As ISPs Look To Charge Per Byte... How Accurate Are Their Meters?

from the not-very... dept

Various ISPs have been pushing for metered broadband for a while now, and we've wondered in the past who will monitor the broadband meters themselves to make sure they're accurate? After all, with things like energy meters, they're carefully regulated and audited to make sure they're accurate. But no such luck with broadband meters, for the most part. Broadband Reports points out that it looks like individuals will be on their own to check on whether or not their ISP is being honest with them concerning how much bandwidth they use.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Alex, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 9:22pm

    Ridiculous

    Judging by how i would feel if my ISP did this to me, i think that the first ISP to do this will instantly lose 1/2 of their customers, or all, if they have somewhere else to go. one of the reasons they think they can do this is the lack of competition in most areas. i know that where i live, each zip code is controlled by a different phone company, so you have to use their service if you want internet, and for me it seems to keep getting slower every day, like the isp doesnt care about us out here

     

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

    •  
      icon
      Jason Buberel (profile), Jan 12th, 2010 @ 10:25pm

      Re: Ridiculous

      But what if your monthly bill fell to half its current value as a result of your being switched to a metered plan? What would be so bad about that?

       

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

      •  
        identicon
        Rekrul, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 12:39am

        Re: Re: Ridiculous

        But what if your monthly bill fell to half its current value as a result of your being switched to a metered plan? What would be so bad about that?

        How much did Comcast users' bills go down when Comcast capped their accounts? How about the AT&T users in Las Vegas, where AT&T is trialing metered billing? How much were their bills reduced.

        I'll tell you how much; $0.00

         

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

      •  
        identicon
        :), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 4:04am

        Re: Re: Ridiculous

        LoL

        Just ask the following:

        - Will I pay just what I consume?
        A: Nope you will still pay a monthly bill and any thing that goes over the limit they set up.

        - Will I have any means to verify consumption?
        A: Nope unless they start accepting your word over their own equipment readings or install a meter in each and every home which I didn't see anywhere in the discussions.

        You are being dupped.

         

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

      •  
        icon
        The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 5:12am

        Re: Re: Ridiculous

        Only geeks like us use adblock now. Just wait until you're "charged" for looking at web page ads.

        I wonder if we can get google to lobby against this for us. Hmm..

         

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

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 5:24am

        Re: Re: Ridiculous

        Tool

         

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

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 9:24am

        Re: Re: Ridiculous

        Do you honestly believe that would happen? for any user?

        Don't think for one second the ISP will have any intention of collecting less than they are now.

         

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

      •  
        icon
        SomeGuy (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 10:41am

        Re: Re: Ridiculous

        That might work if they did actual-metered services, like utilities do -- you pay exactly by the kw/h. That's not what's been proposed, though: you buy a service that has a cap. Every month you pay a fee, just like you do now, but if you go over the cap, you get billed extra. If you're under the cap... same flat fee, regardless of what you use.

        This is an attempt to get more "growth". People aren't looking to get faster Internet any more because speed is no longer an issue; many/most plans currently offer speeds that are more than fast enough for casual users. They want to charge people extra for consuming more data, both so they can squeeze extra charges out of people, and also to encourage people to buy-up to the next tier: it'll probably be cheaper by the month to raise your cap than to go over by even a little bit.

         

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

    •  
      icon
      Mike C. (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 6:40am

      Re: Ridiculous

      Don't forget to consider all the things that you have limited control over as well:

      - Operating system updates & patches
      - Application updates & patches: Office, Firefox, Acrobat, Flash, Java
      - Anti-virus/Spyware definition updates
      - Automatic checks for available updates: Java, Quicktime, Quicken, A/V, Firefox
      - Game console updates: I know my Wii checks in periodically

      There's also the limited control stuff we all love to hate:
      - SPAM
      - Graphic intense web page ads
      - Video ads

      Yes, combined it's a relative drop in the bucket compared to streaming video, but once you're over the limit, every byte counts.

      If my ISP starts down this path, I think I'll be contacting my state rep as well as the Dept of Public Utilities about regulation and oversight.

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 9:27pm

    Accurate

    routers measure bandwidth very accurately. That's where the metered data will come from. Overhead bandwidth is removed from calculations, so the only data that is truely metered is the data the customer is actually using.

    So yes, Users with 5 family members, including that one 15 year old kid who torrents porn 24/7 will be angry. Including those who are too stupid to secure their wireless routers.

    other than that, Most people will save money.

     

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 9:40pm

      Re: Accurate

      History tells us otherwise. History shows that people get billed for bandwidth usage even if their routers are unplugged for the entire month. No one saves with metered billing except the ISPs. They make a killing.

       

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

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 10:28pm

        Re: Re: Accurate

        Not your router. The Router that hosts your IP address, They measure the bandwidth that each I.P. and/or port. get a N+ or CISCO education, and you wouldn't have asked that.

         

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

        •  
          icon
          Mike H. (profile), Jan 12th, 2010 @ 10:41pm

          Re: Re: Re: Accurate

          I think he was saying that home-use personal routers (e.g. Linksys, Netgear, etc.) have been unplugged from their cable/dsl modems for a month, and people have still been billed for usage. Hopefully they were promptly unbilled, but that's not a fight I'd want to have every month.

           

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

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 5:26am

          Re: Re: Re: Accurate

          Misunderstand much ?

           

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

        •  
          identicon
          CastorTroy-Libertarian, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 6:40am

          Re: Re: Re: Accurate

          How about i stick with my Business Education, and say hmmm i have to pay monthly x no matter if I use 1 byte, or many. But if i go over their magical cap, i get to pay more..hmm yea that sounds goood... first bill that comes in like that BYE BYE NOW, thanks for playing...

          But I will admit I hope ATT and the rest try it, the EPIC Fail potential is High, along with (at least in my area) its realitively easy to setup an ISP, so Ill just have to sink some money and setup one up... then advertise it as 1 big pipe, and do what ever you want, we just provide an unmetered pipe... Then I will be able to Log into Techdirt from Bora Bora while numerous customers flock to the unmetered system...Better than a Slot Machine Jackpot...

           

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

        •  
          identicon
          Original AC, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 9:24am

          Re: Re: Re: Accurate

          I see reading comprehension was not of particular importance to you, nor the fact that I did not ask a question. Having worked the front lines for AT&T, I can tell you that they DO NOT CARE. If you can't prove it, it didn't happen any other way than the way they say it did. You lose. Thank you, play again.

          Then again, if you had a basic, grade-school education, you wouldn't have responded at all.

           

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 4:48am

      Re: Accurate

      Except that will also include data sent by zombie computers. Why should I be paying for data I didn't request?

       

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

    •  
      icon
      Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 4:49pm

      Re: Accurate

      What about me, who use the torrents to provide Open source software like Ubuntu, and other business oriented software like that at my BLOG
      http://www.lockergnome.com/microface/
      I have a contract for up to a certain bandwidth with minimums built into the Quality of Service, and I pay through the nose as a business. I have no meter, except what I can prove when AT&T breaks the contract, which I have proven to my satisfaction 3 times a month. Do you know what they do. NOTHING ! I get screwed, because even though I live only 1 hours drive from Sacramento, I have no Cell phone reception From any carrier, and have had DSL from AT&T only the last 4 years.
      I get no help from my congress people, I get no help from FCC, I get no help period. I have a contract, which I have tried to enforce, and only by paying a lawyer a minimum of 10K can I enforce that contract. Under no circumstances will I ever trust any large TELCO/ISP they are nothing but crooks that take your money and break their contracts and then give you the finger when they break the contracts they themselves wrote!

       

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

    •  
      icon
      BearGriz72 (profile), Jan 14th, 2010 @ 7:17pm

      Re: Accurate

      To quote myself from a different thread... 'I can't even begin to process the amount of stupid you just spewed.'

      "routers measure bandwidth very accurately. That's where the metered data will come from. Overhead bandwidth is removed from calculations, so the only data that is truely metered is the data the customer is actually using."
            Yes, Routers that measure bandwidth can be accurate, and that is what the ISP should be basing there measurement from but you have to trust the ISP to be honest about it. HA! As far as removing overhead from the figures. FAT CHANCE! Firstly as I understand it (and I could be wrong here) it would be difficult to do because one TCP packet looks a lot like another so the would have to use deep packet inspection to tell the difference, and if you can you honestly tell me you WANT your ISP spying on you that way you are even dumber than I thought. Secondly and possibly more importantly the more data you use the more likely you are to go over the cap , and the more the can charge you so it is in there interest to maximize that usage, so there is no way they would deduct "overhead"ť. In fact I would be unsurprised to discover that the “Network Traffic Shaping” is causing plenty of dropped packets and lost connections, driving the numbers even higher.

      "So yes, Users with 5 family members, including that one 15 year old kid who torrents porn 24/7 will be angry. "
            Did you really have to go there?

      "Including those who are too stupid to secure their wireless routers."
            So ignorance of best practices in network security should be penalized? I know a lot of smart people who need to be fined then, besides some people intentionally leave an open access point. I myself have one. Granted it is firewalled, isolated from the rest of my network and bandwidth limited (to prevent negative impact on MY use. I am not an ISP) However if one of my neighbors wants to use that connection under those restrictions they are free to do so. That is what it is there for. My ISP is not so shortsighted as to cap my usage.

      "other than that, Most people will save money."
            How do you figure? Nobody's rates are going down. On the contrary they have been steadily increasing while the cost to PROVIDE the connection for the ISP has been going down. The ony people saving money will be the ISP itself.

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 9:28pm

    Did someone turn the calendar back to 1995? Why would I sign up with any broadband/high-speed internet provider who offered metered service? I'm not a heavy user of my smart phone most of the time, but it was purchased for business use, and the days I do use it, I am probably a bandwith hog, and I don't have time to worry about bandwidth limits. I pay $75 a month for the phone service and all-you-can-eat mobile internet anywhere in the United States, and I still also pay for basic home telephone service (because of the security alarm, I can't dump the landline phone), and a decent DSL connection from DSL Extreme.

    Nobody's getting a dime more out of me. If I ever figure out how to uncap the pipe on the smart phone that keeps me from getting anything higher than a 2400 baud connection speed with a tethering app when I connect it to my laptop, I'll dump the DSL service in a New York minute.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    TechNoFear (profile), Jan 12th, 2010 @ 9:32pm

    All Australians have metered/limited broadband.

    There is no accurate way to check your use (unless you trust your ISP's counter). I have seen monthly internet bills over Au$10,000.

    The only solution is to use a 'shaped' account (slowed when limit is reached) rather than a 'metered' account (charged per Mb after limit is reached).

     

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

    •  
      icon
      Mike H. (profile), Jan 12th, 2010 @ 10:22pm

      Re:

      You can absolutely monitor your own use. I really like ntop (http://www.ntop.org/overview.html) - give it a shot; at the very least it's interesting to see your traffic broken down various ways, what protocols you're using, and who on the net you're talking to.

      If there were a discrepancy with metered usage, it'd be handy to be able to show it.

       

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

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 11:30pm

        Re: Re:

        You can absolutely monitor your own use. I really like ntop (http://www.ntop.org/overview.html) - give it a shot; at the very least it's interesting to see your traffic broken down various ways, what protocols you're using, and who on the net you're talking to.


        As a consumer, this isn't my job. As a geek, I'll probably download the program and enjoy it the same way you did, but we're not the majority of internet users. I get high playing with IPCONFIG /displaydns and checking out my blocked IP sites list on PeerGuardian.

         

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

        •  
          icon
          Cynyr (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 6:43am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "As a consumer, this isn't my job. As a geek, I'll probably download the program and enjoy it the same way you did, but we're not the majority of internet users."

          Even that won't necessarily match with what the ISP sent you, i'm pretty sure ntop won't account for things your router drops in it's firewall rules, or packets blasted at you.

          I would be okay with metered access if the ISP let no packets i didn't want get to me. No MS network neighborhood, blaster worm, SSH brute-forcing, apache/IIS attacks, etc. All of that is downstream data to me, that all eats into my bandwidth that I am paying for, but did not request. The problem here is that if they straight up block port 22/80/bunch of other useful ports, I'll go looking for a new provider. How would they have a guess at what is valid traffic and what is not, with out using some sort of deep packet inspection. So I'll be looking to keep my un-metered connection until the issue of unrequested downstream traffic gets solved without DPI.

           

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

          •  
            icon
            The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 7:26am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Bell has done it in Canada, and the only people moaning are big torrent traders, and people attempting to replace their cable TV with 24 hour per day IPtv. For the rest of us, we all come in under their limits without issue.

            I suspect that at some point they will once again offer an unlimited plan, and that plan will be priced well above market.

            If you are using that much bandwidth, pay for it. How tough is that to understand?

             

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

            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 8:43am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "Usage-based billing (UBB) represents a radical change to current practice and is not warranted," wrote MTS Allstream Inc. vice-president of regulatory affairs Teresa Griffin-Muir.

              "It would effectively prevent competitive ISPs from offering flat-rated Internet services, or any other type of offering that didn't follow Bell's UBB model, since they would have no means of containing their costs, if their customers were to exceed Bell's usage caps," she wrote.

              http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2009/04/14/bell-unlimited-download.html

               

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

    •  
      icon
      Chargone (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 2:48am

      Re:

      Meters and limits are standard in NZ too, but we have competition in that market to the point of ridiculousness, at least at the retail level.

      Standard arrangement, last i checked, was a flat monthly fee for X data. If you go over that, most companies will give priority to those users who haven't yet, so you get throttled back based on traffic flow. depending on the situation, this may not slow you down at all, or it may drop you to dial-up speeds, or anything in between.

      some ISPs, however, simply bill you for another chunk of data. (think i pay NZ$10 per 2gig over my cap). presumably they then pay Telecom and/or Telstra (I'm not sure exactly how that works, but they're the ones with their own cable) extra for priority. (to my understanding they pay for a 'share' of possible traffic, which they then sell on to the consumer).

      Most people tend to prefer the latter arrangement, apparently.

      oh, and remember: unlike in the US, there actually IS a physical, practical limit on data into and out of NZ. As in, all internet traffic (and international calls) go through the one, old, undersea copper cable... which i Think goes to Australia, initially?

      And the majority of the traffic is probably going to and from the USA, too. by way of... err... almost every other developed or convenient nation in the pacific between Australia and the USA, if memory serves.

      Should be noted that, as I'm not one to download movies, or much music, i rarely go over my initial $60~ 20 gig cap once, and almost never twice. When that does happen, it's when I've downloaded a large game (legally, i might add, for everything possible, and usually from Europe.)

      basically, infrastructure needs to be either directly government controlled and regulated (this is probably better for small countries) or have have a lot of competition for at least the last stage or two of service delivery. (those businesses can then kick any complaints back up the chain with a lot more force than the individual consumer can, if nothing else)

      looks like the USA gets the worst of both worlds.

      though how you ended up with an internet bill of Au$10,000 TechNoFear, I'd love to know. You're either getting screwed to the point of insanity or doing something really weird.

      *grins* 'course, it helps that, here, there are government funded TV programs who's entire point is finding dodgy business practices, showing you how to spot them, exposing those who conduct them, and applying pressure to get them to shape up. (while being entertaining at the same time). hehe. heck, on a slow day, a $10k internet bill might even make the news if the cause was weird enough.

      ... what was the topic again?

       

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 5:32am

      Re:

      "There is no accurate way to check your use"

      so sure are you

       

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

    •  
      identicon
      Gee, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 6:56am

      Re: TechNoFear

      I use these guys http://purevpn.com
      I pay $15/mo for this and finally now get the bandwidth my isp is charging me for. Because when you use a vpn, the isp can't tell which type of traffic is going through - great for privacy too since isp's are now a branch of the nsa

       

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

  •  
    icon
    mjb5406 (profile), Jan 12th, 2010 @ 9:44pm

    And Who Will Be the Arbitrator?

    Unfortunately, complaining about incorrect metered usage will be much like the French "Three Strikes" law... guilty before being proved innocent. No ISP, for example Comcast, will hold off on suspending a user if they exceed their caps. Even today, Comcast, with their so-called 250GB limit, provides no means for a customer to prove that the ISP's measurement is wrong. ISPs will certainly not be altruistic; if they smell a buck, they'll do what it takes to grab it.

     

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

    •  
      identicon
      Rekrul, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 12:54am

      Re: And Who Will Be the Arbitrator?

      Even today, Comcast, with their so-called 250GB limit, provides no means for a customer to prove that the ISP's measurement is wrong.

      There's a simple explanation for that; ISPs are NEVER wrong. It's as simple as that. You can have a whole room full of IT experts with decades of experience test your system and connection and when you call up the ISP to report a verified problem on their end, you will be told the same thing that every user who has ever called to report a problem with their ISP has been told; "Our systems are working perfectly, the problem must be on your end."

       

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

      •  
        icon
        Chargone (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 3:05am

        Re: Re: And Who Will Be the Arbitrator?

        humm. here about it's typically a 5-20 minute sequence of 'is thing A set properly? is thing B set properly?', unless they've already had someone else complain about the problem, then it's 'is thing a/b/c going wrong? yes? yeah, it's X'. this is typically followed by 'we've told telecom/telecom's already made us aware of this.', because the issue typically is further up the chain than the ISP, though not always, then 'we're working on it. should be back up in a couple of hours' or 'nothing we can do about it. should be back up in x hours' or very occasionally x days if it's a result of a major natural disaster.

        of course, very few of our ISPs are actually full blown corporations, and Telecom was Starting to go that way... so the government stepped in and unbundled the net, and was looking at busting up Telecom, which had previously had a monopoly in a lot of places and services simply due to lack of practical competition. Telecom voluntarily split it's retail and wholesale sections to avoid government intervention though, and has really got it's act together since, while telstra, now able to use the preexisting exchanges, layed a lot more fiber optic cable to provide more competition in other areas (including providing cable-delivered tv. i say it that way because it's just alternate delivery of the satellite/terrestrial broadcast channels, last i checked, but still)

        but yeah, telecom used to be bad like that.
        now, Microsoft is TERRIBLE, in exactly the same way, only more so. And not just to consumers. they regularly treat the repair shops and retailers just as badly. (largely due to their call centers being staffed by Indians, in India, reading from scripts, with no actual useful knowledge

         

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

        •  
          identicon
          Rekrul, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 12:54pm

          Re: Re: Re: And Who Will Be the Arbitrator?

          humm. here about it's typically a 5-20 minute sequence of 'is thing A set properly? is thing B set properly?', unless they've already had someone else complain about the problem, then it's 'is thing a/b/c going wrong? yes? yeah, it's X'. this is typically followed by 'we've told telecom/telecom's already made us aware of this.', because the issue typically is further up the chain than the ISP, though not always, then 'we're working on it. should be back up in a couple of hours' or 'nothing we can do about it. should be back up in x hours' or very occasionally x days if it's a result of a major natural disaster.

          My first ISP was a dialup company called LocalNet, based in New York. The first thing I noticed was that I would often get disconnected within a couple minutes of signing on, maybe 3-4 times in a row before I got a stable connection. At the time I was using an internal USR Courier V.Everything modem. The modem diagnostics showed no errors and the reason for the disconnect usually indicated that the modem had receieved invalid data. When I called to ask about this, I was told that many of their users have USR modems and NOBODY else had a problem staying connected. This went on for the entire time I used the service. They suggested things like locking the modem speed at 38.8K instead of 56K, changing all sorts of settings, etc. None of which helped in the slightest. My guess is that some of the modems on the dialup lines didn't like USR modems and I'd get disconnected until I managed to connect to a good one.

          Then, literally overnight, my download speed went from a steady 5-6K/s to a very erratic 1-3K/s. They blamed line noise. The modem diagnostics showed that there were hardly any errors. They still claimed line noise. I had the phone company test the line and they said it was one of the cleanest lines they'd seen in a long time. They then blamed my computer, even though I hadn't changed anything. I had someone else connect to my account with his Mac. Same crappy results. They blamed general internet congestion, they blamed it on too many people using the phone at once, etc. When I asked why my friend with with a different ISP could download at a steady 5K/s at the exact same time as I was getting 1-2K/s, they simply told me that speeds of 1-3K/s are normal for dialup. In other words, while other companies were starting to deliver 5Mbit+ speeds, they couldn't max out a 5K connection! They insisted that their systems were working perfectly.

          Then there's my experience with Cablevision (who provide Optimum Online in this area). I had their TV service and several years ago, I started seeing some very noticeable glitches in all the New York stations. These glitches were happening at least once per hour. When I called to complain, I was told that nobody else was experiencing problems and that it must be on my end. They sent a tech out, I showed him a tape of the glitches and he instantly said "That's not on this end, there's nothing I can do for that." He called in and was supposedly told that they were working on it. Two weeks later it's still happening so I called to complain. Again I got "Nobody else is experiencing problems, it must be on your end. Let's make an appointment to send a tech out..." This went on for months My friend was seeing the same problems on Comcast, but couldn't be bothered to complain (because he knew how pointless it was). So I tried to let them know that there was a problem. All they cared about was that I wasn't one of their subscribers, because their systemes were working perfectly. When Cablevision found out that Comcast had the same problem, they instantly blamed the stations (all of them having the exact same problems?). I contacted someone in New York and verified that the glitches weren't being seen there. It wasn't until one of the people I spoke to gave me the direct number of the engineering department that this problem was identified. Seems that there was a problem with one of the transfer links, which supplied the signal to both companies. Apparently when they switched to the backup signal for whatever reason, the glitches happened. Even with the problem identified, it took another 2-3 months of my nagging for them to fix it.

          When they switched over to digital boxes, I noticed hourly glitches on all the premium channels that would last for 30-45 seconds. They took at least a couple months to fix this (with the requisite visit from a tech to comfirm that the problem wasn't on my end). Then I started noticing minor glitches every few minutes in most all the channels watched through the box. Like a frame had been dropped. Nope, no problems on their end, must be my connections, let's send a tech out. Although they still won't admit it, that problem seemed to the result of bad firmware because it went away when they gave me an HD box, while the normal boxes continued to show the same glitch. That one was on my end, but was the fault of their equipment, even though they won't admit it.

           

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 1:01am

      Re: And Who Will Be the Arbitrator?

      Excellent point!

      It would probably be easier to manage it in a similar way like gas/fuel measures and grocery scales. Currently, it's typical for fuel pumps and grocery scales to be certified and managed on a local/state level.

      There should be three ways to monitor compliance, all involve non-intrusive probes installed at the customer premises.

      1.) Compliance hotline. This would be on the lines of asking the State to audit a faulty scale at a grocery store. Upon calling, the State would increase the number of probes installed with that ISP for three months and reconcile the data.


      2.) State employee monitoring. State employees or friends of state employees voluntarily plug in a probe to their intrawebs which captures IP performance data.

      3.) Random Sampling. This should be as random as possible: Send citizens a required passthru device to hook up to their internet/cable modem. If your name comes up, your cooperation should be compulsory like Jury duty.

      In the event of a citizen complaint, probe data will be reconciled against mandatory metering which will be required by the state to be maintained by ISPs (bandwidth utilization in upstream and downstream only) in regular 3 hour intervals.

      ISP meter discrepancies of +/- 3% will be subject to fines of $3500 or more.

       

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

      •  
        icon
        Chargone (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 3:15am

        Re: Re: And Who Will Be the Arbitrator?

        ... tell me. is it as depressing as i think it is to live in a place where this is needed just to get a service provider to NOT rip you off?

        Also: do you seriously think 3,500 means Anything to large corporations? they eat more than that in legal fees for no good reason on a regular basis. i know US$ is worth more than NZ$, but not That much.

         

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

        •  
          icon
          nasch (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 1:43pm

          Re: Re: Re: And Who Will Be the Arbitrator?

          $3500 per billing cycle per customer? It seems that would get their attention. One such fine would wipe out something like 5 years of gross revenue from that customer (and who knows how much profit).

           

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

  •  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jan 12th, 2010 @ 9:55pm

    Sickening!

    If I had a few billion $$ I'd get in the ISP & cell phone biz and show those other assholes what competition is.

     

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

    •  
      icon
      Chargone (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 3:17am

      Re: Sickening!

      and, if I'm understanding rightly, run face first into government regulations designed to prevent that.

      oh... billions.

      yeah. you'd need that. all the non-bribes...

      'course, you could always go for Trillians "hey, guys. stop sucking and I'll pay the (interest on the) national debt for you"

      hey, it could happen.

      in theory.

      maybe...

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    CAS, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 10:17pm

    every time

    this argument comes up, I wonder why I'm the only person who seems to make a distinction between total usage and peak demand.

    ISP's continually make the false argument that one user downloading 1TB a month is actually impacting the speed at which I access the internet. In fact, because that user is paying for his peak demand and I am also paying for my peak demand, we should be able to access our respective peaks at any time. Bandwidth is not the same as bytes. The problem, of course, is that ISPs are selling bandwidth that they cannot accommodate and that is the real problem.

    Even with electricity, the bulk of the cost consumers pay is for T&D (transmission and distribution).

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    foolish, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 10:59pm

    if they really want gran mas and such

    seeing how they want to have those low users
    and a rcent poll done on dslreports showed over 95% do well over 120gb and my bet is a lot do well over that
    this is nothing short of monpoly abuse of power and price gouging

    think BCE and its coming 60GB thy already are overcharging us in canada for a 5 megabit plan at a total ocst with lines and taxes i pay 67$
    this is the cheapest unlimited i can get and have to sahre it with a disabled guy and a low income earner

    add there proposed UUB and none of us are going to have net period

    this is going to back fire and the rogers cable doubling its overage costs means what?

    CANADA IS NOW THE MOST EXPENSIVE COUNTRY IN THE WORLD FOR INTERNET.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Jake, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 11:25pm

    3G wireless broadband providers here in Britain make it work; some offer prepaid 'top-ups' of bandwidth that you can buy if you go over your quota, and one or two offer a prepay-only option. I don't see why that system couldn't be scaled up to bigger quotas than about 5GB a month.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anon, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 11:29pm

    Definitly will need oversight.

    South Africa also has metered bandwidth. Typically you purchase a number of Gigs and once those are used up your connection either stops or gets limited only to the ISP's network, so you can buy more.

    The concept itself isn't bad. Connectivity is a commodity just like electricity so paying for what you use is actually fair, assuming its priced correctly. Without monitoring by an external company its really risky though.

    One South African ISP has been making waves lately buy selling at well below their cost price, supposedly to attract more customers for when the price comes down but bandwidth they sell seems to tick up much faster than bandwidth purchased anywhere else.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 1:22am

    Re: How to get Pregnant

    Spam much, idiot?

     

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

  •  
    icon
    Thomas (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 3:51am

    no incentive..

    for ISPs to be honest about usage; the more you use the more you pay. Since there's probably no way for anyone to verify accuracy, ISPs would have a field day. And what about Verizon FIOS? The internet connection also brings you pay-per-view and the program guide, so if you watch a pay-per-view you'd get charged not twice; once for the ppv and once for the usage, an isp's dream!

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    :), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 4:01am

    Metered bills are a scheme.

    Bandwidth hogs are a fairy tale and so is the metered bill.

    Consumers will not get lower prices, but services will be greatly impacted.

    Metered is the solution to the perception ISPs have about others offering services on the internet.

    They will control and discourage through pricing what they couldn't do through legislation and policies.

    And don't forget the ISPs actually are part of the entertainment industry already in the U.S. and the caps and billing schemes will reflect that.

    You already pay for the bandwidth you use, is because of oversubscribing to ridiculous amounts that your connection is slowed down at times no amount of BS will change peak times and the problems that come with to many people using the same line at the same time, further metered will allows ISPs to put even more people on the same line as people will start to be conscious of usage so any gains from less usage will be erased by more costumers on a single node.

    Metered is not fair is an illusion, because people were sold the bandwidth and was the ISP work to maintain that and they do using traffic shapping how hard is to shape everybody not counting the fact that if it was really metered you wouldn't have a fixed price tag to begin using that.

    About the ability to meter, well there is no way for the consumer to meter the bandwidth when they don't control or have access to the router making the measurements, so you can have your home router disconect and have someone spoof your connection and you will be billed for it, how hard is to spoof MAC addresses?

    People thinking metered is fair are dumb.

     

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

    •  
      identicon
      AJ, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 4:24am

      Re: Metered bills are a scheme.

      Agreed. There is away to many ways to abuse the customer with metered billing, and most of the sheeple wouldn't have a clue they were getting screwed.

      If they put metered billing on my internet use, I want metered billing on my cable T.V. as well. I shouldn't have to pay for cable when my T.V. isn't on right? Same deal with my telephone! What a scam....

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    :), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 4:14am

    Metered bills are a scheme.

    Forgot to mention you already pay metered internet because if the scheme is accurate then is no different then tiered pricing for internet speeds that already have caps.

    ISPs already capped most people ans use traffic shapping to deal with peak times so where is the logic to charge people?

    So they can put even more people on a node?
    So their own TV, webradio and VoIP can be accessed for a "bargain price"?

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    :), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 4:53am

    Metering accuracy.

    If it is anything like verizon the metered accuracy will be hard to be accurate :)

    http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Verizon-Customers-Still-Struggling-With-Phantom-199-Fee-106 327

     

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

  •  
    icon
    that_id (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 4:54am

    'Green' internet usage devices

    Great, now IT guys will have to contend with the new wave of routers, internet connectivity devices and various crap-ware that will inevitably claim to optimize metered billing accounts and save money on the frugal customer's bills...

     

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

  •  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 4:54am

    Cost of Metering

    I remeber BT's "futurology expert" saying that the big problem for phone companies was that the cost of metering was becoming the dominant cost in the system.

    So if usage is metered then you will be payibg more - if only to cover the cost of metering itself.

    Plus I got kicked of the internet for "exceeding my usage allowance" a few years back. TRhe whole process was extremely annoying and it seemed like they'd made sure I could not get in touch with them to discuss what had happened.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    :), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 5:01am

    Metering accuracy.

    If it is anything like warner the metered accuracy will be hard to be accurate :)

    http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Stock-Jocks-Love-Time-Warner-Cable-106342

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Bert, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 7:53am

    Metered bandwidth

    I have no concerns about the accuracy of ISP metering. My concern is over the delays in receiving notices that usage has exceeded or is approaching the usage limit imposed on my ISP account.

    My account gives me a 6 GB per month usage target, above which I am charged a ridiculous 5 cents per kilobyte. Yes, you read correctly. Even the support agent believed that must have been a typo in the literature.

    So, it came as quite a surprise when I received two back to back notifications via SMS (within the same second according to timestamps) saying, respectively, that 1) I had reached 75% of my limit and, 2) I had exceeded my limit and had, so far, accumulated $20 in overcharges. When I called customer support and eventually reached a supervisor of customer accounts I was told they could not see bandwidth usage statistics less than two days so they couldn't help me understand when I really went over the limit. They also told me that their sytem had supposedly sent me many more notifications on my way to that limit, yet I received only one. They also admitted that somtimes multiple notifications are clumped together by the system and they have no control over the accuracy of timing related to these notifications.

    Yet, the supervisor was quit proud that the ISP had implemented such a notfication system.

    That very same supervisor also eventually admitted that he relies on his iPhone network usage meter to track his Internet access.

    Go figure.

     

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

    •  
      identicon
      :), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 12:30pm

      Re: Metered bandwidth

      5 cents is still high people are paying less right now.

      0.05*1024(1MB) = $51.2

      One webpage that you see today will cost you dearly.

      People actually are paying 5 cents on megabytes and not KB(kilobytes).

      If you use broadband in just seconds you will be paying hundreds of dollars.

       

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

      •  
        identicon
        Bert, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 2:57pm

        Re: Re: Metered bandwidth

        Yes, I did say the overcharge was ridiculous. Fortunately, my ISP limits the overcharge to $100 per billing period; how nice of them.

        I guess the lesson to learn from this is: if you are going to go over the limit and you can't control by how much before the fines come down, you may as well treat continued internet access as unlimited until the end of the billing period; after all, you've already been charged for it.

         

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

        •  
          identicon
          :), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 5:05pm

          Re: Re: Re: Metered bandwidth

          Sorry I got the impression that you was saying that it was cheap when you said "ridiculous", mea culpa mea maxima culpa.

           

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

  •  
    identicon
    RD, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 9:00am

    TAM the amazing TAMHOLE

    Again, more ignorance and stupidity out of your piehole:

    Bell has done it in Canada, and the only people moaning are big torrent traders, and people attempting to replace their cable TV with 24 hour per day IPtv. For the rest of us, we all come in under their limits without issue."

    Oh, so we arent supposed to EVER take advantage of new technology, products or services offered over the internet, we have to freeze what is offered to 10 years ago and never advance? WTF is "people attempting to replace cable TV" being used as some kind of prejorative? If its offered, SO WHAT if people want to use that instead of cable? Oh thats right, it wouldnt serve your corporate masters for people to do so. Ever heard of Netflix streaming? According to you, this shouldnt be offered, or at the least, its somehow "a problem" for the consumer to choose this over expensive cable TV. Corporate tool shill.

    "I suspect that at some point they will once again offer an unlimited plan, and that plan will be priced well above market."

    Perhaps, and probably, but that IS NOT

    IS

    FUCKING

    NOT

    currently what they are offering. (see part 2 of this rant below)

    If you are using that much bandwidth, pay for it. How tough "is that to understand?"

    Because, you corporate tool, the ISP's offer UNLIMITED CONNECTIONS. This is what THEY OFFER. THEY set the marketing for it, and blare loudly "UNLIMITED." You PAY for it already. Let me say that again:

    YOU

    ALREADY

    PAY

    FOR

    IT.

    Full fucking stop.

    Buy a clue, or stop trying to inject your shill arguments that only serve to go against ANY consumer rights or even lawful rights to GET WHAT YOU HAVE ALREADY PAID FOR.

     

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

    •  
      icon
      Derek Kerton (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 5:07pm

      Re: TAM the amazing TAMHOLE

      "the ISP's offer UNLIMITED CONNECTIONS. This is what THEY OFFER. THEY set the marketing for it, and blare loudly "UNLIMITED."

      OK. So it sounds like you would be OK if they stopped selling that, and started selling something that wasn't unlimited? And set the marketing to honestly express what they now sell.

      There is no legal or ethical reason that they should not be allowed to change the product or service they sell. Customers have radically changed the way they consume and use the service, so the seller should also be allowed to adjust, too.

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 12:40pm

    If they charge or restrict my usage, can I demand that they censor downloading data I do not want, ie ads that they insert?
    Spam that they let through?

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Wesha, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 1:24pm

    I'm on Comcast and my traffic analyzer shows a steady stream (1Kbyte/sec) of broadcast ARP requests for all sorts of IP addresses that are not mine. YES I know it's essential for how the network works. But now the point is I DID NOT REQUEST THAT INFORMATION TO BE TRANSMITTED UP MY LINE, and thus I'm refusing to pay for it. :-b

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Wesha, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 1:30pm

    1. Get a metered plan.
    2. Conspire with friends outside of the US that they will send large amounts of useless data to the IP address of your cable modem.
    3. Turn your computer off and go on vacation (all in the presence of witnesses).
    4. Return from vacation. Receive a $$$$$$ usage bill from the ISP.
    5. SUE THEM! for fraud ("But Your Honor, how could I USE that bandwith? My computer was off all that time, and I can prove it!")
    6. PROFIT!!!!

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    :), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 1:49pm

    It is not about being fair.

    Time Warner ISP have no problems with congestion and had a great 2009 with cost down, user uptake up.
    http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/04/time-warner-cab/

    Ars calculated the price per GB.

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/04/the-price-gouging-premiums-of-time-warner-cab les-data-caps.ars

     

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

  •  
    icon
    anymouse (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 4:15pm

    Lets put on the Tinfoil Hat for a minute and think about this....

    ISP's want to start getting paid for heavy usage, yet they are currently unable to prevent spam or other undesired traffic from hitting my connection/computer when it's online. This is when they 'should' actually have a reason to prevent this type of traffic (it clogs their networks and slows all overall traffic, according to them).

    What do you think is going to happen when ISP's have a financial incentive (overage charges) to dump as much traffic as possible on your connection in order to get you to your cap and then to the higher 'usage' fees?

    If this plan were to happen, I can see some unscrupulous companies (ie. 99.99999% of them) actually helping to increase the undesired traffic that hits their customers, thus increasing their fees. Once they are getting paid for all the undesired traffic, we can be pretty sure that they will never figure out any way to stop or prevent it, and we would probably actually see an increase in bot-net and other types of 'scanning' traffic that would dramatically increase an individuals usage above what they are actually using the internet for.

    Or perhaps I'm just a little paranoid about the types of incentives we should be giving companies.... Then again, who am I kidding, we continually 'reward' the ones who screw things up, while blaming the ones who are footing the bill (Insurance/Auto/Mortgage bailout anyone?).

    My hat must be a little tight today, that's what I get for not using Reynolds Wrap... when you're paranoid enough to use the very best, use Reynolds Wrap.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 6:29pm

    RD and Bell

    RD your an idiot and you probably have your tongue stuck to a steel pole.

    EVERYONE IS LEAVING BELL. Repeat, Everyone.

    Bell is scraping for customers so badly that they deliver these colour idiot magazines screaming how good they are for free to your home. Yet they are the biggest idiots when it comes to metered service.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 9:51am

    Mobile Phones Too

    This is the same thing the mobile phone companies do. You have to pay according to how many minutes *they* say you used last month and of course they lie all the time. Each month I tell them that there is no way I used that many minutes but they keep saying I did and I have to pay anyway. It's all a big rip off.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 1:01pm

    Not Metered

    What a lot people want to call "metered service" is not true metered servce. It's capped or tiered service. Big difference.

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This