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App To Keep ISPs Honest About Bandwidth Caps

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the keeping-track-of-the-trackers dept.

The Internet 172

alphadogg writes "A browser-based app developed by Georgia Tech researchers is designed to help Internet users make better use of their bandwidth – and to make sure ISPs are holding up their end of the bandwidth bargain. The Kermit app, which is being shown off Wednesday (PDF) at the CHI 2011 Conference on Human Factors in Computing in Vancouver, emerges at a time when service providers are starting to place bandwidth caps not just on wireless services, but on wireline services, too. AT&T, for example, is putting such caps in place this month for its DSL and U-verse customers. At least initially, such caps aren't expected to affect all but the very heaviest bandwidth users."

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Browser based? (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099168)

How is a browser based app going to keep track of all TCP/IP traffic?

Also, Kermit is a terminal emulator. Pick a different name.

Re:Browser based? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099196)

The display is browser based, you can be sure it is using the router for the data and any throttling.

Re:Browser based? (0)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 3 years ago | (#36100170)

Fucking BS any fucking way. There should not be caps, period!!!

I have no problem paying for using the tubes and covering any charges incurred by the ISP, but they are monopolies and should be regulated as such.

Cocksuckers (I apologize to any cocksuckers I offended by comparing ISP/money grubbing companies to you) have major peering agreements and pay very fucking little for the amount of data that moves through their pipes.

Personally, I hope the top level executives who think caps are good, have to watch as their spouse, mothers and fathers, and children are raped by AIDS infested pit-bulls then slowly tortured to death before them, and then have to suffer by having their eyes removed with a grapefruit spoon, their tongue cut out with a rusty can lid, their eardrums pierced with an AIS infected knitting needle and their spinal cord cut right above the shoulders with a dull butter knife, so they can spend their remaining days, blind, deaf, paralyzed and unable to communicate while watching their families raped and killed over and over again.

And nah, I ain't really expressing my true opinions about them.

My true desires would be too graphic to actually post.

Re:Browser based? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099242)

http://www.cc.gatech.edu/~marshini/files/kermit.pdf

That's the actual paper on it. You have to read it to get the info as to how they really did it - via DD-WRT with RFLOW. Your suspicions are correct though - they can't do it with just a browser.

Re:Browser based? (5, Funny)

drpimp (900837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099262)

Ms. Piggy ??? Seems apropos for seeing who the bandwidth hog is.

Re:Browser based? (0)

QilessQi (2044624) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099406)

Mod parent up, please. Damn but that's perfect.

Re:Browser based? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099352)

Also, Kermit is a terminal emulator. Pick a different name.

No, no it is not. Kermit is either a frog or a file transfer protocol, but it is not a terminal emulator.

Re:Browser based? (1)

smitty97 (995791) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099466)

Mod parent informative. Young whippersnapper's probably never used an acoustic modem either. And get off my lawn!

Re:Browser based? (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099946)

don't you mean "agetty off my lawn"?

Re:Browser based? (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36100238)

    You have a terminal on your lawn? That's odd.

Re:Browser based? (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 3 years ago | (#36100352)

It uses a cereal link!

Re:Browser based? (2)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36100672)

    I'm getting visuals of a line of Cheerios(tm) being carried by ants from the front porch to the WYSE terminal in the front yard.

    This cold medicine works wonders for the imagination. The doctor said take the cough syrup "as needed". I'm through three bottles just today.

Re:Browser based? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099410)

It's actually a modified DD-WRT firmware with a browser based GUI. The system also brings a database server along with it so it's not exactly a light weight system.

So overall news content... 0.

Re:Browser based? (1)

illtud (115152) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099552)

Also, Kermit is a terminal emulator. Pick a different name.

It's a lot more than that, for those of us who suffered using it to transfer files across 9k6 baud. It really sucked being off campus home for the holidays in the early 90s. (cue real oldies and their suffering stories...), at least it was an improvement on ZMODEM.

Re:Browser based? (1)

etijburg (684177) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099686)

I still manage a X.25 network that uses 33.6 modems today. This kind of stuff will never go away. And get off my lawn as well.

Re:Browser based? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099980)

Oi! ZModem was much better than XModem or YModem. (It still hurts to not type it MODEM).

Get off my lawn!

Re:Browser based? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36100060)

Back in 1990 my modem could do only 2400 baud. I can still reproduce the modem connect sequence with my voice.
Does someone have a number to a live BBS? I want to dial it up and connect by voice.

Re:Browser based? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#36100506)

>>>Kermit was an improvement on ZMODEM.

Ahhh, nope. Kermit was one of the EARLY transfer protocols (early 80s), and because it was basically junk, was quickly replaced by later formats like Ymodem1K, Ymodem-g, and Zmodem (late 80s).

Exactly (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099170)

At least initially, such caps aren't expected to affect all but the very heaviest bandwidth users.

Fuck the pirates who are stealing all the bandwidth while I can barely even check my email.

Re:Exactly (5, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099220)

Also the steam users, netflix users and itunes users? The pirates arn't the only ones that have an insatiable demand for bandwidth.

Re:Exactly (2)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099372)

Not to mention the MMO's and other applications now sending around their updates via Torrent protocols.

And the people who telecommute.

Or use Skype.

Or use a lot of Hulu Plus.

I don't torrent, and yet my "usage" always seems to be about 2/3 of my ISP's cap. Just wait till apps get even hungrier, in 2 years time everyone will be hitting cap and either getting PO'ed or start dropping those services... which is what the ISP monopolies want so they can force people back into cable TV, pay-channels, etc.

Re:Exactly (2)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099234)

"Stealing" bandwidth, funny. Also funny that it's "Pirates" doing it, not just consumers using what they paid for. QQ

Re:Exactly (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36100240)

Then theres the inverse of that. AT&T are the damn phone company. Why so stingy with the bandwidth, girls? How 'bout getting them legendary labs to work on compression or at least a good sense approach to routing and shaping that the old Road Runner service had? You know, a f*&king cable company. But, you own the lines, the phone company. No wonder you limp along like 50's pr0n star with no Viagra. Lamers!

Re:Exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099240)

Oh yea thats what that is. Your ISP sucks balls and you blame it on pirates. Bitch at your ISP then asshole. Or get something faster then 28.8k

Pro Tip: If something goes wrong on your computer it was either Anonymous' fault, pirates fault, or someone else besides your fault.

P.S. Did you check for virii, or other assorted malware? Try different nic drivers? Check the cabling? Called your ISP to have them check for issues on the line? Ensure that all of the settings on your computer is correct? Try a different NIC? Different OS? Different Computer? No, Im willing to bet you tried none of that. I'm willing to bet your first impulse was to blame a third party. Fuck off.

Satellite and 3G ISPs still limit customers (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099418)

Or get something faster then 28.8k

Satellite and 3G ISPs still limit customers to about 5 GB per month. Anyone approaching the cap gets throttled down to dial-up speed.

Did you check for virii

No, but I did check for viruses.

Re:Satellite and 3G ISPs still limit customers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099574)

virii - A superset of computer software composed of computer viruses, trojans, and worms

Re:Exactly (1)

Lundse (1036754) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099258)

Yeah! Outlaw the bittorrent protocol, that'll make everything on the net go smoother!

Re:Exactly (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099556)

and then a different protocol will be used, just like they were before bittorrent, so what do you outlaw next, ftp, html, what?

Re:Exactly (1)

kenshin33 (1694322) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099260)

sarcasm, right?

Re:Exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099328)

This is not directed to the OP, but to all the replies... STOP FEEDING THE FUCKING TROLL. And mods, if you think this is flamebait, just re-read the OP with your brain turned on this time. Seriously.

Re:Exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099664)

Maybe YOU should re-read the OP with your sarcasm detector turned on. Or maybe it was really a troll. I don't know. I got nothin'.

Re:Exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099642)

Not the pirates, but the ISPs for not building their infrastructure to handle the load already. Fuck the ISPs

Vote with your wallet! (2)

spaceplanesfan (2120596) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099174)

Instead of using such app, just choose a provider that doesn't cap you.
Or al least just slows down the connection speed if you are over the cap, but doesn't charge you extra.
I can't forget the times my internet access was metered, back in dial-up days. Don't want that nightmare again for any price and any cap.

Re:Vote with your wallet! (1)

kenshin33 (1694322) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099236)

meh .. these are one of the endangered species.

Re:Vote with your wallet! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099244)

It's great to tote out this line. It gives you warm fuzzies, doesn't it? But the reality is, that if a lot of us want broadband, we only have one option in our areas.

You either go back to dial up, or you are stuck.

Re:Vote with your wallet! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099292)

I don't have a choice in voting. Sure there's the "option" of moving and going to a location that has choices for broadband internet access but my wallet doesn't have that kind of voting power.

Re:Vote with your wallet! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099306)

I have 1 provider available.

So what is my "choice" and "vote"?

Re:Vote with your wallet! (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099424)

Anonymous Coward wrote:

I have 1 provider available.

You have more than one place to live available.

Re:Vote with your wallet! (2)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099486)

Yes, because most people can afford to just pick up and move so they can switch ISPs.

Re:Vote with your wallet! (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099694)

most people can but most wont

Re:Vote with your wallet! (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099734)

Bullshit. There are 2 providers here, and they cover the entire state as far as I can tell. In order to change to somebody else I'd literally have to find a new job out of state or commute 8 hours both ways to work.

I doubt very much that most people are going to be in a situation where they would do that or have a shorter commute in order to make that happen.

Re:Vote with your wallet! (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099908)

I meant most people can move and change jobs but most won't do it for an issue as seemingly trivial as internet access

Re:Vote with your wallet! (3)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36100584)

And that seems reasonable? For all intents and purposes if you have to move out of state to change ISPs it means that it's impossible. Very few people would argue that it's a functioning market if the only way to imagine competition is to have people competing nationally. I could also move to Korea or Sweden, both of which apparently have better connections than I do, I'm not sure that it would be reasonable to suggest that I therefore have the option of getting the fastest speeds on the planet, just because I could move to where ever that is at the time.

Re:Vote with your wallet! (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36100602)

That's his point. You can move if it was such a hardship that you felt it necessary to correct.

    Your Internet connection isn't usually such a hardship that you would move to resolve it. I have lived in places with horrible service. When practical, I moved. But if you lived somewhere that did not have cell phone nor land line service, you would move if your job required you to be able to answer the phone. If you no longer had access to food or drinking water, you would move. If your home was destroyed, as the homes all around it, you'd leave. If you lived in a place that was dangerous, you'd move to somewhere safer. Well, people don't. Last time I checked, people still lived in bad neighborhoods with gang warfare, and war zones around the world. They don't leave.

    hmmm... How bad was that Internet capping again? /me starts polishing his AR-15 for the May 21, 2011 apocalypse.

Re:Vote with your wallet! (1)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099698)

Anonymous Coward wrote:

I have 1 provider available.

You have more than one place to live available.

That's a very realistic option, thanks. "Well, honey, the reason we need to quit our jobs, sell our house and relocate is that, even though we selected this place to live because AT&T's ultra-fast u-verse was available here in the first place, they've now changed the contract on us and started to cap bandwidth usage."

Re:Vote with your wallet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099814)

You have more than one place to live available.

tepples becomes a 911 dispatcher:
Caller: Help, my house is on fire!
tepples: Oh boo hoo. If you don't like fire, just go find a different house to live in.

Or perhaps read the article and watch the video? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099318)

This isn't about USAGE caps. It's about BANDWIDTH.

Re:Or perhaps read the article and watch the video (1)

mcavic (2007672) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099956)

Good point, and I only glanced at the pdf, but hopefully it'll do both.

Re:Vote with your wallet! (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099320)

Instead of using such app, just choose a provider that doesn't cap you.

. . . and when you are limited to a choice of only one or two providers, both of whom have bandwidth caps (published or unlimited*) what do you propose as the solution?

*("unlimited*" = !unlimited)

Re:Vote with your wallet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099332)

Voting with your wallet is only effective if you know what you are getting for your money and can verify it. Hence this app.

Re:Vote with your wallet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099358)

once I get capped I'll probably just cancel the internet

Re:Vote with your wallet! (1)

mcavic (2007672) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099940)

once I get capped I'll probably just cancel the internet

Yeah, and if the air pollution gets any worse, I'll just stop breathing. My wife and I are both power users, and we're only using 138 gigs/mo out of 250, according to my stats.

They called it Kermit??!?!? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099178)

Heathens!

Waaay back, the Kermit protocol was the shit:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kermit_(protocol) [wikipedia.org]

Now get off my lawn!

Re:They called it Kermit??!?!? (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099580)

I was thinking exactly the same thing. At least if they had called it Zmodem it would have been more relevant ;^)

Ehh (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099206)

Sounds like a less useful version of the SamKnows white box [samknows.com] already out.

Re:Ehh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099474)

Except this is really not an option as they are still mostly in test phase...you can get their "special sauce" software in netgear 3500 routers soon and that looks like the only option about to hit retail.

Personally I find it offensive that our government did not require an independently designed and tested device and or program to monitor bandwidth usage before allowing corporations to put caps into place. Especially since we know how reliable those corps are at metering. Not to mention the fact that you definitely should not be charged for extra bandwidth used because of traffic shaping by the corps...which I am sure we will be.

At least initially... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099266)

"...such caps aren't expected to affect all but the very heaviest bandwidth users."

Last month, I used 350gb of traffic; all of which was legitimate, split between services like NetFlix for television and movies, Steam for gaming, iTunes for music and podcasts, and the rest of normal day-to-day traffic. I may be on the extreme end for most people at this point in time, but the point is that technology keeps moving, and eventually usage like mine will be the norm, not the exception.

What the bandwidth caps will do is stifle technological progress. To use the required car analogy, they are like putting a 40mph cap on the newly-invented automobile, simply because few, if any, people need to go that fast. At some point, people did need to drive 40mph, then 50mph, then 60mph, and so on and so forth. It will work the same way with internet usage, and that is why bandwidth caps are such a serious problem. A decade ago, most of the country was still on dial-up, and the ideas of streaming video, social media, and the proliferation of modern media over the internet were still in their infancy. 150gb then would have been, literally, an unreachable amount of data to consume in a month. However, times change, and today 150gb is next to nothing for someone who uses the internet to its current full potential.

So many people may look at these, if they notice them at all, and say, "Who cares? I don't use that much data." But the point is that they don't use that much data now, and this is an attempt to keep them from using that much data ever.

Because let's not mince words about this. Infrastructure is fairly expensive, but once it is in place bandwidth across it is extremely cheap (often approaching as low as 3 cents per gigabyte, according to several studies). Corporations like AT&T and Comcast aren't doing this because the bandwidth usage is expensive. They are doing it because they are terrified of a future where consumers don't need their multiple services anymore. If you can get your television, movies, music, games, e-mail, social contacts, phone service, etc. all through your internet connection, there will be zero incentive to pay for locked-down cable television and movie rentals, and highly priced telephone service. They are not about to let that happen, and this is a major salvo in their war on that.

That's what people need to be aware of with this. It's not about the cost, it's about controlling the flow of information and stifling technological progress to secure corporate profits. And nobody should stand for it.

Re:At least initially... (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099416)

Why is steam getting bundled into this? Unless you are downloading a shit-ton of games from the steam store, steam uses no more than a normal mp gaming session.

I know someone is going to say something about the steam updater, but last I checked when a patch for a game was released your option was to download the patch or play on unpatched servers. The latter tends to be lacking if a game is popular at the time.

Re:At least initially... (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099518)

Why is steam getting bundled into this? Unless you are downloading a shit-ton of games from the steam store, steam uses no more than a normal mp gaming session.

Because most new games require downloads of many multiple gigs of data?

Re:At least initially... (2)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099550)

Games often clock in at many GB, and a moderately enthusiastic gamer might well be buying more than one each month, especially with the big flashy promos that Steam tends to do - it's not going to use your full allowance unless you're reinstalling on a new system (a valid use in itself), but I can quite see that it'd make a dent. A few people in the house with both Steam and Netflix accounts adds up pretty quickly, even if not all of them are buying games every month.

As for updates - if you're forced to play on a limited subset of servers because your ISP doesn't give you enough bandwidth to download patches, I'd say that's a prime example of bandwidth limits hurting the legitimate consumer.

Re:At least initially... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099758)

Not that it solves the problem, but you can, and probably should, keep a copy of the downloaded files, that way you just have to copy them to the correct directory and have Steam revalidate them.

Re:At least initially... (1)

auLucifer (1371577) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099990)

Or maybe just buy the game from a brick and mortar store to save having a copy as it comes on a disk already! Doesn't solve the cap problem either but then you're not using any data to get the initial install!
/sarcasm

Re:At least initially... (0)

kimvette (919543) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099506)

Last month, I used 350gb of traffic; all of which was legitimate, split between services like NetFlix for television and movies, Steam for gaming, iTunes for music and podcasts, and the rest of normal day-to-day traffic. I may be on the extreme end for most people at this point in time, but the point is that technology keeps moving, and eventually usage like mine will be the norm, not the exception.

See, that's the problem. You're not being a good little consumer thinking that you should be so lucky to have interweb access at all, but actually expect the vendor to deliver what they promised you, and that they should be doing that at reasonable rates and thank you for your patronage because you and I subsidized their infrastructure (see: mandatory FCC fees).

What makes it worse is more and more people will be wanting to do what you do; go to any content provider or service or communications system you like, cutting them out of the loop so that as far as you are concerned they are "just" an ISP, and not your telephone provider nor your cable TV provider any more. They just can't have that.

Re:At least initially... (1)

ZombieBite (1325041) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099680)

And yet if my ISP started enforcing caps and charging overages, I would almost certainly cancel my cable TV services with them. If the cost for me to access the internet increases, either through overage charges or a monthly increase to raise my cap to a reasonable level, the money will need to come from somewhere. For me the internet takes priority over TV.

Re:At least initially... (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099546)

To use the required car analogy

Wrong analogy. The proper car analogy to 'bandwidth' is cars per lane per time unit. How much 'data' i.e. cars can you get through a fixed pipe, i.e. highway.

In the car world, as more people try to use the limited resource your speed goes down. The concept of 'caps' is to limit the amount of data being requested at any given time.

Unfortunately the ISPs concept is that they stop the congestion by limiting how many miles you can drive in a month which still lets everyone on the highway for the first 2 weeks of the month.

Re:At least initially... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099772)

Which is inefficient and leads to wasted capacity at times of the day when people are sleeping or at work or otherwise not likely to be online.

Re:At least initially... (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099852)

Fair enough, but how does that matter to the problem at hand of limited bandwidth at peak times?

Re:At least initially... (3, Interesting)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36100294)

'round here, when we still had caps my ISP had a policy of limiting heavily (20GB/month) during the daytime, and not counting the traffic during the night (1 to 9 am).

Of course, everyone had their download managers and P2P apps (eMule, at the time, was the most used) scheduled to only transfer data during those hours.

It worked pretty well; the ISP had the lowest RTT of all during the day and you could transfer way more data per month.

Re:At least initially... (4, Informative)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099600)

Last month, I used 350gb of traffic; all of which was legitimate, split between services like NetFlix for television and movies, Steam for gaming, iTunes for music and podcasts, and the rest of normal day-to-day traffic.

1 HD movie a day for a month from Netflix will top out at about 135 GB.
Buying one new AAA game a week on Steam for a month is 40-45 GB.
A 384kbps stream 24/7 for an entire month would only be 125 GB

I think the Internet turns everybody into hoarders, they download/stream things they have very little intention of ever watching just because it's there.

Re:At least initially... (2)

The Good Reverend (84440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099846)

Except for OTA with antenna, everything I watch on television is streaming, mostly from Netflix. Between me, my wife, and my 4-year-old, we watch 4-6 hours a day, and about half of that is in HD. It really doesn't take much.

My extreme likelihood of going over AT&T's 150GB cap caused me to move back to Time Warner's cable internet service, which for now, at least, doesn't have caps. I hate Time Warner, but since those are my only two broadband choices, it wasn't a tough choice.

Re:At least initially... (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099692)

But the point is that they don't use that much data now, and this is an attempt to keep them from using that much data ever.

Exactly. And the author of TFA has already forgotten that caps aren't new -- Comcast implemented them back in Fall of '08. And to underscore your point, that was almost 3 years ago and they haven't raised them since, and certainly haven't scaled in proportion to the speeds of up to 100Mbit that they now offer.

Re:At least initially... (2)

LostAlaska (760330) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099942)

My ISP in Alaska just went from quasi unlimited (until they tell you it's limited) to officially capped. The top tier that costs nearly $200 month gives you 120GB of transfer @ 22MB/4MB. Before the cap on average I used about 70GB a month with my plan, my same plan with the caps imposed was 20GB a month. When I called my ISP 'GCI' the person on the phone outright told me the only way anyone uses that much bandwidth is if they are a thief using torrents. When i asked about watching HD movies streaming, and downloading games on steam, and system updates, and video skyping with my sister over seas they threatened to cancel my account. I'm now paying nearly $200 a month for CAPPED INTERNET. My other choices which I have tried is ATT WIMAX which would drop it's connection about once an hour and I couldn't get over a half MegaBit on downloads and my upload was under 100kilobits. So I tried ACS DSL which is about $70 a month for unlimited use @ 3MB/512KB. Their latency was actually worse than the WIMAX when it was working. Doing trace routes the speed on the hops inside of Alaska were great at under 30ms, then it hit their main facility that links via fiber to the lower 48 and the pings went up over 1000ms so streaming constantly stuttered and skype was almost unusable since we were cutting each other off because of the 1 to 1.5 seconds lag in the conversation. So now I pay almost $250 a month for premium cable TV, a phone line and 120GB capped internet access. I rarely watch Cable TV (use HULU or NETFLIX for the few shows I want to watch) but GCI requires you have 'premium' cable if you want to increase your internet speed and cap amount. The phone (digital, comes with a analog to Digital conversion box so it also goes over the digital cable line) is a joke that I've never plugged in since I have a cell. So really i'm paying almost $250 a month for internet access with a 120GB cap, the rest of their 'convenience' bundle is a joke that I never use. Just another way to prop up their old tired way of doing things at GCI. Check out http://assets.gci.com/2011/01/packages_anchorage111_01.gif [gci.com] if you want to have a laugh.....

Re:At least initially... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099996)

What I find additionally worrisome is that ISP-supplied services are not beholden to their own caps. That appears to at least be the case with Comcast's digital phone service, which won't contribute to your bandwidth (http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10028992-2.html). This, then, puts competition at risk because using Skype/Vonage/etc. can make you hit your limit.

A maybe less obvious service from cable companies -- although it's as such more due to historical reasons -- is TV. You can watch all the cable HDTV you want as long as you pay your ISP. But even if your were to pay the same amount (or more) to Netflix, you won't be able to watch that much HDTV over the internet due to the cap.

This is another reason why Network Neutrality needs to be discussed more in the public forum.

Re:At least initially... (2)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 3 years ago | (#36100042)

What the bandwidth caps will do is stifle technological progress.

Actually, it will encourage the development of bandwidth-conserving technologies.

Re:At least initially... (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 3 years ago | (#36100746)

That's a poor way to develop. Software would certainly have to be innovative if we stopped at 50MHZ processors, but the limitation would dwarf the accomplishments.

Re:At least initially... (1)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 3 years ago | (#36100052)

I don't know if your analogy plays well. I'm seeing that caps get lower but we get more and more advertisement. Seems to me that it's more like you're given a limited amount of gas, but that gas may be consumed by a large message board you're required to carry making your fuel efficient car a gas guzzler.

It bothers me that AT&T gives me a $15 200MB plan, but insists on locking the phone so I'm not able to write the host file to avoid annoying advertisement that it's wasting it.

Re:At least initially... (1)

fa2k (881632) | more than 3 years ago | (#36100402)

Because let's not mince words about this. Infrastructure is fairly expensive, but once it is in place bandwidth across it is extremely cheap (often approaching as low as 3 cents per gigabyte, according to several studies).

What studies, exactly? 3 cents seems WAY too expensive. Users are already paying tiered prices for the speed (5mbit, 20mbit etc), is that even considered? Probably not.. the price per GB could be an interesting measure anyway, keeping in mind that speed and transfer volume are highly correlated. If we are excluding infrastructure, I can't think of any reason why it would be that much. The marginal cost of transfering 1GB would come from increased power usage of the switches, and possibly increased maintenance costs (32 bit counters rolling over?). Maybe the copper wires get "worn out" from shooting too many electrons through them.. Seriously, 3 cents/GB??

Wireline?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099364)

Who came up with that boneheaded term, "wireline"?

Stick with "wired" or "cable" or "landline," please. They're well-established and not redundant.

"Cable" means DOCSIS (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099442)

Stick with "wired" or "cable" or "landline," please.

Wired is a magazine. "Cable" commonly means DOCSIS, as opposed to DSL or fiber to the curb. "Land line" commonly means POTS, as opposed to VoIP or cellular.

Re:"Cable" means DOCSIS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099598)

Cable (DOCSIS) and DSL copper are actually wires, but fiber isn't, even though it often carries POTS just as well as data. All of these can be data connections.

Besides, "wireline" already has a meaning outside of networking, it's used for bringing equipment up and down a drilled hole.

Re:"Cable" means DOCSIS (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099710)

Actually, 'wired' means 'pulling the romex cables through the 2x4 frame. Or 'used wire-wrap gun to implement circuit.

But apparently you're really into that bling poseur magazine.

AT&T Customer (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099446)

I'm an AT&T customer. So far I haven't been given any notification (outside of Slashdot) that my DSL account is about to receive a bandwidth cap. Moreover, I really have no idea how much bandwidth I use. I've read recent stories about methods to track my own use, but honestly, why should I? If they are going to charge me or punish me for exceeding an arbitrary limit, won't they be required to tell me how close I am to that limit?

I have no love for AT&T. I refuse to use their cellular service because I don't want to give AT&T any more of my money after their wiretap debacle. But my only other high speed internet service options are Clearwire (horror stories of low function) or Suddenlink (personal experience with 40% upstream packet loss), so I'm pretty much stuck with AT&T.

Re:AT&T Customer (2)

MBCook (132727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099514)

I received an email, however they told me to check my usage on their site.

I went to their site and was told they didn't know my usage, so I didn't need to worry about it (it actually said that). I found that a bit disquieting.

I'm not heavy user. The most I do is go on occasional Netflix binges watching a bunch of TV episodes in a row. It's very unlikely I'd actually hit the cap. But if it's going to be enforced against me, I want to be able to see what I've used.

Re:AT&T Customer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36100088)

I received an email, however they told me to check my usage on their site.

Like you, I've checked the site that tells me I'm unlimited and shouldn't worry. But I still haven't gotten an email from them telling me what will happen. Did you get yours in your real email where they send your bills, or did you receive it at your att.net email that they give you and shouldn't expect you to check?

Re:AT&T Customer (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099896)

You can't trust their accounting. I have an account with Clear and my monthly usage totals for one adapter seem to be different every time I look. And I'm talking about usage for months that are long closed. I've seen the total go from 130 gigs to over 500 gigs down to 460 gigs, then 380 gigs, and now 200 gigs. For the same month. It's ridiculous. Their inability to accurately track data usage is probably the reason they don't have a specified cap. Because people would pay more attention and notice the discrepancies.

I'll trust neutral DD-WRT data from my router over the ISP any day of the week.

An option for those who don't have ISP choice... (2)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099470)

If you are one of those that are unfortunate enough to not have a choice of ISP either due to only 1 in your area or all in your area with caps, how about emailing compaines that have streaming media, if you have an account with them. How far do you think these caps would go, if half of Netflix userbase suddenly dropped their service, because they were capped on the data amount their ISP let them have.

I can see the email now.

Dear Netflix,
I regret that I must terminate my account with you, due to my ISP having a cap on the amount of bandwidth I can use per month. Though my family and I have enjoyed your streaming services for N months now, we simply can not sacrifice our day to day net usage for streaming content.
In the future we may be able to reopen an account, but as of this time there is only 1 ISP in our area, we have no other choices for service.

Thank you
Joe Capped

Is it just me that thinks that if Netflix, or ESPN, or whoever sells streaming subscriptions gets a few thousand emails like this that they wouldn't start putting pressure on the ISP's?

Re:An option for those who don't have ISP choice.. (2)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099508)

What Netflix is doing is lowering the quality of the video they stream so people don't use as much data. They do this now for Canadians who face far stricter caps right now. Secondly, how exactly is Netflix going to put pressure on the ISPs? They are extremely tiny compared to the ISPs especially when it comes to political clout. Why exactly do you think AT&T, Time Warner, Comcast or Verizon are going to care that Netflix might lose customers to caps?

Re:An option for those who don't have ISP choice.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099612)

Netflix should care because they have a business that rely on streaming as part of their business model. If they lose customers then they really will care. I, for one, wouldn't use their DVD mailing system, but love their streaming, would drop then if I hit my AT&T cap (Between AT& and COMCAST I pick the lesser of two evils) quick with streaming and if Netflix lower their quality (yes, I actually prefer good quality viewing experience.)

Funny thing is, my Internet service has been working great so far for years. Why the sudden need for a cap? ISPs excuses are bull crap and they need to be sued for lying and cheating their customers.

Re:An option for those who don't have ISP choice.. (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099726)

Of course they care, but they're powerless to do anything about it and ISPs (particularly cable providers, though any triple-play provider) would love nothing more than to see Netflix fail. So you're thinking completely in reverse: what you really need is half of Netflix customers threatening to cancel their ISP contracts.

Re:An option for those who don't have ISP choice.. (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099748)

in canada use velcom or teksavy

Block advertizing (3, Insightful)

starfishsystems (834319) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099516)

Most protocols are dedicated to a specific function. It used to be that you wouldn't run a network application unless it was doing something that you specifically wanted it to do.

That expectation has changed significantly over the past decade, and not for the better. Now your choice of operating system or application is taken as an implicit invitation for it to use your network connection in ways that are not necessarily intended for your benefit at all. That's why it sometimes makes sense to configure a separate firewall device even for personal use. You can't, theoretically, prevent a proprietary protocol from tunnelling whatever data it likes, but you can at least perform a practical kind of triage over the traffic passing across your network.

As the Web becomes an increasingly general transport for applications, it becomes a network management exercise in its own right. And the concepts are similar to firewall management. Given that I'm paying for my system resources and my network bandwidth, I certainly don't want to waste them transporting and processing content that isn't valuable to me. Advertizing is not valuable to me. Therefore, I block it, just as I block any protocol that isn't valuable to me. As a consequence, I get very high signal-to-noise in my use of the network.

My ISP should be grateful.

It's not going to keep any ISP honest (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099542)

ISPs will simply put in their ToS that caps are based on the ISP's sole measurement of your bandwidth.

"Bargain"? Not really. (1)

Schlemphfer (556732) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099564)

From the summary:

>and to make sure ISPs are holding up their end of the bandwidth bargain.

It's hardly a bargain if it's a term forced on you from lack of ability to take your business elsewhere.

It's rflow for dummies... almost (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#36099582)

All this is, is rflow for dummies... dummies who are smart enough to get a DD-WRT compatible router and flash it. That said, I just picked up a cheap Buffalo 802.11N router, and it came with DD-WRT preinstalled, so this may be more accessible than it once was.

bandwidth tracking prog advice needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36099716)

Does anybody know any good FREE programs to keep track of bandwidth usage? Something like NerWorx by SoftPerfect. I tried it and I liked it but for some reason it is tracking my usage incorrectly, I think by like a factor of 8 or 10. I couldn't figure out what the problem was.
Any advice is greatly appreciated.
Thanks!

owned (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 3 years ago | (#36100392)

It is probably the bot running on your xp box that is using all the bandwidth.

Re:bandwidth tracking prog advice needed (2)

CaptKeen (92992) | more than 3 years ago | (#36100630)

Does anybody know any good FREE programs to keep track of bandwidth usage? Something like NerWorx by SoftPerfect. I tried it and I liked it but for some reason it is tracking my usage incorrectly, I think by like a factor of 8 or 10. I couldn't figure out what the problem was.
Any advice is greatly appreciated.
Thanks!

There are two different units of measure at play here. Network bandwidth is measured in bits, or bits/second. PC storage is measured in bytes, where each byte is made up of 8 bits.

When your provider sells you a connection of, say, 1.544mb/sec - thats megaBITS not megabytes. You need to divide by 8 to come up with your connection speed in bytes.

Storage on a PC is based around a byte, which is 8 bits. The network usage captured is correct - it was simply displaying it in bits, not bytes.

Bandwidth caps (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 3 years ago | (#36100128)

I have a rather good friend that runs a ISP. He has a rather simple solution to bandwidth hogs, he disconnects them. If they paid for the month he refunds them and sends them on their way. It just is not worth it to keep those problem customers.

Re:Bandwidth caps (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36100534)

I have a rather good friend that runs a ISP. He has a rather simple solution to bandwidth hogs, he disconnects them. If they paid for the month he refunds them and sends them on their way. It just is not worth it to keep those problem customers.

I have a good friend that ran for office for the Pirate Party of Sweden. He doesn't run an ISP but he knows people who do and those guys aren't dicks.
They don't disconnect people for using the bandwidth they paid for because the ISP makes sure to have enough bandwidth to actually cover the current usage.

Yes that's right: They actually spend a small portion of their profits on keeping ahead of the demand. And you know what? They still make plenty of money.

Fucking reasonably sane government regulations, how do they work?

One more reason to secure your Wifi. (1)

wiedzmin (1269816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36100344)

Bandwidth caps are just one more reason to secure your WiFi so that you don't end up paying for your neighbors torrents on top of having to deal with copyright trolls.
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