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BBC and ISPs Clash over iPlayer

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the like-some-cheese-with-that-whine dept.

Networking 350

randomtimes writes "A row about who should pay for extra network costs incurred by the iPlayer has broken out between internet service providers (ISPs) and the BBC. ISPs say the on-demand TV service is putting strain on their networks, which need to be upgraded to cope. '"The iPlayer has come along and made downloading a legal and mass market activity," said Michael Phillips, from broadband comparison service broadbandchoices.co.uk. He said he believed ISPs were partly to blame for the bandwidth problems they now face. "They have priced themselves as cheaply as possible on the assumption that people were just going to use e-mail and do a bit of web surfing," he said. ISPs needed to stop using the term 'unlimited' to describe their services and make it clear that if people wanted to watch hours of downloaded video content they would have to pay a higher tariff, he added.'"

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Common Sense is asking too much... (1, Interesting)

teknopurge (199509) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014608)

We constantly have clients that think they can get 100000 TB of storage and 1000000 ZB of transfer for $3.95/mth. Then they get attitudes when we charge them $30/Mbps.

I'm torn as to lay blame to other providers for running unethical marketing campaigns.(e.g. get unlomited everything only to have a buried clause in a TOS/AUP/etc. that nullifies all the marketing promises.) or people not performing due-diligence.

Regards,

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (4, Insightful)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014650)

Because there is a difference between how much a simple home user is going to research an ISP and how much a corporate user hosting a website is expected to follow up and research into their contract.

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (1)

MoonFog (586818) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014778)

And that's why corporate users pay several times the amount that home users pay for their lines.

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014914)

And that's why corporate users pay several times the amount that home users pay for their lines.

Exactly. I pay more for my work connection than my home one, despite the fact that it's at best a quarter of the speed, and the reliability is the same.

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014678)

$30 for a megabyte is a bit high.

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014762)

It's $30 per Megabit per second (speed, not volume). Which is pretty close to what some of us pay already (~$45/month for 1.5Mbps)

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014944)

You're missing a unit. Is that per month?

OK, so if I get 12 mbps speed, which is what is needed for high definition video in real time, you're going to charge $360 per month? It seems like your network isn't ready for 2009. Oh wait, it's still 2008. I guess you have another year.

Just because all your customers already pay so much for so little now, because that's all you offer, does not justify keeping things at this level in the future.

You mention a measly 1.5 mbps. Someone wanting to download a 2 hour high definition movie is going to have to be doing the download for 16 hours to get it all. At 1.5 mbps, it will take a full solid month to download 486 gigabytes (not figuring in overhead and such). Are you going to cut off customers that use it?

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (1)

Feyr (449684) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015430)

uh 30$/mbit/s/month is pretty damned cheap for a "business" connection (ones that are billed as 95th percentile, not the same-dsl-line-that-i-just-gouge-you-on-but-is-otherwise-the-same-as-residential).

the only way you'll get lower is by committing to a few hundred mbits/s/month

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (1)

bryce4president (1247134) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015556)

Is that parallel up and down speeds? Or 1.5 up and a trickle upload?

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015434)

megabit >_>

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014706)

Then they get attitudes when we charge them $30/Mbps.

How's that work? You charge them based on an average over time or is it like 95th percentile billing? Why not just charge them per bit of transfer?

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (3, Insightful)

JudicatorX (455442) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014938)

Some people don't understand the concept of 'bandwidth'. They don't realize that downloading that movie from bittorrent is much more data than pulling down one page of the web, except that one 'takes longer' than the other.

The rest of the bandwidth hogs point to the 'unlimited' marketing. Until the marketing of the service changes (and people are told about their limits and are capable of measuring them), you're still going to get grief.

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (4, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015110)

Actually that's the point. There is no difference between downloadng a thousand websites and downloading a movie. Data is data. ISP's are going to need to realize that it doesn't matter what i am downloading it's still data.

the ISP's sold me bandwidth on false assumptions that I wouldn't use it all, all the time. If they didn't plan properly then that's their fault when i do start to use all the bandwidth all the time.

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (3, Insightful)

Rob Y. (110975) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015214)

That's a silly comparison. Nobody viewing normal websites keeps their pipe in constant use. Presumably you take some time to actually look at the sites you download. I don't think they'd be too happy if you ran an automated web crawler over your home circuit either.

ISP's are ultimately going to have to go to a model like cellphone contracts. 100 GB per month (or whatever). After that your bandwidth drops off or you pay for the overage, depending on your plan. Carry-over MB's and all. At least that's nominally fair. And maybe for those non-downloaders, there'd be a really low-cost, low volume plan.

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (3, Insightful)

JudicatorX (455442) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015236)

> Actually that's the point. There is no difference between downloadng a thousand websites and downloading a movie.

Unless the webpages are megabytes each there is. But that's not the point.

The point is the rate of information consumption. A large webpage (say, a few hundred k) will take longer to read than will the same amount of movie file. If the video rate is high enough, a few hundred kilobytes will pass in a few seconds or less.

The funny thing is that before the days of HD video, the ISPs sold their 'faster-than-dialup' service as 'fast' and 'unlimited'. I'm not sure why they put 'unlimited' in there, but they're paying for it now. I for one have no sympathy

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015478)

they put the unlimited in there because people associated the cost of their conneciton with the ammount of time they where on it. I have a person here at work - she still has that mind set. she has dsl yet she doesn't let windows download updates because she feels that the longer she is online the more it costs her.

the whole "unlimited internet access" was all to make people think it was infintly greater than their by the min dialup service.

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015520)

If they didn't plan properly then that's their fault when i do start to use all the bandwidth all the time.

Personally I've been upgraded two times without even asking for it. From 2.5 to 8 to 24mbit. While it's 'nice', it's by no means necessary, and I can certainly wait for background downloading of whatever data I want. So I place the blame solidly on the ISP; if you don't want the usage levels, then cap the bitrate. I want a fixed price, but I could certainly live with a 4-8mbit connection.

But if the DSL and Cable guys are whining now, just wait 'til we get the gigawhine about to erupt in the wireless/3G space. That's being sold apparently barely even expecting customers to surf the web or read mail.

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23015112)

Are you retarded or something?

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (1)

ratboy666 (104074) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015116)

I have tried to purchase "business class" service from my ISP. Have been turned down every time (3 times and counting). I try every 6 months to a year.

No, I don't want petabytes of storage, or zetabytes of bandwidth. I use between 15GB and 100GB of "bandwidth" per month. Storage? zilch.

Now, I have 60GB per month with an overage charge of $2/GB. As to SPEED... As long as its reasonable, I frankly don't care. What is reasonable? 6 Mbps to allow download Standard Definition TV at "real time" rates. Of course, I don't get that :( (my ISP *claims* I get 6 Mbps, and delivers 0.5 to 6, averaging 3).

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (5, Funny)

magarity (164372) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015312)

I use between 15GB and 100GB of "bandwidth" per month. Storage? zilch.
 
Maybe *you* aren't using the storage yourself but it takes a lot of space on the government's servers to index and cross reference your 100GB of browsing habits.

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (1)

ratboy666 (104074) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015450)

Very witty. Made me spew coffee! Thanks.

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (5, Insightful)

contrapunctus (907549) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015166)

We constantly have clients that think they can get 100000 TB of storage and 1000000 ZB of transfer for $3.95/mth. Then they get attitudes when we charge them $30/Mbps.
Do you advertise "unlimited"? If so you eat it. If you advertise correctly then your clients know what to expect.

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (1)

KnowledgeEngine (1225122) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015410)

I know I for one am so very excited to see how this affects is in the US. New from comcast...unblock youtube dns records-$4.95/mo extra...allow BT traffic-$19.99 extra. Etc.Etc.

Re:Common Sense is asking too much... (1)

Alpha Whisky (1264174) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015542)

Allow me to rephrase that for you. We constantly have clients that think that because we advertise that they can get 100000 TB of storage and 1000000 ZB of transfer for $3.95/mth, that's what we are actually selling.

Amen (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014614)

That's exactly right. For years ISPs have been flagrantly misrepresenting their services, using words like "unlimited" and quoting download speeds that you might have a hope of getting within 10% of at 3am. They have been playing their customers for fools, but now that content providers are beginning to provide more and more of their productions, suddenly the ISPs are screaming at the content providers and the customers.

I think that consumer protection laws need to be beefed up to protect consumers against the outrageous practices of ISPs.

Re:Amen (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014676)

Why can't they be sued for false advertising? [wikipedia.org]

Re:Amen (2)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014742)

Stupid lawyer tricks, generally.

When they advertise it, there's a tiny little line in eggshell-on-white that says something like "Figures based on maximum performance. Performance not guaranteed" or some shit like that.

Re:Amen (4, Insightful)

ari_j (90255) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014806)

The good thing is that smart lawyer tricks trump the stupid kind. If you can show damages due to the false advertising, go ahead and sue. If you can only show a few dollars of damages, get a class action going. Our legal system may permit a certain level of litigiousness, but it's also the necessary check and balance to our capitalist economy.

Re:Amen (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014910)

If you can show damages due to the false advertising, go ahead and sue. If you can only show a few dollars of damages, get a class action going.
I would probably qualify more for the class-action suit, but Vuze [vuze.com] might have a good case.

Re:Amen (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014948)

Wow, someone on Slashdot who actually understands what lawyers are for. Mod +1 Incredibly Rare.

Re:Amen (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014856)

I was actually thinking of the use of the word "Unlimited" and Comcast's invisible caps.

Re:Amen (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015518)

I was actually thinking of the use of the word "Unlimited" and Comcast's invisible caps.
That is the most heinous of them all. Especially when it comes to mobile data. I could probably work myself into a serious rage at how companies can get away with things like calling 15GB a month 'unlimited', though I personally have never had to deal with problems arising from excessive usage, so I don't think about it very often.

Re:Amen (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015554)

I've complained to the Advertising Standards Agency about some of the claims made by ISPs in the past. Their response was that claims made on a company's web site do not constitute regulated advertising, and unless I can provide them with evidence of the same claims being made elsewhere, they can't proceed. Since most ISP's adverts in other media are so vague that it's difficult to even tell that they are an ISP, I haven't spotted any. If you see any, there's a form on the ASA web site you can fill in, and they will be fined accordingly.

Managing Free (3, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014812)

I think that consumer protection laws need to be beefed up to protect consumers against the outrageous practices of ISPs.

We're in this mess partly because the governments saw fit to grant monopolies to various companies who now behave like monopolies. Raise your hand if you're shocked. We should always be leery of patching bad government with more government, because it's probably going to turn out to be bad government, and then people will want to...

But, yes, your're right, these guys are selling 'Free' stuff and 'free' doesn't exist [bfccomputing.com] . In a non-monopoly position you might assume the customers are fools, but when they have no choice, it could be either. Certainly it's hard to chasten the customer put into this position if he doesn't have choice.

Re:Managing Free (-1, Flamebait)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014934)

We're in this mess partly because the governments saw fit to grant monopolies to various companies who now behave like monopolies. Raise your hand if you're shocked. We should always be leery of patching bad government with more government, because it's probably going to turn out to be bad government, and then people will want to...
Oooh, PUUUUHHHLLLLEEEEZE, we know yankees don't like government, it's deep inside their pea-brain culture.

Thing is, 95% of the planet AREN'T YANKEES and many of those people have no problem with government, and since those people don't have problem with government, their governments are able to attract competent people that will do a good job. Now, crawl back under that bridge and play with yourself.

Re:Managing Free (1)

Buran (150348) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015144)

And no one else anywhere else on the planet ever sees this kind of behavior, or has a problem with their government? You have an incredibly closed mind and are ignorant of the state of the world if you believe that.

Now, crawl back under that bridge you seem to live under and play with yourself.

Re:Managing Free (1)

VoltCurve (1248644) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015386)

Most are natural monopolies though... it's a bitch to lay 3 cable networks when you only need one. We either need more regulation in the form of forcing cable owners to lease lines to smaller isp types (eg. Canada) or we need to lean hard on the current cable providers... How else do we fix it?

Re:Amen (2, Informative)

xtracto (837672) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014824)

Bah, FWIW ISPs in the UK are complete rubbish. Take for example Virgin, which bought Telewest, NTL and surely will buy all the other cable providers. When I was in NTL, the service was so-so, but now that Virgin took over, the idiots cap your speed after you download more than a very small amount (350MB IRC) in one hour.

I am suscribed to the cheapest package (which costs £18 per month, none less) and can't imagine the anger of guys paying for the more expensive offers and then finding they can only download 350 MB per hour before being limited to 50Kbps download...

But the real problem is that of the power of corporations against the simple guy. A similar type of abuse happens with airlines like Ryanair or Easyjet. Just try to get a refund for your ticket, and according to their policies they will only refund the tax... but guess what? if you actually contact them for the tax (it does not matter if it is about £150 ) they will say that the "administration fees" are higher than the tax they would return to you and hence they won't give you anything.

Oh well, the wonders of capitalism.

Re:Amen (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015358)

To be fair if you research things a bit it's not all that bad if you don't heavily abuse it. I'm with BT and have their middle package (ie not unlimited) and after talking to the sales guy he admitted that BT rarely enforces the gb per month limit (which annoys me I didn't get the cheapest package) and he's right. I regularly go over my limit downloading TV shows and music. However I don't run Bit Torrent 24 hours a day all month either. They probably only care if you look like a total warez monkey which, if that's your case, avoid them but otherwise it's excellent for it's per month capacity. My only complaint is my so called 8mb broadband, at best, can be 6 but is often 2 to 4.

Re:Amen (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23014826)

I think that consumer protection laws need to be beefed up to protect consumers against the outrageous practices of ISPs.


And I would go further and say that the whole telecom industry needs to be nationalized and service should be given to all citizens for free. And can I get a pony with that too?.

Re:Amen (1)

bhunachchicken (834243) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015038)

"I think that consumer protection laws need to be beefed up to protect consumers against the outrageous practices of ISPs." Yes, there are calls in the UK for ISPs to be truthful about the REAL speeds that people can expect when they sign up for services. Contention ratios, caps, traffic management... Until we can get on top of all of this the net will grind to a stand still. Nevermind digital downloads, sometimes I can't even get on to Slashdot(!)

Re:Amen (3, Funny)

vtscott (1089271) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015392)

Oh please, they already tell you all that you need to know. As soon as you sign up you'll get amazingly insane blindingly fast super speed boostingly high groin grabbingly good comcastesticular fiber optic digital marketing buzzword speeds!!! You'll be literally flying around the internet with service better than god himself could provide (literally). That's way better than any actual numbers an ISP could give you. Numbers are so easy to manipulate. Marketing speak though... That never lies.

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23014644)

Unprofitable business models continue to abound in the internet world. Visit http://www.techcrunch.com/ [techcrunch.com] to see a roster of profitless companies with names like Greedr, Feebo, Dumbr, and a whole host of "this was the only domain name I could find" companies who continue to give away the farm and pray for revenue on the other end.
 

Marketing isn't the problem (5, Insightful)

Qwerpafw (315600) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014718)

If Net Neutrality laws were in place, the ISPs couldn't be "having discussions" over whether they can extort the BBC into paying them extra. Service providers would then be forced to market and sell their services honestly, because they couldn't get someone else to pay for the bandwidth they're selling.

The BBC pays for upstream bandwidth. Consumers pay for downstream bandwidth. But ISPs don't actually have the bandwidth they're selling, so they want the BBC to pay as well for the bandwidth consumers already paid for. It's ridiculous.

Re:Marketing isn't the problem (4, Insightful)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014904)

RE:["The [insert - any website] pays for upstream bandwidth. Consumers pay for downstream bandwidth. But ISPs don't actually have the bandwidth they're selling, so they want the BBC to pay as well for the bandwidth consumers already paid for. It's ridiculous."]

that is exactly what is going on, it is extortion. i am not one for BIG government regulation but there needs to be oversight of some sort, because if not then both the websites that serve news and other content and the customers will be squeezed by the ISPs because they have the keys to the tubes...

Re:Marketing isn't the problem (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015574)

i fully agree and also don't want government regulation - they always screw things up.. but it is also their fault we are in the state we are in now..

if you look at the problem - the obvious solution for content providers and users is to switch to a diffrent provider that doesn't do this. and i am sure 90% of the people here would agree and switch to a diffrent provider if they where honest and did the right thing and constintly built their network.

but you can't switch.. the choices you have are slim and they are all hopping on this extortion band wagon.. and company X that wants to do it right can't because they ones on the band wagon are the back bones..

back bones take 2 things.. lots and lots of money.. and help from the government for right of way.. and the government was happy to give it to these massive compaines at tax payers loss jsut to have the company try and extort the tax payers.. as far as i am concerted if these compaines are going to abuse what the government/tax payers let them have. we should reclaim it..

wouldn't that be one hell of an upset.. government reclaims all major backbone trunks on public property from compaines that have deceptive biz pratice and auctions them off to other compaines that don't have the deceptive pratices..

we.. we can dream.... maybe i will sell my house one day and jsut buy a backhoe and drive around scarring the shit out off bell techs..

Re:Marketing isn't the problem (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015020)

The BBC pays for upstream bandwidth. Consumers pay for downstream bandwidth.
I think you are missing that the iPlayer can work in a P2P mode, so the ISPs claim that the BBC does not pay its fair share (because it merely seeds the downloads). However, I would have thought that the iPlayer would be designed to attempt to download from near neighbors, which would cost each ISP much less.

Re:Marketing isn't the problem (2, Informative)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015284)

I think you are missing that the iPlayer can work in a P2P mode, so the ISPs claim that the BBC does not pay its fair share (because it merely seeds the downloads).
In this case, whoever's doing the uploading pays instead of the BBC. So the ISPs still get paid (unless they do something stupid, like sell unlimited flat-rate access).

Re:Marketing isn't the problem (5, Insightful)

Danse (1026) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015290)

I think you are missing that the iPlayer can work in a P2P mode, so the ISPs claim that the BBC does not pay its fair share (because it merely seeds the downloads).
If the BBC is paying for the data that it is uploading, then it is paying its fair share. The rest of the bandwidth use is customers uploading and downloading data with each other, which they also pay for via their ISP fees. If those fees don't cover the cost of the bandwidth, then that is the fault of the ISP, not the BBC. ISPs keep promising the world to their customers, only to complain when they actually try to make use of all that "unlimited" downloading speed the ISP told them they were getting.

Re:Marketing isn't the problem (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015342)

i would think it would already prioritize on nearest (in terms of latency) peers as that would be beneficial to transfer rates.

Caching not a solution (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014724)

My first thought was that caching would be a solution.

"There has been talk, for instance, of the BBC bringing their servers into the loop as a way of lowering the backhaul costs," he said.

But Mr Gunter [from ISP Tiscali] said he was not convinced this would help.

"I have heard that the BBC is working on building a caching infrastructure so that storage devices can go on an ISP's network but even if it goes ahead it doesn't save costs on the backhaul network," he said.
The solution, brought to you courtesy of "Geoff Bennett, director of product marketing at optical equipment maker Infinera" is for ISPs to upgrade the 2nd mile.

Does anyone other than the ISPs think that having content producers chip in is a good idea?

Re:Caching not a solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23015086)

Any consumer would agree that making the content providers pay is a great idea, the alternative being that the consumers pay the tax.

Next step is that the content provider will ask more money from its customers. The only good thing about this is that the consumers only extra pay for the content they actually watch (only works for commercial providers, the BBC would just increase the TV license fees)

Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (4, Interesting)

nobodyman (90587) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014746)

I like this quote:

ISPs needed to stop using the term 'unlimited' to describe their services and make it clear that if people wanted to watch hours of downloaded video content they would have to pay a higher tariff...
Absolutely right. I've often wondered why we don't treat internet service like any other utility. If I use more water, I get a larger water bill. Same goes for electricity. Why don't we do the same thing for ISP's? A lot of people bristle at the idea of this, but I kindof like it. That way people that only use the internet for email and light web surfing are charged less than people who troll Youtube all day.

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (5, Insightful)

Kickersny.com (913902) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014820)

But then who foots the bill for various things like all the ads that get displayed? It's not as simple as a water bill because a shower head manufacturer can't suddenly turn your water usage up in order to promote a new product.

Yeah, it's a bad example, but it's also a bad idea.

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (2, Interesting)

Skapare (16644) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015082)

The site that has all the ads and big images and videos already pays their own provider to move all that content into the cloud. So each end (web site on one end, viewer on the other) are paying for their respective bandwidths. It's not right that one end should go over to the other customer and demand a double payment.

The suggestion is that consumer grade accounts could be set up that charge by the megabyte actually downloaded. If you don't want to see all those images, turn images off in your browser, or don't go there. Hint: that's not all that much compared to the people that surf YouTube all day and catch up on BBC the next day.

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (1)

vtscott (1089271) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015106)

Good point, users definitely wouldn't be happy to use their metered bandwidth to download ads embedded in webpages. On the other side of the coin though, think about what this might do to the spam/botnet problem. If a user's box got owned one month and started using up bandwidth like crazy spewing v1agr4 ads all over the internet they would probably want to fix the issue when they got their bill. To continue your analogy, imagine how many people would ignore leaky faucets if we paid for water by the month instead of by the gallon.

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (1, Informative)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015328)

But then who foots the bill for various things like all the ads that get displayed?

The people who waste bandwidth on them by not installing something like adblock.

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (1)

kextyn (961845) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014832)

Because bandwidth is not a resource that can be used up. I'm already paying extra for my 30mbps connection. If you just want to get email and surf the web you can go for those $15-25 DSL packages. We don't need per-byte pricing. Some realistic bandwidth shaping and upgraded networks that guarantee every user a minimum speed would solve most of the problems. But the ISPs are greedy.

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015400)

It doesn't get "used up", but it is limited and there is a per-byte-capacity cost. The network infrastructure costs $X/month to maintain, and provides Y Mb/s of bandwidth. That works out to $Z/Mb of capacity, which can be turned into a $A/Mb transfer (preferably with prices varying based on current network utilization, and a way to query the current price).

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23014836)

In a word(s): marginal cost.

water has a "cost" associated with every gallon purchased. The marginal cost isn't necessarily constant, but it exists.

same for electricity.

However, bits on a wire don't necessarily "cost" anything when it's 10 vs 1000. sure 1e3 bits vs 1e24 bits has a "cost" difference, but it's much harder to nail down and quantify versus 100gallons vs 10000 gallons.

never mind the slippery slope you get on when you do graduated pricing--what's to say that the minimum charge doesn't become what everybody is paying now, then you add on for the "extra" usage you get? Who's to say the ISPs would be lieing about how much their "minimum" cost is? Who has access to their internal records of what the marginal cost is of one more user on a network that's already in place, versus the marginal cost of one more user on a network that is to be implemented in the future?

what i find funnier is how these european countries like to brag about their broadband penetration, but then crumble when people actually start to use it, b/c they never really had the infrastructure necessary. I don't hear the ISPs on this side of the pond complain about iTunes, youtube, southparkstudios.com, etc.

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (1)

BruceCage (882117) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015388)

what i find funnier is how these european countries like to brag about their broadband penetration, but then crumble when people actually start to use it, b/c they never really had the infrastructure necessary.
Please don't throw all of us Europeans together. This article is focused on the Brits (note the reference "the whole UK broadband industry"), who from what I can tell have always tended to lag behind somewhat. The ones you're most likely referring to would be the Scandinavian countries, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23014838)

Great idea! Now only those who can afford it can join in the free exchange of information.

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23015488)

You've got to be kidding. If "those who can afford it" end up paying for internet TV, then your "free exchange of information" is going to be so dirt-cheap, that it'll be virtually free. Let's say someone pays an absolutely enormous ISP bill, say $100 per month, to watch TV. They are sucking down gigabytes like nobody's business. Regular ISP users' bills would be under a dollar per month. Raise the iPlayer user's bill to $1000 per month? Great, now you people who are concerned about "free exchange of information" are paying ten bucks. Ooh, that's awful.

Anything that shifts the cost to the luxuriously excessive high-volume users, is good news for the poor. Per-byte pricing would be a dream come true.

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (4, Insightful)

SwordsmanLuke (1083699) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014864)

people that only use the internet for email and light web surfing are charged less than people who troll Youtube all day.
Exactly. This is probably why ISPs have not yet adopted a pay as you go approach. I used to work for a webhosting company and we oversold our service by about 80% (e.g. we only had 20% of the total advertised capacity) but that was okay, because 90% of our customers only used 5% of their purchased package (of course, the other 10% tried to use 150% and complained when their site went down after burning through their alloted bandwidth). If the ISP business is anything like it, they're making money like mad on the e-mail only crowd. They're not going to be happy about killing that golden goose, even if they get to charge the heavy users more.

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (1)

Anti_Climax (447121) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015382)

As bad as it sounds, there's a way they can have both. They're already tracking the total bandwidth customers are using, why not have a base rate to charge people that only use the small amount of bandwidth for email and light browsing, and when people hit the caps thy set, give them the option to buy an additional block of bandwidth.

It doesn't solve the problem to date of ISPs implying a service is unlimited when it's not, but it's not really meant to. At that point, everyone will know where they stand. People will know their service isn't unlimited but they have the option to use as much as they want when they see fit.

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (3, Insightful)

ari_j (90255) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014882)

People like predictability. The amount of water you use is fairly constant over time. Same with electricity, fluctuating with the seasons. Also, both of those are fairly mandatory for continued life, so a little bit of uncertainty will not convince a consumer to forgo either one. Bandwidth and cell phone minutes are different - you can live without them and your usage is harder to predict and more likely to fluctuate on a monthly basis, so you will be less willing to just let them bill you for your usage and pay the bill each month.

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015064)

Theres also the issue that most "limited" broadband doesn't provide any way for you to see how much you've used. One provider even told me to keep track by adding up the numbers in the connection properties after every session.

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (3, Informative)

BForrester (946915) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015200)

It's too bad there aren't any good widgets out there. This is the best program I could find for measuring total daily, weekly and monthly bandwidth usage. (My ISP charges per GB after a certain limit). It runs in the tray, doesn't have a high resource footprint, and it works.

http://www.shaplus.com/bandwidth-meter/index.htm/ [shaplus.com]

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015398)

FYI, that link doesn't work.

i personally like netlimiter's free netlimiter 2 monitor [netlimiter.com] . it'll show you your transfers for time periods ranging from hour-by-hour to over the past year and you can also track transfers by each application, so you can see how much is used by web browsing, how much by torrents, how much by WoW, etc.

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015466)

I have a colocated Linux server and run a couple of monitoring daemons to watch my transfer usage, but in reality my bandwidth monitoring system basically comes down to a combination of the rhythm method [wikipedia.org] and prayer.

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014900)

Absolutely right. I've often wondered why we don't treat internet service like any other utility. If I use more water, I get a larger water bill. Same goes for electricity. Why don't we do the same thing for ISP's? A lot of people bristle at the idea of this, but I kindof like it. That way people that only use the internet for email and light web surfing are charged less than people who troll Youtube all day.

The reason we shouldn't do the same thing for ISPs is because it's not in sync with the way their costs are determined, and because it acts as an artifical barrier, keeping those who most need access to information to better themselves furthest away from it.

The real costs for ISPs are not variable with use. They have a fixed cost to maintain the infrastructure, and capital investments to build new infrastructure. That's it, that's all. I don't want the massive numbers of ignorant poor people to be discouraged from learning and remain stupid, poor and of limited usefulness, and I don't want to participate in business relationships with organizations that do want that. Do you?

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015496)

The real costs for ISPs are not variable with use.
Sure the are.

They have a fixed cost to maintain the infrastructure, and capital investments to build new infrastructure. That's it, that's all.
And those costs depend on how much and how expensive equipment they need, which depends on how much bandwidth they need to provide. Faster networks are more expensive.

Because it sucks for entertainment. (4, Interesting)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015248)

Home internet service is, for me, an entertainment service.

I would /hate/ the idea of pay-as-you-go internet service, because I would /constantly/ be worried, every time I logged on, about how much money I was spending. Consequently, I would not use it at all.

Internet access is flat-rate or nothing for me.

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015292)

I think the inherent problem with that is that ISPs will almost certainly heavily overcharge the user even worse than they do now.

Doubtless they'd charge a flat rate, especially if they were to implement such a system now. People are used to being charged a flat rate so they aren't necessarily going to expect a change.

On top of that rate they will then charge for usage. But instead of charging a reasonable amount per Mb, or whatever metric they choose, they'll extort the user on the level mobile service providers do who charge 20 cents per message. I have no clue what a reasonable rate would be, but I'd venture to say it would be a fraction of a cent per Mb.

Otherwise I'd support such a model if they adopted the same approach as utilities like water, gas or electricity. The only fees charged are based on actual usage and although they raise rates more than I'd like at least they still have to justify those increases to the state.

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015440)

This is complete rubbish. If I watch no TV or I watch TV for 24 hours a day I pay the same amount. I do think the internet is more like TV than comparing it to a resource (water) that you can run out of and have a drought. The problem is ISPs don't want to charge realistic rates because then less people will use it which, imo, might be a good thing.

Re:Why isn't it treated lake any other utility? (1)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015508)

I have to disagree with you and go in the opposite direction. I'd like to see all ISPs always offering you a dedicated link, with the ability to use anywhere up to 100% of it anywhere up to 100% of the time. I'd rather have a slower link than a horrible metered link where I have to constantly worry about how much I'm downloading.

in a semi-related story (1)

OrochimaruVoldemort (1248060) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014774)

wii to receive this streaming, not exactly the cause but still informative

How stupid do those ISPs look now (3, Interesting)

JamesRose (1062530) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014792)

"Stop letting people use the bandwith we sold them!"
At the very least they look incompetant having so woefully underestimated the needs of their customers and over estimated their services.
At the worst they look crinminal for misselling a service and now they're getting outted by these services that have outed them.

If the users are over using their bandwith as given to them in their contracts then give them the surcharge or cut them off. The BBC has payed for their bandwith so there's no reason to get angry there. Frankly this has been an amazingly long time coming and we can only hope that people pick up and start class action suits for these shady business practices. Personally when I have my 8 meg connection which was sold to me via the internet on this BT page "BT UNLIMITED INTERNET UP 8Mb CONNECTION" and several times hearing them claim "Unlimited Downloads" I don't expect to record a graph of my conneciton speeds dropping during peak times to maybe 32KB/s, it's just not acceptable.

When I phone my friends up during peak times I don't get to say fewer words per second, so why is my internet connection any different?

Re:How stupid do those ISPs look now (-1, Troll)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015152)

Phones are (used to be) direct paths.
You make a call you have a dedicated line.

The internets are switched. Like a freeway.

Etc.

But yes, it's complete bullshit that they knowingly oversell. But airlines and hotels knowingly overbook. What are you gonna do about it? You're just one man, a chump, small time, you're a piece of shit. You need them more than they need you. Etc.

Class action lawsuits feel nice, but the corporations laugh all the way to the bank because the amount of money they shell out is trivial when compared to the amount of money the illegal practices got them in the first place. And of course, they continue the practices after the lawsuit.

Less lawyers, more torches and pitchforks.

peak phone usage (4, Insightful)

CustomDesigned (250089) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015250)

You don't have to talk slower, but you *do* get "All circuits are busy, please try later." If QoS was implemented, then VoIP (and live video) connections would have a "guarantee bandwidth" tag that would block the connection until sufficient bandwidth was available, and then reserve the bandwidth for the remainder of the connection. Bittorrent connections would have an "as available" tag to minimize cost.

Under an endpoint driven QoS scheme, if millions of consumers all try to watch the latest BBC special at once, most of them will get the "all connections busy" error. They can then wait (like with POTS), or just start up a bittorrent so that the show will be stored locally when they come back later.

The key to ethical QoS schemes is that the endpoints should do the tagging, *not* the ISP. The ISP should just charge for the tagging. Currently, the ISP decides which kinds of traffic are "unacceptable" and throttles them. That is unacceptable. QoS can make the internet work at least as well as the POTS network.

ISPs are not proper IT businesses (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23014794)

A proper IT business should earn enough to invest into next-gen products, ISPs just want to milk dry already existing infrastructure and don't want to invest money - they also (in the UK especially) use deceptive practices that are now catching up with them. What would have happened if Intel stopped investing into new fabs and R&D? This would have allowed them to cut prices for CURRENT chips big time, so everyone would get a high end CPU, but in 3-5 years time you will have no faster chip and a lot of new stuff driven by increase in power (or bandwidth) won't appear.

At the very least ISPs that limit traffic should never be able to use word "unlimited" in the ads - that's bordering on fraud really or obtaining money by deception.

iPlayer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23014814)

UK ISPs are about to get a lot more traffic...

iPlayer has just been announced for Wii http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7338344.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Over-selling (1)

Doomstalk (629173) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014848)

Why do the ISPs keep acting like victims? The fact of the matter is, they sold their service promising a certain level of speed. Now, when they can't consistently provide what they promised, they blame content providers and their users. It's their fault for over-selling.

Re:Over-selling (0, Troll)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015164)

Now?
They never could.

Re:Over-selling (1)

jdigriz (676802) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015332)

The same reason that companies do anything, to protect their short-term profits. If they had been appropriately reinvesting their revenue in their network to support their 'unlimited' claims, they wouldn't have been able to report X % profit on the bottom line. It's absolutely their fault for overselling (or rather, underinvesting) but they think if they whine sufficiently they may be able to squeeze more money out of people for doing nothing more than following through on what they originally promised.

Yeah, right... (4, Insightful)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014872)

Let's see if I've got this right.

Consumers upgrade to high-speed internet. They pay for it.

When they actually start to use it, the ISPs start bitching about bandwidth and demanding more money.

...laura

Re:Yeah, right... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23015092)

Who said you could leave the kitchen?

Re:Yeah, right... (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015188)

indeed, but ISPs will lose out on this not matter what way this goes. If they change their prices to become more realistic then I'll just downgrade to 128k (instead of my supposedly 8MB) and probably end up paying less anyway. I think most people would probably do the same. So ISPs can lose a vast majority of their revenue and broadband customers or they can just swallow the damn bullet and provide the service they should have been doing for years and upgrade the system

"Arggh, a killer app! Kill it!" (5, Insightful)

WombatDeath (681651) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014976)

Completely mental, even disregarding the obvious point that they're already getting paid at both ends for their fucking bandwidth.

Imagine that you're selling product X. The lovely BBC comes with an application that encourages lots of people to use lots of X. Fantastic! Coke and hookers all round!

Unless you've come up with some sort of freakish business model which relies on people paying for lots of X without actually using it. In which case, well, you're probably fucked.

Good.

What's the problem? (3, Insightful)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 6 years ago | (#23014980)

What's the problem? 300 people connect to the BBC and stream Benny Hill. Those 300 streams take X amount of bandwidth, once for every subscriber, and 300 times for the BBC.

Each subscriber pays for his little tube, and the BBC pays for it's tube big enough to carry 300 Benny Hill streams.

So what's the problem? Why are ISPs bitching?

Re:What's the problem? (1)

atw (9209) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015042)

> So what's the problem? Why are ISPs bitching?

The problem is that while BBC got their own pipe in full from hosting provider, the consumer side of things (ISPs) was knowingly undersold and ISPs build flawed models that assumed bandwidth will not be used much, hence high contention ratios and they don't even have bandwidth for those. Initially they "solved" problem by kicking off heavy users, but with the advent of youtube and others it all went mainstream so they can't kick off their whole customer base. They might try though.

duh (1)

legoman666 (1098377) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015030)

This is as rediculous as trying to make YouTube or any other high bandwidth site pay for the extra bandwidth that their users eat up. If the ISP claims they have unlimited, then the ISP should have to eat their words when push comes to shove and all the users actually want to utilize 10% of the "unlimited" bandwidth they're supposed to be getting.

New Google App Engine Proxy Saves British ISPs (4, Funny)

Saint Aardvark (159009) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015040)

LONDON (AP) -- Google Apps today announced its first big hit: an AsciiArt video streaming proxy aimed at struggling British ISPs.

Coded by a Melvin Haymeggle, a young college student, in a little under 18 hours, the proxy uses the open-source video player MPlayer [mplayerhq.hu] , and the video display library aalib [sourceforge.net] , to convert streaming video on-the-fly into ASCII art [liquidweather.net] .

"At first it was just a joke between me and a few friends," said Haymeggle. "Me and my roommates used it to mess with people leaching our wireless to watch porn. But then Google App Engine [google.com] was announced, and we figured it would be fun to write up some Python bindings for it."

The announcement comes at a perilous time for British ISPs, who have been struggling to come to terms with the increased demand for on-demand video as a result of BBC's iPlayer.

"We were shocked -- shocked! -- to realize that new Internet applications result in increased use of resources like bandwidth," said Charles Freskell, a spokesman for the British ISPs Association. "We were on the verge of sending a bill to the BBC when this proxy came along."

"Of course, we're still going to be monetizing content ruthlessly [slashdot.org] ," he added quickly.

The application quickly and seamlessly converts the iPlayer's 1024x960, 24-bit colour, 30 frame-per-second video stream into an 80x25, 8-bit greyscale, 4 frame-per-second video stream. It is estimated that the proxy will save over 9 petabytes per furlong-fortnight.

Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman could not be reached for comment. "He's just mad that everyone has forgotten this was available in Emacs since 1997," said a source close to the open source figurehead.

Re:New Google App Engine Proxy Saves British ISPs (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015256)

Lovely, more "emacs versus vi" flamebait. When will people learn that ASCII art movies are best viewed in ed?

What if ... (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015138)

What if the ISP that provides BBC with bandwidth for all that video wanted to charge all the broadband users for the cost of extra capacity for having caused BBC to use what BBC is already paying for?

Reinvest Your Profits (3, Insightful)

hardburn (141468) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015238)

When ISPs ask "who's going to pay for new infrastructure?", the answer should aways be "you are, in the form of reinvesting your profits into new development, like every other business does, you useless fracks". The "useless frack" part should be put at the end of most statements when dealing with government-mandated monopolies.

$1,000 offer to anyone (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23015272)

If you can provide proof to me that you have a regular residential connection and are getting the full advertised bandwidth sustained over a 30 minute period, and get this proof to me before 14:45 EST today, I will give you $1,000. For everyone else, you can now sue your ISP, because you now have a financial damage.

Utter foolishness (3, Interesting)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015322)

The amount of idiocy here is amazing. Most people seem to have the historical perspective of a three-year-old. And, they have about the same understanding of the marketplace.

Today, ISPs pay for bandwidth resources. They are indeed responsible at some level of compensation for how much they are sucking down from elsewhere on the network. Then they have their own infrastructure to contend with. Let's ignore for a moment that their infrastructure isn't quite up to the task of 10x (or 100x) increases in demand.

The ISP suddenly is sucking down 10x more stuff than they were before. This upsets all sorts of nice balances they have worked out with peering arrangements and the like. So, now the folks they are sucking it down from - higher tier carriers - want them to pay fro all this extra bandwidth. What, did you think they just plugged in and got whatever they wanted?

Next we have the problem that for the last 10-15 years or so the Internet has been defined by web surfing and email and not much else. Sure it would have been nice if a few ISPs had been forward-thinking enough to build out 10x the capacity they needed to operate. You know, just in case some need came along. Suprisingly, this isn't a very effective way to operate a business.

Finally, in the US (and I suspect elsewere as well) the Internet has grown to the proportions it has primarily because it has been incredibly cheap. What started out as $25 a month for dial-up became $15 a month for DSL. Were these prices sustainable in the face of increased usage? No. Heck, they were sustainable in the face of any usage at all because it was to build market share and prove to the investors that this "Internet" think actually was something people were interested in.

Today, you have businesses paying $400 a month for a T1 circuit that is 1.5Mb while home users are paying $50 a month for 15Mb. The home folks are getting a deal based on the bandwidth not really being used. If you were paying for guaranteed bandwidth capacity, like the business with the T1 is, you would be paying lots more. Probably not $4000 a month (10x a T1) but no way would it be $50 or even $100 a month. Expecting to have 15Mb access 24x7 for $50 a month will get you disappointed. Badly.

The reality of the situation in the US today is that the costs are finally beginning to come down a little - like maybe $300 for that T1 instead of $400. But on the consumer front if the ISPs can't justify shared bandwidth where the average use is far far less than the possible maximum, today's pricing isn't going to hold. At some level there is a cost-per-Mb that isn't going to go away. If you want to be assured of 15Mb access with 15Mb being used constantly you are really going to have to pay for 15Mb. Today, you are paying for something more like 0.005Mb and the providers "know" that is the real level of utilization.

When the level of utilization changes, they are going to have to eventually upgrade the system. Eventually. This isn't going to happen overnight because of the costs involved. Should they have done it before? Maybe. But as of a couple of years ago the majority of use was still email and web browsing and everyone was happy with their 0.005Mb slice of the pie.

I'd bet on people getting more access capability but not a lot more total capacity in the near term. That means things like 20Mb bandwidth that bogs down a lot at peak times and caps on total utilization. I'd also bet on some big price changes coming down. You want to download 20Gb a month at 15Mb/sec? Sure, but you are going to pay. And start paying a lot closer to what dedicated bandwidth costs businesses today.

Internet in Dark Ages (1)

CranberryKing (776846) | more than 6 years ago | (#23015516)

ISP's should change their 'business' name to WEB Service Provider if they are going to make any assumptions about what applications I use and what is reasonable bandwidth. This mentality is part of what stifles Internet innovation, and why we are currently trying to force a world wide web browser to be everything it was never intended to be, ie: a platform in itself for applications. I'm paying for a tcp/ip connection and how I use that is up to me.
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