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Will Capped Data Plans Kill the Cloud?

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the that's-enough-for-you dept.

Cloud 530

theodp writes "With the introduction of its Chromebook, Google is betting big on the Cloud. As is Apple, with its iCloud initiative. So too are Netflix and Skype. Unfortunately, their very existence is threatened by data-capping carriers, who have set a course to make sure that the network is NOT the computer. 'I don't know what the solution is,' writes David Pogue. 'I don't know if anyone's thinking about this. But there are big changes coming. There are big forces about to shape our lives online. And at the moment, they're on a direct collision course.'"

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Simple (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491364)

The solution is taking the networks away from those who don't want to provide the service they promised to provide when they were given monopolies by the government.

Re:Simple (5, Interesting)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491576)

The solution is taking the networks away from those who don't want to provide the service they promised to provide when they were given monopolies by the government.

Obviously your argument is simplistic. Now, we all know that it doesn't cost much (if anything) more to run a network running at 50% capacity than one running at 10%, so the straight up "utility" model like electricity or water billing doesn't exactly translate. However, it DOES cost more when you have to split out areas that are currently on one cable loop into two or more cable loops (as an example). So there absolutely is a cost to allowing usage to climb with no limit and no increased price. What the real solution has to be is some form of tiered service. Not a "aha! you went over your limit by 2 GB - you owe $100" type of gouging tier. More of a "all use between 0 and 150 GB per month you pay $0.10 per GB, for use between 150 and 300 GB per month you are billed at $0.15 per GB, and for usage over 300 GB per month you are billed at $0.20 per GB" type of deal. There would be a "connection / account maintenance" base fee (like a meter fee for electricity - for an example say $10), and any rental fees (if you rent your modem, etc.). The rest would be simple tiered usage based.

With my admittedly pulled out of somewhere the sun doesn't shine sample numbers it would look like this:

Use 80 GB per month: Base fee + 80 * $.10 = $18.
Use 200 GB per month: Base fee + (150 * $0.10) + (50 * $0.15) = $32.50
Use 400 GB per month: Base fee + (150 * $0.10) + (150 * $0.15) + (100 * $0.20) = $67.50

Obviously those are just sample numbers, but they contain a penalty for using "a lot" of bandwidth. People can argue about whether there should be "night time GB" and "weekend GB" and all that - but the basics of pay as you go should really end up being the model for network usage.

Re:Simple (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491682)

If this does kill "The Cloud" can we go a whole week without a new story about it?

Yes you can cluster computers together so that the individual identity/address of any particular node of the cluster is unimportant. Yes you can combine the resources of those nodes to increase computing power and availability. Can we all collectively get over this and end our eyes-glazed fascination with the subject now? It really is and should be a very simple thing to understand.

Nope, gotta bend over and grab your ankles and say "please marketers, please ruin one more thing, please ravage me hard". So wait, we gotta come up with a term for it. We'll call it, "THE CLOUD" because that sounds mysterious and foggy and like something you can't see through so you wouldn't know what was inside it. That'll keep 'em at the edge of their seats, yeah. Thanks to previous marketing efforts they already think their PCs are magic boxes they could never understand anyway, so this will build on that mystery.

The final step is crucial. We must obsessively expound this at every opportunity. It must be inserted into every conversation. Sure, you can upload a video to Youtube. But have you uploaded a video TO THE CLOUD (cue dramatic music)?! Yeah, you can set up a web server and serve up web pages, but have you made web pages and uploaded them TO THE CLOUD (dramatic music)?! Sure, Seti@Home and other projects (mostly about breaking encryption) demonstrated that distributed computing can process massive amounts of data... but have you hired Amazon so you could do this WITH THE CLOUD (music)?!

It's fun to create a solution and then look for a problem to which it applies. And then mentioning it everywhere and inserting it into every conversation, like an evangelical who just discovered Jesus. Next time we do this can we keep it a secret from the marketers? The only way they ever seem to understand technology is to dumb it down.

Actually Apple's iCloud may be another solution (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491774)

Actually Apple's iCloud may be another solution. It will not be streaming my music over the net, it will be synching music files between various devices. Comparably that requires far less data. A cloud that is merely used for file storage and synching may not be endangered.

Answer... (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491376)

"Only in the United States, where caps are popular." But in truth, I'd be more concerned about unbrided capitalism and monopolistic practices killing not just the cloud, but any hope my country has of competing in a global marketplace. We've already hamstrung ourselves on an antiquidated patent and copyright system that is forcing our talent overseas to produce, we have our government busy chasing down music pirates while ignoring the massive amounts of identity theft and fraud perpetuated by malware and botnets, and the list goes on.

Re:Answer... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491434)

Now that Microsoft has been approved to acquire Skype, I'd say Microsoft and Google both pressuring for unlimited bandwidth will come to the aid of least to a degree. However, I look for them both to lock users into their own clouds, which could be worse than ISP's locking in people.
I do love the observation that the government is wasting our money chasing down small time music copiers, while letting the big time malware and botnets mostly slide.

Which would be great (4, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491460)

If it were the truth, but it isn't. Plenty of other countries have caps. At least in the US the caps are usually not super low, so you can still do a reasonable bit of "cloud" type stuff and not hit them. Talk to the Australians, they have some pretty severe caps, enough they have to limits their regular Internet usage.

Caps are not a US thing. They are found in various places all around the world. They also aren't universal in the US. You can find non-capped Internet providers. Probably not in all areas, unfortunately, but they exist.

Re:Answer... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491486)

You haven't been to Canada recently, I see. I've never had non-capped internet.

Re:Answer... (2)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491542)

I'm on a non-capped DSL 5meg service, that costs about the same as Bell's 6/1 which comes with 25GB of cap. the company I'm with also sells a 15mbit cable service with no monthly cap. If I preferred, I could also get a cellular internet connection with no usage cap on it... there's two carriers in this area that sell such a service, both in the $40/mo range, and both offering HSPA speeds with a theoretical max of 7.2/7.2 (though in my area, my speed varies from 3.5-4.5 on average, which is why I went with the DSL).

Uncapped providers do exist in Canada, and they have coverage for most Canadians. You just need to look at the alternatives to the incumbents.

Re:Answer... (1)

lucm (889690) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491678)

> I'm on a non-capped DSL 5meg service

Most DSL providers lease Bell lines, and Bell did cripple many of those guys over the years

Re:Answer... (4, Informative)

Glendale2x (210533) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491566)

That's a patently false "answer": Australia and Canada are two countries with major providers that have caps.

Re:Answer... (3, Insightful)

Eil (82413) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491734)

But in truth, I'd be more concerned about unbrided capitalism and monopolistic practices,

I guess I don't understand why capitalism is a dirty word around here. Isn't it a good thing that businesses are not run by the state? Does competition not spur innovation? Which economic system would you have in capitalism's place?

and speed (2)

Spaham (634471) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491380)

There are datacaps, but also, and most of all I'd say : connexion speeds !
Even when you have a fast download bandwidth, upload is usually shitty, like 10-15% of the download on usual DSL...
FTTH is another story and could make the cloud worthwhile, but I'm still waiting for that to happen, and I live in Paris...

Re:and speed (1)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491442)

Worse is, that on one side, ISPs want more money for higher caps, more money for higher speeds. On the other one, websites want more money and more revenue out of advertisement, which consumes your bandwidth and caps.

In consequence, either way the end user is screwed. You pay for a capped service which is discretely consumed by ads.

Re:and speed (1)

Spaham (634471) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491498)

adblockers !
It should be part of the standard !

Re:and speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491534)

Yup, don't underestimate the speed of a network with advertisements...

Re:and speed (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491562)

Yeah, really, if they want us to watch ads, perhaps they should make it so that the ads don't take longer to load than the rest of the page, crash the browser or cover content. I get that they need ads to cover the cost of service, but that doesn't really entitle them to make an unlimited nuisance out of them.

Re:and speed (1)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491626)

To this point, I was hoping to see Google going after "free" data plans covered by advertisement. I currently have blocked everything, because my internet is a capped 3G plan (as all the US 3G plans). Pages like Hulu with video-ads seem the most appropriate to block for sure.

Sometimes I disable ad-blocking and everything looks so clogged with stuff that I don't seem to stand ads anymore.

Re:and speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491574)

I have faster bandwidth to my house via coaxial cable than my next door neighbor does with FTTH. The devil is in the details.

Re:and speed (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491608)

But you are *sharing* it!! OMG, I'd never give up my private garden hose to have to *share* the Mississippi with a couple hundred other people. Sheeple, etc.

Lots of people are thinking about it, (1)

jra (5600) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491382)

David... it's just that -- just as with everything *else* important over the last 3 decade (SCADA security, anyone), *no one important is listening to us*.

Good think we like saying atojiso.

Re:Lots of people are thinking about it, (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491752)

It is all all about the bottom dollar. People who have a clue know that fairly simple practices can mean the difference between a hacking group getting every single pit of data onto BitTorrent, versus the hacking group wasting time. A couple examples of this, found out personally.

PHB_00 would rather save buying an IDS/IPS, or licensing important network discovery/monitoring tools, and instead use that relatively small amount of funds for his own pet projects. When the inevitable happens, the PHB won't get blamed for not funding security, it will be IT. A breach happens, some system admin gets sacked, some token security measure goes into place, and the game resumes.

PHB_01 is a manager of marketing. He finds a lot of resistance in putting security practices in his department, as they like having a dedicated MP3 server, while the "evil security guys" want to segment marketing from receiving, and all that from finance. However, if that happens, the MP3 stash on the account payable guy's machine won't be available. PHB drags his feet and cites that putting every department on separate VLANs will affect day to day operations. Because marketing managers have the ear more of the top brass than the IT guys, the internal corporate network remains as segments bridged together with nothing between them. A blackhat gets in through an Apache server development has not updated in years, and has a field day. IT gets blamed for not doing proper security, some admin gets sacked, something is random done in efforts to show that security is increased, such as changing out a SSL key on one of the web servers, and business goes as normal.

PHB_02 is in a small department. He has a game console that doesn't work on anything past WEP. So, he has the whole business wireless system be set to use WEP, and having the console on its own segment would cost too much. IT says that is a disaster in the making, the PHB stands firm, and some IT guy gets sacked to show which department has the whip hand. Then it happens, some wardriver spends about 30 seconds on a cellphone, hops online, finds a lot of names of people working for the US federal government in the payroll database, and said info becomes a WikiLeaks page. IT gets called to task, a system admin gets fired, and back to round 1.

These scenarios I've personally seen.

No. (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491384)

Capped data may bring the cloud and the users to reason.

I like the cloud for some things. But i also like it if a device which has more memory than i need for all my personal documents (including 10000 Photos) is used wise enough not to require 24x7 online access.

If i use a local imap idle client i seldom exceed 1Gb/month. I can sync my music at home (why wouldnt i do so - i dont buy 100cds on the way to work each day).

capped data is the expression of a physical reality vs. a marketing tool used to push users quickly into freshly build networks without investing in the sw and forcing them to new phones.

Re:No. (4, Interesting)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491426)

I like the cloud for some things. But i also like it if a device which has more memory than i need for all my personal documents (including 10000 Photos) is used wise enough not to require 24x7 online access.

That's a matter of personal preference.

capped data is the expression of a physical reality vs. a marketing tool used to push users quickly into freshly build networks without investing in the sw and forcing them to new phones.

Capped data is a joke. It's a movement towards charging per-unit prices for a service that has no meaningful per-unit cost. Sure, it costs money to build a network, blah blah blah. But there is no fixed cost for moving data around. A Gbit switch costs about as much as a 100 Mbit switch did a few years back, and moves 100x as much data in a unit of time as the 100 Mbit one. It uses about the same amount of electricity, regardless of how much data is being moved.

Where did that per-unit cost go?

Because of this, I figure it's only a matter of time before this whole "cap the user" nonsense goes away.

Re:No. (2)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491544)

A Gbit switch costs about as much as a 100 Mbit switch did a few years back, and moves 100x as much data in a unit of time as the 100 Mbit one.

Math fail there. a Gigabit switch moves 10x as much as a 100Mbit switch in a given time, not 100x.

Re:No. (3, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491546)

Its not the per data cost of the lines, it is the cost per port that is expensive. Replacing the 100 MB switch with the GB switch, and then the GB switch with the 10 (100) GB switch in 5 years is what costs. This doesn't include ongoing maintenance and management, and uplink costs. Paying for bandwidth is an easy solution to mitigate against some of that, and makes sense from this standpoint. However, when people like Comcast deliberately choke off data at a single point, in order to charge Netflix and others to bring them into the network (and still restricts this data) that is where I have an issue. If you're overselling/over subscribing your trunks, and aren't upgrading them when they are full, time for class action lawsuit.

I'm just wondering when someone is going to sue Comcast for not providing the service they are selling. Must be in the TOS contract that they don't have to provide any.

Re:No. (4, Funny)

TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491550)

That's a matter of personal preference.

There are people who prefer their devices to stop working when the network stops? "I can't access my photos because the net is down. Hooray!"

Router not a problem, light fiber is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491554)

The problem is that one needs to lie a lot of optic fiber between central point of distribution, then a lot of fiber to the end service DSLAM or router in each city, then tehre is the last miles. That cost a lot of money, the fiber which was put udnerground only go so far, putting more is freakishly expansive. And don't get me started for udnersea cable which take a lot of time to add. Sure tehre are redundancy , but see whether out of intentional cost sparing , or out of shortsight, it is not enough if everybody was trying to go in the network. They were put at a time where traffic was not forseen to be exploding as much as it does today.

The truth is that the traffic is increasing much much faster than the capacity is.

Now *usage* cap are UTTER BULLSHIT and are meant to punish early adopter of bandwidth hungry application (a lot of whicha re fully elgal today, like youtube) and get more subscriber that way. They simply do not want toa dmit that their network is absolutely not ready.

Re:No. (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491596)

Other way around. Because there's no added cost, the 'cap the user' is being spread like wildfire. It's easy to justify to the public, they can charge enormous sums for it, and there's dick all you can do about it.

We've had caps in canada on the big carriers for nearly a decade. When netflix launched in canada they all *lowered* their caps. You poor bastards down south might be catching up to the anti-competitive bullshit that we've had since windows XP launched.

Re:No. (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491660)

if you are in canada go with arcanac, teksavyy or velcom, they all offer no caps deals. Avoid Telus, Bell, Roger and Videotron like the plague they are.

Re:No. (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491772)

ya, and as we've seen, the big boys who lease lines to the aforementioned boutique sellers are working hard to make sure they aren't going to be selling unlimited for much longer.

Re:No. (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491664)

You are making the usual mistake of assuming that cost-charged-to-consumer must equate somehow to cost-incurred-by-provider. Just because there isn't a per-unit cost to the provider, doesn't mean that a per-unit cost to you isn't a valid way of billing.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491700)

Based on your logic, the per minute cell phone plan is also nonsense and should go away?

Fixed, variable and opportunity costs (5, Informative)

sjbe (173966) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491730)

But there is no fixed cost for moving data around.

What you are saying is more or less correct but your terminology is wrong. What you are describing is properly called a variable cost [] not a fixed cost. The equipment used to build and operate the network is largely comprised of fixed costs. It costs the phone company the same money whether they send one packet or one million packets. The costs associated to a specific packet would be variable costs and as you rightly point out, the direct variable costs are negligible. As equipment is used, the fixed costs get amortized over a large volume of data and in time become negligible on a per packet basis. This doesn't mean they become zero but they start large and become small asymptotically.

That said there IS a cost that you are not considering. IF there is insufficient bandwidth available to serve all requests, then there is an opportunity cost [] associated with the data packet. If your data can't get through because someone else is hogging the pipe, you as a customer will get pissed and possible switch services (if possible). Since we know that the telecom providers have a large but finite amount of bandwidth available, opportunity costs matter. Hence data caps. They cannot serve all possible requests until their network has the capacity to do so. If they allow unlimited usage and people actually do use it that way (and some do), the telecom incurs an opportunity cost in the form of being unable to serve some of their customers.

In THEORY data caps make economic sense. In REALITY, it's probably more greed by the telecoms than a real problem most of the time.

Re:No. (1)

Glendale2x (210533) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491754)

A cost per unit of data moved can be made up, however. Say you choose to spend half a million on some new name-brand switching equipment that's only ever going to have cheap-ass end users on it, which also means you know you'll never recoup the cost under normal circumstances. Most of the popular SP equipment is far more expensive than your average unmanaged gigabit switch from Best Buy. Go price a new Cisco 7600 or Juniper MX and you'll see. So you come up with some caps or arbitrary limits to cause extra charges on a predictable percentage of those cheap users. I'm sure there's also "well, everyone else has caps now, might as well do it too because we can get away with it for free money."

End users are also woeful retarded when it comes to choosing internet access. If you place two providers in front of them: one from the big-name telco/cable at $X and one from an independent ISP/WISP at $X + $5, the vast majority will choose the one that's 5 dollars cheaper based on that factor alone even if the independent ISP doesn't have caps and can provide better value (higher speeds, no caps, etc.) They don't care to look beyond price and possibly the big name. It's even worse when you consider the "bundling" that's popular today so they might as well add the internet option to the TV package for a couple bucks more even if it is total crap.

I don't really see caps going away anytime soon. Once the money starts to flow they aren't going to want to give it up unless someone else comes in (say the return of an independent third-party with layer 2 services from Google's fiber project) and forces the big guys to try and compete again rather than existing in a bubble where it didn't matter what they did.

Re:No. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491462)

Some of the caps being discussed are the ones on DSL and Cable, not just cellular.

The hard line caps are a joke, not based on any sort of physical reality.

Re:No. (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491586)

They're based on the reality that the ISP oversold their capacity and are trying to make it so that you can't actually use the capacity that you paid for. To an extent I'd rather have caps than deal with oversold capacity, but I'd rather rather have the FCC tell ISPs that they can't fraudulently claim to provide more capcity than they're capable of. "Up to" isn't a legitimate claim unless there are significant periods of time during the month when you hit that rate. As it is, I rarely hit even 3mbps on my 5mpbs connection.

Re:No. (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491684)

Of course they oversold their capacity.

(Consumer) Internet plans for a low low price $1000/month would sell like hotcakes! No! Really! They would! We just have to tell them it's their line and they'll always get the bandwidth they paid for, whether they're using it or not!

The only thing I care about it Netflix. (2)

taxman_10m (41083) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491394)

It's sad to see everyone trying to kill it from different angles.

Sony Movies Pulled From Netflix Streaming Service Over Starz Contract Issue []

Re:The only thing I care about it Netflix. (1, Informative)

taxman_10m (41083) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491414)

Off topic, but damn do I hate the new trend of chiclet keyboards on laptops. Typos up 800%.

Re:The only thing I care about it Netflix. (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491570)

Then don't buy a $399 laptop. My Current laptop has an Industrial keyboard. I love it. The sub $1000 laptops all have sucky keyboards. If you make your living using a computer, then don't skimp on a good one.

Re:The only thing I care about it Netflix. (1)

taxman_10m (41083) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491638)

This is a new thing. My previous laptop was the cheapest option available from Dell, an Inspiron B130. It had a great keyboard and a better touchpad than the Inspiron N5510 I just bought. It's ridiculous that I'd need to spend $400 more or so just to get a keyboard that isn't crap.

Re:The only thing I care about it Netflix. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491746)

$399 laptops like the MacBook Pro?

Re:The only thing I care about it Netflix. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491600)

Works fine for me. Perhaps you should lay off the caffeine?

Re:The only thing I care about it Netflix. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491630)

Not if they're done right. My new Thinkpad has a chiclet keyboard, and I'm not having any trouble at all with typos, beyond the normal ones associated from learning a slightly different keyboard layout. You don't get as much travel as you would with a traditional keyboard, but I've got plenty of distance in which to change my mind about pressing a key if I want to.

Overall, it's a really nice piece of hardware, I just need to figure out a suitable way of blocking out the web cam when I'm not using it. I would go with tape, but I actually want to use it regularly, I just don't want it pointed at me where somebody could use it without my permission. And disable the internal microphone completely for similar reasons.

Re:The only thing I care about it Netflix. (0)

Immostlyharmless (1311531) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491490)

Whatever, Sony is on the verge of making themselves completely irrelevant, had it not been for the blu-ray format, they already would be. Not sure how many PS3 fanboys they lost over the recent debacle, the CD rootkit, etc, etc. Go ahead and pull your movies from one venue of distribution Sony, more than likely, no one will miss them with all of the offerings. "Ohhhh I can't watch movie "X", well they do have movies "Y" and "z" and "W""

Re:The only thing I care about it Netflix. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491648)

If you've been to their fora, it looks highly improbable that they lost many fanbois, but they did likely lose a lot of folks who were less fanatical in devotion to their product. It wouldn't have been as much of an issue had they not already pissed a lot of us off with their petty vandalism and general assholishness with regards to the platform.

I've also heard that MS has gotten their QA problems largely solved with the 360 and Nintendo is planning to release something which looks more competitive in the graphics department in the foreseeable future.

I doubt it (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491396)

a single user isn't going to hit their cap with word and excel documents, even with photos and music its going to be hard, and I doubt that most will have the patience for movies since all US ISP's suck ass at upload... and companies have better internet plans

Re:I doubt it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491458)

What about a video chat with family? The problem with caps is that they tend to be slightly backward looking. New applications that are just being developed or don't even exist yet will be hampered by the caps. The killer application of tomorrow might not even be developed if it's 'impossible' from a data cap standpoint. This of course is idiotic, since just a few years ago these caps would be considered more than enough for everyone.

Re:I doubt it (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491722)

well video chat with family has been around since dialup, I think its a tad silly to expect video conferencing to NEED to be in 1080 Resolution with dolby digital, if you have the bandwidth to piss away on that fine, if not there are plenty of other ways to video conference at low speeds and low bandwidth, as its been a novelty for around 10 years

Re:I doubt it (1)

phulegart (997083) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491532)

"a single user isn't going to hit their cap..."

-what would that cap be? No... I want you to reply with the exact bandwidth allowance that this user has. Wait. You can't do that, because "their cap" is not a universal amount. Caps vary per individual, and per ISP. You can ASSUME that a single user won't hit their cap... but that's actually a bad assumption. Take for example, people who use Yahoo Mail. Sure, it's a free service that pays through advertising. And... it forces users not only to see static ads, but it pushes streaming commercials as well. So, you can just as easily see how a single user could hit their cap checking their email on Yahoo. It doesn't matter if YOU have a pile of solutions to reduce their bandwidth.

Now... if more people have capped plans from their ISPs, then we can assume that the price for these capped plans will increase... and plans with lower caps will be offered at the original prices. Why? This is the current economic model. a 20oz bottle of Coke was $.99. Then, they started filling the market with 16oz bottles offered at $.79. Now... the 16oz bottle is $.99 and the 20oz bottle is $1.39. Those Grab Bags of Doritos? Started at $.79. They went up to $.99, and now are $1.29 or more. Same amount of chips... higher prices. Pick on the examples... but I chose examples that might be on your desk right now.

Cloud computing requires unlimited data bandwidth.

Re:I doubt it (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491698)

are you seriously telling me (in a very angry tone) that 1 dude using yahoo is going to nail 150-250 gig a month? what about dialup which although slow has larger caps?

ok you can take off the tinfoil hat now

Re:I doubt it (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491672)

A surprising number of people can hit their cap in a matter of a few days with some of the newer faster speed connections. A 5gb cap isn't so bad for a cell phone if you're only able to connect at EDGE speeds, but with LTE and some of the other more current options, you can hit that cap really quickly.

For most people 250gb is more than they're likely to ever need. I know that I didn't used to hit that kind of data transfer in the past. However, now that I've switched to crashplan, I do occasionally exceed that amount. Fortunately, Qwest doesn't have caps, as crappy as they are in other respects, I don't have to worry about being limited by anything other than the usual oversold bandwidth.

Fair payment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491410)

The most fair form of payment for me would be for the unit of transfer - for example 1 megabyte (8 * 10^6 bits). Let's hope in the future we will pay for Internet use just like for electricity.

Re:Fair payment (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491444)

That's like saying an all-you-can-eat restaurant is unfair to the other restaurants.

Re:Fair payment (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491714)

The ISPs pay for bandwidth in a similar fashion, it's just the consumers who pay for all they can use. The problem is that they've been overselling capacity to pay for larger yachts for the CEO rather than investing in their infrastructure. And because most of the country is covered in monopolies and duopolies, and if you're especially lucky an oligopoly, there's little to no way of voting with your wallet. I'm with Qwest primarily because they don't cap their bandwidth, and apart from gaming they do a fine job. I just wish they would actually provide the bandwidth that I'm paying for.

Around here I could get Hughes, Clear, Comcast or a cellular based connection, and I think that's about it. All of the options I know of except for the neighbors and Qwest involve caps and in most cases also slower speeds than the pathetic 5mbps that Qwest offers.

Re:Fair payment (1)

e4g4 (533831) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491724)

That would only be fair if the ISPs themselves were paying per unit of transfer, which is not the case AFAIK.

sharing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491418)

Grassroots sharing of wifi

Will the Cloud Kill Capped Data? (4, Interesting)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491420)

I think it may be worse news for the carriers. If they wont provide suitable bandwidth, eventually someone will develop a more popular alternative that bypasses their speed bump altogether.

Re:Will the Cloud Kill Capped Data? (2)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491436)

Maybe Google might provide internet sevices. With ads of course :).

Re:Will the Cloud Kill Capped Data? (4, Informative)

adamstew (909658) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491654)

You would think so. But sadly, we don't exist in a free market, as far as internet access is concerned.

There have already been several localities (municipal level) that tried to setup their own internet services for their residents, because they were unhappy with what the local cableco and telco were willing to provide. So the cableco and telco have sent lobbyists to the local city councils and state legislative bodies and are having laws written to prevent these forms of competition from even getting off the ground.

Even if another private entity, outside of the cable/phone companies wanted to try and provide internet access, I imagine they will run in to the same road blocks. Also, you need to get local approval to be able to run your wires on the utility poles.

I had hoped that Broadband-over-powerlines would allow a 3rd carrier in to most areas to help drive up speeds and drive down prices, but it hasn't been very successful and has run in to a whole slew of technical issues.

Wireless communication won't be able to keep up, in terms of speed and data caps. Getting in to the wireless business is a huge investment. RF Spectrum is very expensive and you can only physically push so much data through RF.

Sadly, except in a few small and isolated areas, I think we're going to be stuck with the cableco and telco duopolies for quite a while... The only way that is changing is if there are some pretty serious regulations at the federal and/or state levels to really allow for some good competition.

The only wildcards, and hope, that I see is Google's fiber initiatives and the corporate muscle flexing of some large companies. Once enough big companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Netflix, etc. want to start pushing their own high-speed services through the limited broadband pipes, they might be willing to spend some money on a state and federal level to lobby for some sanity.

Re:Will the Cloud Kill Capped Data? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491728)

Hasn't happened yet, and probably won't happen any time soon. They've got their monopoly and politicians are in general too clueless to do anything about it. Plus, anybody that does try to do something about it gets shouted down as a socialist or meddling in business. What's worse is its typically the same hicks that have the most to gain by fixing the system that shout the loudest.

Capped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491440)

Welcome to Canada

Exactly opposite will happen (1)

Florian Weimer (88405) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491450)

Cloud-based services can cut revenue sharing deals with access network operators, which will then exempt certain services from bandwidth limits. This is already happening with IPTV. In the end, this will mean that if you don't use the major cloud-based services, potential users would essentially have to pay their ISPs for using your service.

Re:Exactly opposite will happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491658)

In Australia, Foxtel Movies are free for most Telstra Customers. FetchTV is free for iiNet customers.

It's all about marketable lock-in. Why buy DSL from Competitor B when Competitor A doesn't count a particular products downloads?

Steam Games, iTunes downloads, Windows Updates - they're all used as marketing tools

"Not a single cellphone carrier..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491468)

"...anymore that offers an unlimited data plan at full speed."

Clearly Mr. Pogue has never heard of the third largest wireless carrier in the US, Sprint.

Caps? Big Deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491478)

Oh boo hoo, you're getting data caps. Welcome to reality for the rest of the world!

Re:Caps? Big Deal (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491740)

If the money from the caps were going to beef up the infrastructure, I don't think people would mind as much. Knowing that the caps are there because the company oversold capacity and that the money isn't going to remedy the situation is what makes it particularly maddening.

PSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491480)

Hey kid! Stop all the downloading! Gi Joeeeee

Really? (2)

JamesP (688957) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491482)

How big are data caps?
How big is the content you have?

Netflix should worry, iCloud... not really.

E.g. I have 20Gb of MP3 files.

Btw I wonder if it all goes through iCloud or if, for example, I have my Mac and iPhone on the same network it syncs locally.

stuff begets stuff.... (1)

xTantrum (919048) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491484)

I'm not a big fan of this new fangled cloud thingamajig. I like to keep my data local where there are no worries of lockouts on sunday mornings due to maintenance. no worries employees are pillaging through my personal photos or clandestine goverment agencies rummaging through my data, making a dossier of me to see if I'm a likely al-queda candidate or have terrorist tendencies.

That aside, The introduction of the iphone forced carriers to upgrade their services and offer better consumer experience. With the arrival of everything in the cloud, netflix, icoud etc. I only see providers as realizing they HAVE to upgrade their services and start providing more bandwidth and better customer experience. Whether the carriers and the old business model hats like it, everything is going digital or already has and they must adapt, adopt or die. I'm not worried. I won't be an adopter of this cloud thingy but I do see it as a great way to get providers off their collective ip asses and have our service improved.

I know what it is... (1)

Bazman (4849) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491492)

..these game-changing big forces that will alter our lives forever? ISPs will start only taking bitcoins for payment. Heck, this is another bitcoin slashvertisement isnt it?

Certainly an Issue in Canada (3, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491510)

Canada has some horrendous data caps from it's major ISPs. From the numbers I've heard, Americans have almost 10x the bandwidth allowance that most Canadians have. For online services (cloud, netflix, etc.), this is a major concern. While I'm looking forward to iCloud, I will be closely monitoring my bandwidth for the first little bit to make sure I don't go over and, if I do, I'll be figuring out what service I use needs to get cut and, quite frankly, I'd rather the ISPs just offer better service than forcing me to not use what's available...

Re:Certainly an Issue in Canada (2)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491708)

as I already said if you live in canada go with arcanac, teksavyy or velcom. Don't support the fats corrupted cats that used regulatory capture to castrate the crtc.

Internet should be like any other basic utility (3, Interesting)

Corson (746347) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491530)

The Internet should be like any other basic utility, with rates being regulated and networks being installed for everybody to have unrestricted accees to. People would pay on a per-use basis but ISPs would not be able to raise the rates as they please.

Re:Internet should be like any other basic utility (1)

pangu (322010) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491610)

Yes, my utilities never double rates in a four year period.... Except one just announced they are doing just that. They even announced it was because we were successfully conserving the resource that they had to double rates.

Re:Internet should be like any other basic utility (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491770)

Yeah it sounds rediculous that conservation makes prices go up. Utilities I've dealt with (both in Canada and Germany) are privatized distributors. The thing is the cost of laying and maintaining things like power lines and gas lines doesn't decrease to half just because you are using half. There still are wind storms blowing down things, pipes leak, bills still need to be sent etc. So the cost will go up per unit of the resource you use because you have to pay for all the infrastructure with less sales. Whether or not they can justify a doubling is another matter (though to be fair oil prices have doubled in the last 4 years too).

Re:Internet should be like any other basic utility (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491614)

I think every semi democratic country in the world has at least one party that wants to privatize utilities, and to push all of these things onto the private sector. Putting the internet as a public utility creates a slew of problems that the government now can, and will be expected to, monitor the content moving over its network.

Re:Internet should be like any other basic utility (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491758)

I completely agree. We don't have unlimited water plan or unlimted electricity plan. We should not have unlimited data plan either. We should have unrestricted access for everyone, but charge a reasonabliy low price for the per unit usage. That is what I believe a sustainable model.

Caps aren't the problem (1)

cheeseandham (1799020) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491540)

Bandwidth costs money, an ISP has to have caps which realistically keeps overall usage to a level which the ISP can sustain with a given number of customers. If they don't and are offering "unlimited data" then they are over-subscribing their lines, lying or both. They can also over-subscribe their lines by simply selling their service to more customers than they can manage.

Obviously it can then be "managed" by traffic management, blocking protocols such as p2p etc but no-one likes these measures (especially here). I don't like them and I pay for an ISP that manages their data capacity honestly with caps and you buy bandwidth. It costs more, but it's worth it for me and they keep stats that show the number of unerrored seconds [] and buy capacity to keep up rather than traffic manage.

There is no such thing as "unlimited data" - period.

Re:Caps aren't the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491692)

Bandwidth costs money, an ISP has to have caps which realistically keeps overall usage to a level which the ISP can sustain with a given number of customers. If they don't and are offering "unlimited data" then they are over-subscribing their lines, lying or both. They can also over-subscribe their lines by simply selling their service to more customers than they can manage.

Obviously it can then be "managed" by traffic management, blocking protocols such as p2p etc but no-one likes these measures (especially here). I don't like them and I pay for an ISP that manages their data capacity honestly with caps and you buy bandwidth. It costs more, but it's worth it for me and they keep stats that show the number of unerrored seconds [] and buy capacity to keep up rather than traffic manage.

There is no such thing as "unlimited data" - period.

Exactly. Anything unlimited is ultimately a low quality service because they don't care if you get the advertised speeds.

Speeds are listed as upto in Ireland to get around this. Upto 7Mbps meaning you might get 3 if you are lucky. Unlimited data means you get a warning when you download more than an unknown amount they won't tell you.

My ISP is unlimited and not gotten any warnings yet but don't use it for that much. A 7Mbps line which isn't over subscribed due to this ISP's being unpopular in the area. They block P2P but you can get around such restrictions usually.

Others in areas where it is over subscribed get much lower speeds and get warnings when they download over 30GB a month which is a crazy low cap for an unlimited service.

The whole industry suffers from lack of regulation to force transparency when selling the product so customers are mislead into thinking they are buying something they are not. is a good website for anybody interested in reading up on the issue in Ireland which seems to be quite similar to the American problem.

I don't know what my neighbour's cap is... (2)

Boss, Pointy Haired (537010) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491580)

...but I haven't hit it yet.

exaggerations sell newspapers (1)

versiondub (694793) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491606)

Apple et. al. will do with the carriers just what they did with the music licensing companies: pay them off. Consumers will need to be taught that an iPad with 4g connectivity is actually worth $1500 instead of $500, but they are a docile sort, ready to accept any script Jobs reads. The real danger is that the American consumer will not have the money when the time comes to pay up; but that's a non-start.

Apple (2)

tylersoze (789256) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491612)

Given Apple's cash reserves couldn't it just buy every major carrier in the country? I'm sure it could buy ATT, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, et al, with the loose change in the couches at the Apple campus. :) Given Internet access is pretty much already a local monopoly with no competition what would it matter? At least with Apple in charge they would have an incentive to get rid of the caps.

Re:Apple (4, Insightful)

siride (974284) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491694)

The last thing I want is Apple owning the ISP infrastructure. Imagine how locked down the internet would be then.

7 Billion People. 3+ Billion Online. (1)

retroworks (652802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491616)

They can cap USA alright. But the Cloud Computing is bigger in emerging markets. Comcast has a lot of work ahead of it.

The Cloud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491618)

The Cloud is just a buzzword anyway. Out here in the sticks, internet connectivity is not totally ubiquitous like it is in urban centers. Free WiFi usually has a time limit, speed limit, hourly cost, or all three. I went to a hotel where WiFi was $10/hr and capped at 10KB/s. Smart phones get poor reception if any at all. That hotel was in a dead zone. There just is no substitute to bringing your data with you.

Capped Country (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491624)

I'm in Kuwait and beginning June 1st ISP ganged up on consumers, fixed their prices, hiked the prices to 60%+ and introduced bandwidth caps on everyone, giving a consumer 15% of what they actually paid for on a home ADSL plan.

For a 2Mbps link, which costs about $600/year, the max to download a day is about 83 GB but the cap limits it to 3 GB a day! It gets less and worse for those with higher bandwidth.

People are enraged (!/search/%23q8cap ) but alas the government isn't helping and the ISPs are taking advantage of everyone. Also, Kuwait's law doesn't have class action suits, so each consumer has to file a separate law suit; nice chance for lawyers.

They're all "capped" here. (2)

patchouly (1755506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491644)

In Canada, you're hard pressed to find an ISP that doesn't have a cap. It makes streaming movies, etc. a pain in the butt.

Can someone explain (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491662)

When we have enough storage space on the device, what's to be gained by constantly shuttling data backward and forward? And there's not just the cost to consider - if you lose your connection for whatever reason, the device is more or less a brick.

This guy [] doesn't seem convinced by the new Chromebook, that's for sure.

Answer: no (3, Interesting)

sprins (717461) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491668)

Capped data plans won't kill the cloud. Capping will only be a temporary inconvenience (until capping is gone through competition between carriers).

There are nice-to-have cloud syncs that use a lot of data (music, video, images) and need-to-have cloud syncs (mail, calendar, documents). The urgens syncs usually fit in a data plan. The 'leisure' syncs can be done whilst on wifi.

The real inconvenience will be data roaming charges (eg abroad) where they charge you an arm and a leg for everything :(

inherent conflicts of interest (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491680)

ISPs that are also content providers represent a dangerous conflict of interests. Comcast, Time Warner, etc all offer tv and MoD service so OF COURSE it's to their advantage to throttle competitors like NetFlix. One wonders if the cap on landline service will apply to content of their own.

The Internet is too important to be in the hands of monopolists as it is now. It is a public utility, a vital one, and should be treated and regulated as such.

Why all of the panic about caps? (2, Insightful)

mothlos (832302) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491686)

Bandwidth capping is NOT the problem. There is a marginal cost curve associated with increased bandwidth use and it is only appropriate that this cost be reflected in the price we pay for our services. Without usage based fees, those who underutilize the service are subsidizing those who overutilize it (which I guess the latter would be highly overrepresented here at /.). The problem is lack of competition and effective regulation perpetuated by political overrepresentation of service providers. Please be willing to give up your internet subsidy and get in touch with your elected officials, friends, and family to let them know that their ISPs are screwed up and we could have faster, cheaper internet if we take back the reins.

The free lunch is almost over (1)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491710)

I've been calling this one for a while now. Even if you push aside the fact that we're limited in total backbone throughput without large capital investments, people wanting to do more with the internet presents a profit opportunity to the businesses that are slated to lose out on the phenomenon. When people stop using directv and comcast cable television in favor of internet streaming tv and movies, those entities can convert bandwidth over from tv to data, which will help the congestion problem. Only thing is, they're going to charge you $75-100 a month for internet, just like you paid for internet+tv until now. It is a zero sum game. This stuff costs money and we're taking revenue away from businesses in a position to solve the capacity issue. I do think its funny that the wired and wireless providers have been advertising people being fully connected and doing everything online, along with streaming video. Yet when that starts to become a reality, they cap it and will no doubt soon offer higher tiered packages with more data at higher costs.

Answer: A Giant Non Answer (1)

EXTomar (78739) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491716)

A common metaphor for Cloud resources is treating them like a public utility. Its there and there when you need it. But in reality there isn't an infinite amount of power, water, or cloud resources either. Caps exist in these as either regulatory or systemic controls where one can never demand any amount they desire and certainly not "for free" either.

Will caps kill cloud computing? No more than power and water restrictions "kill" projects in the real world. People live and work with caps all the time often without realizing it.

caps already (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491726)

At least in my experience with small companies in Canada, there connections already have caps. Not sure about larger companies with bigger infrastructure (the one I worked for only had a 5/5Mbps connection symmetric and they paid something like $200 a month for it, crazy but I guess that is business grade connections for you).

Companies are already used to paying for bandwidth with can act as an effective cap on the a amount of data you can use. It might just make companies better able to tie the cost of a project to its value. If you build out an internal network, servers. SAN etc you have a hard time nailing down managers to the cost of their projects. It is always a guessing game, oh I don't know a 4 socket server should do. Then it sits ideal for a year and then gets loaded up with a bunch of VMs or other services sitting on it. The original purchasing department doesn't want to accept the whole cost associated with the original project because the equipment is now being used for multiple things etc. With cloud services you can in theory break down the cost for each separate project because you see the disk usage, backups, download and upload rates etc to each virtual server and/or service. The question than becomes is your project worth the money we are spending in on, instead of a constant negotiation of what level of charge back each group pays for the SAN and switching etc.

The UK (2)

zandeez (1917156) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491736)

No, it won't kill the cloud. Nearly every Internet service here is capped in some way.

No the cloud will kill meaningful caps (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#36491760)

Customers like the cloud, they have decided that is where their movie, music, file store, and for same very strange reason their word processor and other applications needs to be. They are going to find an ISP that lets them suck as cloud as they can drink at this point even if they have to pay for it.

They heavy users will pay for a while, but the carriers are losing the war even if they win this battle short term. It will follow the same pattern as cellular voice just a decade ago. Remember when you never spoke to someone on their mobile when they were at home, or in their office. They'd answer and call you back, or not answer at all and dial you back from the land line. Conversations on mobiles were kept short.

Now people started to use more mobile time and start calling and complaining about overage charges. Carries ended up losing customers to whoever offered more minutes per dollar that week. People switch plans all the time. They did so until it got to the point that the administrative overhead made no sense for the providers. People used more and more voice and the plans started to accommodate that to keep the customers. These days (outside of prepaid situations) you can't get a mobile contract with fewer minutes of voice than are enough to cover as many hours waking hours as one reasonably keeps in month. In short for the vast majority of users voice is unlimited or close enough.

Data will do the same. They caps will end up so high you have to be in a tiny tiny minority and a somewhat unique situation to hit them. Like you have build a active/active fail-over cluster to keep your bittorent client running with five nines uptime.

Dell releases personal cloud device (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36491766)

Marketers have discovered that just about anything is a cloud. When I flush my toilet, its contents go into the brown cloud,

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