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Pay-to Play and the Tiered Internet

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the only-a-matter-of-time dept.

The Internet 664

Crash24 writes "According to an article at The Nation, "industry planners are mulling new subscription plans that would further limit the online experience, establishing "platinum," "gold" and "silver" levels of Internet access that would set limits on the number of downloads, media streams or even e-mail messages that could be sent or received." " Tiered internet service may be inevitable folks. Brace yourself.

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Thankfully... (5, Insightful)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629167)

There are companies fighting this, trying to get policies put forth requiring network neutrality. According to the article, both Google and Amazon are against it, along with other special interest groups. I'm willing to bet that Microsoft would oppose it as well, since they're getting more and more into internet applications. Same goes for Apple.

Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T may be powerful, but they're going to have a hell of a fight if they're going up against Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Amazon.

Titan wars... (0)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629234)

When this hits a cresendo, I'll feel better knowing that this isn't simply a David vs Goliath, Internet users vs Telcos, but rather: David and an army of pit-bull technology lawyers vs Goliath.

Fight (4, Insightful)

tacokill (531275) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629252)

Well, except for the fact that MSFT, Google, Apple, and Amazon need the telcos more than the telcos need them. By a wide margin -- and especially true for Google and Amazon (and eBay).

If this is successful, it will be the single largest "limiting" factor in the online world. What if this was the case 10 years ago? We wouldn't have the plethora of online stores we currently have, that's for sure. Or blogs. Or online games. Or P2P for that matter. Or VOIP. NONE of these "cool" technologies would have ever gotten out of the starting gate.

I could go on an on about how bad of an idea it is but I fear I am just wasting my breath. Until internet access is treated as a utility, this nonsense will continue to go on unchecked.

Re:Fight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14629423)

Don't be too sure about that. If one telco is offering access to google and another one isn't, that could give them an edge over the competition. I'm about to dump comcast as it is. I can't stand their monopolistic asses.

Re:Thankfully... (1)

NoTalentAssClown (623508) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629259)

I think the problem with this line of thinking is that the baby bells and the telecoms are in the pocket of congress and have been for many years. The lobbyists have been able to push back the telecom act with the FCC and spin so many things in their favor recently. My concern is that some of the new players (maybe not Microsoft) don't have the kind of clout to throw around where these decisions may finally end up. Don't get me wrong, the prospect of this scares the crap out of me. I just don't know if we have enough people to make our case down on Capital Hill. I think it you look at the threats people talk about to the internet: TLDs, DOS attacks, running out of IP address space, etc. this is the biggest threat we have seen to the internet as a whole.

Re:Thankfully... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14629269)

Yeah...but the problem with giants fighting is that they don't usually see the ants (us) they squash in the midst of their battle.

Not fighting (1) (142825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629322)

They already realized the fighting the big guys won't work. So, they are now picking on the little guy.

But in reality some of the cable providers (or in the recent past) would terminate service for
using too much traffic.

Price Fixing? (5, Insightful)

George Michael (467827) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629368)

But how can it even be legal for Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T to agree to discontinue free service, or reduce output [] (where "output" is service to the customer, in this case)? Seriously, IANAL, how can this be legal?

The idea of competition is that, when Verizon does something stupid that punishes customers, I can go somewhere else. It's a real problem if all the gatekeepers can legally get together and decide to give us all the shaft. And not even to try to hide their cooperation against consumers?! Messed up.

Re:Thankfully... (2, Insightful)

indy_Muad'Dib (869913) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629425)

"you sir, the one with the MS based operating system, you can get in line ahead of these linux users."

"you sir, the one trying to search on google, you can get ahead of these users trying to search on altavista and"

"you sir, the one shopping on amazon, you can get in line ahead of these users browsing on barnes and noble and books-a-million."

im going to guess you get my point.

Re:Thankfully... (1)

gebbeth (720597) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629433)

Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T may be powerful, but they're going to have a hell of a fight if they're going up against Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Amazon.

And with Apple, perhaps comes Disney?

The End of the Internet, for USians (2, Interesting)

imoou (949576) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629170)

Maybe it's time to create the Othernet where the rest of the world is networked.

I'm quite surprised that out of so many competitions, like GPS, satellite, Space program etc., which cost huge amount of money, no country is yet to create another internet.

On the other hand, if all service providers band together, we might finally see the feasibility of micropayment, so that a penny is charged to your broadband bill every time you access Slashdot.

Re:The End of the Internet, for USians (2, Funny)

LilWolf (847434) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629227)

On the other hand, if all service providers band together, we might finally see the feasibility of micropayment, so that a penny is charged to your broadband bill every time you access Slashdot.

Are you mad? I'd go broke in a day!

Re:The End of the Internet, for USians (1)

QBasicer (781745) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629251)

I don't think there's a salary that can get me to slashdot for $.01 per visit.

Re:The End of the Internet, for USians (1)

imoou (949576) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629360)

I should have used nano-penny or something.

What's I'm trying to say is, when the amount is irrelevant (that is to say even $0.0000001 is worth something), 2000 visits for $0.01 on Slashdot might start to look acceptable, or maybe 10,000 visits for $0.01?

equitable policy would be okay (5, Insightful)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629171)

Is this possible proposed policy to establish equity? If so, I'm okay with that. I've often wondered that for the same $30/month as my neighbor I can download five of the latest linux distributions, sample 20 or 30 trial software packages (large).

What would bother me, and bother me greatly, would be if they established pricing baselines the cheapest of which match what people pay today. In other words, a money-grab.

People have long paid more money to make more long distance calls, that only makes sense. Why not for heavier internet usage? It makes sense that heavier users pay higher fees.

There also could be additional benefits (assuming this is a fair and balanced idea) -- that being a more moderated approach to internet usage. I don't doubt a significant slice of internet bandwidth is absorbed by indiscriminate downloading and uploading, and streaming. I know I don't think twice about downloading Photoshop Elements to trial for a couple days (~300MB) just because I can. I'm also just as likely to stream my music to whereever I am in the country from my server at my home, again, just because I can. How many others approach the internet in the same way? I'm guessing "many".

If users used the internet as a finite resource (which it is, by the way) the usability of the internet would improve almost immediately and expansion costs and needs would attenuate (my opinion). All of this would help keep costs and increased charges down (again, assuming businesses are here to charge us a fair price).

But, based on everything else I see in business, this may not pass the smell test. Sigh

Re:equitable policy would be okay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14629239)

Heavier users currently do not pay costs directly proportional to their usage, but they do indirectly.

If you're downloading your distros over dialup at $9.95/month, you're not going to get nearly as many distros as the guy with 5mbit cable for $44.95/month.

This system only falls apart when you consider the heavy users that don't pay a lot for high speed access, like those that pay $14.95 for limited DSL.

Re:equitable policy would be okay (3, Interesting)

ect5150 (700619) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629323)

People have long paid more money to make more long distance calls, that only makes sense. Why not for heavier internet usage? It makes sense that heavier users pay higher fees.

This only makes sense if you do not believe in competition between companies. Its competition now that allows many of us to make long distance phone calls for one flat low rate. Yes, this argument makes sense from a cost stand point to the company. But by allowing competition in these market places, we the comsumers reap more benefits.

Don't forget that!

There is nothing wrong with usage as it is now. If anything, it isn't in the favor of the consumer in the US given the fact that other users in non-US countries have access to better connections at a far lower price.

Re:equitable policy would be okay (1)

kdekorte (8768) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629325)

Yes, but you neighbor may be downloading financial data, music, movies or porn that might use more bandwidth than you.. He just isn't advertising that he is doing all that. People do a lot of things at home that you would never expect them to do otherwise. If they ever do a tier service, I would expect the flat rate service would be at least what I am getting over broadband today. In fact Comcast already has two tiers and Qwest has 3 or 4 depending on where you are and how much you want to spend. But so far the tiers are at the bandwidth level and not the # of packets level.

Re:equitable policy would be okay (4, Interesting)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629356)

I'd be willing to pay more monthly for access to a real time network with guarantees about latency. I would not like to see my current service degrade so that this happens. This would require service providers set up networks to end corporations providing real time services such that latency could be managed end to end. The technology for this exists, but it's screwed up by carriers being hard to deal with.

But the bottom line is this: ATT/Verizon/etc. do not get to establish these contracts. Their job is to run the network. I want a group of 3rd party ISPs to each independently build their own real time networks and sell the services to customers who can chose amongst ISPs to get the best service. The ISPs will then give the carriers instructions about how the network is to be set up, and pay them for their troubles. The INTERFACE to customers, and to the network, must be public, non-proprietary and transparent, like IPv4 is. Customers must be able to monitor and ensure their contract is being upheld. No proprietary set top boxes or any premises equipment, period.

The guy who owns the wire must stop being the guy who provides the service. That model doesn't work. Further we need to see more REAL competition as much as we can. We can't ever see competition over wires, two or three wires does not a competitive market make. So reduce their role by force, and abstract it.

Re:equitable policy would be okay (4, Insightful)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629402)

If users used the internet as a finite resource (which it is, by the way) Um, no?

It's a renewable resource. True, bandwidth is limited (total divided by users), but each completed packet restores that same amount of bandwidth to the network.

Re:equitable policy would be okay (4, Interesting)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629405)

But no one pays extra to make hour-long local calls, if they like, and this procedure has worked very well for quite some time too. Everything, so to speak, is a "finite resource", but with the amount of unused bandwidth floating around there, and the low levels ISP's cap it at (Japan and many European cities see 20-100 Mbps as a matter of course), there's no excuse for this. I expect to pay for bandwidth at a flat rate, and I expect to use it. If all I wanted to do was occasionally look at webpages and check my email, I'd use the $8/month dialup ISP here. I pay $50 a month for broadband because -I expect to use it-.

We already have equitable tiered service (4, Informative)

CustomDesigned (250089) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629421)

On Cox cable, my "home" account has silver, gold, and platinum levels which vary how high the bandwidth cap on the cable modem is set. Furthermore, there are usage limits (total upload bytes and total download bytes per month), which vary with service tier. And for only $25/mo more (for "business" account), you can get a static IP plus no usage limits and port 25 to the world is no longer blocked.

The problem with the proposed schemes is that they want to meter *applications*, not bandwidth and usage. This is just wrong for any application. But it especially burns for email given the spam problem. I just installed an authentication filter for a client with a business class Cox cable account. He was getting 65000+ emails per day per domain for 20 domains, eating 3MB download bandwidth (they were just getting appended to a rotating log file since he couldn't even begin to try to find the legit mail in all the crap). All but 20 emails per day per domain are forgeries (and now get rejected in SMTP envelope thanks to the filter). Imagine the ISP charging per email SYN packet. Talk about unjust. Most of the 20 are still spam, but at least those spammers will say who they are (and so are closer to a "cold call").

That's how AOL got their start... (1)

mwjlewis (602559) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629177)

The charged by the hour. Is this model going to come back?

Fine with me (1)

egg troll (515396) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629178)

They own the pipes. Common sense dictates those companies should be allowed to do with them as they wish. I don't understand what the big deal is.

Re:Fine with me (4, Insightful)

LordSkippy (140884) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629387)

I'm probably going to get it for responding to "egg troll", but anyway...

Yeah, they own the pipes, but they are already charging people for the data being sent across it. If you make a long distance phone call, lets say, to your grandmother, would it be fair for the phone company to charge both you and grandma for the call? What about if they charge you for placing the call, and then charged grandma extra if she wants the sound of her voice at normal volume, instead of restricted to 10% volume?

Content providers pay a huge amount in connectivity already (I've worked for some, and have seen the bills) and my internet access at home isn't what I'd call cheap either (~$50/month). The backbone providers get their money from the connection providers that the content providers and users, like you and I, buy bandwidth from. So, they are already being paid for the traffic going across their pipes by the parties involved in the transfer.

I don't know about you, but I personally would prefer not to be double billed.

Gay gay gay (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14629185)

That's GAY!

And all I have to say is.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14629188)

Fuck the industry planners.

maybe (1)

tehwebguy (860335) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629194)

it will only be inevitable if google does not enter the market.

Re:maybe (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629419)

Look for Google to start shopping for a Telco if this becomes a reality. Seriously, it'd be a brilliant business move: when all the other companies start placing excessive limits on broadband and subscribers get a 50-page TOS to explain everything they can and can't do, Google would be the most likely company to jump into the market and directly compete with that by offering a simple, "old-fashioned" unlimited connection.

I'm having a hard time how seeing how they can justify billing people for used bandwidth when security is such a big issue right now. There are probably millions of zombie PCs...imagine the outrage as millions of Americans get their first $1,000 internet bill when all they remember doing was writing the grandkids a few e-mails and looking at some pictures.

I predict this business model will fall flat on its face.

Accepted by the Masses? (4, Interesting)

christian.elliott (892060) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629198)

I can see this being attempted, no doubt. However I simply cannot see it being accepted by the public. You can't take away something that was free from the public without causing a revolution. I don't think these people have as firm a grasp on the concept of the internet that they think.

It bothers me that the government is having such a field day with all these search engines, blasting them about censoring for China. Yet that same government wants to completely try to contain the internet for the capital gain and exploitation of certain telecom companies?

The internet is the biggest creation of our time, I really hope people won't lie down and let this happen. Use your voice people, do something, I know I will.

Re:Accepted by the Masses? (0, Troll)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629241)

The same government that "blasts" them for censorship, is encouraging US companies to send jobs and money to China. It's a pretty mixed message.

Re:Accepted by the Masses? (-1, Flamebait)

stupidfoo (836212) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629300)

Do you believe the words you say? Or are you just so blindly anti-Bush that anything that goes along with your warped worldview makes sense, as long as it reflects negatively on the current administration?

Re:Accepted by the Masses? (1)

tjansen (2845) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629374)

This may come to you as a shock, but... all telecommunication companies already use the internet for the capital gain. Otherwise they wouldn't be in this business. After all their are not charities.

But as you wrote, the market is free. If a major ISP tries any of these things described in the article, there will be enough room for another ISP that does not. That's why I don't see the problem. The only danger is government regulation, because that could prevent new ISPs from entering the market, and not the lack of regulation.

Town Square (1)

Upsilon Andromedea (835075) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629199)

The Internet can't be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment, and for a Google or Yahoo! or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!"

Fair enough.

And just as cable companies provide for local broadcasting under town square legislation--also under attack--so must Internet companies respect the venue for the exercise of free speech that the Internet has irreversibly become.

Did any of these CEO's pay attention in history class during the part about freedom of speech in the central square of corporate owned towns, do they just not care about a basic tenant of their own society, or are they laboring under some illusion that the system is sure to resolve any conflicts?

Re:Town Square (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14629277)

I know that this could seriously hurt gentoo users. emerge "gnome-light" would cost quite a bit if the interenet was on a pay for play basis. Same with any other distrobution that downloads appropriate data for a package... and what about emerge sync! This is definitely bad for my way of life. I hope the big dogs in the PC market do in fact oppose this, because it spells bad juju for many.

If given the freedom to do this... (1)

gravyface (592485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629209)

... wouldn't that entice the next generation of ISP competitors to offer a 1-tiered system? I'm thinking of Vonage of here and what its done for the LD market. If there's consumer harm there's an opportunity...

Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629211)

Guess I'm over my slashdot article limit...

Seriously, we in Europe have finally gotten rid of the Pay Per Minute system with cable/adsl. You that have had it for so long, want to move to Pay Per View? You're not evolving, you're degenerating...

Re:Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (1)

gunpowda (825571) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629401)

Yes, I'd agree there. Surely consumers would just migrate to services that don't impose arbitrary limits, especially given the level of downloading freedom they enjoy now? Now that (theoretically) unmetered internet access is so common, I don't see a positive reaction to moving to a less favourable pricing system.

How things used to be. (4, Informative)

XorNand (517466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629212)

Way back in the day (think Compuserve), this is how things used to be. However, eventually competition forced providers to offer flat-rate service because that's what the market demanded. How is this any different? Any provider that abandons flat-rate pricing risks losing customers in droves.

Re:How things used to be. (1)

sTalking_Goat (670565) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629346)

Any provider that abandons flat-rate pricing risks losing customers in drovesP. Unless they all do it, then we're screwed. There are a lot of countires that still have pay-per minute systems not becuas ethey infustructure can't support flat-rate, but becuase all the telcom companies have agreed not to offer that option.

Re:How things used to be. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14629372)

Well, there are also people who can spell, and I tend to listen to them more, but that's just me.

Re:How things used to be. (1)

adamruck (638131) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629385)

Thats true, however consider how big some of these companies are, and then consider if 2/3/4 of these big companies decided to ALL abandon flat-rate pricing at the same time. They wouldn't be losing cutomers becuase they would have nowhere to go. Given how are government/lobbiest system works, I bet they could even get away with it.

Re:How things used to be. (2, Insightful)

j-cloth (862412) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629388)

Any provider that abandons flat-rate pricing risks losing customers in droves.
Maybe I live in an area with too many ISP options, but I have to agree with you. The only way something like this could happen is if either every ISP made this change simultaneously, or if the tiered stuff offered something so wonderfully attractive that I would have to take it (and I could not even begin to imagine what that would be).

I know I have already sent messages to my (small) telco saying that if they attempted something like this they would lose me (landline and DSL) before the next billing period.

Re:How things used to be. (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629391)

Well the big guys own the last mile monopolies and have put the little ISP's out of business. Now since the big guys are left they can have their cake and eat it too and your screwed. This and deregulation hurt competition.

The world will move on and laugh at us.

If they win, they lose. (1)

afeinberg (9848) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629213)

By demonstrating they are willing to control the delivery of content, they will lose their common carrier status and be subject to penalties for what they carry depending on violations of local laws.

This is a non-starter.

Brace yourself... (5, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629215)

...and prepare yourself for finding ways to avoid the major providers. A few months back, I was messing around with finding ways to provide a wireless network within my community mostly for file sharing but also for finding ways to minimize our reliance on the pipes coming in (Comcast, SBC and 3 WiFi high speed providers) so we won't have to worry about it in the future.

Then it occurred to me that these minornets could very well be linked to one another -- microwave or other wireless connections. Sure, the latency goes up, but the reliance on the communications cartels (there is definitely a collusive conspiracy theory there!) is reduced greatly. You tie into the main Internet at a few points, set up your routing to get everyone into the main Internet in the fastest fashion, and you're set. It might be complicated initially but the software and hardware is out there to make it happen, IF NEEDED.

I really think that the whole idea of relying on the big boys' land lines might not be necessary. I was a endpoint on Fidonet, and got along just fine as technology progressed -- some people used X.25, some used landlines, some used ISDN lines, but we all got along. It was slow, but it worked, and it became better over time.

We have to thank the big providers for really being confused for so long as to how they can take advantage of the net. Now we have many ways to stay connected -- I connect to the web via my PDA (and my laptop) through my Samsung t809 with a Bluetooth connection. I'm using it right now, and I get 150kbps downloads -- more than enough. If I didn't have T-Mobile's great package, I know I have about 5 other wireless providers I could buy bandwidth from.

Give it time. Those who try to control you will not realize that there are those who know they can offer less control at a better price. Don't like the monopoly tiered service in your community? Go get a T1, and run a WiFi provider in your area. 3 of my neighbors pay me US$10 a month to get on my megapipe already. I could probably get another 20 of them if I really went out to try.

Tiered service MIGHT be what the average household wants, though. If the monopolies try it and no one comes in to offer a cheaper/less controlled service, the free market will have answered that question. I'd like to hear what the more authoritarian slashdotters here have to say about how the free market could fail the individual user in this case.

Just remember one thing -- if MegaCorp X is a monopoly provider of high speed bandwidth in your town, it isn't MegaCorp X's fault. Go blame the government who gave them the monopoly. If MegaCorp Y created their connections over previous monopoly status, don't ask MegaCorp Y to give you back what you gave them originally -- the right to be a monopoly. This is why I am against government licensing and regulations -- it creates these monopolies which come to affect us decades later.

It isn't the monopolies' fault that you let your local government give up your rights in exchange for bad service. In the old days, maybe it was OK -- it was either bad service or no service. Yet we see the slippery slope and how it affects us in the future, and we need to carefully think about the programs we're asking for today that might become bad monopoly services in the future.

Someone else is always to blame.... (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629428)

Just remember one thing -- if MegaCorp X is a monopoly provider of high speed bandwidth in your town, it isn't MegaCorp X's fault. Go blame the government who gave them the monopoly. If MegaCorp Y created their connections over previous monopoly status, don't ask MegaCorp Y to give you back what you gave them originally -- the right to be a monopoly. This is why I am against government licensing and regulations -- it creates these monopolies which come to affect us decades later.

What the hell happened to personal/corporate responsibility?

This may be true in some small areas. It has never been true anywhere I have lived (three cities in three states in the past 5 years). Right now I can purchase high speed internet from 4 different providers (Verizon, Comcast, Knology, BellSouth). And yes, I grew up in a small town in the midwest, single high speed providers are a rare circumstance there as well. Small town of 8,000 I grew up with in the middle of nowhere in WI has three high-speed providers, including wireless.

Not to mention this whole deal is prettymuch a non-issue anyways. Tiered pricing has existed for awhile. Comcast will sell you high-speed, or "premium" highspeed (6mbit or 8mbit). Knology will too (down to 256k). DSL has been offered in multiple "flavors" (for technical reasons, but you can downgrade at will... save a little money if you don't want the bandwidth).

that's ironic: (1) (923280) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629220)

from TFA:
Get The Nation at home (and online!) for 75 cents a week!

umm. no. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14629225)

look at who is publishing this article. once businesses have to start paying for every little thing, the interet as we know it will crumble and a new one will spring up. the pay for content idea has been around for a long time. it has never taken off. neither will this.

how will they regulate free access from munincipalities? once the libraries bill increases, and the local governments, this is gone. but it will never happen in the first place. again, look at the source...

Inevitable, because it's in the news often? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14629230)

Giving it more credibility just because it's in the news means you got 0wned by a public relations department.

Spam (4, Insightful)

WizADSL (839896) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629231)

If spam could be eliminated look at how much bandwidth would be saved. When my ISP (BellSouth) stops all the spam entering their network, then they can talk to me about how they need to prioritize my traffic because of limited capacity.

Slashdotted ... (5, Funny)

BoredAtWorkWhatElse (936972) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629232)

I hope this isn't the platinium quality service ...

Re:Slashdotted ... (1)

cswiger2005 (905744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629337)

That was fast. I clicked on the article before there were 16 posts made, and I figure that at least as many people would *not* RTFA as would. it!

The site seems to be limping but not quite dead yet, Jim. :-)

Re:Slashdotted ... (2, Funny)

BoredAtWorkWhatElse (936972) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629390) it!

That's probably because you have platinum and I only have silver !

More than discussions? (1)

AdamReyher (862525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629246)

Not to mention the fight from other coroporations, but I'll tell you one thing: I know many, many people including myself who would give these telecommunications companies absolute hell for going through with this. And note that these are mainly the "major" corporations. There are other telecommuncations companies offering services. And those who are immensely opposed to the idea would instantly switch over.

I honestly forsee shareholders not going for this idea either because it'll lose customers in the long run.

- Adam

Why it won't happen (1)

cerebud (868302) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629247)

Hasn't the general populace been victim to viruses, spyware, and such that hog up their bandwith? You'll see a huge outcry from people who state that they AREN'T using as much bandwith as the ISPs say they are. Give me a fool proof internet, and maybe we'll see some legitimate pay scales, but otherwise, this is total BS.

I can only see this as a market opportunity... (1)

ignorant_newbie (104175) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629248)

Unless the fcc steps in and screws this up, this is the perfect opportunity for companies like speakeasy to become more competative... simply by offering the same services they offer now. or for communities to pool their resources, get fiber, and set up a wifi mesh network to provide access to everyone.

is this why (1)

dotpavan (829804) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629255)

..US wasnt giving up the "internet-ownership"?

So what's my motivation? (3, Informative)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629257)

Ok, the industry goons look at the current model and say "we could make more money if we installed limits."

But wouldn't everyone have to do the same thing on the same day in order to make this work? If my cablemodem suddenly had these idiotic limits put on it I'd move to another service that very day.

How in the world could the industry get paying customers on a less capable model than what we already have? And how could they eliminate every single other alternative?

Re:So what's my motivation? (2, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629416)

All the small ISP's have gone away due to illegal moves by the big carriers who owned the last mile.

Now there are only a handfull of players left with a financial interest to screw you. Why not?

Allready Happened (1)

stuffduff (681819) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629258)

My ISP has already done this. Fortunately, in the new tiered system I was at a bracket that already met my needs. So there was no 'net' disadvantage for me, and I can now get more that I would have ever been allowed under my existing agreement by electing to go to the higher tier.

Re:Allready Happened (1)

Upsilon Andromedea (835075) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629347)

That is how it works, 90% find themselve in in the bracket that fist my needs. Then, when the market has defined itself wall to wall, prices start creeping up.

Re:Allready Happened (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14629355)

this post is what you call a shill. []

I'm not worried (2, Insightful)

Schlemphfer (556732) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629267)

Broadband service (DSL anyway) has gotten cheaper rather than more expensive. And upcoming wireless technologies will go a long way toward handling the last mile problem.

It seems to me that there are plenty of contenders out there vying for the home broadband market, and with upcoming wireless standards more contenders will emerge. We're not going to be stuck choosing between cable and DSL. Unless the main providers can create an illegal cartel (and evade government prosecution for doing so), I can't see that tiered service will ever harm us.

I'm sure that there are light users out there who would love $8/month tiered service for the 8 megs of transfer they might use in a month. But for the rest of us, I bet we'll always be able to switch providers to an untiered service the moment our current provider offers an unattractive tiered plan. Bandwidth is only going to get cheaper and more of a commodity, even at the local level.

ports Pentagon is sniffing (-1, Offtopic)

Psyborgue (699890) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629272)

check out washington post from Friday January 27, 2006. Page A5 top right corner. Look closely at the background. they use Nessus, Ethereal, Nmap, Cain & Abel, Metasploit, Snort and Kismet. They are Snorting bittorrent, smtp, as well as many others. Dubya is a liar and a traitor to the fourth amendment of the constitution forbidding illegal search and seisure.

Re:ports Pentagon is sniffing (-1, Offtopic)

Psyborgue (699890) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629294)

Right. Forgot to mention the mentioned photo was taken during Dubya's recent tour of the pentagon.

Price Fixing? (3, Insightful)

wasexton (907707) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629276)

My wife is in the Real Estate industry and I am in the Banking industry. Both have, in recent years, been the target of legal action for price fixing, which, as I understand it is fixing the price of a product or service in agreement with another individual or business, which is illegal. The general rule provides that a vendor may not in combination with another vendor agree to set a certain price thereby creating a fixed price within a certain market. The original article appears to be down, of course, but the summary sounds a lot like price fixing to me.

it's like this already (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629281)

if i get a dial up modem, or a cable modem, or a t1, i have different levels of service

if you are saying they are going to offer me less bandwidth for the same $, then we have a problem, but i'm sure a competitor has something to say about that

but if you are saying if i pay them 2x$ what i am already paying for a significantly bigger pipe, i don't exactly see what the problem is.

Re:it's like this already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14629394)

The difference you are paying a single price for bandwidth to YOUR house. YOU choose what has priority - i.e you accept that if you are streaming video, your other page loads, etc will be slower.

Compare that to your ISP dictating that because Company X paid them more money, their content gets to you faster than Company Y who didn't pay them as much.

The issue isn't on the user side - it's on the provider side.

Pay more, get less (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14629282)

So we'll be paying more, and getting less service?

If these companies got government/public aid that enables them to place wiring through cities/public places .. then they should expect to give those up and open to competition.

And the FCC must allow people to build their own WiFi or other wireless network .. and allow new players to build wired infrastructure .. and bypass these "providers".

We really need a wifi / wireless protocol that works on a reward for re-tranmit (like bittorrent) so that the self funding free wireless internet becomes a reality.
People need to open their wifi to the public, maybe use a program to limit it so that it doesnt affect their own download speeds when they're using it. But when not using .. why not let others? They'll pay up when they need real bandwidth .. and maybe then some will return the favor. Or is he view that everyone in society is bad? Not sure if it would save money part (you have to pay for he electricity of wifi and router equipment etc), but I'd sure like the idea of not worrying about a provider restricting my access to sites that didnt pay up, or forcing me not to use certain protocols like SSL.

Famous Last Words (1)

varmittang (849469) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629290)

Curse you and your inevitable betrayal!

Exploitation (1)

kevin.fowler (915964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629293)

If this happens, browser/box hijacking will definitely be a hotter commodity. AN you will certainly see a larger community of people writing better tools to unencrypt their neighbor's wifi key and let them pay for your Warez dl's.

Belongs to The Public (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14629295)

The pipes belong to the public.

We the people made agreements as to what the terms were in which the cable and phone companies could lay and maintain those pipes. They cannot change the bargain now without coming back to congress and getting permission from the people to change the deal.

Call your reps!

I like the idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14629297)

That way google can charge those companies for making their connection USEFUL....

which would be hilarious, they both end up paying each other haha

I, for one... (0)

HellYeahAutomaton (815542) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629304)

Say we find these so-called "planners" and kick them in the nuts.

make it worse and... (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629308)

i will cancel my ISP account and use my PCs with only a LAN, (no WAN)

computers can still be usefrull without an internet connection to the outside world.

I remember a time when the internet was tiered... (2, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629312)

... that was when Internet connections were subject to the per-minute charges levied by the local phone loop owners.

Am I missing something, or does this just smack of wanting to roll back time?

This isn't going to work on that level... (2, Insightful)

DaedalusLogic (449896) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629315)

The cat is out of the bag and competition will keep it that way.

Saying that they will charge per e-mail or download is as unrealistic as the electric company charging you per piece of toast, or load of laundry that you wash. What they can charge you on is the bandwidth that you use. Similar to how the electric company can charge per kilowatt hour... Also... They could only ever charge you for what you downloaded. Can you imagine how pissed you would be to find out that all the responses to incoming zombie requests to you computer racked up a $400 "Internet" bill. Even then, people will not be happy with the idea that they have to pay $15.00 extra dollars this month because a Microsoft error led to a giant ass patch they HAD to download.

It will not happen, the die has been cast and you can't repurpose this airplane as a clown's scooter.

I for one.. (1)

Unski (821437) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629321)

..welcome our metallurgical revisionist overlords.

industry planners are mulling new subscription plans that would further limit the online experience, establishing "platinum," "gold" and "silver" levels of Internet access

What happened to good old Bronze? Has this metal had its day? It used to be "Bronze, Silver, Gold" - you know, like the Olympics. Apparently there is no room for poor old bronze in this new scheme of things, of course implying that there are no poor people in this rich media experience which these benevolent, altruistic ISP's are planning for Joe Consumer.

Internet goes down like Prodigy (2, Informative)

Telepathetic Man (237975) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629326)

The tiered model is what brought down the old Prodigy service. For a while, when they started out, there was one basic fee for Prodigy when I used to use it. Then after a year or two, they added a fee for every minute you looked at a bulletin board and some other fee for every e-mail over 15 sent that month.

This business model is exactly what killed it, everyone split shortly after the changes were made. You can expect people to not happily go along with it this time either.

Tiers (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629327)

First Tier: You can connect. You might get advertised speeds, but you'll probably get a good 1/3rd of that. Speed will be almost zero during peak hours.

Second Tier: You can connect, and you don't get BAD speeds, but they're closer to bad than passable. You get one support call a month.

Third Tier: Current Standards

Final Tier: Higher than current standards at 3x the price.

Propoganda at work (5, Insightful)

Azreal (147961) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629328)

[i]"Why should they be allowed to use my pipes? The Internet can't be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment, and for a Google or Yahoo! or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!"[/i]

Two thoughts here.

Why should L3 allow at&t's backbone to route traffic across their pipes or vice versa? Are they idiots or would they seriously rather have no interconnects and have the internet break down to multiple WAN's?
Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Google or Yahoo! or basically any other web site out there pay for their bandwidth and on top of this, the consumers pay for essentially the same thing on the other end. Basically they're double dipping and still complaining that they aren't making enough.

No choices? (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629335)

Are you trying to tell us that there are no choices of ISP in the areas where these big telcos exist? I don't use any of the big ISPs here. I use small one that lets me do what I want. They have a 100GB bandwidth quota, but seeing as I use less than 10GB (sometimes 5GB) per month, I don't see it as a limitation.

WTF - I Already Pay for my Usage (4, Interesting)

webzombie (262030) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629339)

Screw AT&T and all the other so-called bandwidth providers if they think I'm going to fork over any more money then I am currently paying.

Ya see, here in the Great White (as in snow) North Canada, I pay a premium price for unlimited downloads. Regular and basic plans have capped monthly limits.

I just can't see how the US government or more importantly the rest of the planet would allow these modern day robber barrons to create this tiered system. That would be like my cable company charging me $10 a month because I watched 100 more reruns last month.

And speaking of my cable company, how would local telcos charge for this "extra" bandwidth? Their pipe isn't going to get any bigger so its not a quantity issue or are they simply going to be tollgates for "priority traffic". Which is probably the case which means its NOT a bandwidth issue, its a money grab.

I think its rather timely that the $200 Billion Broadband Scandel is being released. []

$200 Billion Dollar Broadband Scandal, is a powerful critique that outlines a truly massive case of fraud. The Bell Companies (Verizon, SBC, Qwest, and BellSouth) used trickery and deceit to swindle the U.S. out of a promised 45mbps internet connection. They collected billions of dollars in regulatory fees, and now they are attempting to commoditize the Internet. Kushnick's book uses stunning detail to expose this treachery with accuracy and thoroughness.

You silly Murickans....

I already pay for the size of my pipe (1, Insightful)

Biff Stu (654099) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629344)

Most consumers of broadband already have a sliding pay scale that depends on the size of their pipe. For example, 1.5 to 6.0 Mbps DSL costs more per month than 384 Kbps to 1.5 Mbps.

Spam will be a problem (1)

us7892 (655683) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629350)

e-mail messages that could be sent or received

If this comes to be, then there better be ways to find and destoy spammers. Because they'll be the cause of a lot of people getting reaching their "limits" and getting blocked.

I would be a Silver (or lower) Member (1)

ndansmith (582590) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629353)

As long as I have ftp access to linux distro mirrors, irc, bittorrent, and Slashdot, don't expect me to pony up any extra dough for "premium" internet content.

I have a Crazy Idea. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629369)

If the internet becomes to expensive we techs should join with other Eduational Facilities and Buisnesses. Using Off the shelf gear and some wires we should wire these buisnesses together and rebuild an other internet without the telephone companies. And charge for builing the new infrastructure.

Simple Solution (1)

Prototerm (762512) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629370)

Well, gang, looks like it's time to go back to the dial-up BBS and email via Fidonet.

Party like it's 1989!

I'll brace myself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14629371)

...until Google fires up the dark fiber

What about a free "Add Supported" internet? (1)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629389)

Like Television? Seems to be logical next step.

Tough to implement (1)

chiagoo (846996) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629399)

As spooky as "deep packet inspection" might sound, there's not much that can be done if all of the traffic is encrypted since there would be no way to differentiate between email, P2P, and normal web surfing. Yet another reason to start using Tor [] ... aside from the whole wiretapping mess.

Fucking bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14629404)

Fuck you Americans and your stupid ideas on how to charge the fuck out of people.

Tiered internet can suck my balls. If the internet goes like that, I'll fucking put up a free BBS again and to hell with you all.

Price differentiation, folks, that's all (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629407)

This is just price differentiation at the retail level. Don't worry about it. Price differentiation is everywhere. When you go to the movies, you can go to see the cheap matinee, or more expensive evening show, and you can pay even more for the premium experience: a ticket plus a gallon of popcorn (or did you really think that 12 ounces of corn, popped and smeared with butter-flavored oil, is worth $5?)

This is completely different from asking service providers to pay for access to their customers.

Internet is wrong word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14629408)

Stop calling a content-biased-set-of-networked computers a tiered internet. It is by the definition of the IP protocol NOT the internet and should not be associated with it.

simple.... (1)

nblender (741424) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629412)

If your provider comes to you and says "we have new pricing. The rate you're currently paying gives you 10GB/month of data transfer." you say "fine"; and from that moment on, ensure you use exactly 10GB - 1byte every month. Write an application that takes care of this auditing for you; managing your usage so that you use right up to your threshold. Then give this application to everyone you know using the same provider. If they give you a 95th percentile throughput limit, then run traffic shaping software. If everyone starts to consume every last bit per second they're paying for, the providers will suddenly decide to back off.

Network Admins Weigh In? (1)

wetdogjp (245208) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629414)

I've seen some chatter on the NANOG list about this. The whole idea of tiered Internet service seems to be something cooked up by some insidious CEO, then other CEOs of big companies caught on, and before you know it, everyone's on the "competing for the extra buck" bandwagon.

Now, being a network admin myself, I have to wonder why the network admins, and other fighters-of-the-good-fight, aren't stepping up and saying, "No, this is a BAD IDEA(tm)."? I don't think it's just because they fear for the loss of their paychecks.

Every service that I can think of that started out pay-per-minute or pay-per-tier has gone by the wayside. Cell phones? You used to have to pay for every kilobyte of data transfer; now the offers are mostly unmetered. Dial-up? Same thing. You used to pay $XX for 20 hours, but not anymore. Seems to me that implementing an extortion-based plan like this is a huge backward step.

One thing I don't have any information on: is this just a US of A idea, or are these things talks happening in Europe, Asia, and elseware too?

I already have this... (2, Informative)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629417)

Both of the large local broadband providers in my region (Western Canada) currently offer tiered service, capping download and upload speeds arbitrarily to allow them to offer "lite, regular, and extreme" service at siginificantly different price points. One of them even charges a $10 monthly fee to ensure "VoIP quality" service if you're using a third-party internet phone system (that one makes me wonder).

In reality, the sweet spot is still the standard service. If I ever find myself needed an extra two or three Mbps of downstream transfer, it seems appropriate for me to pay an extra $10/month -- I'd obviously cease to be a typical "browsing and emailing" user.

email (1)

szembek (948327) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629420)

or even e-mail messages that could be sent or received
I use gmail, they could only monitor bandwidth in this regards. The only way they could limit the number of emails you send/recieve would be the number you send/recieve through their mail servers. Other than that it would have to be covered under their bandwidth limits.

One step forward ... two steps back.... (1)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 8 years ago | (#14629427)

Am I the only one who sees this reverting back to the time/transfer limits that even most dialups dropped years ago here in the US?
There are already tiers in place - you want more bandwith, you pay more - RCN used to charge $20 for 3Mb instead of 1.5Mb transfer rate. And I have 768 ADLS, but I could spend more & get 1,1.5,or 2 Mb. That's not what concerns me. What bother's me is that I do a lot of work over the net from home & a good portion of it involves good sized files. Reduced image quality/size is not really an option, nor is transfering only parts of the files. For 6 years now, I have been paying for the bandwith - not the transfer volume - if I have to go back to worrying about how much volume I have transfered, I am going to another service where I don't have to worry about it.
Also, if I have a monthly allotment, will the provider be counting all of the virus traffic coming to my router against me? I have a couple of MB/month of logs hitting my firewall of nothing but virus attacks against web servers. - That's not counting port scans and other crap.
Or can we then treat spam like faxed advertisements? IIRC, you can sue for something like $100/page if someone faxes you advertisements. That would be good. I have about $2bn sitting in my yahoo acct.
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