Verizon: Bandwidth Hogs Are A Tech Issue, Not A Legal Or Business Model Problem

from the making-better-technology dept

While AT&T has been siding with Hollywood in saying that file sharing is bad (so bad!) and that it needs to filter file sharing to deal with it, Verizon very clearly stated a few months ago that it didn't think that was appropriate. However, now it appears that Verizon has gone even further, in working with a P2P software maker to improve the efficiency of P2P to make it less of a bandwidth hog.

Now, there are a few points worth making on this announcement. First, part of it is clearly just hyping up one startup that is offering a "legal" P2P file sharing offering. Second, part of this is Verizon using the opportunity to tweak AT&T and make itself look much more consumer friendly (something that doesn't often happen with Verizon, to be honest). Third, this hardly means (as some have been suggesting) that Verizon is "file sharing friendly." It only works with the one app that worked on this test with Verizon. However, what it does show is that Verizon recognizes that "bandwidth hogs" really are a technology issue that can be dealt with via technology solutions on the backend, rather than legal or business model methods that make life worse for consumers. That, alone, is a lesson that hopefully other companies in the space (and politicians) will learn.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Hellsvilla, Mar 14th, 2008 @ 7:17pm

    itsatrap

    No. It's a trap.

    The ISP's do not want to proliferate p2p, they want to control it.

    This is step 1.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2008 @ 7:46pm

    Re: itsatrap

    Quite possibly he is correct and this is a trap.

    It should be noted that the so-called "P4P" that they 'tested' isn't necessarily any better than common P2P.

    In actuality, with Bit Torrent the problem is leechers. If everyone seeded the bandwidth issues would be drastically lower. As it is, people are greedy (as usual) and they want the fast download on whatever they didn't want to pay for (or wanted to pay for and couldn't; content issues and "piracy" are a whole different mess than P2P mechanics). They aren't interested in the "sharing" aspect of File Sharing. They just want their loot.

    As it is, you get thousands of clients trying to download from 50 seeders. Meanwhile, a few hundred people have the files already and don't want to upload anything so everything is being funneled to a handful of connections. No wonder they "hog" bandwidth.


    I'd be skeptical of a telecom company that is "improving" a protocol. Look at what happened to MBone. They didn't want to improve video transfer over the net. Instead they have millions of people streaming video over HTTP and the like rather than using a protocol designed to reduce the bandwidth cost of that very act!

    Oh, and in a few months no one will remember "P4P".

     

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  3.  
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    Confused, Mar 14th, 2008 @ 8:08pm

    right

    I work for an ISP, and I don't understand how optimizing p2p, and reducing bandwidth use, can be tied together at all.

    If the protocol is optimized, in most cases that would be taken to mean that it will perform better at its primary purpose, which in this case, is to CONSUME BANDWIDTH.

    Of course they could potentially "optimize" the small amount of overhead traffic that is required, but that is nothing compared to the actual files they may be downloading.

    Of course this is a trap, although I don't know that trap is the right word...

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2008 @ 8:43pm

    Re: right

    Yup. How does the P2P software know your routing tables?

    Seems a little silly in the consumer space. But it could make sense in a distribtued enterprise environment...

     

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  5.  
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    Rekrul, Mar 14th, 2008 @ 9:34pm

    This is all avoiding the real issue;

    ISPs are selling more bandwidth than they have the capacity to handle. They advertise the highest speed that you can attain because they know that will entice users looking for high download speeds. Unfortunately, their network can't actually handle you USING that speed for any length of time. When they finally do upgrade their network, rather than simply being happy that they can now supply everyone with the bandwidth that they're paying for, they raise the speeds offered to customers, starting the whole cycle over again.

    It's like a restaurant offering an all-you-can-eat buffet to the first 100 customers, but only buying enough food for 50. When the food starts running out, they accuse the biggest eaters of hogging the food and eating more than their fair share. The next day, they buy enouh food for 100 customers, but extend the offer to the first 200 customers and run into the exact same problem.

     

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  6.  
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    Tired, Mar 14th, 2008 @ 10:20pm

    Bandwidth Hogs

    Between 4:00pm and 12:00 midnight Verizon sucks. If they want to promote bandwidth and P2P, youtube, etc. they shouldn't over subscribe their servers. More than 10 of 20 pings get lost on verizon's first and second hops.

     

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  7.  
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    silverwolf, Mar 14th, 2008 @ 10:52pm

    Re: Re: itsatrap

    If you understood even a little bit about how the bittorrent protocol works you might realize how false your statements are.

    With bittorrent everybody downloads from everybody else, even from the leechers because everyone has different pieces of the same puzzle.

    This reduces the bandwidth the seeders have to use not increases it.

    Even if the leechers disconnect as soon as they have finished downloading the complete package they still have to share something.

    Furthermore, I think it's pretty clear that if it weren't for the lawsuits, and the threats of bandwidth caps coming from ISP's then people might not be as afraid to seed.

    You might be surprised at how generous people can be if they are given half a chance.

     

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  8.  
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    silverwolf, Mar 14th, 2008 @ 10:57pm

    Re: right

    Yes, you are confused. Or perhaps just ignorant.

    P2P like bittorrent is designed to efficiently distribute large files. It is not designed to "Consume Bandwidth" as you so eloquently put it.

    The usage of P2P actually greatly reduces the bandwidth necessary to share a large file (or set of files) to a large number of people.

    If everyone was downloading the same set of files using http or some other client/server protocol the bandwidth needed would increase by an order of magnitude.

    More efficient P2P = Less Bandwidth needed to share the same set of files. Which is good for everyone.

     

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  9.  
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    silverwolf, Mar 14th, 2008 @ 11:03pm

    Re:

    This is quite true, and the P4P technology is not a 100% solution.

    But making the networks handle P2P traffic in a more efficient manner will help the issue greatly and increase P2P transmission speeds as well.

    Which is a much better idea than comcast's "brilliant" plan to sabotage and slow down P2P traffic, don't you agree ?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2008 @ 12:41am

    Re: right

    Its "Optimized" because it routes who you're downloading from by region. It means that less data travels over the whole of the internet backbone, and instead tries to send you the lions share of the file from a localized source. For things that aren't availably locally, it still acts as usual. It suffers from the same problem as normal old Bittorrent though, if only 1 out of 1000 people seed, you're chances of getting the localized content is very very low.

     

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  11.  
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    Palmyra, Mar 15th, 2008 @ 5:57am

    4th - Verizon's FiOS is the real motive

    IMO, the real reason behind Verizon's move is that with the roll-out of its FiOS fiber optic system the company has no need to worry about bandwidth and network management. While I am sure then Verizon does not condone illegal activities it more than happy to point out that unlike AT&T, Comcast, and COX it is not going to "network manage."

    Unfortunately for me, I'm moving out of a FiOS area to one that does not have it. Verizon if you are reading this hurry and get it in all of zip code area 43065 :)

     

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  12.  
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    Michael Janke, Mar 15th, 2008 @ 8:59am

    Re: Re: right (Routing Tables)

    The P2P protocol doesn't need to know the global routing tables. A protocol should be able to do a reasonable job of inferring network 'closeness' by looking at latency, hop count, and other indirect means. In the worst case, the protocol could be designed to probe and directly measure TCP packet header TTL's by slinging a couple of packets back & forth before starting a download or upload.

     

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  13.  
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    Another AC, Mar 15th, 2008 @ 9:46am

    Re: Re: right

    Actually, Bittorrent and P2P do increase the traffic load on the isp, they save traffic load for the file provider. They prevent bottle necks on small servers, but they add the overhead of the routing data transfers to the file download to the bitstream. The service providers are complaining because this essentially makes everyone a content provider and they never planned on giving everyone content provider type connections. It reshapes the upstream/downstream ratio they divided their bandwidth into. They actually would have more problems if everyone seeded because it would result in more upstream traffic then they had planned for.

     

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  14.  
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    Triatomic Tortoise, Mar 15th, 2008 @ 11:32am

    Incorrect - It is problem for all of the above

    First, it is an issue technically to provide infinite bandwidth in US having the carriers trying the restrict infrastructure use/sharing all the time in the hope of holding on to their ground. This is short-sighted no doubt.

    Secondly, P2P sharing is a legal problem unless you forget the Napster case so quickly. The technology itself is not against the law but the users often are.

    Third, it is definitely a business model issue. Many countries sell (and not so long ago US did) bandwidth by slices charged to the users. In US the businesses went to grab the market share aggressively by providing these flexibilities to consumers. It __is__ their business model. If that business model cann be backed up by appropriate infrastructure of the service provider, then there is a serious operational problem for the company.

     

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  15.  
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    Nobody You Know, Mar 15th, 2008 @ 11:45am

    some misconceptions

    @ #2 "with Bit Torrent the problem is leechers. If everyone seeded the bandwidth issues would be drastically lower."

    Or would they? Most of the people who are uploading to sites tend to max out their connection 24/7. So if I seed a file, thats just one more file that they don't have to devote a chunk of their bandwidth to. Then they are free to upload or seed another file. Not to mention that the more seeders there are, the faster everyone else gets that file, and can move on to the next one. More seeders = more connections = more bandwidth hogs.

    @ #7 "Even if the leechers disconnect as soon as they have finished downloading the complete package they still have to share something."

    That is until they find that simple setting in their client that controls/disables the upload speed. And most people who are just 'leechers' have.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Woadan, Mar 15th, 2008 @ 3:11pm

    I used to work for Verizon Online and its predecessor, Bell Atlantic.net. I helped build the Tech Support group for BA.net, which the GTE guys disbanded when the merger completed.

    BA was always concerned about bandiwdth under dial-up, and it continued when DSL came out. FiOS was just starting when I left the company, but I have no doubt Verizon is just as concerned about bandwidth with it as well.

    With Dial-up, we found that something like 5% of our users were consuming 90% of our bandwidth. In some areas, this was impacting other customers. So we instituted a change that prevented most users from remaining connected 24/7. Some left claiming that this was a limitation on what they felt was an unlimited service. (The ToS sure showed that to be untrue, nevertheless.) The end result was that those 5% weren't consuming so much bandwidth, and we were better able to provide our service to most of our customers. (P2P wasn't so much of an issue when I left.)

    I haven't looked at the P2P protocol in some time, but I don't recall anything about it being efficient about where it gets the seeds from. If it's available, it draws it. Where that can be an issue is when the few seeders (or the one) who are sharing the file are half the world away.

    I have no doubt that Verizon is concerned about bandwidth. Even if one user only impacts the other users in his area, any dissatisfaction is not good. I also know that Verizon, and at least one of its predecessor companies (Bell Atlantic) have been sensitive to bandwidth issues for some time. I believe that Verizon is seriously and honestly interested in this issue, and will work on P4P to get it working. (And maybe sell to other ISPs.)

    I am not always so kind or forgiving to Verizon. Please take note of this exception.

    Woadan

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Yel, Mar 15th, 2008 @ 3:42pm

    Not unlike the legalizing marijuana arguement

    There are several good things that are accomplished through P2P services. For instance, many people share copies of linux. This takes the bandwidth load off the main servers and allows for faster downloads. This is a very good thing.

    Now, if ISP's take over P2P's by kicking out a good product they can regulate it as needed. They can also put out incentives so that fewer people want to leech. Throw up some adds from Google and you've got money to back the incentives. Beyond this the adds could help to pay for the bandwidth. Assuming this happens, they could make their service faster then the others making people want to use it more then others. Lastly, if they are able to do the above, the ISP maintains the central P2P database. This means that they can keep illegal file sharing to a minimum.

    Hence, through careful implementation they'd be able to tax and regulate P2P, and do so without the user feeling like it has been done. This is likely a better plan then just trying to fight something that seem kindof impossible to beat.

    Ofcourse, this is expecting a money hungry organization to kick out a good product with the user in mind. We've seen how well this is done. (Microsoft) The ISP's aren't loosing money. They are not selling more bandwidth then they can handle. They're analysts to the calculations before hand. They just aren't making as much as they want. It's pretty simple. If you sell a high bandwidth service, 5-10% will keep it maxed 24/7.

     

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  18.  
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    HrilL, Mar 15th, 2008 @ 8:13pm

    Could be a good thing if...

    I have read a great deal about p4p and what it does. And it could really take a lot of load off the backbones. This is because currently BT trackers don't care where the other seeds and leechers are. They just connect you to who ever and that is the problem when there are big swarms with 1000s of people you'll still get connected to people half way around the world and so will they. With P4P it connects you to peers that are a lot closers to you and thus reduces the load on backbones. This kind of idea could be implemented by any tracker if it just checked hop count. And for things with fewer leechers you would still connect to seeds far away if that is all there were. So this is a great idea and doesn't have to be forced on you by one application. And if bandwidth were kept more locally then ISP's would be able to give you more bandwidth because they wouldn't have to worry about overloading their backbones as much.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Amanya Wannahearfrom, Mar 15th, 2008 @ 8:25pm

    Progress- not a new law, FIX THE EXISTING problem!

    This is EXACTlY what I like to see! Thank you Techdirt!

    This is a primo (infant) example of revealing the con rather than keeping it to yourself, write to the media, and if they clearly do not listen (most do not) then keep on writing about the lies.
    Techdirt, I gotta tip my hat! This is actual truth coming out to us, and it is a great thing!

    I sense you realize it, but are not blowing your horn, so I will do so herein.

    The lie here is so clearly delineated by Techdirt I cannot imagine how to add to it. Large groups of people are suddenly exposed as con artists, using laziness as a reason to raise price or (diametrically) lower value by cheapening product over time, linearly.

    Nothing much to add intrinsic except: KEEP IT UP.

    The list is long fort the treatment here:

    1) Healthcare
    2) Auto manufacture
    3) Insurance
    4) Money
    5) Government unlearned to do original job (guard borders)
    6) government in general- fifty subjects
    7) Who did I leave out.... Business using a con rather than a value to affect capitalism mechanism of supply-demand.

    Again, MOST HIGHEST REGARDS to Techdirt!

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Amanya Wannahearfrom, Mar 15th, 2008 @ 8:37pm

    The Subject is really... Fear!

    Fear is the underlying tool used by the (see my just previous article, commending Techdirt)masses, and surely, not every person.

    Some just go along, so busy with their "local" life they do not worry about the decay they report so readily around them.

    The only thing to fear, it was said, is "fear itself" and this is true, but I add "And those who use it to leach out life and health and value from our lives.

    Exactly like the way end user's "Last 50 miles" of ISPs pretend they cannot help the problem in the system, while they truck barrels full of money away from end users while whining about all the new phone lines they must commission.

    Dont go too hard, that is what the major landline companies have also done. Note they only offer DSL where it is convenient, rather than expanding. They have not expanded here in exactly 12 years (oregon) and we still wait, just one step out from their convenient provision of DSL.

    I wonder why I have a landline? oh... for 911. so how many others of you are paying (literally) 30 dollars a month (all told) for 911 service?

    Couldnt you hire a guard to drive up and down your street constantly, if 40 people got together, and used HIS landline for (rarely used) 911 calls?

    Gee. Fear can be used so well to control the herd.

    Techdirt readers: Be like the shepherd, not the mute sheep. If you are reading this chances are extreme you are uniquely situated to realize (notice, comprehend) the ...rot...that is all about us, right down to a plastic piece of sheet, to a plastic bag, nothing has quality, all is disposable, in the ostensible name of progress and environmental responsibility. Try not to gag.

    mike

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2008 @ 12:10am

    Re: The Subject is really... Fear!

    Agreed. I often wonder why we need e911 with GPS capabilities on phones. We got "feared" into thinking we couldn't find landmarks or cross streets.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    Rizwan, Mar 16th, 2008 @ 7:14am

    I'm not completely sure about this, but even though people are forced to upload while downloading on a bittorrent client, the fact that so many people immediately stop sharing once the file is finished creates problems doesn't it? Isn't that what forces people to the few seeders out there?

     

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  23.  
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    Haywood, Mar 16th, 2008 @ 10:23am

    Re:

    "the fact that so many people immediately stop sharing once the file is finished creates problems doesn't it? Isn't that what forces people to the few seeders out there?"

    I'd gladly seed, but, over and over it is stated that uploading is the thing they try to prosecute. I salute the brave souls who seed, I simply prefer not to be sued, so I leech. I do leave things I suspect are safe enough, like TV shows, run to the 200% and above, but I could even be wrong about that.

     

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  24.  
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    Rizwan, Mar 17th, 2008 @ 3:36am

    I get what you're saying, I'd hate to be sued as much as the next guy. One thing I've always wondered though is how many people are actually getting in trouble? I don't know anyone personally who has gotten caught or sued, the worst I've heard of is sites being shut down, like tvlinks and that stuff.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2008 @ 3:52am

    RE: Re: Haywood

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2008 @ 3:56am

    "I'd gladly seed, but, over and over it is stated that uploading is the thing they try to prosecute. I salute the brave souls who seed, I simply prefer not to be sued, so I leech. I do leave things I suspect are safe enough, like TV shows, run to the 200% and above, but I could even be wrong about that."

    Except that you're already uploading when you download anyway, so it doesn't matter if the client seeds after it finishes downloading. If it were somehow proven in court, it would be a simple matter to pause downloading while you finished seeding. Normally, the original source of the download is called the uploader, and everyone else is a downloader, even if they do seed.

    As far as I know, there is only one case of someone being caught using BT, and he was dumb enough to post his full name to a message board when talking about his torrents. BT is far safer than any other P2P.

     

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  27.  
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    Paul`, Mar 17th, 2008 @ 6:04am

    Re: Re: right

    In the end the same amount of data is transmitted, just in a different pattern. Having more seeders would just spread the load over those seeders, the same amount of data will be flowing.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2008 @ 6:21am

    Re: Re: Re: right

    "more upstream traffic then they had planned for"

    Which is a technical issue that can be solved by infrastructure improvements. And being upfront with what you're actually providing to consumers ("speeds of up to...!) might help, too. Advertize a limit, enforce the limit.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2008 @ 6:24am

    Re: Re: right

    A Seeder is just a Leecher who has the whole file; all the data is still being flung around by anyone who has it, Seeder or Leecher. More Seeders are better than less, but even with one Seeder p2p is 'better' than everyone direct downloading from a single source.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2008 @ 6:29am

    Re: Incorrect - It is problem for all of the above

    Saying p2p is a legal issue because users misuse it is like saying roadways are a legal issue because criminals use them to evade police. You're confusing the medium with the illicit activity.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2008 @ 7:48am

    Re: right

    Here is what I don't get. I work at a major carrier hotel (datacenter)in Atlanta that all of the carriers have POPs in. They have access to lease a full 10GigE (Gigabit Ethernet) pipe. If that is not enough to handle the customers, then I don't know what is.

    I have a private cage on one of the floors and I have a 10GigE drop in my cage that I use for my customers. I have never come close to maxing it out with the many terabytes transfered per minute from my clients.

    The simple truth is that telcos and the like have not made any attempt to take into consideration what the customer wants and they are paying for it now. This attitude that corporate America has toward the customer of "you will take what we give you and you will like it" has got to go. This is what is getting these companies into trouble.

    The infrastructure is there, but the companies don't use it efficiently. The solution here is to upgrade the equipment between the carrier hotels (where the carriers pick up their bandwidth) and the customer's curb. The only throttling they should be doing is to limit the connection per user. ie... user x buys 6mbit x .5mbit, that is their limit. Even if that user uses all of that bandwidth, they should not interfere with the user next to them because that block of bandwidth is devoted to that customer and not shared with anyone else.

    Now... if this is an issue with transfer rates, then the telcos need to just bite the bullet and pay up. I only pay for what transfers my customers use each month. We add 10% to that for peaks and that is my commit rate. If they are whining about that, then they need to just suck it up, pay the bill, and let us do what we want. If the network is properly configured, then there is no reason that they cannot support the customers they have as well as future customers; no matter what usage is.

     

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  32.  
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    Mike (Different Mike), Mar 18th, 2008 @ 9:29am

    Wait... I thought I was paying for bandwidth

    So when I pay that monthly bill that ATT sends me each month for my DSL connection, I thought I was buying that bandwidth. Essentially I've paid for 3.0M/512k of bandwidth, so I should be able to use every bit of that available bandwidth 24/7/365, regardless of what app is using it. It's not possible for the P2P program to use more bandwidth that what is available, so it should matter if I am using a P2P app, or playing an online game, or downloading movies using one of the (crappy) legit movie download services. It's not my fault that the companies sell more than they actually have available.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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