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Time Warner Cable to Test Tiered Bandwidth Caps

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the take-only-what-you-need dept.

The Internet 591

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "According to a leaked internal memo, Time Warner Cable is testing out tiered bandwidth caps in their Beaumont, TX division as a way to fairly balance the needs of heavy users against the limited amount of shared bandwidth cable can provide. The plan is to offer various service tiers with bandwidth fees for overuse, as well as a bandwidth meter customers can use to help them stay within their allotment. If it works out, they will consider a nation-wide rollout. Interestingly, the memo also claims that 5% of subscribers use over 50% of the total network bandwidth."

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591 comments

A new approach to limiting usage is needed (5, Insightful)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074198)

I think that ISPs need to take a different approach other than imposing hard caps on the users, even if you can choose your cap with varying amounts of cash.

First, the users that occaisonally download large files should be treated differnetly than those that leave their p2p clients/home webserver/internet radio on all the time. For example, I often need to download isos for linux livecds or install disks. If my average daily usage is low, this download shouldn't count against my bandwidth usage. However if I'm downloading isos all day every day, then some of that bandwidth should be counted.

Also, during non-busy times for that region, large bandwidth use shouldn't be counted, seeing as it isn't disadvantaging anyone.

There should be no "hard line" between free bandwidth and 1$ per mB bandwidth. The users average bandwidth usage per month should be used in calculating their monthly rate, and they should pay for the next month based on their projected usage.

I once had an ISP that had a monthly cap, it was awful. My two cents (how much they charged per mb over the 2gb/month) on the matter.

Re:A new approach to limiting usage is needed (3, Insightful)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074260)

How about really giving customers unlimited bandwidth? If they lack the infrastructure to support what they claim, then they should get better lines.

Re:A new approach to limiting usage is needed (1)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074390)

That would be ideal, but if they have to throttle it then they should improve it over the hard cap.

Re:A new approach to limiting usage is needed (5, Interesting)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074516)

How about really giving customers unlimited bandwidth? If they lack the infrastructure to support what they claim, then they should get better lines.

That's just it! They DO have the infrastructure in my area. I never experience slow downs due to TW's pipes getting flooded.

This is merely a money grab!

Re:A new approach to limiting usage is needed (2, Insightful)

TeraCo (410407) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074658)

Or they're paying out the ass in interlock fees to other major ISP's.

Re:A new approach to limiting usage is needed (5, Informative)

taniwha (70410) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074792)

it's cable - you get to listen to 1 qam (6MHz wide - more for the new docsis that isn't here yet) and you're limited to ~25Mbits by that technology ... and you're sharing with your neighbors - upstream is much much less - you're never going to get more than what the cable modem can give you anyway - the cable company has a limit to the number of qams or analog channels they can fit on the cable (~120) and you're sharing that with TV.

Not to excuse the cable company but they see it as that they're in a bind trying to trade off how many TV channels they can support (and how many analog ones in particular - (the sooner they die the better) with how many qams they dedicate to cable modems - and the expense of injecting the internet feeds in lower and lower down in the plant to support more and more customers with more and more bandwidth (ie sharing with fewer neighbors)

They shouldn't have ever offered 'unlimited' because as we all know it really isn't and for technical reasons can't be as the customer base increases - they're depending on statistical models which those 5% who use 50% of the resources (if that's a real number) break

Re:A new approach to limiting usage is needed (1)

fictionpuss (1136565) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074802)

True - it's fine to complain that 5% of users eat 50% of the available bandwidth, but if you increase your capacity by a factor of 10 then you've got 5% of users using 5% of the available bandwidth. Problem solved!

Re:A new approach to limiting usage is needed (4, Interesting)

SimonBelmont (1089255) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074862)

How about really giving customers unlimited bandwidth? If they lack the infrastructure to support what they claim, then they should get better lines.

This statement is utterly stupid. It is harder to develop backbone capacity than last mile capacity, and ISPs have a very limited amount of backbone capacity. If they can supply a 10M last mile to 1000 customers and only have 1G of backbone, it still makes a lot more sense to give everyone a 10M line than to give everyone a 1M line, because not everyone's going to use it at once and this allows a lot more efficient allocation of bandwidth to whoever's demanding it at any given time. I think that in some instances they could do a better job of this allocation, but this is exactly what they are trying to do with a market solution, and it's no reason to choke off everyone's last mile.

Even if the technology was available to give ISPs a blazingly fast cheap backbone that would let everyone saturate existing last-mile technology, in such a case it would be likely that better last-mile technology exists as well, and you run into the same problem. If you're really so concerned about being able to saturate your line 24 hours a day, you can get a line with a higher SLA (and pay the true market value of the bandwidth). Alternatively, you could exercise some courtesy and just not leave BitTorrent downloading 24/7.

Re:A new approach to limiting usage is needed (5, Insightful)

Fatal67 (244371) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074998)

While his statement was utterly stupid, yours was a bit off, too.

The last mile is where the problem is. There is competition galore for long haul fiber (ie, to build a backbone) and you can pick up a dark fiber us footprint for under 20 million. Optics to light the gear and all of your routers will cost more.

If it were easier to build the last mile, you'd have 20 people with a cable to your house fighting to connect you to the one or two backbones.

Re:A new approach to limiting usage is needed (1)

Annymouse Cowherd (1037080) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074274)

Webservers don't take much bandwidth, but they take upstream bandwidth, which ISPs like to shortchange you on.

Re:A new approach to limiting usage is needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22074704)

2gb/mo? I hope that was in like '93...

Re:A new approach to limiting usage is needed (1)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074902)

No, it was two years ago. It was a local wireless ISP, and the only one we could get at the time. DSL made its way out here finally and its truly unlimited.

Re:A new approach to limiting usage is needed (2, Interesting)

damista (1020989) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074844)

Not sure what's wrong with the approach chosen. To me, this looks like it's been handled by my ISP (and others) for quite a while now. My cable provider has tiered plans and for me, it works fine. I get 20GB/month "peak" volume (12pm-12am) and 40GB/month "off peak" (12am-12pm). If used smart, it gives me 60GB/month. There are no excess fees but the speed will be capped to 64kbit. The imposed cap sucks a bit cos it also affects the IP-phone and I think they should give at least 128kbit. But to be honest, I've only reached the speed cap once and that was about 5 hours before the new month started.

Sure it isn't ideal but anything bar a REAL flat rate isn't ideal.

Re:A new approach to limiting usage is needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22074858)

That's how my ISP calculates bandwidth. It used to be 100 GB/month based on your average usage (so, about 3.33 GB/day), or you could just get their unlimited (really, actually unlimited) package (IIRC, it was the same price, just a bit lower latency).
Now, as users eat up more and more, they decided to raise the regular bandwith limit to 200 GB/month, and up the price of the unlimited package.
Teksavvy. I can't say too many good things about them. If you live in Ontario/Quebec, look them up.

hard cap vs overusage fees vs bw restriction (4, Interesting)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074860)

I think the fair way to deal with heavy users is to give everyone the same fast rate for their first twenty gigs or so per month. If they exceed the cap, there are three things that can be done:

  1. cut the user off completely
  2. charge a confiscatory per-gigabyte fee or
  3. but a bandwidth cap on the user

The first option is bad for customers because they don't want to have their connection cut off abruptly. The second is bad because it leaves open the possibility of getting a surprise bill for hundreds or thousands of dollars. The third option, imposing a bandwidth cap once users exceed their monthly limit, solves the problem and is much less intrusive: their internet still works (just not as fast), and they don't get any surprise bills. If they want their service to be fast again, they can pay a fee. (note: to avoid congestion, the payment cycle would have to be staggered so that everyone doesn't have their caps lifted the same time each month)

Another approach ISPs would like to use is to target specific applications (bittorrent, youtube) rather than users, but this is just a short-term remedy that doesn't address the real problem - users who don't care how much bandwidth they use.

And to think... (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074210)

And to think that I was thinking about switching to Time-Warner, however now I will not.

Re:And to think... (3, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074272)

And to think that I was thinking about switching to Time-Warner, however now I will not.

Why, because of the absurd notion that you should get what you pay for - and vice versa? Flat pricing just means that someone like me - who isn't downloading movies all day - is helping pay the bills of people who are.

Re:And to think... (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074342)

No, I belong to a small ISP that really does offer "unlimited bandwidth" (or my usage isn't excessive enough) however its a rather slow connection (1MB/Sec) and I was hoping for something a bit faster.

Re:And to think... (1, Flamebait)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074346)

Why, because of the absurd notion that you should get what you pay for - and vice versa? Flat pricing just means that someone like me - who isn't downloading movies all day - is helping pay the bills of people who are.

Have you considered dial-up? You know you can save money that way and not have to stress over paying for my downloading Linux distro's and sharing baby pictures.

Re:And to think... (1)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074550)

It also means that when your sleeping and their up downloading, they still get penalized.

Re:And to think... (4, Insightful)

Yo Grark (465041) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074708)

And to think, Time warner won't mind STILL charging you for the usage you're at, only moving the heavy users to a more expensive package.

Never seen a company that charges monthly rates go DOWN when introducing change.

You'll keep getting screwed so who cares if you share with the top tier?

Re:And to think... (5, Insightful)

pionzypher (886253) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074762)

I think you're making the assumption that your price will go down because you'll no longer be supporting these "paying freeloaders" who are using the service they bought. It seems more likely that you'll pay the same, and the heavy users will pay more. Bigger profit margin versus giving you a lower bill when you already seem ok with the current rate.

It will be interesting to see what effect this has on digital media distribution online. How much will it stymie growth, if at all?

Re:And to think... (5, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074928)

"Flat pricing just means that someone like me - who isn't downloading movies all day - is helping pay the bills of people who are."

Which is bullshit since most ISP's advertise "unlimited" access AND bandwidth. You're not "paying for the other user" according to CONTRACT. Sorry buddy. I just find it hypocritical to accuse another customer of "paying for him", when the company is itself at fault for false advertising and advertising bandwidth it doesn't have.

My ISP advertise full unlimited unrestricted bandwidth for a monthly price per month, if it can't handle that, that's not my problem THAT is what I payed for *in the contract*.

think some more. (1, Flamebait)

twitter (104583) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074978)

Flat pricing just means that someone like me - who isn't downloading movies all day - is helping pay the bills of people who are.

Your neighbors are not the problem. New charges just mean you will be paying more. Monopolies do that kind of thing without rolling out better service. The real problem is that you don't have competition for your money.

Re:And to think... (2)

Faylone (880739) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074472)

Well, you're lucky. I'm already a Time-Warner customer...in the Beaumont division! I shall have to keep a very sharp eye on this...

Frist Po (3, Funny)

plague*star (731804) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074216)

crap outta bandwith

Re:Frist Po (1)

h8god (946430) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074650)

wow, I am baffled

Competition is good (2, Funny)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074232)

As one of those 5% people, if they roll this out in my area, I'll become a DSL subscriber!

Re:Competition is good (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22074364)

>As one of those 5% people, if they roll this out in my area, I'll become a DSL subscriber!

One of the 5% using 50% of the bandwith? Comcast would probably pay you to switch to DSL.

If Comcast follows through, the DSL providers will follow suit PDQ. They won't have a choice.

Re:Competition is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22074888)

DSL? 1998 called, they want their low speed intarwebs back.. if road runner caps me here in WNY, i'm going to get fios. several people on my street have gotten it, and i've seen screen caps of insanely fast DL rates.. 6 minutes for the latest opensuse dvd? i'll take it!
as a matter of fact, fuck road runner, i'm not gonna let them drop the ball, im goin with verizon right the fuck now!

Re:Competition is good (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 6 years ago | (#22075042)

2008 called and DSL is the only broadband I can get, outside of satellite. Not everyone has a choice.

I'm happy with my 1.5/384k. It's the only plan I can get other than dial-up.

Re:Competition is good (3, Insightful)

antdude (79039) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074916)

You're lucky. Others and I don't have that choice. I live in a Verizon area and I am too far to get DSL (20K ft. from CO), no FIOS service here, etc. I am not rich enough to get a T1 line. No WISP services around here. Forget satellite services since they are too slow (especially for online gaming), have caps, and expensive. :(

And that's exactly what they want (4, Insightful)

edremy (36408) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074918)

Don't know who modded this funny, but it's what they want. You aren't a customer they want to keep- you stress their network and force them to reduce the number of people on a single cable, which costs them money far beyond the $50/month you pay back. They'll be much happier with the grandmothers who download a few pictures of their grandkids every now and then.

Re:Competition is good (2, Interesting)

ickpoo (454860) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074940)

What is never entirely clear is what is excessive bandwidth? Over the past year I have used about 25 Gigs per month with a high water mark of 40. I'm not sure that this is high, low or what.

What is the norm?

Good (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22074234)

Ultimately, paying in proportion to traffic is fair. Use less, pay less. Use more, pay more.

ISPs have historically been reluctant to do that, because consumers don't want it. People hate having to pay in proportion to use, and would happily pay flat rate per month for gasoline if they could. But nobody will offer it. Maybe reality is finally coming to wires.

Re:Good (4, Interesting)

sudnshok (136477) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074638)

That would be fine if they charged more for heavy users AND less for light users... however, we all know that is not how it will work out. They will charge MORE for heavy users and THE SAME (as now) for light users. In other words, light users will never see a reduction in price.

Also as downloading movies and web-based apps become more mainstream, they need to be reasonable with bandwidth "tiers" and tiers should certainly grow over time. I wouldn't consider usage "heavy" at the present time until data transfer is >20GB/month.

Re:Good (2, Insightful)

riseoftheindividual (1214958) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074706)

Sure, that all sounds good, but what this actually translates into is more profits and higher costs for users going forward. The social shift in media consumption from tv and radio to the internet isn't done yet, and people will be consuming more and more bandwidth.

Whenever a corporation plays the "fairly" card, erase the word and replace it with "more profitably". And that's not cynicism, that's realism. Time warner is a for profit enterprise, not a public service, and that is what this is really about.

A public service to make things fair would choke the hogs bandwidth during peak times so that all users get a fair slice. But again, this is about profits and ultimately being able to charge us all more, not about fairness.

And your gasoline analogy was really bad. Time warner doesn't have to dig more oil out of the ground and refine it every month in order to maintain bandwidth.

Re:Good (2, Informative)

Sylver Dragon (445237) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074730)

I wouldn't really expect it, every ISP will be worried that someone will stick with the flat-rate scheme and customers will flock to it.
Back when AOL was actually worth getting (at least Neverwinter Nights made it so for me), they started out with the pay-as-you-go idea. You paid a basic fee for access and a few minutes and then they charged you for anything beyond that at a per-minute rate. Worked out OK, though I did find myself going over pretty regularly. But when they switched to the flat-rate all-you-can-eat plan, AOL exploded. The number of users shot through the roof and they had a lot of trouble keeping up with demand. In my own little corner of the world at that time, I could spend an hour or more dialing, getting a busy signal, dialing, getting a busy signal, etc. It took them a while to catch up with demand, once they did though I never looked back and never would have wanted to go back. Then they killed NWN and my account was canceled shortly afterwards, but that was just a matter of not wanting the hassle of AOL's crapware just to get on the internet.
The pay-as-you-go idea has been tried, it worked when there wasn't another choice; and, unless the recent changes in the requirement for access to small ISP's really does kill off all competition, I don't see ISP's going back. They will be far to scared that their customers will go elsewhere.

Re:Good (4, Informative)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074790)

There are several places where ISPs are apart from reality.

First, there's abuse of the term "bandwidth", which has nothing to do with the amount of data downloaded. Bandwidth is how much of a frequency range is being used on the wire to provide the service. That's it.

"Date rate" is how much data the bandwidth, encoding, compression, and such allow you to get out of the bandwidth. It's also what ISPs limit you to when they say "megabits per second" or "kilobits per second".

Total monthly data transfer available for an always-on connection at a certain data rate can be calculated as the data rate per second times the number of seconds per month. Capped usage for total monthly data transfer, which is what this article is actually about, can be thought of as the data rate times the number of seconds time the percentage of utilization. What they're wanting to limit here is that percentage of utilization of what they're selling you access to use.

One way to lower total monthly data transfer for a customer is to lower the data rate. That means things come down slower all month. Another is to limit the amount of time for which the line is fully utilized. Many business users of truly high-speed access pay for what are called "burstable lines". You get the whole DS3 or entire OC-12 or whatever type of line it is. You get billed with the understanding that you use a certain percentage of data rate or less a certain percentage of the time, and that the rest of the time you can use all of it without paying extra.

When I was in the ISP field and buying our backbone lines from bigger network providers, we typically leased lines with the first 15% or 25% of the full data rate included, with the stipulation that 5% or 10% of the time we could use all the data transfer the line had to offer without being billed extra. That meant that if we experienced abnormal peak demand, we didn't get our lines saturated. It also meant we didn't get soaked paying for peak capacity all the time. We in fact got a report each month showing the percentage, on average over each 5-minute increment, we used of the line's data rate the whole month. We could look at the chart being built (by MRTG) as the month progressed, too.

The reason total traffic is the way ISPs want to deal with end users is that it's easier to explain "you can move 20 gigabytes" than "90th percentile usage will be at no more than 30% of the data rate capacity of the circuit". Still, I think people would understand easily enough if they were told, "For 60 hours a month, you can max out your line. The rest of the time, you're going to be at 1 Mbps".

Re:Good (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074856)

The difference being: Once the electricity, maintenance, staff wages, golden parachutes, and a few other little bits and pieces are paid for, that chunk of fiber is pure profit, it doesn't make much difference if it is used right up to capacity or very little. The same cannot be said for resources dug out of the ground.

Re:Good (2, Interesting)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074882)

I already pay TimeWarner $45 a month for 5mbps. There is no statement regarding how much of that I'm not supposed to use even though I'm paying for it. And to be technically correct, I can't go over my bandwidth (5mbps) without tampering with my modem. What I can go over is the amount of data I download every month, however as I stated above, TW has not specified what that limit is and neither has any other broadband provider that I know of (but I don't know the details of every provider). With the current situation, if TW doesn't want me downloading at 5mbps every second of the month then 1 of 2 things need to happen: they build out their network so that users who pay for that level of service are not penalized because they actually use it or TW needs to lower the 5mbps if their network can't support their customers using what they are buying.

For the record, I've been generally happy with TW's service. It has gotten bad recently however, specifically their news service. After they outsourced it a little over a year ago I had to adjust but it wasn't bad (except they never told anyone, the techs know nothing about changes like that) but for the last couple months bandwidth to the news service is horrible, almost useless. Connections to the server aren't closed on their end properly and then I get errors saying I'm over my connection limit. And since it is outsourced anyone at TW knows nothing about it.

Time-Warner, one company among many (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22074246)

Well, step aside my friend
I've been doing it for years
I say, sit on down, open your eyes
And open up your ears

Say
Put a tree in your butt
Put a bumblebee in your butt
Put a clock in your butt
Put a big rock in your butt
Put some fleas in your butt
Start to sneeze in your butt
Put a tin can in your butt
Put a little tiny man in your butt
Put a light in your butt
Make it bright in your butt
Put a TV in your butt
Put me in your butt
Everybody say

I, hey, that's, man, I ain't putting no trees in nobody's butt,
no bees in nobody's butt, putting nothing--
You must be out your mind, man,
y'all get paid for doing this?
Cause y'all gotta get some kind of money
Cause this don't sound like the kind of--
I'd rather golf, to be perfectly honest,
than put somethin in somebody's butt
to be truthful

Well step aside my friend and let me
show you how you do it
When big bad E just rock rock to it

Put a metal case in your butt
Put her face in your butt
Put a frown in your butt
Put a clown in your butt
Sit on down in your butt
Put a boat in your butt
Put a moat in your butt
Put a mink coat in your butt
Put everything in your butt
Just start to sing about your butt
Feels real good

Consistent connection (1)

DigitalCrackPipe (626884) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074268)

If they're only going by total bandwidth, this is probably palatable to most users. My biggest gripe with my cable provider is not the total bandwidth but the uptime... I expect my internet connection to be always available for small packets (web browsing, email, etc) as a priority over fast downloads/streams or sustained bandwidth.

Probably a good idea (5, Insightful)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074292)

Right now they already offere tiered service but it's all unlimited. IE: 5Mbps or 8Mbps
What the difference is here is that they will actually not be "capping" the bandwidth per say but actually metering it. That's akin to buying 1Mbps on a Co-Lo that is on a burstable 1Gigabit link. That is, you get the sum total of bandwidth you could use if you were at 1mbps for the month but your connection is actually WAY faster(wider). Then you get charged for overages. This is great because it charges for usage and make it way less expensive for people who simply browse the net in their off time as opposed to those people who have no life and upload videos of themselves whoring on youtube all the time.

per se (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22074414)

The expression is "per se". It means "in itself" or "by itself".

This isn't news (3, Informative)

trainman (6872) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074298)

Where is the news in this? Canadian ISPs have had caps and over usage charges for years. I can tell on any day exactly how much bandwidth I've used and how close to my cap I am.

I don't see a problem with this, having usage tiers with costs depending how much you plan to use is fine. The problem in the past has always been claims of "unlimited" until you reach a magical, secret cap. I don't think users will have a problem with tiers as long as you make the exact numbers completely clear, and of course that you charge reasonable rates.

US ISPs have charged different rates for different speeds for a long time, how is this any different? It brings clarity to users.

I, for example pay $35/month and am told I get 2.5Mbps down, 760kbps up, and 30GB total transfer. And if I want to transfer more, I pay more. It seems reasonable to me.

Re:This isn't news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22074948)

Exactly - I pay $NZ44/Mo ($US33) for a DSL line that goes as fast as it can go (in my case 6.5Mbps down, and 894kbit up) and then I pay $NZ12 ($US 9) per 10Gb of traffic.

Not quite as good a deal as the parent; but considering I'm on the other side of the pacific, and all my traffic is international, it's not bad.

Infrastructure (1)

Sangui (1128165) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074318)

Maybe they'll use the revenue to renovate the infrastructure allowing them to have a larger pipe at faster speeds... ...Nah, who am I kidding.

I get what I pay for... (2, Insightful)

pnotequalsnp (1077279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074322)

I am paying for X MBps download and Y MBps upload (it is dedicated). If I don't use it, that's fine. Nevertheless, I should be able to have that bandwidth at my leisure at all times (excluding other considerations like the server to which I am connecting). Please (Comcast/TWC/ISP) don't use the excuse that 5% of the users use 50% so we need capped service. It means they are taking full advantage for what they are paying for just like if I had a 50GB download cap (or 1 GB upload cap), I would probably use all of it. I would prefer both options (bandwidth capped or transfer capped) so I can assess my needs and minimize my costs. Thanks!

Re:I get what I pay for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22074548)

>I am paying for X MBps download and Y MBps upload (it is dedicated).

BWHAHAHAHAHAHA! I guess you didn't read the fine print when you signed the contract.

Re:I get what I pay for... (1)

harryjohnston (1118069) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074812)

The problem is that the actual cost of providing unlimited X Mbps access is significantly more than you're likely to want to pay. Traditionally (American) ISPs have taken advantage of the fact that only a certain percentage of users are downloading/uploading at a time to provide faster speeds at lower costs. This is (presumably) becoming infeasible without data caps due to the way the traffic is changing.

Here in New Zealand broadband access has always had data caps. However, paying extra for excess data was understandably unpopular, so nowadays ISPs typically offer schemes in which you pay no extra but your bandwidth gets cut to modem speed once you hit the data cap.

For example, look here: http://www.ihug.co.nz/products/broadband/bband1_detail.html [ihug.co.nz]

For a while some ISPs were offering unlimited data with a "fair use" policy but this seems to have disappeared. I suspect it proved unworkable. (IHUG still have a scheme which uses the words "fair use" but this now has explicit data caps so isn't really the same thing.)

Time Warner customer (4, Interesting)

Propaganda13 (312548) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074368)

I'm a Time Warner customer and I have enjoyed their service. If this is legit, at least, it sounds like the right direction for it, though I'm not happy about it.

1. Defined limits, overlimit fees, and prices for tiered service
2. Monitor software to show customers where they're at

I'm curious about the monitor software. Will it have options to shutdown internet access based on time frames and activity? This would be useful for people that want to budget their internet usage. Also it could useful if the computer is infected.

Re:Time Warner customer (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22074554)

I'm curious about the monitor software.[...]

Based on my experience as a TW customer, whatever the feature set is, it'll only be available for Windows.

Re:Time Warner customer (4, Insightful)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074664)

'm curious about the monitor software. Will it have options to shutdown internet access based on time frames and activity?

How about by user? I'm thinking of parents that will now have to settle agruements between siblings: "Moooomm! Jonny used up all the internet."

Re:Time Warner customer (1)

BrianRoach (614397) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074710)

Will it have options to shutdown internet access based on time frames and activity? This would be useful for people that want to budget their internet usage. Also it could useful if the computer is infected.

Or ... you could go and buy timer for the electrical outlet and plug your cable modem into it.
Or ... use an X10 module.
Or ... unplug the modem when you're not using it.
Or ... log into your router and disable it when you're not using it
Or ... Use a router with parental controls and set them up
Or ...

I think there's about a dozen existing solutions to that problem that don't involve the bumbling cable company screwing up my access on a regular basis trying to implement their own "solution". Seriously - have you ever tried to talk to anyone at these companies?? The fact they have a (semi-)functioning network in the first place is amazing to me. :)

- Roach

Hmmm.... (1)

pinguwin (807635) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074378)

I'm not neccesarily opposed to limits. I'm a heavy user but not 200gb like the article discussed. The issue I would have is if I pay $40 for 100gb/month and I go over, I can see them charging $1/gb instead of upping you to the next tier, which might be a $50 tier, but I could see them screwing customers with exhorbitant "excess usage" charges. OTOH, if they do such a service, there would have to be no throttling or fake packets at any time for any reason. I would be suspicious if one would be given equal access at all times but it could happen.

The question is... (5, Insightful)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074396)

Will these new, metered accounts be less expensive than their current standard charge, making this a good thing for the budget conscious, or more likely, will their current standard price become the lowest tier and unmetered will be a new higher cost tier, thereby making this simply news of a massive price hike?

Re:The question is... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22074660)

That is exactly the problem. Paying more for using more is probably a good idea, but using the current prices as a floor for Auntie Bea who checks her email twice a week and heading into the stratosphere for power users is just a price hike.

I admit I use a TON of my ISP's capacity. I SHOULD pay more than my dad (who uses ~nothing)

But if I am hard capped below what I need, or if the price is too high (hint: The $50/month I pay is pushing too high already), I'm gone as a customer. I'll change the way I work and they won't even get my $50/month.

Bandwidth everywhere (0, Offtopic)

iliketrash (624051) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074408)

Once again, BANDWIDTH DOES NOT EQUAL CAPACITY. BANDWIDTH DOES NOT EQUAL BITS. Bandwidth is a measure of a channel's range of frequencies over which it is effective. A bit is an amount of information. Capacity is the rate at which a channel can transfer information. Channel capacity is a function of bandwidth and signal to noise ratio.

Claude Shannon, The Mathematical Theory of Communication, University of Illinois Press, 1949.

Re:Bandwidth everywhere (1)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074484)

The English language changes over time. If you've got a problem with that, move to France -- I hear they've got an entire organization devoted to defining exactly what each word means.

Re:Bandwidth everywhere (1)

iliketrash (624051) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074580)

This isn't the "English language" per se. It is technical language (the "C" language in "1984, if you like). Technical fields often borrow words from the common lexicon and re-use them with different and specific meanings. Engineering texts are not likely to change the definitions of words just because lay people misuse them.

Re:Bandwidth everywhere (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074798)

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.'

Re:Bandwidth everywhere (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074838)

Xerox is a brand name, not a way to make copies. Hackers are smart, inquisitive people who make things work, not bad guys who break into systems.

The meanings of words evolve. Bandwidth does equal capacity now. It didn't, but it's so much a part of the common lexicon that the tide is not going to be turned.

unlimited options... (1)

netsavior (627338) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074420)

I will opt for the unlimited option at twice or even three times the price no matter if I will hit the cap or not, it's just the way I do business. I can budget $80 a month for unlimited, I can't budget $20 a month, except january where I have a $500 overage because MSDN licenses changed and I have to download 100 DVD ISOs before they lapse ;)

Interestingly enough... (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074536)

... during the course of the year, the second option is actually cheaper for you. I'd recommend option 2, while putting $60 a month into a special savings account that only gets touched to pay for overages.

Of course, this all depends on the exact numbers that Comcast will use. I strongly suspect that I blow past a 2Gb monthly limit in about 1 week. That's about how often I download a full game demo, ISO or movie (iTunes, for anyone wanting to accuse me of Piracy) per month. And depending on release schedules, I can easily download 10 - 20 Gb in a month.

I don't mind paying for a metered internet, I'm just not sure that Comcast's idea of what a heavy user should is one I can afford.

Re:unlimited options... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22074942)

>I will opt for the unlimited option at twice or even three times the price no matter if I will hit the cap or not, it's just the way I do business.
Good luck with that. The only absolutely and totally unlimited connection is something like a T1 or T3, which is what they'd have to price their unlimited connections at. Have fun budgeting for 20-50x the price.

This is a blatant attempt to protect their PPV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22074444)

They are simply trying to protect their PPV market by limiting your use of the internet to purchase what you want to buy versus what they bother to serve you.

Its been said before and I will say it again (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074460)

99.99% of the problems companies like Comcast and Time Warner have with Bandwidth will go away if they introduce hard caps. Everyone gets, say, 20gb per month or whatever the plan they have paid for contains. If you exceed that amount, you get cut off (or have your speed cut back to dial up speeds) for the rest of the month.

Bandwidth everywhere (-1, Redundant)

iliketrash (624051) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074514)

Once again, BANDWIDTH DOES NOT EQUAL CAPACITY. BANDWIDTH DOES NOT EQUAL BITS. Bandwidth is a measure of a channel's range of frequencies over which it is effective. A bit is an amount of information. Capacity is the rate at which a channel can transfer information. Channel capacity is a function of bandwidth and signal to noise ratio.

Claude Shannon, The Mathematical Theory of Communication, University of Illinois Press, 1949.

In South Africa (1)

Slackus (598508) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074540)

In SA we've always had a hard 3GB cap on DSL. Once you reach your cap international traffic basically comes to a standstill and local traffic is not much better. Another bonus ontop of the cap is that traffic shaping is the norm, all non http, pop3, stmp, ftp etc. traffic get a way lower priority, so stuff like online gaming, p2p sharing, voip etc becomes a huge pain in the neck. There are "uncapped" and "unshaped" accounts available, but at a price. So if I can give some advice, try and stop them before they introduce any cap, just in case this start a new trend for ISPs in the US.

Possible problem... (5, Insightful)

ohsmeguk (1048214) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074558)

How many average joes will get infected with a virus/trojan horse that spams out millions of emails, and not only have the hassle of disinfecting their computer, but also face a massive broadband bill at the end of the month for all of their bandwidth?

Re:Possible problem... (3, Insightful)

Soko (17987) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074808)

Problem? This is not a problem - it's a benefit.

At present, what does it cost Joe Luser if he gets nailed with a spambot and spews a few gigs of SPAM onto the Internet? Nothing extra (maybe a bit of speed on his connection) and he likely won't even really know he's been pwned.

This way, when he gets a $300 bill for over using his bandwidth, he'll most likely fix the damned problem and take steps to ensure it doesn't happen again so he doesn't get blindsided by a lage ISP bill.

Or, he'll blame the ISP and get off the net - either way the spammers lose a spambot, and we admin types win. Bring it on, TW!

Soko

Re:Possible problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22074826)

I'm pretty sure with the tiered service, its something like this:
A: 10mb/s
B: 4mb/s
C: 1mb/s
D: dialup comparable

Say customer paying for A blows their load for the month, instead of charging them for excess bits downloaded, their service just gets downgraded silently, until they're at dialup comparable levels. So they're still connected, just not able to download fast. And they won't pay anything beyond their usual monthly.

this is how it is for many ISPs in australia afaik

Bandwidth Usage Caps Suck! (1)

Lachlan Hunt (1021263) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074584)

We have bandwidth usage caps in Australia and they suck big time. It varies between ISPs, but some charge additional fees (usually not too much) for exceeding bandwidth, but most cap the speed down to a ridiculous 64kbps! For someone like myself, who often exceeded usage (especially given that the bandwidth cap was so low), it was unbearable. My bandwidth cap was just 6GB when I was stuck on an ADSL1 plan due to lack of support for ADSL2+ at the exchange; the ADSL2+ plan for the same price was, I believe, 40GB (split between peak and off-peak periods, giving 20GB each). Even the 40GB was too low sometimes when I was able to get ADSL2+.

Good idea (4, Insightful)

Tridus (79566) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074588)

ISP's cant actually offer "unlimited" access to everybody, unless you want to start paying $300/month for home Internet. Its not realistic. People will do things like P2P that just eat up way too much traffic. They have two ways of dealing with the problem:

1. Charge people for how much network capacity they actually use, ie: this. This is how gas, electricity, and other things are portioned out, and I haven't heard many people complianing about how its unfair.

2. Start trying to get rid of some of the traffic. See: Comcast screwing with P2P.

Of the two, I like this a lot better. My mom can pay for a little bit of network capacity, I can pay for a lot, and we both get what we paid for.

Re:Good idea (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074836)

Or 3.) They could actually increase their capacity by investing in their infrastructure. They're going to have to do this sooner or later, and it may as well be sooner.

Re:Good idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22074874)

1. Charge people for how much network capacity they actually use, ie: this. This is how gas, electricity, and other things are portioned out, and I haven't heard many people complianing about how its unfair.

Probably because the gas and electric companies don't start charging you many times your normal rate when you use "too much".

They'll shoot themselves in the foot (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074678)

I can't see how bandwidth caps would be a good idea for the cable companies, especially when there are competitors [reuters.com] out there [betanews.com] that don't need to worry about capping their customer's usage. I also want to know how this would play out if other cable companies followed suit, considering that they're promising much faster speeds. [cnn.com] I would think that at 160Mbps you could hit your cap pretty quickly (depending of course on what the cap is set at, and your actual usage).

I'm a Time Warner customer, and as far as I'm concerned I'm paying for unlimited usage, and unlimited usage is what I should be getting.

They tried it in Norway (5, Interesting)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074692)

I moved out of the country before I could determine how it worked out, but some Norwegian companies tried a scheme under which you have two tiers of bandwidth. By default your connection uses the higher speed but if you exceed the quota it degrades to the lower speed until the end of the month. This works quite well since you will still have a fixed bill every month and you won't just lose your ability to use e-mail if you exceed the quota.

Of course, it is all about the marketing. You don't say "we degrade your connection if you exceed this quota", you say "In addition you get EXTRA HIGH SUPER SPEED for the first 20 gigabytes (ZOMG!!!! thousands of songs) each month". You then proceed to sell "top-up packs" at your website where users can pay for extra quota, and then offer an optional service by which quota... err... extra-bandwidth-top-up-packs .... will be added to your bill automatically.

They could deal with this problem easily (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22074698)

they just need to double charge people who download fag pr0n or double charge people who download linsux. oh, those are the same people.
 
silly linux user, dicks are for chicks.
 
die of aids you faggot.

5% use 50% (2, Insightful)

jbengt (874751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074736)

. . . the memo also claims that 5% of subscribers use over 50% of the total network bandwidth.

Give those 5% some virus scanners ! !

too logical... (4, Insightful)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074794)

Is there a way to set up a network so that the people who have used the least bandwidth get highest priority?

say i download linux distro iso's all month. i use up 99% of my ISP's capacity, then one day my neighbor starts up a VPN and telnets in. Since he's used hardly any bandwidth, his packets get top priority. my bittorrent client slows down a little bit then goes back up when he's done.

that's a fair way to do unlimited service.

it just seems like any throttling back beyond prioritization is just a waste of installed capacity.

Well I don't mind... (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074818)

If you want to download warez and movies 24/7 then why should I subsidize your connection?

As long as they offer a nice selection of caps that is with maybe even an unlimited one (expensive as that level would be). And of course they have to actually let the customer know of the caps (ie: don't be fuckers like comcast).

Cablevision did it here in NY. Major Backlash. (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074832)

I was one of Cablevision's very first internet subscribers. I saw their service degrade heavily over the years. They finally started secretly capping their users to balance out the bandwidth usage. It became unbearable.

I moved to verizon FIOS asap and i've been in heaven since. Its a quality service, that doesnt cap you for uploading or downloading.

I work in 3d animation and special fx here in NY, and i often need to tranfer large batches of frames at film res from home to clients or from home to the office... Optonline became a nightmare to live with. Verizon Fios is the solution for me.

No hassle, no bullshit. I absolutely hate cablevision as a result and i've also since moved my TV service to FIOS TV service as well.

Re:Cablevision did it here in NY. Major Backlash. (1)

TheSeer2 (949925) | more than 6 years ago | (#22075000)

"I work in 3d animation and special fx here in NY, and i often need to tranfer large batches of frames at film res from home to clients or from home to the office... Optonline became a nightmare to live with. Verizon Fios is the solution for me."

Isn't that what business plans are for?

I am advocating fair use policy (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074884)

That's right. You pay some money each month and you get a fair amount of datatransfer each month. I think that is reasonable for both side. For the consumer side it is reasonable because they don't have to worry about caps(which bite) or varying costs(which bite even harder). For the ISP it is reasonable because they know how much the users can use at most and they know how much datatransfer to facilitate. If someone surpassing fair use they need to be charged heavily for that. It is stupid that networks bulge under the datatransfer of a small group who screw it up for the rest. So you probably get about 100 GB per month. If you surpass this limit regularly you need to get your ass kicked. I do NOT want a varying cost. It has been the main reason to switch from dail-up to cable. At one time we were spending in excess of 100 each month on the internet for a crappy connection. Now that we have cable, these problems have never arisen since I keep an eye on my traffic usage. Don't go back into the stone age, keep my fixed rates.

Time Issues (2, Interesting)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074886)

One thing this dosn't seem to allow for, is the differences on bandwidth demand based upon time of day. If you're stealing all the bandwidth downloading huge files or torrenting around 7pm, well, then you're going to slow people down. But if you're downloading alot at 3 a.m. and nobody is even online to notice, who cares? This system is going to end up with alot of unused bandwidth if they have hard-coded caps. If they're going to cap, they should at least make it dynamic. I suppose they want money though...

And it will be really interesting when ..... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074898)

... you find out that your 1 gig monthly usage is in the 5% of users....

I am on a metered system, and this is more fair (5, Interesting)

vtechpilot (468543) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074912)

When I first moved to the UK and found that all my choices for ISPs had a metered usage plan, I was against it at first. My major complaint was that I had no way to predict how much data transfer I was going to use, so I didn't know what tier I should sign up for. Now that I've been on such a system for a couple years now I really do say that its more fair. The provider I am with now (plus.net) has a pretty good system I set a fixed monthly cost. For each £ I prepay I get so many GB of transfer. If I go over limit, I can choose to have my speed capped at 128K (Still plenty for email and most surfing), or optionally choose to pay a per GB charge that is slightly more expensive than the prepaid rate. Additionally They make a distinction between peak and off peak hours. So only transfers during peak hours actually count to my monthly transfer. The result is that I've learned to schedule my large downloads into Off Peak Hours. I have a had a few months where my home transfer was nearly 100 GB. However 80+ GB of that was Off peak usage which I did not pay for directly. Whats the result of all this? My ISP gets to manage their network performance during peak hours so all users have a pleasant experience. I still get big downloads, and I pay whats fair for what I use. The limits on my account are clearly defined. There is no mysterious 'use too much and we'll cut you off' amount.

I am very happy with this system, but to be clear, the reason why I am happy with this system is my ISP has provided choices. If Time Warner fails to provide similar choice then it will be awful.

New Zealand works this way already. (1)

Jason Pollock (45537) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074920)

I'm on an 80GB/mo plan. You pay for speed and for traffic, and it works. It means that you can be pretty much guaranteed to get full speed on your connection ALL OF THE TIME. No more throttling, no more peak hour BS. I've got 10mbps connection, and I get 10mbps. If the carrier can't provide it, we get refunds (as we currently are).

Additionally, it puts a price on p2p. If you're paying $1.50/GB of traffic (each direction), then that 4GB torrent that you let run until 1.0? It just cost you $12+. It puts an entirely different spin on whether or not to torrent something.

It won't play out like you think it will... (1)

Randall311 (866824) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074936)

Knowing how capitalism works, we'll see it end up more like: You use more you pay more... you use less, you pay what you currently pay.

Like CPU scheduling (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 6 years ago | (#22075018)

Linux penalizes "CPU-hungry" programs that want to use all of the CPU time, by pushing their priority down. That way "nice" programs can still get CPU when they want it, the "greedy" programs get whatever is left over, and no processor cycles are wasted. It would be cool if ISPs could do something similar with bandwidth resources. Easier said than, done, of course... but it seems silly to me to bandwidth-cap a "greedy" user at 3AM when nobody else is using the network anyway...

Welcome to how the rest of the world does it (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22075056)

At least in Australasia, a split tariff of speed + bandwidth has been the norm pretty much ever since charging-per-minute-online went away. We've not generally had pure 'flat rate' deals, except for some very shonky providers who went out of business rapidly. I've been watching the debates here over 'tubes' and filtering and wondering just what's going on in the USA, that people think they can get unlimited amounts of data transfer for free with no consequences - and then resort to weird restrictive contracts and double-dipping 'hold the website to ransom' schemes - instead of just simply paying for transfer capacity.

This looks like a sensible solution all round, to me.
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