Another Broadband Tech Exec Says There's No Bandwidth Crunch

from the move-along-now dept

We've pointed out in the past that whenever you hear warnings about a coming broadband crunch, it almost always comes from consultants and politicians. If it comes directly from companies, it's inevitably from the CEO or lobbyists. Yet, when you talk to execs who actually are technologists (even at telcos) they're quite willing to admit that the whole broadband crunch issue is something of a myth. All you need to do is regular upgrades to the network, and most recognize that there's no risk to a network getting overwhelmed. The latest to add their voice to this crew is cable company Cox's VP of technology, who admits that the company's latest upgrades mean that there shouldn't be any bandwidth problems for at least a decade. Yet, how much do you want to bet we'll be hearing that we're running out of bandwidth from a politician or a lobbyist well before a decade is up?


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  1.  
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    No Six Pack, Oct 28th, 2008 @ 9:26pm

    And yet they use this as an excuse to set BW limits and charge extra for overages. Of course, the natural reaction is to limit BW in any way possible. First thing to go is the ads.

    How do you monitor and limit your BW consumption?

     

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  2.  
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    Michael B, Oct 28th, 2008 @ 10:33pm

    Cox is not Comcast

    Comcast, on the other hand, is doing whatever it can to convince people it needs to "manage its network". They imposed a 250GB cap/month in October, now they are rolling out what amounts to bandwidth throttling that will slow down heavy users. This will effectively stop people from using online streaming services (video and audio) and may even cause people to block things like Flash video for fear that Comcast will turn them off (which they will do if you exceed the cap... no extra charge, just a shutoff for a year).

    Comcast's claims of bandwidth shortages are artificial and intended to justify its actions. Like Bush's claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, it's spin.

    Comcast refuses to invest in technology upgrades like Cox implemented, so customers are forced to suffer.

     

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  3.  
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    Fujah, Oct 28th, 2008 @ 10:57pm

    Waves bigger than most can imagine.

    With technologies such as Next Generation SONET and Dense Wave Division Multiplexing, bandwidth is more abundant than ever. 40 Gigs per second are riding waves everywhere over single pice of optical fiber. 100 gig per second waves have been successful on a small scale network. And , there is the equipment out there that has the backbone to support that kind of traffic.
    These companies are currently building, or already have bulit the infastucture for the future of inforamtion and technology. Optical Fiber is the future and every year the amount of bandwidth we can engineer out of it grows expontially all without having to replace the fiber itself.
    So why do i have to pay extra to get reliable internet service?

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2008 @ 11:00pm

    Re: Waves bigger than most can imagine.

    Good question!!

     

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  5.  
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    abba12, Oct 29th, 2008 @ 3:57am

    LOL

    *is quite literally laughing out loud*

    here in australia, a country that really isn't that primitive, there is no such thing as unlimited broadband, ALL broadband is throttled. and the highest limit before throttling? as far as I have found, for houshold use,60GB on ADSL, the main service, 120GB on better services, only available in 3 cities I beleive. So you're complaining and worrying about having to turn off flash video because your internet might be throttled at 250GB? get a life.

     

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  6.  
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    yeahright, Oct 29th, 2008 @ 4:17am

    Absolutely..!!! Give me a break, crying out loud because he may be capped at 250GB/month... That's like 350 pirated movies, or 50000 mp3, if my math is correct. PER MONTH..!!!

    You've got way too much time to waste buddy.

    And complaining again because, OH MY GOD, they will throttle heavy users like that, for whom 250GB/month is not enough. Get a life.

     

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  7.  
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    yeahright, Oct 29th, 2008 @ 4:28am

    Re:

    "...This will effectively stop people from using online streaming services (video and audio) and may even cause people to block things like Flash video..."

    Come on, you're joking right..!!?? At around 2.5MB per minute on Youtube, you would need 110GB/month if watching video non-stop 24/7 : (2.5 * 60 * 24 * 365 / 12 = 110000MB = 110GB) roughly...

    Oh, but you're right, I guess the 140GB left isn't enough for emails, browsing, and other stuff you do while watching Youtube (or other video service) 24/7, and playing on your Xbox...

     

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  8.  
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    Paul, Oct 29th, 2008 @ 4:50am

    Bandwidth Limit

    I'd have to say even I cannot hit 250GB a month in usage considering all the media and "other" information I download. What concerns me about limits is when are they raised? Will this limit be imposed for the next decade at which time it will probably be an issue? That's the only problem I see with limits.

     

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  9.  
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    ulle, Oct 29th, 2008 @ 5:20am

    An ISP advertises blazing fast speeds and unlimited use for X amount of money but then turns around and uses bandwidth caps and throttling, that is where I have the most trouble. I seriously doubt that I could a upper limit of 250GB a month but that is not the point, the point is the ISP should upgrade their equipment to handle what they advertise or be honest about what they can actually deliver. The worst part here where I live is the lack of choice, dialup , AT&T DSL which is terrible here or 1 cable company-TWC which for $57 a month works ok during early morning hours but from 2pm till midnight it slows down so bad it takes youtube videos several minutes to load before playing, even techdirt can take up to a full minute to open using firefox, longer with IE.

     

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  10.  
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    Sys Admn, Oct 29th, 2008 @ 5:20am

    Naturally...

    Politicians get re-elected fro solving 'problems'. No problem? No problem! Just create one.

     

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  11.  
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    Greg, Oct 29th, 2008 @ 5:30am

    Limits

    Why should there be limits, period? If I sign up for unlimited, it should remain unlimited. You people getting on Michael B re: complaints about a 250GB/mo cap need to relax. If he wants to download DVDR's from torrents all day long, that's his choice.

    You should be bitching to your ISP's and gov't officials (as if they'll actually listen) about your capped bandwidth, especially if you were led to believe it was "unlimited" when you signed up for it.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2008 @ 5:34am

    Re:

    interesting point, if you're going to put a cap on my account, then I don't want the ads that I'm forced to look at to count toward my limit. This is all about finding a new way to ad something to your bill...or the corporate wet-dream scenario where you could rack up huge overage bills and not even know it.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2008 @ 8:06am

    Yeah, there is no crunch, except of course for cable's last mile.

    I have had Cablevision repair tech's out to my house 5 times in the last month. They replaced the cable from the pole twice (wonder why it didn't work the first time?) and then replaced the modem 3 times along with some other things I didn't care to inquire about.

    So either there is actually a last mile problem or Cablevision just sucks.

    Well, actually, both of those could be true.

     

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  14.  
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    Michael B, Oct 29th, 2008 @ 8:29am

    Re: Re:

    Speaking of too much time on your hands... you certainly have lots.

    As another poster indicated, when I signed up for Comcaqst I signed up under the "unlimited" premise. Not that I ever approached 250GB/month, but when a company sells you something under a bill of goods, they're fraudulent. It's like GM advertising a car that gets 50 MPG and, after a year, the mileage drops to 10 MPG and can't drive over 30 MPH.

    Netflix announced today that they are starting HD movie downloads. Apple has HD movie downloads already. A full length HD movie can take up to 7GB of download. More and more services are going online... Xbox 360 Online, Wii Online, Playstation Online, the list goes on. A majority of websites use Flash for video and banner ads. If you think that doesn't utilize bandwidth, think again. And, if Comcast arbitrarily slows down your connection because you decided to get several HD movies streamed from Netflix (which makes you a "heavy user") wouldn't you be upset if the movie that downloaded in 25 minutes last week took 2 hours today, or, in a streaming scenario, the movie paused every 5 minutes to download more content over your now-slow connection?

    Comcast, in pafticular, is doing what it can to stop the competing technologies from functioning properly. Yes, maybe (MAYBE) the cap is ok for new customers (who were NOT promised "unlimited service") but the throttling is just wrong. They want no competitin for its digital TV services.

    And in the event you interpret "unlimited" the way Comcast does in an email to me ("it's available 24/7") I suggest you look up the meaning of the word.

     

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  15.  
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    Michael B, Oct 29th, 2008 @ 8:32am

    Re: Bandwidth Limit

    It's not so much when they will b raised, but, because they are so arbitrary, tomorrow they could come back and say "now you have a 150GB limit instead of 20GB", claiming they have SO many new customers.

     

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  16.  
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    Michael B, Oct 29th, 2008 @ 8:34am

    Re:

    But you see, in general, US ISPs have NEVER had caps or throttling. And to impose them now will most certainly limit online services usage. In your case, maybe the ISPs will see that they need to raise the limits, or eliminate them completely. Ours take the opposite approach: Take an unlimited service and start imposing limits.

     

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  17.  
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    Michael B, Oct 29th, 2008 @ 8:40am

    Re:

    (wondering if you're the same Anonymous Coward that posts on Huffington)

    The "last mile" maybe the bottleneck, but that doesn't take down the remainder of the network. In Comcast's case, unike Cox, they are avoiding shelling out profit to improve their infrastructure (which is just fine for cable TV but is nowhere near adequate for Internet services) and takes the cheap way out by simply capping service.

    It's like their approach to people who exceed the cap... just cut the, off for a year. No accounting headaches, like figuring out a higher bill... just terminate them.

    I think that, if Comcast even offered a "bump" price of $5 for every 5GB of overage it would be one thing, but they don't.

     

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  18.  
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    TBK (profile), Oct 29th, 2008 @ 8:41am

    Unlimited use vs unlimited bandwidth

    Unfortunately, the ISPs typically offer unlimited usage (think 24/7) which is not the same as unlimited data transfer (think terabytes)and it is done so intentionally. I don't agree with it, I don't like it, but I do understand it. If the company you pay doesn't give you the service you want then switch. If you have no options - consider wireless or just consider yourself caught in one of the monopolies that has become high speed internet service in the majority of this country.

    The cell phone carriers use the exact same tactics when they throw around the term "unlimited" knowing people think bandwidth and the company is referring to usage.

    Bothers me to no end!

    TBK

     

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  19.  
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    Fujah, Oct 29th, 2008 @ 9:00am

    Last Mile Bottleneck

    The last mile is the problem, currently providers are utilizing fiber for the long haul. Until they run fiber to the home, the bandwith bottleneck problem will continue due to the limits of copper and coaxil. Verizon has begun to run fiber to the home, which should help to clear up these last mile bandwidth problems in the future.

     

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  20.  
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    Michael B, Oct 29th, 2008 @ 9:51am

    Re: Unlimited use vs unlimited bandwidth

    ... except that, for the most part, I think people don't expect to use their cell phones for HD movies, etc., etc.

    I have a Sprint data plan, so-called "unlimited", but I know it's capped at 5GB, which I use MAYBE 200 MB a month. No problem.

    The "pipeline" has to catch up with the rest of technology. People are no longer just sending emails or surfing text-based websites. There is a lot of "rich content" out there which will be stifled by the ISPs.

    I still think that letting cable companies provide Internet access also creates a kind of conflict f interest. It's like Comcast getting involved in WiMAX by investing in Clearwire; they'll try to impose the same limits on its use.

     

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  21.  
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    Michael B, Oct 29th, 2008 @ 9:54am

    Re: Unlimited use vs unlimited bandwidth

    Oh, one more thing... Comcast has NEVER differentiated what "unlimited" means. To suddenly insist that they "meant" unlimited use, not unlimited bandwidth, smells.

    Although, once you cap and throttle a person's usage, it's not even unlimited use, is it... nor is it unlimited access.

     

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  22.  
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    TBK (profile), Oct 29th, 2008 @ 10:28am

    Re: Unlimited use vs unlimited bandwidth

    Although, once you cap and throttle a person's usage, it's not even unlimited use, is it... nor is it unlimited access.

    Glad you mentioned Sprint's cap - I use to work for a company that did Verizon AND Sprint activations for wireless 3G service. Actually it's still unlimited access because you can access it anytime day or night while your contract is in effect. Except during outages, of course, which the provider expressly stipulates they are not liable for in any compensatory manner. They will infer that it is their mission to keep the service up and running at all times but there is typically no actual stated guarantee of up time for the network. A phone call to customer service will usually get you a credit just as it does with the cable companies (Cox Cable specifically here in San Diego).

    ~TBK

     

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  23.  
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    Christopher, Oct 29th, 2008 @ 10:58am

    I disagree

    I disagree, bandwidth is crunched not from limits of it but from Fiber Optic line locations. If you live in a big city that's wired with miles and miles of fiber optic glass then it's not a problem. If you live in a rural community in the midwest or a small country town in West Virginia (like me) then bandwidth is extremely crunched. You're limited by cable's busy hours or the constraints of DSL over coper. Their is a bandwidth crunch but it's very location oriented.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2008 @ 11:03am

    Huffington? Ummm, no.

    As for the network, if the last mile is still broken, I really don't care if the network is up and running fine, my services still won't work.

    If FIO's were available in my town, I would of course sign up. It won't be here until 2010, and that is in NJ. Wonder how long it will take to get to the less populace states.

    One nice thing about Cablevision though, their contractors all have different colored work orders, so we have a nice rainbow of zero balance invoices. Oh, and another thing about Cablevision. They like to advertise that their regular speed is 15MB down and 2MB up, "faster than phone service high speed Internet." I regularly go to Cablevision's own site to test my speed and it has never been above 8. On the other hand, I get 4 up, of course, I don't up all that much, but that is a different story.

    The moral of this story? Cablevision must just suck.

     

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  25.  
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    bj, Oct 29th, 2008 @ 11:36am

    Re: Cox is not Comcast

    It's worse than that. Their reason is that movie downloads are part of your "quota" so either you'll buy your movies from Comcast or upgrade your plan and pay more every month to avoid a shutoff, especially if you're one of the folks who is locked into Comcast because of a lack of other choices. It's both anti-competitive and profitable, another way they're trying to turn the internet into more of a push media, like in the good old cable monopoly days.

     

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  26.  
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    Michael B, Oct 29th, 2008 @ 9:08pm

    Re: Re: Cox is not Comcast

    Well, Comcast (maybe better called CONcast) offers faster, more expensive plans, but the 250GB cap and bandwidth throttling stays the same, so it won't make a bit of difference, other than insure you hit the cap faster!

    And there is no "next tier" when it comes to the cap; you breach it, they turn you off for a year. I think THAT is the most ridiculous thing in the world. They don't want to be bothered.

    I think a broadband ISP that is STRICTLY an ISP with no conflict of interest in its business would be less likely to limit its users and more likely to embrace new technologies instead of worrying how to protect other parts of their business. Let's face it... streaming video over the Internet directly competes with their (overpriced) On Demand movie service... they get $3.99 for a movie (same movie I can get for $1 for an overnight rental from Redbox) but if I subscribe to Netflix for $17 a month I can do unlimited streaming at no extra charge. Now, what would a sane person use? I know the streaming flicks are older. But in the case of iTunes movie rentals, it's the same price (3.99 for a night), so again, Comcast is limiting competition by saying "you can only download so much and then we cut you off... and, by the way, if we deem that you are a 'heavy user' [which is not clearly defined] we will also slow your connection so those movies take forever to download." It's a joke.

     

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  27.  
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    Anon Cow, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 11:09am

    Here is the actual quote, "There is no Internet bandwidth crunch *IF* network neutrality is killed by the FCC, stringent user data caps are put in place, we are able to advertise everything as UNLIMITED, and our existing marketing monopolies are kept in place or expanded. If these things don't happen, the Internet will stop working tomorrow."

     

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