you dump lots on the other guy but don't take any back (see, e.g. http://tech.slashdot.org/tech/08/11/03/0143239.shtml?tid=230 [slashdot.org] .

One day probably wouldn't be enough, but if everyone on the TW network started using their full upstream allotment 24/7, TW's peers would eventually demand renegotiation.

Homeowners Associations (0, Redundant)

3p1ph4ny (835701) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667083)

Why don't homeowners associations for neighborhoods provide internet, like they do for other utilities? You pay a flat fee "last mile" when you build your house just like you do with water/septic/electric.

The homeowner's association runs the utilities. Just like with everything else, they contract for a say 100mbit guaranteed line, and then the 20 or whatever homes connect to that. The homeowners association polices problems/abuse, much like it does with everything else. It works because: you don't want to piss off your neighbors.

More generally, why can't I buy into a "1 gigabit pool" with a cable company? Make it blatantly obvious that they're overselling, and let the user decide. Company A says "we've got a gigabit of bandwith with 100 users", Company B says "we've got a gigabit of bandwith with 150 users", and I decide.

get a clue... PLEASE! (1)

bigwavedave33 (1148677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667097)

Bandwidth cost money... real money. Unless your upstream provider is stupid and or sucks, you pay a fixed rate per megabit every month for a fixed amount and a per megabit for bursting over. If you think you can do it better, come up with a better model and kick their asses. And for god sakes quit whining about your CHEAP connection. Want to see expensive go to a 3rd world country. As a former ISP, and as less and less mom and pop ISPs are out there, if it could be done someone would already be doing it. Japan and other densely populated countries have a significant advantage... They don't have to run thousands of miles of fiber to reach thousands of customers... The can run a couple of miles and reach a 100,000+ customers. AND they don't have every tom, dick and harry complaining and stopping them from cutting up streets to get it there. They just do it because the government lets them. I know I used to live there.

Re:get a clue... PLEASE! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27667311)

Bandwidth cost money... real money. Unless your upstream provider is stupid and or sucks, you pay a fixed rate per megabit every month for a fixed amount and a per megabit for bursting over.

So apparently my Crown Corporation (look it up) ISP that has no caps, and a flat-use fee for metered access with no charge for usage is "stupid and or sucks".

Silly me, thinking that because their corporate charter dictated their obligation is to provide service rather than generate profit for private money they were doing me any good.

So I should switch to cable that caps and charges me per GB then so I won't be "stupid and or suck"?

How the hell did that post get modded up?

Re:get a clue... PLEASE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27667501)

Amen

Re:get a clue... PLEASE! (1)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667661)

Unless your upstream provider is stupid and or sucks, you pay a fixed rate per megabit every month for a fixed amount and a per megabit for bursting over.

My provider is Comcast, and I pay a flat rate. If you were using tiered pricing for Internet access, it's no wonder you're a former ISP.

Re:get a clue... PLEASE! (1)

bigwavedave33 (1148677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667779)

No I was not using tiered pricing. Your provider may be using flat now, but it will change. It might actually save you money. All the ISPs are trying to do is make the abusers pay for what they use and the normal users pay less. But obviously the ones that complain the most are the abusers. I'd like to see you give me one rational and legal reason why you would need to download 100+GB per month. There isn't enough time or free content to justify it, PERIOD.

Re:get a clue... PLEASE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27667855)

Wow you sure have a hate-on for internet users. You should just shut off your own connection, I think you'd be happier.

Light at the end of the fiber tunnel? (2, Informative)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667303)

Excellent article. The end is the best part of all. The bits at the end are my favorite:

"Cable systems in the United States use the same technology and have roughly the same costs. Comcast told investors that the hardware to provide 50-megabits-per-second service costs less than it had been paying for the equipment for 6 megabits per second.

Questions about the speed, availability and affordability of Internet service in the United States will be central to the study Congress has required from the Federal Communications Commission next year. And cable and phone executives are worried that the commission may call for more regulation of Internet service, which currently is free from any government price controls."

This industry is screaming for more regulation and competition. They have had a stranglehold on the market for well over 10 years and it shows in the exploding cable and internet costs. Burn the MOFO down!

6.85 to double the bandwidth of a home? (1)

MasseKid (1294554) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667313)

If it is really $6.85 to double the bandwidth of everyhome then, let's add a 6.85$ charge to everyone's bill every month and if we start with a 10GB cap the first month, we'll be at 41 TB in a year.... Oh, yeah this was actually about greed and not bandwidth wasn't it...

Re:6.85 to double the bandwidth of a home? (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667769)

Count me in. I can come up with 7 bucks. Hell, I can do it at least 2 or 3 times. They don't have to take it to 41TB, but something better than what I have would be awesome. I think simply asking the customers might get them all the response and support they need to upgrade.

Disingenuous (3, Interesting)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667391)

If all Time Warner customers decided one day not to check their e-mail or download a single movie, the company's costs would be no different than on a day when every customer was glued to the screen watching one YouTube video after another.'"

Of course, those customers would be glued to blank screens since TWC lacks the capacity to have every customer watching youtube at once. Their network would grind to a halt. And the network expansion necessary to handle all of them watching youtube all day would have a considerable additional cost.

Comcast says it costs them $6.85 per home to double the internet capacity of a neighborhood.

Comcast also says that their users like their service and don't leave it the instant Verizon installs FiOS in the neighborhood. You shouldn't put much faith in what Comcast says.

Re:Disingenuous (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667687)

even if that's what it costs, shouldn't they charge every subscriber that $6.85 fee so they can double the capacity?

I'd pay a $6.85 fee once to double my bandwidth. I'm sure everyone else would also.

but the truth is this, bandwidth costs nothing once you have the infrastructure in place.

of course you are limited by your equipment though. So the statement actually holds merit.

Re:Disingenuous (2, Insightful)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667703)

Comcast says it costs them $6.85 per home to double the internet capacity of a neighborhood.

Comcast also says that their users like their service and don't leave it the instant Verizon installs FiOS in the neighborhood. You shouldn't put much faith in what Comcast says.

The actual line in the article is "Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, has told investors that doubling the Internet capacity of a neighborhood costs an average of $6.85 a home.". We should believe them in this case, since AIUI they can get in actual real trouble with the SEC if they lie to their investors.

You miss the point. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27667483)

It requires a great deal of man hours to monitor all of these connections. How is big corporate brother supposed to watch out for us if he can't see what we're doing?

I can find $7 in my couch! (2, Funny)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667749)

Someone please double my internet bandwidth!

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