Bandwidth Caps Forcing Users To Police Their Own Household Internet Usage

from the just-what-the-entertainment-industry-wants dept

We've discussed in the past how broadband bandwidth caps can slow innovation by adding mental transaction costs to basic internet usage. People don't want to have to think about how much bandwidth any particular usage might take. They don't want to have to consider that if they click a particular link it might eat up a significant portion of their monthly allocation. There are some other issues as well. Mathew Ingram tells of his experience bumping up against bandwidth caps in Canada, in which he couldn't figure out what had happened:
I have three teenage daughters who also download music, TV shows and so on. I figured someone had just gone a little overboard, and since it was close to the end of the month, I thought it wasn’t anything to be worried about. The next day, however, I went online and checked my usage (Rogers has an online tool that shows daily usage), and it said that I had used 121 GB more than my allotted amount for the month. In other words, I had used more than 100 GB in less than two days.

I just about spit my coffee all over the computer screen. How could I possibly have used that much? According to Rogers, I owed $181 in overage charges. Luckily there is a maximum extra levy of $50 a month (just think what it would cost if I was subject to usage-based billing).
So he felt forced to go track down what the issue was. At first (with prompting from Rogers tech support), he thought the issue might be his open WiFi, so he closed that down. He asked family members about their usage, and they all insisted they weren't doing much. However, just a few days into April, he was told that his connection had already used up the monthly allocation, leading to a second search, and the eventual discovery that one of his daughters had downloaded some TV shows, but left a file sharing program running in the background, which probably accounted for the extra bandwidth usage.

In other words, he had to become his own local area network cop, to figure out how his own network was being used and for what. Now, I'm sure some will argue this is a good thing. They'll say that you should be responsible for understanding everything that goes through your router. And, of course, those who dislike file sharing will argue that this is a wonderful side benefit to these bandwidth caps. But, it really shows yet another pain in having bandwidth caps. It adds a lot more work to having an internet connection at home -- work that really shouldn't have to be done by someone who just wants to access the internet. Perhaps we'll end up with more sophisticated tools for people to track their home internet usage, but in the meantime, it seems a bit crazy to force everyone to be their own local area network traffic cops.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:05am

    "...one of his daughters had downloaded some TV shows, but left a file sharing program running in the background, which probably accounted for the extra bandwidth usage."

    The trolls must be wetting themselves. This one is so easy to abuse.

    On a more serious note, I really don't see the point of ISPs offering up large bandwith, when users are limited in how they can use it. I mean, if the system allows a user to download 100GB of data in a two days, why is he capped in a way that does not allow that bandwidth to be used fully? If they are not willing to extend those caps, they might as well cut down on the bandwith.

    But I guess fooling the customers is an easier (and more profitable) route.

     

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    ReallyEvilCanine (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:09am

    Bandwidth caps?

    Let me just confirm: you have to check the number of bits going over your phone line with your "UNLIMITED" service?

    In 1977 I only had to pay attention to the number of hours I spent on-line. Boeing and The Source only charged for minutes, not data.

     

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    Anonymous Poster, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:10am

    it seems a bit crazy to force everyone to be their own local area network traffic cops

    No, it most certainly does not seem crazy! People need to stop using up so much bandwidth so the telcos can use it to...uh...well, hell, what DO they need all that bandwidth for?

     

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    Simon Dufour, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:15am

    I agree with you

    I agree with you. Sometimes, I also feel like my ISP calculations are off. However, there's no easy way for consumers to track the data they really used. I tried to find such a tool online and they were either expansive or required specific routers on which you added custom firmware. A normal user would never do that. It's kind of a mess actually. I normally have to pay $8 CAD for each GB over my 90GB bandwidth and I can get 15Mbit/s.. which is about 2MB/s on fast servers. I could get over my 90GB cap in 1 day if I was not cautious at all. I have stuff that has been queued up forever on my Steam account (game download service) because my bandwidth isn't enough to download them all. However, I already pay $56 per month for my Internet. It's a lot.

    I hope that someday, politicians will see the truth. The bandwidth don't cost that and the prices are fixed by the telecom. It's as easy as that. It saddens me. I currently have 20GB left on 90GB for the rest of the month. So no, I ration my bandwidth for occasional YouTube videos. What can I do? Oh.. I could pay for bandwidth package to expand my bandwidth for the month. How's that fair huh?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:16am

    I'm from Canada and I'm subject to the same thing, though with another ISP. To be honest, he just needs to get with the times. It's been like this for the past 5+ years here. he only has himself to blame really.

    Don't wanna go over traffic caps? Buy a 15$ seedbox account. Don't want to have to police your ROUTER? Then police your COMPUTERS, especially when you have 3 kids. Tons of software will let you chose when your kids are allowed to do; and if you can't trust them to use their judgment, like this case, then use those tools...

    So much for common sense.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:20am

    "Fatal Overdose Forces Addict to Police His Own Heroin Usage".

     

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    Simon Dufour (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:26am

    Re:

    Common sense? Common sense is to be able to get a service worth what you pay for. Getting charged $8 per GB exceeding your cap isn't fair. Getting massive transfer rate but ridiculous bandwidth is also bullshit. I'd pay a lot to get 5Mbit/s and unlimited bandwidth but no.. all I get is a stupid 15Mbit/s and a 90GB cap. If bandwidth really cost anything, I'd be another matter. But right now, there's no one being paid to deliver your Bytes to your computer.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:28am

    Re:

    This guy has a connection that's fast enough to let his daughter keep her P2P program open and upload over 100G in two days and no one noticed. Max threw-put at any one given moment is obviously not a problem and ones and zeros are infinite, so where is the problem that requires a bandwidth cap?

    And to all of you who are thinking about bitching about downloading TV shows, I would like to point you to Vodo. I download TV shows from there all the time, and nothing is illegal. So go screw yourselves to allowing a monopoly the chance to destroy a rising industry.

     

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    Simon Dufour (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:28am

    Re: Bandwidth caps?

    Minutes are easy to calculate yourself. Data is not. It would not stand the test of time though heh.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:29am

    Re:

    Ah, straight into the idiotic hyperbole, I see? I'm surprised it took 5 posts to see you.

    There's at least 4 things wrong with this moronic comparison, but I'm sure you know that.

     

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    Simon Dufour (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:32am

    Re: Re:

    Yep. I have more than 500GB of games waiting for download on my Steam Account. Legal stuff. A game can sometime be up to 15GB.. that can get over your bandwidth cap pretty fast. I can download about 168.75GB per day.. approx. And I have a 90GB bandwidth cap.. PER MONTH.

     

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    AJ, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:33am

    Other Direction

    If I'm getting a bandwith cap, with overages capped at 50 bucks, I would make sure it was worth my while. If i thought i was goin got run over, i would shoot for the moon. Max out every second of up and down, may as well get your monies worth...

     

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    NullOp, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:37am

    Cop

    Everyone SHOULD know how much traffic there is on their network. Because this is America, home of the greedy, there probably will be huge charges for using that extra byte one day.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:38am

    Re: Other Direction

    ha!

    When I had rogers that what I did... TB a month. Was great.

     

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    a, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:44am

    always been

    Wow us Aussies have always had caps, im on 50gb peak 50gb off peak (2am -8am) $69aud p/m, go over and im 'shaped' to dial up speeds. uploads ARE included so P2p is a definite hog. One company has just relaeased true unlimited but their speeds are woefully slow. We really are in the backwaters here, plus since most content comes through 1 or 2 pipes from USA our speeds are quite slow. Feel bad for us or feel better about your own situation!

     

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    SUNWARD (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:47am

    same here

    have Bell sympatico and now I set up an email reminder if I go over 75% usage in a month. I am using way more than I thought (50-70 gb per month).

    Just last week one day was almost 6gb. Seems someone in the house downloaded a free demo of 4gb. It was a bad game to boot.

     

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    Big Al, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:56am

    Re: always been

    Add to that that Telstra control the pipes and charge the ISPs on a terabyte basis (not bandwidth - data metering) - their caps are our caps...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:57am

    Re: Re:

    This guy has a connection that's fast enough to let his daughter keep her P2P program open and upload over 100G in two days and no one noticed.

    That's an average of slightly over 600 KB/s uploaded, right? And they still had bandwidth to spare? Dang. Where I live, the only ISP in town has an absolute maximum of about 40 KB/s for uploading. At least we don't have bandwidth caps yet...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 6:00am

    Re:

    Wow. Dead people need to police their own Heroin usage?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 6:03am

    Also shows how screwed it is to live in Canada. Innovative in Health Care and screwed everywhere else.

     

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    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 6:08am

    Re:

    I was going to suggest replacing "Internet" with "Water".

     

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    charliebrown (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 6:10am

    I'm gonna comment on this BEFORE reading it. Why? Because I live in Australia where broadband caps have been in effect since we got broadband. All ISP's bar one now count uploads here. Now as much as I would LOVE unlimited data on my internet connection (and, you know, I agree with you about not being able to fully exploit the benefits of the internet when you gotta worry about your usage) I don't think it's going to happen. Ever. Full stop.

     

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    charliebrown (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 6:16am

    Re: same here

    This is one of the reasons Mike is against data caps. Games are a HUGE thing in the computing world and just the demos often take 2GB (4GB for a game demo sounds like heaps but is not outside of the realm of possibility) - Yet maybe they should have just bought the whole game? Ha! The game sucked so they saved their money, so that's great. Oh, wait, there goes almost 10% of your monthly data!

    One way around this would be for ISP's to set up mirrors (copies) of content, such as game demos, free software, legal videos, etc, on local servers that are not counted towards your usage. Some Australian ISP's have done this and their users appreciate it greatly! Maybe the ISP's up in Canada could look into doing something like this too?

     

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    Berenerd (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 6:16am

    i am a geek...

    I monitor my usage (and my roommates because I can. they don't care). We have Verizon DSL (why we can't get FIOS being right next door literally to their switching station I have no idea) We have 3 PCs running games atleast 9 hours a day 3 other PCs connected to work and uploading/downloading files for work (we are all IT workers) and I have a streaming media server. What do I stream? Mostly my own stuff for when I am not at home so I can travel light. We easily use 100GB per month and that is without my streaming media server. If Verizon told us we had to pay overages they would find an issue with their local switching station using too much bandwidth. I wonder if they realize they have an open wireless AP there. Free wireless for the neighborhood! Goverment also subsidises them (and all other telcove/broadband providers) so tha tthey have a lower cost to push this stuff out. They run on older equipments that can't handle today's need. This is why they throttle and put caps.

     

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    Vincent Clement (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 6:22am

    Re: Re: same here

    Why would an oligopoly of ISPs want to improve customer service and reduce their revenue stream?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 6:25am

    Bandwidth caps vs speed

    Let's say he has a 100 gigabyte/month cap. Divide by the number of seconds in a month.

    This is equivalent to a 38 kilobyte/second connection.

    That is, if he were using his connection 24/7, he would not be able to use more than 38 kilobytes per second.

    But what if he uses it only 8 hours a day (turning off the router when not in use)? The result is then 115 kilobytes per second.

    The best way to not go above the bandwidth caps, then, is to limit your connection speed to 38 kilobyte/second in your router. Of course, this means that, with this cap, connections above 300 kbps are useless, so you can even save money by going to a cheaper connection (and not need to cap in your router, since the lower speed already prevents you from going over the cap). You can do the same calculation for other usage scenarios.

     

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    Michial Thompson, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 6:27am

    Policing his own network

    In other words, he had to become his own local area network cop, to figure out how his own network was being used and for what.

    Did you REALLY inetionally put this in for a laugh? You really can't be claiming that we should not be responsible for our own computers and network?

     

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    Nick Coghlan (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 6:27am

    Re: always been

    Uh, if your ISP is counting uploads against your quota, get a better ISP. I've yet to see a plan that does that from any of the majors, so I'm not sure who would be imposing that on you.

    Agreed on the rest, though.

     

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    Rabbit80, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 6:32am

    I normally bitch about how most ISPs in the UK have hidden caps (called "FUPs") but today, I will praise them a little.

    A lot of our ISPs are finally moving away (slowly) from this model and are starting to offer truly unlimited options for heavy users! I guess this is down to competition in the marketplace.

    According to my ISP, I used 284GiB of bandwidth in march - and I would say that sounds about right!

     

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    Nick Coghlan (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 6:33am

    Re: Re: always been

    Oops, I take that back. Seems they have changed their policies since I last went looking for a broadband plan a couple of years ago. Lame :P

     

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    Jay (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 6:33am

    Realization

    I hope everyone realizes, this is EXACTLY the kind of environment that the ISPs want, yes? You have no choice but to use their imposed limits, pay your fees and the concept of upgrading the internet is left by the wayside.

    I really hope someone can come in to challenge the ISPs.

    Though, I have to think LightSquared might be a contender.

     

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    Cowardly Anon, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 6:39am

    I would like to point out something that this story highlights very well: Bandwidth caps DO NOT stop illegal downloading.

    Do you think that he will tell his teen aged daughters to stop downloading music, movies and tv shows? No, he's going to tell them to make sure thy close uTorrent once they are done.

    So really, it's just a way for the internet companies to bend to the will of the entertainment industry all the while padding their own coffers with extra cash from so called 'heavy users'. But the problem doesn't go away...if it's a problem to begin with.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 6:52am

    Re:

    That's easy... maximize profits by selling the bandwidth you don't use to those customers who are willing to pay for it.

     

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    S Jones, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:01am

    Bandwidth Caps Forcing Users To Police

    Not too worried and my wife will probably love the caps coming via AT&T. All this will force me to do is to block youtube and bing and a few game sites that my kids (7, 8).

    It will also stop me from spending lots of time on starcraft. the pain will come from not being able to download from my music pool.

     

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    Jim, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:05am

    In a competitive broadband marketplace, I'd have no problem at all with bandwidth caps and varied charges for different classes of service. For me, net neutrality should be about keeping ISPs from looking into packets and handling them differently based on what they find. If the FCC can't accomplish that goal their impotence and/or corruption will be clear for all to see.

    Unfortunately, most consumers are stuck with a monopoly provider for last-mile broadband that's tied to video delivery and is offered with scant competition. These usage limits are primarily intended to thwart competition from video streaming sites and protect the video delivery monopolies for as long as possible.

    We're seeing Big Cable fighting this battle from both sides. On the one hand, they're making it tougher for content delivery networks to gain access to their downstream paths, and on the other, they're limiting the amount of streaming end-users can do. For ISPs with video delivery businesses, this is part of a plan to make cord-cutting harder and to slow the inevitable shift from cable to streaming as the predominant video delivery mechanism.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:11am

    How long until the ISPs start offering an add-on service to help manage your home network?

    "To help avoid $50 in overage fees, please sign up for eHomeWatch for $9.99/mo."

     

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    Jon B. (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:15am

    "Now, I'm sure some will argue this is a good thing. They'll say that you should be responsible for understanding everything that goes through your router."

    Wow... wait to knock down the strawman there at the end. I don't know who's arguing that, but boy you showed them.

    "Perhaps we'll end up with more sophisticated tools for people to track their home internet usage, but in the meantime, it seems a bit crazy to force everyone to be their own local area network traffic cops."

    Indeed - if you're going to be metered, you should be able to easily see the meter.

    After Tim's last article on the subject, I argued that tiered pricing based on total usage makes more sense than tiered pricing based on the width of the pipe.

    Note that the guy says:
    "Luckily there is a maximum extra levy of $50 a month"

    That's a lot more fair than just charging the extra crapload of money. I still think it could be more fair than that.

    Set up 3 or 4 tiers. The bottom tier is $15/mo. If you break the cap into the next tier (say, $20/mo) you just pay the price of the next tier. That would be more fair. Have the top tier be unlimited.

    If you want to encourage the big spenders to sign up for the highest tier do one of two things: (1) give a discount for signing up for a higher tier or (2) charge a "levy" each time you break into a higher tier. The only difference between those two options is semantics - either way, if you know you're a big user, you save money by staying on the top tier.

    Again, that's just my idea and I'm just some guy. My point, though, is that there is lots of middle ground between the system we have now (pay for the width of the pipe) and the worst case scenario (pay cellphone-like overages when you break your cap).

    As the behavior of the "light users" is changing, paying for the width of the pipe becomes a very unfair option.

     

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:23am

    Re: i am a geek...

    (why we can't get FIOS being right next door literally to their switching station I have no idea)

    Fiber doesn't grow on trees, you know.

     

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    JEDIDIAH, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:28am

    Re: Policing his own network

    > Did you REALLY inetionally put this
    > in for a laugh? You really can't be
    > claiming that we should not be responsible
    > for our own computers and network?

    Do you do this yourself now? Do you even have any clue what it would take for you to implement this for yourself? Do you think the average consumer has any hope of repeating this?

    This sort of thing is trivial to track once you get the right tools in place. The catch is getting the right tools in place. Unfortunately, consumer grade router products tend to completely ignore these sorts of features.

     

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    Alatar, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:28am

    Mobile versions?

     

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    Alatar, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:29am

    Mobile versions?

    How long before people start browsing mobile versions of the sites from their home computer, just to save some megabytes. Welcome back to 1999, when Internet was expensive and limited

     

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    FUDbuster (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:35am

    Re: Re: Policing his own network

    Did you REALLY inetionally put this in for a laugh? You really can't be claiming that we should not be responsible for our own computers and network?

    I think he's quite serious. I'm not sure who he thinks should be responsible for what happens on the internet. Apparently, it's nobody. Not the ISPs, not the infringers, and not any subscribers who might have infringement under their own roof.

     

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    Michial Thompson, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:35am

    Re: Re: Policing his own network

    Actually I police more than 30 networks, and YES I know EXACTLY what it takes....

    I police my home network, my office network an many of my customers networks as well.
    -------
    As for consumer grade routers ignoring this feature, that's not the providers problem now is it? Seems that if consumers voiced their opinions about this feature then the routers would begin to support it. Hell once the consumer routers began supporting it then maybe the commercial market would make it more user friendly too.

    If a user sign's a contract with caps on the amount of usage it's THEIR responsibility to abide by the contract, not to bitch and moan that they can't manage to control the usages of their own computers and their family members.

     

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    ts, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:36am

    Now that most carriers are imposing caps, it's only a matter of time until they all start offering tv, music, and other content services that won't count against your cap. This is what net neutrality was supposed to protect against. How can companies like Netflix and Pandora compete for a customer who is on a capped data plan, but can get a similar service directly from their ISP without having to worry about overages? What good is an unlimited streaming video service if I can only watch a couple movies before my ISP bends me over and starts putting it up my... well, you get the idea.

    Hopefully Google will save us all with their upcoming high speed fiber network.

     

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    Joshua Bardwell (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:54am

    Just to be clear, I don't like bandwidth caps, and I think it's shitty to sell "unlimited" service that is actually capped.

    That being said, I don't think you can have it both ways. The article points out how silly it is to force users to police their own network, but of course, if the ISP starts policing (via application blocking or selective throttling), people scream just as loud. If you operate under the premise that the bandwidth is limited, then somebody needs to do the policing. I'd rather see the user be forced to do it, because then at least the ISP is taking a hands off, content-neutral approach.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:54am

    100% agree. Everyone is smart enough to be able to be a home LAN administrator and monitor every network process on all computers. And I mean, we should all know how to find software exploits and know if our computer is part of a botnet that might eat traffic. Also, everyone sure as heck should understand the security implications of having wifi and the method of encryption they use to ensure only friendly people join their network. I mean if Grandma Josephine wants to see her new grandchild on Skype she better know how well her video stream is being compressed and what 300kpbs means. I mean, if you drive a car you are expected to be aware of how much fuel is being injected per stroke right?

    /s

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:54am

    Re: Re:

    The argument isn't about whether or not the bandwidth cap are justified. That has been covered plenty of times in the past.

    The guy clearly was negligent. Period. He knew about the caps. Everyone does. Plus, I pay the amount I pay for the speed, not for the quantity. I prefer getting my TV ep in 2 minutes than 30. I know about my caps. And if I'm close to busting it, I buy the 10$ package that gives me an extra 30GB.

    And, as stated, 15$ seedbox accounts with unlimited downloads... and avoid all these problems.

    And what do you expect when you have 3 kids? This guy would have complained no matter what. In the dial up days, with no limits, I had 2 siblings and our parents HAD to make sure we didn't do anything crazy or stupid. So because this guy is lazy as a parent he starts crying out wolf. Boohoo.

     

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    Hiiragi Kagami (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:56am

    I tried to measure my bandwidth once...

    ... and let me tell you it wasn't easy. First, I had... wait... this post will over-extend me. Sorry, gotta rant next month.

     

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  49.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Policing his own network

    "I'm not sure who he thinks should be responsible for what happens on the internet. Apparently, it's nobody. Not the ISPs, not the infringer"

    I'm not sure where it's been argued that the actual infringers (i.e. people actually offering pirated material, not people who download them) should not be held responsible. Just that this cannot be a strategy all by itself, and there's ways to build a business whereby "piracy" does not harm you. I'm also confused as to where the infringer is being addressed here - I only see service providers being penalised for the actions of 3rd parties and the ISP having found a way to make a tasty profit in the process.

    It's also depressingly predictable how quickly people have derailed this thread into bitching about downloading again, without noting that this situation could easily have occurred with perfectly legal content. There's issues at hand here that have nothing to do with illegal or infringing actions.

     

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  50.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:06am

    Re: Re:

    And as soon as they max out the lines because they put so many people on them without ever upgrading the lines or capacity, they will instead just whine that people use too much all the while raking in millions.

     

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  51.  
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    Thomas (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:13am

    How to keep track?

    How are we supposed to keep track of internet usage? It would be nice if the ISPs provided a free and accurate way to let us know how much we have used.

    Usage caps are not going to make advertisers happy; smart users will install ad blocking extensions so that the ads don't even get loaded or shown.

     

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  52.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:14am

    while i am no fan of caps, having worked at various ISPs i must say the following:

    its your connection... you do have a responsibility to know whats happening on your connection. If you are pusing that much data you should find whats causing that to happen. If you dont know how to find it, then it becomes your job to find someone that can find it for you.

    using this as an argument against caps is just about as valid as using piracy as an argument for caps... meaning neither are valid arguments to make.

     

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  53.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Policing his own network

    "I police my home network, my office network an many of my customers networks as well."

    Well done, you're part of the small minority of home users who know what they're doing and are capable of effectively policing a network off their own back without ISP or other assistance. That places you in a *very* small minority, from my experience.

    "As for consumer grade routers ignoring this feature"

    "Ignore" and "are completely unaware that it exists in the first place" are not the same thing.

    "If a user sign's a contract with caps on the amount of usage it's THEIR responsibility to abide by the contract"

    ...and if they're unaware of such a cap (such as many people who signed up for an "unlimited" plan.

     

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  54.  
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    The eejit (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:23am

    Re: Re: Re: same here

    They could, y'know, get in on the action. But that's too sensible.

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:34am

    100 GB in less then two days

    so he was getting an average of .6 MB(4.8 mb) a sec for two days.

    ((2^30)*(100))/(60*60*48)=621378 bytes/s

    that means you can blow through your entire "share" in approx 24 HD on demand movies(with avoiding the rest of the internet like the plague).

    Course if this is 100 gigabits then his real limit is closer to 12.5 GB in a month, which I could get to by dl WOW once in a month.

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:34am

    Re: Re: Re:

    So because this guy is lazy as a parent he starts crying out wolf. Boohoo.

    Wow ... you're an asshole.

    So anytime someone has a programming running in the background on their computer they're a "lazy parent" now?

    In the early days of the g-mail desktop client, which basically does nothing but pop-up a little message when you have new mail there was a bug which caused the service to query every second at around 4kb per query. Assuming you leave your computer on all the time, it would consume about 10 GB per month. But I guess if someones kid had the g-mail notifier they would have been a "lazy parent."

     

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    The eejit (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Policing his own network

    Yes, and according to my ISP, I used over 1TB last month. No bots, no massive files, just WoW and Killing Floor. Just so's you know, they're a bit flukey.

     

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  58.  
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    Mike42 (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:39am

    Re: Re:

    Why not "Air"?

     

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  59.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:54am

    Re:

    As the behavior of the "light users" is changing, paying for the width of the pipe becomes a very unfair option.

    BS. The problem for "light user" isn't paying for the width of the pipe; the problem is that most ISPs still only have 1 tier of pricing and that tier has always been designed to extract the maximum amount of money possible.

    If ISPs had tiered pricing the vast majority of their users would probably switch to the lowest tier (say 1 or 2 mbps) as long as it cost less that their current package. But that wouldn't fulfill the goal of making more money while doing less.

    Any argument that pricing should be based on usage is made from ignorance. Anyone who understands networking understands why usage based billing is nonsense. How do you even begin to account for unavoidable traffic? If the ISP has traffic collision problems, or drops packets, does the user get charged twice for re-sending the data? ISPs regularly query the modems attached to their networks and the modems regularly send identifying information to ensure that the usage is authorized, does the user get charged for that usage? This kind of stuff may only add up to 10 or 20 MB per month, but if that pushes you just over the cap you end up paying 5 or 10 dollars.

    The reality is that ISPs have made up a problem and offered a "solution" which increases their profits without increasing their costs. It's a money grab, plain and simple.

     

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  60.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    He was warned. He didn't look thoroughly and expected the problem to go away. He didn't install monitoring tools after that first warning. He didn't check running software after the first warning. He's lazy.

    Your gmail argument is flawed. You can STILL monitor bandwidth usage through your ISP. Again, YOU installed gmail notifier and are aware of the implications.

    If you let your kids go do whatever the hell they want without any supervision, sorry but you're not only a lazy parent, you're a bad one.

    And (assuming he's using windows - safe assumption) he could have just created normal accounts with limited installation access to monitor what the kids are doing.

    He got lazy. Period. If it makes me an ass for pointing it out, then I'm an ass. He's a bigger ass for not taking care of it the first time then complaining about it.

     

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  61.  
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    PRMan, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:03am

    Re: I agree with you

    The politicians are being paid off using that money. Why would they stop it?

     

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  62.  
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    charliebrown (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:07am

    Re:

    "As the behavior of the 'light users' is changing, paying for the width of the pipe becomes a very unfair option."

    Which is exactly the point a LOT of people have missed! Between YouTube, iTunes, STEAM and various similar services, "light" users became "heavy" users over the last few years without even realising it!

    I also notice that when the "Web Two Point Oh" slogan became trendy is when many of these companies started adding caps in America or Canada. Here in Australia ISP's (Telstra and Optus NOT included in this) who had previously only counted downloads, suddenly all switched to plans that count uploads. So in my opinion they did it to cash in on the "Web 2.0" bandwagon (incidentally, it should be Two Point Zero, or technically, just TWO, not "Two Point Oh")

     

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  63.  
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    charliebrown (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:10am

    Re: How to keep track?

    You should see how long TechDirt takes to load on my mobile internet! The ads load before the article. And I have an ad blocker on there.

     

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  64.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:26am

    Re:

    Wow... wait to knock down the strawman there at the end. I don't know who's arguing that, but boy you showed them.

    Nope, nobody's arguing that at all...

    Oh wait:

    http://twitter.com/#!/AdamThierer/status/57413900106338304

     

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  65.  
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    hxa7241, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:28am

    Re: Re:

    > If bandwidth really cost anything, I'd be another matter. But right now, there's no one being paid to deliver your Bytes to your computer.

    What about the network hardware? The wires in the ground and the kit at the exchange? That delivers the bytes, and that costs something to install, maintain, and periodically upgrade.

    I do not know what *particular* cost that adds up to, but it must cost *something*.

     

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  66.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Policing his own network

    I think he's quite serious. I'm not sure who he thinks should be responsible for what happens on the internet. Apparently, it's nobody.

    If you're going to set yourself up as a FUDbuster, it would help for you to not lie about what I have said.

    Otherwise, it makes you look like a FUD spreader.

    I didn't say no one should be responsible. Individuals are still responsible for what they do. What I pointed out was having the connection subscriber be responsible for traffic on their own local network does not make sense. That's not the same thing as saying no one should be responsible, and either you know that, or you have no business commenting on this topic.

     

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  67.  
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    ShellMG, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:33am

    Old Hat

    This is a really old story for anyone who's been dependent on a satellite ISP.

    Wildblue is supposed to be for home use, but just try it with a family and a 7.5GB monthly cap. I was the FAP Cop and resorted to ridiculous and stupid methods to keep usage down. Unplugging the modem at night, insisting no Youtube, tailoring email accounts NOT to download attachments of any sort, no graphics-heavy sites, blocking ads and popups...the list goes on. The "mental tax" on such a low cap is extremely high and we eventually determined it just wasn't worth it. $70 a month buys a lot of coffee at McDonalds and other free wifi spots.

    We really ran into trouble when my daughter needed to take an online course -- with video -- to fulfill her HS grad requirements. I had to trim our usage even further, which is insane given we have four computers and all of them want Windows updates.

    Low caps will kill internet growth, especially when it comes to cloud computing. Netflix and Steam? ROFLMAO, not a chance. You develop self-rationing patterns that become a nuisance quickly, and it gets easier to tell yourself that it's just not worth it.

    And switching to another ISP? Some of us don't have that option. Period.

     

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  68.  
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    FUDbuster (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Policing his own network

    If you're going to set yourself up as a FUDbuster, it would help for you to not lie about what I have said.

    Otherwise, it makes you look like a FUD spreader.

    I didn't say no one should be responsible. Individuals are still responsible for what they do. What I pointed out was having the connection subscriber be responsible for traffic on their own local network does not make sense. That's not the same thing as saying no one should be responsible, and either you know that, or you have no business commenting on this topic.


    My apologies if I misrepresented you.

    I still don't follow you, though. If the subscriber is not responsible for what his children do on the internet, then who is? The children? There is a reason that parents can be held liable for the actions of their children.

    Do you really not believe that a subscriber is responsible for the actions of those he authorizes to use his subscription? I might agree if we were talking about unauthorized use, but that's not the case here.

     

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  69.  
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    The Libertarian, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:42am

    Re: Bandwidth Caps Forcing Users To Police

    Yea true, but i just told good ole ATT to take their service and shove it up their collective A$$.... Switched to Brighthouse, same speed, no cap, less money...

    Really enjoyed when they where like "What, why do you want to switch"... "because i signed up for unlimited, and you saw fit to change it to capped, after you sold it as Unlimited, so please find a bridge and jump"...

     

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  70.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:56am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You mean the wires that the government paid the company to install in exchange for a licensed monopoly?

    Are there maintenance costs? sure. But when you sell 'unlimited' you damned well better provide 'unlimited'. It's crazy to expect them to provide unlimited, which is why they try to get around 'unlimited' by capping people who actually use it.

    It's all about managing expectations. If I have X amount of bandwidth available, I don't sell 'unlimited' and then complain that people are using too much. Sell less bandwidth such that the average usage * # of customers is below what you can provide. Period.

     

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  71.  
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    DS, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 10:12am

    Re: Cop

    This was in Canada... so what does it make them?

     

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  72.  
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    DS, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 10:15am

    Re: Policing his own network

    Soo.. how am I not responsible for not having a way already in place to monitor how much data the following devices use:

    Zune
    360
    Wii
    PS3
    Dash

    ?

     

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  73.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 10:28am

    Seems the natural thing is to call up your ISP and cancel your account, and tell them it's directly caused by their caps.

    Then Wait a few months, and reinstate.

    The join/disconnection costs are what costs ISPs the most. They require the most labor, the most human interaction, and they cost the ISP the most.

     

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  74.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 10:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Policing his own network

    "Actually I police more than 30 networks, and YES I know EXACTLY what it takes....

    I police my home network, my office network an many of my customers networks as well."

    Why boast? I'm sure that takes no skill at all, since according to you, any average internet user can do it.

     

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  75.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 11:36am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The argument isn't about whether or not the bandwidth cap are justified.

    Wrong. That is exactly what this argument is about. And caps are not justified by any sane definition of justified.

    And if I'm close to busting it, I buy the 10$ package that gives me an extra 30GB.

    So how much did it cost your ISP for that 30GB? I'll give you the answer: Pennies or less.

    And your ISP is selling you that bandwidth at a 1000% or more markup.

    In a truly free market, I'd have no problem with one company charging ridiculous markup. But the broadband market is anything but a free market. Many places its a monopoly or duopoly. I have no choice in my broadband providers unless you consider who is less bad; "MassivelyGreedyLegacyCorporation1" or "AbsurdlyGreedyLegacyCorporation2" a choice.

    You want to change my mind? Give me evidence. Give me data that shows I'm wrong about the absurdity of caps. Otherwise your words mean nothing.

     

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  76.  
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    chris (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 1:00pm

    Re:

    well, hell, what DO they need all that bandwidth for?

    to fight terrorism.

     

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  77.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 1:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Policing his own network

    If a user sign's a contract with caps on the amount of usage it's THEIR responsibility to abide by the contract, not to bitch and moan that they can't manage to control the usages of their own computers and their family members.

    For the most part I agree with you on this, but, when the ISP sells "unlimited" bandwidth and changes the contract midstream (and gets your "signature" by saying "continued use of our service constitutes your agreement") this becomes very much like an EULA agreement with a software purchase which have been proven (I think) to be nonbinding contracts.

     

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  78.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 2:48pm

    Re: How to keep track?

    You get your free desktop widget that monitors your exact traffic data. Provided by your ISP. Updated continuously. And with *Brand New* inefficiencies.

     

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  79.  
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    Any Mouse (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 3:00pm

    Re: Re:

     

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  80.  
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    herbert, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 3:35pm

    why should everyone that wants to use a computer and the internet, have to become Microsoft Certificated to do so? we are only home users, for Christ's sake!
    the only reason caps are being introduced is so ISPs can get more customers and thereby increase the outrageous profits they are already making at no cost to themselves. it costs them no more if you download 50gig or 100gig. all just another excuse for a money-making scam of the public. i really dont understand why the internet simply isn't shut down. ISPs ripping the public off with caps and extortionate prices, the entertainment industries scared shitless that they are gonna lose $5 and the governments scared someone is going to find out what dastardly schemes they are up to, who is being monitored and spill the beans, we are all on a definite loser and might as well give up!

     

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  81.  
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    BigKeithO (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 3:50pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Where does all of the money every pays the ISP already go? I thought it went to buying and supporting all of those costs you just listed...

    Suddenly the money that was good enough for the last 10 years doesn't cut it anymore? Strange.

     

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  82.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 4:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Again, this has been discussed many times, and that's not the point here. Sorry but to put it your way, "your words mean nothing" because that's not the argument. The guy complained because he claims he was screwed when he fact he screwed himself.

    The city gives you X litres of water per year. After that, you need to pay X amount per litre. You know that. You buy a pool. You exceed your usage, you bitch at the city?

    And if you're not happy with your ISP over-billing you, go with one of that many that offer unmetered.

    I'm sorry but if you can't get that, then it's just a waste time. There were alternatives, you knew about the problem originally, yet you went with it, abused it, then you dare complain about it? *sigh*

     

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  83.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 4:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    P.S. That doesn't mean I don't agree caps are ridiculous and should be removed or bumped much higher. I just think the guy epicly failed and the point he was trying to make ended up going the other way around.

     

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  84.  
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    phdinoverbilling, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 4:42pm

    'already used up your monthly allocation'
    Hmm.. last time I heard that phrase was from a cellular service that kept turning my phone off and claiming I was almost $400 dollars behind on my bill.
    The bill nobody could explain.
    Finally sat down and went through mine with a friend. Turns out the phone company had over billed me from the beginning. Month after month. Assessing over use charges on calls that should have been free/nights/weekends/cellular2cellular.
    When the dust settled I had a seven month credit.
    Caps, limits, plans.. call it what you want but over billing is usually what you'll get.

     

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  85.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:04pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    That's an average of slightly over 600 KB/s uploaded, right?

    It may only be 300 KB/s, which is still fast, but reasonable for a cable modem. My ISP doesn't have a clue as to how to monitor bandwidth, and thus they usually count the data twice. So essentially, the 200GB cap per month really is just 100GB and they even count unsolicited traffic inbound and broadcasts.

    I've shown them a number of times my traffic analysis from bandwidthd, which shows all traffic through my router (as well as traffic which was sent to my router and dropped,) and every time they tell me that I am over, I am usually half way through my allowance according to my router. And since I have no control over what is sent to me unsolicited, SMB traffic from my neighbors make up a good 10%-20% of the traffic bandwidthd shows (no smb traffic comes from me to the network, as I only let a few ports and protocols out.)

    It has gotten so bad at times that I have to drop the internal interface on my router to prevent myself from going over (at which point I get a nastygram from my ISP telling me that they will block me, but so far, I have yet to be blocked.) Even then, I get flooded with traffic, but at least I am not contributing to my traffic (and the ISP has less of a leg to stand on when they do block me.)

     

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  86.  
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    FUDbuster (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 6:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Policing his own network

    Crickets....

     

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  87.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 6:48pm

    Application updates... urgh?

    Thinking about it, it's not uncommon nowadays that applications employ automatic updates that ranges from a few megabytes to a few hundred megabytes. With bandwidth caps people will likely to less frequently do the updates and our world will more likely to suffer from worms/virus that employs security holes. Feels like a safer internet, right?

     

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  88.  
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    Fred, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:00pm

    boo, hoo

    The author admits he has a half-dozen people in his household, and yet, he still expects to pay a low flat-rate for his usage?

     

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  89.  
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    Greevar (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That's not going to work. Averages don't do a bit of good for statistics. The only thing you can do is only sell as much bandwidth as you have. If you have 100Gbps worth of bandwidth and you want to sell it to 10000 people, then you better not promise any more than 10Mbps to each of them.

    What they do is like selling tickets to a concert that has seats for 1000 people. But instead of selling 1000 tickets, they sell 10,000 tickets and don't let them all see the entire show because those that try to get what they paid for are "hogging the seats". The caps are just ways to discourage you from enjoying the whole show so they can sell your seat to someone else (or several) whom only wants to see a small portion of the concert.

     

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  90.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:49pm

    I am on a truly unlimited plan, so I do not have a dog in this fight. Even so, I can easily identify serveral services I receive that I must monitor to ensure that I am not hit with a higher rate for use over a predefined amount.

    Ordinary utililties are prime examples, as are charges from some financial institutions, etc.

    Of course, I would be quite displeased if I was to learn that data was being calculated erroneously for any of my accounts, not because I cannot rectify same, but because it takes my time away from other matters I would prefer to pursue.

     

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  91.  
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    Greevar (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:50pm

    Re: boo, hoo

    Yes, there's absolutely no logical reason he can't. This isn't water we're talking about here. This is bandwidth. Bandwidth is space, not a consumable. When you take up space, it's occupied and when you give up that space, it's available. ISP's know this, so they try to overbook the bandwidth expecting people won't use very much of it so that they can sell the limited bandwidth to more people than it can support if they all used it to full capacity simultaneously.

    It's like selling 10,000 tickets to a concert that only fits 1,000 people. They're banking on you not staying for the entire show, so others can take your space when you leave. But not only that, they use tactics to encourage you to not stay for the entire show by enforcing caps on your time there. It would cost money to expand the venue to make room for that many people, but they get more profit if they just sell it to more people than they can serve, but give them less than they expect to get.

    What if you went to a restaurant and ordered a drink which was advertised "up to" a 16 oz of soda for a fixed price? If you're paying for 16 oz of soda, you'd demand that you get 16 oz of soda!

     

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  92.  
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    Greevar (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:56pm

    Re: boo, hoo

    Oh, I forgot one thing. Low flat rate? Are you kidding me? The US and Canada have some of the worst rates for internet connectivity among developed nations. There are nations that have better, cheaper service than the nation (America) that invented the freaking internet.

     

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  93.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 10:05pm

    We have caps in Australia too (although recently caps have started exceeding 1TB, and unlimited plans are appearing) and as much as I'd prefer no limit (I share a lot of files) this is the one solitary thing that the old data delivery companies like that I really think is fair.

    The connection to your area only has finite bandwidth, and if everyone is using as much as possible all the time (because they have no cap) performance is going to suck for everyone else. Caps aleviate this problem, and perhaps shift more reposinsibility onto the ISPs to actually provide enough bandwidth to match what they sell.

    And in the end it's all moot anyway: competition will see caps increase, all the way to infinity - exactly what's happened in Australia.

     

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  94.  
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    athe, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 11:30pm

    Re: Re: always been

    Optus

     

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  95.  
    identicon
    Irate Pirate, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 12:55am

    Re:

    "But I guess fooling the customers is an easier (and more profitable) route."

    Just imagine what would happen if the majors in the software industry began to collude with the telcos too. There is a lot of money to be made from caps, and despite claims to the contrary, which are that it's really about curbing those who use more than the ISP's can provide, maximizing revenue is what caps are really all about. The temptation to abuse consumers is just too great, and so at some point they shall be.

    I use a nifty little gadget in Windows 7 which allows me to monitor bandwidth in real-time. It can also track how much I've used since I last rebooted in addition to the total bandwidth used since being installed. Oddly, it doesn't provide for monthly tracking. Thankfully my ISP doesn't have caps so it isn't really an issue. What I have noticed though is that Windows 7 has a heck of a lot more processes which require internet connectivity than Windows XP ever did. Folks may think they aren't using any bandwidth when their computer is just idling, but the reality is that this latest and greatest operating system from Microsoft is very... I guess the best term would be "leaky". What are people supposed to do about that? The only sure fire thing I can think of is to turn off the modem, but this has the side effect of breaking some of the features in Windows 7, security updates being a big one.

    On a side note, I really hate how overage charges keep being referred to as UBB (usage based billing) when it is clearly punitive based billing. The ISP's keep comparing it to other metered bills, such as gas and electricity. As far as I'm aware, at least here in Canada, you pay only for what you use and aren't punished for using some arbitrary amount the gas and electric companies consider to be too much. If internet billing were truly usage based, and based on the true cost of delivering bandwidth plus a reasonable and fair profit, ISP's everywhere would declaring bankruptcy as A) the average user consumes very little bandwidth, and B) the delivery cost per byte is somewhere in the fraction of a penny range. Thank goodness the likes of the CRTC, Bell, and Rogers have been stopped in their tracks, proving people really can make a difference if they work together and stand up for themselves. Hopefully we'll some day see people taking a stand against greedy ISP's in other countries, crushing the concept of UBB permanently once and for all along with their excuse for not investing in network upgrades like they should be doing.

     

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  96.  
    icon
    Valkor (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 6:17am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Congratulations. You're paying for 12 hours of Internet per month. Sounds like the good ol' AOL days.

    If your telco advertised in those terms, they'd never get another customer.

     

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  97.  
    icon
    Valkor (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 6:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Buy broadband service, become a sysadmin! It's the way of the future! All the cool kids are doing it!

    No Netflix on that ISP, for sure.

     

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  98.  
    identicon
    Mackintire, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 7:55am

    bandwidth cap

    The only problem with the end of the article is the concept of unlimited internet. If I leave my water faucet running all day and all night in the basement, shouldn't the water company bill be for it?

    I still don't like the implementation of overuse overages currently in use.

    I would prefer:

    If you are over your usage for the month....

    The default behavior is to slow your internet service down to 768/128 until the end of the cycle, or you pay for the next bandwidth level for the remainder of the month.

    That way you never get hit with overage changes, unless you request them. And those people who don't know what is going on with their networks can properly secure them.

     

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  99.  
    identicon
    mackintire, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 8:01am

    Re: Re:

    Umm I guess you consider yourself a normal user. I can chew through GB of data a month if I want. Watch 10 netflicks movies and I can slam again most of those bandwidth limits fairly fast.

    I do think that the current system is very much biased for the ISP's profits. But I think that they are scared of losing customers and so they wait until their competitor does it, that way they can monopolize the market.

     

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  100.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 8:34am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I don't know how much Netflix uses in terms of bandwidth (I'm not allowed, thanks content industry!), but I'd guess it's signifiant. But, consider how many high to moderate bandwidth uses the average user has access to nowadays, sometime for little to no extra cost at the side of the provider:

    HD movie streaming
    High quality movie streaming
    Online gaming (including required patches, which can be 1Gb or more)
    Games downloads through Wii/PS3/360 (including patches, sometimes 1Gb at a time)
    iTunes purchases (sometimes close to 1Gb- games, videos, etc).
    Online backup services such as Amazon's new music locker service and Dropbox

    It can be quite easy for people to exceed bandwidth limits without realising it and the parents are usually the ones unwilling to monitor bandwidth or unaware that they should. They get hit with a large bill, and many parents are going to be more willing to cut off access completely than be faced with huge bills for not obeying some arcane rule. Especially considering that many of them will be incapable of administering a router and some thing like Irate Pirate's W7 tool won't monitor little Jimmy's PS3 patch downloads... Of course, that's not even considering infringing uses.

    I'm with other users on here with the suggestion of throttling instead of charging for extra access. However, this doesn't encourage them to use the resulting profits to upgrade their networks, nor does it create them the same chance for easy profit...

     

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  101.  
    identicon
    green2, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 10:26am

    I know it is not good manner to advertise myself without approval on this site, but I am desperated and even if you don't like what I say, please read and give me help. I made my mind to sell my virginity. If you have little time to read my story, please visit my blog(http://virgingreen.wordpress.com) or email(green2345@live.com) me. If you are interested in taking my virginity, you are giving me hope and helping me. I even didn't know that I became the one who leaves comment like this on where I used to enjoy reading articles. Please only send me email if you are interested. Don't send me with disrespect words. I am sorry if you dont feel uncomfortable about this but at least hope you could understand how I am desperate.

     

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

  102.  
    identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 5:45pm

    Network cops

    So, it would be better to have the internet shut down with some sort of (perhaps innocent, perhaps not) DoS, like, running multiple file-sharing programs in background.

    So long, internet, I will miss you!

     

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  103.  
    identicon
    Chris, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 1:06am

    Internet is a utility.

    Skip to end to get summary.

    Utilities, whether it be power, water, or telecommunications, have huge barriers to entry, such as network externalities, start-up costs, and competition is cut-throat. Let's look at the example of England's privately owned water utilities during the Industrial Revolution. There were many companies, and profit margins were razor-thin. Wherever the coverage overlapped, opportunity costs soared, as the competition would leave the pipelines underutilized. As a result, in the UK modern water utilities are still private, but with tightly regulated areas of operation and exclusivity periods. The telecommunications industry is favorable for what has been termed a "natural monopoly." Start-up costs are huge, and the only way to really increase profit margins (after all, businesses aim to make money) is to increase in size. But how are they related to utilities? It's all about barriers to entry.

    This is not a recent development; let us go back in time, wayyyy back relative to the age of the US, all the way back to 1877 with the founding of the American Bell Telephone System. If start-up costs were so great, how did this small company survive, you may ask. The answer is, it had the great advantage of being the first telephone company. However, when competitors appeared after Alexander Bell's patent for the telephone expired in 1894, the company changed direction. It thrived in the early years, but once competitors arrived, the company, now AT&T,, was forced to change directions. Having the advantage of the early years, it had an extensive network all across America, and while competitors focused on building their local networks, AT&T was forcing competitors to cave by witholding access to their long-distance network. The concepts of peering, net-neutrality, and common carrier should come to mind.

    The Bell system quickly grew, and after Kingsbury Commitment formalized the monoply (after all, it is much simpler to have everyone connected to a single, vast network rather than to many fragmented local networks) AT&T was able to simply buy market share in local phone companies and thus gain access to the customers of that area. More importantly, AT&T was not forced to interconnect its local networks of its subsidaries (which were connected to the rest of the US by AT&T's long distance network), and it did not have to interconnect with long distance competitors. I hope you see a trend here; competitors without nearly as much resources as AT&T were forced out because of the network effect: they had less customers than the Bell system, and since they could not interconnect in any way, they lost their competitive edge. The larger company wins. Whether this is bad or good is not for me to judge, but I do know that in return for quality of service and access to all of America, you would get one choice of phone and monthly equipment charges.

    As you may know, the infrastructure for the Internet is heavily based on that of the telephone system. Why? The physical nature of the systems are the same: fluctuations in electromagnetic fields over transmission cables (first copper, now wireless, fiber, and beyond). It is much more efficient to use current infrastructure and build upon it than to build a new system from scratch. AT&T and other telecommunications companies did not have to buy expensive rights of way again (just like for railroads, a similarly monopolistic industry), and did not have to break ground again to lay new lines (most of the time). The costs of doing these things would have been enormous, just like it would be to lay power lines or water mains. Early on it was very simple; most Americans used dial-up, so existing infrastructure was mostly sufficient (of course other networking equipment such as routers, switches, amplifiers, etc. still had to be implemented, but was not nearly as expensive as laying new line). Remember that before AT&T broke up, many broadcasting companies depended on AT&T's infrastructure to deliver content to local stations . Technologies such as satellite relay enabled other companies to begin to compete. Finally, with the government having had enough of the dirty dealings AT&T did to preserve its huge monopoly, the Bell system broke up into many regional groups.

    The regional groups became many of the phone and internet service providers for most of the country, and long distance competitors such as Sprint grew greatly. However, the biggest boost came from the telecommunications act of 1996, which most importantly forced interconnection of all networks, and allowed new entrants to the telecommunications industry to use infrastructure of the old Bell system as long as they needed to build up a network with good service.

    At this point my knowledge begins fading; the telecommunications companies sell access to re-distributors, which sell access to ISPs, which sell access to each other and to their customers. By interconnecting, ISPs allow their customers to communicate with each other, and by cascading up to an ISP that is interconnected, either directly or indirectly to all other ISPs, that original ISP can form connections to virtually any computer as long as it is connected to that giant tree of interconnections we call the Internet. This is all built on top of the telecommunications industry, which is forced to carry this data. So you can consider ISPs provide access to the Layer 1&2 of the Internet or whatever you want to call this tangled mess, and the Layer 0 (there is no layer 0, but you could say it is the actual physical wire, signal, etc.) is formed by all the interconnections of the physical infrastructure of the telecommunications companies. Also, since telecommunications companies are highly likely to be selling internet access, or access to the infrastructure to resellers who sells physical access to ISPs (an example is Sprint, a huge telecommunications company that is also a Tier 1 ISP), the distinction between the owner of the lines and equipment and an ISP which simply provides access to a network built upon the lines is blurred.

    This is an industry constantly in flux, but one that I have observed is that all of the regional telecommunications companies and ISPs behave in a rational manner: milk areas with little competition so as to subsidize more competitive rates in heavily contested areas. Ironically, the biggest threat facing these companies are municipal ISPs; because of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, all ISPs have the ability to use existing infrastructure to be able to connect their local networks to the rest of the world. Thus ISPs run in a similar manner to those of public utilities are still able to provide good service at competitive rates. For example, one municipality, using private-sector loans, funded the laying of fiber-optic lines, and now residents pay $35/month for 10mbits/s where it would normally be 57. Because the rates are not subsidizing operations elsewhere, and because the ISP is allowed to use the outgoing lines that lead to the rest of the infrastructure in the US, after two-years the ISP is already profitable and paying back its loans. This made the area extremely competitive, forcing Time Warner to release more precious bandwidth to the area at lower prices (remember, ISPs still must pay for the transit of the data their customers send over the infrastructure for any company). Time Warner and other ISPs are countering with lawsuits and lobbying for legislation that would ban such ventures. (Here is the link to the story: http://www.dailytech.com/UPDATED+NC+Republicans+Fight+to+Ban+Municipal+Internet+Services/article2116 1.htm)

    tl;dr: The telecommunications industry is like any other utility; it has high start-up costs and big barriers to entry. It favors large monopolies, which has happened since the day American Bell was founded. ISPs and other telecommunications companies subsidize low rates in competitive areas with high rates in less competitive areas, and also funds the ever increasing cost of building infrastructure. The biggest threats are municipality-supported ISPs, which can provide better service for cheaper, and thus cause competitors to lower rates. These ISPs are very similar in nature to municipally-owned public water, sewage, and power utilities.



    The confused organization of this response reflects my understanding of the nature of this industry, which I am still struggling to put together for a high school paper. Please forgive me; I wrote this to help collect my thoughts on the subject. If it helps one person understand our current situation, all of this work was worth it.

     

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

  104.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 5:54am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Is this intended as a rebuttal?

    the problem is that most ISPs still only have 1 tier of pricing

    One ISP covering a couple of counties in Ohio isn't really indicative of the entire market. That said, this seems to be a good ISP with reasonable levels of service.

    I live in Rochester, NY where we have TimeWarner cable and their is one option $54.95 a month for "up to 10 Mbsp". They have recently begun to offer additional options (to select customers) "up to 30 Mbsp" and "up to 50 Mbsp" but those are both more expensive and with their marketing weasel words you can't even be guaranteed that you are getting a better connection.

     

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  105.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 5:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    *there

     

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

  106.  
    icon
    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Apr 15th, 2011 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And if you're not happy with your ISP over-billing you, go with one of that many that offer unmetered.

    WTF don't you understand here?

    There are no other options.

    I have the choice of two and only two broadband providers. One already has caps. The other is actively working to implement them. Oh, and one of them is also getting a bill pushed through my state legislature to make it impossible for a city to setup their own alternative ISP.

    Your water analogy might work if water wasn't a scarce resource. It is. Bits going down a wire have a near zero marginal cost and are not a scarce resource.

     

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  107.  
    identicon
    Chris, Apr 16th, 2011 @ 9:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The water itself costs little to push down the pipes; it is the startup costs that are enormous. The laying of pipes, the creation of plants and the placement of equipment, and the establishment of the utility company (billing, maintenance and installation crews, etc.) all cost huge amounts of money.

    The situation is the same for ISPs. Now there are nuances that differentiate the water and telecommunications industries, but the basic idea is the same: start-up costs are huge, so the only way to make money is to reduce the cost per gallon or bit by serving as many customers as possible with the given infrastructure. In almost all other industries that favor what has been called "natural monopolies," the service provided has a rate based on the amount consumed by the customer. In the case of Internet, we have been blessed with umetered usage, since customers used to founding value of unfettered access would object to usage-based billing. However, that business model is unsustainable, at least in the eyes of the ISPs.

    It would be great if people only used what they needed, but knowing human nature that would not work. We do not get billed based on usage, so our usage simply grows and grows. You could argue that the "mains" fiber optic cable bring service is very large; it is, but in order to pay for the cost of buying and then entrenching that cable it must serve as many customers and comfortably possible. The easiest solution to this problem is to meter usage, that is to give users incentive to "conserve" this most vital of resources.

     

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

  108.  
    identicon
    Captain, May 27th, 2012 @ 3:13pm

    Re:

    Whatever you said makes no sense.

    "if the system allows a user to download 100GB of data in a two days, why is he capped in a way that does not allow that bandwidth to be used fully? If they are not willing to extend those caps, they might as well cut down on the bandwith."

    The first part makes sense.
    His bandwidth cap is so large that he cannot even use it himself. Why would a company make such a cap?

    The second part not so much.
    "If they, (assuming the company), are not willing to extend those caps" Why would they need to extend the caps when he can't finish using the bandwidth?

    "they might as well cut down on bandwidth"
    ?

    Just lol this stupid response

     

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


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