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Bill Ready To Ban ISP Caps In the US

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the yeah-that'll-happen dept.

The Internet 439

xclr8r writes "Eric Massa, a congressman representing a district in western New York, has a bill ready that would start treating Internet providers like a utility and stop the use of caps. Nearby locales have been used as test beds for the new caps, so this may have made the constituents raise the issue with their representative."

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sounds like an (0)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375731)

excellent idea.

Re:sounds like an (5, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375769)

Until you realize they will just lower their speeds. But...

I'd really ike an investigation into how much bandwidth these ISP's and the top telco's really have and what their utilization is. What needs to be done is to make this information public on a permanent basis so these companies can't claim that the small percent of users are eating up allthe bandwidth and use it as an excuse to lower speeds.

Quite frankly these companies should have not be able to withhold this information in these matters because the internet is so important to society.

Re:sounds like an (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375979)

if they become a utility, as they should, that'll be possible

Re:sounds like an (5, Insightful)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376023)

Until you realize they will just lower their speeds. But...

Maybe it will happen, but then it will be easier to pick your ISP, right now there are so many hidden details it's very hard for a regular Joe to pick up the best package.

I'd go even further, 50ms is the maximum latency, packet lost should be under 1% and the upload and download should never go below 80%. Ofc, this would only apply inside their network. Plus some public monitoring of their routers / bandwidth so they can't blame someone else for their problems.

The speed of the connection is their decision, but we have to stop this sill over-selling capacity, bringing down the whole net.

Re:sounds like an (1)

mpeskett (1221084) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376205)

Well sure, we could make them give you what they say they're selling, but then you'd have to pay for what you're buying. Overselling made sense when most people would use the internet for maybe a couple hours in a day - the network was fully capable of giving people their full speed so long as it didn't have to provide it to all of them at once (especially given normal web-surfing behaviour of pauses for reading between requests for a new page).

It now doesn't work because more and more people want to make use of their connection at all hours, which wasn't expected or accounted for, and someone's going to have to pay for the upgrades. If the world was fair the money would come from the profits they made by overselling, or that mass amount of cash I keep hearing was given to the telcos for infrastructure (maybe in the form of tax breaks, I'm not sure). But more likely than not it'll be paid for by charging the cost of a better connection to anyone who wants one.

That, or they'll find that the real cost of a good connection is more than anyone's willing to pay, decide not to offer it because uptake would be too low, and leave everyone complaining until the costs come down or demand grows.

Re:sounds like an (2, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376279)

How do you define "their network"? You could go coast to coast and never leave AT&T's (or Qwest's or Verizon's) "network".

low latency is very hard (3, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376355)

But 50ms maximum latency to where? And is it one way or return?

Getting latency down is very hard especially when modems are involved. Often modems need to keep a moving "sample window" of the signal before they can decide what bits were sent. That "window" = latency.

FWIW the distance between the east and west coast of the USA is about 13 light-milliseconds (following the surface of the earth) - assuming speed of light in vacuum.

But light travels slower in optical fibres. A naive calculation just using the index of refraction gives me about 20 milliseconds. Round trip time then becomes 40ms.

The fibre isn't taking a "great circle route" and there's some modulation and demodulation involved, so round trip time is likely to be higher than 50ms.

Re:sounds like an (2, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376083)

Until you realize they will just lower their speeds.

If the telcos that use caps lowered their speeds, that would make them less able to appear superficially price:performance competitive with their competition, where they have it, so forcing them to be more honest about what they are providing would still be a plus.

Of course, the bill would not prohibit caps, it would make ISPs get FCC approval for caps, which might reduce the imposition of caps, or it might mean that those that have the most political pull would get their caps approved, while those with less pull would not.

Re:sounds like an (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28376303)

with their competition, where they have it

That is the key point here. In many (most?) areas of the country, there is only 1 option for an ISP. In some places it is simply a shared wireless connection.

Re:sounds like an (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376145)

As a utility, they would be more inclined to institute "metered access" which will be worse than having simple unlimited access. They have always controlled the speed and I would actually have less issue with that so long as it is reliable. As a utility, it should also mean a great many other things such as no port blocking or DNS redirecting or any of the other games they play. It would also open up the floodgate of many ISPs who have been inhibiting botnet behavior.

It could do a lot to change the scape of things.

Re:sounds like an (3, Interesting)

arbiter1 (1204146) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376261)

i would rather take a slower speed with no cap then a super fast speed and 250gb month cap. what is the point of say 20mbit download if you can only avg 8gb a day, and max speed dl speed that is only 1 hour and its used up.

Re:sounds like an (2, Insightful)

gauauu (649169) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376527)

i would rather take a slower speed with no cap then a super fast speed and 250gb month cap. what is the point of say 20mbit download if you can only avg 8gb a day, and max speed dl speed that is only 1 hour and its used up.

I, on the other hand, would rather have a faster speed and a cap. I don't download much stuff from home -- some email, some light web browsing. When I do, I want it to be fast. If I'm not planning on BTing a bunch of stuff, or watching tons of online video, then why sacrifice speed for a cap that I'll never hit?

Re:sounds like an (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376407)

I agree, like the power companies, have a certain level of responsibility towards the gov. to prove what they create use and sell, so should we, and not to the lame ass management that knows nothing about bandwidth numbers, but a real techie that can tell when the ISPs are double charging for stuff or doing certain "shady" practices to stop themselves giving more then they should really be giving.

The internet is really really great... (1)

Rasperin (1034758) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376439)

for porn. I've got a slow connection, so I'm going to have to wait.

That is what they will be singing.

Re:sounds like an (2, Interesting)

Trahloc (842734) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376481)

I'm torn on this one, I hate regulations. But at the same time many of those providers who are putting caps in place *sold* their service as unlimited and I believe they should be forced to honor the original agreement. If they want to start capping service they should give some incentive to downgrade vs just pulling the rug out from under people. Heck give users +5mbps but a cap of whatever GB at the same price or a buck or two off and they could easily swap almost all their users. The real reason this uproar occurred isn't because of caps but because the ISP's just downgraded their promised level of service without giving the uses any choice and they rightfully got angry. Which is now forcing this backlash by the government to threaten to step in and start regulating things.

Re:sounds like an (1)

B00KER (1359329) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376507)

Quite frankly these companies should have not be able to withhold this information in these matters because the internet is so important to society.

Because Internet it's serious Business.

Re:sounds like an (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28375885)

Bad comment! No point for you!

Re:sounds like an (5, Informative)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376053)

The summary grossly misrepresents what the congressman is proposing.

This bill doesn't "ban ISP caps". It simply says that ISPs will start to become regulated in the same way that phone companies, for instance, are, so that a given ISP would have to put in a submission to raise their rates, explaining why they need to do so, etc.

Most ISPs solution to this would be to immediately switch all plans to a per-byte type of plan (which works given the comparison with utilities. I don't get carte blanche from the electric company to use it all for free, complaining that "they provide 20A to the house so I should be able to use 20A around the clock for free!"), and this would almost certainly not be in the consumer's best interest.

Re:sounds like an (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376307)

While I like the analogy, as far as I know no electric companies advertise "unlimited electricity at amperages up to 20!".

Re:sounds like an (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28376419)

While I like the analogy, as far as I know no electric companies advertise "unlimited electricity at amperages up to 20!".

And that's partly because they're a regulated industry...

Re:sounds like an (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28376387)

Most ISPs solution to this would be to immediately switch all plans to a per-byte type of plan (which works given the comparison with utilities. I don't get carte blanche from the electric company to use it all for free, complaining that "they provide 20A to the house so I should be able to use 20A around the clock for free!"), and this would almost certainly not be in the consumer's best interest.

Except that switching to a per-byte type of plan would mean that their highest usage customers would pay through the nose while the majority of customers pay a few bucks a month for the bandwidth for their email.

If they charge too high per-byte, the high-volume customers will go somewhere cheaper, reducing their income. These cheaper competitors will likely draw in the low-volume users as well, since it should be cheaper for them too, unless the usage is unlimited, which most people would pay a slight premium for anyway.

Re:sounds like an (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376443)

Except that switching to a per-byte type of plan would mean that their highest usage customers would pay through the nose while the majority of customers pay a few bucks a month for the bandwidth for their email.

They'll always make money. Again to use the utility comparison, given that it's right there in the summary, if I use zero water and zero electricity, I still pay a pretty good fee to both utility cos for various base hookup/customer fees.

Re:sounds like an (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28376461)

Landlines have always been unlimited. It's a single (cheap) flat rate and I could call my buddy with his landline and we could just leave the phones connected all month.

Re:sounds like an (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376505)

this would almost certainly not be in the consumer's best interest.

Only if the ISP's are lying about 1% of users using 90% of bandwidth. If they're telling the truth with that statistic 99% of users will see their bills drop significantly because they will no longer be subsidizing the 1% that are power-users.

Re:sounds like an (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28376077)

Thanks, Ted. I knew you'd support my most excellent idea.

Makes sense (4, Insightful)

Icarus1919 (802533) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375735)

Why not? They already sort of have government granted monopolies of certain areas of the country, there's very little competition, etc. Regulation would be the key to prevent a company from taking advantage of these situations to adversely hinder a user's right to consume what they have paid for.

Re:Makes sense (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375883)

I'm sure there will be a loophole somewhere.

Re:Makes sense (5, Insightful)

sorak (246725) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376453)

I'm sure there will be a loophole somewhere.

There always will be. The difference is that, with regulation, there is a loophole somewhere. With deregulation, there are loopholes everywhere.

Re:Makes sense (0, Redundant)

Icarus1919 (802533) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376483)

I must say, good response.

Re:Makes sense (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376587)

Perhaps, but once a utility the consumer has a lot more power to get them closed.

wireless data? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28375741)

Would this apply to wireless data? I.E. AT&T/Sprint/Verizon mobile broadband cards?

Re:wireless data? (2, Insightful)

Trahloc (842734) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376539)

Personally I hope not, that should be a market decision not a government one. There is nothing immoral about selling internet service as a metered product. The problem is when you promise unlimited service and then after you grow huge or gain a government granted monopoly you put a meter on it because you over sold your network.

Unfortunately... (5, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375743)

Unfortunately, it'll never happen. It'd be nice if it did but, so long as ISPs have lobbying power, which they do, it'll never come to pass.

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

CodingHero (1545185) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375815)

Well if we assume for a moment that it DOES pass, then ISPs will probably hike up their rates to "deal with all the traffic" caused by the removal of bandwidth caps. Perhaps I'm being overly pessimistic, but the apparent win for consumers is likely to be short lived.

Re:Unfortunately... (4, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375889)

Well if we assume for a moment that it DOES pass, then ISPs will probably hike up their rates to "deal with all the traffic" caused by the removal of bandwidth caps. Perhaps I'm being overly pessimistic, but the apparent win for consumers is likely to be short lived.

You're living in a dream world. They are not capable of dealing with the traffic. A bunch of paper with dead peoples faces on them is not going to change that. They have been neglecting their infrastructure for a long time, and it's going to take a long time to rectify the situation.

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376063)

Yep, just like the electricity industry, infrastructure hasn't been properly maintained or upgraded for decades, now they wonder why everything is falling apart and unable to deal with the demands placed upon it. Cheap, greedy bastards.

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376267)

Which is a shame since there are so many people who want a new power line run through their property and even more who want to live next to a brand new power plant.

Just imagine living in a world where "NOT IN MY BACKYARD!!!!" was the standard response to any sort of infrastructure upgrade.

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376071)

And then you get into the lovely issues involving price caps.

Even if you don't, how would something like this affect the bottom line of an ISP? Who's really charging what for bandwidth or usage? I still, to this day, don't know how ISPs get or pay for their access or if they just have to contribute something to maintain the backbone... or whatever... Does someone have a good idea how this all relates money wise?

It also seems to me that the best cure for caps and pricing issues is having some good healthy competition between ISPs, such that their services have to be well priced and provide good services.

However, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28375915)

There are more of Us than there are of Them.

Re:However, (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376087)

yeah and there always have been, hasn't helped yet

Re:Unfortunately... (2, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376115)

Unfortunately, it'll never happen. It'd be nice if it did but, so long as ISPs have lobbying power, which they do, it'll never come to pass.

If the bill banned caps, I would believe it.

It actually just requires the FCC approval for caps. If ISPs with the most political pull think it will let them have caps while denying them to their competitors, they might well not work too hard to prevent the bill from passing (though they'd still probably say they didn't want it.)

Has it occured to anyone else. . . (5, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375753)

Has it occurred to anyone else that treating "utilities" like utilities is what's caused water shortages and rolling brown-outs in CA? Maybe it's not such a great idea to extend the process to ISPs.

Re:Has it occured to anyone else. . . (3, Insightful)

evilkasper (1292798) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375779)

I think CA is bad example. There are plenty of states that mange their utilities just fine.

Re:Has it occured to anyone else. . . (2, Insightful)

Shanrak (1037504) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375811)

Exactly, and those utilities are usually billed based on usage. Unless ISPs convert over to a $ per bit pay plan, removing the cap will only benefit the small amount of mass downloaders and make the internet less usable for everyone else.

Re:Has it occured to anyone else. . . (5, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376131)

Until you see what time Warner wants to do with caps. The modification to their terms of service allowed their VOIP service unlimited bandwidth while charging the customer for some else's VOIP. ISP's want a deal where BING.com users don't get charged bandwidth but if you use google.com you have to pay extra. Breaking metering will prevent the value of such arrangements.

Re:Has it occured to anyone else. . . (1)

dword (735428) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376139)

They can't afford people thinking they should use less bandwidth. For them: bandwidth used by people = money.

Re:Has it occured to anyone else. . . (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376309)

Except everyone is becoming mass downloaders.

or is that 'are becoming'?

Sure, there is a good argument for the pay per bit, but utilities don't need that.

Of course, the cost in metering, billing, and the addition of customer support for a pay per bit may not be worth it.

Re:Has it occured to anyone else. . . (1)

Trahloc (842734) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376591)

Not really, speaking as someone who connects directly to Tier1 providers the transit is there and its ever growing. The failure is on the ISP side of not upgrading their infrastructure to handle it. I know of several ISP's who run a profit and provide excellent service to their clients, if these guys can't its their failure not the capacity of the internet infrastructure.

Re:Has it occured to anyone else. . . (5, Informative)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375837)

Gaming of a deregulated energy system by crooked companies like Enron played a major part in those rolling brown-outs.

Re:Has it occured to anyone else. . . (1)

CodingHero (1545185) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375957)

Perhaps so, but when was the last time you didn't feel ripped off by your cable company/ISP?

Re:Has it occured to anyone else. . . (4, Interesting)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376323)

Gaming of a deregulated energy system by crooked companies like Enron played a major part in those rolling brown-outs.

Gaming a badly/partially deregulated system, which IIRC they were involved in determining the structure of the not-quite-deregulation (I think it was something like, fixed retail prices and deregulated wholesale prices, because they (incorrectly) predicted that wholesale prices would drop significantly). There were other states that did things properly and it worked fairly well, or at least didn't cause problems like in CA.

This article [csmonitor.com] from 2006 indicate that deregulation doesn't actually lower prices like it "should", apparently because providers don't want to compete and don't bid to serve the same areas.

Re:Has it occured to anyone else. . . (2, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375881)

Could the water shortages have been caused by simply having too many people for the amount of water nearby?

Re:Has it occured to anyone else. . . (3, Insightful)

codeonezero (540302) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375951)

If you want to say you don't want government involvement, that's fine as an argument, but there's evidence that deregulation in California and abuse of this deregulation by Enron and other such companies had more to do with the situation, than simply "treating 'utilities' like utilities" as you put it.

Re:Has it occured to anyone else. . . (3, Informative)

ThePlague (30616) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376277)

Except California wasn't really deregulated, there were still caps on in-state kWh charges among other weird rules. They called it deregulation, but what they set up was a hodgepodge of conflicting laws that was just aching to be gamed. Or, in other words, the usual government incompetence in trying to set how a market works based not on sound supply/demand principles, but some social engineering agenda. We saw the same exact thing with the mortgage meltdown, largely caused by the effective requirement that banks make loans they wouldn't ordinarily make. This opened up the whole subprime market, which looked like a great investment when you just applied the historical default rates. Many lenders didn't care, since they were able to outsource the risk in the form of mortgage-backed securities, giving paper ROI estimates that were through the roof based again on historical default rates. Surprise, surprise, subprime borrowers default at a superprime rate, and the whole thing collapsed.

Re:Has it occured to anyone else. . . (1)

jenn_13 (1123793) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376535)

alas, no mod points right now... But you make a good point. I'm sick of incomplete deregulation followed by problems being blamed on the market, when they're actually caused by the government interference in said market.

Re:Has it occured to anyone else. . . (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376119)

No, deregulation did that. It gave Enron the opportunity to create fake shortages and drive up demand to the point they were unable to handle it.

Re:Has it occured to anyone else. . . (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376231)

Has it occurred to anyone else that treating "utilities" like utilities is what's caused water shortages and rolling brown-outs in CA? Maybe it's not such a great idea to extend the process to ISPs.

Someone already linked brown-outs and Enron, so I'll tackle water shortages.
In a few words: poor planning + droughts

Because more growth = more taxes, all those Western and Mid-Western states that are currently parched did fuck-all to limit growth. The water shortages are self-inflicted because no one that mattered had the foresight or policital courage to say "no more building unless you can arrange for your own water." This is 95% the result of failtacular (sub*)urban planning. The other 5% is the serious lack of rain, but good urban planning accounts for that possibility.

*Yes, enormous suburbs are also to blame. Everyone wants an acre of lush green grass and a white picket fence in the middle of a desert.

Re:Has it occured to anyone else. . . (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376247)

No it hasn't ecasue that's not true, at all.

Brown out were caused by people operating illegally and trying to pressure a rate increase. You do notice that the company behind that ceased to exist, right? and that you still get power?

Water Utilities don't cause water shortages. Lack of water for demand does.

Re:Has it occured to anyone else. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28376337)

Has it occurred to anyone else that treating "utilities" like utilities is what's caused water shortages and rolling brown-outs in CA? Maybe it's not such a great idea to extend the process to ISPs.

Banning caps in the US makes benefits for the consumer in the long run. This force ISP to develop systems to mitigate or advert risk of broadband defficiency, also promotes to not oversell their network or risk fines. This can mean upgrading their system for more network traffic and broadband to stay competitive (as they should have done) or have a contingency plan that do not penalize users (like they should have done) this would be essential to acquire revenue and promotes innovation. In the case of the cable industry, cable placement outside a residential home or commercial buldingare paid by tax payer money LIKE OTHER UTILITIES
  if they always lobby to have the same benefits as utilities it is only appropiate they should accept the obligations that comes also for the benefits of consumers

Re:Has it occured to anyone else. . . (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376381)

Have you realized that in CA, the fact that CA had been refusing to build baseload power plants in the state for a number of years is the reason for the rolling brownouts? (Note: a baseload plant is one which produces continual energy need, and is a major component of what is needed for a stable power grid... wind and solar are NOT baseload plants because they are affected by the weather conditions and can not be relied upon to continuously output power 24/7)

CA just finally started building new plants again. But if you look at what came online during the last 20 years, you will see that they were not building as many plants as needed and instead were importing more and more energy from neighbouring states to meet their energy needs (at a HUGE cost to consumers due to the transmission line losses). It was basically the not in my backyard issue for plants in CA. Well, if you don't have one in your backyard, then you will either deal with no power or extremely expensive power... Which they have both of.

Sounds like an idiotic idea (1, Insightful)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375791)

What right has anybody to dictate contracts in that regard?
Why should somebody producing little traffic pay as much as somebody who produces a lot?

You dont pay your water bill by your pipe-diameter, or your electricity bill by your wire-gauge.
So why should you pay your internet becaue of the maximum throughput possible?

Re:Sounds like an idiotic idea (5, Insightful)

whiledo (1515553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375929)

You dont pay your water bill by your pipe-diameter, or your electricity bill by your wire-gauge.
So why should you pay your internet becaue of the maximum throughput possible?

Only going to say one thing here - remember that trying to analogize the internet to make it the same as things that are not-the-internet has led us to some rather unfortunate conclusions.

With that said, what I'd prefer is simply regulation that you can't call a service "unlimited" if it's not unlimited. That's my biggest beef. They should have to clearly advertise it as X gigs/month. "Unlimited" should mean "unlimited."

Re:Sounds like an idiotic idea (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376219)

First off, there are a lot of laws dictating ways contracts can be sued.

Hiong as a utility is the best way you ahve of eventually getting pay for what you use plans.
The current plan stems from the Cable TV model, not some government utility program.

"You don't pay your water bill by your pipe-diameter, "
Actually that is a factor in many areas. It can also cause your sewer bill to change.

"or your electricity bill by your wire-gauge."
that as well.

"So why should you pay your internet because of the maximum throughput possible?"
This should be under "Thing to have discussed in 1995."

Re:Sounds like an idiotic idea (1)

nickruiz (1185947) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376427)

What right has anybody to dictate contracts in that regard? Why should somebody producing little traffic pay as much as somebody who produces a lot?

You dont pay your water bill by your pipe-diameter, or your electricity bill by your wire-gauge. So why should you pay your internet becaue of the maximum throughput possible?

In many places, you are charged on your electric bill for demand. Take your peak usage across the utility's time interval, and you're charged on your bill to ensure that at any given point of time, the utility can provide you with that much electricity (even if you only hit that peak once). So, while you don't pay your electric bill by wire-gauge, you do pay by how much you may possibly use by your maximum usage.

Re:Sounds like an idiotic idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28376467)

Water and electricity have costs that scale with how much is being used. Bandwidth does not, it has only infrastructure costs and negligible electrical costs.

Re:Sounds like an idiotic idea (1)

StringBlade (557322) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376529)

They're not really going after the producers of traffic, just the consumers of traffic. Many traffic-generating sites do indeed pay for the bandwidth they use...just ask Slashdot how much they have to pay for their bandwidth costs. The costs gets skewed when you start thinking about Google and Yahoo and Amazon. Clearly they generate so much traffic that they must pay an extremely low rate for their bandwidth or they could not possibly be profitable.

They can justify it. (5, Insightful)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375799)

FTB

13(a) PROHIBITION.--It shall be unlawful for major

14 broadband Internet service providers to offer volume usage

15 service plans imposing rates, terms and conditions that

16 are unjust, unreasonable, or unreasonably discriminatory.

I'm sure they can somehow find a way to "Justify" the caps.

Re:They can justify it. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376179)

Ah, but they have to Justify it in a manner that elected officials and consumer agree on.
As opposed to now when they don't ahve to justify it at all.

Overall, this sort of thing has worked out well.

Re:They can justify it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28376375)

Hrm. Regarding this and the language about "Volume" service plans being unjust unless based on actual usage sounds less like "Hey, let's outlaw caps" and more like "Let's make unlimited unavailable, and you will ALL be billed $x(hopefully 0.00x) per Megabyte. After all, how can you offer "non-discriminatory" unlimited usage plans if you charge someone else by usage?

Any step away from "fee for unlimited" is a step backwards. Internet plans evolved from the old "x hours per month" to unlimited, cell phones are evolving off of the "x/min" and on to unlimited (see T-mobile, AT&T for instance). Heck, part of the reason VOIP is so popular is it gets away from $.05/min for long distance.

Re:They can justify it. (1)

Trojan35 (910785) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376503)

Well, that would be for a judge to determine. At least with this law you have the ability to argue they're unjust.

Question (1)

spykemail (983593) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375801)

Does this mean that internet service is going to be provided by local monopolies like most utilities are? Oh, wait...

I see levitating swine (0)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375833)

If this actually gets passed we're all going to need really good thermal undergarments when the earth's core becomes frozen solid.

Of course let's see if/how they handle the recent Disney/ESPN "strongarming" [slashdot.org] attempts.

How do people help (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375843)

This is light on details on how people can help to push this through and make it law.

Re:How do people help (1)

mcwop (31034) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375941)

It is light on details period. How do I know this might not actually raise rates? Or limit service? I would rather a bill requiring competition in localities that grant cable mopnopolies. That is right in many places governmnet prevents competition. Thankfully there are some alternatives not blocked (satellite, wimax, etc). I just dumped Comcast and adopted Xohm Wimax, which is working well.

Re:How do people help (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376117)

ISP's have already let it be known that they intent to squeeze their government sponsored monopolies for their own benefit and that is why this legislation was made. This will stifle the economy and cause huge problems. They are not going to be allowed to do what ever they want using US tax payer land and subsidies.

Re:How do people help (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376043)

Contact your congress person a let them knwo you support it and want them to show support.

SLASHDOT SUX0RZ (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28375851)

_0_
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'=o='
.|!|
.| |

Bill ready to ban goatse in the US [goatse.fr]

Just like a utility? What about rolling blackouts? (1)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375869)

Sure. Make it just like a utility. They won't be able to cap usage in their plans, but they will (eventually) be able to have rolling blackouts using the claim that their networks simply don't have the capacity for everyone.

I'm not in favor of caps. I'm just anticipating how some of the carrier weasels will try to get around this one.

Re:Just like a utility? What about rolling blackou (3, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376061)

Enron did that, pissed everyone off and suddenly they were put under a microscope.

Re:Just like a utility? What about rolling blackou (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376371)

You don't need rolling blackouts to a utility to act like a dick. Just ask my power company who keeps increasing my rate aver few months without adding any service. Now your ISP can do the same thing, what are you going to do? Go somewhere else?

Excellent Bill (2, Funny)

RemoWilliams84 (1348761) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375873)

I'm not sure who this new Bill guy is, but I like him already.

A lot better than most of the other Bills around.

ISP's like Utilities? Be careful what you ask for (5, Insightful)

clintp (5169) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375907)

Trying to get a new water, sewer, or electric hookup can be an exercise in frustration because of the bureaucracy and safeguards in the system.

Phone and cable have gotten better in the past 30 years. Landline phone and cable companies are so desperate for business that they're oftentimes pretty damned quick about getting a line out to you. (Unless you want something fancy like a business line or a T3, then welcome back to the Bad Old Days.)

I invoke the ghost of Lilly Tomlin: "We don't care, we don't have to. We're the phone company."

And if you think that usage on Utilities isn't capped, you're naive. If you didn't have those teeny-tiny water pipes and electric lines to your house you'd find out real quick there are all kinds of regulations and arbitrary rules about water and electric usage. For industry -- which have much larger access to electric and water -- there are often "monthy maximums" for water use, and obscenely high electric rates for peak usage.

Re:ISP's like Utilities? Be careful what you ask f (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376147)

What? I have never had a problem getting a utility hook up.

You didn't show any example of caps.
Yes, you can't exceed 100% of your water pipe bandwidth. You can get a bigger pipe and meter.

They aren't capped any any realistic way for the consumer. The exception being during shortages. But there sin't exactly 'bandwidth' droughts that appear.

Plus as a uitility the consumer has a lot more power, and protections.

Re:ISP's like Utilities? Be careful what you ask f (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376447)

You think public utilities are more obnoxious and bureaucratic than the cable or phone company?

Are you ignorant, or just toeing some sort of market fundamentalist party line?

You can't get something for nothing (0)

Shadow7789 (1000101) | more than 5 years ago | (#28375943)

Here are your options: Cheap, Open, Caps. Pick 2.

Re:You can't get something for nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28376357)

Assuming you mean, "Cheap, Open, Not Capped: pick 2."

I wish we could pick 2. As it stands, our Internet connections are not cheap, becoming less open with each passing minute, and now the ISPs want to take the third option away from us too.

TBH, I could live with cheap (like $30 a month for 3.0 Mbps) and open (no packet sniffing or interference save for reasonable QoS optimizations), but a reasonable cap (like 10GB/month).

Billed like water? (4, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376025)

My water is provided and billed by the local service authority.

I'm billed for usage in tiers like this:

   0-3000 gallons    $3.30 per 1000 gallons
3001-6000 gallons    $6.60 per 1000 gallons
6001-9000 gallons   $10.00 per 1000 gallons
9001+     gallons   $13.30 per 1000 gallons

Presumably, utility style billing for internet connections would be similar - very cheap for the first few GB, then progressively more expensive where the heaviest users could find themselves a lot worse off.

Not sure I like it. I suspect the internet companies would think it a great idea.

Re:Billed like water? (1)

$1uck (710826) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376599)

If they billed the same way... I think it would be good. All the telcoms would suddenly be working very hard to get the fattest pipe into everyone's home. The bigger the connection the more you can use the more they can charge.

Nice! Wish we had this in Canada (1)

werfu (1487909) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376039)

I whish we had an MP in Canada that would dare to push a similar law. Caps are the rule here and it they are realy low (20Gigs down / 7Mbps is what I got). Actualy, I think it's a pretty good idea to ban caps. In fact, caps are just an excuse for not serving you with the full capacity of the service you're paying for. It's like going into eat-as-much-as-you-can restaurant and getting kick after an hour because you eated too much. It's false publicity. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a massive downloader. But I realy hate to get to pay 7$ per gigabyte when I get over my quota. I last the maximum fee is set to 30$. Tell me, why would they want caps if it wasn't that they're selling capacity they don't have? If I remember well, selling something you don't have is called fraud.

Re:Nice! Wish we had this in Canada (1)

macbeth66 (204889) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376331)

In fact, caps are just an excuse for not serving you with the full capacity of the service you're paying for.

Say what? You are capped at 'X'. You are paying for 'X' throughput. You get 'X' throughput. That is the service you are paying for. But, I would also insist on rollover throughput.

What pises me off is being told I have unlimited usage and then being capped when I download a few distros in rapid succession. That AIN'T unlimited.

And this hasn't been shot down yet? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28376085)

Huh. This has been posted for a whole 15 minutes, and there isn't an influx of stories in the Firehose about how a horde of lobbyists from major ISPs descended upon Washington, DC like a cloud of pure, unadulterated blackness, utterly destroying the minds of all who looked upon them, consuming the very souls of any congressperson whose minds strayed from the wills of their masters to thoughts of considering this bill?

Wow. I suppose the major ISPs are getting hurt by the economic downturn, too. I would've expected far more efficiency in the matter.

Finally! (3, Funny)

bickle (101226) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376141)

Finally, some legislation to stop all those noobs from using Caps Lock!

Unnecessary... (2, Informative)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376199)

Just compel the ISPs to state that there is actually a limit to what they will allow you to use, the penalties/limits they impose if you exceed that limit, and what it takes to get past the limit. I'm not sure we should be legislating that Internet service be UNlimited. Sooner or later, someone will claim cell phone service is a 'right', and all plans need to be UNlimited. Not so smart, but it sounds good.

In other words, make them say 'limited' when they try to say 'unlimited', and it is NOT.

Truth in advertising. Yes, an oxymoron. Shouldn't be.

How does this bill make a difference? (2, Insightful)

Sandman1971 (516283) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376207)

Hmmm something I don't get. They want internet access to be treated like a utility. Let's see...

The more electricity I use, the higher my bill.
The more water I use, the higher my bill.
The more natural gas I use, the higher my bill.


By treating internet connectivity like a utility, that would mean that I would get billed according to usage... Which is what bandwidth caps mostly are (pay extra if you surpass a certain amount of utilization in a month). So how does this bill have any type of impact, other than ISPs having to prove to the FCC what the cost:utilization ratio is.

Re:How does this bill make a difference? (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376249)

Not every utility is metered by usage. Most landline telco providers provide unlimited local calling... and it's actually unlimited local calling. ...unlike many ISPs, who claim to provide "unlimited" use when they actually have hidden caps.

Re:How does this bill make a difference? (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376347)

But, if you are out of town for a month or you have no power for 3 weeks due to hurricane damage, you have a *really* low electric bill. But your ISP bill stays the same...

Re:How does this bill make a difference? (3, Insightful)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376423)

Yes. On the Utility part.
Just because i use more doesn't mean my access is cut off.
That is what this bill aims at.
Nobody is disputing that internet can be billed on usage.
Everybody is disputing that internet access can b e cut off, because i exceeded a limit set by my Telco.
Get it first through your thick head before you post.

ISP like my utilities - Bad idea. (2, Insightful)

backbyter (896397) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376209)

I pay my utilities by usage. They don't offer an "unlimited" water or electricity plan. Additionally, I pay a lower rate for the first X units of usage, then a higher rate for further units, in addition to the service fees..

goodluckwiththat Tagging... (2, Insightful)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 5 years ago | (#28376235)

Why do all articles that express certain ideas that haven't been implemented yet get the tag "goodluckwiththat" and articles that ideas that have just been implemented get "suddenoutbreakofcommonsense".

Does it speak to the pessimism of the community to influence technology towards the mass market or is the /. crowd just a bunch of crabby whiners?

Responding to the topic at hand... I don't think they should make the internet a regulated utility until such a time when the nation's government is capable of using it as a mechanism to broadcast emergency information/communication. For the time being, television for 1-way communication and telephone for 2-way communication are the standard and they should stay that way.

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