Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Thumb On the Scale? Study Finds 5 of 7 Broadband Meters Inaccurate

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the those-particular-5-of-7 dept.

Networking 114

stox writes "For the 64 percent of Americans whose internet service provider imposes a broadband cap, and for those lucky enough to have a meter, I have some bad news. The president of the firm who audits many of the country's broadband meters says that he can't certify the measurements produced by five out of seven of his clients' meters because they don't count your bits correctly

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

are you suprised?? (2, Insightful)

neo8750 (566137) | about a year and a half ago | (#42825813)

Its all bout the money

Re:are you suprised?? (5, Informative)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42825921)

Yes, because by under-reporting they can charge you ...wait you're just one of those idiots that doesn't RTFA right?

Re:are you suprised?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42826583)

+1 Insightful

At least if I hadn't JUST spent all my mod points.

Re:are you suprised?? (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828519)

Caps are about the money, even if the reports are wrong. The caps are there for money, and the sloppy is there because they are cheap. I know the ISP I worked for that metered DSL got a byte output from the interface, and imported that into a database. From what we could tell, it was perfect, except for any lost packets. The bonus was, doing it on the user DSLAM interface, any cache hits would count against their cap, and would match their LAN records.

Re:are you suprised?? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year and a half ago | (#42829249)

Yes, because by under-reporting they can charge you ...wait you're just one of those idiots that doesn't RTFA right?

Well...yes. Because unless your ISP uses cumulated reports that span at least two months, you're getting ripped off every month and in turn being over-charged. Though to be honest, I've never seen a ISP bandwidth monitor that under reported. All of them I've seen at least here in Canada have overreported, some have reported even when the customer has the modem unplugged/off. Which makes me think that these things really aren't collecting the stats, they're making guesstimates based off of usage over X timeframe.

Re:are you suprised?? (0)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42829325)

Perhaps you should stop thinking, doesn't seem to be working out for you. Fibe doesn't over-report and you can get a breakdown of usage to easily compare with your logs.

Try not to use "seen" for hearsay, it's not appropriate.

Router with DD-WRT firmware. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42825857)

DD-WRT has a meter I find it to be very accurate. I guess it could be used as evidence if things do not match.

Re:Router with DD-WRT firmware. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42826011)

DD-WRT has a meter I find it to be very accurate. I guess it could be used as evidence if things do not match.

Depends on your ISP, I'd wager. You might get reasonable people in the billing department you can argue with.

If not, good luck with that. It'd be nice if everyone and their mother had a non-shit router, the ability to understand metrics, and the willingness to go to small claims court, but, as a wise woman once said:

Ain't nobody got time fo' dat.

Re:Router with DD-WRT firmware. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42826247)

I'm sure their TOS say that their meter is the only thing that counts.

Re:Router with DD-WRT firmware. (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826579)

Evidence only counts in court. This is them sending you a bill and you paying it or losing your internet. Good luck.

Re:Router with DD-WRT firmware. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42826845)

DD-WRT has a meter I find it to be very accurate. I guess it could be used as evidence if things do not match.

Only if you never have loss of power. DD-WRT commits its counters to nvram at midnight. Loss of power during the day means the counters reset for that day. Keep it powered via UPS if you must have accurate counters.

Re:Router with DD-WRT firmware. (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | about a year and a half ago | (#42829437)

Funny enough.. my cable modem and router are on a UPS... when the power goes out, I want the internet on for me to lookup the damned phone number for the power company... not to mention the office server(s) on their own UPSes continuing to work... the internet will last far longer than the servers though...

Re:Router with DD-WRT firmware. (1)

Forever Wondering (2506940) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828337)

I have a 2wire 2701HG-B router (the standard one AT&T uses for DSL). It also records number of bytes sent/received. I have a program that wakes up every 5 minutes and logs these values to disk. So, I have a persistent record of usage, dating back years that can produce a strip chart for each 5 minute interval. Another program reads the log and produces reports for usage per-hour, per-day, per-month for all time periods since AT&T first introduced its cap. Should I ever need to dispute, I've got the [better] evidence [hopefully ;-)]

We need broadband meter readers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42825965)

I'm sure these meters make mistakes both ways right? Occasionally under counting.

We could have a meter reader come around once a quater and weigh your drives. Ones weigh more than zeros.
Or they could print out all your porn and weigh it on one of those truck stop scales. Charge by the pixel rather than the bit.

Captcha: inexact (fucking captcha kills me some times)

Re:We need broadband meter readers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42826003)

Sounds good to me- I prefer porn with more 0's and fewer 1's.

Re:We need broadband meter readers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42826557)

That's called "ebony."

Re:We need broadband meter readers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42826611)

Does NOBODY RTFA anymore? Sheesh....

Re:We need broadband meter readers (3, Informative)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826591)

I'm sure these meters make mistakes both ways right? Occasionally under counting.

From the article:

"They are wrong by missing numbers by one way or another - sometimes it's over reporting, but more frequently the error is under reporting," he said. Under reporting should be a relief to those facing overage charges or service termination for going over their meters, but if the meters aren't counting the data properly, it is still a problem.

Re:We need broadband meter readers (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about a year and a half ago | (#42829145)

Who the hell mods a 0-score post as "overrated"? And get your sarcasm meter checked, it's time for a humour top-up.

Re:We need broadband meter readers (2)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#42829191)

Someone who thinks it should be at -1 even though it's not troll, offtopic, redundant, or flamebait?

For example, wrong information, or a superbly silly statement/question that still manages to apply to the topic. Not that this applies here, I'm just answering your question.

it's bad business (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42825975)

If they actually use the faulty data (they paid for this for a reason, yes?) as part of their business strategy, then EVERYONE is poorly served: the company, its shareholders, and its customers.

Comcast used to be close (5, Interesting)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826015)

When they were enforcing the 250 gig cap, they were within 1% of my dd-wrt tally. Now that they're not enforcing the cap, their reading is waaaaaay under my actual usage. I wonder if they're no longer counting traffic that stays in the Comcast network.

Re:Comcast used to be close (3, Interesting)

pancake_lover (310091) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828351)

I recall that Comcast does not count some streaming video services against the data caps. There were some (like Netflix) who complained this was not in the spirit of net neutrality. So maybe they are still not counting some of the video you stream, depending on where you are streaming it from? Just a guess.

Here's some more info on this: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/03/net-neutrality-concerns-raised-about-comcasts-xbox-on-demand-service/ [arstechnica.com] .

Re:Comcast used to be close (1)

noc007 (633443) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828751)

If they're under-reporting by a large factor and keep it that way when they reintroduce caps, I may consider switching from their Business service to Residential. The reasons why I got Business are no caps, supposedly better service, supposedly faster incident resolution, and a hint that my traffic would take priority during congestion. I work from home two days a week and can't be concerned about caps. As for the rest of the supposed benefits of their Business service is a load of BS; when I've had a problem, I didn't get any better service or resolution than I would have on Residential.

I hope Comcrap will figure out their caps before my contract auto-renews. I'd like to cut my bill down a little while increasing my speed.

Weights and Measures? (4, Insightful)

HaeMaker (221642) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826069)

Perhaps we need a weights and measures type certification for ISPs?

In the US it's per County, so that will be interesting!

Re:Weights and Measures? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42826169)

As long as it's not metric.

My cable modem gets 5 megabitrods to the hogshead, and that's the way I likes it.

Re:Weights and Measures? (1)

digitig (1056110) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827241)

The general rule is that it's metric if you're buying (1000 bytes to the kilobyte) and not metric if you're selling (1024 bytes to the kilobyte).

Re:Weights and Measures? (2)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827755)

it also depends on altitude.

as you go higher up (mountains, etc) the weight of 1KB is lower.

(wait, wut?)

Re:Weights and Measures? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42828215)

If you're referring to kg you're mistaken. Gram is a measure of mass, not weight. So something that has 1g on sea level also has exactly 1g on the top of a mountain or anywhere on the Moon.

Re:Weights and Measures? (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826587)

I don't think that would work until the phrase "up to" is forbidden from adverts for broadband connections, or ISPs start offering affordable connections with definitive SLAs. As it is now, one is pretty much SOL unless the ISP really takes the piss.

Re:Weights and Measures? (1)

jc42 (318812) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827205)

I always mentally translate "up to" to "less than". It produces a clearer understanding of what they're trying to sell me. Try it sometime; it really clarifies all those"blazingly fast" ads.

Re:Weights and Measures? (3, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826739)

This is exactly what we need. It would solve a LOT of problems. What is 20mb/s service anyway? I know we have our (logical) definition. But I guarantee your ISP has an entirely different definition that has absolutely no bearing on the speed of your connection and more to do with the price you're paying. (I work for a large ISP btw)

Government regulation is bad in almost all respects when it comes to the economy. Capitalism works best when it's unfettered and transparent. The laws the government should impose should not put chains on businesses or consumers. What the government should be doing is making the market more transparent. Don't make derivatives illegal, make describing exactly whats in them required before sale. Don't dictate what speeds or services ISPs can offer, require the ISPs to use common terms and conditions that consumers can understand. Just as you say, a certain speed should be exactly that. None of this "up to" bullshit. If there are limits on how much you can download, that should be clear and upfront, not buried on their website. Their traffic shaping policies should be clear and understandable. The way they measure your use should be standardize. It would help both the ISPs and the consumer. We need something like the FDAs nutrition labels but for technology.
Data cap? y/n
Limit = ###
Max speed = ##
Minimum speed = ##
Average Latency = ##
% time down in your town over the past 12 months: ##
Average time to resolution for customer outages: ##

Your ISP HAS all of this information already. It's all a mater of making it law that they have to give it to you before you sign a contract. Simple as that.

Re:Weights and Measures? (2)

whoever57 (658626) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827571)

And make the pricing transparent. No more adding in fees, especially fees that a carrier cannot tell you how much they will be before selling the service, but magically, can calculate them after you have signed on the dotted line.

I am just waiting for a carrier to offer a 1c/month plan (plus fees and taxes), where the fees and taxes are somewhere between $50 and $100/month.

Re:Weights and Measures? (1)

TheLink (130905) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828225)

My exISP used to advertise/sell bandwidth based on the ADSL bandwidth.

The problem was my IP packets go over PPPoE which then goes over ATM and then over ADSL. ATM uses 53 byte cells with 5 byte overhead. That's about 10% in overheads (esp if you include everything else).

Re:Weights and Measures? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42829847)

So you're suggesting something like a well-written petition, requesting action from the new consumer protection agency to standardize a Service-Level Agreement (SLA) for ISPs on behalf of consumers (and the ISPs presumably would oppose such a thing by dragging their feet*)?

As you are well-aware, businesses buying enterprise-class data-center services are used to such a clearly written SLA as they part with the enterprise-class money. I can only see the new consumer agency fighting this battle competently, more or less as was done to make sense of the consumer credit-card fee structure, for consumers of credit-cards. Previously, the banks were happy with the credit card situation being the way it was structured.

Those are really good draft bullet points for such a petition.

=======
* The cynic in me thinks the ISPs do not want this, and will get exactly what they want once the Executive-branch wants to be more Draconian. Or the MPAA wants... (i.e. follow the Big Dollars to measure the influence)

Re:Weights and Measures? (1)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | about a year and a half ago | (#42830145)

I'd say you've got it exactly right.

They should do the same for health insurance - not dictate how much it costs, or what is or isn't covered, but rather regulate how the coverage is described. Perhaps define various "standard" levels of covered, give them names, and then allow insurance to use those names for their products so long as the products they meet the official description. But still allow other packages, so long as the covereages and costs are describe in compliance with the regs.

Re:Weights and Measures? (1)

pavon (30274) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827101)

In the US it's per County, so that will be interesting!

Since internet traffic crosses state boundaries, the federal government has jurisdiction according to current interpretations of Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution. These sorts of things are usually defined by NIST, and enforced by the appropriate regulator, such as the FCC, FTC, or Department of Commerce.

Re:Weights and Measures? (1)

HaeMaker (221642) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827535)

Yea, this makes it complicated. For example, a "gallon" is set by NIST, but it is a county official who goes to the gas pump and verifies that what it says is a gallon is actually a gallon, then puts a seal on the pump to certify it. Not sure of any US governing body that actually tests weights and measures.

Re:Weights and Measures? (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about a year and a half ago | (#42830051)

Don't be silly [Jen], the internet doesn't weigh anything!

Telcos are thieves (5, Insightful)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826101)

no other explanation is necessary. For the old folks here who used to have a landline phone service in the old days, do you remember all those mysterious little "charges" they tacked on your bill? Like $1.05 "User Service fee" and $0.87 "DCF Maintenance fee" or some crap like that? Well even the federal gov't realized they were just plain thieves and sued them, which they settled for a few dozen million dollars. And went right back to doing it again.

Also there was the dial-up modem scam the telcos used to pull... Dvorak's summary [pcmag.com]

Re:Telcos are thieves (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826405)

I sincerely encourage you to sue them so that you can pay more.

Re:Telcos are thieves (2)

Nikker (749551) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826795)

You mean "Don't bother ratting him out to the cops for hitting you, he'll just do it again"

Re:Telcos are thieves (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42826589)

"Well even the federal gov't realized they were just plain thieves and sued them"

Funny. The pot calling the kettle black...

Re:Telcos are thieves (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42831355)

More like they didn't appreciate the competition?

Re:Telcos are thieves (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826661)

no other explanation is necessary. For the old folks here who used to have a landline phone service in the old days, do you remember all those mysterious little "charges" they tacked on your bill? Like $1.05 "User Service fee" and $0.87 "DCF Maintenance fee" or some crap like that? Well even the federal gov't realized they were just plain thieves and sued them, which they settled for a few dozen million dollars. And went right back to doing it again.

Also there was the dial-up modem scam the telcos used to pull... Dvorak's summary [pcmag.com]

I guess I'm old? I still have a land line since no cellphone I've ever heard sounds anywhere close quality wise.

Re:Telcos are thieves (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42826861)

get your ears checked old timer.

Re:Telcos are thieves (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42827567)

All my voicemails are on vinyl. It just sounds warmer.

Re:Telcos are thieves (1)

RicardoGCE (1173519) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828879)

I guess I'm old?

Yes.

So... (4, Interesting)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826153)

So this means that they can't legally do 'metered billing,' as the meter is known and proven to be inaccurate, right?

right?

anybody?

rrdtool & /proc/net/dev (3, Interesting)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826175)

is it really so hard to

DATA1=`grep eth0 /proc/net/dev | sed -e 's/ /:/g' -e 's/:\+/:/g' | cut -d: -f 3,11`
rrdtool update /path/rrd/eth.rrd N:${DATA1}

?

Re:rrdtool & /proc/net/dev (1)

PlusFiveTroll (754249) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826227)

So you have a direct ethernet connection to your ISP? Most people use cable, dsl, or some type of wireless across different kinds of head end equipment.

Re:rrdtool & /proc/net/dev (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42826381)

And why should bytes that don't even make it to my machine count towards my usage?

Re:rrdtool & /proc/net/dev (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827357)

And why should bytes that don't even make it to my machine count towards my usage?

Because life's not always fair.

However, from TFA, it appears that a lot of the bytes that DO make it to your machine don't count towards your usage. I'm wondering if they're only tracking TCP....

Re:rrdtool & /proc/net/dev (1)

jc42 (318812) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827553)

And why should bytes that don't even make it to my machine count towards my usage?

I think the answer to that contains the phrase "because they can". ;-)

Re:rrdtool & /proc/net/dev (2)

pla (258480) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828563)

And why should bytes that don't even make it to my machine count towards my usage?

Well, it works just like cars. For every thousand cars that pass QC, one or two fail and need to get recycled into parts. So when you buy one of those cars, if it ends up not working, you just eat the cost and shrug and buy another one.

Right?

Re:rrdtool & /proc/net/dev (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42829787)

DATA1=`grep eth0 /proc/net/dev | sed -e 's/ /:/g' -e 's/:\+/:/g' | cut -d: -f 3,11`

Awk is your friend: DATA1="$(awk /eth0/{print $3, $11})".

Fast and wrong, or slow and correct. (5, Informative)

PlusFiveTroll (754249) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826177)

Building an incorrect bandwidth meter is easy. Incorrect meters will calculate your bandwidth like ( 'MTU size' * 'number of packets' = usage), which will over estimate usage by a large margin (30% off is common), since a large number of packets are much smaller then MTU, DNS replies for example. It is 'somewhat' more accurate to take ('average packet size' * 'number of packets') per user, since different usage will come up with a different avg_pkt size. Counting each packets size and keeping track of it is the most accurate, but also the most resource intensive therefore the least likely to occur in bulk by the ISP.

Another place that can cause a significant skew in total bits is where bandwidth is monitored. Most ISPs count traffic before the restriction of your slow connection, therefore packet loss and re-transmits get counted against you (if the ISP uses no, or a bad queuing discipline this can end up being a significant amount of bandwidth). Monitoring how much was downloaded is best done on the CPE, such as the cable modem or dsl modem, but that would lead to firmware hacks and such to lie to the provider.

Re:Fast and wrong, or slow and correct. (1)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826447)

Building an incorrect bandwidth meter is easy.

That's fine and dandy as long as they can guarantee that in case of an error they under-count rather than over-count.

Most ISPs count traffic before the restriction of your slow connection, therefore packet loss and re-transmits get counted against you

And that's the problem. A combination of "black box" meter and a claim that "measuring bandwidth exactly is hard" cannot be allowed. They should have to chose one out of two.

Re:Fast and wrong, or slow and correct. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42826495)

There's nothing wrong with using the average packet size, assuming you have an accurate measure of it.

(average package size) * (number of packets)

is the same as

(total packet size) / (number of packets) * (number of packets)

is the same as

(total packet size)

which is exactly what you want to measure.

Re:Fast and wrong, or slow and correct. (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827123)

Counting bytes is just as easy as counting packets, so I don't know why you assume they can do one but not the other. When counting bytes there's no need to consider packet size at all.

Re:Fast and wrong, or slow and correct. (2)

PlusFiveTroll (754249) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827665)

http://www.google.com/search?q=interface+byte+counter+incorrect [google.com]

It's also amazing how often equipment gets that byte count wrong (I've seen it often with ISP head end equipment). Also there is no shortage of equipment that can overflow 32-bit byte counts faster than the ISP samples.

Also many interfaces are encapsulating the data (PPP-OE) and most ISPs do some mathematics so you are not charged for the overhead.

Re:Fast and wrong, or slow and correct. (1)

jrumney (197329) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827409)

I get my internet by WiMax, and I'm pretty sure that over half of my metered usage is error packets and resends.

Re:Fast and wrong, or slow and correct. (1)

DeSigna (522207) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827775)

It's fairly common to use NetFlows or similar protocols to measure per-IP bandwidth at either the inner or outer edges of the network (depending on whether it's billed over all traffic or just external traffic to the ISP). NetFlows has a few issues where it under- or over-reports the traffic used by a network flow due to insufficient detail supplied by the protocol.

In most cases where an LNS is in use (such as with any PPPoX DSL connection), they can report down-to-the-byte accurate statistics, but often don't - it's easier for an ISP to centralise everything on NetFlows, which works fine for any end-user tail.

We have had a few problems with upstream providers giving us huge bills for specific customers, and us going back with a handful of graphs and spreadsheets to prove that their stats showing 50Mbit/s usage on a 20Mbit/s DSL circuit is highly improbable within the confines of modern physics, our monitoring of interface stats showing the same packet count with a far smaller payload.

we recommend... (1, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826199)

when I've called my ISP to complain about low speed, they usually start out by telling me to go to a specific site to check my speed. (they do the same thing when they send out a tech)

Thanks, no. I'll go to a different site. Anywhere besides the one you just suggested to me. Using what they recommend is like the used car dealer recommending you get a second opinion from his brother Jim.

Re:we recommend... (4, Funny)

Nikker (749551) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826829)

They tell me to download from "localhost" where ever that is. Wow is that site fast! Everything I've ever used is hosted there too!

Re:we recommend... (1)

jrumney (197329) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827483)

When I'm experiencing slow internet, I often go to the speedtest site my ISP recommends just to get my downloads to speed up for 10 minutes (YMMV, depending on how your ISP's traffic shaping is configured).

Re:we recommend... (1)

DeSigna (522207) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827891)

It can still be handy to use a speed test attached directly to the provider's core network to determine where the problem is - my home ISP has a few large files on a customer website you can download, and their customer support will get you to try both an internal and external test site.

If the internal test is slow, then there's a problem on the backhaul between you and the ISP. If it works but external sites are slow, there's either congestion on the edge (usually pretty obvious on a traceroute, and your ISP should be very aware of such problems) or issues beyond the ISP's control. Still, getting traceroutes of such things allows them to pull their transit and upstream providers into line.

Re:we recommend... (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828235)

"you have a brain-cloud. you only have a few months to live"

something like that?

yeah, never trust the 'go to my shop and get an estimate'.

If this were Electricity, Water or Gas meters... (1)

DickBreath (207180) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826209)

If 5 out of 7 Electricity, Water or Gas meters were inaccurate, you can bet people would be screaming and government would be cracking down.

Re:If this were Electricity, Water or Gas meters.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42826509)

If 5 out of 7 Electricity, Water or Gas meters were inaccurate, you can bet people would be screaming and government would be cracking down.

Also, imagine if the cost (to the provider) of providing Water at near-capacity was roughly the same as the cost of not providing any water, because the bulk of the expense is in maintaining the pipes... Imagine the outrage against the greedy provider who strictly limits the amount of water anyway.

Re:If this were Electricity, Water or Gas meters.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42826665)

imagine if the cost (to the provider) of providing Water at near-capacity was roughly the same as the cost of not providing any water, because the bulk of the expense is in maintaining the pipes

Sounds like reality to me, what are we imagining again?

Imagine the outrage against the greedy provider who strictly limits the amount of water anyway

Sounds like reality to me, what are we imagining agian? (Seriously, take a look at any place in the US that rations water during droughts, you'll find people watering at 3AM to not get caught cheating, and other people calling the cops at 3AM out of spite). The only difference is that the ISP can turn off the packets coming to you from their end, while the water company can't turn off the molecules of water coming out to your house without sending a truck.

Re:If this were Electricity, Water or Gas meters.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42826835)

Bandwidth not used is lost forever. Water, not so much.

Re:If this were Electricity, Water or Gas meters.. (1)

prshaw (712950) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828511)

Do you think anyone would know? How many people have real clue how to measure how many kw of electricty they use, or how many gallons of water flow through their house each month?
I have no idea how many gallons of water I actually use, my bill could be off by a factor of 10 and I wouldn't be able to tell.
And truthfully I wouldn't really care, what I care about is if my bill is in line with others that appear to use the same as me.
They can call the units anything they want to call them as long as I can get a reasonable estimate of how much more my bill will go up when I use twice as much..

Re:If this were Electricity, Water or Gas meters.. (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828849)

Water, Gas and Power meters are required to be required to be accurate by federal law. These laws included the establishment of agencies like Underwrites Labratory to certify power meters.

You know all those laws and regulations your parents enacted to prevent people from cheating and keep the system as fair as possible, that certain people today think should go away because all government regulation is bad. Where the reality is they are trying to propagandize people who aren't smart enough to realize what they are suggesting is going to result in the wholesale ripping off of the poor and middle class just like it did before these laws were enacted.

Not new (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42826285)

It's long been industry practice to count bandwidth as # of Packets * MTU.

It's always been bullshit, and it always will be, since the government nicely handed over practical monopolies to them

Re:Not new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42826513)

It's long been industry practice to count bandwidth as # of Packets * MTU.

It's always been bullshit, and it always will be, since the government nicely handed over practical monopolies to them

Silly in the extreme. Ethernet interfaces (and everything else) have byte counters, there is no need for the number of packets.

Re:Not new (1)

PlusFiveTroll (754249) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827845)

32-bit byte counters and long sample times can be an issue(you can count 500/1000/1500 times the number of bytes as packets without overflowing the counter) But most of it is legacy, packet counts were the way it was done on a lot of equipment even though it's not the most correct method.

Re:Not new (1)

DeSigna (522207) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827933)

Your ISP doesn't have a dedicated interface just for you. And Bob who's on EFM. And Jill on VSAT. And Jim's Mowing with its 2 aggregated DSL lines.

Most ISPs I've seen collect flow statistics from routers, which works no matter what tail is in use and collects many customers' statistics at once.

Related issue: How much of that usage is YOU ... (3, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826315)

... and how much is ads?

Moving to a new client's site gave me a taste of using a browser without noscript and flashblock. I discovered a number of sites are displaying multiple ads that consist of flash movies.

To view a few paragraphs of text (a couple kilobytes or so) I USED to be downloading perhaps a quarter megabyte of graphic imagery. Now I'm downloading perhaps a minute of video for each of several self-starting video ads.

Not to mention popovers-on-mouseover - including some that that darken the whole page rather than just obscuring part of it - and if I want to kill them without "pushing a 'close' button" supplied by the popover ("Push me! Push me! I'll just close the window and not download malware! I promise!) I have to reload the page all over again. Listen to that meter whir!

Re:Related issue: How much of that usage is YOU .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42828007)

WTF kind of pages are you viewing that would even dent your limit? Or what kind of account, perhaps? I'm on the most basic shaw.ca service with an internet cap of 125g/month.

Heck-yes, overloaded pages are annoying, but unless you've got new information, we're talking about downloading and streaming big files. Your pet-peeve isn't relevant.

What bytes are we measuring? (4, Interesting)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826323)

I don't know how many on slashdot know networking, but there are different ways of measuring bandwidth. Are we measuring layer 2, or layer 3? Further, layer 2 can often have multiple encapsulations before even taking layer 3 into consideration. Take for example DSL which frequently uses PPPoE, which means we have both PPP and Ethernet frames in addition to the IP data and everything encapsulated therein. And if you include DSL interleaving, then do we also include the packets that had a bad checksum and were therefore discarded? (in many cases there are a lot of these) That *is* data usage by all definitions. Do we also include ingress packets that were dropped due to bad checksums? Again, that is data usage.

In my opinion, the problem is that there aren't any standards defined for measuring bandwidth. Also in my opinion, that definition should be layer 3 traffic only and nothing else.

Re:What bytes are we measuring? (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826593)

Also something to add to what I said, even if you do only layer 3, you still won't have 100% accuracy. Some egress packets will get dropped long after leaving the ISP's routers, and it's impossible for any bandwidth meter anywhere to be able to tell what didn't make it, mainly because by design IP can't (and shouldn't) provide the facilities for doing so.

Re:What bytes are we measuring? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42827155)

Some egress packets will get dropped long after leaving the ISP's routers

So what? The ISP has done their job in this case. They've transited your data to 'the internet' whoever that might actually be, it's not their responsibility what 'the internet' does with your data once it leaves their network.

I guess if they had really crappy carriers, you could complain, but in reality carriers rarely drop packets, and if you're having packet loss it is almost certainly at your isp or your destination.

Re:What bytes are we measuring? (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year and a half ago | (#42829391)

That's what I'm getting that. If you metered data, you can't know whether or not it made it at its destination.

And yes, you can get horrible packet loss without the ISP being involved at all. In fact, that is currently happening at the peering level with AT&T and Cogent. They've had a few saturated links at their border routers somewhere near Illinois for several months now and haven't done a damn thing about it. It is mainly effecting several west coast ISP's whose users get horrible latency with blizzards chicago datacenter (the delays are caused by the constant TCP retransmits as blizzard doesn't use UDP for their newer games, so it doesn't show up as packet loss to the end user when in reality that is exactly what it is.) Most other users don't notice the problem because they are usually accessing websites, which are much more tolerant of 200ms to 500ms latency.

There's not much that blizzard or the ISP's can do about it until AT&T and Cogent get their heads out of their asses. Meanwhile, those dropped egress packets still count towards the meters.

Re:What bytes are we measuring? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42827303)

No one needs 100% accuracy or anything like it. Just pick a metric and use it consistently. Then hold the ISP's to their advertised service offerings. That alone would be a huge improvement over the current situation.

The current situation being, "we (the ISP) pick what we mean by throughput, then provide differential upload/download speeds, then sell that while ignoring the actual throughput, the actual latency, and the actual service level. Your mileage may vary, some service parameters are out of the ISP's control, some technologies depend upon distance from the CSO, blah blah blah if you've read this far you've got way too much time on your hands".

Re:What bytes are we measuring? (1)

bagboy (630125) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826673)

PPPoE is often used in combination with Radius Authentication and Accounting. When it is, the radius accounting records are based on bytes rx/tx on your ppp interface that exists on the PPPoE server. In that case, none of the above that you mentioned is included in the accounting records (dsl interleaving/ppp/ethernet frames). This would not stop tcp retransmits (from IP congestion) from being counted. However, note that the accounting takes place in this scenario at layer 3 and above.

Re:What bytes are we measuring? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42826727)

> that definition should be layer 3 traffic only and nothing else.
That's asking for someone to develop a protocol to tunnel data in IP options.

The load on the ISP's network is dictated by the total data, including framing. If you halve your MTU so that you have twice as many packets per MB of data, the load on the ISP's network is going to increase accordingly, so there's no reason they shouldn't be entitled to count it as usage.

As for failed checksums. Header checksums which fail on entry to the ISP's network don't add to the load. Those which fail between entry and exit are the ISP's responsibility. OTOH, a larger MTU will increase the amount of capacity wasted by each packet which fails in between.

Combining the above two factors, there should probably be a per-packet cost as well as a per-byte cost.

Data checksums aren't the ISP's problem; they shouldn't even be looking beyond the IP header, so the checksum may have been bad before it even reached their network.

Re:What bytes are we measuring? (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year and a half ago | (#42829361)

Why would that be asking for somebody to develop a protocol that does that? The end result would be lower data rates for the end user. I mean what, they would do it just for the purpose of annoying the ISP? Besides, if that was their goal, they could easily do that using UDP with error correction at the application layer, no need to develop a new protocol.

And when I speak of checksums, I mean at the CPE. For example if somebody is behind a NAT, your outside interface will trash the packet before the host computer even sees it. In NAT it actually has to decapsulate the packet and change the source/destination ports as well as the destination IP address and then compute a new checksum, if it sees a bad checksum to begin with it will just drop it.

Re:What bytes are we measuring? (1)

Yoik (955095) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827079)

Indeed there are lots of variables needed to define what "how many bits were sent in this time period" means. And even more to define "offered bandwidth".

This is classic work for standards committees. I'd bet there is a standard for calculating "net weight" on cans of olives. I haven't heard of relevant standards for data. Maybe T1 could be convinced to address the need.

Re:What bytes are we measuring? (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828247)

layer 3 is routing layer.

that includes routing updates (ospf, etc etc).

you want tcp and udp byte counters, riiiight?

Re:What bytes are we measuring? (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year and a half ago | (#42829257)

End users won't be sending dynamic routing protocols to the ISP. If they did, I'd be a bit concerned if the ISP didn't filter them out as that's just asking for trouble. End users should only be using static routes, and consequently static routes are the only form of routing that most consumer grade equipment supports.

And yes, TCP and UDP overhead should count towards that, as should *any* layer 4 encapsulation. The ISP should only be doing layer 3, when you start going into the transport and session layers, you start violating the end users privacy.

They're UNDER-reporting! (4, Informative)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826383)

I guess it really doesn't take any facts for the idiots to start clamoring about how all business' are evil.

Re:They're UNDER-reporting! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42826517)

the idiots

 

business'

mmmmmm delicious irony

Re:They're UNDER-reporting! (1)

Dins (2538550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42826671)

I guess it really doesn't take any facts for the idiots to start clamoring about how all business' are evil.

This.

1,000x This. I suppose RTFA is a lost art...

Re:They're UNDER-reporting! (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827201)

I guess it really doesn't take any facts for the idiots to start clamoring about how all business' are evil.

Dunno about that. But since most ISPs have a gross margin of 90% [wsj.com] on their broadband traffic, they can under-report by 2x and still be vastly over-charging.

Re:They're UNDER-reporting! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42827707)

Gross profits does not include the cost of selling the service, interest on loans/bonds ,taxes,lawsuits etc.
average net profit margin for the last 3 years.
ATT 9.62%
Verizon 3.03%
Comcast 8.83%
Time Warner Cable 7.17%
Sprint has not made a profit since 2006.
Charter has not made a profit since before 2010. They lost money every year from 2002 to 2008 and went bankrupt in 2009.
For comparison Yahoo has averaged 16.2% over the last 3 years.
ISPs aren't making as much money as people think.
source http://finance.yahoo.com/

Re:They're UNDER-reporting! (2)

jc42 (318812) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827629)

I guess it really doesn't take any facts for the idiots to start clamoring about how all business' are evil.

Yeah, when we know that in reality, only about 90% of them are evil. And those 90% are giving the other 10% a bad name.

(Dunno if I need a ;-) here or not ...)

Layer 2 folks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42828437)

If they send you 1 octet, and have to re-transmit it 5 times in the link layer, how many billable octets of data have you been sent?

Thats right: layer2 can multiply your data, and you can be billed by some ISPs for octets injected, which requred re-generation inside the system.

framing bits. 8 is not it: 10 is it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42828459)

how long is a byte? its not 8 bits. sometimes its 10. If your link layer adds bits, these count at bit-counts towards a higher octet count.

Known this for years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42828827)

The bytes counted by my router are not the same as the bytes counted by Comcast, that's for sure. I wonder if this means I can SYN flood someone for free?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?