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Time For Universal Data Plans?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the bits-is-bits-you-see dept.

The Almighty Buck 245

theodp writes "Between multiple cell phones and their add-ons, high-speed Internet connections, and digital TV subscriptions, most households are paying for data delivery at least three times over, often paying the same provider twice. It's time for a universal data plan, [CNET columnist Molly] Wood declares. 'I want to pay once for data, I want that data to be unlimited, and I want to be able to use it in any fashion I choose.' Still, she has hopes that the-times-they-will-be-a-changin'. 'It's only a matter of time before regulators catch wind of just how many times we're being charged for the exact same thing.'"

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245 comments

Still same costs (1, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474624)

And ISP's and operators will cut their profit to one-third and still have the same costs? Yeah, that will happen.

That and TV and internet distribution methods work differently. TV broadcasts the same data to everyone and backbone speeds don't matter. Delivering that same thing over Internet is not yet fully possible, even while we're getting there. But they are fundamentally different technologies.

You must be confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32474816)

This isn't story isn't about Apple or Linux, ergo you didn't need to first post.

Greetings from Suomi.

I wish they would like money less (5, Insightful)

Bayoudegradeable (1003768) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474630)

I, too, wish I could pay once for my data stream. I, too, wish companies would just let me "pay once" for the service. And what are the chances in the U.S. of having telecoms wake up and declare, "Folks, we're just making too damned much money! It's time to think of customers, give them better services and charge them less. I hereby renounce all bonuses and profit!!"

Re:I wish they would like money less (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32474718)

It's only a matter of time before regulators catch wind of just how many times we're being charged for the exact same thing.

Wait a sec. Are they talking about data streams or pussy? Because let me tell you, you pay for pussy one way or another. A prostitute is just more direct and up-front about it than a wife or a girlfriend, and her price is both more specific and more negotiable, but in all cases you pay for it.

Re:I wish they would like money less (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32474892)

True true... and I think this whole thing is about having service providers being more like prostitutes instead of the bloodsucking bitches that they are.

Re:I wish they would like money less (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32475234)

In Soviet Russia, Yo Mama pays me!

Re:I wish they would like money less (5, Insightful)

toppavak (943659) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474730)

Well, if they're government-supported monopolies who also get their infrastructure subsidized it's only fair the tax-payers get something in return.

Re:I wish they would like money less (3, Funny)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474738)

The solution is so simple, I'm not sure why anyone didn't think of it before... just allow people to access the data only once.

Wikipedia? You only need to go there once - you certainly don't want to pay for that article on Progressive Outer Retinal Necrosis more than once!

New York Times? Nothing new there - you don't need to go back to it more than once.

Bob's House of Fetish? Why would you want to browse there multiple times, you sicko?

Amazon.com - precisely how many books do you really need to buy? There are only so many combinations of sentences that can be crafted in the English language; besides which, Amazon is so totally a "one-click" solution that there is no reason for you to need to access data there twice.

Honestly, there are so many examples I could go on all night. But I won't, suffice it to say that I agree with the article's central thesis - say "no" to multiple charges for access to the same data multiple times! Allow an ISP to prevent you from browsing today so that you won't be charged tomorrow. It's got my vote!

Re:I wish they would like money less (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475336)

Do I get to cache it?

Re:I wish they would like money less (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474770)

Why stop with data? Why not demand the ability to pay for all of your life at once, and get unlimited service. No more incremental housing or food or medical or entertainment costs. Free Ferraris for everyone!

Re:I wish they would like money less (5, Insightful)

raddan (519638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474952)

You can pay once for a data stream. It's called Internet service.

Telephone and television are services on top of those data plans, and as such, they are extras. You pay extra for more. In an ideal world, that extra work is easy (just provide the "television" and "telephone" services on top of IP transports), but actually, because of a mixture of legacy systems (e.g., analog television) and QoS requirements (your telephone-over-cable connection is only pretending to be POTS), running these services is not so straightforward. It's fair to pay more for more services. "More is better", remember, and we pay more for better.

Because TFA is filled with gems like:

You're paying multiple times for "unlimited" data? Isn't that like multiplying by zero? Either way, you lose.

which is obvious idiocy. So, translation: "we think we're paying too much".

And, we are paying too much. But her argument is stupid.

Re:I wish they would like money less (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32475266)

Stop the presses. Those who buy goods and services want to pay as little as possible and constantly complain their costs are too high. Those who sell goods and services naturally want to maximize their profits. Whining about government and corporate managers greed is ludicrous. If you want to go after someone go after investors. Its entirely possible that Ms Wood has investments in say British Petroleum or AT&T either directly or indirectly via a pension or even life insurance. Would she and millions of others accept lower returns on their savings and investments in exchange for lower phone bills?

No. (0, Troll)

Jorl17 (1716772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474632)

And, by the way, there's more to the world than USA.

Re:No. (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474658)

Very true, but sadly the profit motive is more-or-less the same everywhere. The real hope is that governments will start regulating ISPs and data stream providers.

Re:No. (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474736)

Still, some places manage to get better deals. Some (usually those needing it the most & with not great ability to afford many things) - much worse...and BTW those are primary the ones where great progress in avaiting to unfold thanks to, eventualy, cheap & easy means of communication. However we like to bitch about costs of internet connection, they aren't exactly limiting to us; many people aren't that fortunate.

PS. Keeping with the spirit of "I want a pony" of this discussion - would be nice to have a "child account" for, well, kids; one which covers communication with few selected numbers but works like prepaid for the rest (without limiting communication with few selected numbers once prepaid credit runs off)

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32474940)

The real hope is that governments will start regulating ISPs and data stream providers.

There you go GP. Obviously NOT American.

Re:No. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32474968)

Uhm, yes nobody said profit motive is bad. But when the places in the US aren't really competing, well it sucks.

In Japan things are more expensive in general (because quality is higher), but on the other hand I don't get people trying to triple-dip either.

I can't blame a carrier charging separately for a mobile data and land-line data, because they are probably two different divisions, and anyway use different infrastructure. The whole "We need to charge extra for tethering", etc., is BS though. That comes from "Unlimited" really meaning "How much we can estimate they will use and allocate for." For a phone "Unlimited" = XX megabytes/month, and for a computer it would be XX + YY since computer users use more. I think it would actually be better when they simply charge per MB, because it would make price comparisons easier. Once people realize how much SMS messages and such cost per MB, there will be outrage.

Back to Japan, I pay 3 data plans right now.
1. (Sort-of data) My cell phone.
2. My e-Mobile wireless broadband (Kind-of like MiFi). This works with my laptop, skype phone, ipod touch, whatever.
3. My OCN/NTT/Flets (kind of like FiOS). This is 100Mbps to my house. I will cancel it soon, as soon as my 2-year contract is over.

Really, I can use #2 for everything. The battery life isn't as good for VOIP as native mobile phone yet, so I pay for a real cell phone still. Other than that, I don't have to pay for data more than once if I don't want to, #2 I can take anywhere, and it's reasonably fast. If I had a newer phone with WiFi, I could even use it in place of a data plan.

In TFA it talks about "mandatory" data plans. That's BS. Buy the phone on your own, and you have no mandatory plan. If you buy it from the carrier with a subsidy, well, that's because they want you to pay more per month - that's why they give you the subsidy (duh).

At any rate, I can get all the data I want, anywhere I want for $50 a month. If I want to keep my fiber land line, you're talking $100 total. Voice is still separate in general, but if you want to use VOIP in a well supported way, you can get the WiFi blackberries from T-Mobile and try that method.

Re:No. (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475020)

I have to wonder how many people really do have the same provider for cell, and internet, which is where this seems to be going. For instance, I get my internet via Time Warner, but my cell service via AT&T. I am not totally opposed to paying per byte for internet, but I would expect the price to be fair, and looking at all of the existing plans, none of them are. They charge exorbitant fees for a paltry 5GB of data on cell networks where they currently provide unlimited data via land lines for the same or less per-month charges. There is a huge disconnect between the value perceived by the user/customer, and the costs being claimed by the likes of AT&T/Verizon/Comcast/Time Warner, etc.

The cell providers have had years to build out these networks, yet the price hasn't dropped, they still charge huge sums of money for simple text messages, and offer no unlimited plans with the exception of the iPhone plan, and that one is already endangered as well. All of the other cell data plans are capped at 5GB or thereabouts.

At some point, they have to understand the frustration that we get unlimited internet access via land line, but restrictions and high costs for cell data, all to the same internet and probably through the same backbone once it leaves the cell network.

Good luck with that (1, Insightful)

Some Bitch (645438) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474640)

I want to pay once for data, I want that data to be unlimited, and I want to be able to use it in any fashion I choose

So what, all the mobile and fixed line operators have to merge? How about TV service providers, does every infrastructure provider have to buy one of those too? Fucking idiot.

Re:Good luck with that (0, Flamebait)

Ultra64 (318705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474720)

That is not in any way implied. Fucktard.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475248)

Actually, it is.

From TFA

I want to pay once (maybe twice) for data,

Say I want to pay once maybe twice for my weekly shopping. That's hardly going to happen if the butcher, the baker and the greengrocer are all separate businesses, is it? However if I buy everything at the supermarket it becomes a reality.

No outrage...no government action. (5, Insightful)

RandomFactor (22447) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474644)

"Now, though, with the FCC breathing down carriers' necks about tiered usage plans, it's only a matter of time before regulators catch wind of just how many times we're being charged for the exact same thing"

Granted we're paying multiple times as noted, but...

Why would the government care to do anything about it? I can buy a song on cassette, album, cd, mp3... government hasn't regulated that. Why would it regulate multiple data-plan channels?

Re:No outrage...no government action. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32474862)

You are right; they wouldn't. It would be stupid to tell Verizon that they can't charge me for a 3G or 4G or whatever plan because Comcast already charges me for data. And that whole unlimited thing - that's slowly coming to an end. It will eventually be more like electricity I imagine as companies don't want the unlimited and people get fed up paying for set tiers and getting screwed on overages. (And yes, I know that electricity has pseudo "tiers" in some places to encourage conservation however those are either around being "greener" or attempting to get people not to run their clothes dryer at high usage times). In general, there will probably be some kind of a cost per unit assigned (maybe per GB) instead of a tier. This will take a good long time though. As far as the "one bill" it would be tough to say that we are "paying for the same thing" unless you really abstracted the whole infrastructure out of it. It would be like saying "I am being charged twice for travel; a toll on the bridge and then a fee to ride the ferry". Just because both 3G and dsl/cable/fios are both providing data doesn't mean they both share an infrastructure.

Re:No outrage...no government action. (2, Informative)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474980)

The older optical nation building did get some tax payers input and the telcos are sort of granted areas of consumers in bulk form.
With the ability to have lock in comes a few options to be regulated.
The telcos spent billions and feel they are making millions while their networks are just dumb packet pipes for others to make billions.
So they will sell speed and sell all they can as extras.
They missed the idea of data caps and counting data usage up and down, but I am sure they have creative plans for the next gen networks.
VoIP was just the wake up to dumb packet pushing, now its a race to ensure dumb packet pushing can never enter the publics mind again.

You appear to forget copyright (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475028)

I can buy a song on cassette, album, cd, mp3... government hasn't regulated that.

Title 17 of the United States Code heavily regulates that.

Re:No outrage...no government action. (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475072)

I clipped the exact same quote to make my comment - but I had a slightly different take - how is paying for a home data plan with my cable co. and paying for a different data plan for my smart phone paying for the same thing twice?

I have wiored phone service and cellular service - are those the same offerings? Am I being billed twice "for the same thing"? No. A wired phone provides certain things and a cellular phone provides others, same with mobile and fixed data plans.

Also, remember, each data plan and telco plan incurs another round of state and federal taxes, so what is the government's motivation to reduce my number of accounts, thus reducing their tax revenue?

I think the writer is confusing her desire for simplified billing/lowered costs with her ISP/telco/cable company's need to change things.

If I go to an "al you can eat" restaruant, and there are four people in my party, each one has to pay the price of an "all you can eat" meal, they all can't share the cost of one "all you can eat" meal (Why not? They paid for an unlimited amount of food, why can't they share it?), why does she expect internet access to be different. An unlimited data plan allows fo "X" amount of bandwidth, two devices can consume "2X" amount of bandwidth (operating in parallel, even if each device can get max. bandwidth x 24 hours each day of the month).

If I have, say, a cable network connection at home with one ISP and one data plan and then I have two iPhones each with their own data plans I can run all three devices at the same time, would she prefer that she only pays one fee, and that when she uses one iPhone the other iPhone and her home connection go offline, since she is only paying for one "unlimited" data stream? Or when she is online at home her iPhones don't have internet connectivity through the EDGE/3G network?

Three devices can consume 3X the bandwidth, why should she only pay for 1X the bandwidth?

Since it is the weekend, here's a little "unlimited food" humor from John Pinette - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdwuiyO7hOU [youtube.com]

Re:No outrage...no government action. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32475126)

I'm as big a free market supporter as they come, but this is not a free market. Whether it is massive subsidies given to build infrastructure or permission to use some of our limited frequency ranges, we are already talking about oligopolies and major government involvement here.

ain't gonna happen (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32474648)

It's time for a universal data plan, [Cnet columnist Molly] Wood declares: 'I want to pay once for data, I want that data to be unlimited, and I want to be able to use it in any fashion I choose.'

Ain't gonna happen so long as America is a capitalist/corporatist society. Asking for this goes against the very ideas of capitalism.

Re:ain't gonna happen (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474664)

No, asking for it is very capitalist. Providing it is what goes against the very ideas of capitalism.

Re:ain't gonna happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32474708)

No, asking for it is very capitalist. Providing it is what goes against the very ideas of capitalism.

Point taken.

Re:ain't gonna happen (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32474946)

How is this post a troll?

Re:ain't gonna happen (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32475110)

How is this post a troll?

Because some mod has an unwavering belief in capitalism - that it's the only possible way and that there can be no downside to it.

universal, yes, unlimited, no (4, Insightful)

yyxx (1812612) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474662)

I don't think "unlimited" plans ever made much sense because some people will abuse it. Costs are proportional to volume, so pricing should be too.

Reasonably priced universal plans do, however, make sense. In Europe, you can get data plans for something like EU20 / month for 5Gytes with no restrictions on how you use it (cell phone, laptop, etc.). Some companies even give you multiple SIM cards for the same account.

Re:universal, yes, unlimited, no (4, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474752)

Costs are proportional to volume

Is that true? Does it cost the telcos less to have all those radios and towers sitting around not doing anything? I think the cost lies in building and maintaining the capacity. Once it's there, it's most cost effective (in a bits/dollar sense) to keep your network as close to saturation as possible. Costs are not in fact proportional to volume, and they shouldn't bill as if they were.

Re:universal, yes, unlimited, no (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474798)

Does it cost the telcos less to have all those radios and towers sitting around not doing anything

Most gear has surprisingly variable power draw based on utilization. However the cost of power is so low, relative to the other fixed expenses, that its basically a rounding error. Its right up there with paying the landscaping crew to mow the weeds down, the outside plant maintenance (paint crew), and the snowplowing contract. Many people confuse the rather high power density and total draw of a "big data center" with the rather low power density and total draw of a POP.

And yes it does cost them to have the gear sitting around doing nothing, because the interest on the bonds/loans accumulates no matter if they're selling or not.

The expense is enough to discourage me from participating, so I don't. They have made a calculated business decision that they simply don't want/need me. I don't see any point in feeling insulted/vindictive/cranky about it. Some folks, however, respond to it angrily like they're being made fun of by a girl whom won't date them. Its just business and theres plenty of fish in the sea, so chill...

Re:universal, yes, unlimited, no (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474864)

Is that true? Does it cost the telcos less to have all those radios and towers sitting around not doing anything? I think the cost lies in building and maintaining the capacity. Once it's there, it's most cost effective (in a bits/dollar sense) to keep your network as close to saturation as possible. Costs are not in fact proportional to volume, and they shouldn't bill as if they were.

For UK broadband ISPs you rent their lines from BT, the main cost is renting the capacity. Every megabit / second capacity for delivery to end users costs them money. Using the capacity up to its limit is essentially free.

So download all night long and driving their usage up from 50% to 51% has almost zero cost to the ISP. Downloading at peek times when 100% of the capacity is used, forcing the ISP to rent more capacity off BT to keep their customers happy, that costs the ISP real money.

Re:universal, yes, unlimited, no (2, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474942)

But usage doesn't cost BT any more than non-usage, so that doesn't change my argument. BT shouldn't charge their customers as if it did, and those ISPs shouldn't charge their customers based on capacity either.

Re:universal, yes, unlimited, no (4, Informative)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475228)

Here is where your argument fails - how much capacity should BT have in the first place?

If people use lots of bandwidth, then they get saturated, and then people browsing the web get annoyed at page load rates.

So, they add more capacity. However, since there is no per-kb rate/etc on usage people just up their demand for bandwidth accordingly, so they're instantly at 100% capacity again.

So, then you get into fights over what is and isn't network abuse and all that. ISPs try to filter torrents and all that nonsense, then that leads to encryption and a war of escalation in technology. It doesn't really resolve the problem.

Instead, if you just charge a reasonable amount per gigabyte then usage is self-regulated. If you want to seed torrents all day, have at it. BT will even run dedicated fiber to your house if that is what it takes to keep you going. However, you'll pay for it, and if the price is worth it to you then by all means go.

Unlimited plans usually translate into people who barely use the service paying for those who heavily use it.

The key is to regulate so that telecoms end up charging reasonable usage rates. Maybe force them to charge the same rates for corporate and home users - no way they'll try to charge fortune 500 companies crazy rates...

Re:universal, yes, unlimited, no (4, Informative)

raddan (519638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475044)

No, that's not true. Saturation with Internet protocols is extremely bad; likewise for radio signals. Many of you probably think that if you have a 100 Mbit connection that you should be able to use 100 Mbits. Sounds fair, right? Sadly, TCP suffers from something called "congestion collapse" when it hits roughly 40% of utilization, so a congestion-avoidance mechanism was introduced to constantly back-off your send rate (it's called "exponential backoff") to prevent this from happening. The only way to fix this is either to over-provision, or to impose heavy-handed QoS parameters. Not to mention-- what does "saturation" mean? If all of us get 5 Mbit plans, does that mean that our ISP needs 5n (where n is the number of customers) available bandwidth? What about upstream of them? What about upstream of that? Such a provisioning scheme is a fantasy.

Wireless is in a similar, but slightly different boat: wireless is sort of like our old hub infrastructure, before switches were affordable. That essentially means that the network is like a bus, and that clients themselves need to handle collisions, which are frequent. Because of TCP's congestion avoidance mechanism, it can't tell the difference between a packet lost due to a collision and one dropped because of network saturation, so it does the same thing, it backs off. In wireless, the data link layer tries to address this (at least in the 802.11 protocols), but it is not terribly successful, and that is because there are all other kinds of problems with radio transmission, like the "hidden terminal problem", etc, that don't exist in "well-behaved" networks.

Anyway, all of this means that as you add customers to a wireless network, your capacity may decrease. I'm not saying that telco prices are fair, but the economics of managing such a resource are not simple.

Re:universal, yes, unlimited, no (1)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475128)

Use UDP?

Re:universal, yes, unlimited, no (1)

Ernesto Alvarez (750678) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475276)

What the GP talked about is there for a reason. If you used UDP in a congested network, you'd probably get lots of packet loss. If you tried implementing your own retransmision algorithm, you'd probably get the same results as TCP with no congestion control algorithm: extremely low throughput, even though you have enough bandwidth.

Just don't do one thing at once and you won't suffer the penalty as hard as you would one connection at a time.

(and I'm not sure about that 40% figure, TCP RENO is probably more efficient, and you're not supposed to connect to the net with something worse than that)

And since the penalty is per connection, the ISP doesn't suffer the way you would. Their pipes probably fill to capacity (or close), provided there's demand.

Re:universal, yes, unlimited, no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32475282)

Back when I did ATM(async transfer mode) networks, hitting 40% utilization was considered a critical situation. The average utilization could not exceed 20%.

Re:universal, yes, unlimited, no (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475320)

True, but misleading. Capacity has a fixed cost. Providing 100Mb/s of available bandwidth (in any form - terrestrial radio, fibre, satellite, or whatever), costs a certain amount. Providing more than that costs more. If you have 100Mb/s available, you can sell ten 10Mb/s slices, or 100 1Mb/s slices with guaranteed throughput. This is (very approximately) how broadcast radio and television works - channels pay a fixed amount for a fixed reservation (a channel).

Alternatively, you can sell time-limited segments of it. This is how telephone calls are sold. You pay to use some fixed amount of bandwidth (around 9.6Kb/s for GSM) for a fixed per-minute cost. This works especially well if people don't have identical usage patterns. You might only be able to support 100 concurrent users, but you can support 1,000 or 10,000 overlapping users, as long as no more than 100 are making calls at once.

Another option is to sell 'up to' 10Mb/s, but with the proviso that it will degrade if more than 10 people are actually using the service concurrently. This is how most broadband providers work. Typically, they try to segment their networks so that you don't have more than 10 people saturating their network simultaneously at most times. It doesn't matter at all if you use the network 100% of the time, as long as 10 other people aren't doing the same. It does matter if 20 of you are all saturating the network for half an hour, if it's the same half hour, but it doesn't if it's a different half hour.

The cost of providing the bandwidth is not directly proportional to the amount that you consume in any of these models, but it is related. The more bandwidth you consume, the fewer concurrent users the provider can service in a given time window. If you use less overall, use it at a different time to others, and so on, then it becomes cheaper. If you are constantly saturating the network, it becomes more expensive, because more infrastructure is required per customer.

There are a few ways to alleviate this. One is to provide some kind of QoS and charge more for higher categories. Most people won't care (or even notice) if an email is delayed by five minutes, but they will notice if a voice packet is delayed by even a few hundred milliseconds, or by a few tens of milliseconds more than the one before it.

This means that you can charge more for a voice-quality connection, with guaranteed a maximum latency and jitter. You can charge less for bandwidth that doesn't have these requirements, so your client can opt for a cheap connection for things like downloads and email that don't have realtime requirements.

Simply charging more for heavy users is not the best way of reducing congestion, but it is the simplest to implement.

Re:universal, yes, unlimited, no (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474780)

Plus that's certainly not the best of deals around here - what about 4GiB for EU12, prepaid, recharge like this valid for two months, and with remaining data credit not lost if you recharge the account again before that 2-month cutoff point?

Re:universal, yes, unlimited, no (1)

Barryke (772876) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474810)

I don't think "unlimited" plans ever made much sense because some people will abuse it.

Abuse is suggestive. So is a fair use policy. Well here in the Netherlands its pretty close to unlimited. I can do whatever i want (am a heavy user) and without problems.

My mobile internet has been truly unlimited since 2003. And i use it all_the_time. Theres a fair use policy, and i did not get blocked. Even tethered it for a few months, used torrents and still no pain. Of course it all depends on the company and how it defines fair use.

Vodafone for example says "10MB per month is enough for anybody!" and stupidly calls that unlimited. Tmobile says "We don't have a number for that, it depends on usage. Using 2GB in a month is no problem."

For home ISP: using about 80% of my broadband connection capacity 24/7. Nothing there as well. Fair use!

Re:universal, yes, unlimited, no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32474832)

Sure. But anybody who buys more data then should pay less for the data. Bandwidth isn't a scarce resource. It is only made scarce by the lack of demand but then isn't really scarce so it isn't a problem those who demand it make it less scarce when charged for it and should thus pay less for it because the money becomes available to build new lines where it didn't exist before. If they don't build out more lines the only ones to blame are the companies themselves. And if nobody is eating up large swaths of bandwidth then nobody and being charged less for it then they simply are selling too little to too many. The question is what is a fair price for bandwidth? The truth is the line should be given free and bandwidth should be charged for. We should all have the maximum capable that our lines we choose to use can sustain is based on the distance/other users and then pay for the bandwidth we eat up and the time in which eat it up. If others are also demanding it at the time we want it the price goes up. If not the price goes down. We then just set a price limit on our routers at what we're willing to pay per MB/s or whatever we're calculating it based on at the given time. If it is too high then it simply throttles the connections.

Re:universal, yes, unlimited, no (1)

lsmo (1106631) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474890)

I don't think "unlimited" plans ever made much sense because some people will abuse it.

If something is advertised as unlimited how can you abuse it? You are placing the blame on the wrong side of the equation. Lets look at it this way... An air carrier over books a plane, and all passengers show up for said flight. By your logic it is the passengers fault that someone will have to be put on another plane. If the network can't handle unlimited use then don't advertise one. Or you may just over book the network and some passengers/packets will have to wait for another flight/pipe.

Universal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32474668)

Can I pay in Altairian credits? Gold pressed Latinum? Whats the signal like in the coal sack nebula?

I too (4, Insightful)

dnaumov (453672) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474690)

wish that radio spectrum wasn't finite and would allow for unlimited bandwidth and removal of traffic caps. However, reality begs to differ with my point of view.

Regulators do know, and do not care (2, Informative)

cavehobbit (652751) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474714)

'It's only a matter of time before regulators catch wind of just how many times we're being charged for the exact same thing.'" They do know this. they do not care. The regulators are in the pockets of those they regulate. Look at any regulated industry. Most of the time they support being regulated because they use those regulations for their own benefit. Oil, gas, Finance, banks, autos, pharma, etc. Even if an industry fights against initial regulation, they support it afterward, when then end up controlling it. They use the regulations to justify anti-consumer actions and to drive UP the cost of entry to keep competition down. Or even to eliminate competition if they can slip in a regulation that damages competitors. That is why lobbying is such a big business. the lobbyists win no matter what happens with regulations. They get paid to fight against or for any regulation that comes up. They are worse than lawyers.

Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32474716)

I pay for a 3G connection from AT&T for my iPhone. I jailbroke it and I can use my iPhone as a hotspot for my other decives (MacBook, iPad) and doing it this way I only pay for 1 internet connection. Every month I go over their "unlimited" cap of 5GB and they never charge me more or ask me to use less. I use a lot more than 5GB, probably at least triple that and I've only had to call and dispute overage charges once. After that they stopped charging me.

Use and abuse your ISPs and telecomm companies, they are doing the same to you.

why? (4, Insightful)

maraist (68387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474724)

If I pay for electricity at home, why should I be forced to pay for it again at work.. Or at the mall. Or when I'm overseas.. That's not fair.. waaaaaaah.

Re:why? (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474806)

The article's whole line of argument is utterly unsound. The author apparently doesn't grasp technology or economics. Her home DSL and her 3G data plan are simply not the same thing.

"Data access" is not universally fungible. The cost to deliver 1MB of data by DSL is not the same as delivering it by 3G, which is not the same as delivering it by CD+USPS, which is also not the same as delivering it by wifi+shared-T1, etc. If AT&T charges me separately (at a higher rate) to deliver data to me by 3G, distinct from their charge to deliver it to me by DSL, that's just good business sense and smart use of finite resources.

Furthermore, the value to me of these various delivery channels is not the same: the ability to load a weather map on my phone in the middle of nowhere is worth more than loading it from the comfort of my home. Of course I should expect to pay more for one than the other. The ability to download a complete distro of Linux at 6Mbps is worth more than doing it at 56Kbps. Of course I should expect to pay more for one than the other.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32475118)

I guess for me I don't understand paying for mobile data and then again for the ability to tether too. It's the same connection regardless. In that particular case your analogy is broken.

Re:why? (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475258)

If I pay for electricity at home, why should I be forced to pay for it again at work.. Or at the mall. Or when I'm overseas.. That's not fair.. waaaaaaah.

AT&T just announced that iPhone tethering will be an additional monthly charge but that using it still eats up your data plan's bandwidth allotment.

That's like paying for electricity at home, but having to pay an additional charge to use the paid-for electricity in certain appliances.

Overage fees are the real killer (3, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474728)

The real problem really isn't the data limits per se, but what happens when you go over them. It's really easy to accidentally go over your limit(for instance if you think you are on wifi but are actually on 3g), and when you do you have to pay out the ass. It would be nice if regulators forced providers to offer an option to block internet access until next billing cycle if you go over instead of only finding out after the fact that you now owe hundreds of dollars because you accidentally misconfigured your device.

Re:Overage fees are the real killer (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32474840)

Here in Japan, there have been enough complaints that cell phone companies now DO notify you, and/or cut off your access until you've confirmed that you do want to keep using the service for a fee. However, in Japan, there are true unlimited data plans. The one provider that has said that "technically, it is not REALLY unlimited" made a statement that you will be throttled if you exceed 300GB per month. On 3G. I'm not sure how that's even possible, but they're honest at least. So here's what happens if you AREN'T on an unlimited plan, and exceed a threshold. You get a call, and they tell you you've exceeded the limit by xxMB or whatever it is, and the charge is XX yen. (Usually 5-digits-yen, equivalent to a couple hundred US$.) That usually scares the crap out of most people. But, they offer you the unlimited plan, a one-time offer, and if you sign up there, they will apply the unlimited plan to that month so you don't need to pay the 5-digit-yen extra. It certainly is a way to get cell companies to get more people onto higher cost unlimited plans, but it is indeed a very courteous way of doing so, since it usually saves the customer a lot of money. (Not to mention that with so many high-bandwidth usages of a mobile phone these days, the customer would probably join an unlimited plan eventually anyhow.)

There are a lot of things that are backwards in Japan, awkward, and sometimes just down right infuriating, but it never ceases to amaze me how it is so far ahead of the U.S. as far as consumer telecommunications is concerned. That wasn't true 20 years ago, so they did something right. Most likely simultaneously as the U.S. continued to keep doing things wrong...

Re:Overage fees are the real killer (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475060)

Japan like S Korea wanted a real telco network and rolled it out via laws and tax breaks.
The US just lobbied to connect schools, hospitals, towns, rolled out a rust belt network and told everybody they where living in the future.
When the rust belt fails and optical is cheap, it will be upgraded and consumers milked again.
Looking from the top down the US public network is a wonder of cold war networks, cash savings and pure profit.
Everybody who needed a real network built their own it seems.

Re:Overage fees are the real killer (2, Insightful)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475268)

How about just regulating overage fees to be capped at the same rate as what you are already paying for service?

For instance, if you pay $60 a month for 5GB of transfer, and use 10GB of transfer, the provider cannot legally charge you more than $120 for that month.

Right now you pay an arguably fair rate until you reach your cap, then you are utterly *reamed* for any additional usage. This is even worse on voice plans, where additional minutes can cost close to a dollar when you've paid only cents for the original minutes in your plan.

This would go a long way towards solving the problem.

Re:Overage fees are the real killer (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475326)

It'd be nice if regulators asked why the overage gigabytes cost tens, hundreds, or thousands of times as much to deliver, too.

How true (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32474734)

What is even more surprising is brazen device profiling, where you are forced to buy a data plan, even though the quality is bad, just because you have a "smartphone".

That is carrier-dependent (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475114)

What is even more surprising is brazen device profiling, where you are forced to buy a data plan, even though the quality is bad, just because you have a "smartphone".

In the US, if you are on a GSM carrier - where you can swap your SIM card to another phone to change phones (rather than having to go in to a store) - you can essentially pair any phone with any plan. I am using a blackberry on a GSM network right now with no data plan, because I bought the phone through an alternate channel (rather than through the provider). Hence they had no opportunity to force me into a new data-plan-based contract.

On the other hand, other networks have a lock on how you activate a phone. Even if you buy your phone second-hand you still have to take it to their store to activate it; where they are free to say "we'll activate it only if you sign this (contract)".

It's already here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32474742)

It's called Verizon OneBill:
http://www22.verizon.com/pages/onebill/

Or do they actually think that somehow changing the billing structure will automatically cut the price in half (or thirds)? Frankly it doesn't matter to me if I pay $40 for DSL and $40 for broadband wireless vs. $80 for "Anywhere Internet" - at least with it separate I can pick and choose my carriers for each.

Televisiphonernetting (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475052)

Or do they actually think that somehow changing the billing structure will automatically cut the price in half (or thirds)?

Comcast gives substantial discounts to customers who have the "televisiphonernetting" triple-play package [youtube.com] .

Unlimited = Subsidized (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32474756)

She wants unlimited data.
Someone has to pay for that.
Those who don't want, need or use the unlimited data end up paying for her desires.
Like me.
Let her pay for her own usage and abusage.

A universal plan wouldn't be difficult to deliver (4, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474760)

'I want to pay once for data, I want that data to be unlimited, and I want to be able to use it in any fashion I choose.'

Here's what such a plan would feature: A monthly cost of $240. How about that?

Re:A universal plan wouldn't be difficult to deliv (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474912)

'I want to pay once for data, I want that data to be unlimited, and I want to be able to use it in any fashion I choose.'

Have you considered your own bacup system? I can't swing a dead cat around my head without hitting a hard disk offering for about ~€100.

Keep the backup at a safe place, that you never visit . . . how about your parents' place :-)

But seriously, make backups often, and keep them someplace that you are not inclined to got to that often.

The weather in Iceland seems to be nice right now. If you excuse the volcanic ash . . .

If Iceland is too cold, just send your backup disks to some trusted relatives who live elsewhere . . . .

Re:A universal plan wouldn't be difficult to deliv (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32474988)

> I can't swing a dead cat around my head without hitting a hard disk offering for about ~100

That's around US$145, which buys you one *hell* of a big drive. 750 GB is $55 with free shipping, 1.5 TB is $90. You can get a 2 TB drive for a bit under than price.

Somehow hard disks got crazy-cheap.

Re:A universal plan wouldn't be difficult to deliv (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475064)

But how much does a good USB2 or eSATA enclosure for these drives cost?

What are you paying for? (1)

AmazinglySmooth (1668735) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474768)

You are paying for _access_ to data. You may also pay for the data itself, too. I don't understand what this person wants.

Re:What are you paying for? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474820)

They want a simpler bill and the ability to get a hold shiny for as little as possible, they are apparently incapable of resisting it.

Are you just stupid or is it ignorance. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32474774)

Seriously, are you simply stupid or just ignorant? Why are you paying for data from cell, isp, and at work differently? The data is provided by three different companies.

Do you think that AT&T Wireless is the same company as AT&T Telecom? You are very confused if you believe that. Wireless is not government regulated. Telecom (SBC) is definitely regulated by the government. The accounting rules are COMPLETELY different.

That's your local, state and federal government at work currently regulating telephone service and trying very hard to also regulate ISP service. When I worked for AT&T, we could purchase new equipment that merged DSL and telephone capabilities into a single device. The problem was that the local utility commissions would not agree to only regulate telephone service. If the hardware did both jobs, then they needed to regulate both services. We purchased different cards because of that, which was much more expensive.

Costs is divided, not multiplied. (2, Informative)

M8e (1008767) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474788)

Costs like these(and taxes) are not paid multiple times, it's just devided.

If you want to have unlimited internet at home and in your cellphone you have to pay for it.
If both cost X$, giving you an total cost of 2X$ you still have to pay 2X$ for your "universal data plan"

home plan + phone plan = 2X$
universal data plan = 2X$

Or actually you would most likely have to pay more for the "universal data plan" or only be able to use one at a time.

Cell plans, data only. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32474884)

What I never understood is on cell phone plans why voice, text, pics, data are all separate charges. It all data, it's all digital, it's all on the same (cell) network, why does it matter? Maybe I'm missing part of the story but it seems to me it should all be one charge.

Beer (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474898)

Between multiple cell phones and their add-ons, high-speed Internet connections, and digital TV subscriptions, most households are paying for data delivery at least three times over, often paying the same provider twice

Between going to the pub on Monday, then the supermarket on Tuesday, and the pub again on Friday, many imbibers are paying for beer three times over!

Hope it's not for the same beer.

No (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474900)

Because you are paying for different infrastructure. When I pay for my Internet connection to my house, I'm paying for the cable connection that comes in, and the fibre connection that it converts to further up the line. The cable company maintains that physical network and it does cost money to do so. I'm then also paying for their connectivity, which is a fair amount given that it is a fairly high bandwidth line.

For my mobile phone, I'm instead paying for the cell towers, and the equipment that drives them. I'm also paying for the lines and phone switches and so on further up the chain. There too, I'm paying for bandwidth for the provider though less in that case. The costs there are more the physical infrastructure.

Saying that I should pay one bill because both services access the Internet is silly. They are different physical systems and in my case different companies. Even in the case of the same company, you need to account for the cost of all the infrastructure and support. It is not free to build and maintain a large network, wired or wireless. It is quite expensive in fact. You can't demand that you be provided with Internet in all forms just because you happen to pay for it in one form.

Now, as far as cable TV goes, I can see some point there, but still it is a different thing. Different system, other than the final delivery to the customer, different hardware, different providers. Remember that cable isn't free to your cable company. They have to pay to carry many channels (though some, like shopping channels pay them). That's why sometimes you'll find a cable service that doesn't carry a given station, they get in a fight over rates. Cox here nearly cut ESPN off because of a rate fight.

I can certainly see the argument that perhaps things should cost less than they do now, but this idea that you should only have to pay once is silly, especially when you are talking different formats. The money you spend on a HFC network is different from the money spent on a broadcast satellite is different from the money on a cell network. They all cost a lot to build and operate.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32474936)

This.

Re:No (1)

Atmchicago (555403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474938)

Furthermore, I'd like to see the end of unlimited plans, for all of these, and move to plan that resembles utilities. Pay for what you use! Imagine if we had "unlimited" electricity, gas and water plans. People would just leave their lights on all the time, and the whole system would be inefficient. I imagine the same goes for data usage.

People won't buy them (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475224)

The reason behind unlimited plans is simple human mentality. They want the ability to use things an unlimited amount for one price, even if it can be shown they'd save money metered.

ISPs discovered this with businesses back in the early days of the Internet. The only way to offer bandwidth for reasonable prices was very heavy oversubscription, since lines were so expensive at the high level. Hence, you'd sell metered service to ensure that everyone could get their fair share. Well businesses hated it, they were always asking for unmetered connections. They'd pay a lot more for it too. Even when the ISP showed that worst realistic case scenario they'd still pay less, didn't matter they wanted a fixed monthly fee.

Same shit later with dailup Internet. ISPs charged per minute or hour of access time, or has limits with certain plans. Reason was again oversubscription. Phone lines were (and still are to an extent) expensive. You could be paying $50-80/month per line as a business, especially if you had digital lines which was needed for 56k. You needed to pack users in fairly heavy, maybe 10 to 1, to make a profit on that (there were other costs too, like your Internet connection). However people hated it, and the ISPs that would sell "unlimited" connections won out, even if it meant more busy signals.

Hence, we get where we are now. You can see it in web hosting too. So many web hosts these days are "unlimited" bandwidth. Of course there's no such thing, it just means that your service won't be as fast. Doesn't matter, that's what's popular. The webhost I like (Pair) is rarely one people want to go with because they limit transfers. I'll recommend it and people will say "But what if I go over?" I'll explain that their limits are massive, I host gigs of files on my site and don't hit it. However, they'll go with an unlimited host instead.

Metered connections would make a lot of sense. It would allow for more flexibility in terms of bandwidth vs cost. It is feasible to provide 100mbit+ to the home, and have people get that kind of speed, so long as the play nice and share. You see it on office WANs all the time. There the playing nice is enforced by IT. However at home, metering could do it. You could pay a small amount for a fast connection, but little transfers. So your net is fast, but you can't use it all that much. If you need more usage, pay more money.

Just isn't going to happen though. The company that tries it will find their customers jumping ship.

Highway robbery (1)

forand (530402) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474944)

I agree with others who have posted here that a truly unlimited plan is way over charging the average user or is going to be much more expensive than what we currently have just to make it 'reasonable' for the average user. That being said the current trend is absolutely ridiculous. How can AT&T justify having a pay per byte plan where the paid for data does not roll over and if you go over any amount you get double charged even if it is the last day of your billing cycle?

Personally I would like to see two plans: 1) truly unlimited with a monthly fee of about 50 and 2) a truly pay per byte at something like 7.5 cent/MB ($15 for 200 MB), these bytes have an expiration of 1 year. Both plans you can do with the data pipes as you wish: tethering, streaming, etc.. This gives everyone the flexibility they want.

$15 for 200 is to low. 200 is like 1 windows updat (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475070)

$15 for 200 is to low. 200 is like 1 month of windows updates. So $15 per system just for OS updates and don't even think about onlive / youtube or any other high bandwidth use thing if you don't have like $500+ per hour.

Don't want this (1)

MistrBlank (1183469) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474964)

What I do want though is for someone to see how badly they are robbing us in text message plans and the fact that we pay so much more for an outdated infrastructure and none of the costs are balanced. When everything moves to LTE it'll be more of a nightmare when we're paying for multiple services and they all use the same infrastructure. It will support voip for calls and we don't really need SMS to do texting, the phone company just likes to charge us through the nose for it.

Pinhead (1)

wellcrafted83 (1817796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474970)

Yeah I suppose she would support an unlimited energy plan. Paying for gasoline at the gas station, natural gas from gas company, and electricity from the electric company is all too much. It's all just energy anyways. What a pinhead.

How are phone calls, television, and Internet... (2, Interesting)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32474978)

..."the exact same thing"?

In any case I want no "universal data plan" optimized for people who watch movies on their cellphones, view six hours of tv a day, and download thousands of hours of music forced on me by government. If I want anything it's metered service (that's metered, not tiered).

Internet is free (1)

jdagius (589920) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475004)

You already are paying one very low fee to use the Internet: zero dollars.

What you're paying real dollars for is the right to access the Internet by means of various physical carriers: price to be negotiated between carrier and user.

Peronally I prefer the Asok (Dilbert's intern) sewage activated access. Whereever you have a sewer pipe, then you have turdo-charged access!

:-]

digital TV is multicast and that is not the same a (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475006)

digital TV is multicast and that is not the same as other data that is just for you.

multicast sends out the same data to mean people at the same time changeing that to each user have there own copy of the same thing will just eat up much more bandwidth.

on demand (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475078)

digital TV is multicast

This is true of satellite TV and of "channels" on cable TV. But as I understand it, video on demand is unicast over cable TV just as it is over cable Internet.

Retarded (1)

npsimons (32752) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475024)

Between multiple cell phones and their add-ons, high-speed Internet connections, and digital TV subscriptions, most households are paying for data delivery at least three times over, often paying the same provider twice.

These services are *not* the same, and anyone who thinks otherwise is obviously not qualified to talk about. I mean, really, can't these idiots tell the difference between wireless and wired data plans? Not that I'm defending communications companies, but you can already get bundles that give you discounts for these sorts of things. Not to mention that there are some of us who don't use one (or more) of the aforementioned services and don't want to be charged for them (and if you think that bundling all these services by default and reducing choice will make them cheaper overall, you're even stupider than the lady in the article).

Now don't get me wrong, I realize there are problems with things the way they are, but conflating Network Neutrality with this sort of nonsense is holding back the cause; we need to call these idiots out and reject them; Network Neutrality is a reasonable goal, but getting distracted by bullshit like this only hurts the users of data plans.

Stupid (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475068)

"Between multiple restaurants and their specials, all-you can eat buffets, and grocery stores, most households are paying for food at least three times over, often paying the same provider twice. It's time for a universal food plan, [Cnet columnist Molly] Wood declares: 'I want to pay once for food, I want that food to be unlimited, and I want to be able to eat it in any fashion I choose.' Still, she has hopes that the-times-they-will-be-a-changin': 'It's only a matter of time before regulators catch wind of just how many times we're being charged for the exact same thing.'"

Dumb idea (1)

Yo,dog! (1819436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475084)

Example: start torrents on home network and travel around using mobile data If you want to pay once for data, then have your home network disabled while you use mobile data. It'll never happen.

Let's have universal everything (1)

kc5deb (770159) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475090)

Great idea. While we're at it, let's have universal internet plans from ISPs. We could have universal pricing on vehicles. Universal pricing on gasoline. We could all pay the same money for a house - universal housing! Oh, and universal restaurant pricing - everyone pays the same amount for a steak no matter where ya go. Think how grand it would be if the government set prices on every single thing sold in the US. It would make things so much easier to take away that pesky free market. I mean, who REALLY wants to have to bother with having to make their own decisions in their life? It'd be so much easier to just let our government make all our decisions and run every aspect of our lives. Eventually, we could just depend on government run services for everything from food, clothing, transportation, toilet paper, etc. /sarcasm

But we pay for lots of things in multiple ways (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475116)

Think about electricity, for example. We pay for mains power to our houses. We buy batteries in various forms at various prices - rechargables, single use, car batteries. We have the option for solar power at a different price point. Yet no-one would say "I want to pay once for all my different sources of electricity, no matter what the format is).

This idea just doesn't make sense. The various suppliers (whether for bandwidth or electrcity, or water - bottled, mains, rainfall etc.) all have different infrastructures, cost models, shareholders, benefits and overheads. Same for transportation, same for food sources. I don't thing the poster has thought through much beyond the I want ...... stage

The FCC?? (1)

drumcat (1659893) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475144)

You want regulation by the FCC? The same toolbox that can't even regulate Net Neutrality? You're smokin' crack...

Time for Universal Food! (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475232)

Between multiple restaurants and their appetizers and desserts, grocery stores, and milk delivery subscriptions, most households are paying for food at least three times over, often paying the same provider multiple times per month. It's time for a universal food plan, [Cnet columnist Molly] Wood declares: 'I want to pay once for food, I want that food to be unlimited, and I want to be able to eat it at any location I choose.' Still, she has hopes that the-times-they-will-be-a-changin': 'It's only a matter of time before regulators catch wind of just how many times we're being charged for the exact same thing.'

Willing to pay? Willing to charge. (1)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475262)

If customers are willing to pay that much that way, providers are willing to take the money.
Nobody is forcing customers to get such an array of services. Those willing to put in a little effort and withstand slight inconvenience can pay much.
There is no right to convenient data plans so great as to compel, under threat of imprisonment, providers to concoct such a "universal unlimited" data plan.
Quit being greedy. You want premium variety, you're going to pay thru the nose for it.

Typo (1)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475272)

Sorry, make that "pay much less."

Funny... (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475278)

Since moving from dialup to ADSL, cable and 3G, I've never seen a "limited" data plan here in Finland. You pay a monthly fee for a given speed, and that's it. ISPs usually reserve the right to throttle, but I've only rarely seen it with 3G, never in wired connections.

I currently pay 9.80 euros for the slowest possible 3G, 384/384 kbps. This is actually better than it sounds, since for example a 1M/1M ADSL gives you about 103 kbytes/s max, but 3G uses a different encoding, and this 384 kbps translates to about 55 kbytes/s.

The faster 3G plans are likewise unlimited for a higher monthly fee, but it's probably not worth it, given all the complications with radio networks.

QOS? (2, Interesting)

cervo (626632) | more than 4 years ago | (#32475280)

I don't know why they can't just use QOS on their own phone network. They could mark the first 2-5 GB of capacity as high priority, and then the rest low priority. With a fair queuing system, the average user who doesn't use that much data would not have the appearance of being slow, just the guy streaming netflix movies all the time. But with buffering, perhaps the play delay would compensate for the saturated network.

Still they do need to upgrade their network somewhat. I mean if it is the age of video and everyone is streaming video (we aren't quite there yet), they are going to need to increase the initial data cap as well as upgrade their network. Also if they get 25% more subscribers, they will need more network capacity. QOS is not the magic answer to never upgrade your network until 2020.....

There is no such thing as "unlimited" data plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32475286)

Calling something "unlimited" is a marketing ploy. It is not the truth.
The water on the Earth may appear "unlimited" but it is.
The stars in the sky may appear "unlimited" but they are.
"Netflix-Unlimited" is definitely limited. By snail-mail and by your bandwidth.

Local telephone service may appear "unlimited" but it is. Try to make a call on Mother's day. Telephone lines are "oversubscribed", just like internet bandwidth, just like cellular networks. They all promise more than can be delivered and everyone except you seems to know that.

The data plan for your home ISP may appear "unlimited" but it definitely is. It is limited by
a) time - there's only so much time in a month.
b) bandwidth - you can only pull so much data over the time allowed.
c) location - it works at your home and selected outlets (if provided)

Other words for "unlimited" is "all you can eat" or "no overage charges."

If you'd like someone else to provide an "all you can use" data plan, I can provide it for you for $1,000/month. No problem. Let me know. Of course, the locations will be limited - worldwide coverage will cost more and have much lower bandwidth. Sadly, my offering around the world would have to reduce the bandwidth for your home to match what I can provide at the south pole - about 128kbps. Ok?

Mean while in Australia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32475292)

In down under, the public here have had metered plans on internet/phones/everything you have telecommunications wise for a very long time. In fact, in 2000, I remember my family having to fork out $1.20 AUS PER HOUR for dialup. We now pay $90 AUS for a 24000 mbs connection (only 3.5 mbs due to shitty connections) for 25 gig of usage, ie uploads and downloads counted. Do you really want to be like ausfailia?

Btw, $1.20 AUS in 2000 would be $3.00 US due to our exchange rate prior to Sep 2001.

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