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Data Hogs: the Monsters Carriers Created

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the it's-a-car-analogy dept.

Cellphones 215

jfruhlinger writes "A recent study claimed that the top 1 percent of mobile data users eat up half of the available bandwidth. But assuming it's true, who's at fault? Stats show data usage has increased radically with each new model of the iPhone, and similar phenomena are in place for Android phones — all of which are gleefully sold to the public by the same people who complain about 'data hogs.' Isn't this the equivalent of a car dealer heavily promoting Cadillacs, then complaining about poor fuel efficiency, then charging a ton for extra gasoline?"

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215 comments

Ha: A car analogy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642766)

huzzah

yeah (5, Insightful)

dropadrop (1057046) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642778)

I think the idea is to slowly promote an idea that caps and traffic shaping are good for the vast majority of customers.

Re:yeah (1)

synapse7 (1075571) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642876)

It's only a measurable usage that can be charged for

Re:yeah (5, Informative)

tilante (2547392) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643438)

Here's the thing -- they're already measuring usage. Every month, I get a bill from AT&T that says how many megabytes of data traffic each of the three people in my family used. I can even go to their web site and see how much traffic each of us used each day for the last month.

The carriers have the ability to measure usage, and they are using it. Any whining from them of "we can't identify who the hogs are" or "we don't know where the traffic is coming from" is simply lying. They're already measuring these things for billing purposes. Taking that data and using it for planning purposes only requires some investment in software to sort through the data they already have.

I'll note too that they fail to provide incentives for keeping your usage low. For example, from AT&T, for $15 a month, I can get 200 MB / month of data. For $25, I can get 2 GB / month. So, my wife, who was routinely using around 250 MB a month, upgraded to the 2 GB a month... and once she did, she started doing things like frequently streaming video to her phone. After all, she'd have to use eight times as much data as she used to before she'd exceed her new cap, so why shouldn't she?

It gets worse, though. For my work, I need to be able to remotely access the machines I work on at a moment's notice. I can't guarantee I'll always have a wi-fi connection available if I get an emergency call from the boss, so I have tethering. However, AT&T won't let me pay, say, a few extra dollars a month and use tethering with my 200 MB / month plan. Instead, I have to pay for their tethering plan, which gives me 4 GB / month of data, with tethering, for $45 a month. There is no lower option that allows tethering.

So now I've started watching videos online. I didn't bother getting 3g on the iPad I got myself for Christmas either... why pay the carrier another fee, when I can tether the iPad to the phone and actually get some use out of that 4 GB a month I'm having to pay for?

I would've been happy to give AT&T $5 a month for tethering and stay on my $15 a month, 200 MB / month plan, and not change my habits of using the phone at all. But if they're going to require me to pay $45 a month for a 4 GB plan in order to get tethering, I'm going to damn well increase my usage! Otherwise, I'm paying an additional $20 a month for nothing.

If I wind up using, say, 1 GB a month, I'm actually being charged 4.5 cents per MB. Before, with my 200 MB plan, I was being charged 7.5 cents per MB. If I somehow managed to use all 4 GB in a month, I'd be charged 1.125 cents per MB.

When the carriers effectively are giving steep discounts to "data hogs", what do they think is going to happen? If I had to buy 4 GB at my old plan's rate, I'd pay $300 for it. You can bet I'd be watching my usage carefully in that case! As it is, I *have* to pay for 4 GB a month, so I try to use as much of it as I can!

Re:yeah (4, Insightful)

imahawki (984044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643098)

The reality is though, they are cracking down on the top users but giving NO benefit to people who use 50MB a month. Those people used to subsidize high data users which you could argue was unfair. But now that people are being cut off or paying for actual usage over a certain point, the bill for people using much less should drop!

Re:yeah (1)

SlippyToad (240532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643390)

You must be new here. Companies NEVER play fair like that.

Re:yeah (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643464)

In most other industries, high volume users end up paying the major part of the bill and subsidize low volume users, even as they benefit from bulk pricing.

Coal, gas, electricity, and even food. Bulk purchasers get a discount, but having them in the market assures an infrastructure which can handle thousand of other customers easily. The little customers pay proportionally more, but probably would pay even more with the bulk purchasers absent from the market.

The Carriers should charge a cheaper rate per megabyte for bulk data users. They shouldn't cut them off. They shouldn't charge them progressively more the more they use. They should actually give them discounts. Buying the next tier up should be cheaper than watching your data usage trying to live under the line.

Re:yeah (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38643612)

That only works in the functional industries because they improve infrastructure to match demand. In the non-functional industry of telco/cable they refuse to improve infrastructure.

I would assume this happens because electricity, gas, food, coal, etc. are "necessities" (at least in a modern society.) As such this will probably tip over once internet tips from luxury to necessity.

Re:yeah (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643780)

But the thing is, when the lights dim, or the Air conditioning goes out you KNOW there is a shortage.

But we have no idea of the actual tower loading percentage of the cell companies. In my west coast area, dropped calls are a rarity, and I can pull 3G data all day long, and never notice any interruptions. So is there a shortage or not? Certainly not here. Maybe some other places.

Re:yeah (2)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643650)

but giving NO benefit to people who use 50MB a month

FALSE! They're getting a free cap! ;-)~

Re:yeah (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643544)

I'm glad they're doing it so frigging badly then.

Consume at too big a rate? We'll just stop you from consuming at all. Until next month when you probably do the same thing.

Likewise, we'll impose caps so low that they affect 95% of users just so we can claim we're stopping the 1%.

Brilliant! (if viewed through monopoly supplied monocle)

Come now (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642786)

Save the bad car analogies for the comments.

Re:Come now (5, Funny)

smitty777 (1612557) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642818)

Yeah, that's where the rubber meets the road

Re:Come now (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643044)

Yeah, let me check my trunk, I keep a whole bunch in there, next to the spare tyre in case of an emergency.

Re:Come now (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38643252)

Let me get this straight: your variety of English uses both trunk and tyre?

Re:Come now (0)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643326)

Welcome to the interwebs, you must be new here.

Re:Come now (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643102)

Alright, let's get into gear and start commenting! Pedal to the metal!

Re:Come now (1)

smitty777 (1612557) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643658)

Hmmmm...this thread is definitely spinning it's wheels. I might have to take the drivers seat and steer us back on course.

Laws of mathematics (5, Funny)

rfioren (648635) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642788)

The top X% of any distribution is always going to consume some "large" number Y. I bet the top 1% of income earners earn 80% of all income. The top 1% of book readers probably read 80% of all books. And I bet the top 1% of slashdot posters live in 80% of all basements.. it's just basic math. Whenever there's a distribution.. well, some people will do a lot, and some a little.

Re:Laws of mathematics (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642836)

Yea, I'm going to go out on a limb and say you're not a statistician. Or intelligent.

Re:Laws of mathematics (5, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642872)

And I bet the top 1% of slashdot posters live in 80% of all basements.

Top 1% of posters get 80% of all +5 articles. This is true.

Re:Laws of mathematics (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642888)

If I had points I would mod you up.

Or the alternative comment for this thread:
Isn't this the equivalent of a car dealer heavily promoting Cadillacs, then complaining about poor fuel efficiency, then charging a ton for extra gasoline?"
Step3: Profit!

Re:Laws of mathematics (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643492)

If you weren't an AC you might actually get points.

Re:Laws of mathematics (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642984)

Exactly. It's called a Power Law [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Laws of mathematics (1)

cthlptlk (210435) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643004)

There are cases where you can see where being on top gives you an advantage for staying on top. (There is an interesting essay about such distributions here: http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/follow-the-money [americanscientist.org] .) But I am not sure how that would work for bandwidth usage distribution. Not saying it doesn't, but I don't see an intuitive explanation.

To be fair (5, Interesting)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642802)

Who would have guessed that consumers would actually use their data plan?

Re:To be fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642846)

>Buy 4G plan because of faster speed

>Ridiculously small data cap

Lolz, you mobile nutters never cease to amaze me.

Nobody could have predicted the levees would fail (1)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642912)

Seems I've heard that somewhere before ...

Re:To be fair (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643032)

And I suppose before long people are going to expect to be able to actually get a signal. Fortunately for AT&T nobody signs up with them that actually intends to use their phone for anything other than WiFi.

Re:To be fair (1)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643084)

You call that fair? We should all feel sorry for these companies which are facing high demand for their product, but can't make a profit off that demand and continue to charge the other 99% of users who pay for bandwidth they'll never use.

There ought to be a law allowing these guys to sell unlimited plans, but only to people who agree they won't go over the cap!

Re:To be fair (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643214)

Who would have guessed that consumers would actually use their data plan?

I'm more surprised at how many users don't use their data. I know a few iPhone 4 users who pay for the highest AT&T cap but don't use more than 250mb a month. Have never used more than 250gb in any month.

If the telecoms are going to start charging more for people who use a lot of data, will they start charging less for people who don't use anywhere near the amount of data they're paying for?

My family plan, with my wife and daughter and me, allows for like 1200 minutes or something. We probably don't use more than 400 or 500 minutes. Why don't I get a rebate? If I go over 150gb on my DSL connection, I have to pay an additional $10/50gb. The month that I was on vacation and used 0 gb, I still payed full price.

Telecommunications needs to be a highly regulated utility. I really don't need to pay someone who is going to work so hard to develop new ways to get me to pay more for less.

Re:To be fair (4, Insightful)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643524)

this means "I don't watch netflix on my phone, or if I do, it is over public wifi, and not the cell network."

1 netflix movie is over 500mb transfer, even on a tiny device like a phone. If you watch even 1 movie on the phone per month over cellular, you are a "data hog".

When the carriers proclaim "you can get live sports coverage and watch movies online with our blzing fast $cellgeneration service!" I feel they lose the right to complain about people doing exactly what they advertise.

Now, if you are pulling over 10gb a month transfer, that is excessive, even for streaming media.

The exception would be cellular tethering devices used for primary internet. A special package should be set up for that.

Really, the problem here is overselling capacity in a batshit crazy fashion. You can oversell capacity, and do it sanely. Such as actually metering actual network utilization over time, and oversell by perahps 10 to 20%. Instead, these carriers are pathologically allergic to improving their infrastructures, and pathologically oversell their capacity, to the point where they think using more than 100mb in a month is "heavy use". News flash: if you have lots of apps installed on your phone, simply enabling the autoupdater will push you over that pathetically small limit.

Carriers need to establish what "heavy use" is, not compared against current system load, but against average intended use statistics. Eg, using 2gb a month for watching 3 netflix movies should be considered "high end" of "normal", and not "excessive." Excessive would be watching a movie every day. (30 days in a month x 500mb per movie == 1.5TB transfer.) They should then either restrict smartphones, total numbers of dataplans sold, or FUCKING IMPROVE THEIR NETWORKS, so that network instability doesn't occur from "normal use."

Theyneed to stop headplanting and redefining terms with self-referential metrics.

Re:To be fair (5, Insightful)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643768)

if you are pulling over 10gb a month transfer, that is excessive, even for streaming media.

So I can't watch ONE movie a day? Because that would be like 15gb.

Re:To be fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38643802)

... Apparently not the carriers. This immediately says to me that the problem is overselling the available badwidth. The carriers need to increase the available bandwidth.

Big diff between data hogs and just iPhones/androi (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642806)

A US friend of mine boasts of going into the hundreds of gigs on his mobile plans, because he can, when we in Australia are stuck on 1, 3, maybe 10gb plans at the most. As a user of one of those 'data hogging' iPhones, it certainly uses more mobile data than my previous nokias (1-2gb now, compared to a few hundred mb) that's a ridiculously huge scale difference between the increase of the iPhone in natural use over phones before it, and those who'd *bittorrent* from their phones just because they can.

Re:Big diff between data hogs and just iPhones/and (3, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643130)

we in Australia are stuck on 1, 3, maybe 10gb plans at the most

I really don't get why carriers in the US don't use this sort of a model. I am on a 1.5 gb plan with optus, and it is more than enough for my phone, and for my laptop (I use my phone to wifi tether). There isn't ever really anything that I want to do using my phone that will use up more data than that.

If I want to update drivers or files, I generally do it at home, not on the move. The only thing I really use data for is email/browsing on my laptop, the phone is also email or the occasional map when driving. Aside from that, I do all my serious stuff at home. It isn't because of a low data plan, it is simply because if I am out and about, the last thing I am thinking of is torrent files, distro updates or any other data heavy application.

Taking a cue from (4, Insightful)

future assassin (639396) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642826)

>But assuming it's true, who's at fault?

Oh its the Internet users. Its always the 1% that are the hogs and the poor Internet providers must provide data caps to make their oversold lines work for the rest.

Cry me a fucking river. Maybe just maybe don't sell your packages when you now your network wont handle them.

Re:Taking a cue from (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643052)

That's largely correct, but a huge amount of that traffic isn't the subscriber it's various scams. I'm not sure what the numbers are presently, but a few years back most traffic was spam and various malware communiques.

Re:Taking a cue from (5, Insightful)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643086)

what's the alternative?

Build out some network bandwidth, then divide it by the number of subscribers you have, and charge them for their slice of the whole.

Make sense?

I doubt you'd agree when you get charged the hundreds of dollar per month that would cost you. Besides, its a bit daft to think that every subscriber uses 100% of their bandwidth 24/7, so why not oversell it? After all, if I use 10% of my total bandwidth, there's no reason why you can't allocate that to 9 more subscribers, thus bringing the price down to 1/10th of what it was.

So obviously overselling is ok, but what level is reasonable for this? There's a tradeoff between the price of the network, shared out amongst all subscribers, and the bandwidth you get. Most people don't use much bandwidth - your average mom and pop will use it to surf a little, read emails, etc and use 1Gb per month max, so if you assume all your subscribers are like that, the service should be dirt cheap.

Until you get someone who comes along and basically abuses the system by keeping it on 24/7, streaming torrents or running a video webserver. These people skew (or should that be screw) the carefully planned subscriber/bandwidth ratio which basically means everyone else is subsidising their use of the network, to the detriment of everyone's use of the network.

Re:Taking a cue from (3, Insightful)

future assassin (639396) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643374)

Nothing wrong with overselling and many companies can do it right but when your greed doesn't want you to reinvest the profits into the system its just easier to point the finger at those who use what they paid for and call them hogs. As a consumer I don't give a flying fuck that I'm causing your system issues when I use what I paid for. I'm not a charity...

Re:Taking a cue from (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38643554)

Up in Canada, I just have a 1GB/month plan, and most of the time I don't come near that.

I don't use super extensively, but

Constant google talk
Several dozens of emails each over 4 accounts over the working hours.
I have to take photos and send them daily (usually just 3 or 4) but at 1-2MB each.
Newsfeed reading (constantly)
Webcomics
Random surfing (looking things up)
Tethering to my laptop a couple times a week (for about 15 mins per)

And I rarely go over half my cap.
My wife uses signifigantly less data. Maybe 100MB/Month. I can't imagine a mom and pop getting anywhere near that 1gb cap.

Re:Taking a cue from (5, Interesting)

kasperd (592156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643666)

its a bit daft to think that every subscriber uses 100% of their bandwidth 24/7, so why not oversell it? After all, if I use 10% of my total bandwidth, there's no reason why you can't allocate that to 9 more subscribers, thus bringing the price down to 1/10th of what it was.

This would work great if they made throttling to actually match the principles you describe, and then advertise the lines as such.

For example they could advertise a line as 100Mbit/s maximum speed, 1Mbit/s average speed. As long as you stay below 1Mbit/s averaged over a week, you will get your 100Mbit/s. If your average over a week goes above 1Mbit/s though, then your maximum speed will start decreasing. Once your weekly average hits 2Mbit/s your maximum speed will have decreased to 1Mbit/s, which is sure to get your weekly average down again.

They could improve it even more by allowing users to put their traffic into different QoS bands, and ensure that they provide incentives for users to use appropriate QoS bands for the traffic they are sending. I think the following three QoS classes would make sense for most users.

  • Default QoS. In this class you get to transfer as much data as specified by your subscription. It is intended for webbrowsing, email, and most other more or less interactive usages. The providers should guarantee that there is capacity to give you the bandwidth you paid for in this class.
  • Latency sensitive QoS. In this class you only get to transfer one third of the amount of data specified by your subscription. It is intended for VOIP, action games, and other applications where latency is the important factor. On the routers this traffic needs to go into a special queue. That queue should be short since this traffic is very sensitive to latency. That will increase packet loss a bit, but for some latency sensitive applications packet drops are less of a problem than increased latency. Since this class by design should never ever use more than one third of the capacity of any link, packet drops should be rare anyway.
  • Bulk QoS. In this class you get to transfer as much data as you want, it doesn't count towards your usage, and you don't get throttled for using too much. OTOH traffic in this class is not guaranteed at all. It only gets what is left over when the above two classes have gotten what they need. This would be useful for downloads lasting hours or days. Probably most traffic in this class would be bittorrent.

I think a classification as described above would give users sufficient incentive to use the proper class for their traffic, and providers don't have to pretend to know better and reclassify the traffic.

Doin what? (5, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642832)

Doin what? Until you answer that you're just spinning wheels.

Is there some kind of spam sending virus out there? That would make sense and you could hope they'll fix it.

Are they spending a lot of time at websites? More than 10 or maybe 15 years ago now, Akamai fixed that, maybe the mobiles need that?

Is it one specific app, like google maps?

Is it tethering people trying to run an entire disaster recovery site over a phone?

Does it really matter? Supposedly 1% of the population, that being teen girls, made up most of the call volume at one time. So?

How does their battery survive this intense use? My new android phone barely lives thru the day with light use, so they must be living on a charger?

Why are they "monsters"? What a weird way to describe human beings. That means I should use my leet skyrim skills and cast an ice spear at them, right?

Re:Doin what? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642956)

Oh and another one, are they actually using apps or is this apps that are updating? I used to always dread seeing Battle for Wesnoth update on my ipod touch because here comes a third of a gig each update. Are there any apps out there bigger than wesnoth? I know the xplane flight simulators are a bit on the large side.

Could it be a phone that is broken and continually downloading over the air updates over and over and over and over?

Re:Doin what? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643262)

Oh and another one, are they actually using apps or is this apps that are updating? I used to always dread seeing Battle for Wesnoth update on my ipod touch because here comes a third of a gig each update. Are there any apps out there bigger than wesnoth? I know the xplane flight simulators are a bit on the large side.

Could it be a phone that is broken and continually downloading over the air updates over and over and over and over?

There are plenty of apps bigger than 300MB.

GPS apps for starters - it's the primary reason the maximum size of an IPA was upped from 1GB to 2GB. The map data for North America is close to 1.2GB+ and all the extras can push it to 1.8GB.

Not that it matters - iOS refuses to use 3G for apps larger than 20MB or so - it will insist on using a WiFi connection (though I suppose it will gladly update over a 3G hotspot).

It's also one of the times iTunes is handy - downloading huge updates on the device is already iffy using WiFi - so use your PC and transfer it over using faster USB...

Also, plenty of games are larger - Gameloft's Halo wannabe, NOVA, is routinely 600MB-1GB (most of Gameloft's games are pretty big). And there's plenty more - kind of a pity you can't sort the App Store by size.

Re:Doin what? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643358)

There are a couple of medical and anatomy apps whose updates are pretty big. I generally don't update them until I'm home because trying to do so bogs the poor little phone down on my crappy 3G connection and I'm usually running around, not just dinking with the phone.

So, I suppose you could spend your day updating apps, but why not do that at night when you're not using the thing. It's not like iPhones really multitask well....

Re:Doin what? (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643070)

If the users are gobbling the data by tethering to computer(s), the phone probably is living on a charger. I ran like this for a while for my home internet.

Re:Doin what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38643088)

At work, I use my phone to stream music (mount an SMB share from home over VPN) while it's connected to its charger. And I'll occasionally watch videos on Youtube or Netflix on the bus. I use Skype video chat, albeit mostly over wifi at home; when I tried it over 3G, it worked great but did take a good ~70MB of data.

Hehe. (4, Funny)

powerlinekid (442532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642834)

Occupy Verizon?

Re:Hehe. (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643138)

Occupy Verizon?

That would require that they get off their backsides and change the signs. They've been sitting on those backsides for months now. It's just too much effort to get up, man.

Nice car analogy (5, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642850)

Yes, it is like selling a fuel-wasting car and then forcing the consumer to purchase fuel from you and only you. And advertising the fuel inefficiency as a feature. And rationing the fuel and switching from unlimited fuel to rationed fuel... ok maybe the analogy breaks down somewhere around there.

The carriers want their cake, that is selling phones with data-heavy features that people love, and they want to eat it too: i.e. not expanding their network with all the profits they are making in order to handle the load from the phones they just sold. Greedy bastards. The solution would be to create some genuine competition instead of the cartel-like operation we have in the US right now, but the barrier to entry is so high that is next to impossible. Maybe some government regulation might even be in order (much as I usually hate such things), given that these companies often have what amounts to a government-granted monopoly on certain EM spectra.

Re:Nice car analogy (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643188)

Yes, it is like selling a fuel-wasting car and then forcing the consumer to purchase fuel from you and only you. And advertising the fuel inefficiency as a feature. And rationing the fuel and switching from unlimited fuel to rationed fuel... ok maybe the analogy breaks down somewhere around there.

I have a better standard /. car analogy. WHAT IF my local car stealership's service dept intentionally had only one mechanic to make all warranty and recall repairs, so as to boost profits, so car service was excruciatingly slow, but as a PR move to avoid hiring more wrenches, they "discovered" that 1% of car owners made up to 90% of service appointments (because they have a lemon or whatever)?
So now we can control the car owners as such:
1) they might be one of the 1% high users so they better shut up instead of complaining about slow service, or they might get cut off from all contracted service, or something similarly illogical.
2) we can get the users blaming each other for making service appointments instead of blaming the company for not hiring more wrenches.
3) The stockholm syndrome victims will blame themselves or their fellow drivers or anyone other than the stealership who is ripping them off
4) The guys on /. will complain, but since there is a govt controlled monopoly / confuseopoly, I guess they're just screwed and will have to bend over and take it anyway.

Poor analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642864)

That is a poor analogy. An auto dealer isn't too concerned about fuel efficiency; the customer is. The auto-dealer also doesn't complain about the price of gas when selling a vehicle; the customer is. There's too many people at work here to blame it all on the dealer: auto maker, transportation costs (gas companies, getting the car from the factory - from Mexico, Japan, etc), emission laws, taxes, etc.

With the phone it's mostly the same thing, except we have the users to blame for downloading a Hi-Def 3hr long movie to a 3.5" screen.

3G Modems (5, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642874)

According to the stats, 3G Modems account for 26 times more data usage than the baseline (iPhone 3G), and nearly 10 times more data usage than the next biggest consumer device (iPhone 4S for downlink). "3G Modems" don't count as phones, at least not in my book. That would either be tethering, running a phone as a wifi hotspot, or a dedicated hotspot device.

So these are probably people that don't have broadband service and use 3G for the home connectivity, or people that constantly travel. My uncle just set something up like this a couple weeks ago - they have no other options for broadband at their home, and even had to use a DSS dish as a signal reflector to be able to get 3G service because they are so remote (the dish was my idea, seemed to work good).

I don't think so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642880)

I think a more valid comparison would be if a dealer sold that Cadillac for a fixed monthly price including gas. You pay the same amount, but some people use more gas than others - assuming we're talking about an unlimited plan. They see the top 1% of data users as people who leave the car running in neutral in the drive way with a brick on the gas.

I go back and forth how I feel about this. I see friends that watch netflix videos on their phones (even when they're around wifi) and I see the carriers point. I don't do much streaming and my data comes in at about 800-1000 mb / month - so I'm fine with my 2 gig plan. However, with a tiered plan (2gb + 1gb/ 10$ as mine is) I think the carriers lose their right to complain because the people are paying for their consumption. (And with Sprint, you're pretty much limited by the fact that you're on sprint... I'd have a hard time pulling an abusing amount of data on their network in my area.)

Re:I don't think so. (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643144)

Simple solution would b4 the phone to switch to trusted wifi when available that could be pushed to the phone via overthrow air software update and most people would never notice. But on the other hand they should not have sold a service that they could bot provide. And since they did they need to put up (build better/more infrastructure) and shutup (don't gripe about problems that you greed is the source of.)

Beef up infrastructure perhaps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642894)

Instead of the telcos wringing their hands in front of Congress saying how much their users are hurting them by using services that the customers paid for, in efforts to justify additional fees, I'd rather them get a government grant/loan for added infrastructure. This essentially is what China is doing with China Mobile. The telco gets infrastructure grants, China gets a top class infrastructure that can handle communications needs. Both benefit.

Re:Beef up infrastructure perhaps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38643454)

you are a moron. china is budding.

they have a future of ballooning credit, and productivity.

america is not budding, it's a grizzled, graying, mature beast, while not weak, it's strongest days are behind it.

the country can settle into it's geriatric years, without big problems, but

1. cut it's consumption in half
2. get all the old people to realize that their expectations are fucked up, they aren't enough going to get ass kicking benefits based on a world view, that was carved out during the formative years that just happened to be during the greatest decades this country ever had. those days are gone.
3. cut the fucking debt. public, corporate, and individual.

Duh? (2)

edmicman (830206) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642908)

Today's data hogs are tomorrow's average users. What do you expect when *every* new electronic device is coming out connected to something (watches, cars, refrigerators, you name it in addition to the usual standbys), carriers are pushing smartphones and advertising fast new networks and new apps? You have smart TVs and a half dozen connected set top boxes just in the living room. Netflix comes on everything. The industry is pushing always available all-you-can-consume content, then at the same time complaining that people are consuming too much. Sigh...and then you get "solutions" of tiered traffic and data caps and throttles. But what happens when the early adopters of today become the normal users? Is every person who watches Netflix streaming or downloads movies and TV from iTunes or Amazon or streams Pandora the 1 percent of data users?

The phone is not the cause of the high usage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642924)

The user is responsible.

I torrented all six seasons of the Sopranos in 720p over my phone.

Why? Tethering was easier than running a cable.

As much as data caps might crimp my style, it isn't fair to expect minimal users to subsidize me forever.

Usage-based billing also creates a powerful incentive to push users to connect to WiFi at home and in the office. Cell bandwidth is limited, so it makes sense for everyone to offload to WiFi, where available. People with unlimited data might not bother. Those who worry about a cap will have a reason to respect the network's finite capacity.

The carriers aren't without malice. They are certainly money grubbing. All I'm saying is users are not always the poor, downtrodden victim.

Re:The phone is not the cause of the high usage (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643670)

Minimal users won't be using the "unlimited" plan. Or maybe even the "15GB" plan.

Also, instead of imposing smaller and smaller caps, the providers should invest in the infrastructure, you know, like the wired internet providers do (where I live, anyway).

Bandwidth Is Dirt Cheap (2)

deweyhewson (1323623) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642928)

When the average cost to transfer a gigabyte of data is below 5 cents - http://business.financialpost.com/2011/02/05/how-much-does-bandwidth-actually-cost/ [financialpost.com] - I don't buy all these complaints from carriers about customers using huge amounts of data, especially since the typical "unlimited" (heh) data plan costs $30/month. At that rate, a customer would have to transfer 600 gigabytes of data in a given month to equal the raw cost of that bandwidth to the carrier.

Now, admittedly, that is based on the raw cost of bandwidth, and, of course, other factors come into play in figuring the cost of delivering that data, but the point is that carriers are, without question, earning money hand over fist with the current rates they are charging. I mean, we also have carrier CEOs admitting that the cost of bandwidth has little to do with the cost of services - http://stopthecap.com/2011/07/28/time-warner-ceo-bandwidth-costs-are-not-terribly-relevant-to-broadband-pricing [stopthecap.com] .

No, these common refrains from the carriers are due to nothing more than them wanting to have their cake and eat it, too. They don't want to upgrade their infrastructure to support the bandwidth capabilities today's customers are demanding, but they still want to justify charging the rates they do whilst continuing to advertise "unlimited" data plans. So how do they go about doing that? Blame any and all bandwidth problems on "data hogs".

Again, I'm not buying it.

Re:Bandwidth Is Dirt Cheap (2)

dougmc (70836) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643128)

When the average cost to transfer a gigabyte of data is below 5 cents - http://business.financialpost.com/2011/02/05/how-much-does-bandwidth-actually-cost/ [financialpost.com] - I don't buy all these complaints from carriers about customers using huge amounts of data, especially since the typical "unlimited" (heh) data plan costs $30/month. At that rate, a customer would have to transfer 600 gigabytes of data in a given month to equal the raw cost of that bandwidth to the carrier.

Now, admittedly, that is based on the raw cost of bandwidth, and, of course, other factors come into play in figuring the cost of delivering that data ...

Just for the record, the link you provided talks about wired bandwidth, not wireless bandwidth. If you're providing wireless bandwidth ... you have to pay for the wired bandwidth up to your cell phone tower, and then pay for that tower and all the bandwidth (and this is actual bandwidth here -- "a spot from X MHz to Y MHz") it uses.

So this isn't exactly a fair comparison.

But what is the percentage of the network? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642932)

Who cares about total usage? What is the percentage of the network that is being used? If the network is 10% loaded and 1% of the users use 80% of the 10%, who cares? If the network is 100% loaded, then I might care.

Re:But what is the percentage of the network? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643592)

Good point.

If the network is 80% loaded, why are they so slow building additional towers.
Most people in urban areas can't remember the last time a new tower was added any where near them.

We are never going to get a true picture of how scarce or plentiful bandwidth really is until the FCC forces tower loading data out of the hands of the carriers. You want to build a new tower? Fine. Tell me your current tower loading in that area.

Until they cough up that data I'm suspicious of any bandwidth shortage claims.

Lost All Respect (4, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642950)

I've been first time shopping for a cell phone. It has been a nightmare. You can't pick a phone and then pick a plan. You have to pick a plan, then pick one of the phones that that particular provider carries. It's completely backwards. I don't (to use a car analogy) pick a fuel provider and then choose from the cars they sell.

I've lost pretty much all respect for the telecommunications industry. It should be cut in half, separating the provisioners from the content providers. One company runs the cable and another provides the tv channels. One runs the wire, and another provides the dial tone. One runs the fiberoptics, another provides the internet. One provides the cellular network, another provides the phones for it.

Re:Lost All Respect (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643278)

It should be cut in half, separating the provisioners from the content providers. One company runs the cable and another provides the tv channels. One runs the wire, and another provides the dial tone. One runs the fiberoptics, another provides the internet. One provides the cellular network, another provides the phones for it.

How would that create a confuseopoly where the megacorps can screw over the customers using their monopoly power and the laws they purchased thru election campaigns?

Its futile, like trying to find a more moral and ethical business plan for vampires or mosquitos or leaches. The way to win is not to play the game.

Re:Lost All Respect (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643286)

One provides the cellular network, we provide our own phones by buying them like we do computers at the store.

Fix't that for ya. The company that provides the cellular network should sell to MVNOs that all share a frequency and compete viciously on service and price, while allowing us to stick their SIM in whatever device we deem fit to use.

Re:Lost All Respect (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643316)

You're completely right. Just do what I've always done, buy your phone unlocked from the manufacturer or Amazon or something and then get a contract from a cell provider.

Re:Lost All Respect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38643626)

To make it an almost badly defensible car anology, you probably picked your fuel type before your model. Even if the only fuel type you knew existed was gasoline, there did exist some diesel models, and now electric and hybridized cars are becoming more sanely priced.

Re:Lost All Respect (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643632)

I realize this does not directly address your point, but its at least tangential...

Look into prepaid. There is a lot more competition for prepaid phones (and much less taxation) than there is on contract phones. For example, virgin mobile has a bunch of android phones in the $100-$200 range and $35/month gets you 350 minutes plus unlimited text and 3g data. Plus its month to month so if the carrier succumbs to competition and reduces prices, you can take advantage next month instead of 2 years later when your contract runs out.

Re:Lost All Respect (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643636)

I've been first time shopping for a cell phone. It has been a nightmare. You can't pick a phone and then pick a plan.

That's not exactly true. Go into any carrier, look at the display, pick the phone you want, tell the salesman, then they will tell you the cost of the plan options.

If you have no carrier preference, go to Best Buy, Carphone Warehouse, Car Toys, or Walmart and buy the phone you want and they will
sell you a plan from a carrier that supports that phone.

Re:Lost All Respect (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643734)

Which is why I buy the phone separately and then continue to use the same provider I have been using for >10 years.

I am the 99% (1)

swb (14022) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642954)

Really.

NYTimes might tell it better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38642974)

I find article by New York Times much easier to read: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/06/technology/top-1-of-mobile-users-use-half-of-worlds-wireless-bandwidth.html [nytimes.com]

You have to pay attention to the fact this talks of *global* mobile users. That includes, for instance those hundreds of millions in Africa that don't have a data contract of any kind. In addition to not having data contracts, they use calls very sparingly. They have to. Western countries are relatively small portion of mobile subscribers when it comes to subscriber count, although they certainly form a big piece of the global operator profits pie. Data users, in general, are even better, and even a large portion of westerners either don't use or don't pay for data.

NYTimes mentions Finland as a country with considerably higher data usage than the European average. I live in Finland. Yet, operators have shown only miniscule interest towards traffic shaping or bandwidth caps. I guess it's a question of having working competetive landscape, and building your network to serve the customers...

Re:NYTimes might tell it better (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38643200)

I have to add that NYTimes article has some very odd ideas of this global "inequality." They try to give an idea Americans "overuse" their share. What? Oil may be a global resource, but cellular wireless spectrum, as well as fiber/copper/microwave links serving the base stations are highly local. Africans would be not a tiny bit better off even if Americans would stop their data usage entirely. It's as absurd to put blame on that as blaming for "overuse" of drinking water in places where it's essentually overabundant resource. Like here in Finland - no matter how little I drink, bathe and do whatever on my perfectly drinkable water, it doesn't save people from drought in Africa, nor my habits have caused the situation there.

but in candia they don't bill you $20 /gal for gas (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642978)

No you pay the same as others but try to use a US data plan there and then it's rape time.

1% use half of the data (5, Insightful)

Relayman (1068986) | more than 2 years ago | (#38642982)

"A recent study claimed that the top 1 percent of mobile data users eat up half of the available bandwidth." No it didn't. It said that the top 1% download half of the total data downloaded. There's a big difference.

Geez... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38643010)

First it's "You're holding it wrong", now it's "You're holding it too much." I just want to masturbate dammit!
...oh wait, what were we talking about?

Not really phones (3, Informative)

b0bby (201198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643020)

If you look at that study, it appears that 3G modems are the real culprit - unsurprisingly, since they can be used as a broadband replacement in areas where landlines aren't available. It's not really the phone users who are the heaviest, probably the people using a 3G dongle with a router. I quote:

Uplink data volumes:
        3G Modems (various): 2654%
        HTC Desire S: 323%
        iPhone 4S: 320%

Downlink data volumes:
        3G Modems (various): 2432%
        iPhone 4S: 276%
        Samsung Galaxy S: 199%

Then there is page size. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38643028)

Then the "standards" people are offering more and more diverse and duplicate scripting and plugins to make web page sizes explode beyond reason.
http://www.httparchive.org/interesting.php ; IMO we should STOP with the 'new' web technologies and just focus on making things 'standard and efficient'. But then of course without new tech, there would eventually be no new security holes or new products to flog, requiring new hardware to run at speeds we use to get with the old stuff... and rinse and repeat... Anyone for a game of Duke Nukem 3D?

Google restore a backup from 1999 plz.

Value of Information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38643030)

The data on that site cannot be believed. You need a independent third party to do the research.

http://www.arieso.com/customers-partners.html

Problem is advertising (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643040)

1. Morons started advertising "unlimited" downloads. They never should have done that. You can't offer unlimited of something unless it is OK if most people actually take the maximum possible amounts. Because if you advertise something as unlimited then the people that need unlimited come to you.

2. Then they continued to try and use the word unlimited while they limited stuff. NO. Lying is not allowed.

3. They need to be honest and advertise three things: A "Peak Speed" for first x data/month. B "Reduced speed for rest of y data/month. C. Price.

4. Once you list these things then consumers can make real judgements - both the high end data hogs and the average user.

But they don't want to do that. They would rather keep everything nebulous and get clients by who picks the better advertising campaign instead of better service.

Re:Problem is advertising (1)

kasperd (592156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643848)

They would rather keep everything nebulous and get clients by who picks the better advertising campaign instead of better service.

As long as they can get away with dishonest advertisement, this is not going to change. If dishonest advertisement is legal you need to change the laws.

The 1% again? (1)

Hartree (191324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643054)

Does this mean Occupy is gonna have to protect the internet from those corporate finance types using up all the downloads?

Re:The 1% again? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643420)

I'll stop sucking up all the data if the oligarchs stop sucking up all the money :D

They asked for it (2)

tovmeod (2012660) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643142)

I remember back on 2003, when I worked at a company developing mobile applications (in BREW if you are interested) and everyone was talking about what would be the next big thing in mobile, the operators were looking for other sources of revenue and were betting that the money will be in selling aggregated services (meaning selling other things than calls). One of the big things was data, and they used to check data usage very closely and were very happy about it. back then I coded a simple ringtone download app (that basically had only funny sounds), that browsed trough categories and let you hear it and finally buy it so you could set it as a ringtone. Because people could just hear a full preview of the ringtone they wouldn't buy as much, they would just use it to hear funny sounds and laugh with friends, no need to buy it, if you wanted to hear it again just open the app again. the thing is that the preview didn't save the file to disk until you buy it, it downloaded from the server and played from memory, so the app used a lot of network. While it consumed almost nothing for today's standard, it was a lot back then. If I remember correctly the download speed was something like 14.400bps, that was before gprs. What I wanted to say is that it was a network hog. But they didn't complain, the execs from the phone operator were very happy and they loved the app exactly because it was using a lot of network, more then they ever saw before. of course on the other hand they sold network usage by the kb, no one ever dreamed of unlimited back then. but I believe the main reason was that it meant that their bet on selling aggregated services was right, data usage was indeed growing as they expected but now that it has they are complaining. the same way that they accepted 9 years ago that call minutes and sms were eventually going to be sold cheap (in bulk or on a flat rate for unlimited) and found new ways of making money (selling data and apps) they should once again innovate

!Cadillacs, All you can eat buffet (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643154)

The correct analogy is selling all you can eat meal plans and then complain that a few of them eat too much. If you insist on Cadillac and car analogies, it is like selling unlimited free fuel and then complain people actually drive up and fill up lots of fuel.

Same thing with ISPs (1)

Tyr07 (2300912) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643256)

They want to market these features but hope people only impulse buy them for the novelty. God forbit if you actually start to use it on a regular basis.

They want you to buy it because it's cool, forget about it because it's complicated, and never use it while paying for your 3 year term dataplan.

The problem is a lot of people don't use the features they buy, and the phone companes LOVE that. So then they get mad when there's people who actually do use the service since the pie chart isn't a greedily big like when people buy extended warranties.

That's right, this is just as bad as if they offered extending warranties and starting QQing really hard when people started making claims.

Separate Cell Phones & Their Contracts!! (1)

Lluc (703772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643330)

Most major cellular phone issues would disappear if we completely separated the phones from the contracts and let people swap carriers on a month-to-month basis. It would be great if the FCC would force cellular providers to separate a bill into the network connection bill and the phone loan. This would force the phone companies to compete on price and service rather than locking people into contracts

Un-necessary chatty-ness. (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643336)

Almost all the phones out there, including iPhones and Androids and even Windows phones have the ability to open a socket and leave it open until it times out (15 to 18 minutes later) to detect when there is something to send, (an email arrived, a message, etc). Apple use the Microsoft method and expanded it big time in their push technology to prevent polling by several apps for multiple email accounts, etc. Google, Apple, Microsoft all support some form of this for email, calendar, and messages.

Unfortunately, the Facebook crowd can't live with out knowing instantly when someone updates a page in some dank part of the inter-tubes, and therefore many apps poll. Bandwidth has become so reliable that nobody bothers deploying push technology if they can avoid it. People want instant weather, news, stock quotes, etc, and its just easier for these software developers to poll for this data while the phone sleeps in your pocket.

Add to this carriers tracking your phone's position [nytimes.com] without your knowledge. Several carriers sell this service to their customers for tracking family members. Then there is the whole Carrier IQ debacle [washingtonpost.com] . Its hard to know how much data this really pushes, but I suspect it is small.

But most of the traffic is stuff that customers specifically ask for. They want the Facebook updates. They want the weather. And they insist on using pop mail accounts that don't support IMAP Idle [wikipedia.org] and therefor have to poll for messages every few minutes.

Server side services, search, SIRI, are also growing in popularity, but again this is by user request. You don't have to strut around asking what your calendar looks like instead of tapping an icon.

So I don't thing the Carriers are guilty here of much beyond offering what their customers want in terms of connectivity.

The problem here is that the Carriers realize just HOW MUCH the customers want this, and are currently in that phase of their business plan where they are milking it for all they can, pretending there is a bandwidth shortage, and applying caps and tiers to maximize revenue. I suspect it is mostly to prevent calls via Voip from being cost effective, and to hold down those people who tether an entire household to a single 3g phone. We've seen this all before. Just about the time the bitch level raises high enough to attract regulatory attention things will become free again. Just like long distance calls. Just like text messaging.

Its a passing phase. As soon as LTE is as widely deployed as 3G today, carriers will stop selling minutes and just sell you bandwidth, and you will make calls over the net. Voip and sip will go from being virtually banned to mandatory.

Then prices will come down as tiers will expand, and they can launch the next phase of artificial shortages and over charging for what ever feature is next to strike the fancy of consumers.

1% is still a lot of people (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643348)

1% might seem small to some, but it's not.
Think of all the people you know who have a phone. How many people do you know that don't have a cellphone VS people you do. How many people do you have on your facebook or whatever.
For every 100 people, 1 of those is a bigger data user (who knows, maybe it's you).
Let's say that in a large city, 1,000,000 people have smartphones. That means that 10,000 of those people are considered *heavy* users. This isn't one-in-a-million people, it's ten-thousand-in-a-million... which is still quite a lot of users.

where is the COST of data actually (1)

droidsURlooking4 (1543007) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643428)

More expensive hardware? More usage on the existing lines? Is it really that much? Where does the big expense actually come from?

lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38643450)

a chance to flap our arms around like chickens and pretend we're someone special for a minute or two.

fricking bots... doesn't this stuff qualify as spam yet?

follow the money, follow the school, follow 'them'!!!

Data hogs do get throttled (1)

Silver Surfer 1 (193024) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643564)

On Verizon if you have an unlimited Data plan they will throttle you if you go over 2gb in a congested area for 2billing cycles.

Bullshit (1)

allo (1728082) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643580)

There is a lot of unused bandwith in some areas, and it is crowded in other areas. You cannot just sum it up, because this would mean "when your net is slow, move to a place, where noone else is using the net, then you can use the available bandwidth there". Its just Bullshit, to see it that way.

Bandwidth congestion is an easy problem to fix. (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643716)

Traditionally, the cell companies have offered unlimited nights and weekends. They could use the same concept for mobile broadband. Periods of low network utilization should not count against the caps. This would encourage people to shift their data usage to the off-peak times and that in turn would save the carrier money by eliminating the need to add capacity.

no (1)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643794)

Isn't this the equivalent of a car dealer heavily promoting Cadillacs, then complaining about poor fuel efficiency, then charging a ton for extra gasoline?"

First, the gas you put into your car isn't typically sold by the company from which you bought your car.

Second, you pay per for gas on a per unit basis and not at a flat rate.

So, no, it's not equivalent.

unlimited (1)

amoeba1911 (978485) | more than 2 years ago | (#38643854)

These idiots need to stop selling "unlimited" because there is no such thing. Even an all you can eat buffet isn't unlimited, it's limited to what you can eat. There is no such thing as "unlimited" anything, especially bandwidth. They need to specify maximum download rate, in terms of bytes per second as well as bytes per months. T-Mobile specifies their bandwidth is limited to 2GB per month (for my cheap plan) and I am very happy with that. Knowing that I have X amount of bytes is better than thinking there is no wall and running into a wall the hard way. Avoid like the plague anything that claims to be "unlimited" because it is a blatant lie.
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