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Top US Lobbyist Wants Broadband Data Caps

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the clogging-the-pipes dept.

The Internet 568

sl4shd0rk writes "Michael Powell, A former United States FCC chairman, is pushing for 'usage-based internet access' which he says is good for consumers who are 'accustomed to paying for what they use'. Apparently Time Warner and Comcast (maybe others) are already developing plans to set monthly rates based on bandwidth usage. The reasoning on the NCTA website lays out the argument behind Powell's plan."

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568 comments

Help us Google Fiber! You're our only hope. (5, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | about 6 months ago | (#45218627)

Seriously the ISPs who get behind metering and capping are just trying to stop the cord cutter movement. They know they are dinosaurs and the end is near. They are the same ones who refuse to take free Netflix CDN boxes to reduce the Netflix backhaul by 90%, and improve the service quality to their customers as well, instead trying to charge Netflix bandwidth fees. There is nothing whatsoever precious about Internet bandwidth. Every few years some new tech lets them put 100x as many bits down the same single mode fiber-optic pipe, and it's burying or stringing that pipe where the lion's share of the cost is.

Since Google isn't in the TV game really, they have nothing to lose by letting you pass all the data you want.

Re:Help us Google Fiber! You're our only hope. (5, Insightful)

mfh (56) | about 6 months ago | (#45218675)

Google wants us to have 1gbps so we can pump our information to them faster. The more information Google can get from everyone, the more they know about existence from the perspective of a futurist deity, which could be a very powerful tool in years to come when we're trying to figure out what to do about all the problems our predecessors have left us with.

Re: Help us Google Fiber! You're our only hope. (3, Interesting)

iamhassi (659463) | about 6 months ago | (#45218971)

But data transfer is essentially free compared to electricity, gas and water. Whether I download 1 megabyte or 500 megabytes it does not cost the ISP any more. Data caps is like air breathing caps or sun solar rays caps, it just doesn't make sense. If anything they need the opposite, minimum viable tranfer speeds, so these ISPs can't lie about the transfer rate. Bandwidth caps only hurt Netflix, YouTube (google), and any other website that uses high bandwidth which means less taxes for the govt. Why would th govt want LESS money? Is the govt going to tell us to stop spending so much money and hide it under our mattress so they get less taxes? More bandwidth = more consuming = more money to tax.

Re:Help us Google Fiber! You're our only hope. (5, Informative)

sneakyimp (1161443) | about 6 months ago | (#45218733)

The end is near my ass. I'm in Los Angeles and I still only have one option for broadband access at any reasonable speed -- and it's Time Warner Cable. The end is nowhere near until we somehow break the monopolistic (or duopolistic) stranglehold these bastards enjoy in any given market. Apparently this stranglehold is in large part perpetuated by political deals these ISPs have made with local government (e.g., the City of Los Angeles) wherein the city gets kickbacks from the ISP for rights of way, etc. Because local governments are dependent on these kickbacks to support their budget, there is no competition. It's a form of payola.

Re:Help us Google Fiber! You're our only hope. (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about 6 months ago | (#45218905)

I'd say the monopolies need to end. They were granted at the time to encourage investment (ha!) and a return on for the rolling out of services. We are a decade past this in much of the urban landscape, but they actually want caps on these pokey little connections they have deigned to give us. Fibre Optic is nearing doorsteps, finally, in my neighborhood and all they have to offer is 24Mbs... Really. That's the best you can do AT&T? This doesn't sound like investment, it stinks like milking a geriatric cow.

Re:Help us Google Fiber! You're our only hope. (5, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 6 months ago | (#45219181)

I'd say the monopolies need to end.

Since the FCC seems to be the source of all these problems, we need to bypass them and form a wireless citizen-based infrastructure. Because the FCC won't take kindly to being shut out and unable to excercise regulatory control over it, it will have to be resistant to triangulation.

Fortunately, our military has already provided the path to this future; The communications systems onboard our stealth bombers. They use ultra wide band transmitters (UWB) and rapid frequency hopping technology on the order of around 300,000 times a second. By syncronizing a pair of PRNGs (Pseudo Random Number Generator), you can create a symbol matrix that adds +1 or -1 to the digital signal; effectively an XOR mask. The reconstructed signal can then operate at near the noise floor, and without knowing the PRNG seed, you will only get a lot of multiple-source noise -- there's no way to separate out individual very low power emissions and source them out. This is how GPS operates. Combine software defined radio with a bunch of FPGAs for front-end processing and you've got yourself a wireless digital transmitter suitable for use in a citizen-based mesh network.

Now, is unregulated wireless a good idea? No. It's a very bad idea. But if you weigh out the costs of allowing businesses to dictate terms to the FCC, who has totally lost their way with regard to their primary mission: Serving the people, with the costs of raising the noise floor by a not inconsiderable degree and potentially impacting wireless services worldwide... I think a substantial and growing minority would agree this may be the only way to solve all these problems of internet surveillance, privacy, and corporate control of most of our natural resources (which includes the EM spectrum).

Re:Help us Google Fiber! You're our only hope. (4, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | about 6 months ago | (#45218959)

The end is near my ass. I'm in Los Angeles and I still only have one option for broadband access at any reasonable speed -- and it's Time Warner Cable. The end is nowhere near until we somehow break the monopolistic (or duopolistic) stranglehold these bastards enjoy in any given market. Apparently this stranglehold is in large part perpetuated by political deals these ISPs have made with local government (e.g., the City of Los Angeles) wherein the city gets kickbacks from the ISP for rights of way, etc. Because local governments are dependent on these kickbacks to support their budget, there is no competition. It's a form of payola.

If you're in a Sonic.net [sonic.net] coverage area, check them out. I'm 6000 feet from the CO, and get 14mbit down, 1.3mbit upstream -- no monthly bandwidth caps, and their pricing includes a real analog phone line (not VoIP) with unlimited long distance. For about double the price, you can get business DSL that bonds 2 lines to give you about double the speed.

I was getting 50mbit/10mbit from Comcast, but dropped them after moving to Sonic because once a week I'd see latency and packet loss so severe that the line was unusable.

Re:Help us Google Fiber! You're our only hope. (1)

rmckeethen (130580) | about 6 months ago | (#45219169)

I'd second this. For the past three months I've been using Sonic.net for business-class DSL, and I'm pretty happy with them. It's been rock-solid for reliability and performance, plus their support staff are a pleasure to work with. Thumbs-up for Sonic.net.

Re:Help us Google Fiber! You're our only hope. (1)

msauve (701917) | about 6 months ago | (#45218975)

I would have no real problem with usage based pricing, as long as it was relative, not absolute.

i.e. priced in comparison to other users (you can argue whether median or mean makes more sense) - so maybe there are 4 tiers, <25% of average, 25%-average, average-400%, and 400%+ of average.

That way, tiers get automatically adjusted to follow average Internet usage. And do it on a rolling average basis, across at least 3 months.

The unfairness of flat rate pricing is that those who don't suck bandwidth are paying for those who do.

Re:Help us Google Fiber! You're our only hope. (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 6 months ago | (#45219043)

Bandwidth is "too cheap to meter". The practice of metering and capping it it for every user adds costs to every user that exceeds the cost of the bandwidth itself. Therefore by insisting on metering you are saying that you are willing to pay more and get less, so that others who use more than you can pay even more. This is a very unhealthy position to take.

Re:Help us Google Fiber! You're our only hope. (1)

Lost_In_Specs (843932) | about 6 months ago | (#45219025)

I just received a nice letter from TWC with "Great News. You're getting another special rate." printed on the outside. In it I was told that my promotional rate of $53.98 was expiring, and since they are such great guys, they aren't going to raise it to $78.98, instead it would be only $61.98 (in other words, we could be ass-raping you, but we decided to only force you to give us a blow-job). All that for service with lag spikes every 20-30 minutes and random drops twice a day and only 12 Mbps out of the 25 I am signed for. A coworker whose son works for TWC tells me the price-hike is all the fault of the networks demanding more money from TWC. How is that my problem? When I went over to internet only, they sent a guy around to put a filter on my line to prevent me from getting even basic cable. I can't even get a local station through them. They sent this letter the week that the Google Fiber guys put their Fiber Jack in my apartment. Nothing is turned on yet, but I can't wait. Please Google - come take my data/money.

Re:Help us Google Fiber! You're our only hope. (1)

Jody Bruchon (3404363) | about 6 months ago | (#45219123)

I had basic cable and Internet at one point. I got a letter from TWC with a bunch of information about "here's a list of all these great channels we've added to your digital subscription" followed by a price increase on my basic cable rate. Basic cable doesn't get those. I called and asked them why they sent me a letter telling me my price was going up to provide me with channels they don't provide me, and the rep was at a loss. This kind of idiocy is so typical of the monopolies. I really can't understand why they don't just send a letter saying "we have to raise rates because costs of doing business are going up." At least then they'd be honest with me.

Re:Help us Google Fiber! You're our only hope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45219113)

Hey, I agree that telcos and cablecos are greedy blood sucking corporate pigs but increasing bandwidth is expensive. Telcos have been in a tech leapfrog war since DSL first became available in the 90s. Last mile is very costly to upgrade, although less so for cable cos.

Backbone is also expensive with carrier class routers and switches costing lots of bucks. eh, $10M for a single switch at a backbone node is not unusual. Plus someone has to pay for the NSA aggregate feed [insert sarcastic but sad snicker].

The carriers are tired of the technology race and would love for it to slow down or halt. Get back to those good ol' days of telling the customer what they need. Bring certainty back with a 20 year equipment replacement cycle like it used to be. Now, switch replacement times are as little as two years. The racked frame may last five to eight years but the guts change completely two to four times. Plus software upgrades and "feature" introduction. er. . . features like per account usage tracking.

Delivering multicast and IP television has caused all kinds of tech upgrade financial conniptions. Sure, everything is based on interoperable standards and everyone is compliant... well until you try to do a new converged service: deep pockets required to bring reality to the dream.

That said, I have no sympathy for the carriers; they all are (or should be) making a big profit without usage based metering. The costly infrastructure replacements have been accomplished without breaking the bank. Sure it would be nice not to have to replace the entire DSL infrastructure every 3 years but what the hey, the big numbers are still coming in positive.

The bandwidth explosion has been fueled by demand supported by flat fee based access. If $/kbit pricing had of continued from the early days, I believe we would be lucky to have single ISDN widely available. There would have been little demand for the costly bandwidth and no incentive for carriers to improve their infrastructure.

My 2cents.

Re:Help us Google Fiber! You're our only hope. (1)

quantr (1722336) | about 6 months ago | (#45219233)

yeah man been in a lot of other countries and people 'run out' of their data within a week for a month period if they use netflix.

One video camera will blow through 5GB/month (4, Interesting)

xmas2003 (739875) | about 6 months ago | (#45218641)

Doesn't say anything about things being different for uploading, but if you are running an Internet facing video camera (or three as seen here) [komar.org] you will easily blow through that 5GByte/month bandwidth cap.

NCTA calls is "Fair Broadband Pricing" ... for the industry perhaps?!? ;-)

Re:One video camera will blow through 5GB/month (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218729)

Doesn't say anything about things being different for uploading, but if you are running an Internet facing video camera (or three as seen here) [komar.org] you will easily blow through that 5GByte/month bandwidth cap.

That's ridiculous. You guys in the US are going backwards as fast as you can. They totally gouge for Internet access in Australia and I still manage to get 500GB/month (granted this is actually usage based but the cost of this is reasonable)....and yes you can use that much without pirating.

Re:One video camera will blow through 5GB/month (3, Funny)

Flammon (4726) | about 6 months ago | (#45218825)

Oh boy, you didn't just post a link to a picture heavy site on /. A few more karma points and you'll be looking at alot more than 5GB this month.

Re:One video camera will blow through 5GB/month (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 6 months ago | (#45218863)

If a corporate monkey says the word "fair", you know damned well what he's really saying is "We're going to fuck you up the ass so much you'll be able to park a locomotive in there."

Re:One video camera will blow through 5GB/month (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218957)

In fairness, it would not be unreasonable if pricing was done similar to electricity.

Say you pay some base connectivity fee of $5 / month and then $0.10 to $0.30 / GB (or whatever price is reasonable). This is fair, avoids caps, and forces the providers to compete on price per GB.

If the providers make more from you based on how much you use, then it would seemingly be in their best interests to have fast networks so that you use as much as possible. Netflix would no longer be a competitor, but a revenue generator.

Couple this with disallowing long term contracts with sign-up incentives and you could have a competitive market that ensures good prices.

Re:One video camera will blow through 5GB/month (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218989)

This is fair, avoids caps, and forces the providers to compete on price per GB.

That you actually believe this is the funniest part. No, they will also just settle on the exact same price. Sort of like how both AT&T and Verizon did for their shared mobile data plans.

eh (5, Interesting)

buddyglass (925859) | about 6 months ago | (#45218653)

I could get behind a hybrid plan. Base cost for a base level of bandwidth. Base should cover the "long tail" of the usage curve, i.e. the least-consuming ~90% of users. Then charge per unit over that threshold. If this over comes to pass it should be paired with a requirement that providers treat all packets the same, regardless of source and destination.

Re:eh (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 months ago | (#45218913)

"I could get behind a hybrid plan. Base cost for a base level of bandwidth. Base should cover the "long tail" of the usage curve, i.e. the least-consuming ~90% of users. Then charge per unit over that threshold. If this over comes to pass it should be paired with a requirement that providers treat all packets the same, regardless of source and destination."

Bandwidth has nothing to do with usage caps. I'm already paying an outrageous premium for bandwidth that people in other "western" nations take for granted.

Re:eh (1)

complete loony (663508) | about 6 months ago | (#45219039)

Charge per unit plans, that don't place any barriers to excessive usage, and unexpected bills, inevitably backfire. One of those least-consuming users will install something, or their kid will, and they'll be facing an unexpectedly huge bill at the end of the month.

This happened many times in Australia in the early days of broadband. In response the ISP's all set up "unlimited" plans, which have a fixed limit of usage per month. After you hit your quota they throttle your connection back to modem-ish speeds to prevent you from using too much more bandwidth. Without cutting you off completely. You may then have the option of paying for another unit of bandwidth, or bumping your monthly plan permanently.

Re:eh (3, Interesting)

geoskd (321194) | about 6 months ago | (#45219163)

I could get behind a hybrid plan. Base cost for a base level of bandwidth. Base should cover the "long tail" of the usage curve, i.e. the least-consuming ~90% of users. Then charge per unit over that threshold. If this over comes to pass it should be paired with a requirement that providers treat all packets the same, regardless of source and destination.

Actually, the solution is even simpler. Cut all regulation altogether, and implement a national broadband rollout whose prices are set automatically as a function of cost. Any company that complains they cant compete against government should be laughed out, and the government option guarantees a backstop against the deliberate price gouging that exists now.

I'm okay with this (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218659)

I'm actually completely okay with this. No more "guess the hidden bandwidth cap" games, just a simple decision about whether I really want to spend money for extra bandwidth usage to D/L something this month or not.

(Yeah, yeah, "they're going to gouge us, waah". Guess what, they were gouging you already.)

Re:I'm okay with this (2, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | about 6 months ago | (#45218995)

(Yeah, yeah, "they're going to gouge us, waah". Guess what, they were gouging you already.)

Which is a stupid excuse for allowing them to gouge us more.

I actually don't see much wrong with this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218661)

I know that techies will scream at me for this, but usage-based billing isn't too bad. This way, granny pays very little, and the power users pay what they should. I consider this to be a completely separate and isolated issue from net neutrality, and it's frustrating when people blur the two.

Net neutrality means treating all packets as equal and not implementing stupid filters and prioritization. Network access should be a dumb utility like electricity and water, which are billed per usage, which makes sense.

Re:I actually don't see much wrong with this. (5, Insightful)

avelyn (861334) | about 6 months ago | (#45218689)

I'd be ok with it too if it meant that Granny paid very little, but I think that we'll see Granny paying the same amount she currently is while everyone else gets to pay out the ass without being able to turn to alternate ISPs. It's not like this is really going to lower anyone's monthly fees, even Granny's; it's just an excuse to charge more. I would love to be proven wrong, but that's just not the business model these creeps run.

Re:I actually don't see much wrong with this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218779)

Usage based, just like Cell Phones, pick your usage for the entire length of your contract. Granny gets a cheap plan, then the Grandkids come over, blow her cap, and she pays as much as the unlimited plan would have cost in one month. Nothing in TFA indicates a monthly meter like with utilities.

Re: I actually don't see much wrong with this. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218857)

Until you realize there is no cheap plan but plenty of more expensive ones.

Re:I actually don't see much wrong with this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218885)

That's the plan I want.
Let me pat $x for the equipent at both ends of the line and line maintenance. $x is a sub $10 per month fee.
Let me pay $y per GB transferred. $y is regulated to be no more than 2x actual costs to the telco.

The incentive for the telco is to get me the absolutely fastest line so I can give them the most actual dollar value in profit by using more data at 2x their cost.

Everybody wins. Telcos can't lose money. I only pay for what I use.

Re:I actually don't see much wrong with this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45219013)

$y is regulated to be no more than 2x actual costs to the telco.

The problem with this plan is that you won't be dealing directly with the owner of the cables.
Instead they will sell the bandwidth to "company A" at 2*actual cost. "Company A" will then sell the bandwidth to "Company B" at 2*their actual cost. Guess what "Company B" will do? That's right, they'll sell the bandwidth to "Company C"... And I bet you can guess the price too...

Everybody wins. Telcos can't lose money. I only pay for what I use.

Everybody, except you. If you're lucky, you might deal with "Company Z" and you'll "only" have to pay 2^26 the actual "actual cost".

Re:I actually don't see much wrong with this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218931)

This is how it will go down. I have no doubts.

Re:I actually don't see much wrong with this. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218771)

You haven't actually loaded any pages lately...

Some pages are a meg with all of the attached BS and javascript. And it isn't getting better.

Then block the BS (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 months ago | (#45219009)

Some pages are a meg with all of the attached BS and javascript.

Try blocking the hostnames that serve nothing but bloat, such as the hostnames associated with video ads and social recommendation ("like" buttons). You can do this with the hosts file or browser add-ons. Also try blocking Flash using the "click to play plug-ins" feature in modern versions of Firefox and Chrome.

Re:Then block the BS (1)

FudRucker (866063) | about 6 months ago | (#45219103)

you're not kidding!!! just compare "The Dailymail.co.uk with something lightweight like DrudgeReport.com, the dailymail is a slow bloated piece of crap and i would love to see crash and burn and not get back online ever again,

Re:I actually don't see much wrong with this. (1, Insightful)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 6 months ago | (#45218855)

Bullshit.

The routers and fiber cost no more nor less if they are being used or not used.

Usage based billing is just another attempt to kill Netflix.

Re:I actually don't see much wrong with this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218977)

The routers and fiber cost no more nor less if they are being used or not used.

That is incorrect, because one person maximizing his bandwidth can reduce another person's bandwidth. To prevent this, the ISP has to prevision more routers and fiber, and that's a cost.

Re: I actually don't see much wrong with this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218999)

The accounting term is "sunk cost"".

Re:I actually don't see much wrong with this. (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 6 months ago | (#45218877)

granny pays very little

Google has this covered. Granny gets 5mbps for free.

Re:I actually don't see much wrong with this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218881)

you are a fool if you think using less is going to cost you less than it does now. Whats going to happen is there is a minimum charge for your speed teir and once you hit a gig you get 10% added onto it, another gig 10%

Re:I actually don't see much wrong with this. (2)

tricorn (199664) | about 6 months ago | (#45219067)

The basic problem with usage caps is that usage doesn't actually COST anything. It's the provisioning of bandwidth that costs money to provide, not actually transporting the data. This leads to inefficient usage of available resources. You have to build out the network to handle peak loads, but there's no incentive to shift usage.

Dynamically adjusted bandwidth limits, with a lower "guaranteed" limit, makes much more sense. You'd pay a higher rate for a higher minimum.

You adjust the current actual max rate based on how much capacity you've used recently (on the order of a few minutes). Grandma goes to download her e-mail, she gets high priority maximum physical-limit speed for a minute, then (only if bandwidth is currently in short supply) ramp it down, perhaps all the way to the minimum if it's really busy. Grandma does nothing for a while, her priority goes up, perhaps after 10 minutes it's as if she never did anything.

Streaming a video, your priority would be dropped after a short while. In times of high usage, that would limit your rate. Once you stop, your priority would rise back up, same as Grandma. The algorithm would have to be designed to make sure you couldn't game it by bursting

Using the network at periods of low usage would be encouraged, as it would be much faster, which increases utilization of available bandwidth (which could actually save money for the provider as total capacity required might end up being lower).

One way of doing this is simply having a unit of, perhaps, 1Mbps, with offerings based on multiples of that. Grandma might have a 1Mbps service for her occasional e-mail and web-browsing, plus the occasional software update; the guy who regularly syncs with every open source repository might pay for a 10Mbps service (which, in the middle of the night, gets 200Mbps).

Use a fair allocation scheme - as total bandwidth becomes saturated, drop the max rate down until it's no longer saturated. Anyone using less than that rate (times a multiplier based on your current priority) won't be affected, anyone trying to use more will be capped (until it becomes available again). You should, perhaps, also be able to pay for higher priority (so you might have a 2Mbps minimum, but you get a multiplier of 1.5 when calculating your current cap). Priority is, as indicated earlier, based on your recent usage - high bandwidth (relative to your base level) reduces your priority, low or none raises it.

Re:I actually don't see much wrong with this. (1)

Jody Bruchon (3404363) | about 6 months ago | (#45219157)

This makes too much sense to ever work, but a more sinister problem with implementation is that ISPs currently severely oversell their bandwidth, and by selling you "best effort 50Mbps" they are able to throttle it as low as they need to to handle too many people actually using what they supposedly are paying for. Since it's only "best effort" that you're paying for, there isn't really anything a customer can do.

Re:I actually don't see much wrong with this. (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 6 months ago | (#45219095)

No, this is bad and wrong. Network access is a resource unlike electricity and water. If you don't use water today, the water will be there tomorrow. If you don't use electricity today, they can run power plants at lower capacity and save fuel for later.

Network access is different. Bits transferred today have absolutely no effect on your ability to transfer bits tomorrow. Any bandwidth that goes unused is wasted. Charging for bits discourages people from using bandwith, and encourages waste. Bad and wrong.

Re:I actually don't see much wrong with this. (1)

geoskd (321194) | about 6 months ago | (#45219203)

I know that techies will scream at me for this, but usage-based billing isn't too bad. This way, granny pays very little, and the power users pay what they should.

And on average, everyone ends up paying 2x-3x more than they were before...

Everyone wins!*

*(except those pesky consumers, but to hell with them, what have they ever done for us?)

Re:I actually don't see much wrong with this. (2)

krotkruton (967718) | about 6 months ago | (#45219231)

Yeah, people should only have to pay for what they use, just like with other services from Comcast and the like. It's not like I have to pay for the 200+ channels I never watch just to get the 3 that I do...

Like with Cell Phone plans (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218697)

Pick your usage for the duration of the contract, what BS.

Flies in the face of online distribution (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218721)

This is not going to work. Most software and games are moving to online distribution and many of these titles alone are over 10GB in size.

Re:Flies in the face of online distribution (1)

kesuki (321456) | about 6 months ago | (#45219071)

it is here now.
if you want a cell phone you get a cap even with 'unlimited' access there is a fee for using tethering as they want that phone id. and most people are pissy about uing cell bandwith and always nag for the wifi password on the broadband in houses. not to mention microsoft just recalled a 6 gb windows 8.1 upgrade from windows 8. i recently got a new computer and i downloaded 600 mb of pre or full install software to make the computer usable plus i redownloaded my meager 4 steam games for a total of well over 20 gigabytes. plus i watched a few movies streaming... and then there are the blizzard games which spent about 90 minutes torrenting all the software behind it's games. the isps get it people can legally use all the highspeed internet and they are uncomfortable about letting people use equipment how they want to.

Massive Profits, Miserable Service - (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218727)

Some things never change.

It's past time for municipalities throughout the country - and whole states, even - to reclaim the easements that telecommunications companies rely on unless they can start meeting some very strict (and escalating) service quality targets. Practically nobody else in the West pays as much as we do for service as poor as ours when it comes to phone, television, and Internet access. Threatening to replace them with municipal and state-run companies should put their feet to the fire. We already know that they don't compete, and in fact collude.

The greed of these companies is boundless and they control access to infrastructure which our present and future prosperity relies on. No more games. They will continue to tighten the screws until they are forced to stop.

Re:Massive Profits, Miserable Service - (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 months ago | (#45218953)

"It's past time for municipalities throughout the country - and whole states, even - to reclaim the easements that telecommunications companies rely on unless they can start meeting some very strict (and escalating) service quality targets."

I wouldn't even say "unless". Do it anyway.

We used to have unlimited telephone service -- locally, anyway, but that was before fiber backbones -- for a fixed low fee. And the company behind that -- Ma Bell -- made money hand over fist.

We now have unlimited phone data plans for prices that are getting into the reasonable range.

And now the cable companies want to start charging more? They're committing suicide if they do.

Re:Massive Profits, Miserable Service - (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45219057)

LOLZZZ!!!!
 
You're acting like the government isn't already in the act. They're already the ones who regulate these companies. If the government was interested in holding anyone's feet to the fire in this case they could do it without so much as a wink from the public. You're living in a fantasy land where the government is the victims of corporations. They're well funded partners.
 
Speeches such as these are little more than sales pitches to an already invested group of government thugs.
 
Oh, and don't be fooled into thinking that government regulatory sorts are hoodwinked by lies and technobabble. Even if they were the bottom-line is still the profits that they rake in. How much you or anyone else pays for a service means nothing to them as long as their kickbacks keep rolling in.

You'll notice what he said (5, Insightful)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 6 months ago | (#45218735)

nothing about if it was the right thing to do, just: "If you don't do it soon people will won't let you do it because they'll expect unlimited Internet". No discussion of the technical need. It's pretty clear there is none, and this is just a money grab.

Re:You'll notice what he said (1)

Bravoc (771258) | about 6 months ago | (#45219243)

Yea, we're getting used to a lot of thinks here in Amerika. Not much of which is "right".

He's an idiot (5, Insightful)

MetricT (128876) | about 6 months ago | (#45218747)

Bandwidth is a time sensitive commodity. It's going to be sending either a 0 or a 1 100% of the time. Instead of caps, they should think about allowing customers to volunteer to be throttled for a reduced fee.

It's similar to an airplane ticket, in that it's worth full price, right up until the point the gate is about to close, at which point they will take any price over the marginal cost of fuel. I know many people that would be happy to let "full price" guy go first if it saved them a few bucks.

Re:He's an idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218799)

Bandwidth is a time sensitive commodity. It's going to be sending either a 0 or a 1 100% of the time.

Uhhhhh.... what? Networks send things in bursts of packets. It's not like it's an always-transmitting line.

Re:He's an idiot (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 6 months ago | (#45218973)

There is always a 0 or a 1 on the wire, from one end of the interconnect to the other. Whether that 0 or 1 is part of a data packet that is actively being transmitted, or just maintaining clock synch between the endpoints is irrelevant.

Re:He's an idiot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218907)

The internet is full of cats [filldisk.com] . Do you really need that?

Re:He's an idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218933)

they should think about allowing customers to volunteer to be throttled for a reduced fee.
 
Comcast already does that. That's what their tiers of internet service are about. You pay less, you go slower. Amazing concept, eh?

Typical media (3, Insightful)

transporter_ii (986545) | about 6 months ago | (#45218757)

It's kind of like the MP3, which was one of the first formats that the *consumer* picked out, and media companies hated. I can kind of see both sides of the metering argument, but it would be nice if the market had a say in it, rather than it being just a bunch of bastards trying to pay off congress to ram it down our throats.

Artificial Scarcity of Freedom. (5, Insightful)

deathcloset (626704) | about 6 months ago | (#45218769)

To me "Bandwidth caps" means "Internet limits". To me "Internet" means "freedom of information": Anyone who can hold sand in their hand can see what I'm inferring.

Artificial scarcity may be my least favorite of all the artificial things.

Re:Artificial Scarcity of Freedom. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45219033)

Ask a veteran whether freedom is free.

And guess who pays for "free" parking?

Re:Artificial Scarcity of Freedom. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45219055)

The limit is not really artificial, at least not completely.

There is a fixed amount of bandwidth available to a provider at any given time. If everyone customer used all of their available bandwidth at the same time, then network performance would be significantly degraded to the point of unusability.

Aside from simply having more bandwidth, there are two methods to deal with this: either customers bandwidth is throttled or customers are unable to use all of their bandwidth all of the time (data caps).

The artificial limitation (cap, throttle) is there due to real scarcity (overall network bandwidth).

Re:Artificial Scarcity of Freedom. (1)

FudRucker (866063) | about 6 months ago | (#45219083)

yup, it is what the federal reservce and bankers and capitalists been doing with gold, silver, consumer goods for centuries to raise the profit margin, and they are trying that same old trick with bandwidth

Re:Artificial Scarcity of Freedom. (1)

stderr_dk (902007) | about 6 months ago | (#45219085)

To me "Internet" means "freedom of information"

To me "The Internet" is a series of tubes... Or a dump truck.

Problem in Search of a Solution (5, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 6 months ago | (#45218783)

Even if you take them at their word, bandwidth is not the highest cost component of an ISP's business. It is all in the infrastructure and that is basically fixed whether you use one 1 byte or 10 terabytes.

Over the last few years, wholesale IP transit costs have dropped 50% per year. Nowadays big ISPs are probably paying roughly $6 per terabyte. With pricing so cheap it is obvious that usage is not the driving cost.

Source: http://www.dslprime.com/dslprime/42-d/4830-internet-transit-costs-down-50-in-last-year [dslprime.com]
(I realize that ip transit is priced by data rate not total bytes, but all of these usage-based billing schemes are priced in bytes per month, so I did a rough conversion of the units in the source to the units comcast would use for pricing.)

does not work the other way around (5, Insightful)

themushroom (197365) | about 6 months ago | (#45218795)

which he says is good for consumers who are 'accustomed to paying for what they use'

Such as paying $72 per month for cable despite never turning on the TV? No, sorry, my issue with this statement is that while they mean those who use more will pay more, they do not mean that those who use less will pay less.

Re:does not work the other way around (5, Insightful)

Lije Baley (88936) | about 6 months ago | (#45218899)

Exactly. Tell them they can have usage-based billing for internet when we get all our programming ala carte. That'll shut them up.

Re:does not work the other way around (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218969)

And look how many people still buy cable... even those that disagree with the pricing model. Such a scheme from ISPs is inevitable because nobody was there to stop the schemes in other industries.

Comcast (1)

ka9dgx (72702) | about 6 months ago | (#45218803)

I would welcome limiting Comcast's ability to upload content to the internet. This would allow all the other content providers to blossom. 8)

Sure! Let's go $1/10GB (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 6 months ago | (#45218867)

AT&T currently caps us at 150 GB a month, so that'd lower our ISP bill to $15/month! I'm game.

And the people who watch Netflix at full HD for 5-6 hours a day will be paying ten times as much, but hey, screw them.

Hah. Corporations looking out for us. (2)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 6 months ago | (#45218869)

So whenever you hear / read a press release from a corporation/industry body saying they're doing something for the best interest of the customer, just replace "customer" with "ourselves". The fact that our regulatory bodies have allowed ISP's to purchase media companies shows how broken / toothless they are. The fact that Michael Powell went from the FCC to lobbying for the very god damn companies his former office was supposed to regulate is baffling.

Re:Hah. Corporations looking out for us. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45219105)

Of course.
Their customer are their stockholders. No one else matters.

Re:Hah. Corporations looking out for us. (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 6 months ago | (#45219193)

The fact that Michael Powell went from the FCC to lobbying for the very god damn companies his former office was supposed to regulate is baffling.

Baffling? No. Utterly corrupt? Yes.

To add insult to injury, you'd never have even heard of this guy if his father wasn't Colin Powell.

I'm withholding my comment... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218901)

...until I hear what Bennett Haselton thinks about all this.

Usage based billing is fine (2)

MpVpRb (1423381) | about 6 months ago | (#45218921)

..as long as it's purely based on quantity used and cost to provide

It sucks when it's used as a weapon to kill competition (Netflix) or when it's based on the type of content

Might happen... (2)

duke_cheetah2003 (862933) | about 6 months ago | (#45218949)

They might put in metered usage. I was a bit surprised really when it wasn't part of the deal at the outset of broadband services.

But then again, they might not. It's only going to take one of them to give the rest the finger and say "Unlimited internet!" and the rest will follow.

With so much moving to internet infrastructure, I think the entire idea of metered bandwidth for home users is a little absurd. I think it would cast a very dark cloud over the internet for Americans as we all go to metered and start watching our bits. Could spell doom for video streaming services.

It would bring back a huge push for webpages to return to minimalist layouts to conserve bits and attract the new metered customers wanting to consume content with minimal impact on their meter.

Anyone remember the days before we had unlimited long distance calling? The big price wars (yea right, more like lots of fanfare about ripping you off.) over per minute charges between big telcos. Anyone remember that in any kind of fondness? I didn't think so. Metering internet is not going to be a very good thing if it gains steam.

The monsters never give up, do they? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45218963)

What was that line you Yanks sing about "owing your soul to the company store" or something like that? Funny how the rest of the civilised world has ZERO issue with the provision of broadband without data caps. And yet, you Yanks suffer the dribble from endless shills 'proving' that unlimited Internet services can never be financially viable.

Here's a clue, Americans. Look at other lands. If THEY can do something, so can you. The rest of us have no need to mass medicate our children, no need to mass mutilate the genitals of our male children, no need to DENY appropriate medical treatment on the basis of illness rather than wealth, and no need to allow depravities to control effective telecom monopolies so they can provide the crappiest possible service at the highest possible cost.

Wasn't always thus. We Brits used to look upon your 'free' local telephone calls with envy, as we got stung for every minute used regardless of destination. We'd watch depictions of YOUR kids sitting on the phone for hours in the evening, thinking of how no-one could ever afford to do that in the UK. How low you Americans have sunk.

You allow the worst kind of evil filth to place your senior politicians in their pockets. You are cretinous enough to CLAIM you have 'democracy', while formally recognising lobbyists as a legitimate class of political operatives. Only a Yank could be so spineless as to allow a 'lobbyist' to proudly bribe your President IN THE OPEN. Other nations have these filth too, that is true, but they have to operate in the shadows. Only a Yank could claim a 'lobbyist' is an acceptable part of a true democracy.

Your media companies (including the owners of Slashdot) do NOT want the competition a free Internet offers. Unlike in other nations, the USA has a tradition of allowing criminal business cartels to create the laws under which you live. Criminality exists all over the planet, and so does bribery. Only America perverts the definition of capitalism, and formalises the process.

The best model for the Internet is the one that has grown it to the unthinkable success it has today. And I mean UNTHINKABLE. Go look at ALL the commentary when us enthusiasts first jumped into the new web-based version of the Internet. EVERYONE said "this is a nerd paradise that is going nowhere". Microsoft was the LOUDEST critic, sinking its fortune into CDROM instead (and I know that doesn't seem to make sense- but it is absolutely true). Obviously, a few years later, MS did a 180, but only when they could no longer deny how wrong they had been.

The Internet is unique because it is people driven. The usual filth played no part in its success at all. Now, this same filth sees the Internet like the Spanish saw the New World- as an undefended land of riches to be plundered. In America, Data Caps = 'rape', 'pillage', 'enslavement' and 'genocide'. But filth like Powell don't care, any more than the Spanish did, so long as his side gets some short term gain. To continue the analogy, it is notable that South America went historically to hell, compared to North America.

No caps mean, if you give people CHOICE for the first time in most American States, that people will pay to use the company whose policies match their usage. No caps mean very cheap monthly services will exist with caps (and NO, that is NOT a contradiction), and somewhat more expensive services will exist where 'unlimited' means customers own level of usage, along with sane traffic management policies, will define the quality of the service. New companies will arise if existing companies become lax offering what customers want/need/expect/can be given with state-of-the-art network tech.

More importantly, no caps mean that the tremendous level of innovation on the Internet (creating new services with new revenue streams) will continue unabated. This innovation is LOATHED by the filth by the filth that currently bribes your politicians, because it represents COMPETITION.

Re:The monsters never give up, do they? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45219115)

Jeez Alan, have a cow,will you?

For those not using ABP (4, Insightful)

bobstreo (1320787) | about 6 months ago | (#45218993)

Will there be refunds of cash or bandwidth of for things like:

1) Cached content in the ISP

2) Banner Ads/Pop ups

3) Promoted content by media companies (trailers/promoted music videos/anything on myspace or facebook)

4) Content served by the Internet provider like cable tv on tablets?

How about TV and/or Radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45219017)

So what now I can only watch 10 hours of TV a week, or listen to my car radio only during non peak hours. We have to watch commercials, does that time count. Internet pages that show an ad, then start video. Hell even 80 yr olds use netfix now, they dont even need a PC for that.

fine, but you can't have it both ways (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45219019)

The moment this comes to pass, internet based advertising is dead. Nobody in their right mind is going to pay to load advertising videos and images that often are much bigger in bytes than the actual information on the page.

One way or the other. Not both.

Prices will go up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45219037)

Usage based fees will naturally mean keeping the current monthly rate as the baseline and then charging more for going over a ridiculously low cap that most users will exceed.

Nah (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | about 6 months ago | (#45219041)

Compared to how much you save, the difference between capped and uncapped internet is negligible. Considering we now watch through services like Netflix, YouTube, hulu and others, and we get games through steam and new consoles will have 50GB games, the value proposition is just not there. Even for those who don't use these services, they would be saving at most a few dollars, but charged hefty fees for any overages. This does not reflect the benefit of "paying for what you use.". Powell is either confused or a con artist.

Do other high tech countries have data caps? (1)

rcamans (252182) | about 6 months ago | (#45219063)

What are the data caps like in Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia?

Charging for information (2)

Salgat (1098063) | about 6 months ago | (#45219065)

The problem is that this results in charging for information, effectively limiting the amount of information available to people.

Time to make internet access into a utility (1)

runeghost (2509522) | about 6 months ago | (#45219125)

Public utilities aren't perfect, but done decently they're much better than the alternatives. The telcos (and cable companies) have had their chance, and they've blown it, big time. So screw'em. Comcast, Verizon, Time-Warner, AT&T, and their smaller siblings are done. They can choose whether they sell off their broadband services, or to be bound by strong public-interest regulation on multiple levels, but that's it. Internet access proviers in the U.S. are greedy incompetents - they shouldn't be in control anymore.

WRONG. what we ARE used to paying for is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45219131)

*unlimited*, full and unsurveiled access to the internet.

Free Market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45219159)

Just remember kids, there is nothing companies hate more than a free market. Too much competition! We need regulation to keep those bastard immigrants from under-cutting our prices!

Side Deals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45219199)

Is this why windows has been leaving internet explorer hanging with a bing page open that loads new ads through ajax and uses 500Mb overnight?

What Else Can You Expect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45219201)

from a Republican. I'm so sick of big business always trying to find ways to bilk people. Look at South Korea, France, all these places -- heaps of bandwidth for almost nothing. We are so far behind the rest of the first world.

No shit Sherlock .. (1)

codeusirae (3036835) | about 6 months ago | (#45219215)

'Michael Kevin Powell (born March 23, 1963) is .. current president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA [wikipedia.org] ).`

need to separate network and content (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45219239)

Content providers and network providers should be kept separate. If you are one you cannot have any interest in the other.
Make that a rider on the same bill and watch it disappear.

Free Market (3, Insightful)

emaname (1014225) | about 6 months ago | (#45219245)

This must more of that "free market" behavior we keep hearing about.

Notice how lobbyists always seem to have a "better idea" about how the "free market" should work.

This is just more corporate greed. They see what appears to be lots of free activity and just can't stand it. They have to find a way to monetize it.

This irritates me as much as the phrase "In order to serve you better..."

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