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The Coming Internet Video Crash

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the wear-your-seat-belts-kids dept.

Networking 419

snydeq writes "First, it was data caps on cellular, and now caps on wired broadband — welcome to the end of the rich Internet, writes Galen Gruman. 'People are still getting used to the notion that unlimited data plans are dead and gone for their smartphones. The option wasn't even offered for tablets. Now, we're beginning to see the eradication of the unlimited data plan in our broadband lines, such as cable and DSL connections. It's a dangerous trend that will threaten the budding Internet-based video business — whether from Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, Windows Store, or Google Play — then jeopardize Internet services of all sorts. It's a complex issue, and though the villains are obvious — the telecom carriers and cable providers — the solutions are not. The result will be a metered Internet that discourages use of the services so valuable for work and play.'"

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Utility (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563399)

It needs to be regulated like a public utility.

Re:Utility (3, Funny)

desdinova 216 (2000908) | about 2 years ago | (#41563427)

.....but....socialism...what about the Free market

note: the above is meant to be sarcastic.

Yes (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563463)

A market controlled by cartels or monopolies is not free, and is every bit as bad as a market controlled by a government.

I know you were being sarcastic. I am just adding to the thought.

Re:Yes (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563579)

You can't have a monopoly or a monopolistic cartel without government intervention. "Free market monopolies" are a misnomer, as the company that has provided such a high quality, low cost product that no-one can compete with them must continue to provide such quality, or risk new competition arising.

However, the OP is right that it should be like a utility, but utilities need not be regulated, nor be given exclusive rights to some geographical area (which is what you would get with the imposition of a utility model). No, the PROVIDERS need to realize that they are utilities, and price data according to market prices, close to the marginal cost, which is very VERY low. It should be like electricity--no-one really cares about using electricity, nor is there any demand for "unlimited monthly" electricity, but by paying for it by the amount of usage, you limit its consumption while giving proper incentive for construction of additional capacity.

Re:Yes or reply to someone who ignored Adam Smith (5, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 2 years ago | (#41563743)

You can't have a monopoly or a monopolistic cartel without government intervention. "Free market monopolies" are a misnomer, as the company that has provided such a high quality, low cost product that no-one can compete with them must continue to provide such quality, or risk new competition arising.

I see you failed to read all seven books of Adam Smith on what capitalism is, and are a servant of the Mercantilists that opposed Capitalism.

Re:Yes (5, Interesting)

calzones (890942) | about 2 years ago | (#41563763)

Collusion, oligopolies, and high barriers to entry for certain enterprises (once established by first-to-market types, or when invested in by rich types) mean a free market does indeed lead to monopolistic abuses.

Of course, all you have to do is look at human history and the natural world to see that this is the case. Mafias, gangs, cliques, pecking order, castes, nobility, feudalism, etc, etc... It's the nature of all social organizations that some will become strong and leverage that strength against others and some who ultimately become utterly dominant.

Establishing rules and enforcing them, (i.e., a regulated society that values more opportunity for more members of society and a more level playing field) is the ONLY way to circumvent this tendency.

Re:Yes (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#41563583)

The problem here is that the telecommunications tends towards natural monopolies. The costs of rolling out large area copper or fiber means the market will almost inevitably favor those who get in early. The only reason that cable ever was competitive was because it started out as an entirely different service than telephone, and it was only very late in the game that both cable and telco lines started being used for large scale data transmission.

Then you go to wireless. Well, there's only so much useful spectrum out there, and unlicensed bands are far too filled with clutter to be of much use, so again, you're left the companies who get on in early dominating the market, with the costs of creating a competing network, even where you have spectrum, or at least there are protocols in place to share the spectrum, new players are not likely to come along very often. For even most moderate sized cities, there are only a handful of meaningful broadband competitors.

So the only real option you're left with is some sort of government-imposed regulations.

Re:Yes (5, Insightful)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 2 years ago | (#41563661)

exactly right.

You either go the socialism route and the gov't mandates a reasonable service for a reasonable price, for example 20mbps/2mbps unlimited internet for $49 a month... the public wins.

OR you go full capitalism and deregulate *everything* while protecting against monopoly/cartels (such as the Verizon/AT&T duopoly) with Sherman Antitrust-esque laws. Result: the public wins even more.

Right now in the US we have the worst of both worlds, with a gov't protected cartel without the gov't mandated price controls. Crony capitalism at its best.

Re:Utility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563597)

.....but....socialism...what about the Free market

note: the above is meant to be sarcastic.

It's not really about socialism vs. free market.

Simple competence comes first. Something the US government sorely lacks.

Re:Utility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563633)

.....but....socialism...what about the Free market note: the above is meant to be sarcastic.

Have you ever heard of the FCC? Do you know how much they f*ck with the telcos?

note: the above is meant to make you feel like a dumbass.

Re:Utility (5, Interesting)

Mitreya (579078) | about 2 years ago | (#41563431)

It needs to be regulated like a public utility.

Or at least decoupled from the monopolized infrastructure so that other providers (that do not own an exclusive and non-negotiable cable hookup to your house) can compete.

Re:Utility (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563515)

It needs to be regulated like a public utility.

Yep, I'm SURE our government will make it SOOO much better.

Can you spell T-S-A?

Yeah, let's put THEM in charge of MORE things.

power, water, natural gas, sewage (1)

Chirs (87576) | about 2 years ago | (#41563975)

Around here all these are public utilities run by either the city or the province. (I'm in Canada.) And actually the old-school twisted-pair phone system is run by the province as well.

I think it would make perfect sense to run 'net access as a utility. It naturally lends itself to the utility pricing model as well--a flat amount per month just to get the connection and maintain the lines, then a reasonable fee per gigabyte.

Re:Utility (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 2 years ago | (#41563523)

Well, they ARE, sort of.

When Vz and Comcast were threatened with the prospect of having to scan and filter their networks of P2P traffic and be held responsible for the theft of music and movies, they went to the government screaming "hey, we're a public utility and common carrier, not a content provider! We're not responsible for what goes on our network!" And, the government bought it.

Now, they'll be talking out the other side of their mouths saying "hey, we're content providers, not common carriers! We shouldn't be forced to carry everyone's media content equally and fairly!" And, the government will buy it.

So, they'll eat their cake and have it too.

Re:Utility (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563901)

Ugh. I was just thinking about this the other day. This fish-nor-fowl argument is ridiculous, and I'm amazed that anyone has a short enough memory to allow it to continue. If they want to be content providers, then they should lose their common carriage status. It's simple: break up content from infrastructure.

Re:Utility (5, Interesting)

jamesh (87723) | about 2 years ago | (#41563569)

It needs to be regulated like a public utility.

You mean like water, where you pay for what you use? Or electricity, where you pay for what you use? Or gas, where you pay for what you use?

Yes. Exactly like that.

I don't watch movies over the internet very often, and I don't keep my bandwidth at capacity 24/7 downloading stuff, and I certainly don't want to be subsidising those that do.

Screw the business models of those "budding internet video businesses". I'm not (indirectly) paying for a service I don't use just to protect a poorly thought out business plan. This isn't health or something important, it's entertainment, and you can pay for it yourself.

Re:Utility (4, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 2 years ago | (#41563647)

You mean like water, where you pay for what you use?

You know what water companies don't do? They don't make you pay $10/mo. for 10 liters of water or $20/mo. for 80 liters of water.

Oh, and water, electricity, and gas are finite resources. Data is not.

Re:Utility (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563793)

Actually water, electricity and gas are about as infinite as data. Either way you just have to go get more somewhere, but in the universe there's pretty much an infinite supply if you spend the money to get it.

Re:Utility (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563813)

Data is not a finite resource, but electricity is. They could calculate the average amount of electricity used to pass data to you. This becomes a hodge podge bc the net is decentralized and all that jazz. The next thing you know the providers will want to actually have control of their pipes.

Re:Utility (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563971)

Oh, and water, electricity, and gas are finite resources. Data is not.

I'm tired of this argument because it's well, wrong. For any given time period/line-capacity combination, there is a finite amount of data that can be pushed through that line. It's hard to match infrastructure to usage in an efficient way, so some level of overselling is par for the course, and completely reasonable. Maybe the language in advertisements needs to be updated to be more accurate, but just because your line can hit 20 Mbps doesn't mean that maxing out your line 24/7 won't have an effect on other people whose connections intersect with yours. This is especially true if a significant number of people are heavy users.

Charging for usage is a very reasonable way to ensure that a finite resource is available in reasonable amounts for all customers. You may not agree with how it's advertised, or you may not agree with the prices, and those are fair arguments, but to say that data (by which I assume you meant data throughput) is not finite is incorrect, even disingenuous.

Re:Utility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563781)

No, not exactly like that. Those services are not analogous at all. It'd be like running a water service where a magic water fairy automatically filled up the water tower at the other end, or an electricity service where the power was generated by some magic perpetual motion device. There is still upkeep cost for the infrastructure, but I am not paying an ISP to be a content provider, which is what that power plant that I'm paying for is analogous to. As long as you actually have sunk the one time cost for infrastructure that support consumer use habits, you don't have to keep generating a product to sell to the customer.

It may be that metered rates would end up being the norm anyway, but if the rates would be substantially lower (and not scale absurdly upwards if you hit the "cap" on whatever maliciously designed internet plan you're currently headed for), I don't think most people would mind. If pegging my connection for a month did not make it cost more than a monopolistic private entity would charge for unlimited service, I doubt people would be particularly worried.

Re:Utility (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | about 2 years ago | (#41563787)

The Supreme Court already defined [] cable Internet as an "information service", which cannot be regulated, rather than a "telecommunications service" which can be regulated.

Re:Utility (2)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 years ago | (#41563801)

It needs to be regulated like a public utility.

My electricity is a regulated utility, but I still pay by the kWh. That's kilowatt hour, in case the US has some weird non-metric unit. Why should the Internet be any different? I want fast burst speed when I'm downloading 10GB from Steam, but I don't need it 24x7 just like I want my 2000W stove to work when I need it but most of the time I only have a 10W light bulb on. Doing some quick math I could download about 18.5 TB in a month, I think even in my craziest month I was at less than 5% of that. If they had a gigabyte rollover like many Usenet servers have then on average maybe 1-2%. I wouldn't mind faster burst speed, gigabit Internet when I need it would be great even if the cap stayed the same. But without any caps you have a no-limit situation where somebody could decide that transferring 300TB in a month is okay.

Free market! (5, Funny)

Mitreya (579078) | about 2 years ago | (#41563405)

No worries, I am sure the highly competitive and heterogeneous market will take care of it

As providers try to cap their data plans, new market players will emerge and take over by offering unlimited plans that consumers want


Re:Free market! (5, Informative)

raydobbs (99133) | about 2 years ago | (#41563429)

...or the large players will gather and plot to harm the consumer. Adam Smith pretty much makes the case that you -need- to regulate some industries, since they will not do it themselves. The consumer cannot 'vote with their wallet' when all the players offer the same vile offerings, racing each other to the bottom.

Re:Free market! (4, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#41563499)


Once everybody was captured (and by a couple of years ago pretty much everybody was), all they had to do was start turning the screws.

People, I've been telling you for years, here on Slashdot, to write the FCC and your congresscritters, and fight the mergers and acquisitions and takeovers as anticompetitive. ESPECIALLY when carriers and content providers were proposing deals together. But few of you did.

Now you get to live with the results.

I hate to say "I told you so", but I did. The reason I hate it is because I have to live with it too.

Re:Free market! (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41563733)

...write the FCC and your congresscritters, and fight the mergers and acquisitions and takeovers as anticompetitive. ESPECIALLY when carriers and content providers were proposing deals together. But few of you did.

That's right, and even if they did, more likely than than not, they will reelect the SOB anyway. It's election season (no, it's duck season!), so there's no excuse to let this opportunity slip by. But I'm only kidding myself to expect anything to come of it. Nevertheless, I recommend that you all vote for anybody that's not beholden to either faction of the ruling party.

Re:Free market! (1, Insightful)

AwesomeMcgee (2437070) | about 2 years ago | (#41563849)

Unless the envelopes have checks in them with donald trump level 0's on them, those people could give two craps.

Re:Free market! (3, Insightful)

_xeno_ (155264) | about 2 years ago | (#41563853)

Except in this case, regulation is the problem. This problem didn't exist back in the dial-up days. Some 15 years ago, there was a choice of like twenty different ISPs in the area, including some that were "free" and ad-supported.

Now, there's a choice between two: Verizon and Comcast.

Why just those two? Why does no one else compete with them? Because they're legally forbidden from competing with them.

Of course, it no longer matters. Because Comcast and Verizon are the big players, even if the regulation preventing anyone else for competing was lifted, no one else could possibly compete anyway. If they tried, Comcast and Verizon would just lower prices to undercut the newcomer. (Hell, Comcast and Verizon already try and undercut each other in a similar way by offering "introductory pricing." First year, you can get like 75% off your bill! Then the price skyrockets...)

So - yes, now the only solution is regulation. But that's not a failing of the free market, that's a failing of the original regulation that created the current oligopoly in the first place!

Re:Free market! (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about 2 years ago | (#41563885)

This problem didn't exist back in the dial-up days.

AHAHAHA you mean back when the telco charged you 4x as much for a "data" line as they did for your daughter's second phone line?

Re:Free market! (4, Informative)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#41563449)

If you have already given the cable companies exclusivity, how do you expect the magical free market to work. If we did not give the cable companies exclusive rights, we would already have free and healthy market. And yes it would have taken care of it.

Re:Free market! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563457)

Yep. That's how it works.

Re:Free market! (5, Interesting)

jimbouse (2425428) | about 2 years ago | (#41563493)

I run a small WISP (wireless ISP, tower based) that does exactly this. We cost more than the incumbents but offer unlimited downloads and you get what your pay for.

People are happy to pay money for a service that performs as advertised.

My tiers bill out at $36/Mbit. It sounds steep compared to a 10Mbit for $80/mo from the local incumbent. Except that the incumbent can't actually provide that speed, nor will they let you use your connection to the fullest.

Re:Free market! (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#41563609)

And what happens when you go to renew your contract with your upstream provider, and he decides to turn the screws on you, and even worse, any other potential upstream provider is doing the same or worse? I applaud you for your efforts, but you're still a middle man.

Re:Free market! (3, Interesting)

jimbouse (2425428) | about 2 years ago | (#41563913)

Upstream data is plentiful. Last mile data delivery is the problem.

The routers and fibers carrying the internet backbone are upgradable and there are plenty of routes.

The problem comes when a incumbent drops 200 households on a single gigabit line. You can do the math. Although everyone is not using their full connection, at some point there is a limit.

I agree I am a middle man. The rates I pay are in the $50/Mbit completely unlimited. When I started a year ago, the rates were closer to $90/Mbit. This shows the costs for bandwidth are dropping (if you can afford to buy enough).

Re:Free market! (1)

damnbunni (1215350) | about 2 years ago | (#41563637)

If you're in the WISP biz, can you tell me how to search for a WISP? Every time I try to find one, I get links to services that shut down ten years ago, or are Sprint / Verizon, or 'Get Comcast and a free wireless router!'

I'm in the Knoxville, TN area, and I keep vaguely hearing about WISPs around here but can never FIND one.

Is there some bit of industry jargon that would appear on a WISP's page that I can plug into Google to find one, or something?

Re:Free market! (3, Informative)

jimbouse (2425428) | about 2 years ago | (#41563969)

There are a couple of ways to find a WISP. Most reputable WISPs are members of WISPA. WISPA search []

The other way is to ask on DSLReports WISP section. DSL Reports WISP []

Good Luck.

Re:Free market! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563501)

If it means I never get another pop open PDF or video ad, if it means the end of intersitials/popups/popunders, if it means the end if distracting animations, if it means web pages that are static text and non-advertising static graphics--then the end of the rich media Internet couldn't be soon enough.

I rarely do any online shopping these days, and most of what forms I do use could be done with static HTML and legacy CGI vs. all the dynamic scripts, AJAX, jQuery, or the latest fad in dynamic page frameworks.

More to the point, it would bring back the web to where even dialup worked for relatively lean static pages.

Okay gramps... (1)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | about 2 years ago | (#41563605)

You know, my Dad told me his great-grandmother used to spit tobacco juice on bee stings, too. Who needs all that flashy modern medicine crap, anyway...

Re:Free market! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563507)

Of course! There are Trillionaire Hedge funds just waiting to plunk down a Trillion or two to build out the necissary infrastructure to compete! They want to invest a fortune against established players by aiming to make less money than them

Re:Free market! (1) (793321) | about 2 years ago | (#41563751)

Nope, the free market likes profit margins just as much, there is no need to please the customer. I've been travelling in NZ and AU for a little over two months now. Capped internet is the standard here. It was particularly bad in Tasmania. No free WiFi anywhere but at McDonalds and there it's capped at 50MB. Paid WiFi is available, 99$ for 30 days or 1GB of traffic, yes you read that right. Internet video, uploading content (my photos of the trip) or cloud computing is entirely unthinkable in such an environment. If this trend continues, the further development of the internet is coming to a standstill. Entire industries will die (streaming, online games etc).

um (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#41563411)

My tablet and phone has unlimited data, so I don't really know what they person is talking about.

Re:um (1)

Robadob (1800074) | about 2 years ago | (#41563455)

And i'm fairly sure of the main UK broadband providers i've seen adverts for BT, Virgin Media, Talk Talk and PlusNet all advertising no limit (although its quite possible there are 'fair use' t&c's). Most providers just choose to traffic shape if you go over unreasonable daily limits (with virgin media this is during peak time).

Re:um (1)

jo_ham (604554) | about 2 years ago | (#41563643)

I can confirm this is how it works on Virgin.

I use their fibre service and I have no cap, up or down, but my traffic is managed (for a few hours) if I exceed 10GB or so of transfer at peak times. Outside of peak times, traffic is unmonitored. Even if they do throttle you down, you can still keep using your connection, just more slowly. There's no data cap and your speed will reset back to full after a little while.

In practice, I have never been throttled down (and the penalty is 25% speed for a few hours) despite my household being full of pretty heavy users.

Re:um (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563483)

Sorry, but you only think you have unlimited data. If you have Sprint, and are a "heavy user", you are throttled after a certain point. (About 6 gigs, so I hear.) The old Verizon unlimited plans definitely get throttled at a much lower point. So your data does have a limiter put on it, which means you do not have "unlimited data".

Not everyone (1)

mu51c10rd (187182) | about 2 years ago | (#41563489)

Same here, my phone service is unlimited and uncapped. My ISP is also unlimited, unthrottled, and uncapped. Not everyone goes with the same 2-3 big carriers. And I have no major complaints with my service...

Re:um (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 2 years ago | (#41563491)

Likewise. I moved to Sprint because of AT&T's redefinition of unlimited. That said, I doubt enough people will do this to actually effect change.

Re:um (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563659)

My tablet and phone has unlimited data, so I don't really know what they person is talking about.

Yeah, funny. I just got rid of my (admittedly grandfathered) unlimited data plan on Verizon and switched to an unlimited data plan on Sprint.

Wrong (3, Interesting)

NewtonsLaw (409638) | about 2 years ago | (#41563435)

Commentators (including myself) have been predicting the end of the internet (as we know it) for almost two decades now -- but I (and all the others) have been proven wrong.

Yes, the demand for bandwidth is growing at a huge rate -- but so is the provisioning of that bandwidth.

If you live in a country like New Zealand (where I live) you get used to living with capped data plans -- they're just a part of life and, to be totally honest, it's never really been an issue for me -- despite the fact that I do a *lot* of online video, as you can tell by my Youtube Channel [] .

Sure, the arrival of IPTV will change the picture a little, as TV programming starts to make up an increasingly high percentage of the total traffic -- but hey, nothing's free and many people pay for cable so why not pay for IPTV in a way that includes the bandwidth you use as well? (as will soon be the case).

Uncapped internet? Never had it, never really needed it. I have 120GB a month and that's all I need -- perhaps because I don't like the kind of dross I find on TV anyway. Quality of content is *far* more important than the quality of the image.

Re:Wrong (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#41563833)

"Quality of content is *far* more important than the quality of the image."
those aren't mutually exclusive.

Re:Wrong (1)

aix tom (902140) | about 2 years ago | (#41563923)

Commentators (including myself) have been predicting the end of the internet (as we know it) for almost two decades now -- but I (and all the others) have been proven wrong.

Well. When you think about it, the Internet from two decades ago IS gone. Otherwise you are right.

Back 20 years ago here in Germany I had to pay per-minute long-distance rates do dial into CompuServe. 9.6 kb, connected 1-2 hours a day costed about 4-5 times what I pay today for a 24-hour always on 16Mb down 2Mb up link. What I would really hate would be to have "caps", though. I would have no problems paying per byte on the other hand.

This has been brewing for years. (3, Insightful)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 2 years ago | (#41563441)

It started with the old hourly charges from the old services like CompuServe and AOL, then "because of consumer demand" they went to Unlimited.

Notice this article talks about the "entertainment" side. Look at the Cloud side.

1. "Everyone use your software from the Cloud! It's nice and fluffy!"
2. "Let's cap bandwidth so that when you pull your data every 7 seconds you burn 4 megs, and then you will hit your cap and we can charge the fees."

If I was better at graphic design, I've wanted to make "chart news" with trends like these pointing in opposite directions in 2010 that becomes 2012's news when they collide.

Re:This has been brewing for years. (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 2 years ago | (#41563521)

Well, consumer demand and a couple ftc complains about giving away more hours than there are in a month.

Re:This has been brewing for years. (2)

Burning1 (204959) | about 2 years ago | (#41563681)

AOL only went unlimited when the internet became more important than AOL's content, and an assload of competitive dial-up providers sprung up all offering unlimited access.

Unfortunately, the solution is obvious (2)

dgatwood (11270) | about 2 years ago | (#41563453)

There are two solutions, both of which are obvious. The first, which is the solution the telecoms want to choose, is to charge content providers for providing content at reasonable speeds. This, of course, leads to a two-tier Internet, i.e. the big media conglomerates and the independent ghetto. The second is to pass laws that ban download limits for all wired service providers.

At this point, those are the only two options. Well, no, there's a third. We could build up a government-run infrastructure. But I'm not holding my breath.

Re:Unfortunately, the solution is obvious (2)

Twinbee (767046) | about 2 years ago | (#41563689)

There is a fourth solution. Google Fibre [] spreads across more of America (the rest of Kansas is next on the cards), and either takes over completely, or forces the others to play catch up. Kinda like what Gmail did for email.

Re:Unfortunately, the solution is obvious (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 2 years ago | (#41563777)

Or the rest of us on Internet 2, which will be on all major US and EU campuses, can just laugh while we surf the Net 2 at thousands times faster speeds with no caps.

Re:Unfortunately, the solution is obvious (1, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#41563855)

for now.

Re:Unfortunately, the solution is obvious (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 2 years ago | (#41563879)

for now.

I see you fail to realize who actually created the Internet.

I was on it when it was 110 baud. Baud.

Now get off my lawn you young whippersnapper!

Re:Unfortunately, the solution is obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563841)

There is a fourth solution. Google Fibre [] spreads across more of America (the rest of Kansas is next on the cards), and either takes over completely, or forces the others to play catch up. Kinda like what Gmail did for email.

This is assuming Google succeeds, of course...

The solution is.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563479)

National fiber optic network. Let the old telco's die with their old ways.

This has been a long time coming (3, Interesting)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 2 years ago | (#41563487)

With so many people ditching Cable and Sat TV plans in favor of an Internet-Only household, and with the Cable Companies being the majority providers of Internet Access, of course we had to see this coming.

Vz and Comcast aren't going to sit idly by while their subscribers ditch the media services and keep only the delivery service, and spend their money at Netflix and other media services.

The question is, will it be considered anti-competitive for them to allow unlimited delivery of their own media over the pipe, while charging extra for media from their competitors? I certainly think that's anti-competitive, and where net neutrality needs to come into play. But, I doubt we'll see it happen, at least in the US.

Maybe in the USA, not elsewhere. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563503)

I'm in Australia. Internet access was once metered by the hour ($10 per hour dial-up) then prices fell to under a dollar an hour. Then I got ADSL in the very early 2000s with a whole gigabyte over a month, always-on. Then it increased to three per month. Then ten, fifteen, forty, then a jump to 200, and in 2012 I'm 'limited' to over a terabyte a month.

A fucking terabyte.

I can't stream that much video (even in good quality) and actually watch it in a month without quitting my job and family time and attaching myself to the couch with cheese & bacon balls and becoming an obese live-in hermit.

Oh, and the cost for those plans is a third it was when I was on 1GB quotas.

Yes, it came from an awful over-priced start, but the goods for cost is growing and keeps growing here.

A lesson to Americans (4, Insightful)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#41563511)

Free market never really works well with critical infrastructure.

Re:A lesson to Americans (2)

Issarlk (1429361) | about 2 years ago | (#41563767)

It's my understanding that there's no free market in the US for internet acces. The big players have local monopolies, and are all too happy with that situation to compete with each others.

Re:A lesson to Americans (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#41563871)

I have a choice of providers. all of them 'big' players, and yes, they do complete. It's why I have 25/25Mb for 30 bucks, no contract.

Re:A lesson to Americans (1)

Jaktar (975138) | about 2 years ago | (#41563927)

That's nice for you. Not everyone has that. My choices are: satellite with cap, WISP (locally run) with cap, or a tethered phone with a cap.

Re:A lesson to Americans (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563961)

Free market never really works well with critical infrastructure.

Dear self-desrcibed 99%,

YouTube, Hulu, and Torrenting last night's Daily Show is not "Critical Infrastructure."

PS You are a tool.

Bandwidth is really, really, really freakin' cheap (1)

xtal (49134) | about 2 years ago | (#41563513)

The market will fix this, or legislation will.

Bandwidth is cheap and it gets cheaper every year. Carriers make a lot of money on bandwidth resale even at the fairly small level (few gbits/sec feeds). Not many people are aware of HOW cheap it actually is though.

Most of the problem can stem from the fact municipalities were too short sighted, or unable legally, to run fiber infrastructure that could be leased to ISPs (egress). A modern fiber network has effectively unlimited bandwidth.. and then there's next year's kit coming.

A better question is what's going to happen to the content / cable providers in a gigabit unlimited environment.

Come to New Zealand! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563517)

Unlimited internet is unheard of over here. I pay $90 a month for 50GB of internet, and barely get 1MB/s even after rewiring my home. If I go over my 50GB, my speed is reduced to dial up until the start of a new month.

Re:Come to New Zealand! (1)

sd4f (1891894) | about 2 years ago | (#41563567)

Same issue over the pond in Australia, unlimited plans aren't cheap, most of it has been plans with a data cap. With that said, i struggle to use any of my caps (50gb broadband, 1.5g on phone). Clearly we haven't got stuff like netflix over here.

Re:Come to New Zealand! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563731)

I pay 40 € per month for a 16 Mbit/s dl and 1 Mb/s ul uncapped internet access on adsl2+. And still find it a bit pricey.
I'm in the heart of Europe.

Profit in scarcity (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 2 years ago | (#41563529)

As some markets mature (some, not all) with few players remaining leaving an oligopoly, the agreed upon consensus is that there's bountiful profit in scarcity. So you artificially restrict a resource to improve profit. It's a win win for the providers. They sell less, and make even more profit because now you have competition for those resources and thus will pay more. More so if you're a monopoly for your area.

Just move to Saskatchewan (1)

LiroXIV (2362610) | about 2 years ago | (#41563537)

SaskTel has unlimited data on all plans for high-speed. Only problem is that its still over copper/fibre to the node, and they've only just begun rolling out fibre to the home in select areas now. Until you get switched to it, you can't get any higher than a certain speed tier without dropping their IPTV service from the bundle (however, their IPTV service is pretty good; its based off the same hardware as AT&T U-verse)

At the risk of pointing out the obvious... (2)

Jeremi (14640) | about 2 years ago | (#41563559)

There was never any such thing as "an unlimited data plan".

There were plans that were misleadingly labelled as "unlimited", but what they really were, was plans where the ISP simply let people use up bandwidth in a first-come-first-served fashion. Whenever the demand reached or surpassed the infrastructures capacity, the de-facto limits of the hardware kicked in, regardless of what the sales droids had promised in the brochure.

For a company to offer a genuine "unlimited plan", the company would have to build up enough capacity to allow 100% of their unlimited-plan customers to use 100% of the bandwidth capacity of the wire running to their house, 24/7/365. The cost of such an infrastructure would be significantly larger than most people would be willing to pay for, especially since most people don't use or need anywhere near that much capacity.

So my feeling is that the demise of "unlimited plans" in the marketing is a good thing -- at least we're no longer trying to fool each other into believing bandwidth is infinite (as opposed to finite but cheap).

We still have a month (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41563577)

Try to make this an election issue. Demand the ISPs are converted into common carriers and be made into dumb pipes.

Regulation and competition are the only answers (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | about 2 years ago | (#41563595)

We've allowed last-mile internet to devolve into monopolies and duopolies.  Same for cell carriers.

Would else could you expect?

Sad...the internet is American, dammit, and we have the worst internet in the first world!

Overly Dramatic Much? (1)

p0p0 (1841106) | about 2 years ago | (#41563599)

Few people use their cellphone for serious online use. Most of them use it because it is convenient and it is there. Most might be irritated if the cellular telcos put huge caps on it, but in the end no one is really that completely put off by it. Many people will be angry about it but will continue on their merry way paying for it. There is not huge amount of people that would be seriously inconvenienced by it, and certainly not the apocalyptic way it is worded.

Now caps on wired are not gonna be as tough as they make it out to be. The major Canadian telcos charge and arms and a leg for low bandwidth/cap internet, but the lower tier providers offer pretty much whatever they want. At the moment, I'am paying $70 (split amongst roommates) for 25 down/5 up and an unlimited cap. The price did increase earlier in the year by a few dollars as Bell tried to put the squeeze on my provider (TekSavvy)) but it is still infinitely better than any plan they offer. Now I know things are worse a little farther south for those United Statians but I have hope that the telecoms capping practise won't go on for absolutely that long. Eventually something in the country is going to reach a breaking point for the general public, and it just might be the internet that pokes the figurative bubble. I can't say much for other countries, but I've heard mixed reports of excellent/shitty internet from all over.

Somewhat accurate, but a little overblown it seems to me.

Re:Overly Dramatic Much? (1)

PCM2 (4486) | about 2 years ago | (#41563757)

Few people use their cellphone for serious online use. Most of them use it because it is convenient and it is there.

You might be surprised. I've had people tell me they use their phones to stream music and podcasts while driving. They don't use the radio, they don't use the CD player, they just stream all day long.

That's the kind of user who's going to run into a phone bandwidth cap. Unlike with wired internet connections, it's not the techie types running BitTorrent that suck up the bandwidth. Geeks actually might be more likely to think, "Streaming music this way is wasteful and inefficient, and the sound quality isn't even that good." It's the less technically-minded types who just think, "They tell me I can do this, so I will."

Re:Overly Dramatic Much? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#41563899)

Or they think, I'm listening to it on the road, so quality would mostly be drowned out anyways.

Worst part is that all ISP's would need to do it (1)

NinjaTekNeeks (817385) | about 2 years ago | (#41563617)

There are two providers where I live, ATT and Cable, both offer TV/Phone/Internet and pricing is pretty similar. If one were to give up unlimited data, the other would have to as well, otherwise there would be a huge loss of customers as they shift over to the other provider. I understand that this is specific to markets where there are multiple providers but the choice between unlimited from one provider and limited from another really isn't much of a choice.

Re:Worst part is that all ISP's would need to do i (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563865)

I don't think you realize what the term 'oligopoly' means. It's blind luck that you're still unlimited, as it appears they just haven't gotten around to making limits in your area.

Y'see there wouldn't BE any huge loss of customers shifting, since that's how oligopolys work. They will collude together behind closed doors when to end unlimited bandwidth, and then when both stop it at approximately the same time, well... goodbye unlimited bandwidth, that's all there is to it.

So milk your bandwidth while you can, because it has a huge target painted on its back. It's only a matter of time before they take it down. Probably very little time. Honestly, I'd be surprised if there's any unlimited internet in North American 2 years from now.

And nothing of value would be lost. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563623)

People might have to talk to each other, or read books, or go outside. Or they might buy DVDs again.. if they are paying $200 a month for cable, they can already buy 10 DVDs a month. If they used redbox they could rent 5 dvds per day, and still have money left over.

Re:And nothing of value would be lost. (0)

rkfig (1016920) | about 2 years ago | (#41563761)

You know, I think you intended to troll, but I was looking for anyone else whose first thought was thank god. I am so tired of listening to people whine about not being able to stream high def TV all day while torrenting several things and direct downloading a few ISO images and having all 3 kids and the wife streaming pandora without the ISP giving them a problem. No, I don't care about any pet theories about how convergence will play out and how that will dictate whatever bandwidth or any shit like that. I really miss the days before AOL, when virtually everything online was actually of value, instead of being petabytes of stupid fucking cat videos. /rant Goodbye karma. Nice knowing ya.

There are a few big players working on it. (1)

lattyware (934246) | about 2 years ago | (#41563683)

Obviously, Google are trying to do something in the US, and here in England, Virgin Media and Sky are both doing relatively good stuff (Virgin pushing speeds, Sky offering a truly unlimited package - unfortunately neither does both).

Unlimited data is dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563709)

Not for Sprint users! Dead and gone? What are you talking about?

consumers are idiots (0)

epine (68316) | about 2 years ago | (#41563721)

There's no immediate end to the bandwidth explosion. This would all sort itself out given a bit more time and space. Yet not only do the consumers need to watch Batman XIII no less than five minutes from now, they also want to watch it Holographic HD. Stupid fucks. What else can you say? Another decade, the network will hardly even notice the imposition of people born yesterday zooming in expound upon the blade orientation that deposited a snick of razor burn astride the groomable peach-fuzz.

Meanwhile, the networks have engineered this stampede of stupid fucks to justify tilting the economic and political landscape on a semi-permanent basis.

Stupid fucks over the glossy cliff. Happens every time.

Just get me to NOTA (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | about 2 years ago | (#41563737)

It's easy, really... Google just has to find a way to smack down the incumbent network providers (AT&T, Comcast, etc) so they can't stop municipalities from laying their own fiber municipal networks with an access point every mile or so, then empower citizens to take matters directly into their own hands and lay their own fiber bundles in trenches they dig with their own shovels (or hang their own fiber from a public support attached to the lowest rung of the city's utility poles) to get to those access points if their HOA drags its feet or tries to tie them into proprietary services). Few things will put the fear of God into any HOA than being told their homeowners have the inalienable right to string wires from poles and dig their own trenches if they don't hurry up and get their own acts together. Get my fiber to a 10-gig switch with direct connectivity into NAP of the Americas in downtown Miami, and AT&T and Comcast can both go straight to hell as far as I'm concerned.

Re:Just get me to NOTA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563955)

Few things will put the fear of God into any HOA than being told their homeowners have the inalienable right to string wires from poles and dig their own trenches

The sound you hear is the sound of millions of old ninnies with nothing better to do than go around and harass people having a heart attack. Thanks!


WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#41563759)

Simple as that. They are installing a network, getting it right and then will start building it out. It IS an unlimited model and it will put immense pressure on everybody else to change to that model. After all, that is the way REAL competition works.

America's problem is that the American politicians, esp. neo-cons, have been pushing monopolies for all solutions. IOW, they love the communist model. Hell, just look at the all of the neo-cons pushing Constellation and now SLS, over what private space can do for a FRACTION of the money. it wont. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563775)

It will simply give Google Fiber the opportunity come in and clean house. Welcome to the new world Telcos and Cable Carriers.

You must live in a really weird place. (1)

eggstasy (458692) | about 2 years ago | (#41563791)

Around here 100 mbit optic fiber is the default internet connection that comes with your cable and you can access their TV channels from "the cloud", so every iPad is now a portable TV.
Thanks to the joys of "FON" (, if you allow your wifi router to resell unused bandwidth, you can have free wifi anywhere in the country, so long as you stumble upon a FON link. And they're everywhere.
But apart from that, we do have flat-rate everything, including 3G, to the extent that some non-TV-watching people prefer to buy 3G access for their laptop instead of a normal internet connection.

Yawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563795)

People are willing to pay, so there will be someone willing to provide. Capitalism is quite wonderful that way.

So far I've been lucky (1)

Cito (1725214) | about 2 years ago | (#41563811)

I live in the deep south and have been lucky so far "Knock on wood"

we have 2 options for internet here in this tiny 1 redlight town. Comcast cable (low speeds since its tiny town), or ADSL2+ through ISP who is promising an upgrade to VDSL next year.

I would never use comcast ever, due to bandwidth caps which I go over all the time using my DUmeter app to calculate monthly useage.

but my landline provider is who i have adsl2+ which why upgraded to 2 years ago so I have 12 megabit down / 1 megabit up, with full unlimited package for 69.99/mo which is my landline phone + 12 megabit dsl connection.

Some months I'm usually around 250-300 gigs /month but last month I was 412g total up/down traffic for month.

so far the ISP doesn't care, there's no cap.

Of course shit could change anytime but I won't budge off local landline DSL since they keep promising to stay unlimited.

47-99% (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41563823)

Corporations control the government! We need more government!

Make a buck - fairly (1)

XB-70 (812342) | about 2 years ago | (#41563845)

I have a simple proposal with simpler regulations: sell internet connectivity based on MINIMUM standards, not 'up to' or 'maximum' or 'capped'. The vendor MUST guarantee a minimum speed to the modem with 99% uptime. Any failure will be easy for all parties to monitor. Let competition and the market decide the pricing and speed packages, but let the end user be guaranteed of getting what they are paying for.

I'm Fine With It (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41563863)

So, in other words, we give the content cartels just enough rope, and they'll hang themselves for us? Cool.

Full Circle. We'll get there.

Back to Plain Text Store and Forward? (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 2 years ago | (#41563909)

You mean... like "The Good Old Days?" Swell! I'll just dust off my old UUCP manual! You know, back in the 90's, netnews accounted for several TERABYTES of data a week across MCI's pipe! This was back when a few hundred megabytes was large for a hard drive. Ah here it is... Whoo, that's a lot of dust... I had a bang path you know? True story. The first company I worked for shelled out for a uunet connection for a while. Back before the September that never ended. We built this network, the users, the techies. We built it and the corporations came in and made it a graphical web, sucking all the life force and money out of it. And now here we are again. Once they've drained it all dry, tied it all up in IP lawsuits and tossed its empty husk aside, perhaps we'll be the only ones left again. And the cycle will continue.
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