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Web Usage-Based Billing On Its Way

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the enjoy-feeding-that-meter dept.

The Almighty Buck 397

tripleevenfall writes with this excerpt from SFGate: "The days of watching movies on the cheap via the Web may soon be over. Time Warner Cable and U.S. pay-TV companies are on the verge of instituting new fees on Web-access customers who use the most data. ... U.S. providers have weighed usage-based plans for years as a way to squeeze more profit from Web access, and to counter slowing growth and rising program costs in the TV business. While customer complaints hampered earlier attempts, pay-TV companies are testing usage caps and price structures that point to the advent of permanent fees. ... Cable's best option is to find ways to profit from the online shift, said [analyst Craig Moffett]. If the companies were to lose all of their video customers, the revenue decline would be more than offset by lower programming fees and set-top box spending. 'In the end, it will be the best thing that ever happened to the cable industry,' Moffett said."

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397 comments

Municipal broadband is on its way, then (5, Insightful)

mykos (1627575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236426)

We can make your entire industry irrelevant with a single referendum. Tread lightly, telecoms.

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236436)

Sounds like communism to me. Under God! Under God! Under God! Ron Paul 2012!

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (5, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236456)

If you can beat the army of lobbyists, and then the army of lawyers behind them, and then the army of pressure groups who will demand that the network be censored because the government should not spend tax money to distribute smut.

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236536)

If you can beat the army of lobbyists, and then the army of lawyers behind them, and then the army of pressure groups who will demand that the network be censored because the government should not spend tax money to distribute smut.

People will just put up with it. I mean, who really complained about the absurdly expensive data plans and two year contracts to have smart phones? Anyone raise a stink over cable/satellite fees? How's that A La Cart bill coming along?

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (5, Insightful)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236620)

Me, They lost ME. I already stopped watching TV, and now do you think that i would go back the stupid TV shows? Noooo, just forget it. At the end they will loose both revenues, from the web and from the TiVo boxes. Which is actually good, they will go broke, and then we will have new players.

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236746)

lol

you think they give a shit about "stanlyb" and his half-baked opinions? come to that, do you think we give a shit about "stanlyb" and his half-baked opinions?

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (2, Insightful)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236902)

What is important is that i give a shit about what i think, and if, and when you, you, you and you get your head out of your ass, then suddenly all of you would give a shit about what you think about it. It is called growing up, if are not aware of the term.

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236886)

Brave words from a man that can't spell "lose".

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236686)

Anyone raise a stink over cable/satellite fees?

I'm not sure whether they're raising a stink, but they are slowly but surely stopping spending money on cable. That's why the cable companies are going after people who stream their shows instead.

I know I quit watching cable about 3 years ago and have never looked back. In fact, after cancelling cable, I found that in addition to having some not-insignificant extra cash, I also had a lot more time to read or do charity work or pursue my hobbies.

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236832)

"I know I quit watching cable about 3 years ago and have never looked back. In fact, after cancelling cable, I found that in addition to having some insignificant extra cash, I also had a lot more time to masturbate into my sister's panties and cry about my lonely life"

FTFY

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236914)

Me. I gave up Cable TV forever ago. And I stoutly refuse to get a smart phone with the ridiculous data costs, especially with the recent data caps. I don't care about internet on my phone that much. Oh, don't get me wrong, I think is a bunch of neat features that smartphones have, but not nearly worth the cost. I think I'd rather just give up my cell phone entirely rather than be forced into a smartphone.

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (4, Insightful)

AbbyNormal (216235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236588)

Start locally then in your township. Or start a consortium in the neighborhood / purchase some dedicated circuits. This "shifting profit" model is ridiculous as they are already making fistloads of cash on my monthly service to begin with. If they offered more value then that would be fine, but what value would consumers have going to this model?

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (5, Informative)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236634)

I can attest to this. Google recently offered the small town I work in a deal that would have paid for the construction of an entire wireless infrastructure, and 3 years of support to get the whole town Wi-Fi coverage. They only had to take up support costs after 3 years.

The town declined because Google refused to filter the connection. They were so afraid of somebody might see a tit that they turned down FREE town-wide wifi coverage.

I hate living in the Bible-belt . . . .

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (5, Funny)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236794)

I'd have found a brave, attractive woman to just show her tits at the meeting and say, "There you go, you've all seen tits. Now let's move on and get some free internet."

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (1)

tunapez (1161697) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237100)

GoDaddy & J Jackson tried that during some sporting event. The result was a push for more non-free restrictions, a barely avoided global Tivo meltdown and nobody moved on for a very long time....shit, GD is still milking theirs!

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236858)

Have you not seen tubgirl and goatse?
 
Posting AC is awesome when you get a captcha that has some correlation to the post you make or your response to a post.
 
CAPTCHA: shaved

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (4, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236756)

...censored because the government should not spend tax money to distribute smut.

Tax money would not be used, subscribers still pay to use the connection. If someone claims any government involvement allows censorship, then someone else can claim it also prevents distribution of religious programming to maintain separation of church and state. Hopefully everyone will realize the path to getting what they want is not interfering with others getting what they want.

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (4, Insightful)

delinear (991444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236474)

That, or people will find alternative forms of entertainment. It sounds like a greedy CEO's dream to charge per usage when some users are consuming lots, but the reason people watch so much is at least partly because it becomes more economical the more you watch (versus going to the movies, for instance). Mess around with that balance and you're as likely to find people counting the pennies and turning off the TV (or web based medium of choice) more often as you are to find people willing to put up and shut up.

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (0)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236566)

That, or people will find alternative forms of entertainment.

Like planking? The pole-sitting of the latest depression.

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (2)

OakDragon (885217) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236738)

Planking is so early 2011... "Batmanning" is where it's at now!

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (2)

CmdrPony (2505686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236598)

Sadly, I don't think they will. That's always a good dream, but casual people will be okay with all this if it means they can continue watching their favorite TV shows, movies and listen to music. You really think they're going to drop watching their TV shows just because some heavy downloaders get billed more?

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236482)

We can make your entire industry irrelevant with a single referendum. Tread lightly, telecoms.

Sorry, but if you mean the House, Senate and President signing anything blocking them from doing it you can guess again.

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236546)

We can make your entire industry irrelevant with a single referendum.

Good luck laying that undersea cable across the Atlantic.

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (3, Insightful)

kj_kabaje (1241696) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236656)

Despite those that say the government can't do anything right--I'm pretty sure the government already has this capability and has done it.  While the GP was referring to municipal broadband, there are many countries that do this and call it common/public property.  And no... they aren't "communists".  They just made a decision that it was a waste of resources to run multiples cables/wires to do the same damn thing.

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (5, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236718)

To the telcos, community owned utilities are the most feared development that could happen, and with good reason. But the vendors in the industry, from the fiber makers to the equipment makers are also in the pockets of the telcos. They know who butters their bread, and they're not going to ally the development of community network in any way.

It's NOT a socialism vs capitalism vs communism problem. It's a continuation of corporations protecting their turf.

Yet we've seen this before. We fought it then, we'll fight it again. In my estimation, I granted Comcast a right of way on my property. They change things, they lose that right of way. Get in the spirit of owning your own property again, and we'll get back to why we allow utilities to do what they do. We're the people.

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236840)

You can certainly deny Comcast (or whoever) right-of-way from the street to your house, but only the local gov't can deny them right-of-way along the streets.

You're perfectly right in the very first sentence though. Utah tried putting something in some years ago (Google for UTOPIA), and both Comcast and Qwest immediately went ballistic. The two companies threw a metric ton of money at the state legislature, which in turn made it literally illegal for any cities not already in the UTOPIA network to build any fiber and join in.

Meanwhile, these two corps did absolutely nothing to bring broadband to folks outside of their little established fiefdoms (I lived on the "bench", or mountainside and found it impossible to get either to offer broadband service). No skin offa mine, though - I used Sprint Broadband wireless (roughly T1 speeds up and down) and DirecTV for years, and the two cost less combined than cable+internet would have.

Re:Municipal broadband is on its way, then (4, Interesting)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236716)

It is really bad when they are not even making the argument that bandwidth is costing too much. They are just making the argument that because they are losing money in department A they are going to raise prices in department B. Perhaps we just shouldn't let Internet Content Providers be Internet Service Providers.

Yes. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236434)

Charge people for 2160p 'high-high-definition' content streaming. there isnt 2160p yet you say ? dont worry. once this shit gets going .....

Re:Yes. (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236706)

Why not just jump to 4K? Youtube already has 4k content (although a very small amount, and compressed to ridiculous levels).

Needs to stop (5, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236442)

This has been on the horizon for some time here in Canada. We came damn close recently (but massive public outrage managed to stop it), but they are talking about it yet again.

I wish we could just skip through this long painful phase where the established dinosaurs hold back natural progress for as long as possible. We all know this is the future.. and it annoys me that I may not actually see in my lifetime things we could be doing from a technological standpoint right now because some huge established companies refuse to adapt or get out of the way and have the piles of money and armies of lawyers/lobbyists to keep it up for decades.

Honestly, while I don’t have much faith in governments doing things properly nor illusions that it wouldn’t be influenced.. I think at this point I’d love to see Internet access become a government run utility.

Re:Needs to stop (5, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236460)

If they go to usage based billing and I need to make a financial choice between internet and cable, the decision for me is an easy one. I would guess that it's just as easy for a very large percentage of people. They would be wise to keep that in mind.

Re:Needs to stop (4, Interesting)

bsane (148894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236486)

Thats the point though- this would theoretically be perpetrated by the cable providers, and they attempt to recoup all of their lost tv revenue via increased internet costs.

Comcast already did it without usage based billing- I have internet only and they jacked it up to $70/month from $40, if I bought a internet + tv package it'd be $75.

Re:Needs to stop (2)

ifrag (984323) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236642)

Yep, it's totally ridiculous. Just this week I upgraded my Comcast internet and decided to drop TV entirely. In my area on the extreme 50 service, the difference between having and not having basic TV was only $2 total on the bill. I still decided to drop it anyway.

Re:Needs to stop (3, Interesting)

Barbarian (9467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236674)

Thats the point though- this would theoretically be perpetrated by the cable providers, and they attempt to recoup all of their lost tv revenue via increased internet costs.

Comcast already did it without usage based billing- I have internet only and they jacked it up to $70/month from $40, if I bought a internet + tv package it'd be $75.

Canadian cable provider Shaw posted their new rate plans for internet only (were to start in November).. same thing, there was basically no difference between internet only and internet+cable in cost. I said "see ya!" and switched to a dsl provider at a substantial discount to the new internet rates.

You have to go deep into the Shaw cable website to find the real internet package pricing -- on their main page they proudly announced "29.95" for "Broadband 50". Going into the details:

INTRODUCTORY OFFER

For 6 Months
$29.95/mo
Bundled Price
$59.00/mo
Standalone Price
$74.90/mo

There are some older packages available, not well advertised, and probably to be deleted in the future. Still, basic internet (when you find it on their site) is $42.50 a month with TV, and $52.50 a month without. That's at least $10 more than basic DSL service around here.

Re:Needs to stop (3, Insightful)

Maow (620678) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236836)

Canadian cable provider Shaw posted their new rate plans for internet only (were to start in November).. same thing, there was basically no difference between internet only and internet+cable in cost. I said "see ya!" and switched to a dsl provider at a substantial discount to the new internet rates.

I switched too, but chose TekSavvy for cable internet, as opposed to DSL: that cuts Bell/Telus out too.

Of course, Shaw still makes money via TekSavvy, but I pay $30 / month and am very happy with it.

(Also dropped Rogers for Wind, CIBC for Vancity, and it feels great: better service, equal or better prices (thanks Wind), and... I'm not supporting the parasites with my business!)

YMMV...

Re:Needs to stop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236772)

This smacks of trust like behavior. Perhaps there is another reason for them to tread lightly.

Re:Needs to stop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236492)

That's why this is happening. People are leaving cable & voice telco services but these companies also own monopolies on the infrastructure and so want to keep the money rolling in.

Re:Needs to stop (4, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236500)

What makes you think that they'll stop with cable? Remember, most cable providers are ISPs as well.

Re:Needs to stop (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236508)

I would guess that it's just as easy for a very large percentage of people.

Personally I cut the cable a long time ago.. but I don't watch sport. From talking to a few friends who do watch sports, this seems to be the big reason you still need cable.

But even for regular TV viewing, the big problem (at least here in Canada) was the rates and caps they were planning would have essentially limit edyou to a few shows a month... which I think is the plan. Make watching movies and TV shows over the internet so ludicrously expensive that it doesn't make sense. There are definitely a few people (like me) who don't watch much over the current offering anyway and can do without, but there are a lot of people who can't/won't.

Re:Needs to stop (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236578)

Sopcast gives you all the sports you need.

Not always in English- but if you don't mind muting the Chinese voices- it's great.

More oft than not though you can find a stream in English.

Re:Needs to stop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236922)

Sopcast is very low quality and extremely unreliable. Let alone all that hideous buffering that made Real look fast.

Re:Needs to stop (4, Funny)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236548)

If they go to usage based billing and I need to make a financial choice between internet and cable, the decision for me is an easy one.

Steal your neighbor's wifi?

Re:Needs to stop (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236698)

Yep, i already stopped my cable bill, and i am not going back, do you hear me Rogers? Bell? No? Then go #$%^#^%^ yourself.

Re:Needs to stop (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236504)

i think the Dutch model would be far more attractive:
force the network operators to allow 3de party providers on their network at reasonable fee's

instant competition. and the ones with data-limits didn't last long in the Dutch market.
all the benefits of a free-market system, without the risk of monopolies that are ruining the US ISP market.

Re:Needs to stop (4, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236550)

That's actually very close to what we have here.

In fact the crux of the issue was that the main provider wanted to increase those "reasonable fee's" to the point where 3rd party providers would pretty much have to do caps/usage based billing to stay out of the red. The CRTC, which is supposed to prevent that kind of thing, said "sounds good". It came really damn close to happening, but got effectively vetoed at the last stages by our government due to massive public outcry.

Re:Needs to stop (1)

Noread (2270278) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236654)

That's actually very close to what we have here.

In fact the crux of the issue was that the main provider wanted to increase those "reasonable fee's" to the point where 3rd party providers would pretty much have to do caps/usage based billing to stay out of the red.

The maximum amount of fee's they can ask for the service are capped by the government to prevent that from occurring. It's actually a good working system here. We have a wide variety of ISP's to choose from.

They are also investigating the possibility of doing the same with the cable market, but we do not get much progress there currently.

Re:Needs to stop (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236570)

I prefer Swedish models...

Re:Needs to stop (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236694)

The US had that until 2005.

The 1996 telecommunications act required such loop leasing. Then Brand X tried to get the cable companies to lease their stuff. Cable companies said no, court ensured, went up to the supreme court, and they said there was no requirement for the cable companies to do that.

Then a couple months later, the FCC removed that requirement from the telephone companies in the interest of "fairness", effectively obliterating any real competition.

Re:Needs to stop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236568)

Right. Because these same huge established companies aren't part of what made these technological things happen in the first place.
 
  Sorry to tell you, but if it weren't for commercial gain the internet you sit on today wouldn't exist. It wouldn't be dead either but it would be little more than it was in 1990 from the aspect of the average person.

Re:Needs to stop (5, Interesting)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236676)

Actually, you are making one very honest, but very big mistake. You think that the next generation are just like you, they know what TV is, they like it, they watch it. Which is, simply said, not true. They are different, they are interested in different kind of entertainment, in different model of media, i could say. So, with other words, in your lifetime, say the next 10 years, there will be a great shift and changes of what media is, how to distribute it, how to pay it, and that model is simply not compatible with the current one.

Re:Needs to stop (2)

mattie_p (2512046) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236690)

Companies are out to make money by selling a product, whether a service or a tangible item. These products cost the company money to produce and/or maintain. With customers increasing their demand for bandwidth, ISPs and cable providers have to increase their network to meet that demand, which costs a LOT of money. [gigaom.com] (Gigabit per second internet to about 100,000 homes would cost an estimated half a billion dollars). This money does not grow on trees. Governments cannot afford to make that investment, at least not now, and probably not ever. The revenue to build the Gbps connections we all want, across the nation, will come from fees like this. Get used to it, or just unplug alltogether. (Incidentally, same applies to 3G/4G wireless connections. Doesn't matter if you have a fast connection to the tower if it has to use copper to get from the tower to the internet).

Re:Needs to stop (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236960)

it annoys me that I may not actually see in my lifetime things we could be doing from a technological standpoint right now because some huge established companies refuse to adapt or get out of the way and have the piles of money and armies of lawyers/lobbyists to keep it up for decades.

I've been thinking of writing a short sci-fi story (or maybe doing it in short film form, that would definitely grab more eyeballs) that basically showcases what is possible today but isn't happening due to nothing more than telco greed and consumer ignorance.

Maybe... (5, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236498)

I could get behind this if it's done reasonably. Figure out what the top 10% of users use, draw a line there and say it's an extra $5 each month you surpass it. Likewise, figure out what the bottom 20% use, draw a line there and knock off $10 for each month they don't surpass it.

Of course, asking these guys to be reasonable is like asking Apple fanboys to use Windows...

Re:Maybe... (4, Funny)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236554)

draw a line there and knock off $10

Hahaha, that's a good one. (wipes single tear from eye)

Re:Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236582)

Totally agree with you, not sure what the fuss is all about, they do this exact same thing in the UK already. Depending on your ISP and the package you have, you may only get a 40GB allowance per month. Go higher than that consistently then you'll get charged extra, or moved onto the unlimited tier package for which you pay more. Simple!

It's kinda like your mobile/cell phone package. Some give more "free" minutes, just means you have to pay more for the monthly subscription. It's what you expect, you don't moan about it then!

Re:Maybe... (2)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236802)

Or like paying for SMS? Do you know what is the cost of sending one SMS for the cell company? I will enlighten you, it is ZERO. Actually, it is even better, it is bellow zero, because the SMS is considered to be a "garbage" in their terms. So, translated, you are paying for a garbage.....nice move telecoms, very nice move.

Re:Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236624)

Or asking a retard not to make frivolous comment

Or asking Linux User to use Windows

Or asking an Adndroid user to use iOS

or asking a Chevy driver to drive a Ford (Oblig car analogy)

Re:Maybe... (5, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236644)

The problem is it creates the wrong incentives. Data is not like water or gas where you can save it by not using it. The fixed costs are the same no matter how much bandwith we use, and any bandwidth we don't use is lost forever. This means we should encourage people to use more bandwidth, and if we don't have enough, we should build more infrastructure. Usage based billing encourages us to waste network capacity, and discourages ISPs from building out infrastructure. Why spend money to upgrade the network when you can make money by charging the heavy users instead?

Re:Maybe... (4, Interesting)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236744)

Agreed. This is just going to have phone companies aggressively rolling out fiber. They've already lost their landline customers for good. Cable's not convinced people aren't going back to TV. In the meantime, the telephone companies can steal them all back. Personally, I'm in a decent sized city that doesn't have DSL at my address. Why? I have no idea. Here's hoping for fiber or VDSL in the next couple years.

Re:Maybe... (5, Insightful)

tbannist (230135) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236792)

I think it should be accepted as a fundamental issue that you should either be charged for speed or usage but not both. It's double-dipping to force people to pay for speed and then charge them for volume as well. Without volume, speed is meaningless. Without speed, volume is meaningless.

Paying for one should automatically include the other and as Hatta wrote, it's actually better if we pay for speed rather than volume.

Re:Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38237020)

Still, though I think the gaming industry may weigh in on this issue. How much would they stand to lose from people refusing to game online due to high bandwidth usage costs.
Think Steam game distribution, Xbox online play, and Sony as well. I'm sure they will have something to say about ISP's rolling out usage caps.
The bright side of that is, their pockets are as deep as the telco's.
 
As an aside, I realize this is quoted as "being aimed at high usage customers", which I don't believe. consider if you will this would also take care of illegal file sharing, pirated software, and the like all at the same time making the ISP's more money and they offer less for it.

Re:Maybe... (3, Informative)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237034)

The fixed costs are the same no matter how much bandwith we use, and any bandwidth we don't use is lost forever.

Are you really sure about that? I got the impression that with the cable TV companies, their network's physical last mile is something like a shared ethernet (think back when you use ethernet hubs instead of switches, or even further back when you had 10base2 if you're old enough to have gone through that), in that when you're talking/listening, someone else has to wait their turn.

Of course, it sounds like your argument is to try to make them either change that, or at least upgrade its capacity. By charging per capita instead of in proportion to use, the light users who subsidize the heavy users will demand the sum of everyone's bills go down (so that their own bill goes down), thus being the incentive to upgrade the network.

I wonder if we could use this same strategy to advance Everything. Imagine if gasoline/petrol companies were to charge car drivers a fixed monthly fee for fuel, instead of per gallon. That would give us incentive to use our cars more, and give them incentive to obtain more fuel more cheaply. And since oil prospecting and drilling is much like residential cable/fiber laying in that it's nearly free and the only barrier to doing it is having the desire to do so, the strategy should work equally well.

Re:Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236702)

For an extra $30, I can get a business account which gives me unlimited data along with a representative with a direct line, no-wait tech support, next business day maintenance, a low-jitter business route that is shared with the dedicated lines(not over-subscribed), and 3 dynamic IPs.

Once I clear up some bills, I'm switching. Screw my data cap. Hell, that $30 is worth it just for the non-oversubscribed routes. The ONLY thing I will share with residential is the link from my apartment to the local switch. Anyway, I get an SLA.

Yeah, people will never be so stupid (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236712)

with their internet as they have been with their phones....

Look at what the wireless companies are doing with their phones and the fact that people pay for this abuse. $30 data plans... required for smart phones.

So you imagine the crap they will pull on internet if they get their way. I have no problem with usage based pricing provided that the line is separated from the provider. As in, treat it like my gas company. There is one company which gets paid a flat rate to maintain all gas lines in the state. From there providers piggy back on it charging what they think they can for the gas delivered over those lines.

The problem is how to fairly reimburse companies who truly did spend their own money upgrading their networks and how to get places that are not adequately served to similar levels. I can drive five miles from my house and the gas is still the same natural gas with same availability but people I know who live their only have DSL whereas I have opportunity for both cable and dsl (and my cable is 20 down)

Re:Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236752)

That's what they did -- the problem is when the "top 10%" of usage line is drawn based on dialup usage figures.

Web? (1)

WD (96061) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236520)

So FTP, Bittorrent, RTSP, are not covered?

If cellphone companies are doing it, why not us? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236522)

And everyone will soon follow.... Everything will eventually be tiered pricing.

The amount of miles you drive determine the price you pay for gas at the pump.

The amount of food you eat determines the amount you pay.

Grant it, this is currently being applied to non-essential services, such as data plans and someday broadband internet and cable TV, but with dwindling natural resources, this is likely to happen to where you pay less if you consume less...

Re:If cellphone companies are doing it, why not us (1)

chill (34294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236700)

Uh, we already do this?

If I drive more miles, I pay for more gas. Ditto with food. I don't know of one grocery store with an "all you can eat" plan. If I want more food, I pay for more food.

Re:If cellphone companies are doing it, why not us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236734)

Because you guys pay for bandwidth and the oversell it , that's all an ISP does. It buys a 1 mbps line for a month and sells it to three people hoping only one of them is actually online at any time. If they all get online they pull this shit your trying to pull , so as to convince them to stay online less but still pay the bill.
The reason cellphone companies do this with talk time is theoretically because they have to pay per minute spent talking outside their own network. The reason they're doing it for data too is because they're scam artists.
Go away slime.

Re:If cellphone companies are doing it, why not us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236812)

Replying to self to add this.

Source 1: I had a few friends that were small-time ISP's , i know what it costs to run a network and I'm sufficiently educated to extrapolate lhat towards running a larger network.
Source 2: The largest ISP in Romania operates on a scaled up "small isp" infrastructure ( cheap man's FTTB). Guess what: it works and you get 100mbps metro connection for 19$ / mo . We used to have data caps , they built their network up following the market's demand and now we don't.

Re:If cellphone companies are doing it, why not us (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236764)

OK - pay JUST by usage. I'm OK with 10 cents/GB. Though I'd hope the price would come down from there.

Lets look at it for what it is (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236528)

We are trying to kill off Netflix because they had the foresight to get rights to stream our tv shows before we thought it was a good idea. Now we are losing millions of people to hulu and netflix and others so we are gonna charge you for using thier service and make you use our service since you won't choose us.

Sincerely,
The Cable Dinosaurs

This article is incoherent (1)

Lluc (703772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236530)

Other than simply being bad grammar, what does this quote from the article mean, "If the companies were to lose all of their video customers, the revenue decline would be more than offset by a lower programming fees and set-top box spending."

Does this mean that cable companies will decrease their cable fees if they lose customers, thereby increasing profits. ...????

Pricing Standards (1)

paleo2002 (1079697) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236612)

How much is a byte of data worth? Will the price of video per byte be the same as the price per byte for music? For text? For other forms of data or media? Who sets the price? I'm sure there are lots more questions that nobody in the industry is interested in answering right now because . . . money!

They just don't get it (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236638)

The easiest way to institute metered bandwidth is to reward users who simply aren't interested in doing a lot of bandwidth-intensive tasks with a lower bill. If I could get my grandmother a $10/month basic plan with 2GB of bandwidth and basic customer service support, with say a $2/10GB add-on fee, it'd be a steal. She'd almost never use the 2GB of bandwidth in the first place, so most of that $10 would end up subsidizing other users--but without jacking her.

This just goes to show that the sociopathically greedy nature of a lot of industry executives has blinded them to the obvious. If you make a higher pricing structure a two-way street, most people won't mind.

Re:They just don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236730)

you want customer service?
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!

Agreed (-1, Offtopic)

Terrie789 (2523132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236652)

I complertely agree that it will be the best thing that ever happened to the cable industry. I am so happy I joined, there are quite interesting posts here. Thanks for sharing! Beach [vacationhomes.net]

A feww on high web access, eh? (1)

snarfies (115214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236670)

Oh, that's okay then. I'll just go right back to torrenting the shows I want to watch, then, and you'll lose the few pennies of advertising dollars you were getting from me. Bye!

good (4, Insightful)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236682)

I've always maintained they should align their price structure with actual costs. Maybe this won't get us all the way there, but it may end up being closer than their structure is now. Bundle their fixed costs into a fixed fee then recoup the rest in per-usage fees. To differentiate different plans based on max bandwidth, either up the fixed fee or up the per-usage rate for plans w/ higher bandwidth. Since they're now charging per usage, the telecoms have very little (legitimate) incentive to do any sort of throttling, enforcing of limits or traffic shaping.

Re:good (3)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236740)

Oh, and while you're at it, have the FCC/FTC break up the companies that are both content providers and bandwidth providers, e.g. Time Warner, Cox, etc. That takes care of the conflict of interest. Time Warner ISP becomes concerned only with providing a great network experience, without any care as to what you use it for. "Time Warner Content" (along with every other cable content provider) essentially becomes a Netflix/Hulu competitor.

Asking people to pay for what they use?!? OMG! (5, Interesting)

DragonHawk (21256) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236692)

I never quite understood the moral panic that seems to appear when this comes up. Asking people to pay for what they use doesn't seem like *that* radical a concept to me.

* If you run more appliances, your electric bill goes up
* If you drive a longer distance, you need to buy more gas
* If you make a lot of cell phone calls, your bill goes up
* If you eat more, you pay more for the groceries

Why is Internet use seen differently?

And before someone says, "I'm paying for X megabits/second, I should get that!", please understand that your feed connects you to the next upstream concentration point (switch, router, whatever). Beyond that, it's all shared bandwidth, and oversubscribed. That's one of the chief benefits of a packet-switched network -- you don't need to dedicate a circuit to each subscriber. Asking for dedicated connectivity the whole way[1] is asking for a return to the days of leased lines, where you paid thousands of dollars a month for 1.54 Mbit/sec.

[1] And, of course, the Internet doesn't have a "whole way".

Re:Asking people to pay for what they use?!? OMG! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236842)

Sure, as long as the cable company starts billing things that use my bandwidth that I do not want, like advertisement. Better yet, let's start doing that with cell data as well.

Re:Asking people to pay for what they use?!? OMG! (2)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236846)

Same with protests over fuel. In the UK, the government try to raise road taxes, introduce tolls, car-share lanes, congestion charging, parking fees etc. when the only thing that matters is pence per litre. Raise that, and blanket the roads in "no parking", "no gas-guzzlers" signs that are ENFORCED and the hardest-users are hit worse (including those who use higher grades of fuel, drive more, have huge cars, make unnecessary journeys etc.)

I'd much rather pay PAYG extra fuel and not have to keep digging out change/cards, fill in forms, etc. and get a shock at having to pay some things once a year, some every time I fill up, some when I use only a certain road, etc. for the use of the roads.

The only problem with usage-based billing is making sure that the measures are accurate, account for all usage (i.e. not point just metering download if someone else can upload ten times as much and pay less) and work out to the same rates for normal-usage users.

I pay about £10 a month for a basic (lowest package) 30Gb allowance. To me, that means I pay £0.33p per Gb. That seems not unreasonable, given local ISP prices. But if you try to charge me more than that per Gb then we're obviously going to have contention. And if I *do* want to use 100Gb one month, it had better be available because *I'm paying for it*. And if I use 1Gb, you better not charge me more than £0.33p (plus a small monthly fee, I bet!).

You can have it any way you like, PAYG, contract, etc. but the point is that if you bill me by usage, I *will* use what I want, when I want and pay ONLY what I feel is fair under those circumstances. When some telcos are still charging pounds per MEGABYTE for mobile data (and not "Oh, you went over 30Mb, so we limited the speed of your mobile data" like they do with broadband) it seems only right that this "fair" mechanism comes to broadband and is adjusted to meet TODAY'S standards as well as tomorrow's (i.e. don't charge me more than I'm paying now for the same usage).

Re:Asking people to pay for what they use?!? OMG! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236850)

If you watch more television you don't get charged any extra, so why would the internet be any different?

Re:Asking people to pay for what they use?!? OMG! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236856)

Because, when you live in poverty one of the few "blessings" in your life may be your internet connection. Don't make the mistake of confusing technical ability with financial success.

Re:Asking people to pay for what they use?!? OMG! (5, Insightful)

chill (34294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236932)

And before someone says, "I'm paying for X megabits/second, I should get that!", please understand that your feed connects you to the next upstream concentration point (switch, router, whatever). Beyond that, it's all shared bandwidth, and oversubscribed. That's one of the chief benefits of a packet-switched network -- you don't need to dedicate a circuit to each subscriber. Asking for dedicated connectivity the whole way[1] is asking for a return to the days of leased lines, where you paid thousands of dollars a month for 1.54 Mbit/sec.

Then stop telling me that is what you're providing. If somewhere upstream can't handle the rate and limits it, that is one thing. But I don't give a rat's ass about your oversubscription issues. If Comcast tells me "20 Mbps", then under no circumstances but the rarest should COMCAST ever throttle me. The upstream provider can rate limit as they need to.

Honestly, I don't mind paying for what I use. What I mind is getting LIED TO about it under the guise of "advertising".

Re:Asking people to pay for what they use?!? OMG! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236988)

You're not "consuming" data. Your using bandwidth. You're not "consuming" data like it was electricity or gasoline. Why does everyone else MISS the point? It's not sending data through the pipes... it's how FAST you send it. Throttle the heavy users after a certain point and STFU. Bandwidth is a scarce commodity. DATA is not. Slow down the big users and let grandma tweet her bowel movements in real time.. or grow your capacity. I don't give a fuck if you oversold your "unlimited" internet. Fixing it by charging for going over 10GB (that was TWC's first trial) is stupid.

This is nothing more than a revenue grab from most monopolies because competition sucks.

Re:Asking people to pay for what they use?!? OMG! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38237008)

Because the Internet is like a road and you typical aren't charged by the mile. The ISP doesn't normally provide the content, just bandwidth or a road. That's the difference, the reaction is they have lost there mind over their absurd cost of this service, providing a conduit to the net. The toll is way too high for what they do.

puzzling? (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236696)

I'm still not sure what the problem is here? I watch most of my TV online via Hulu, Netflix, and a variety of other means. And I have Comcast High-Speed Internet with a 150 GB/month bandwidth cap. I have yet to even come close to passing that threshold, and Comcast has never complained to me about bandwidth usage. And I thought I was a "heavy user". Which leads me to believe that the true "heaviest users" must really be sucking up some serious bandwidth -- these are probably all the guys starting and hosting torrents, though,. . .

Re:puzzling? (1)

Captain.Abrecan (1926372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236898)

Because most cable companies are also ISPs, and they will start charging your web access the same way.

Cached servers? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236750)

Wouldn't the best solution be to used local cached media servers inside each telcom/cable-co data center? For example, the most popular Netflix videos get cached locally on Netflix's own racked up servers. Cable within the city WAN has plenty of bandwidth. No need to charge extra for that. So the technical problem with data usage over paring agreements is solvable. Now it's just a business decision to make it happen between the content providers.

It ain't so simple (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236782)

Some people seem to think that because this is happening with mobile internet, the same could happen on wired internet. But there is a problem. First off, there are TWO forms of wired internet and the infrastructure for that is there. The wires are in the ground and they are increasingly capable of higher and higher speeds. Fibre is often waiting to be even used. There is excess capacity readily available.

Mobile is different, towers are not just expensive and prone to interference, getting a new tower up takes a lot of administrative work. Further more, by the nature of mobile, the heaviest use is in the most build up and populated areas where is it is hardest to increase coverage.

No such problem with wires. The heaviest use is spread over a city (offices during the day, suburbs at night) and the cables can carry near infinite capacity and getting a small distrubution box up is no hassle.

So... who is going to be the first to STOP advertising with downloading and say "we are going to charge you more"? There are, at least in Europe, to many ISP that have given up on trying to sell content just sell you data. They got no other interests and have the infrastructure to just sell data.

The fact is that data is insanely cheap nowadays, people know it AND will know it that the OTHER provider CAN sell it cheaply because that other provider is bound to advertise with it. If the are not... well... at least in the EU their are watchdogs that will ask how it comes ALL at once decided to increase their prices at the same rate.

Some of the big internet companies keep dreaming of fat profits and people paying to download wallpapers, ringtones and now movies. It never happened. I don't see it happening anytime soon. People are just to cheap.

What do we actually do (5, Interesting)

james_van (2241758) | more than 2 years ago | (#38236804)

to fight this? The general public in America is so apathetic anymore that this is inevitable. Sure, we bitch and complain a lot, but when it comes time to actually do anything, nothing materializes. I'm genuinely surprised that the "Occupy" movement has lasted as long as it has, I figured it would fizzle completely in a few days. But, back to the point, this is a bad idea for me, the consumer. I don't give a rat's @ss that cable companies' profits are shrinking. That's not my fault. Put something worth watching on television at a convenient time and I'll sit down and watch it. I'll even watch the commercials. But the fact that I watch little to no network television is solely due to poor decisions on the parts of the providers and studios. Stop paying actors such ridiculous salaries, fire the horrible writers and get people with writing skills and tell compelling stories. Fire the executives that rake in disgusting paychecks and keep demanding dumbed down crap, "reality shows" and bad reboots. But don't tell me that I have to now pay more for my internet because you can't manage your finances like a grown up! But seriously, what do we do to prevent this from happening? I can cancel my internet.... oh wait, Comcast has a monopoly in my area so I can't leave. I can post a rant on Slashdot.... oh wait, that won't do anything. I can tell my neighbors about this and try to raise awareness, maybe organize a protest.... oh wait, it's America, they'll get all fired up, but never actually get off the couch. I can call my congressman.... oh wait, he's in the cable companies pocket. I can call Comcast and complain... oh wait, they don't give a $hit what I think. So what do we do? And not just about this, but about a lot of things. Look at the state America is in today, and on pretty much every issue, we the people are backed into a corner and have no real options. Personally, I'm ready to get out the pitchforks and torches.

Re:What do we actually do (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237108)

Personally, I'm ready to get out the pitchforks and torches.

Make sure to YouTube it. Not too high bandwidth, though.

Well.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236820)

Looks like I'll have to add that tethering package onto my 4g phone and use it as my internet. Sorry Time Warner Cable, your product is already worth less than what I pay, why the hell would I want to pay more?

Usage base billing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236828)

Ok, if I'm going to get charged $70/mo for 250GB of downloads, then if I only use 50GB, I'll pay $14 of my bill. They've set the price at ~$0.28 per GB, so that's what I'll pay.

Web Access (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236882)

When was it that access to the Internet was replaced with "web access?"

Seriously, now, are we going to be expected to pay more for connectivity if we use ports other than 80/443 and protocols other than http(s)? Because it sure sounds that way from what they're calling it and what they're complaining about.

Adblocking justified (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38236980)

I think this is just going to get people more conscious of data on the web. I will feel less regret loading my favorite websites with all those flash ads if I am actually paying to see it.

This reminds me of the 1980s... (2)

FridayBob (619244) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237050)

... when IIRC the MPAA and the RIAA managed to convince regulators that it was fair to add an additional tax to the sale of all audio and video tapes, incl. DAT. It's called the private copying levy [wikipedia.org] . They argued that, since it was safe to assume that the overwhelming majority of tapes would be used to make illegal copies of copyrighted content, the tax would go some way to compensating them for their losses. Of course, this idea was unfair, because it also taxed everyone who was not interested in music or Hollywood movies, or only recorded their own material. Nowadays it also applies to blank CDs and DVDs. However, this new proposal for a web usage tax is such a blunt instrument it makes the old "blank media tax", as it is also known, look like a razor.

cross the streams (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237086)

This is why I chuckle a bit at the "discs are dead, long live streaming" folks. Personally, I'd love a service where I can stream anything ever made at anytime so I never had to fire up Handbrake/VLC ever again, but it ain't happening with gatekeepers like this in charge.

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