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AT&T's Metered Billing Off By Up To 4,700%

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the enjoy-that-tmobile-customers dept.

Businesses 250

jfruhlinger writes "Metered billing for home Internet service may be the way of the future. But shouldn't we have the right to expect that the meters will at least be accurate? As AT&T moves its DSL and fiber customers to plans where they'll have to pay for overages, some users have noticed that the company's assessment of how much data is being used can be wildly inaccurate."

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Important Things (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35622466)

What do you call a nigger with a stutter? A cocoon.

One more reason to not do metering. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622470)

It ends up being a power grab, much like the old days were. That, and it has a not-so-nice way of killing innovation.

Re:One more reason to not do metering. (5, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622570)

It ends up being a power grab, much like the old days were. That, and it has a not-so-nice way of killing innovation.

The issue is largely one of accountability. For example, I have electric and natural gas service at my house. There are meters out back: they're built to government standards, are quite reliable and generally track my usage very well. Occasionally, I get a bill in the mail that has some outrageous numbers on it (I once got an electric bill for some three thousand dollars one month.) Usually that's because the meter reader mistyped something into his computer, or because of some issue with their billing system. Regardless, I still have the meter itself to fall back on, and I can call up the utility and either request a new reading or just give it to them over the phone and have the bill corrected. When I got that big bill, I was asked to go take a manual reading, and to just "tear up that bill, will send you a new one. Sorry for the inconvenience." No problem.

That's not what's going to happen here: AT&T is expecting people to just accept whatever usage they decide to bill for, with no recourse whatsoever if it turns out that they're wrong. And this will happen, with monotonous regularity, and most people will just pay because they have no idea what a gigabyte is, and how it relates to what they actually do with their computer online, and because Internet access is becoming less and less of a disposable luxury for millions of people.

Re:One more reason to not do metering. (0)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622608)

That's not what's going to happen here: AT&T is expecting people to just accept whatever usage they decide to bill for, with no recourse whatsoever if it turns out that they're wrong. And this will happen, with monotonous regularity, and most people will just pay because they have no idea what a gigabyte is, and how it relates to what they actually do with their computer online, and because Internet access is becoming less and less of a disposable luxury for millions of people.

While there may be ways to do the same with bandwidth, metering bandwidth has no incentive to be accurate. All it has to do is stifle the people who don't have deep pockets.

See any country that has it, and you will likely find that repeated for about every single case.

Re:One more reason to not do metering. (2, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622726)

>>>meter reader mistyped

Really? Our meters were upgraded to eliminate human readers, by sending the data over the phone line (or possibly the electric line - not sure which).

>>>most people will just pay because they have no idea what a gigabyte is

I hope they're smarter than that. If I received a $200 bill from my ISP, even if I didn't know what a gigabyte was, I'd demand an explanation from their customer service associates.

Re:One more reason to not do metering. (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622868)

>>>meter reader mistyped

Really? Our meters were upgraded to eliminate human readers, by sending the data over the phone line (or possibly the electric line - not sure which).

>>>most people will just pay because they have no idea what a gigabyte is

I hope they're smarter than that. If I received a $200 bill from my ISP, even if I didn't know what a gigabyte was, I'd demand an explanation from their customer service associates.

This was a few years ago, I know they were still doing manual reads. Now I know my gas meter was upgraded: they still have a meter reader come by but there's a small black box on the front of the house. I think he just walks by and grabs a reading with a handheld of some kind, or maybe it goes over the power line or something, like you said. I don't know if my electric meter was upgraded or not: I haven't any problems since then.

That's not the point though: I was able to instantly correct the mistake because I had an accurate reference for my actual usage. I didn't have to depend upon some remote computer system to provide me with a tally of how many kilowatt-hours I'd used, a machine that is not under my control, and can't be argued with.

And we're not talking about people getting giant bills. What we are talking about is the potential for deliberate, systematic overbilling: small amounts that the subscriber might not even notice but that add up to billions over time. Matter of fact, that's guaranteed to happen. Didn't Verizon get busted for it recently? It's just too tempting: they just shouldn't be allowed to do it unless there are regulatory safeguards in place.

With a fixed bill every month, you immediately notice a rate increase (or an increase in Local, State and Federal fees, although some ISPs have put fake charges there too, so people will think that it's the "guv'mint" that raised their bill.) With metered billing, how will you know if you're being ripped off if there's an extra buck on your bill each month? Far too much potential for fraud here.

Re:One more reason to not do metering. (1)

DarkVader (121278) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623226)

The remote readable electric meters are not everywhere, my meter has analog dials that require reading by a human. I don't believe my utility has any plans to change that anytime soon.

You mostly see them in places where electricity rates vary by time of day, which doesn't happen here.

Re:One more reason to not do metering. (5, Insightful)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622968)

The issue is largely one of accountability. For example, I have electric and natural gas service at my house. There are meters out back: they're built to government standards, are quite reliable and generally track my usage very well.

The difference is that when you use more natural gas, the gas company has to buy more natural gas. When you use more electricity, the power company has to put more coal in their furnaces. When you use more bandwidth, unless the network was already at 100% capacity, it costs the ISP nothing and the capacity you would consume would otherwise go to waste. If the network is at 100% capacity then it needs to be expanded whether there is metered billing or not. That is, unless you set the metered rate so high that it will materially suppress usage -- also known as "destroying innovation" -- in which case everyone will get less service for more money since you're now paying extra usage fees but the ISP no longer needs to expand capacity because metered billing is suppressing usage, so all the extra money goes to profit.

Metered billing is the model of perpetual stagnation. It gives the ISP an incentive to never upgrade because the more scarcity there is, the more they can charge for it. Why on Earth would they make a capital investment to alleviate a supply shortfall, the result of which would be lower prices to customers? They certainly have no real competition to make them do it.

Re:One more reason to not do metering. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35623210)

^ THIS. Mod up please.

Re:One more reason to not do metering. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35623288)

I was going to dispute your point, but that last paragraph made me think about something. Perhaps the price per megabyte needs to be regulated, as well as the method of measuring that usage? I don't usually suggest more regulation (and would welcome an alternative) but I think this would help ensure everyone was on a more level playing field. Rather than competing on some strange formula of price that no one really understands, ISPs would have to compete on quality. Of course I suppose that might just push out options until there was only one player, but we seem to be heading that way anyway.

That brings up another question, though. How do we dispute metering that's strange? You can't actually prove the meter screwed up (most of the time). Unless the reading is truly absurd ("Well sire, you download the internet. All of it. Twice. In one Month.") With natural gas, for example, there are amounts that are reasonable, though a bit extreme, and then there are obvious problems. Frankly, I have no idea if my listed usage last month is correct, but I know enough to know it sounds reasonable for this house. I'm certainly not going to double my usage from one month to the next short of a major cold snap, and that would be well documented since it affects everyone in an area. But it isn't impossible for my internet usage to greatly increase from one month to the next (new game comes out, I watch a lot more hulu, etc. I'm not sure how to deal with that sort of problem.

Going further... (1)

rmdyer (267137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622972)

This is exactly why someone needs to standardize, as soon as possible, a consumer device for metering your IP. The device should be small (pocket sized), possibly battery operated, has a liquid crystal display, and simply shows the IO flow of IP packets into and out of your home, with totals. The device should be under $10.00 or $20.00 USD. To use the device, you would simply place it in-line between your ISP modem, and your home router. Every month, you would simply read its value from the LCD just like the electric, water, and gas meters outside your homes. It should not slow down your internet traffic, or interfere with it in any way. The reading should be retained through a power loss of the device, such as change-out of an old battery. The device should not be hackable in any way since it should probably just read the IP header content size info and accumulate that.

Home routers, in theory, could possibly perform the function, however there would be wildly varying methods of reading and displaying the data. All older router firmwares would need to be updated, and the metering method used would need standardization.

If enough of these devices get out there, and soon enough, then consumers should be able to push back on this issue. After a while, perhaps, the Time Warners, AT&Ts, and Comcasts of the world will force one version of the meter readers to be "standardized" across the industry. This would be a very lucrative deal for the developer of the meter.

Re:Going further... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35623276)

Who's going to calibrate it? How often does it need calibration? Do you count just packets, bytes, or both? Do you count just packets containing payload data or all packets? What happens when some luser connects it between his LAN and router instead of WAN and router? What happens when someone streams data to your system like DOS/DDOS attack?

Metering is a scary, dark path. The best strategy here for all consumers is to reject companies which bill based on metering. And the first step to making that happen is busting up the government-granted monopolies which bind residents to a single carrier.

Re:Going further... (1)

arkenian (1560563) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623328)

Home routers, in theory, could possibly perform the function, however there would be wildly varying methods of reading and displaying the data. All older router firmwares would need to be updated, and the metering method used would need standardization.

So, I run dd-wrt, and MY router certainly has this function, and has for a long time. I can see little graphs of my usage back to when I first installed dd-wrt on it. (It makes it easy to tell when I get on a torrent kick 'cuz my upstream jumps through the roof) I don't remember whether my stock-firmware routers stored history or not, but I know that they all told me the in and out numbers since the connection started. Where it gets hard, though, is with the ISPs marking significant quantities of the input "free", and so the router would need to be programmed to learn about the different types of traffic.... which in the end, would probably mean that what I'd want is for the ISP to provide numbers of both "charged" and "free" data, and then for me to compare the totals against my router. (Just like my phone does today). An LCD display that does all this might be nice, but I'm pretty sure (not completely) that it has to be 'downstream' of the modem. And since most modems and routers are combined, the only thing the LCD display could really do is read what the router/modem says....

Re:One more reason to not do metering. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35623256)

Why not to equip modem or routers with meters?

Re:One more reason to not do metering. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35622628)

That, and it has a not-so-nice way of killing innovation.

Eh?
While i'm against the metering stuff to an extent, this statement is just nuts.
This can provide the money TO innovate.

Yeah, we know that some of these ISPs probably won't bother and this will probably just be purely profit reasons for being added, metering in general isn't an innovation killer.
It was those old days that led to the innovation we have now, dial-up was a huge gain in money for them that allowed us to have broadband and always-on connections, at a flat-rate price.
But now that we are slowly, but surely eating away at the systems with huge bandwidth usage, and additionally large numbers of active connections, they are beginning to show their age.
I know I will end up sounding like someone who works there by saying this, but this WILL allow for network improvements. You just have to pressure the idiots in to it constantly. Force them to have public reports of site improvements, exchange improvements, more bandwidth, everything.
If they are in the public eye, financially, they will have to do something with all that money.

Re:One more reason to not do metering. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622692)

Yet every single time metering is done, it ends up stifling people, instead of actually getting improvements. It won't provide the money to innovate at all, unless you count additional ways to nickel-and-dime people.

The huge bandwidth excuse rings hollow when you still have the same problems with the metering in place.

Re:One more reason to not do metering. (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622704)

Eh? While i'm against the metering stuff to an extent, this statement is just nuts. This can provide the money TO innovate.

No, it won't: the big boys have a vested interest in only offering us the minimum service levels they can get away with (they've been petitioning the FCC to lower the definition of "broadband" in the U.S.) and have no particular desire to innovate. They just don't: these are money grubbers whose interest is in pleasing the stockholder first and the customer second (if at all.) AT&T is doing this now because they feel they've sucked enough customers off of Comcast's crappy service and can afford to start putting the screws to us just as that Robertson asshole did.

If they are in the public eye, financially, they will have to do something with all that money.

Sure. But if you think that automatically means network upgrades you are just nuts. They'll bank the money, invest it on the stock market, whatever they think will make them more money.

But I think the GP was referring to innovation on the part of Web and Internet services offered by third-parties, not the ISPs themselves (correct me if I'm wrong.) Take Youtube; it's bandwidth-hungry but incredibly popular: would it be so if people were paying by the megabyte? What other services do we enjoy that use substantial bandwidth that might never have existed if providers were nickel-and-diming us to death?

We need to be moving forward, making bandwidth cheaper and faster. Look, they got nearly a hundred billion dollars in tax breaks to build out a nationwide truly high-speed network ... they took the money and ran. In the meantime, we're stuck with the likes of cable and U-Verse's VDSL.

So no, I don't expect SBC/AT&T, Comcast or any of these outfits to roll their extra profits back into the network.

Re:One more reason to not do metering. (1)

Jaktar (975138) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622850)

They personally did not get the money to build a nationwide network. That money was put into a fund for under-served communities to request the funds so they could offer projects back to anyone that could build it out for them.

The county I live in was one of those counties. Within the next year or so I'll have an actual ISP in my area (likely WISP for me, I'm too far for the fiber they're running).

Anyways, none of the major carriers are in my area. I know that whoever is the ISP that will be taking over this area will feed directly onto AT&T's backbone though.

Re:One more reason to not do metering. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622988)

They personally did not get the money to build a nationwide network.

No, they personally got some 90 billion dollars in tax breaks, took the money, and ran off with it. What they delivered was 1.5 mbit/sec DSL.

Re:One more reason to not do metering. (1)

Gripp (1969738) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622932)

the proof of your statements are in the pudding. we [americans] pay much more than most for our internet connections, and are yet about 10years behind most other counties in terms of speed an reliability. this is because they [the carrier decision makers] already do exactly as say.

on the surface i'm sure this pay-as-you go thing looks great for those who don;t use the internet much. but fact of the matter is in the end they'll likely pay the same or more for the same usage. if anything this will make a lot of things on the internet WORSE. imagine getting ready to purchase a software online, only to realize that you'll also have to pay for the extra bandwidth fort he download. or that because you use netflix your internet is going to be more than your cable bill.

Re:One more reason to not do metering. (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623324)

>>>they've been petitioning the FCC to lower the definition of "broadband" in the U.S

False. Back in 2009 the FCC definition of broadband was the same as the OECD's definition - 256 kbit/s. They put out a public notice for comment, and Verizon said 768k while Comcast suggested tiers: 768k for "basic" broadband and 12,000k for "next gen" broadband.

In both cases, the corporations requested the definition be moved UPward not downward, so your statement is false...... This is now 2011, and nobody is petitioning for the definition to be lowered from the current 4000 kbit/s. Unless you can provide a citation that it's happening now, in the present?

Re:One more reason to not do metering. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35622892)

Yes just like wall street, they would never take huge amounts of public money and then give bonuses to people who broke then entire global economy. They would never push release dates back on service upgrades like the media conglomerates do with redbox and netflix because it's providing a legal service that works too well.

Here's the truth of the matter, there's no "bandwidth shortage" like any highway the lanes have a set width, most times that width is underused, at peak times things slow down. They aren't going to fix the highway for our benefit. They don't care about you. They care about stockholders, the ONLY people they are beholden to and the only people they have a legal responsibility to.

Re:One more reason to not do metering. (1)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623010)

This can provide the money TO innovate.

This can provide money. As in, raise the price of internet access. The thing is though, they already make a mint, even before this. Whether that money goes to upgrades or profit is a different question. And the answer is that it goes to profits -- because hey, when you're making a mint by rationing scarcity, why make a capital outlay to alleviate it?

Moreover, the idea that ISPs need to "innovate" is ridiculous. They don't need "innovation," they need fiber. The idea that they need to do something new or invent new things is pure marketing hogwash. It's code for coming up with new ways to screw the customer instead of installing fiber. I don't want innovation from my ISP. ISP innovation is bad for me. ISP fiber, that's what I want.

Re:One more reason to not do metering. (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623018)

If they can't meter users that Excessively use the internet (i.e. downloading thousands of gigs), then the ISPs will respond by throttling connections to achieve the same goal:

Say 500 GB / 30 days / 12 hours per day average usage / 3600 seconds == 3 Megabit/s throttle

Re:One more reason to not do metering. (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623112)

We need more carriers and competition. Where was the government when AT&T bought Tmobile? We need more mesh wifis so we can forgo these a**holes. I remember paying $30 for high speed internet and $45 for phone. Now I am paying $250 for both and expect a bandwidth cap on top of it. Screw these greedy bastards.

Maybe instead of deregulation we should forbid such companies to be traded publicly. It is a conflict of interest as the shareholders and by that I mean Goldman Sachs to not care about anyone but their magical ratios and bonuses by having their companies become predatory at all costs.

What do you expect from SBC? (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622496)

This is a schlock outfit, no better than Comcast: the AT&T of old is long gone now.

What I'd like for them to do is tell me what kinds of traffic are being counted on my bill (do port scans count? What about all the other crap that floats around the Internet that happens to have my IP in it?) Do they provide monitoring tools that I can use to verify my usage, and compare against what my router tells me I've used? If not, then they can make up anything they want and bill me for it, and knowing AT&T^h^h^h^h SBC that's exactly what they will do.

Now we start to understand why the government used to enforce quality of service standards. The fact that these guys got an exception for data services is just too bad.

Re:What do you expect from SBC? (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622676)

That's also why AT&T wanted to buy up T-Mobile. Why let customers go to the remaining national carrier for GSM that provides superior service?

Just kill metering for bandwidth due to all the ways it always goes wrong.

Re:What do you expect from SBC? (4, Informative)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622804)

If it's anything like the metering done ubiquitously in many other countries, then yes, all traffic that hits the WAN side of your router is counted, solicited or not.

I'm in Australia on a metered plan. Metering is the norm here for the vast majority of plans - there are a couple of unlimited ones out there but most users don't need that much and choose a cheaper plan with an allowance that suits their usage (metered plans range from as little as a few GB/month, to over 1 TB/month, so only exceptionally heavy downloaders would find an unlimited plan better value).

Anyway, if AT&T is going to meter, they have to do it properly. The (good) ISPs here could probably give them some advice. The ISP I'm with seems to meter very accurately: their figures never vary more than ~0.5% from what my router reports (i.e. maximum of a couple of MB discrepancy every 1 GB, and it's not always in their favour). They provide usage statistics via their website and a number of other tools: downloadable desktop widgets, Android and iOS apps, and of course, email/SMS warnings when you hit 70%, 90% and 100% of your monthly allowance. Additionally, they publish the API for their stats server so anyone can write their own tools to monitor usage if they want. The stats are also fairly timely, generally lagging 30-90 minutes behind the actual usage.

In my experience, only a very negligible amount of my traffic can be attributed to port scans and the like - I get only a very minor amount of unsolicited traffic, generally = 1MB/day, so it's not a big deal. On the odd occasion that something weird happens (like you get DDoSed or something), the ISP can generally see this in their logs and will waive the usage (never happened to me personally though).

What's happening at AT&T sounds very much like what happened here 10-15 years ago when (metered) broadband started becoming common. Many ISPs had significant bugs in their metering systems. Accuracy of the stats was one problem, timeliness was another: some ISPs used to have huge lag times between the actual usage, and the reporting of that usage. Sometimes you'd get only tiny bits of recorded usage for a few days then all of a sudden, it would 'catch up' and you'd get a massive chunk land on one day. That's been ironed out now (at least for the reputable ISPs). At least part of the reason for this is Australia has very strong consumer protection laws, and various independent bodies you can complain to about this kind of issue that have the power to inflict penalties on the ISP for this kind of behaviour.

Re:What do you expect from SBC? (5, Interesting)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622808)

what AT&T of old being gone? sorry but I disagree back in 1996 we had worldnet dialup and they pulled this exact same shit. One day I came home to a mad dad who thought I had downloaded the internet cause he got a 300 dialup bill for going over his limit

but dad you signed up for unlimited Internet, have you changed plans? well of course not they just up and decided to start capping bandwidth and showed us what we had used in a month with their metering technology (excel bar graph) which got them another prompt call of "how the fuck do you download 1.8gig on a 28.8 modem with a 4 hour disconnect in under a month genius?"

To me it just sounds just like the good ole days

Re:What do you expect from SBC? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622890)

what AT&T of old being gone? sorry but I disagree back in 1996

I said "old". As in, pre-breakup days. 1996 is way after that.

Re:What do you expect from SBC? (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622918)

oh the days when they forced you to buy their overpriced equipment or else expect huge overcharges

my bad

Re:What do you expect from SBC? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622994)

oh the days when they forced you to buy their overpriced equipment or else expect huge overcharges

my bad

You're missing the point. At least AT&T was competently run from a technical standpoint, and that was because the government required them to do so.

AT&T's fee structure is NBV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35622528)

It's because they're charging you by the naked breast viewed.

Re:AT&T's fee structure is NBV (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622592)

It's because they're charging you by the naked breast viewed.

I found I can reduce my bill by only look at the left one.

Re:AT&T's fee structure is NBV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35622880)

It's because they're charging you by the naked breast viewed.

But what do you do if you're a pussy and assman? Only look at one or the other?

Violates State Bureau(s) of Standards (2, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622530)

I can see a 50-state lawsuit coming out of this. Wonder how ATT feels about taking on 50 government all at the same time.

Bastards.
- It reminds me how they tried to charge me extra for my 80s-era 1200 baud modem (i.e. ~1 kbit/s). I was paying for "unlimited phone calls" rather than per-call billing, but they said my 16-hour per day usage was excessive and tried to charge me an extra "data fee". I threw the letter in the trash.

Later-on we got phone company choice, and I switched away from ATT.

Re:Violates State Bureau(s) of Standards (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622586)

P.S. In order to keep my GB usage down, and avoid the wrath of my provider, I look for the "napisyPL" or "ipod" or "videoseed" releases. They are nice-and-small but still VHS quality. And commercial free.

Re:Violates State Bureau(s) of Standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35623190)

P.S. In order to keep my GB usage down, and avoid the wrath of my provider, I look for the "napisyPL" or "ipod" or "videoseed" releases. They are nice-and-small but still VHS quality. And commercial free.

I can see that this really promotes innovation. The third episode of Pioneer One [slashdot.org] is due any day now; I guess it's HDTV for the rest of the world and "VHS quality" for you 1980s types (thanks to your provider, of course). PS hang on to that Atari 2600 "heavy sixer" - it will be worth something some day.

Re:Violates State Bureau(s) of Standards (-1, Troll)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623240)

Anon Coward writes:

I can see that this really promotes innovation. The third episode of Pioneer One is due any day now; I guess it's HDTV for the rest of the world and "VHS quality" for you 1980s types (thanks to your provider, of course). PS hang on to that Atari 2600 "heavy sixer" - it will be worth something some day.

If this post has a point, I am failing to find it. All I was saying is that I prefer smaller ~100 meg or ~200 meg downloads of my favorite episodes.

complain to the state attorney general (3, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622538)

complain to the state attorney general and make them sue.

Gas and power meters are certified and are at your home and not in some office.

Re:complain to the state attorney general (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622566)

but the meter for your time spend making long distance phone calls from you land line isn't. Neither is the meter tracking how much time you spend on a cell phone call.

So clearly certified meters at your home are not a universal method.

Re:complain to the state attorney general (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622624)

but the meter for your time spend making long distance phone calls from you land line isn't. Neither is the meter tracking how much time you spend on a cell phone call.

So clearly certified meters at your home are not a universal method.

No, but Federally-mandated quality-of-service standards with stiff penalties for failure are. The problem with metered billing is that a. there's no way for the majority of users to know if they're being overbilled (and no, some Web page saying "you've used x percent of your monthly allowance" doesn't count) and b. the fact that these companies simply cannot be trusted. Especially the likes of Comcast or SBC/AT&T. These guys lie before breakfast, just for the practice.

Re:complain to the state attorney general (4, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622718)

but the meter for your time spend making long distance phone calls from you land line isn't. Neither is the meter tracking how much time you spend on a cell phone call.

But they can back up the readings of "long distance phone calls" by producing CDRs of the inter-LATA/Toll calls/Paid feature activations; every individual call made always has to be recorded date, time, duration, calling party, called party, originators billing DN, IDT, CRV, terminators billing DN, ODT, CRV, identification of providers' physical circuits used for the call, Caller ID status, ETC., which can be matched with records kept by the call's terminating provider -- if they lied, they could eventually be caught.

Not that billing errors are impossible.. it's just that as long as your phone line doesn't get crossed with someone else's, there are definitive records to fallback to, which could be reviewed by the carrier to fix it, or subpoena'd by the court.

It's not like electricity where "the number reading" is the only thing that can establish your usage. And it's accurate, unless you can prove something is wrong with its readings.

Broadband as a Utility (5, Insightful)

nikomen (774068) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622548)

The more and more these internet providers try to screw their customers, whether purposefully or inadvertently, the more we move to making broadband a public utility. If companies can't act responsibly, the only other option, in this semi-monopoly, is to get the feds involved.

Re:Broadband as a Utility (4, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622634)

>>>this semi-monopoly, is to get the feds involved.

Why the feds? Usually it's the Member State government that regulates natural monopolies aka utilities (like electricity, water, natural gas, sewer, etc).

Re:Broadband as a Utility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35622772)

I think this is more how the future will be than people think. Look at other "utilities", water/sewer, electricity, and Natural Gas. Water/sewer is run by the municipality. Electricity and Gas have local monopolies on distribution, but you can by source from multiple providers, at least in Illinois you can.

That leaves telecom/broadband. What if fiber to the home was the reality everywhere and the wire from home to CO was maintained by a single utility. You could then have space at the CO where companies could come in and sell you services, like broadband, video, telephone. The other option is to take the broadband all the way to the Internet since everything now is just a packet on the wire. You could have various speed plans on top of basic fiber maintenance, you could go to Skype for phone or got to NBC.com for some TV shows. Why not, it is just an audio or video stream. The fiber utility would be the local monopoly on distribution and then you go to the Internet for your source.

What is all cell towers where LTE (and then the next greatest thing) controlled by one utility, with fiber backhaul to the Internet? You could have complete coverage of the whole country.

Of course percentages can be misleading (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622568)

If the correct charge is $0.01, and I'm instead charged $4.80, that's a 4700% difference but a significantly different matter than, say, getting charged $480 rather than $1. When it comes to people being overcharged, I'd much rather have the absolute figures as our measurement of how much SBC is being a corporate jackass.

Re:Of course percentages can be misleading (5, Insightful)

luckymutt (996573) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622846)

No, percentages are not misleading. There may be a significantly different *dollar amount* in your example, and you might be able to absorb a $4.79 loss (if you even notice it,) but but you're still being ripped off by 4700%.
Having it as absolute figures might get a handful of individuals to get their bill corrected, but $4.79 multiplied by how many tens of thousands of customers every month adds up to how much in ill-gotten and possibly systematic gains?
If were all ripped off a little at a time, it's not as big of a deal?

Re:Of course percentages can be misleading (1)

alostpacket (1972110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622966)

I know what you're saying and generally that's a good thing to keep in mind about percentages. But that's not the case here. Specifically the article wasn't about price, it was about bandwidth consumed and the differences were from the 80MB to 4GB range. Also from the second link:

We'll note that AT&T is already facing a lawsuit for allegedly artificially inflating data usage and over billing wireless users.

Re:Of course percentages can be misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35623198)

Its a 47900% difference. not 4700. Percentages are only misleading if you don't know how to calculate them.

Of course the article was referring to bandwidth usage percentage errors, not dollars. People tend to understand what a dollar is better than a megabyte.

Metered Internet is not the future (2)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622572)

Metered internet is not the future.

As described, it doesn't even make any sense either the reasons why or the implementation.

Re:Metered Internet is not the future (2)

Auroch (1403671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622648)

Metered internet is not the future.

As described, it doesn't even make any sense either the reasons why or the implementation.

Yes, you're correct. Metered internet is the present for everywhere but the USA. And no one is really sure when USA broadband is going to catch up to the rest of the world [scientificamerican.com] ...

Re:Metered Internet is not the future (1)

pentadecagon (1926186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622960)

Could you elaborate on why the reasons don't make sense? Metered Internet is fair in the sense that you pay for whatever bits hit your wire. If grandma reads email every once in a while, and her neighbor downloads movies all day its only fair if this one pays less than that one. Additionally, we get rid of those "abuse" claims against power users.

Re:Metered Internet is not the future (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623138)

The issue is that metered internet doesn't encourage the ISPs to figure out how to decrease the cost of providing service or provide more bandwidth as they have a get out of jail free card for over promising their capacity. The major problem is that ISPs haven't been investing in their networks up until now, which is why I'm stuck paying $50 a month for 5mbps when Qwest my ISP charges similarly for a 40mbps connection in some other areas.

If it were a competitive market and there were some assurances that the money would be spent providing better service and upgrading the capacity, it might work, but this is the US, so you can pretty much bet that the money will be going to pay for a lavish lifestyle for the executives or increased payout to the shareholders for successfully figuring out how to rip off the customers even more than now.

U-Verse - your guess is as good as mine (2)

sam1am (753369) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622596)

I subscribe to U-Verse and so I went to see how far off they were with my usage.

The U-verse data measurement report is currently under construction. When completed, you will be notified if your usage exceeds the allowance. Until that time, U-verse customers should not be concerned about their usage patterns for billing purposes.

Wouldn't it be nice to get enough notice to evaluate if AT&T's product meets my needs? Alas, my router tells me I've used 230 GB over the last month; that's pretty close to their 250GB limit, and if the numbers are 'fuzzy' then all bets are off.

Because U-Verse TV service is IP-delivered, I'd like assurances that they're not including this traffic in any metering - I'm already paying for this content and its delivery on the 'TV' portion of my bill.

Re:U-Verse - your guess is as good as mine (1)

mrzaph0d (25646) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623000)

Because U-Verse TV service is IP-delivered, I'd like assurances that they're not including this traffic in any metering - I'm already paying for this content and its delivery on the 'TV' portion of my bill.

Whoa there..if you'll look at your contract, you'll clearly note that you've got unlimited TV content delivery *within reason*. I mean if you're going to have your TV on 24/7, receiving content, that's obviously going to have an impact on the infrastructure. It wouldn't be fair to the other uses of the service if everyone want to just watch as much TV as they can. Maybe we need metered TV...

Sincerely,
AT&T Customer Disservice

Re:U-Verse - your guess is as good as mine (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623124)

kind of offtopic, but I have to laugh at this. do you realize how stupid it is that TV is eating internet bandwidth? a few years ago I could leave the TV on 24/7, just like the radio, and nobody cared. but now, I would be impacting the infrastructure...

Re:U-Verse - your guess is as good as mine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35623170)

"Because U-Verse TV service is IP-delivered, I'd like assurances that they're not including this traffic in any metering - I'm already paying for this content and its delivery on the 'TV' portion of my bill."

I would be willing to bet that AT&T is double-dipping here. Kind of like how you have to pay income taxes on your Social Security distribution income.

How is this different? (1, Insightful)

Auroch (1403671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622602)

I'm not sure how this differs from the way they measure network usage on a cellphone. Wildly inaccurate, and damn-near-impossible to disprove in court.

Also, as a canadian, I've been living with metered billing for awhile. Given the complaints in the article, I have a hard time taking it seriously. When the difference is measured in gigabytes, but still in single digit percentages, I really can't feel any sympathy. Do you really need to transfer 300 gb in a month?

Then again, we don't have video streaming the same way that the US does. Something about american companies demanding outrageous rates for their licensing fees to out-of-state companies.

Sorry, I guess. [youtube.com] .

Re:How is this different? (1)

The Moof (859402) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622834)

Do you really need to transfer 300 gb in a month?

Yes. Before i was trying to think of how it was possible as well, then it hit me:

Digital Distribution.

It easily makes these limits attainable. In December, between purchasing on Steam and Xbox's Marketplace, I would've blown way over the 150gb limit set in place (I think at then end, I was around 260). And I'm not even a Netflix subscriber. Since most of my downloading happened overnight/during work hours, I would've still been able to watch movie and using even more bandwidth. Even with their metering display I can tell when Steam automatically updated things because my usage suddenly jumps into the neighborhood of 3-5gb for a single day.

As for accuracy in measuring usage - this a wire, and there's a single point which it leaves my house (router/modem), meaning I can simply monitor all traffic statistics on that interface. Even their modems track these statistics if you poke around in the interface. If your numbers don't match mine, than you're padding the traffic.

Re:How is this different? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622914)

If your numbers don't match mine, than you're padding the traffic.

Sure. But they're not going to care about your router's stats.

Re:How is this different? (2)

Auroch (1403671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623202)

If your numbers don't match mine, than you're padding the traffic.

Sure. But they're not going to care about your router's stats.

Exactly. I once tried to tell a police officer that I wasn't going as fast as he said I was. I even measured it with my speedometer. Apparently, the people making the rules don't care too much for your opinion if it is different from theirs.

I'd suggest you take them to court, but people have been taking telecoms to court in the USA for decades... and you're still having the same problem - which leads me to believe that it's the system that's broken, not the players. Since you can't change the system... *shrugs*

Re:How is this different? (4, Informative)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622942)

Thing is, in the countries where metering is standard, there's also a choice of metered plans. So if 300 GB isn't enough for you, then no problems, pay another $5 or $10/month and upgrade to a higher-allowance plan.

For example my current ISP (in Australia, FWIW) has the following ADSL2+ (24 Mbps down/1 Mbps up) plans at the moment.

30 GB
150 GB
250 GB
350 GB
600 GB
1 TB

I'm currently on the 150 GB plan and am lucky to use more than half of that on an average month. But if my usage patterns changed I'd upgrade to the 250 or 350 GB plan, which aren't that much more expensive. (Incidentally, traffic from Steam and quite a few other popular sources is 'free' on my ISP, i.e. not counted towards my usage - as a gamer this makes a huge difference and is one of the reasons I picked this particular ISP).

Anyway, my point is that metered plans are fine provided you have the option to pick a plan that suits your natural usage of the Internet. From what I can tell though, what's happening in the US is that they are starting to meter plans but NOT offering a choice of different plans. They are basically doing a 'one size fits all, and if it doesn't suit your needs, tough luck' approach. Which sucks. :(

Re:How is this different? (3, Interesting)

robow (1609129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623054)

Another problem here in the US, like said before, we lack choice. Where I live my choices are TW cable or ATT, with those options they can both screw me knowing that the other option is no better.

Re:How is this different? (1)

Auroch (1403671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623186)

As for accuracy in measuring usage - this a wire, and there's a single point which it leaves my house (router/modem), meaning I can simply monitor all traffic statistics on that interface. Even their modems track these statistics if you poke around in the interface. If your numbers don't match mine, than you're padding the traffic.

Although you are correct in theory, that's not how water or electricity use is measured or billed. It's almost like buying a car. Yes, the sticker price is one thing. But that's not the entire cost. Even if you avoid freight and delivery by buying used, you're still paying taxes. And even if you avoid ALL those fees, you still have insurance. And even if you avoid insurance, you've still got gas. And even if you're stealing gas, you're still "paying" with time.

Although the companies in the USA might call it metered billing based on usage, and they may not be clear about what you're being charged for, there is still overhead and the actual "cost" of usage will include more than digital bytes flowing across a cable.

Re:How is this different? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623152)

I use my internet connection to back up my computers at home. While that doesn't require 300gb every month, it does require a large amount of bandwidth. Also game companies are increasingly turning to digital distribution for games sales and video streaming from Netflix is more and more common. You might not need 300gb every month, but knowing that it's there if you need it is really important.

AT&T needs to get destroyed (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622640)

It should have its incorporation revoked and all top executives and board members barred from ever being in the telecom business again.

These are the same players from the time when the first break up occurred. They did not learn their lesson about abusing their position, building monopoly and being bad for the consumer. They had their chance to straighten up and fly right. They can't be trusted to behave.

Re:AT&T needs to get destroyed (5, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622748)

It should have its incorporation revoked and all top executives and board members barred from ever being in the telecom business again.

These are the same players from the time when the first break up occurred. They did not learn their lesson about abusing their position, building monopoly and being bad for the consumer. They had their chance to straighten up and fly right. They can't be trusted to behave.

No they're not. SBC bought the old AT&T, and kept the name AT&T. What you have are the people who operated the worst of the original thirteen Baby Bells now running the show. Which is, I agree, not an improvement. Also, whatever you want to say about the old AT&T, remember that they operated under some very strict regulation, and did provide us, for a very long time, with about the best phone service in the world. Much of the problem we have now is that none of the big ISPs operate under any real regulation anymore, no real service standards apply: they can do pretty much whatever they want with little if any penalty.

But yeah, I think that most of the big players ought to be up on anti-trust charges at some point. What they're doing is not in the consumers' interest at any level.

Re:AT&T needs to get destroyed (1)

DougReed (102865) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622964)

um.. no actually they're dumber than that. AT&T went bankrupt, SBC bought them .. Who's SBC??? Then after marketing themselves for a year and impressing nobody. They got this great idea. "HEY WE BOUGHT AT&T!!! EVERYONE'S HEARD OF THEM!!!" So they changed their name with big fanfare. Any CEO that didn't think of that in the first 2 seconds of the acquisition should have been fired on the spot for incompetence. But the whole company is dumber than that.

Re:AT&T needs to get destroyed (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623166)

Actually, SBC is AT&T, well a portion of the old AT&T after the break up. Similarly Qwest is another remnant of the old AT&T that's changed its name and bought out some of the other portions of the old business. It hasn't quite gotten to the point where it was originally, but at this point it's down to AT&T, Verizon and Qwest primarily controlling the assets that had been the old AT&T.

Re:AT&T needs to get destroyed (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623058)

What a bunch of bullshit. When AT&T ruled the earth, you couldn't connect anything but a Company Approved Phone [tm] to their lines, otherwise something might explode. Oh, and you can't buy a phone from the store, you have to rent one from the company store. You can have any color you like, as long as it's black.

Re:AT&T needs to get destroyed (1)

Elviswind (1959800) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623012)

These are the same players from the time when the first break up occurred.

Right . . . the AT&T executives from 1974, when the anti-trust lawsuit that led to AT&T's break-up was filed, are still running the company. C'mon now, John deButts, the chairman and chief executive of AT&T at that time, died in 1986.

Completely ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35622682)

Here we go, slap a meter on it even if the meter isn't accurate.

As to the competition bit, having two choices for net service isn't truly competition. It's a duopoly. You also have to keep in mind the operating mantra of the Bell System for years was that as a natural monopoly subject to fairly strict regulation in exchange for letting LD rates subsidize local services and for a guaranteed minimum of profit. Yet they managed to build a nationwide network that was pretty damned impressive for the day.

The net providers on the other hand don't want to improve their networks, they'd rather screw their customers.

Re:Completely ridiculous (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622724)

The net providers on the other hand don't want to improve their networks, they'd rather screw their customers.

...and metering bandwidth is another way to do it, with a ready-made excuse.

Illegal or not? (2)

pablo_max (626328) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622708)

It is not illegal to offer a metering service without the customer has access to said meter? It was my understanding that such services, like the water company, electric and gas MUST have a meter available for their customer to read as well, not because they are super nice guys, but because US law mandates it.
How is metered internet service different?
If they insist on saying, well the utilities do it this way and that way, and when they insist on acting like utility, should they not also be bound by the same rules?

Re:Illegal or not? (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622794)

ISPs are only utilities or common carriers when it comes to protection from criminal copyright infringement cases (providing the means of infringement).

They are content providers when it comes to getting protection from biased quality of service from other ISPs.

They get to have it both ways, and any other way they want as well.

Re:Illegal or not? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622870)

It's an interesting thought. Once on starts metering (or otherwise measuring) a product, one exposes ones self to the jurisdiction of additional regulatory authorities. Usually at the state level, although sometimes local (county and/or city) inspectors get involved as well.

This is a situation that telcos, ISPs, and cable companies have been trying to avoid. Having to comply with numerous different sets of regulations. Well, welcome to the world of utilities.

One other side effect of this move is that AT&T may have placed themselves into the legal classification of a common carrier. Something else that they have been trying to avoid.

Re:Illegal or not? (1)

GuldKalle (1065310) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622876)

Do you have access to the metering service of your phone?

Updates (-1, Flamebait)

Ollabelle (980205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622722)

AT&T's records are accurate. The problem is that all those computers are loaded with applications that keep checking for updates every 30 seconds. Tthat's what's chewing up all the bandwidth.

Re:Updates (0)

cosm (1072588) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622800)

//Lulz bandwidth hog FTW!
void CheckForAdobeUpdates() {
while (true) {
InstallNextUpdate();
}
}

Re:Updates (1)

TakeABow (2005428) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622812)

This, combined with ads can explain higher than expected bandwidth use, but it will not account for a discrepancy between what your router reports and what AT&T reports. The router sees all the traffic. If my internet was being metered, I would be quite outraged if my usage reported by my provider was significantly different than my usages reported by my ddwrt.

Consumer law doesn't apply to ISPs? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35622728)

Isn't billing based on inaccurate weights and measures fraud?

Re:Consumer law doesn't apply to ISPs? (1)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623144)

Someone in another forum suggested that Measurement Canada should get involved to standardize billing for ISPs in Canada. From their website:

Measurement Canada is responsible for ensuring the integrity and accuracy of measurement in the Canadian marketplace. We:

        develop and administer the laws and requirements governing measurement,
        evaluate, approve and certify measuring devices, and
        investigate complaints of suspected inaccurate measurement.
"

I think this is only fair for the consumers. I only hope that if the Canadians don't do this their American counterparts will and vice versa. We should at least be able to expect that we are getting what we are paying for.

What else is new? (1)

MoeDumb (1108389) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622760)

AT&T's bills haven't been accurate since they owned long distance service. Same with Ma Bell for local. We've been getting pickpocketed for a century.

Re:What else is new? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623192)

Yes, but thanks to their scale of efficiency, they can pick our pockets in the most efficient manner possible. Imagine if we had to have a dozen companies picking our pockets for that money, now aren't you glad that the government turns a blind eye to the lack of competitive market place?

One word to say on the topic (1)

jacobsm (661831) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622806)

Auditability.

Unwanted traffic (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35622832)

Like someone on the comments section of the article said.. what about if someone is ping flooding you, DDoS'ing, or otherwise sending traffic your way... here's a very true story about a similar situation my friend had with Nextel:

Years ago my friend had Nextel, and I sent him a text bomb (basically I just stuck his cell # into the TO field as many times as I could on a single text message and hit "send". After it sent, I went into the sent messages and just kept hitting "resend".)

So he received around 100 or so messages. I didn't know his nextel plan didn't include texting, and he'd be charge $0.25 per message. That's about $20 bucks out of his pocket FOR NOTHING.

He called Nextel and explained.. and got no where. So he bitched.. still got no where. After 2 hours on the phone trying different people and supervisors bitching about "how can you charge me 25 cents a message for messages A> I don't want, and B> I can't stop/block from coming in?!

Their solution was "well we can block all text messages".. at that point he told them to go f' themselves if they can't run their damn network correctly and understand how you could cause someone you disliked to have a HUGE phone bill, and told them right then and there he was leaving their messed up network. He promptly switched and ported his number.

But it just goes to show they DON'T take those situations into account, or just don't CARE about those situations.. which either way is a very sad thing indeed.

I hate these companies so much (5, Interesting)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622888)

Where I live I have two choices, AT&T and Comcast. It's like trying to pick a side to root for on the Ostfront in WWII. Can we root against them both?

I've gone through a six month period of terrible service with the AT&T fuckers. Service keeps dropping out, problem isn't on my end. Their fucking Indians don't have any clue what's going on with the service techs over here, nobody updates the account info properly, nobody gives a damn. And while we're at it, why do I have to type in my phone number for them to route it properly if they're just going to ask me what it is when I get there?

The problem is that there's no fucking free market. There is no competition. There's a duopoly with each choice being craptastic. The next pro-business cheerleader who goes teary-eyed about the marketplace of choice is getting my fist in his gob.

"The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll and we can be grateful for that."
-- Larry Kudlow, CNBC host and failed human being

Re:I hate these companies so much (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623200)

Around here it's Qwest and Comcast, trust me this isn't that much better than what you have. I swear that Qwest isn't giving us the throughput we're paying for.

Re:I hate these companies so much (1)

FlatEric521 (1164027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623322)

Even in locations with greater amount of competition the service doesn't get any better. In my location we can choose from AT&T, Comcast, Bright House (Time Warner), and Clear. Even with more choices the service doesn't get any better.

I had a similar experience with AT&T that eventually caused me to leave for Bright House. Their DSLAM suddenly decided it didn't like talking to my DSL modem, and it would just stop responding entirely. The first time it happened, a tech came out, checked my equipment and home wiring and declared them in working order. He then reset the DSLAM port and everything started working for a couple more weeks. Then it failed again. I spent over an hour on hold trying to tell them the problem was on their end. On the same day I got a bill from AT&T wanting $80 for the service visit even though the problem was on their side. I cancelled the next day.

So far Bright House has been fair, but they wanted absurdly low caps in their trials [slashdot.org] , so I'm not sure how long until they attempt that here, especially if AT&T pulls off their cap. Comcast is a total joke, and though Clear is still an option, their speeds are not going to be what I get now. I'm expecting a day in the future where all services have caps on them, just because these companies won't stop pushing for them.

world's unchosen whining of food shortages (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35622922)

looks like the world must need more heavy weaponry, & chariots of fire to help us not be hungry? that's all already paid for, right? environmentally friendly? who needs food?

killing Netflix (2)

robow (1609129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623004)

Won't metering internet usage be very damaging to companies like Netflix and youtube that rely on people using the internet to do things like watch movies?

My router's traffic shows 10-15% lower than AT& (3, Interesting)

bittmann (118697) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623026)

If I'm paying for PPPoE and ATM overhead, I'm gonna be pissed.

AT&T must be measuring bits at the DSLAM, if what they're reporting is anywhere close to being accurate. If a 150GB "cap" includes the approx. .5% PPPoE and 10+% ATM overhead, what I'm seeing means that my 150GB cap is in reality closer to 135GB.

Sucks.

Re:My router's traffic shows 10-15% lower than AT& (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35623196)

Plus, all those port probes and bots scanning / attacking your IP address will increase your costs.

Back to the shit days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35623122)

This is *clearly* AT&T's move to block competitive online video services. Can't wait for the years of court battles for anti-trust.

Detailed metering is a poor choice for the carrier (1)

Yoik (955095) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623214)

I've worked onthis in the past. Metering Internet usage isn't easy to get right as VZW discovered.

http://www.engadget.com/2010/10/03/verizon-agrees-to-refund-customers-90-million-for-wrongful-data/ [engadget.com]

Only raw measurements (bit counts at the interface) can be collected without significant processing. On a multiplexed interface figuring who got what isn't trivial.

I hate the marketing ideas that add cost and complexity to the network to reduce revenue. Metered billing seems very likely to reduce usage so people pay less than they did before. Sure the markups look great, but mailing DVDs is a cheap alternative @~$0.15 or less per gig. Great bandwidth, high latency, negative cool factor.

Fair charges are hard to define. Retries? Port scans or ping storms? Pure noise bad packets. Lots of failure modes cause increased counts. Do we really want to incent the carriers to do bad maintenance?

Disk has gotten cheap and fast, a user who records every bit going across his own interface is in good position to beat up an ISP billing group. I think metering may cost them to do, I suspect it's a loser even on wireless where the delivery costs are higher, as it drives users to find a wifi hotpoint. The only thing it is good for is making full wiretaps cheaper by cost sharing the common equipment.

Is it ever accurate? (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623308)

Is metered billing ever accurate? It seems like the only reason companies want to do this is to grab more cash than they should actually be getting. The onus is on the customer to check, but many don't know how without referring to the ISP's own utility which would just report the inaccurate data anyway. This makes it seem like a scam.

Don't do business with AT&T, ever (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35623312)

I repeat, do not fucking do business with AT&T.

Not unless you like getting both yourself and your wallet fucked in the ass.

AT&T makes Comcrap, Microsoft and Apple look benign.

Hell they're probably even nastier than Exxon-Mobile.

Router with open firmware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35623320)

I use my ISP's DSL router, but I don't use the built in switch. I have a WRT-54GL with DD-WRT firmware (and actually only use one port from that, connected to my own 1000BaseT switch, to which I connect all the computers on my home lan). DD-WRT tracks every bit by the month, every month. Everything that I download (even wireless connections) get tallied. If there is any question, I can dump records by day, week and month. It doesn't show hour/minute/second use, but if the ISP yelps about how much, I can dump numbers, charts and graphs. Mine doesn't tally the overhead at the DSLAM in the wire office, mine only shows bits I actually got. At least now I can dicker.

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