The Stupidity Of Data Caps: No One Knows What A Megabyte Is

from the caps-don't-work dept

We've argued that data caps for internet access are silly, and even as they're becoming more popular for both wired and wireless broadband data offerings, it seems more people are recognizing this. The NY Times has an article about data caps that makes the key point upfront: no one knows what a megabyte is:
But what, exactly, is a megabyte?

If a sampling of pedestrians on the streets of Brooklyn is any guide, most people have only a vague idea. One said a megabyte was “the amount of something we have to use the Internet,” adding, “We should have three or four.”

Miranda Popkey, 24, was closer: “It’s a measure of how much information you store. If there are too many of them, I can’t send my e-mail attachment.”

A megabyte is, in this context, 1,000 kilobytes — or about the size of a photo taken with a decent digital camera, or roughly one minute of a song, or a decent stack of e-mail.

Therein lies the problem: Counting things like minutes and text messages is fairly easy, but there is no intuitive or natural way to gauge data use.
It's actually much worse than that. The fact that it's not easy to mentally keep track of these things without significant effort means that there's a real extra cognitive cost in using broadband with caps. You have to sit there and think about what you want to do online. You have to think:
  1. How much room do I have before I hit the cap?
  2. How much data will this content actually take up?
  3. What if I'm wrong?
  4. How much does it cost if I go over?
  5. Wait, what if this is taking up a lot more data then I thought?
  6. How much more data will I need this month?
  7. No, seriously, what if I confused things and watching this video uses up my entire allotment?
Etc. It can go on and on like this -- and the really serious problem is the fact that this cognitive cost is a very real cost, and it means people will just do less online, and will avoid using the service altogether. The caps are adding a punishment to something that people want to do, meaning that they'll do less of it, and therefore value it less.

It still amazes me how short-sighted many ISPs are that they aren't looking to capitalize on this more by competing by getting rid of caps. Of course, one key reason is that there just isn't that much competition, and so the short-sighted view can win for the time being. But it's a dangerous long-term strategy. Pissing off customers as a business model isn't a very good idea.


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  1.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:22pm

    Mobile Netflix

    A 24 minute anime episode on Netflix mobile uses about 232 megabytes of bandwidth. If you have a 2-Gig cap (like I have despite having signed a contract that says "unlimited" data) then you can watch 8 or 9 episodes before hitting your mobile data cap.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:24pm

    LOL! Really? This is the stuff you spend your time whining about?

     

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    Machin Shin (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:29pm

    Re:

    LOL! Really? You don't actually do anything online besides troll blogs?

     

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    Yakko Warner (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:30pm

    And what happens when you run out?

    Ours was nearly used up with over a week left to go in the month. No Netflix, no YouTube, and I had to go through the same "cognitive cost" about every single email and phone call (since our phone service is VOIP). Add that to the stress that my ISP is Comcast (meaning going over the limit doesn't mean "extra cost", it means completely cutting you off for a year, until you find a new ISP [see the part about "no competition"]), and it was a very stressful week-plus.

     

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    Lowestofthekeys (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re:

    If he did do something else besides troll blogs in a sweet, sensuous way to get the attention of his imaginary lover, then he'd probably much more informed and able to contribute properly.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:31pm

    Nobody Needs To Know

    Ridiculous premise. Nobody needs to know what a MB is. They simply need to be given a good usage meter that shows their usage as a percentage of their cap.

    This can be a bar chart, a pie chart, etc. That's easy to understand. People understand proportions, don't they. Problem solved.

    The cognitive load you discuss can be reduced greatly by proactive notifications. Caps done correctly would include sufficient outbound notifications to users when they hit thresholds (50, 80, 90, 100%), or are off-pace with their caps: "Hey, you've used 50% of your month's allotment in just 8 days." Users at the cap should be throttled to respectable speeds (164Kb/s or so) or offered an up-sell to the next higher plan.

    The problem isn't caps. It's that carriers are terrible at implementing them well.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:32pm

    sonic.net

    Here in California, I use a Sonic.net's DSL line (which is really just a re-sold AT&T line).

    No cap!

    Furthermore, Sonic.net seems to be more concerned with customer satisfaction and privacy than most.

    At one point, I was looking for a wireless provider in the event that I moved to a slightly more rural location - and I literally laughed at one such provider's cap of 30gb/month.

    When I asked the lady how I was expected to use Netflix with such a low cap (the *average* Netflix user uses ~40GB/month) she told me that I am not the kind of customer they're looking for.

    There it was, in black and white: "We don't want you as a customer." - I fell out of my chair... called another wireless provider, and they told me: "no caps, we can provide services wherever that other provider does" (same pricing, btw).

    It amazes me that there are companies out there pretending like they can punish their customers and not see any negative result.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:33pm

    1024 bytes is a megabyte actually... Marketing depts have used 1000 bytes for a while because 1024 isn't as cool as 1000 I guess...

     

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    Don Loflin (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:33pm

    This is exactly the situation they want

    IMO, the service providers love the fact that it's nearly impossible to keep track intuitively, how much data you've used. They're counting on it, I think - especially, they don't want you thinking too hard about #4 "how much will it cost" - they want you to just blithely go on downloading...and racking up huge extra charges.

     

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    Andrew F (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:35pm

    This isn't unique to MBs

    Ever try going on a diet and guessing how much a calorie is? Or how many kilowatt-hours of power you use? Or cubic feet of water?

    We have varying solutions to the above, albeit with mixed degrees of success. It's a hard problem.

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    A. The meters will probably be broken or inaccurate in some way--and likely in a way which favor the ISPs, which means they'll be broken by design.

    B. Most people cannot figure percentages either. I've seen servers pissed about getting a $3 tip on a $10 order--I asked how much a 20% tip would have been and got a (serious!) answer of $5.

    The correct response to this whole schlock is to treat internet like what it is, a utility. Meter and charge by amount used, just like water, electric, natural gas, what-have-you.

     

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    weneedhelp (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:38pm

    Re:

    What? No Insult for Marcus even though Mike wrote this? You're slipping.

     

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    Chosen Reject (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    How can you come to the conclusion that they don't need to know? If you're at 90% of your cap or have 200MB left, how do you know it's OK to send those photos to grandma or watch another cat video on Youtube if you don't know what a MB is?

    You're right that the problem isn't caps. The problem is a lack of competition. If there was real competition in the ISP space, either the carriers would implement the caps correctly, or they would eliminate them altogether. Either way, the problem gets solved by adding more competition.

     

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    Quryous, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:39pm

    The reason for limits is simple:

    Capacity if expensive. Currently there is not enough of it, according to the telcos.

    If the telcos don't want to spend the money to build sufficient capacity (so that there is no NEED for Data Caps) all they have to do is punish the user enough (with excessive prices, data caps, and strangulation of the bandwidth) and s/he will back off on now much s/he uses the system.

    Voila: Less need for capacity, maximum profits for the telcos, and no need to hurry and build more capacity to keep up with demand (that they just killed). Simple, isn't it?

    Smile.

     

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    Machin Shin (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:41pm

    Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    The problem is that the caps don't solve anything. All they do is anger customers. Yes you can have a nice pretty bar showing usage and all that. The trouble is that still leaves you having to sit and plan out what you want to do online.

    It is obvious from comments like yours that people still do not understand the role internet plays in a lot of peoples lives. It is used constantly by people like me. I am always on the net talking to people, streaming video or music, playing online games, doing research, ect.

    The internet is a large part of life. Putting a limit on data greatly interferes with many aspects of what I do on a daily basis. I then have to choose do I give up communicating for a week or more so I can stream this video?

     

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    Chosen Reject (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:42pm

    Re:

    What is a kilobyte where you are from?

     

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    pegr, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:43pm

    Re:

    No, 1024 bytes is a kilobyte. 1024 kilobytes is a megabyte (unless you're buying a hard drive ;)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:44pm

    Re: The reason for limits is simple:

    Assuming you mean bandwidth capacity, that has nothing to do with data transfer caps.

    What good does it do to have a monthly cap on transfers when the real problem is serving customer needs at peak times of the day? If, for example, a new movie comes out on Netflix streaming, and all your customers to to watch it simultaneously, you've exceeded your capacity regardless of the ridiculous data caps and you still have the same problem.

    If they're using the caps purely as a deterrent, that's not a solution to the problem - it's a way to piss off and scare your customers (or would-be customers). This works in a monopoly situation of course, which is what it is.

     

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    Machin Shin (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:45pm

    I would just like to make the prediction that as we see a rise in data caps I bet we will also see a rise in war driving. It will be the dawn of the bandwidth pirates!

     

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    Anonymous, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:45pm

    There's also the "what happens if/when my connection drops out while I'm downloading because my service provider is a PoS. Should I disable pre-fetching, automatic updates, etc. etc.

     

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    Scott, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:46pm

    Megabyte

    A megabyte is 1048576 bytes. Nuff said.

     

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  22.  
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    justok (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:48pm

    Solution

    The solution, that would make every user happy, and save them money, while still generating enormous profits for the companies would be to simply [*@#----]

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Re: Debate Ended

    Mebibyte vs Megabyte   &    Kibibyte vs Kilobyte
    (There's some links, educate yourself.)

    Summary: A Kilobyte is 1000 bytes, a Kibibyte is 1024 bytes. (Etcetera and so all the way up the scale.)

     

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  24.  
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    justok (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Solution

    [[

     

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  25.  
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    Noah Callaway, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    > "Users at the cap should be throttled to respectable speeds (164Kb/s or so) or offered an up-sell to the next higher plan."

    The problem with this is I've already been "up-sold" to an unlimited plan. There is no "unlimited-plus" plan for me to be up-sold to.

     

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  26.  
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    justok (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:50pm

    --cap exceeded--

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:51pm

    If these mobile ISPs were smart instead of handwaving over updating Android and smartphone OSes, they'd push out every single minor change as a full install sized download just to run up people's data charges, and then when people had the supposed 'upgrade issues' they have an excuse to use up even more of people's data plans.

     

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  28.  
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    Jake (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:52pm

    Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    No the problem is the caps, they are unnecessary. Data is different than other utilities as it is an infinite commodity. The ISP does not manufacture data, nor does it have to buy and resell data. ISP's have to create bandwidth, but I already pay for a certain amount of bandwidth every month, but now the ISP's want to limit how I use a product that I already pay for with an artificial cap.
    It would be like someone selling you a book and telling you that you can only read it once. Wait, I better stop before I give someone an idea.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Re:

    Well, to be fair, he does more than that. He's off cutting himself right now to make himself pay for not being first post on responding to this article.

     

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  30.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:54pm

    Re:

    They do it because it's easier to market (AKA: lie). They can tell people they provide 50G but in reality they truly provide only 46.5G. Same with Hard drives, ever notice you lose about 20G on a 1TB drive?

    Now, even though I know exactly what a MB is, I still have to ask this question; How big is a 15min video on Youtube?

     

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  31.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    a sweet, sensuous way to get the attention of his imaginary lover

    You are talking about his infatuation with Marcus's ass, right?

     

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  32.  
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    khory, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:54pm

    Caps

    Data caps are insane. Bandwidth is not a resource that you use and then it is gone. It is always there whether it is currently in use or not. The only issue is if there is enough bandwidth to accommodate all the data during peak hours. Non peak usage isn't a burden on the network as long as it isn't at max capacity. Going over some data cap isn't burdening any one at these hours or at all if your usage isn't during prime time.

    The caps are an artificial way to make people use less. It doesn't solve ANY bandwidth shortage issues, people will still use their data during peak hours. The only thing it does is curtail data-heavy uses like Netflix which I believe companies like Comcast see as a threat to their cable business.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Debate Ended

    So hard drive manufacturers made up new words? Interesting.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:57pm

    It still amazes me how short-sighted many ISPs are that they aren't looking to capitalize on this more by competing by getting rid of caps. Of course, one key reason is that there just isn't that much competition, and so the short-sighted view can win for the time being. But it's a dangerous long-term strategy. Pissing off customers as a business model isn't a very good idea.
    I have no idea why this amazes you, or why you seem to believe that monopolies (most ISPs are cable or telco) would care about their customers. This has been known for decades - remember the line "We don't care - we're the phone company. We don't have to." from SNL in the 70's?

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Precisely. I have just recently hit this very problem. Two weekends ago, my home DSL connection was cut off without warning by the ISP (bill is in house-mate's name, and they attempted to overcharge her, and bank refused payment). Long story short, now we're stuck using a 3G USB modem (again, lack of decent competition). I've already had to mentally plan out my data usage, since I'm limited to 7.5 gigabytes for the month. I can't just go somewhere and use free wifi, since I don't have a smartphone or laptop/netbook. I have a desktop computer.
    Already, I am facing major problems. When I first started using the 3G modem, I found out that it hates having multiple connections i.e., it hates it when I try and open multiple webpages at the same time, or trying to open a page while downloading something. So, I have to plan ahead. While downloading Windows Updates, I was unable to open a webpage so had to do something else, instead of doing what I wanted to do, which was communicate with the online world. I also now have to be very careful with my usage of Steam: patches there are not small. I simply detest the thought of having to choose between a patch or web browsing.

     

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  36.  
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    MRK, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:58pm

    There is one very important aspect of data caps that isn't mentioned in the article:

    The company that sets the cap is also doing the measuring.

    If I buy gas, the pump is inspected for accuracy by the state. So is the scale at the grocery store, etc. I don't know if this is true for every state, but there is a sticker with a phone number to call a state agency if you suspect the scale/pump/whatever is faulty.

    Yet for whatever reason ISP/Cell Phone companies are allowed to use their own measuring tools without any oversight what-so-ever. I can get a letter saying "you are over your data cap, here is your overage charge" and I have no way to contest it or verify the results.

     

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  37.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Your first point: They will know how much "stuff" they've done thus far that month, and therefore how much more of that stuff they can do. If they are 9/10 into the month and at 90%...well, they can pretty much carry on as before. People are stupid, but not completely. To Lobo Santo's point, if they don't get %ages, then then can at least see the pie chart and get a feel for areas. If they can't handle that, how do they buy meat at a butcher shop, gas from a gas pump, electricity from a meter, or anything else that's measured?

    To your second point on competition. That is completely correct.

     

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  38.  
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    Andrew F (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    The meters could be implemented by the OS. Android and iOS don't have any incentive to misreport data usage.

    Agreed that metering is the better way to go though -- meters degrade gracefully, so going a little over a cap won't kill you.

     

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    TimK (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:59pm

    It won't stop until it costs them money...

    A friend of mine recently bought a "the new iPad" with Verizon 4G data. He wanted it to watch shows on Netflix on the train to and from work. He used it for 2 days and loved it, but said he won't be using it any more. 40 minutes each way on Netflix used over 200MB per day. He'd reach his 2GB cap in 2 weeks! No thanks. Data plan canceled.

    The carriers think that everyone will just shell out more money for a higher cap, but in reality they won't. Some people won't care and will pay whatever they have to. Others will simply cancel the data plan, and find the content and copy it to their tablet instead of streaming.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:02pm

    Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Pretty much the major problem with what you've said is...what is a 'respectable' speed? Why 164Kbps? Why that specific number? Does this barrier increase as the years go by, or in ten years, when the average home net speed is about 1 gigabyte per second (one can dream) will we still have to just sit back and not grumble over being reduced to 164kbps?

     

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    weneedhelp (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:02pm

    Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    You're right. No need to know how much a gallon is, or how far it will take you. No need to know how much a quart is, just fill the engine in your car until its full.

    The answer is that if your 1 million users decide to download lolcats at noon all together, and your network cant handle it, upgrade your network. Caps are a pure money-grab, and have nothing to do with the capacity of the network.

     

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    Lowestofthekeys (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Certainly, though I can imagine this certain AC's belligerencies are the pent up frustration from not being able to Google images Marcus' ass.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:04pm

    Kilobyte = 1000 kibibyte = 1024?

    Except... "it has seen little adoption by the computer industry."

     

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    Jake (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Re:

    That's the major problem it depends on the resolution that you are watching it in. Higher resolution means more bytes.

     

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    ltlw0lf (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Debate Ended

    So hard drive manufacturers made up new words? Interesting.

    If I remember correctly, it was the scientists/engineers who made up words because of the confusion caused by hard drive manufacturers ignoring what scientists called a megabyte (which was at one time, 1024 kilobytes,) and choosing their own measure.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    carriers will never go for this, too easy to modify the OS to report incorrect usage in favor of the user.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:07pm

    Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    "Caps don't solve anything"

    Yes they do. For carriers with capacity constraints trying to match the capital they must spend to extent capacity with increased revenues, they solve the problem quite surgically. People either reduce their consumption, or pay more for more.

    You'll find it in the encyclopedia under Supply and Demand. It is obvious from comments like yours that people still do not understand the role that economics plays in the market for braodband services. Economics doesn't care that you are "always on the net talking to people, streaming video or music, playiung online games, doing research, etc." Economics only cares that, if the impact of users like you pushes the demand curve to the right, either the equilibrium price will need to rise, or you will need to be constrained.

    The Internet is not a charity. Even if "it's a large part of life", that would mean that you want it more, and will pay more for more. Consider a parallel:

    Gas stations don't give me unlimited gas for each time I pay to fill up! Putting a limit on how much gas I can pump "greatly interferes with many aspects of what I do on a daily basis. I then have to choose do I give up [commuting] for a week or more so I can [pay my mortgage]?"

    Life has costs and trade-offs. Tough. Economics is the study of allocation of resources under scarcity. I think, good sir, that it is not I that fail to "get" these here Interwebs, but rather you that fails to "get" them thars economics laws.

     

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  48.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Fair enough. I never said carriers or ISPs should lie. When they say "unlimited", it should @#$@#-well be unlimited.

    I'm defending caps, tiers of service and metering as viable economic pricing models in a market with scarcity of resources (network capacity).

    I'm not defending the BS carriers sometimes promote, nor the services they end up offering, nor the clumsy way they deliver them.

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Yes, but if your meter disagrees with their meter, who wins by default?

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Quite right!

    Except, bandwidth is only scarce for brief periods when many people are trying to use it at the same time. Aside from that, bandwidth is essentially limitless, the only real limiting factor being throughput speed.

     

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    JPriest, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Debate Ended

    My dad gave me the 10^(x3) vs 2^(x10) lesson in regards to bytes around the Windows 95 era.

    I can't imagine either of us using 'mebibyte' in a sentence with a straight face though.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:13pm

    Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    "Data is different than other utilities as it is an infinite commodity."

    A common notion among tech-savvy, heavy Internet users, and one promoted by my friend here, Masnick. Also one I think is patently incorrect.

    I see AT&T (make fun of them at will) investing $19 Billion per year on network improvements, all for the goal of increasing capacity. I, thus, find it hard to accept the argument that capacity is free.

    A bit on a deployed network has a marginal cost that approaches zero. This is true. And this is where your misunderstanding takes root.

    That "Bits are free" argument would be fine...so long as you are satisfied using a dial-up connection to log into "the Well" to share ideas with your buddies, and use your Pine email client or AOL to sent email to your friends.

    If, however, your Internet needs have changed, and your demand for bandwidth has increased over the years, then the bits are not free. You are demanding increased capacity, and that, my friends, cost billions.

     

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    Nero, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Hey.....uh I work for an ISP. We have massive capacity in pretty much every market..data caps are basically a preemtive approach to traffic policing (ime QoS). In truth, it cost the ISP the same to transport the 1st MB as it does the 401st MB.

    In our (their) defense, its not just a matter of upgrading bandwith as the nature of the internet means any addtional bandwith will be consumed immediately. Don't believe me? Ever see how BGP reacts when links between two Tier 1 or Tier 2 ISPs go down? The net effect is that every other carrier gets swamped with traffic they could never engineer for.

    That said, however, I think we (ISPs) can be a bit more transparent about usage trends. Also we could stand to be a bit more fair (I.e. don't cut someone off completly or throttle excessively). Perhaps whe can have graduate throttling (say 10% per 200MB over limit.

    Finally, as someone mentioned, this is bad for the internet in the long run. Caps essentialy crush competitors and adjacent markets like video on demand, VoIP, and online gaming. In so much as it stiffles growth in these industries, it stiffles growth and development of the internet at large. Imagine if we had data caps when the Ethernet standard was being developed? No need for additional speed/capacity...no need to develop the technology...

     

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    Don Moody, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:17pm

    Data caps harm economies & education

    Data capping is truly bull in my opinion my ISP provides TV through the very same line as our Internet and they are the regulators that have no real oversight.

    This money grubbing from ISP's is harming our countries, our democracy and our economies. 

    Look to Estonia of Europe to see an example of what I'm saying. 

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/apr/15/estonia-ussr-shadow-internet-titan?mobi le-redirect=false

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:19pm

    Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Well, that's not really true. Lets say you have a new utility, where you're told that you get 4 Gigaclumps a month, and a handy meter in your home you can check at any time to see how many Clumps you've used. Just be careful, because anything over 4 Gigaclumps, and you get charged a BIG fee.

    The problem is, depending on how you use this utility, sometimes it seems like you're using very few Clumps, and sometimes, you do something you think is normal and innocent, and you look at your meter and you've used half your month's Clumps in 3 days. And then sometimes, you go to bed, wake up, and notice you've been using Clumps overnight, when you know you weren't purposely using any!

    Could you, over time, figure out what takes a lot of Clumps, what doesn't, and how to meter yourself properly? Sure. But in the meantime, how inconvenient is that going to be and how many times are you going to go over your monthly cap by accident? Welcome to the world of people using the internet with a monthly cap.

    The point is, if you don't know what a MB is and don't know exactly how you're using it, then other than your meter suddenly spiking up, you don't know when you're really using a lot of data.

    You watch a video on youtube, notice the data move up slightly. You watch another (this time an HD one), it moves up faster. You download a 20-minute show in 720P resolution, suddenly it jumps up even higher. To many people, they just watched 3 video clips and don't know the difference between them. Could they learn over time? Sure. Are they going to? Probably not.

     

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    Steve, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:20pm

    Re:

    1024 bytes is a Kilobyte.
    A Megabyte is 1,048,576 bytes, or 1024 Kilobytes.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Well, whatever the speed is, it's gonna be arbitrary, right? So, I take a stab and say 164Kbps. You could say something else. It could change over time. The key, for me, is that it is not overly "punitive", as AT&T's wireless caps proved to be. You notice it, it prevents the most data hungry of services (streaming media) but it doesn't affect most data services.

    I picked that number simply because:
    - users will feel it, but it is not overly punitive
    - you can still do VoIP
    - you can still Tweet, E911 GPS locate yourself, Facebook, mediocre web browse, check-in, Google Map, traffic update, health monitor, etc... Hundreds of thousands of apps still will work.
    - you will have a hard time streaming video, and perhaps audio

    But you will notice the throttle if you are the kind of heavy user who hits your cap, and you will either have to buy up to a higher tier, tolerate the throttle, or alter your usage pattern.

    That is an effort to constrain an every-growing demand. Yes, it limits people. That's what it is intended to do. You can pay more for more, or be limited at the price you pay. I've wrote it above already, but it is the law of supply and demand in action. It's not personal, just econ.

     

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    Machin Shin (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Ahh, and you compare internet to gas, a somewhat fitting comparison sense both seem to be ruled by something other then strictly supply and demand. You ever notice that the price of oil goes up and instantly the cost of gas jumps but when oil goes down gas price lingers for a while before adjusting if it ever bothers to at all.

    If you really want to compare it to something like gas then how about the providers truly charge that way? Don't put a cap on it just change over to charging by the MB. That would truly be supply and demand. The issue is that they want more money and they know that you have no where else to go.

    Like in my case, I have DSL because there are no other high speed options. The cable company refuses to run the cable to where our house is located and the high speed wireless options are not practical. So they have nothing to fear by raping us because the options are accept the cost or live without the net. At least with gas if one station charges a dollar more than the one across the street then you have the option to drive across the street.

     

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    Torg (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    iOS does keep track of cellular usage, at least on my iPad. It's under "Usage" in the General setting menu.

     

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    TtfnJohn (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:22pm

    Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    The problem IS caps. There really isn't a technological reason for implementing them at all. It's just a way of digging deeper into the user's pocket.

    And, YES, the problem is competition. There's precious little of it about.

    One solution as things move towards more competition would be to declare what ISP's do as common carriers because Internet access is a utility these days. The ISP's would howl with outrage but who cares? The volume and pitch of the howling only goes to show that they'd actually have to provide the service they promise and probably make a dollar or two less out of every $10 grand they get from customers.

    Caps are just a way to dig deeper into customer's pockets. There really is no technical reason for them.

     

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    jsl4980 (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:24pm

    Win-win for Telecos

    It's a win-win situation for telecos. If they apply punitive caps for usage their customers will use less. If their customers use less the telecos won't be under any pressure to invest in improvements in service. They can raise rates every year and invest less money each year.

     

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    Nero, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:24pm

    Re: The reason for limits is simple:

    Yea...except that is not that simple. Networking protocols ( OSPF, EIGRP, BGP) generally havethe effect of consuming additional bandwith because of how consumers and telcos engineer the network. Adding more capacity doesn't solve anything...see my other post...

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Have you any knowledge of Peak Load Economics?

    Nobody, never, ever, ever, would build a network to handle the peak load, as you suggest with lolcats at noon. That investment is then wasted all the rest of the day.

    Look at highways that are congested at rush hour.
    Phone networks that are jammed during emergencies.
    Generators that are sold out at Home Depot during power outages.
    Power outages during the hottest days of summer.

    The ISPs could build a network to handle those spikes. Do you really want them to? OK, your monthly ISP bill will be $500, as it is for enterprise customers who want guaranteed service levels. Enjoy.

     

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    vastrightwing, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:25pm

    Pissing off your customers must be good business

    It must be good to piss off your customers. After all, banks do it all the time. Cable companies do it. The Federal Reserve… Come to think of it cell companies, airlines, entertainment companies, social media companies, and many retailers all have business models where the customer is seen as nothing more than a wad of cash walking around just waiting for them to grab it. We are told what we can buy how much it will cost and what we are allowed to do with our products. It's OK not to deliver what was promised because it's good for the shareholders. For example, if you want to buy a movie to watch at home, you are told you must wait until a certain date before you can buy it. Then you are told you must buy it on a DVD or some other form of locked down format. You are not allowed to transcode the content or break the DRM. Further, if you buy certain types of game consoles, you will be thrown in jail for tampering with the electronics. I therefore must conclude that treating customers like garbage must be good business, otherwise companies like EA, BoA, PayPal, Comcast, Walmart, Sony, Best Buy, Charter, Citi, Facebook, et. Al. would not be so hated by consumers everywhere.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:26pm

    Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    If every time more bandwidth is added, it is immediately consumed, isn't that a sign that the market is demanding more bandwidth than you're providing?

    Also, since the "max speed" used by your sales dept is a joke to the point where it should be illegal, maybe beefing up your network to the point where customers can actually expect something closer to your promised speeds would help your reputation?

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:26pm

    Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Ridiculous premise.

    Heh. The one subject you and I always disagree on...

    Nobody needs to know what a MB is. They simply need to be given a good usage meter that shows their usage as a percentage of their cap.

    Disagree. A usage meter would help -- though, so far, most usage meters are problematic in that they don't seem to work very well.

    But the bigger issue is the cognitive load which you say proactive notifications can help -- but that still doesn't help in that you are thinking about how much your usage will impact the cap. Even when I use my capped mobile broadband today -- even though I know I'm nowhere near the cap -- I'm much more careful about what I use and that's a pain. It's why I use it much less than I used to.

     

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    Machin Shin (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Yes, capacity cost money, but we are already charged by how much capacity we are allowed to use. Now they are trying to limit us even more. These limits are not going to help with the amount of traffic at peak times. In fact I could see it making things worse. You will now have heavy network traffic at the start of each month and very light traffic at the end. So instead of solving the problem you condensed it into a bigger problem.

     

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    Demoliri (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:26pm

    Glad I don't have to put up with this

    Is 2gb/month really a common data cap? Thats absolutely insane.

    In the UK my current ISP (Virgin Media) gives me a cap of 5gb per DAY between the hours of 4-9pm on a weekday. If I exceed the cap I get my speed throttled for six hours, it still works, just a bit slower. No extra charge, and no limit off peak.

    Heres a link to the policy for anyone who's curious:
    http://help.virginmedia.com/system/selfservice.controller?CMD=VIEW_ARTICLE&ARTICLE_ID= 389465&CURRENT_CMD=SEARCH&CONFIGURATION=1029&PARTITION_ID=1&USERTYPE=1&LANGUAGE= en&COUNTY=us&VM_CUSTOMER_TYPE=Cable#heavy

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:27pm

    Re: sonic.net

    Here in California, I use a Sonic.net's DSL line (which is really just a re-sold AT&T line).

    No cap!


    Same here.

     

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    Danny, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:29pm

    Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    A. Most certainly. I can easily imagine the meter being something like, "You have used Xmb in bandwidth as (seven days before the day you are looking it up)". It would be so far behind that it would be next to impossible to get an accurate up to the moment reading to know where you stand on usage. Which of course sets you up to go over.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:29pm

    Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    My second reply to your weak arguments are:

    I never suggested there is no value in learning what a MB is. I just said there is no NEED.

    Just as there is value in knowing what a pound of steak looks like when you go to the butcher, or what a gram of coke looks like when you go to your pusher. Knowledge is power, and people who know more will do a better job of planning their use of products and services, and how they spend their money.

    But charts, graphs, and pro-active notification about caps can go a long way towards helping ISP customers understand their consumption without ever NEEDING them to understand what a MB is. And you know, what? Little by little, some of them will learn what a MB is.

    When you were four, did you know how much candy you could buy for a dollar? Nope. But you bought candy a few times, and you learned, right? Masnick's article falsely assumes that people MUST know what a MB is, then also falsely assumes that people won't learn.

    PS, I've been debating him for about 9 years on this subject. It's one of the few on which we disagree.

     

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    ml, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Bits and bytes are not a consumed commodity like water. Bandwidth capacity is not a measure of the total bits you used in a month.

    If your users downloaded lolcats 100 times every day at different times they likely would impact the ISPs bandwidth capacity less than if they did as you suggested and downloaded once all at the same time.

    Caps don't help capacity issues at all because bandwidth capacity problems are time related or number of concurrent connections related. The total number of bits is meaningless.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:34pm

    Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    If you assume that the meter works like crap, and is not granular enough, and is not real-time, then yes, you are correct.

    Sadly. You are correct. This is the way most celcos and ISP meters currently work - they are not real-time and the ISPs have to weasel out of the meter information "these data are just indications, represent estimated usage at midnight last night, etc. etc."

    I make no apologies for telcos and ISPs sucking. But I believe that caps are not to blame for lousy implementations of caps. No ISP should implement a metered solution until they can provide working, real-time usage meters and reliable outbound warnings.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Ah, supply and demand! How could someone forget something so basic?

    Oh wait, he didn't. Your reply has absolutely nothing to do with what's going on. Supply refers to the availability of a limited number of goods or services - something called scarcity. That scarcity doesn't exist with something like data - there aren't a limited number of megabytes to go around (do you know what those are?) Comparing ISPs to gas stations only puts you on par with Ted Stevens.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:36pm

    Mr. Oizo

    'A megabyte is, in this context, 1,000 kilobytes' is just wrong. A megabyte is 1024 kilobytes. Anybody trying to tell you differently should be beaten until they listen to engineers.

     

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    PlagueSD (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:37pm

    Re: It won't stop until it costs them money...

    This is exactly what the telcos want. They want you to use less data so they don't have to spend millions of dollars on network upgrades.

    As for the bandwidth analogy, the perfect analogy that no one uses is freeways. That's what bandwidth is...Freeways. When everyone is driving on them at the same time, no one gets anywhere. During off-peak hours (non-rush hour) you have no problem going the speed limit (your download limit)

    Theoretically, if your car didn't require fuel or maintenance, there would be no cost for driving (for you) The freeway system would be maintained by the city (ISP) What ISP's are trying to do is charge you for the milage driven.

    The only scarcity is the number of cars that can be on the road at the same time - (bandwidth), not what you have in your car - (data).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Aren't they, though? If you hitting/going over a cap didn't directly hit the bottom line (where either you pay through the nose for crossing a line you didn't even know you hit, or you're throttled, so you're not a hit against the network anymore, meaning greater "value" provided to everyone who is left), would there be an incentive you have such an awful meter?

     

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    Justin, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:39pm

    Re:

    *nitpick* 1024 bytes is a kilobyte, 1024 kilobytes is a megabyte. You can just express it as 1024^2 bytes to a megabite, or get even more finely detailed and 1024^2*8 BITS to a megabyte...

     

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    Torg (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    I like the rush hour traffic comparison, because it's a similar situation: too many people trying to get through a limited access space at the same time. And, like with the Internet, telling someone they shouldn't drive somewhere at noon because there was a traffic jam a week ago at seven would make no sense.

     

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    PlagueSD (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:41pm

    Re: Mr. Oizo

    Actually, a megabyte IS 1000 kilobytes. Where your math is wrong is the fact that a kilobyte is 1024 bytes.

    A kilogram is not 1024 grams. It's 1000.

     

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    Yakko Warner (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:43pm

    Re: And what happens when you run out?

    One thing I learned during all of this is the concept of "trickle bandwidth". Like "trickle power", the little bit of electricity a device ends up consuming just by virtue of being plugged in (DC power adapters, electronics that are "off" but consume enough power to look for the remote control signal telling it to "turn on"), my internet-connected devices use a non-zero amount of internet data just by virtue of being on. Email programs that ping servers for new messages, background widgets that look for content updates (news, weather), and any of a dozen apps that check for program updates (Adobe, Google, Windows, graphics drivers, keyboard and mouse drivers, even my TV and Blu-ray player) can add up to a couple hundred megabytes per day (especially when you have multiple computers doing this independently — am I supposed to set up a Windows Update Server on my home network?). It doesn't sound like much until you find yourself counting every kB at the end of the month to make sure you don't find yourself cut off from the rest of the world.

    And why does all this trickle bandwidth exist? Because the people programming these widgets and web sites and services are written to actually use the resources of the internet, not considering these resources limited.

     

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    TtfnJohn (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    I'll be less polite than Lobo Santo and just say limits on usage and capacity being linked in is bullshit.

    If an ISP has capacity constraints then bloody well fix it and get the money later by raising prices, if you must. Imposing caps does nothing to raise the money because the caps mean the data usage the ISP caps means the money will never get raised. If they must then meter the usage and bill for it. Kinda like Hydro companies do.

    As for capacity there's the small problem that data is inherently bursty. It's sent and received in a matter of microseconds and it's gone. Capacity restored. The very design of the Internet makes it even more bursty as every internet connection is dropped after the data is sent or received and reconnected when one end of the other sends or receives some more data. At worst, in quiet moments, the user is left with a carrier tone above or below the data spectrum to keep their connection to the carrier up.

    I'm more than willing to get into discussions of supply and demand but what you're claiming to be a scarce resource isn't for a properly equipped ISP. By the way, economics is also the study of resource allocation in times of abundance, too.

    As I don't accept that there is scarcity for a half way well equipped ISP the notion of scarcity doesn't enter into it. That I don't accept that it's possible to raise money to fix an imaginary problem by not selling the service you're in the business of selling doesn't raise a penny to fix that problem isn't my problem either.

    Your problem is that you don't understand the architecture of these here interwebs, which were designed to deal with and route around capacity scarcity, or the basis of data transmission and how that works.

    (Not, in fairness, that many people do, unless you've worked in the field.)

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:48pm

    Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Yes. The current usage meters suck. They are embarassingly bad tools, that don't meet my definition of a usage meter. As provided by ISPs and cellular companies, they are "estimates of how much you used up until last night...but don't hold us to it." Meters. Almost useless.

    I make no apologies for telcos and ISPs sucking. But I believe that caps are not to blame for lousy implementations of caps. No ISP should implement a metered solution until they can provide working, real-time usage meters and reliable outbound warnings.

    As for the "bigger issue" of the cognitive load: tough shit. I don't get you're blind spot on this. Usually, you apply economic models to all arguments. Why not on this one?

    It is not the job of suppliers of Oranges to enable the innovative use of oranges without any cognitive load. Oranges are scarce, they cost money. If people use more, they must consider the cost of their increased use of oranges. Think of all the orange-based paint, scent, and insecticide solutions we'll never see because oranges have a cost. But isn't that just supply and demand at work?

    Also, there would be a lot of innovative users for flash memory, if it just were free. But it's not. So think of all the lost inventions we'll never see using free flash memory. But c'est la vie, right? We don't complain that the flash makers don't offer an "unlimited" plan for buying their memory. Why are data suppliers held to some other standard?

    Cuz we likes our Interwebz? Not a good enough reason to throw the law of supply and demand out the window.

    And as I argued in prior comments, bandwidth IS a scarce demand. The cost per bit is not free. Not even close. This is because demand keeps growing. So we are not talking about an old, fully amortized physical network with steady data traffic. We are talking about carriers facing a demand tsunami, and needing to invest Billions upgrading their networks and devices to handle it. Customers, of course, are the ones who end up paying. Now, the ISPs are asking people, through their pricing: "If you use more, please either contain your usage, or pay more so we can build more capacity for users like you." Of all the crappy things, false arguments, and cash grabs I see carriers to, this is just one one of them.

    Before 2004, you and I complained that plans marketed as "unlimited" were, in fact, limited. The carriers switched gears a little, and now sell plans as "limited" with caps. I think this is, finally, honest. You are still angry about it.

    OK, the cognitive load is a pain. I know it. I feel it too, especially on international travel where they really rob you. But that cognitive load you feel is just the reality of needing to correctly allocate scarce resources, i.e. economics. And usually you can spot that kind of thing. You don't complain here about the cognitive load when you go to the store and buy hundreds of other scarce goods. Why just this one?

     

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    Johnny5k (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:48pm

    caps + lack of net neutrality = no more Netflix

    I have Comcast, and often come close to reaching my 280GB data cap every month. We get most of our video content from Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, etc.. I also back up my computer online, and regularly transfer files to/from work. As time goes on and my data needs increase (video bitrate/quality increase, more data to back up, bigger files to transfer) I'm going to regularly exceed Comcast's data cap. If I were to stop streaming video, or switch to Comcast's new Netflix clone (StreamPix), which conveniently does not count against my cap, I would probably be able to stay safely under the cap, at least for a while. So, clearly Comcast has given themselves an unfair advantage, leveraging their position as my ISP to force me to use their other service as my online video provider as well. This is exactly why the idea of Net Neutrality was conceived several years ago, and why we can't depend on the ISP's to regulate themselves. If the rest of the ISP's implement similar caps + their own 'private' video services, then Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, et al are doomed, as customers will have no choice but to use their ISP as their sole video provider, or have to cut back on all their other internet use. And with the other video providers out of the way, the ISPs will be free to raise their video service prices, much like they all did with text prices a few years ago. Comcast claims it's not a net neutrality issue, because their videos are going over a 'private line' -- but I will bet you, if I watch something on StreamPix, and try downloading a big file at the same time, my download will be slower, and/or my video quality will be lower -- which means it is the exact same line coming into my computer, and it most certainly is a net neutrality issue / service bundling issue.

     

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    PlagueSD (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Re: Mr. Oizo

    Actually, I just checked my math. 2^20 is 1 megabyte or 1048576 bytes (1024 * 1024) Those extra 24 bytes throw everything off.

     

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    Doug B (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:52pm

    Not sure if srs

    cell phone companies have been treating customers like garbage for decades. and yet the sheeple keep coming back. I don't buy that pissing of your customers is always a bad business model.

     

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    The eejit (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Okay then, as an example:

    I was playing WoW at a friend's house. They had broadband capped at 40GB. I played for two hours a night for a week. That took the full month's data. And I was merely questing in-game. I paid my friend nearly £300 for the overage fees. That's playiong a basic MMO.

    I'm using around 100GB/month, according to those meters installed by my ISP, and yet my internal datalog is showing not nearly that much data.

    Odd, that.

     

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    TtfnJohn (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    I don't have a problem with metering, or with tiers of service (they exist now) but caps are bullshit. Even in a market where there's a scarcity of resources which, as you know by now, I don't accept either. There is no inherent shortage of capacity unless that shortage was introduced by the ISP by design. Horrific planning, not enough capacity, isn't solved by caps. In just about all cases caps are simply a way to gouge the consumer, nothing more, nothing less.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Debate Ended

    Actually the problem existed/exists because the computer industry used metric prefixes which are base 10 in a binary world.

     

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    The eejit (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Re:

    Between 30 and 150 Megs.

     

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    MonkeyFracasJr (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:55pm

    Re: metered as a utility commodity

    This sounds nice but ...

    1) Do more bytes actually incur more cost to the provider? The electricity is already on ... (And I do realize higher use does necessitate more infrastructure.)

    2)The meter can not be on the device that is doing the consuming. It must be on the point of delivery. (You don't have an electric meter on every device in the house.) This presents a significant problem to devices that can get signal from differing sources (wifi hotspot or cell tower?)

    3)I admit this point is my own bias but ISP's have not shown that they have an ethical competency any where near that of my other utility providers (not that they are that great either)

    I do not see myself as any great fan of regulation but there needs to be clearer rules, and rules that err on the side of consumer protection and not the provider.

    my 2‌¢

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:56pm

    Re: Re: The reason for limits is simple:

    Your argument that peak loads are critical to planning and capacity management is correct.

    But it's freaking impossible to tell customers where/when to use data, and when not to. It's freaking impossible to tell them that data is more expensive for these hours, not those hours, etc. So, caps are a blunt took to reduce the peaks. It also puts that "cognitive load" that Masnick talks about...and that's a good thing. Consumers that are forced to recognize that bandwidth isn't free will start being more selective about the apps they install and their use of data. This will reduce peak demand.

    Also, you may not be fully aware that the peak load patterns have changed dramatically the past decade. In the cellular world, rush-hour commute times used to be the busiest by far for mobile voice. Data started on a similar schedule, but now, data use has flattened out a great deal. This is because much of the aggregate use is background connections by apps, and associated signaling traffic. Mobile video use also takes place all day, not specifically during commutes.

     

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    The eejit (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:56pm

    Re: The reason for limits is simple:

    Then perhaps they can give back the billions paid to them to upgrade infrastructure in the last 10 years.

    Simple.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Debate Ended

    Actually it was the sales/marketing people that screwed it all up in the first place. Much like the 4G advertisements in the cellphone industry and AMD in the CPU industry a decade ago.

    Computers use funny binary math, if we instead use decimal math no one (general public) will know the difference! That make it sound like they are getting more storage! 80 GB (actually 76 GB)

    AMD did the same thing, we'll call these 2400 because they are similar performance as a 2.4 GHz (Even though they run at 2.0 GHz). If you want to advertise on that fact, good for you, but don't use model numbers that can be confused or are misleading.

    I was so sick and tired of people coming back into the computer store trying to say we ripped them off because their 40 GB hard drive wasn't 40 GB or that their AMD CPU ran at a slower clock rate then they thought they bought.

    Then lately I've been seeing those ads trying to push HPSA+ as "4G" service.... makes me sick.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:57pm

    How do I count TCP overhead - the additional 20% of data that routes the information to my computer? or how much data is consumed by doing a DNS lookup? Although it is only 1 packet- less than 1KB - does it count like that? And - is there any way to download stuff (like YouTube) so I can watch it again - without having to "pay" for it? And who pays when my home equipment gets DDOS'd - simply to jack the usage. Or when I use GoTo My PC - or any of the other services. Or simply work from home.

     

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    Rich, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    What are you, a shill? You've got to comment on EVERY post?

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:00pm

    Re: Caps

    "Bandwidth is not a resource that you use and then it is gone. It is always there whether it is currently in use or not."

    That's almost true of any existing system capacity (which still requires some cost for maintenance, energy, staffing). Let's just agree that Marginal Costs are near zero for existing system capacity.

    So, then, you can pay the same amount, so long as you only use the Internet for the same things you used it for in the year 2000 and nothing else.

    If, however you want MORE capacity, and more bandwidth to do more things, then that is a long, long way from free my friend. That costs billions and billions of dollars in capital expenditures every year.

    The "bits are free" argument shows a half-comprehension of the subject.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:02pm

    Re:

    True.

    But you can do oversight. You can install a meter in your phone. Just look into the app store by apps by a company called Mobidia.

    Anyway, you won't like what you find. Your count will almost always be lower than the telcos count, because they include some overhead that doesn't get captured by the in-phone meter.

    So, you're right.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    "... in a market with scarcity of resources (network capacity)."

    The problem is that network capacity and quantity of data are not the same thing. Total network capacity could be defined as a scarcity (there is a cap on the total amount of data that an ISP can transfer at a given moment), but quantity of data cannot be defined as a scarcity.

    If ISPs really wanted to solve the problem of being over capacity (which I don't believe is a problem in reality) then they would offer cheaper plans that throttle data usage at peak times and more expensive plans which don't throttle data. Or offer tiered pricing based on your data rate (for example 1MB/s, 10MB/s, etc.) That at least would fit a supply and demand model. The quantity of data you transfer has nothing to do with supply and demand.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:04pm

    "The Stupidity Of People: No One Knows What A Megabyte Is"

    FTFY - please blame the right people for being ignorant.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    "If every time more bandwidth is added, it is immediately consumed, isn't that a sign that the market is demanding more bandwidth than you're providing?"

    yes, but also an indication that run away costs could kill and ISP if they got enough bandwidth to allow unlimited everything for eveyrone all the time.

     

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    Rich, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Re:

    Actually it depend on what you measure. RAM, sure, it's power of 2. Network speed, is always powers of 10, usually in bits per second (which is not necessary the same as data bits per second). Hard drivers use to be powers of 2, but became powers of 10 when manufactures realized they could make a drive look bigger to the unwary. Now they created the ridiculous suffixes for power-of-2 units and act like they've always been around.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:07pm

    Re: It won't stop until it costs them money...

    "The carriers think that everyone will just shell out more money for a higher cap"

    No. They want him to change the way he uses it. And if he is unwilling, because video over LTE is the only thing he wants it for, then yes, cancel his subscription.

    Some will quit, some will change. Lots of iPad users were just using the video for a whim, to try it out. When they learned that it ate up their allotment, they simply reduced their video consumption. That is the law of supply and demand working.

    Here's some analyst on Bloomberg TV talking exactly about the issue of iPad users hitting the cap in the first week:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/video/88755634/

    He makes some interesting points, but you know analysts. They just make it up as they go.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:07pm

    Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Not possible to use up 40GB just playing WoW. I've got two monitors and from last September to about February, I was constantly on WoW. I had WoW on my primary monitor and on my second monitor I had performance meters (including network usage). Whenever I was playing, I never saw either my up or download usage go above 30kbps. The only way to use up 40GB of data would be if you downloaded the entire game either two or three times.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:08pm

    Re: Data caps harm economies & education

    You don't understand how they provide tv versus how they provide data.

    Most of your cable TV is broadcast on the wire, so that thousands of homes can use the signal.

    Pay-per-view is different, which is why it is more limited, and often for a fee.

    Your Internet is unicast, just to you. Bits you use cannot be shared by your neighbors. This costs more.

    And yes, they are also money grubbers. But get your facts straight if you want to complain.

     

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    Rich, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Megabyte

    It's not that simple. If you are measuring RAM, then yes. If you are measuring speed, one megabyte per second is 1e6 bits/sec.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Hey, bub. There's a finite amount of data you can push through a fiber optic cable or a piece of coax. So there is supply and demand. Now you might make a rational argument that the cable companies still have plenty of excess capacity and they're pushing caps for their own business reasons, but don't deny that there's some limit out there.

    And let me tell you, I can tell when the teenagers get home from school and start their P2P programs. The throughput on my cable loop goes to hell.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:12pm

    Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Is not that they are terrible at implementing, they just don't care, if you were the only game in town would you care about what others thought?

    The real problem is that there is no competition in the American market, in Europe and Asia this doesn't happen why?

    Because if you try crap like that you get a long list of competitors to chose from so they try very very hard over there to do things right.

     

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    Chosen Reject (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Someone might know how much they've used previously, but what if they're patterns are different? If you watch one movie on netflix each week, send 4 pictures to grandma every day, and stream music 1 hour every morning, then it's safe to say that you're to continue your usage if after 3 weeks you've only used up 75% or less of you cap. But...

    What if in the 4th week you also want to download a new app or game demo, or watch a lolcat video instead of watching the netflix movie?

    What if you only send pictures to family after some event (vacation, graduation, birthday party, etc) that doesn't occur on a regular daily, weekly, or even monthly basis?

    All of that ignores the essence of the article. It doesn't matter at all if you know that a megabyte is a million bytes if you don't also know how many megabytes the thing you are downloading/uploading is? Off the top of your head, how many MB is a movie/show on Netflix? How many megabytes is a youtube video? How many megabytes is a song on Pandora? How many megabytes is this webpage you are reading? How many megabytes is this PDF (answer before downloading, please, so that you don't go over your cap)?

    In order for caps to work, every link would have to include the number of bytes behind it. That's all fine and good for static content. For dynamic content you'd have to have a little javascript number constantly polling the server asking how much the page would be just then, which itself is using part of your cap.

    Also, pie charts are horrible.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Not scarce: old, existing telecom networks

    Scarce: new, faster, more capacity telecom networks.

    If you are content connecting by dial-up to AOL, then I will accept your argument that your bits cost almost nothing to provide.

    If, however, you want to stream a youtube video once or twice, then you will have to accept that the capacity to serve customers like you is scarce at some point in time, and must be built, at a cost, to meet your demand.

    With data demand constantly shifting to the right, supply must constantly build new capacity. There is scarcity right there, my friend.

    For I am rubber, and you are glue. It is your comprehension that is analogous with a bridge to nowhere.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:17pm

    Entitlement much? If you know you need a bigger plan...PAY FOR THE EXTRA FREAKING DATA. Don't whine that a company, who YOU signed a contract with agreeing to a certain amount of data, won't give you extra for free. If you constantly use more data because online apps/vids/whatever are *that* important to you, then just use wifi instead of 3G as much as you can. Don't sign a contract that gives you a a gig or two when you know you need a lot more...

     

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    Rich, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:18pm

    Re: Re: Data caps harm economies & education

    My cable TV signal comes over the exact same wires as my broadband Internet. So called "pay-per-view" cost more because they consider it a "premium content," not because it is not broadcast. "On demand" programming is no different that "pay-per-view", technologically speaking, but is free.

    Cable TV, Internet, pay-per-view are all the same as far as the "wire" is concerned. You are sharing all with your neighbors. The "data" is provided for any differently.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    You, like a dozen or so others here, don't understand the difference between the cost of data in a static demand world, versus the cost of data in a world where the demand for data is ever-increasing.

    In our world (the second of the two) ISPs must constantly upgrade and invest to provide new capacity to meet new demand. That costs money. Money is scarce.

    So, you can choose: 1) cap people's usage to limit the amount of money; or 2) ask for more money to build out more capacity.

    The ISPs have guessed that 1 would be 'less unpopular' than 2. Although, they also offer 2, by way of higher plans, overages, or enterprise-grade plans.

    I'll say it again: if you are willing to consumer the same amount of data as you did in 2000, then your bits have near-zero marginal cost, and your argument is good.

    And yes, I've worked in the field of telecom. Nothing but, in fact. That and my econ degree from a country that also calls electricity "hydro".

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    First, AT&T absolutely does not spend $19 billion per year on network improvements. [citation needed] Last year their entire capital expenditures was only about $19 billion and I'm guessing they probably spent money on buildings, furniture, land, and a bunch of other things that have nothing to do with increasing capacity.

    Second, AT&T makes between 5% and 10% after tax profit margins for an average quarter. That is well in line with other large international companies.

    Third, all the crap about "changing needs" has nothing to do with anything. Data carriers have increased prices as they have increased capacity, it has nothing to do with data quantity. Caps are BS.

     

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    New Mexico Mark, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:26pm

    Win-win for the telcos

    "and it means people will just do less online, and will avoid using the service altogether"

    First, the ISP will tend to collect huge overage fees from their best customers. But once burned, twice careful. Some users will be burned but the word will spread and most customers will tend to cautiously use less bandwidth while paying the same tier fees. Jackpot! The telcos can sell more bandwidth while less is consumed.

    And the ISP's motive to provide more meaningful real-time metering so more customers can approach their monthly cap is...?

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Some wireless carriers worldwide are doing exactly what you propose.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    The problem is why is ISP companies in the US freezing construction then?

    They know demand is growing, they know they need to build but instead they chose to not build anything.

    The reason is simple this is not about demand my friend, the backbone is fat and everybody knows it, it can handle the demand this is just a money grab on their part and the excuse is usage.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:27pm

    Wouldn't be any caps if the telco and cable monopolies were ended.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Even worse is the fact that nobody is allowed to put their own cables on the ground in the US, that is the real crime, because if it was one infra-structure shared with everybody else like other competitive markets out there, there would be no call for this cap crap, because the minute they do it is the minute everybody goes elsewhere.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    "Oranges are scarce"

    but data isn't so ... you're entire argument is moot.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Very useful graph of time-of-day cellular data traffic

    http://www.senzafiliconsulting.com/Blog/tabid/64/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/68/Man aging-data-traffic-in-real-time-down-at-the-cell-level.aspx

    I think this graph will reveal a flatter usage pattern than most of you assume. If you've ever seen the classic cellular voice graph, you'll notice the peaks and valleys are VERY flattened in this modern data traffic map.

    What's happening is that people's phones are consuming data in the background, and at set intervals. They are not just using them during their commute, like they used to. And people are using data on their phones all day long, at work because it is outside the company firewall, at home because it is in addition to their TV.

    more:
    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/research-shows-excess-mobile-bandwidth-110000717.html

     

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    BentFranklin (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Derek Kerton, please keep posting your sane comments, as many as you want!

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Peaks have largely been flattened in recent years (for mobile data).

    People have different billing cycles, so, no.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    You should teach them how to schedule that shit to happen overnight. Maybe put some instruction docs in a torrent,

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    OK, lets takes these choices:

    1) As fast as possible for everyone, which in many (most?) cases means 1/5 of the advertised speed, then hit an invisible wall where you pay through the nose and/or are throttled to 1/10 of your previous speed (which is already 1/5 of what you thought you were getting).

    2) As fast as possible for everyone, which means during peak hours (read: 5-11 PM), you're getting 1/2 of your promised speed (up to your max promised speed), then the rest of the time, throttle users to their max promised speed, with tiers of what the users' max speed at any time can be (from a low-end, capping out at, say, 100 kbps for basic web traffic for maybe $5-10/month to a "average netflix user" type plan that can get up to 1-1.5 mbps for $20-30/month, then getting up to the "big downloader," who might need 2+ mbps, and charge what we currently see without a bundled plan, $40-50/month). And if someone needs to upload large amounts, have tiered plans for that as well.

    In the first case, high-end users are going to keep causing a bottleneck for everyone else, no matter the time of day, and everyone, regardless of plan, is going to have crappy service.

    In the second case, you're asking for more from the people who actually use more, which is the real problem (NOT the total per month, which is stupid, it's concurrent usage which is the problem to keep up with), which should allow for network upgrades easier and allow people to stay closer to the advertised rate. And at the same time, those who just get a basic plan won't suddenly spike up and start getting a TON more than they paid for, since they'll always be throttled. That should prevent the need for bandwidth = A customers X B max mbps advertised = broke ISP.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:36pm

    Re: Re: It won't stop until it costs them money...

    Carriers are starting to feel the noose.
    The more they add caps the more people become aware of WiFi and the more they use it and the less carriers make.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Because you FEEL it.

    The $19 B is for network, not buildings. I don't know how they fudge their accounting, so don't expect me to vouch for it. But the SEC signed off on it.

    Here, let me Google that for you:

    http://www.fox19.com/story/17211139/att-invests-more-than-23-billion-in-dallas-fort-worth-fr om-2009-through-2011-to-improve-local-networks

    http://philly.citybizlist.com/2/2011/3/18/ATT-Inve sts-19B-in-New-Jersey-Network.aspx

     

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    ltlw0lf (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    yes, but also an indication that run away costs could kill and ISP if they got enough bandwidth to allow unlimited everything for eveyrone all the time.

    To reiterate and expand on grandparent's comment, to control the run-away costs, wouldn't it be better to have a sit down with your marketing department and correct them then try to correct your customer, who is just doing what the marketing department told them they could do with your service when they sold them unlimited internet at blazing fast speed?

    Most technically aware customers know this is a joke, but there are still a lot of people I know that complain that they can't get the speeds and capabilities they were promised when they bought the service.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    And if people start demanding more oranges, you know what happens? More orange trees are planted so more oranges can be produced and sold.

    So, plant more cables, so more data can be sold :P

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:38pm

    Re: Re: Caps

    I thought this was settled a decade ago, when there was a lot of competitors, bandwidth is free and unlimited and it is the for the providers of the services to worry about that.

    What changed?

    Monopolies changed everything.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    So you are proposing a much more precise market, where bits are priced based on up-to-the-second real time value resulting from the supply and demand of the users in that sector or Central Office?

    Yeah, that would be way simpler. Let's start an ISP that offers that to consumers.

    And if users trickle their data for a few Central Offices such that bits are what you consider "free", we will get no revenue and pay our business expenses with lulz.

    I think the notion of tiers, caps, meters are a simplification, but a better way to get subscribers to be aware that there is a cost to provide additional data.

     

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  132.  
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    Jay (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:42pm

    Re: Re: metered as a utility commodity


    1) Do more bytes actually incur more cost to the provider?


    No

    The meter can not be on the device that is doing the consuming. It must be on the point of delivery. (You don't have an electric meter on every device in the house.) This presents a significant problem to devices that can get signal from differing sources (wifi hotspot or cell tower?)

    Yes, they can track anyone without competition.

    3) I agree whole heartedly.

     

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  133.  
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    Chris Maresca, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:44pm

    Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    If you are on an 'unlimited' plan and you are suddenly throttled AND you use your connection for business, is it illegal restraint of trade?

    Just wondering....

     

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  134.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    I'm not sure there is an incentive to deliberately make crappy metering tools. I think that is just what telcos initially produce.

    I think they lose as a result, because ill-will is generated. If they handled caps better, there would be much less ill-will, and that's good for business.

    That's why I think they are just clumsy about their meters, and not malicious.

     

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  135.  
    identicon
    IronM@sk, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:44pm

    It's than, not then!

    Grammar Nazi! "Wait, what if this is taking up a lot more data than I thought? "

     

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  136.  
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    c0c0c0 (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:44pm

    Re: Re:

    Well, you also lose megabytes in the formating as well. There is a chunk that is reserved for indexing etc.

     

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  137.  
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    JEDIDIAH, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:44pm

    Everyone needs to know.

    No. We understand it just fine. We are just not impressed by bullshit. If you need more capacity, then you build for it. You don't just sit on your thumbs until you have the network equivalent of rolling blackouts.

    Those of us in the industry would get fired engaging in the same kind of behavior that ISPs get away with.

     

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  138.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    What are you, a shill? You've got to comment on EVERY post?

    I just wish every shill here was as easy to understand and well reasoned. Even if I don't agree with him, if Derek is a shill, he is one of the best ones here on Techdirt.

     

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  139.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Pissing off your customers must be good business

    "EA, BoA, PayPal, Comcast, Walmart, Sony, Best Buy, Charter, Citi, Facebook"

    Wow, you just listed a good portion of my lifetime/10-year ban list (you forgot AT&T).

     

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  140.  
    identicon
    JEDIDIAH, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:46pm

    Everyone needs to know (2)

    Certainly if these numbers are accurate then there's an SEC filing that reflects it. Nothing else is really going to be sufficiently trustworthy. Companies can lie. Reporters can lie. You don't lie to the SEC unless you have a death wish.

     

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  141.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Is there a rule against that?

    I find a lot of bad knowledge around this issue, and occasionally take it upon myself to try to argue the facts. I have some squeezable time today. So call it public service.

    If you don't like the facts, or what I say, feel free to skip my comments.

    PS What value did your post add?

     

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  142.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    ...and those trees cost what to plant? Money, labour, and capital in the form of land.

    Thank you for finishing my point.

     

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  143.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    But data *capacity* IS scarce, so my argument is correct.

     

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  144.  
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    Torg (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Bits per second have a cost, not the absolute number of bits used. The rate at which bits are transferred is the only limitation on the number of bits an ISP can supply a person with in a month. A provider with a 3G or 4G network isn't going to feel any greater a load if I download one gigabyte per week than if I download two gigabytes or a hundred megabytes, provided my downloads all happen at the same rate. With that in mind, charging more for faster service is okay, but pretending that the fifth gigabyte delivered at 1 mbps is harder to provide than the fourth at the same speed is pointless.

     

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  145.  
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    Chris Maresca, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:50pm

    Usage meters

    Quite a lot of people on this thread are saying that usage meters just don't work. I don't really understand - if ISPs are cutting people off, they must be tracking usage, if not, how can they justify cutting people off?

    And if they are going to cut people off, why don't they notify them beforehand?

    BTW, I don't have this issue (which is why I don't get it), my ISP has no usage caps, they actually encourage people to use more bandwidth and lower the prices every year or so (or include more services, like POTS lines). And my mobile data plan is unlimited except for tethering (and that's ridiculously high for the 3 times a month I use it)...

     

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  146.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:50pm

    Re:

    Yeah, then you could run your own fiber to wherever you wanted it to go, paying tens of thousands of dollars for a basic internet connection.

    Stupidity for the win! Just remember, if you keep firing, you will run out of feet.

     

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  147.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: The reason for limits is simple:

    "Consumers that are forced to recognize that bandwidth isn't free will start being more selective about the apps they install and their use of data."

    Um, I pay over $50 a month for internet access. I'm guessing most people pay similar amounts. You have an interesting definition of free.

    Also, you keep posting and posting but you need to stop and do some reading. Capacity != Quantity. Caps are bullshit, don't do anything to help solve the problem, and are very difficult for consumers. The "cognitive load" isn't a good thing unless the objective is to reduce consumption of data which would be bad for both tel-cos and the internet at large. Growth is a goal in and of itself if you want to sustain the American economy.

    You seem to believe that tel-cos are in some untenable position where just 1 more video streamed per day is going to push them over the edge. It won't.

    You don't seem to have any decent argument for caps but you keep re-posting, ECONOMICS, supply and DEMAND, SCARCITY!!!

     

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  148.  
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    JEDIDIAH, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:52pm

    Re: Kilobyte = 1000 kibibyte = 1024?

    Who wants to use an inconvenient number that is going to lead to needing 10 or 12 significant figures?

    It's simply not what the SI is supposed to be about.

    KB -> 1024 in a computing context makes sense. Base 10 numbers do not.

    Write out the whole number if you're worried anyone will get confused.

     

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  149.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:52pm

    Re: Re: Data caps harm economies & education

    Maybe he don't but Free does and I don't see them putting caps in place?

    Nor do I see Japanese ISPs doing, nor the British nor anywhere else where there is competition, if it was for something so fundamental everybody would be doing it, because like a death there is no escaping natural laws, instead what we see is that where competition exists caps are not a problem, it is only a problem where competition is zero.

     

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  150.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:54pm

    Re: Re: Caps

    "So, then, you can pay the same amount, so long as you only use the Internet for the same things you used it for in the year 2000 and nothing else."

    Stop repeating this dumbass argument. People don't pay the same price they paid in 2000 they pay more and they expect to get more.

    The only person who has show a "half-comprehension" of the argument in this forum is you.

     

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  151.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Re:

    ...or most probably people would build their own netowrks and connect it to an IXP(Internet Exchange Point) and be done with it like the Brits are doing it.

     

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  152.  
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    JEDIDIAH, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:55pm

    Re: This is exactly the situation they want

    Add to that the fact that home equipment doesn't do a good job of tracking this either. It would be one thing to subject us all to caps if our network equipment was built with that in mind but it wasn't. Very few routers have adequate metering features. Very few routers have any metering features at all.

    If there was a ready to use PI with 2 ethernet ports, I would dump my appliance in heartbeat and just run an old style desktop Linux router with all the bells and whistles that have been developed in the intervening 18 years.

     

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  153.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Mr. Oizo

    Are you listening to engineers now or do you want the spanking?

     

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  154.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Well, part of everything they do is a money grab.

    And part of that is fair, I mean, business isn't a charity. And part of that is unfair, using oligopolistic practices and lobbyists, etc.

    But that doesn't invalidate the argument that capacity IS constrained in may bottlenecks at any given time. And relieving those bottlenecks and installing increased capacity does cost significant capital.

    Freezing construction? Sounds like you're changing the topic. I might agree with you on your tangent. Verizon stopping FiOS deployment and partnering with the Cable cos is definitely not progress. But it's still changing the topic. There IS constrained capacity, that means scarcity, that means supply and demand are in effect, and supply should not be considered abundant or infinite.

     

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  155.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 2:59pm

    Re: Re: Data caps harm economies & education

    "Your Internet is unicast, just to you. Bits you use cannot be shared by your neighbors. This costs more.

    And yes, they are also money grubbers. But get your facts straight if you want to complain."

    You should get your facts straight before insulting others. Internet traffic isn't unicast by cable companies. All data is sent unicast or multicast based on the protocols and addresses used. Any service (like Netflix) could multicast traffic with the consent (and help) of carriers, but most carriers find it simpler to allow Netflix to mirror content on their own networks to reduce their peer traffic.

     

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  156.  
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    PlagueSD (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:02pm

    Re: Re: Data caps harm economies & education

    Your Internet is unicast, just to you. Bits you use cannot be shared by your neighbors. This costs more.


    Then explain to me why your speed drops when everyone in your "neighborhood" is downloading stuff? Cable internet is a "shared" resource among "nodes" You share your connection with 8-15 other people. DSL is unicast, which is why thier speeds are more constant (although slower)

     

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  157.  
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    TrainingMagic, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:02pm

    Re:

    Just to really did into the minutia, a megabyte stored on a computer is 1024 because we are measuring in base 2. When dealing with transmission media as in Local Area Networks (like your home or office) or Wide Area Networks (like your connection to the internet) we are measuring the number of bits that move across a point in a given second. This is measured in base 10, so from your service provider a megabit is 1,000,000 bits and a megabyte is 8,000,000 bits.

    Of course, this only ads to the argument that no one except a few propeller heads know what these terms mean.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megabyte

     

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  158.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    No because caps will not effect capacity, they will effect quantity.

    If you don't understand how data caps have no relation to network capacity then a discussion with you seems pointless.

     

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  159.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    How are you not getting this. There is not cost to provide additional data, there is only a cost to provide additional capacity and consumers are ALREADY charged based on capacity.

     

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  160.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Mr. Oizo

    A lot of engineers will be pissed at the IEEE LoL

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megabyte

    megabyte (MB) 10^6
    mebibyte (MiB) 2^20

    In 2007 organizations responsible for units and standards adopted the new definitions but forgot to tell engineers.

    I can store a human being with 800 MB LoL

    Quote:
    "The human genome consists of DNA representing 800 MB of data. The parts that differentiate one person from another can be losslessly compressed to 4 MB."


    Source: Wikipedia

     

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  161.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Data caps harm economies & education

    Which is why I always argue for more competition, local loop unbundling, UNE-P, wholesale markets, new entrants, and more.

    I agree entirely. We need more competition, especially for fixed broadband. If we had it, some ISP would offer cap-free service (as Sprint does with their wireless).

    But that's not an argument against caps, it's one in favor of more competition.

     

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  162.  
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    pinkyfloyd (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:10pm

    Re:

    wow, if there are only 1024 bytes in a megabyte, I think this posting will likely use up my entire bandwidth allotment. thanks for that TD.

     

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  163.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    No, because I read their financial statement. Can you read?

    Here let me link it for you: http://www.google.com/finance?fstype=ii&q=NYSE:T.

    Or how about their annual report: http://www.att.com/gen/general?pid=22516#ar2011-numbers

    Do you know what capital expenditures are or should I google that to?

    https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=define+capital+expenditure

     

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  164.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Debate Ended

    3G and 4G speeds to not refer to GB or Gb transfer rates. They are arbitrary labels that roughly refer to 3rd generation and 4th generation wireless technology. In the US 4G generally refers to WiMax or LTE

    And MB = 1024KB not 1000KB. Everything in computers is based on octal (multiples of 8) numbers The Kilo, Mega, Giga prefixes were adopted because they were labels that were close.

    8bits = 1 byte
    1024 bytes = 1 kilobyte
    1024 kilobytes = 1 megabyte
    1024 megabytes = 1 gigabyte

    Hard drive manufacturers take the loose just take the loose labeling system further to their advantage.

     

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  165.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Data caps harm economies & education

    Really?

    Broadcast = sent on the network to anyone that chooses to tune in the signal

    Unicast = sent on the network to just one client.

    Multicast = sent on the network to multiple clients (similar to Broadcast)

    You bring up DSL. The diff between DSL and cable is not the unicast/multicast issue. It is star versus trunk line topology. That's unrelated to a unicast/broadcast issue.

    What I wrote about was how TV content on your cable line is broadcast to anyone who wants to watch any given TV channel. The bandwidth used is amortized across anoyone on the trunk line. Many users watch a given channel, so it lowers the cost per use of that bandwidth.

    When you use Internet on your cable line, you are consuming bandwidth in a unicast way. That is, the bits you request are only being used by you, so must by fully amortized by just one user. And you are using an incremental chunk of the finite capacity of that trunk line.

    Yes, you share the last mile trunk cable's Internet capacity with your neighbors (unlike DSL's star topology). When you all use the net, you feel the slowdown, but you don't get to share in the use of their Internet bits, that's just for them, as yours are just for you (unicast).

    The slowdown you mention supports the argument that capacity IS a scarce resource.

     

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  166.  
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    khory, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:24pm

    Re: Re: Caps

    When did I say the "bits are free"? Is that your slogan or something?


    You know what though? The bits themselves are free. It didn't cost the ISP anymore if I DL a Megabyte or a Gigabyte. That's why it is stupid to cap them as though they are a finite resource. What ISN'T free is the bandwidth capacity of the network. That is finite and requires investment to increase capacity to maintain QoS. I would like to think that network improvement is factored into their pricing so they can recoup their cap ex investments. All of that has nothing to do with data caps though.

    A big part of what you pay for from an ISP is bandwidth not the amount of data you get. The "speed" you pay is really how much data you get to push through at once. A fatter pipe would be a good analogy. If I want MORE capacity I pay for it by getting a more expensive plan with more bandwidth. I do however expect to be able to use it for data-intensive things like streaming video. If not, what's the point of buying more bandwidth? Should I not expect to be able to use it for the full 30 days I paid for?

    My point was that there is not a bucket of data that gets consumed like it was a resource in itself. So why measure it as such and put a limit on it as if it were?

    The amount of data used is irrelevant to the amount of bandwidth in use at a given time unless the customer isn't using any at all. Data caps let ISPs sell a fat pipe that is crippled by a low data cap. They are trying to conserve capacity by encouraging a customer not to use the bandwidth they paid for. It's a double standard that is ludicrous.

     

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  167.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Debate Ended

    the loose labeling system becomes significate with hardrive manufacturing because the drive is actually rated in bytes and every time you go up a level and round 1024 to 1000 you get further from an accurate label.

     

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  168.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    "How are you not getting this. There is not cost to provide additional data, there is only a cost to provide additional capacity"

    What? That's the point I've been arguing uphill against you et al for two hours?

    "consumers are ALREADY charged based on capacity."

    Yes. Ever since caps were implemented. Before that, they were charged for an "unlimited" plan.

    I must really not be getting it, because to me, it looks like you just made my argument for me.

     

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  169.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    AT&T's investment in network improvements isn't simply for end user Internet capacity.

    Keeping in mind that AT&T is a full spectrum telco not simply a long distance company or an ISP but owning and controlling several ILECs, satellite services to which we get to add things like an enormous chunk of backbone services and capacity for the Internet itself.

    So your tossing out of the $19 billion figure, by itself means nothing. How much of this was for upgrades to old and outdated equipment in their network which was due for replacement no matter what, how much of it was strictly for internal use such as routing voice and cell calls through their network (via the Internet), how much for new services they were offering and how much for expansion. Then, how much does the new expansion is driven my capacity needs of business, government and residential users and how much was driven by simply by population expansion both in numbers and new customer numbers. Let's also keep in mind that AT&T's network is enormous and global in scope and operation. So the what went where is important.

    Keep in mind that given all of this the nature of telco's is to build in relatively small chunks, put the new equipment in service and then remove whatever equipment the improvements are replacing. The reason for this is simple enough -- to use the old stuff as long as possible as an income stream to pay for the new equipment and then be able to provide a minimal downtime for switching from old to new. Preferably unnoticeable downtime for end users.

    The end result is that AT&T was collecting income from everything but the totally new equipment/services right up until the last second. As the totally new equipment/services was the smallest part of the services we can safely say there was no net loss on income while this was all happening.

    So again, what kind of capacity, where and for what reasons. The bulk of it was replacement of old and antiquated equipment, actually. Old in telecom these days is often less than 5 years so the schedules need to take into account things like writing down the old stuff before installing the new and other tax reasons.

    In the industry the planning for the demand for increased bandwidth and capacity over pre ADSL/HDSL days has long been for 100% or more with the midtime frame needs projected to expand logarithmically before declining. Exactly what has happened, by the way.

    The needs have gone up tremendously but so has the capacity as a result of the last statement since 2001. Telecoms, by and large, haven't been caught off guard by any of this and have anticipated this even if, as late as the mid 90s the Internet and Web were being written off as fads.

    What you're missing in all of this is that though the need for capacity has increased the very nature of data transmission and the architecture of the Internet itself has kept the needs manageable for telcos in that they were in the data transmission business long before people wanted internet to the house. The other is that a great deal of what AT&T spent last year wasn't driven exclusively by needs of Internet customers but for other reasons.

    But once the architecture is in place, yes the bits themselves are free. There will always be a need to upgrade and update equipment whit the next big burst of spending in telecom coming when the conversion of outside plant from twisted pair to fibre accelerates.

    For a company the side of AT&T the costs will always be in the billions for major upgrades. That is unavoidable. If AT&T were stupid, which they are not, the upgrade wouldn't have taken in to account projections of increased demand though you can be absolutely certain that they did. The usual for situations in the telecom industry are three to five year projections and in the case of the Internet the telecom industry has learned to be very generous with those projections.

    The effect on the network(s) would be far worse if data was flowing all the time in both directions if it weren't for the bursty nature of data transmission and the design of the Internet which is, in itself, very bursty.

    The cap defense is lacking in being grounded in reality. Both in the sense that you can't raise money for expansion, typically done though market borrowing and lending anyway, by not selling the product beyond a certain arbitrarily set limit and by misunderstanding that data and the Internet are somehow the same as, say, television in that capacity in signals is always there as is normal with analog technologies rather than rapid off/off use as is the case with data and with the Internet.

     

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  170.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Again, are you trying to make my arguments for me? You sent this link:

    http://www.att.com/gen/general?pid=22516#ar2011-numbers

    With AT&T's annual statement. On that page, bottom left corner, the part that reads:

     

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  171.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Sorry, submitted too soon, screwed up that post.

    Again, are you trying to make my arguments for me? You sent this link:

    http://www.att.com/gen/general?pid=22516#ar2011-numbers

    With AT&T's annual statement. On that page, bottom left corner, the part that reads:

    $20.3 B - Capital invested in 2011, including an
    increase in investment in wireless and mobile
    broadband capabilities.

    This is your way of COUNTERING my assertion above that AT&T invests "$19 Billion per year on network improvements"? OK. Well, you've made your point. I stand down.

     

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  172.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:40pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    It does all add up though.

    On a 1 TB drive formatted with NTFS.

    Decimal to Binary conversion: 931.3 (68.7 GB smaller than advertised)
    NTFS Overhead (12.5%): 116.4 GB
    Slack space (Averaging: cluster size/2 x # of files): 1.9 GB (Assuming 1 million files with 4kb clusters)

    So that 1 TB hard drive you bought is only 931.3 GB of which you lose another 118.3 GB to overhead, leaving you with 813 GB.

     

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  173.  
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    khory, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Capacity is finite. That's why you pay more for more bandwidth. I'm ok with that. The higher cost is fair considering you can do more with it.

    What I'm not ok with is an artificial cap on the quantity of data as if it was a finite resource. The low caps are artificially hindering the bandwidth you pay for.

    What consumers end up with is a fat pipe they can use for streaming high quality video, etc but wait! You can't because you might run out bytes! WTF?

    It's a practice I find dishonest and preys upon people's ignorance of how the internet works.

     

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  174.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Caps

    "You know what though? The bits themselves are free". Sure, and I have consistently agreed with that. It's hardly my slogan, I only wrote it once - and not in flattering terms. I said it was a half-argument. That true half-argument leads people to incorrectly think that capacity is, therefore, also free.

    So you agree with me that network capacity isn't free. Good. Next point.

    Your last paragraph is true. Caps don't perfectly manage the scarcity of the network's capacity. You're right about that. They are an approximation, but a useful approximation.

    If people considered data completely unlimited, as in a marginal cost of zero, what would they do? They would find ways of using more. In theory, they would use infinite amounts. In practice, we used more and more, with grown growing exponentially. Reality follows theory closely.

    So, caps put an opposite force on that unrestrained growth. Whether it does it precisely is not the question. It forces consumers to assign a non-zero cost to their marginal consumption. The result is a better approximation of a working supply-demand ecosystem then the incorrect consumer assumption of zero marginal cost.

    Any good Techdirt reader knows the impact zero cost has, and how wonky the results get when we use zero. Consumers were using zero when there were real cost implications. Caps change that zero to something more.

    The precise market alternative to caps would be a real-time market like a stock market, with bids and asks for bandwidth in any given cell sector at any given time. This would be rather complex. An approximation is preferable to most stakeholders.

     

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    The eejit (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    I'd even set it for low-end usage, which was what was the most bizarre thing about the whole situation; That week was a patch week, I think, which might explain it.

     

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    The eejit (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:54pm

    I'm pretty sure that there's a business model where you charge line rental+X for your basic broadband packages (8MBps), and then charge an additional fee for extra speed capacity (e.g. up to 100MBps)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:56pm

    Re: Re:

    Exactly. And that question becomes even more difficult to answer because it depends on the resolution and frame rate of the video, sample rate (frequency range) of the audio and compression rate of both.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:58pm

    This is the telco mindset -- and it'll never change

    Before I get started: you should read what Bob Frankston has to say about this, and he has a LOT to say -- and all of it is well worth reading. Despite the fact that I've been on the 'net for a very very long time, I learn things from Bob every time I read one of his pieces.

    But here's my point: telcos believe in generating billable events. It's in their DNA. They believe in it so strongly that they will spend a dollar in costs to record a billable event worth a dime. Everything they do, the organization of the businesses, their infrastructure, their processes, EVERYTHING revolves around this concept. It's so deeply embedded in their brains that they don't even realize it's there any more.

    Which is not surprising, given the history of telcos. This was how they made their money. (And still is, in many cases.) And this is why, if you suggested to them that they could better serve their customers (and themselves) by investing 0 dollars in billable event tracking, 0 dollars in billable billing, 0 dollars in quotas, caps, whatever, 0 dollars in the the network hardware to do all this, 0 dollars in customer service reps to handle all the issues, 0 dollars on engineers to maybe make all this work -- 0 dollars on the ENTIRE apparatus, and instead just focused on providing as big/fast pipes as they possibly could...they will look at you like Don Henley's rhetorical cows.

    ("She just looked at me, uncomprehendingly, like cows at a passing train.")

    There's no real engineering need for caps or quotas or any of this. But there is an existential need for it that drives everything they do, and they will never let go of it.

    They can't.

     

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    Pitabred (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    So... what exactly have the ISPs been doing with the money the taxpayers have given them to build out their networks? It's not like the companies have been required to pay for it all themselves.

    I'm also noticing that Comcast et. al. are increasing their profits year over year. How does that happen if they're investing at all in their networks? What it seems to me is that they're NOT investing in their product because they have monopolies on the lines, and simply adding data caps so they can preserve the profits without adding additional service because, hey, they don't have to.

    Feel free to prove me wrong with citations, though.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Lots of what you wrote is good stuff. But as I said, I don't want to parse AT&T's accounting today. "I don't know how they fudge their accounting, so don't expect me to vouch for it"

    Because what's the point of parsing it and reading the fine print. I'm not going to do a better job than the SEC of that. If they are investing $21 Billion in network CapEx, that $21 Billion is either for maintaining existing network or for deploying new capacity. Either one represents a cost of delivering capacity.

    My argument, as you recall, is that marginal bits may be free, but capacity is not. Last year to AT&T, it was $21 Billion of not free.

    Data capacity is not unlimited. Carriers made the mistake of selling it as "unlimited" for years, and now they are reaping what they had sown: Nobody respects the scarcity of capacity. They now need to push back, to try to show that capacity IS limited. Caps are the blunt tool to do that.

    No, they don't speak to peak loads, etc. They are a blunt tool. But they get the customer to consider the marginal price of a bit as non-zero, and that is more right than wrong.

     

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    c0c0c0 (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:59pm

    Re:

    And does it include the bandwidth that the ISP uses to communicate with their equipment? DSL/Cable modems have their own internal servers that they talk to to get their own internal IP address, and the intermentent "I am still here, Am I still allowed to be on the network, my lease is up!, any update, ect." Do we pay for that traffic or is the ISP eating that as a cost of doing buisness? If you have VOIP phone with the ISP is that bandwidth not metered?

     

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    Andrew F (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 3:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Depends how easy it is to launch a class action lawsuit over their crappy meters.

    So their's unfortunately, but we can blame Congress / The Supreme Court for that.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 4:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    I absolutely agree with this.

    I'll walk back my statement a bit.

    We can all agree there is a scarcity in the rate of communication over time, not in the total amount of communication - time, then, being the crucial factor. I maintain that policing quantity when you want to control rate just doesn't make sense: let's say you can download a file over an hour, or stream it in several minutes. The net effect on your data cap is the same, but the load on the system is very different. Is this fair, if the goal is to restrict the users who place more of a burden on the system?

    Current systems of data limits only seem to create as many problems as they solve.

    I still maintain that Derek's comparison here is absurd, and in no way represents a "parallel". A gas station is charging you for a fixed quantity of a good that has an easily-defined worth. Your Internet service provider is charging you for a fixed quantity, which is standing in as proxy for a fixed rate of a service that has no easily-defined worth. The differences are substantial and seem to be lost on Derek, as evidenced by his 2:24PM response to TtfnJohn.

     

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    bjupton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 4:28pm

    Re: Everyone needs to know (2)

    Yeah, everyone is so scared of the SEC.

    True for you and me, but if the SEC were feared, then we might get some real action on the worst offenders in the mortgage debacle.

    AT&T owns a goodly chunk of the the FCC. Wanna bet they have some friends elsewhere too?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 4:30pm

    Caps are not half the problem

    We have caps here on most mobile plans in Australia, and the other thing that you should look out for is minimum connection charges and so on. E.g. We have one provider, who insists that they charge a minimum of 50KB for every session - That is, if the connection goes down and up, they round it, and if it is inactive for 5mins, then it is rounded again and started again. With mobile connections, these are real problems. Plus they have 48 hour delays in updating usage, which means you get the 50%, 75%, 90% and over limit sms messages, all at the same time if you accidently have windows update do it's thing on a 350MB cap. - I just wanted to check mail, and forgot to un-teather the phone.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 4:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: The reason for limits is simple:

    Funny - my power company doesn't seem to have a problem charging me extra for peak usage (I'm on a time-of-use plan, because that's a cheaper alternative for my power usage). One would think something like power usage would be even more difficult to monitor than bandwidth usage...

    Maybe...just maybe... these dinosaur companies should actually consider some alternative broadband/data plans for their customers who are looking for services that are custom-tailored to their needs rather than just telling everyone they have a cap and that's life.

     

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    Riccardo, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 4:57pm

    Stupidity?

    This article's headline and premise are stupid, not data caps.

    Sure, a usage meter would be nice to have, since it's all but impossible for most folks to gauge and thereby modulate their data usage to avoid hitting the cap. But that doesn't make caps stupid, only inscrutable.

    And that's the whole point: Data caps are the ISP's justification for excess-usage surcharge penalties (an incremental profit source) or usage restrictions that might coerce customers to pay more for a higher cap (yet another profit source).

    Data caps aren't stupid; they're good business (if you're the ISP).

    Naive? Feel entitled? Just write a headline declaring data caps "stupid."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 5:05pm

    Re:

    No.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 5:21pm

    Re: Stupidity?

    Feel entitled just put a cap on it.

    There fixed that for ya.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 5:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Explain why European telcos don't have that scarcity problem then?

    I can point you to Free in France and their offerings you be hard pressed to find any caps on the UK, France, Japan or any other place that have shared infra structure and lots of competitors.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 5:31pm

    Re:

    1024 bytes is a kilobyte

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 5:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Another thing happening is people using WiFi more than the bandwidth offered by cell providers, which is reducing their earnings.

     

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    Jay (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 5:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    I might have to side with the AC here. He's correct that the reason we have a failing system in broadband, higher prices, and less innovation in broadband is because we have a government subsidized monopoly in the broadband arena brought on by the FCC.

     

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    Cowardly Anonymous, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 5:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Which isn't exactly helped by a cap. Instead, it is time-dependent. Of course, had they actually run all the cable that the government provided subsidies for, this wouldn't be a problem. They, however, refuse to put these in, instead using the scarcity as a reason to charge more and some cable companies have even tried to prevent others* from laying cable to protect this illusion.


    *Admittedly, the specifics do get a little dicey, as the group trying was, I think, a city government.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 5:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Well, everyone so far has agreed that we have too little competition for broadband, and that more competition would do one or more of:

    - improve service
    - lower prices
    - increase quotas / eliminate caps
    - increase speed

    That doesn't make caps wrong. And that doesn't support the original thesis that "caps are wrong because nobody knows what a MB is."

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 6:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    It is not the job of suppliers of Oranges to enable the innovative use of oranges without any cognitive load. Oranges are scarce, they cost money. If people use more, they must consider the cost of their increased use of oranges. Think of all the orange-based paint, scent, and insecticide solutions we'll never see because oranges have a cost. But isn't that just supply and demand at work?

    But in this case, it's really a mostly artificial limitation. That's my complaint. We're talking about an artificial restraint on supply. As multiple technologists for the telcos have admitted, with rather basic maintenance they can easily handle all bandwidth.

    Thus there isn't a real scarcity here.

    OK, the cognitive load is a pain. I know it. I feel it too, especially on international travel where they really rob you. But that cognitive load you feel is just the reality of needing to correctly allocate scarce resources, i.e. economics. And usually you can spot that kind of thing. You don't complain here about the cognitive load when you go to the store and buy hundreds of other scarce goods. Why just this one?

    Because bandwidth isn't a real scarcity. It can be offered in abundance without any real concern for running out with normal maintenance and upgrades. And, when you have true abundance, wasting the resource is a *good thing* because it leads to new innovation.

    I think our disagreement is that you still think bandwidth is a scarce resource. It's abundant. The scarcity being discussed is an artificial restriction on that abundance.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 6:04pm

    The other thing...

    The other thing that confuses people is the term bandwidth which can be used in two different contexts that the industry will use interchangeably when most people don't understand the term much less the difference. Furthermore, the industry conflates one usage that doesn't affect their ability to provide the service with the other that does. Data caps are about total bandwidth used per MONTH which has little affect on their ability to provide the service for any given user at any given time. The other issue that does have an effect but has nothing to do with data caps despite the fact that they complain about it to justify them is momentary bandwidth. Momentary bandwidth is the amount of data being used at any given moment. When a large percentage of users start streaming Netflix content across their network at the same time it slows everything down. But data caps have nothing to do with this.

     

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    TtfnJohn (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 6:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Fair enough but data usage isn't a constant. As has been mentioned data is bursty by it's nature and where there's a lack of capacity one moment there is excess capacity the next.

    Nor am I mixing up the differences between constant demand as opposed to rising demand. Ever increasing is dubious as I'm not in the habit of projecting that far into the future. Though there is increasing demand right now, that I'll give you.

    Some ISP's have chosen the cap route which have proven very unpopular others have chosen slightly increased monthly rates which, while unpopular, don't leave the user with a bad taste in their mouth every billing cycle which is the major draw back to caps.

    And do I use the same amount of data I did in 2000? No. Has my ISP increased capacity in the 12 years since? Yes. In fact I installed, tested and designed an good part of that upgrade as part of the regular cycle of network upgrades all telcos do as part of their normal business. Heck, we made/make enough from Broadband to afford it quite handily. Our only challenge is geographical not monetary. It's part and parcel of the normal cost of doing business. Cableco's face different challenges with coaxial outside plant, a technology developed as simplex (one way) transmission whereas telcos have always operated in duplex (two way). And let's do keep in mind that network capacity and bandwidth are two different things.

    The near-zero marginal cost not only takes into account the amount of data in the network but, as you say, the cost of maintenance and, as importantly, the profit made which can cancel out the cost of maintenance. Expansion and upgrading are maintenance.

    Please forgive me for using local slang for electricity transmission and generation. It wasn't an attempt to confuse but me just being lazy. ;-)

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 6:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Right, that's the precise point on which we disagree.

    So if Billions of dollars are needed for maintenance, operations, and CapEx for new expansion, and demand is ever-increasing (cellular data grew 123% from 388 billion megabytes in 2010 to 866.7 billion megabytes in 2011), how can you stand on the premise that bandwidth is not scarce?

    Money is scarce, and money is required to provide today and tomorrow's bandwidth. Non-trivial amounts of money.

     

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    Xenophorge (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 6:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    That's the litmus test right there.

    If your system slows down, everyday after school, for the first 2 weeks of the month then yes, caps are working.

    If your system slows down, everyday after school, then caps are useless.

     

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    Benjo (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 6:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    All this would be fine if the ISPs were building infrastructure with their own money. They build their networks through subsidies and then charge monopolistic rates.

    You can say that there are a couple Broadband providers so it's not a true monopoly but in practice they divide communities / cities in such ways that they do not have to compete.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 6:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Well, your argument seems to be standing on the assumption that telcos and broadband providers effectively and efficiently spend their money / use their resources.

    I work for a company that makes test & measurement tools for these network providers (as an engineer). We charge ridiculous rates to the telcos because like them, we face little competition, and they don't mind shelling out money for hardware that is marked up > 2000% (granted only BOM costs, not development. Over time the development costs DO go away though).

    Like everyone has been saying for the most part, I believe the real problem is lack of competition. The current environment is very non-competitive. Tax payers helped pay for all this infrastructure and now they turn around and screw us with poorly implemented data caps. In the absence of competition, I feel that data caps are a monopolistic practice that don't effectively combat the problem they are there to address. It's just (like text-message plans) a new way for these companies to extract money from us.

     

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    Pitabred (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 6:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    So... what are the companies doing with the profits they get each year? Why are they running low on capacity, when it's entirely affordable and within their capability to upgrade to deliver what they're selling?

     

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    TtfnJohn (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 6:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    The arc of usage for the cellular network(s) you link to in your first link isn't really all much of a surprise as it almost perfectly mirrors the landline usage for both voice and data.

    I won't even disagree with the overstated warnings in the second link as the issue there is more that of the basic architecture of the cellular network that it is about digital capacity once the device gets by the choke points inherent in cellular networks and climbs onto wired beyond there. (When I say wired I'm including light (or fibre optics) by the way.)

    Cellular requires, because it's an over-the-air technology, the conversion of digital to analog before leaving the cell site and again from analog to digital on arrival at the phone. The process is reversed from phone to cell site. It's at the analog portion that bandwidth, using the term properly, enters into this. The more data the more bandwidth during analog transmission and reception. At digital the term is capacity, which you're using correctly.

    (More for the information of non techy not telco people than you.) Cell has another big roadblock in it and that's the requirement that the phone's antenna can "see" the cell site's antenna. If something's in the way the signal is degraded or lost increasing the number of errors and resends. Also increasing bandwidth during the analog phase. Cellular has big problem there which can't be overcome until the architecture of the technology is changed to reduce the errors and resends during analog transmission and reception. That's not something said directly by the report discussed in the second link but strongly hinted at.

    That and smartphones are always sending and receiving data from the cellular towers unless that feature is expressly turned off. That's not a flaw in the rest of the telecom network it's built into how cell sites and smartphones work with each other and on that I do agree with you that bits aren't and likely never will be free using that technology.

     

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    Pitabred (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 6:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    WoW uses a Bittorrent style system to deliver patches. Perhaps his friend just ended up as a supernode or whatnot, getting hammered on the bandwidth because the capacity was there?

     

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    Pitabred (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 7:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Data caps harm economies & education

    And conversely, an argument for caps is an argument against competition. Right?

     

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    TtfnJohn (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 7:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    That's done now by some carriers. For example corporate customers such as high demand/required always on (to the limits of cell network itself) such as emergency services already have that. Where I work it's mandated by regulation that they must. They do have to pay for it though.

    I agree with you that after the connection is made to the cell site and then onto the broader telecom network there is little or no capacity problem. Caps, where they are used isn't because of a total network capacity issue at digital levels across the operator, it's always a function of "the last mile", that is capacity from the cell site to the broader network. As more and more sites are connected back to central offices by light this is becoming less and less of a problem.

     

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    Torg (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 7:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Because the thing that caps measure isn't scarce. That maintenance and upgrading you're talking about wasn't refilling a network that was running low on terabytes, it was increasing the speed and capacity of the network. Those are the things that should be charged for and managed, not the total number or bits transferred to a device.

     

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    Matt H, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 8:00pm

    Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    @Derek Kerton. You must get paid by raping people who are already paying entirely too much for mobile internet service. You've missed the actual point of the article. The premise was for a person to open their eyes and see how the bandwidth providers are forcing this crap down our throats. If no one complains about the data caps, they will not take them away. There were no caps until somebody decided that this was a great way to take advantage of people. It's not like they don't have the bandwidth and they are definitely making enough money to improve the data capacity of their networks as necessary. These guys are laughing all the way to the bank. They found a way to make you pay for their services twice with both phone and internet. Then they impose limits with penalties so now they are TAXING you for enjoying the very products and services that they sold you. They should just charge by the MB and,like the electric companies, give you a discounted rate as an incentive after you pass a certain level of usage. Data caps are counterintuitive to customer driven business practices.

     

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    AzureSky (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 8:05pm

    Re: Everyone needs to know (2)

    Infact Fox News went to court to defend their right to lie to the public, and they won.....gotta love this country.(i mean flat out lie/make shit up....no facts needed at all)

     

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    TtfnJohn (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 8:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    I'm not asking you to parse the fine print of the SEC and the rest of the approval for AT&T's network upgrades. The amount AT&T spent is more a function of it's size and all the parts of telecom it's active in than mere network capacity either wireless or land line. Given AT&T's size the amount doesn't really surprise me if it was an across the board upgrade of all their business units. Which a major upgrade, even of their wireless "alone", would entail. Telco networks are tightly integrated beasts and none more so than their data works supporting end user use.

    While the number is nice to toss around the wider the upgrade the more the cost. Unlimited data access over cellular networks is a fairy tale, I agree, but that's not as much a function of capacity as it is high error rates and resend requests at the cell switch under the towers chewing up processing time there. That's the reason why accessing data using wifi hotspots or at home often doesn't count towards the cap. The phone isn't trying to use the cellular portion of the network. That shifts the marginal cost per bit to zero as it will get as it maximizes the design of the Internet to minimize congestion and the normal transmission of data not to be always on. (Even streaming audio or video.)

    Unlimited for cell data use was a marketing ploy as the marketing people never foresaw people actually using all that capacity and didn't listen to the technical people who did who just said promise it and customers will use it.

    The problem cell companies have when they become ISPs is that they have a well deserved reputation for gouging in every other part of their business so the automatic response to a cap is that "they're at it again". The same, by the way, applies to cablecos.

    It's in the very nature of cellular to have capacity "issues" because the system was designed for voice not high speed data.

    BUT the cellular providers promoted and promised unlimited and that means unlimited. If a person's contract says unlimited and they didn't just assume that when they signed the contract it had better BE unlimited without caps, throttling or extra charges. Of course, it won't be. Because they get to change the terms of the contract on their own. Something their customer isn't allowed to do. ;-)

     

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    Nick Coghlan (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 8:51pm

    A different view

    There are countries in the world that get by OK with data caps on broadband, and Australia is one of them.

    The caps are annoying and mess with market dynamics in various ways, sure, but they're not necessarily "OMG, the sky is falling!" the way you make out here.

    Of course, one big problem with the US is that your issues with (a lack of) consumer protection laws in the telecommunications sector may mean that allowing data caps *will* cause the sky to fall, but that's a case of confusing the symptom (egregiously abusive data caps) with the root cause (lack of competition between broadband providers).

    The way this actually plays out in practice when there's reasonably healthy competition in place:

    - broadband companies provide usage meters and people learn how to access and read them. False advertising laws and competition authorities ensure the usage meters are at least vaguely accurate.

    - caps get classified in terms of what you can do with them without running into quota concerns (i.e. "suitable for email, social media and general web browsing", "suitable for online gaming", "suitable for video streaming" etc). It isn't hard for people to do the math to convert "typical bits per second" and "typical daily usage" into "suitable data quota"

    - different ISPs offer different pricing models that suit different audiences (up to and including uncapped plans, but also carving out their own "free zones" that don't count against quota limits)

    Data caps cut through a lot of the bollocks with "reasonable use" policies and put hard numbers on what "reasonable" means for various tiers. As much as we might wish it was, bandwidth isn't free: networking hardware, local cache and other services cost money to keep running, undersea cable operators want their cut, as to do peer network operators, etc, etc.

    Data caps let end users give clear price signals to the providers as to what their upstream provisioning should be - without the caps, the providers are forced to guess based on past usage.

    If Australia *already had* a regime where no caps was the norm, would I be happy if ISPs were proposing to bring them in so they could charge more to remove them again? No, I wouldn't, so I can understand US users getting upset by the idea.

    But making demonstrably false claims about metered connections destroying the internet as we know it isn't the way to make your case.

     

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    Nick Coghlan (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 9:00pm

    Re: A different view

    One thing the article does get right: overage charages (i.e. paying ridiculous amounts of money if you go over quota) *are* evil and genuinely upset people. That's why almost no Australian ISPs use overage charges any more.

    Instead, they all use throttling. If you remain within your quota, you get the full speed of your connection. If you go over, your connection speed gets gutted (usually to less than 10% of your normal speed). That means you can still get online, check your email, use social media, look things up on Google, etc, but more bandwidth intensive activities like streaming video and playing online games isn't going to be an option until your quota resets at the end of the month (or you buy some additional quota for the current month, assuming your ISP offers that option).

    Of course, this only played out like that because we have some genuine competition in our broadband sector, due to the regulations that force Telstra to play nice with others when it comes to offering ADSL connections over Telstra's copper lines. The incumbents originally used overage charges, then were eventually forced to switch to throttling when all their subscribers were deserting them for other providers.

    Without those regulations to ensure effective competition we would have been completely screwed. Since the US seems closer to an unregulated Telstra than they are to what actually exists in Australia, maybe you *are* right to be terrified of data caps in your system.

     

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    AzureSky (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 9:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    skip...naa I just report them, if enough of us do that, your posts disappear...

    I think its quite dishonest to sell "unlimited" then cap it, and this is what most isp's do, and those who dont do not bother explaining to people that they could go over their limit by watching netflix/hulu/youtube to much or by downloading updates for WoW(example, i have games that at times download many real GB of data for an update(real as in 1024MB not 1000 "MB")

    I have seen people go over with the above usage pattern, one older lady I know had me limit her net speed so she couldnt go over.

    IF ISP's where honest, they would just limit peoples speed so that they couldnt download more then the capped amount per month, rather then selling plans that allow you to cap out in less then a week(common)

    I get your logic, I feel its a crock of shit but I get it, you feel caps are a great tool to stop people from overloading an ISP's capacity....

    Sorry but I have a real problem with that, ISP's many places underbuild their networks then sell "unlimited"(see capped/throttled) packages for "high speed" well beyond their network capacity.

    I feel this should be ILLEGAL, it shouldnt be legal to sell a service you cant provide, but, thanks to people like yourself and our shill politicians its "free market" policy....where monopoly companies can keep a strangle hold on a market and keep selling these fraudulent packages.

    years back when att@home owned our local cable Internet service they MASSIVELY over sold their capacity, so much so that at some peek times it was no better then dialup, yet it was "unlimited 15-20mbit" their support admitted they had over sold their capacity, but they where "working on it".....

    comcast came in and took over, their first move was to replace the wins based authentication system with mac-id based and expand network capacity as quickly as they could, this took years, but, for the most part, they have managed to stay ahead of demand for years now(outside a few cases where large businesses overloaded a node with new high rate packages like multi 100mbit service plans at one location)
    we have a "cap" of 250gb a month, BUT many of us regularly go past that and dont get letters or throttled, I called about the 1 letter I got, and it turned out, it was due to a software upgrade, they had already disabled that system as it was ment to be used in area's that where having capacity issues, and even at peek hours we dont have issues in my node.(tho he did say if we hit a tb in a month there would be another letter....lol)

    but yeah, from my exp having worked at 2 ISP's and for quite a few companies over the years dealing with networking and ISP issues, the only isp's that pull dick moves like capping and heavy throttling tend to be those who did not invest in network capacity to provide the service they sold people in the first place, I have even had upper level techs I have delt with over such issues admit this to me, one even got a company I worked for a different package(dedicated t3's)at a steep discount because they couldnt get the multi sdsl package they sold us to work stable(kept dropping well below the rated speed of 7Mb/s u/d per line....)

    I still would like to know where all that money ISP's were given to get every American on broadband back in the 90's went.....as well as the money they still get from the govt goes.....i mean where it really go's now where their creative accounting says it goes...

    another note, a fellow above mentioned upgrading "old" equipment, from my exp working for isp's many times that "old" equipment gets reused as the network expands despite being counted as a loss on taxes, many times an area gets an upgrade and the equipment from that area is shifted to an area with older gear yet, or a new area that needs setup, they keep making money off the same gear for many years over....(i saw one setup get moved and reused 3 times in 2 years)

    no, theres no excuse for this bs, if your going to limit somebody to XX MB a month, then just give them a package that they cant go over on or would have to try very hard to go over on....stop this BS selling 50mbit with a 25-50gb cap(have seen this a few times)

    I would personally rather have slower speeds all the time that are steady and giving me what I paid for then risk hitting a cap or being sold a package that only at rare times when conditions are just right gives me the speeds I paid for.....

    Darek Kerton: I dont know if your a shill in this or just an opinionated dbag on this subject, but either way, its gotten to the point where you just look like a troll, and as such, I have started reporting you, in hopes others will do the same and help hide your trollish comments.

     

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    AzureSky (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 9:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    I think from his view point this is "working as intended"

    and this is my problem with how caps are done, I and most people I know would rather just have slower speeds and get the speeds we pay for, then have caps that could either cost us a mint when we exceed them or throttle us down to useless speeds....

    Derek Kerton seems to think that its the customers problem that ISP's over sell their capacity....when it should be ILLEGAL to sell somebody "50mbit service" when you cant provide that 24/7, but here its perfectly legal and even legal for them to sell "unlimited" thats limited....Gotta love this country.....the land of greed and "free market saves all"

     

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    AzureSky (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 9:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    they are pocketing most of it, putting as little as possible into upgrading their networks, and continuing to over sell their capacity, at least this is true for ATT in cali, cant tell you how many complaints I hear about it....

    from what one ex-att employee I have been friends with for a couple decades has said, att over sold their dsl network capacity by around 20-29x, they over sold uverse (fiber) capacity by 3x that, they sold 50mbit packages that couldnt even sustain 5mbit over any period of time, but they made sure to add a fast pipe to speed test sites(speedtest.net for one) to make it look like you where getting full speed.

    other isp's do this as well, they sell you speeds they cant support most of the time, some cap you on top of that some just figure your never gonna hit a cap amount with the actual network speeds you will get so its not worth pissing in your cheerios again with a cap.

    heres what I have personally seen, I have watched companies sell around 10x what they can provide at any one time, this was delt with by throttling everybody at peek times and on weekends, when people complained they where told some bs story OR told to read their contract if they signed up after a set date where the throttling was mentioned in the contract in VERY SMALL PRINT.(almost so small you need a microscope to read it)

    but thats all good, because in this country doing whatever you can to make a buck at the expense of the consumer/general public is ok.....just ask congress.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 9:45pm

    Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    No. No rape is involved in my work.

    Did I miss the actual point? "People can't be bothered to learn what a MB is, so caps are a bad idea." I think I understood it. And addressed how that' silly, and how people can learn, and how they don't need to learn if they can read a pie chart with two slices.

    I also addressed the suggested points of the article, that caps are all-round bad. You don't have to agree with me, but I didn't miss the point.

    Now, here's some points for you. You say "there were no caps until somebody decided that this was a great way to take advantage of people." That's baloney. Caps are not the result of what you suggest, instead, they are the result of this:

    "Last year's mobile data traffic was eight times the size of the entire global Internet in 2000."

    And this:

    "The top 1 percent of mobile data subscribers generate 24 percent of mobile data traffic..." in 2011.

    But because of caps that 2011 figure is

    "...down from 35 percent 1 year ago [2010]."

    There, in a nutshell, you have the reason caps were introduced, and the effect they can have.

    Source, Cisco VNI:
    http://www.cisco.com/en/US/solutions/collateral/ns341/ns525/ns537/ns705/ns827/white_paper_c11- 520862.html

     

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  218.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 9:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Here's a link to check if I'm a shill, or just opinionated:

    http://www.techdirt.com/user/derek

    I write articles here at Techdirt. 762 so far, over 12 years. I just don't ever agree with Masnick, or the Techdirt crowd on this topic. I stick with: use more scare resource = pay more.

     

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  219.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 10:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Correct, that is my view. That is working as intended. More competition would alter the situation, but for now, ISPs are trying to contain the amount you consumer.

    And to your last paragraph, OF COURSE ISPs over-sell their capacity. That is day 1 of any network planning course. You plan your network capacity for some expected usage patterns of your users. Same for road networks, and other infrastructure projects. That's not evil, that's engineering.

    If you want to be able to fully use your 50 mbit service with no capacity constraint, then what you want is an enterprise-grade connection, which is absolutely available. It just costs a lot more.

    You can't have a dedicated pipe, and pay shared pipe rates.

     

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    AzureSky (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 10:37pm

    Re: Re: Caps

    please everybody just click report on Derek Kerton posts and move on, hes clearly trolling, look at his posts, same shit over and over.

     

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    AzureSky (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 10:45pm

    Re: It won't stop until it costs them money...

    TimK: little note, he was braking verizons TOS by doing this, if you read it, your not allowed to visit any website or use any apps outside verizons own apps that stream video or audio, this is true for all their "Data plans", its in the fine print and they dont want you to notice it till you go over and they can terminate you AND make you pay up for the full cost of the contract you signed.

    my advice, tell him to return the ipad and get his money back if hes still in the grace period, tell them hes not happy with it and leave it at that.

     

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    AzureSky (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 10:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: It won't stop until it costs them money...

    or people say "Screw this" return the ipad, get something like an android tablet or phone, and pirate the stuff since they cant stream it legally with the bs plans they are offered.

    I cant tell you how many people I know who started getting stuff they can access on netflix over p2p or direct download sites because they found it was easier and cheaper to download the videos to their device and watch them off internal memory then it was to stream them.....yet they all kept their netflix for home use.....

    and again pleas just click report on Derek Kerton posts and move along...

     

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  223.  
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    AzureSky (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 10:59pm

    Re: Glad I don't have to put up with this

    yes, I have been told how baddly we get screwed on mobile phone plans by every single brit i know, I have also looked it over, because of our "Greed is good" system companies are allowed to become monopolies and screw us over on phone and data plans(and tv and internet....and and and....)

    It shocks me, for what a basic phone plan costs here per month, I could get a preimum plan with all the bells and whistles over there AND on top of that a "free" phone of any type i want even the best android phones on the market.....

    here we are expected to bend over and spread cheek for the all mighty big business empire that owns this country.

     

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    AzureSky (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 11:03pm

    Re: Not sure if srs

    Why you no like golden shower?

     

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    AzureSky (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 11:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    sorry, but its not a scarse resource unless the isp's incompetent and over selling their network capacity(common in this country)

    but have your own twisted view of reality, the rest of us seem to think reality has an anti Derek Kerton bias.

     

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  226.  
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    AzureSky (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 11:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    then dont sell me a 50mbit connection thats "unlimited"....problem solved

    but wait, that wouldnt fit ISP's business plan of over selling their capacities by a few thousand percent or more by advertising speeds or capacity they have no intention of being able to provide....I get it, its a good thing they lie to people and rip them off....good to know where you stand...

    and its bad engineering if you design a network to only be able to handle a small % of its probable projected load...I have build networks, and if I was stupid enough to setup a network that was gigabit but could only move files at cat3 speeds most of the time I would have been fired many times over but thats pretty much what many ISP's do, and to you thats a good thing.....*shakes head* I dont get your "logic" it seems that reality has an anti- Derek Kerton bias on this issue.

    and I guess when FIOS went in around here they where really stupid, this whole region they put it in with massive over capacity so that in the future they could not only offer higher speed packages, they could deal with higher subscriber numbers(they projected worst case for 5 years, and then went above that) again really stupid from your point of view, they should have built the network to deal with 5% of the population in this area!!!

     

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    AzureSky (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 11:38pm

    is it just me or

    Is it just me or does it seem like reality and public opinion have an anti-Derek Kerton bias?

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 12:10am

    How do they charge more?

    I have been reading all the comments, trying to sort out what I'd like to ask. Here it is.

    The caps are adding a punishment to something that people want to do, meaning that they'll do less of it, and therefore value it less.

    But why would the carriers want more usage unless they can charge more for it? If they encourage people to download more data, what's in it for the carriers unless they charge more for heavy usage? Why would any carrier want more usage without more money coming in?

    In other words, what's the business model for the carriers if people use more data but aren't billed for it? I can't imagine that more usage without more income has much appeal for the carriers.

     

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  229.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 1:11am

    Re:

    wrong: 1024000 bytes is a megabyte. Network speeds use bits so if you have a T1 line, that is 1.5 megabits per sec. There are 8 bits in a byte.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megabyte

     

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  230.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 1:22am

    Re: How do they charge more?

    "In other words, what's the business model for the carriers if people use more data but aren't billed for it? I can't imagine that more usage without more income has much appeal for the carriers."

    I'm not sure how old you are, but it sounds like you don't remember how the phone used to work. You could place a local call and stay on for hours for one monthly fee. Yep, all the usage you wanted for one fee. Reconcile that with your statement.

    The business model for the carriers has always been to make an abundant resource seem scarce. Maybe you didn't notice the death of the long distance telephony market.

     

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  231.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 1:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Do I think FIOS was a stupid thing? I dunno.

    Check out what this Techdirt author said about it in 2007

    http://www.techdirt.com/blog/wireless/articles/20070418/174522.shtml

    He wrote "Sprint's 2.5GHz strategy is tied in my mind for "gutsiest US telco project" with Verizon's FIOS project." I love FIOS and it's a crime that deployment has been halted as part of an accord with the cable companies to not step on each-other's turf. Don't presume to understand how I feel about FiOS because I don't agree with you on caps.

    And you say you have built networks? Not one telecom network, ever was built with the assumption that people would use their full allottment 24x7. It's just fact. And it's correct engineering. You run statistical models to estimate expected demand, and build for that. In the case of PSTN phones, that means that you don't assume that everyone will make a phone call at the same time, and stay connected all day (even though their phone plan included unlimited local calling). For highways, it means we don't pave roads with the expectation that all cars will make a trip at exactly the same time, or that they will use the road 24x7 - even though that is their right.

    You say "its bad engineering if you design a network to only be able to handle a small % of its probable projected load". Well, yeah, but I never said that, that's your strawman. I said projected load is not 100% utilization from each customer.

    You're awful angry about this. By the way, I knew from the start that my opinions would go very much against the grain here. People want unlimited, low cost Internet, and taking the side of the telcos on any point is sure to elicit very unsympathetic responses. But I have exhibited none of the characteristics of a troll or shill. I criticize the ISPs frequently, I agree when people say they are money grabbers, I agree that there isn't enough competition. No shill would ever write that. And, BTW, shills aren't Techdirt authors for 12 years, which I am. As for Trolls, they are just in it to piss people off, but I am making arguments, citing sources, bringing stats.

    PS: YOU can't just decide that I'm a shill or a troll just because I disagree with you, and yes, with the wider Techdirt community. This isn't supposed to be a comment circle jerk where we all agree day after day that the RIAA sucks. Dissent is encouraged and desirable. Fortunately, the "Report" system is designed to handle a few angry jerks who "Report" things just because they disagree strongly.

     

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  232.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 1:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Debate Ended

    How nice of them to let us all know..... for a good chunk of us we are still very much familiar with MB being 1024 KB. Are they going to make a byte 10 bits now to? -.-

     

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  233.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 1:44am

    Re: Re: Everyone needs to know (2)

    URL?

     

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  234.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 2:35am

    Wow, popular topic!

    I don't like data caps (I hated having one, and I'd love to see them completely disappear), but this is the one and only thing I can't agree with Mike on: they exist for very legitimate reasons.

    Besides over-engineering your network, at great expense, or cutting everyone's speed to a crawl, they are the only real way to prevent congestion of networks. (I have a degree in CS, if that's relevant).

    Also, there is one very simple killer of data caps: competition. In Australia we've always had data caps, but every year they get larger (I think up to 1TB at the moment), and there are even unlimited plans available from some companies (I'm on one right now), all thanks to competition.

    I say don't worry about them: they're not an unreasonable thing to do, and they won't survive competition anyway.

     

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    Niall (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 3:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    The problem with caps is that they are too low for modern usage, especially given the lack of understanding people have for them.

    Using a petrol (gas) analogy, imagine driving a car without a fuel meter or milometer. You would have to guess how far you have driven, how fast, to know when to fill it up again. Hardly ideal, is it?

    If people don't know how big a Mb is, and their caps are too close to the bone, it all matters. If the caps were just to stop the worst offenders and therefore much bigger (like the telcos claim), then people wouldn't need to care.

     

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  236.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 3:15am

    Re:

    Well I'm sure everyone here knows that as I'm also kinda sure you meant kb.

     

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  237.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 3:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    The metering on data traffic is usually measured by throuhput on the switch. If you have multiple devices on the account then it's difficult for the OS of any one of them to estimate total usage.

     

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  238.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 3:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    LOL at pretending "artificial scarcity" isn't an everyday fact of life in business.

    Your parents must be so proud of that MBA they paid for, you fucking doofus clown.

     

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  239.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 4:24am

    It's far worse than that. Caps are idiotic. The real issue of ISP's isn't data caps, but bandwidth. Someone using 5 gig isn't necessarily eating up bandwidth. Using 5 gig on emails and browsing isn't going to impact any other user as that is low bandwidth usage. So they are out of touch with the real problems.

     

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  240.  
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    allen mertig, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 4:31am

    Data Caps

    Not exactly true. Same as water rationing during drought. You may not know how much water you use, but leaving hose running overnight uses a lot of a maybe scarce commodity.

    We recognize our monthly water use, without knowing how many pints per flush. You get the idea.

     

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    Chargone (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 4:35am

    Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    current setup with our ISP here is that they e-mail us when we hit 80% of our cap.

    when this happens at all it's in the last week of the month, unless someone's done something unusual.

    (like this month, when we got that notice within the first week or so. quite baffling. they're usually quite reasonable about doing what they can to help you figure out what happened there if you don't know, though, and sort out any problems. but the data they store, and, more importantly, that the customer service people have access to, is quite limited due to privacy laws etc.

    that said, there's actual Competition in the ISP space here :) )

     

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  242.  
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    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 4:51am

    Re: This isn't unique to MBs

    Exactly this, kWh was the example I thought of too, but there are probably many more. I do think people should pay more attention to their power consumption, but they've been able to avoid doing so because it is competitively priced and objectively metered. Something that I don't think has happened with data.

     

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    Cynyr (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 5:01am

    Re: Re: And what happens when you run out?

    most of those widgets are configurable as to how often, if at all they go out and automatically get updates/new info. the authors have usually put that in because of battery life, or in the case of e-mail server side limits.

     

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    Torg (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 6:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    If lots of people speeding damaged roads, would it make more sense to implement a speed limit or a distance limit? That's the issue here. The phone companies are spending a lot to upgrade the speed they can offer, giving everyone the same high speed, and then attempting to compensate by limiting how far people can go at those speeds, when it would make more sense just to charge people based on the speed they want.

     

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  245.  
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    TimK (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 6:16am

    Re: Re: It won't stop until it costs them money...

    I agree and disagree. Can I do that?

    They definitely want "super heavy users" to use less.

    They want everyone else to use less or pay more. There's a reason they set their plan limits the way they do. They know how much a typical user will consume...and they want those users to fall right on the border of plans where they will keep going over and either pay more to upgrade, or use less.

    Either way, the carriers THINK they win. Either they get more $ for doing nothing*, or they have to provide less bandwidth so they can avoid expanding/improving their networks.

    * They can do nothing being in most cases they aren't actually approaching any real limits on capacity YET. The problem will eventually show up for real as more and more people get smartphones and broadband and the carriers do run into capacity problems - because they decided to play games with caps instead of improving their service ahead of the demand. But that's a lack of competition for you.

     

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  246.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 6:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    It's a stupid argument on both sides. The REAL answer is to allow sharing of the infrastructure (mentioned above) and promote competition (also mentioned above). This would make the argument moot.

    Look at electric deregulation in Texas. I'm here in Texas, my per kW rate is $0.075, and they have incentive to give me good service (TXU didn't, and I'm no longer a customer). I don't think deregulation is the answer in every industry, but a certain amount of deregulation would make all of the net-neutrality and bandwidth cap arguments worthless because competition would force the telcos to act in the best interest of the customer instead of themselves.

     

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    Jake (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 6:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    No I pay my bill every month for that capacity and I do not mind doing so, I even pay for a higher tier package. But now that I have paid for that capacity, I find it dubious that I am limited in how I use it.

     

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  248.  
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    Jake (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 6:52am

    Re:

    I can not believe that data caps are necessary.

    It's sort of like this, picture that you have a water pipe running down your street that connects to every house. There is an infinite amount of water running through that pipe. (I know that this is not true in real life) When no one is using it no problem, when everyone uses water at the same time though water pressure drops significantly. Now everyone wants to take a shower at 8AM before work so the water utility is having issues. To solve this they try to limit the amount of water used overall. How does this make sense. I can shower at 3AM for 4 hours and never effect another user, but yet I am treated the same as the user that is showering at 8AM and contributing to the problem. What is even worse is that if the 8AM user is showering quickly, they will never reach the limit and never be penalized even though they are contributing to the problem, while I am being penalized even though I am hurting no one.

    Data caps are the same thing.

     

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  249.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 7:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Unlimited in your world in the real world if you say you can push 100Mbits/second 24 hours a day there is a limit there.

    If you don't want people to use that much limit data transfer possible to customers.

    But that would be bad for business right? because then people would know exactly how much each carrier actually can handle and that would be a problem.

    Why caps?

    Because it allows carriers to lie about their capacity and intentions.

     

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    Lachlan Hunt (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 7:13am

    Re:

    No, a megabyte (MB) is really 1000000 (mega- means 10^6) bytes. A mebibyte (MiB) is 1048576 bytes (mebi- means 2^20). (These are what the IEC binary prefixes are designed for)

    The annoying usage of SI prefixes for binary values is an historical artifact of a time when 1024 bytes was a close enough approximation of a kilobyte.

    Standard SI prefixes and interpretations (base 10) are used for data transfer and all modern disk storage capacities. OS X and Ubuntu now correctly use SI units for file sizes. Windows still gets it wrong.

     

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  251.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 7:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    What makes caps so wrong is that we already have caps they are called "bandwidth plans".

    If you don't want people using more than some amount of bandwidth per month don't offer higher capacity then regulate the data transfer speed to match the consumption for an entire month that way no matter what one does they will not be able to go above it, but that is bad for marketing and overcharge right?

    How many seconds in a month?
    Divide that for the bandwidth you want every customer to have, I guarantee you that no one will ever use anything above and beyond what they paid for, the connection will get slower though.

     

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    Lachlan Hunt (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 7:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Debate Ended

    > I was so sick and tired of people coming back into the computer store trying to say we ripped them off because their 40 GB hard drive wasn't 40 GB

    You should blame Microsoft for failing to switch to using decimal values while still incorrectly using SI prefixes. Typical users should rarely be exposed to binary values (except for RAM, where IEC binary prefixes should be ideally used instead. i.e. GiB, not GB).

    OS X and Ubuntu (not sure about other Linux distros) handle this (mostly) correctly. But Windows is still lagging behind.

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 7:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    That doesn't make caps wrong. And that doesn't support the original thesis that "caps are wrong because nobody knows what a MB is."
    No, caps are wrong because they measure the wrong thing. In fact, if you think about it, they can have a negative effect on the thing that does matter, i.e. data rate.

    Look at it this way (a litle simplistic I'll admit but bear with me):
    Everyone seems too agree (because it's true) that the actual limit on the network is not amount of data it can transfer but the maximum sustainable data rate, because that's the thing that costs money.
    Imagine everyone you sell broadband to has a 20GB download limit per month. Everyone starts merrily downloading and gets a warning they're getting close to the limit. They stop downloading until the "next month", when they start again.
    If this happens to lots of your customers at once they what you've done is artificially create a high burst data rate at the beginnning of the month that your network has to cope with, when a sustained data rate would actually give you less capacity problems.

    I think the problem is that broadband providors advertise and sell the wrong thing because it sounds sexier. Most sell a maximum speed e.g. 20Mbps (which people don't understand either but can be easily dressed in "download a film in 10 minutes a song in 20 seconds" type language). First it often turns out if it's over a traditional phone line that the line infrastructure isn't up to the delivery (hence the kludge "legal" wording of "up to" 20Mpbs broadband). And second that figure doesn't take into account contention ratios (link aggregation at the local exchange) or actual network capacity. That means that when the sustained data rate ends up sucking the customer says "but you said I'd get [irrelevant nice big number]".

    I reckon it would be better if ISPs sold lines on the basis of "mean guaranteed data rate" and were contracted as such. It might not sound as sexy but it would be a lot more honest and would get rid of stupid absolute amount of data limits. For ISP's that cared it would make capacity planning easier because it gives a definitive taget to aim for and for those that are cowboys that never upgrade their networks while sell-sell-selling it would empower the customer with a harder to wriggle out of provable contractual breach.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 7:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    To be fair, I think Mike's article is more about how the companies intentionally misuse terms that confuse customers such that they don't understand what is at stake and can be exploited to the companies benefit. For instance, using the term "bandwidth" interchangeably when talking about capacity while using that to justify caps on monthly usage that actually have little to do with momentary capacity and exploiting their confusion of the two.

     

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    zub, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 7:39am

    What traffic counts?

    I've had another issue with caps.

    I think I pretty much understand what a MB (or MiB) is. There's still some fuzz if the provider uses 1000 or 1024 for the kilo, mega, giga prefixes though.

    But the main point: What all is counted as data? If I download 10 MiB over HTTP it does not mean there's exactly 10 MiB being sent through the wire. There's always some overhead. Part of it being various protocols' headers. HTTP in this case. But there are other things, depending on your connection, e.g. PPPoE headers.

    So, at what level does the counting take place? Do ICMP PINGs count? Does UDP count? Does TCP count? Only payloads? Only HTTP payload? ...

    I find it far from obvious. In the end one can never be really sure if one can download/send something when approaching the cap.

     

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  256.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 7:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    You should have read all the links, capital expenditures include any purchases that are considered long term investments. That means, buildings, chairs, desks, computers, paved parking, vehicles, lawn mowers, basically anything a company buys that they might still be using a year from now.

    Are you telling me that 19 out of 20 billion went exclusively to network improvements? Do you have any proof of that?

    That's what I thought.

     

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    Yakko Warner (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 7:52am

    Re: Re: Re: And what happens when you run out?

    Granted, although by default most* are configured to go out on their own and get updates on whatever schedule the programmer decided/was directed to set. You either have to open the settings or watch for the option when installing — and know to go to each of those and turn them off if/when faced with impending bandwidth overage. I might remember to do this; the rest of my family might with my prompting. My mother (who still has an AOL account — I only wish I was kidding) wouldn't even be able to tell you what she has installed.

    *In my experience. Your mileage may vary.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 7:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Caps have nothing to do with capacity based billing. They were charging for capacity in the 1990s, it was called 56kbps (or in my town you could purchase a variety of slower plans).

    Now many dsl companies are selling ~1.5MBps and cable companies are claiming to sell 10MBps or even 50MBps. They have been charging for capacity from the beginning, it has no relation to data caps.

     

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  259.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 7:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Caps

    "Caps don't perfectly manage the scarcity of the network's capacity. You're right about that. They are an approximation, but a useful approximation."

    Wrong.

     

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    btrussell (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 8:09am

    Study: Bandwidth hogs aren't responsible for peak network congestion

    http://boingboing.net/2011/11/30/study-bandwidth-hogs-arent.html

    Just like hydro, which costs more at certain times of day, not cost more by how much you use over course of month.

    Caps are useless at solving the problem. Except for the last week or two of the billing period.

     

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  261.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 8:41am

    Re: Re: Re: It won't stop until it costs them money...

    You almost got it right. The want everyone to use less AND pay more.

     

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  262.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 8:54am

    Re: caps + lack of net neutrality = no more Netflix

    The idea of Net Neutrality didn't get invented after the Internet. It was a core concept of the design of the Internet from it's inception. The idea was that from an architecture perspective everyone should have equal access to all content on the network with no artificial constraints on it. The origin of the concept actually dates back to the days of the telegraph...

    "The concept of network neutrality predates the current Internet-focused debate, existing since the age of the telegraph.[25] In 1860, a US federal law (Pacific Telegraph Act of 1860) was passed to subsidize a telegraph line, stating that:

    messages received from any individual, company, or corporation, or from any telegraph lines connecting with this line at either of its termini, shall be impartially transmitted in the order of their reception, excepting that the dispatches of the government shall have priority ...
    —An act to facilitate communication between the Atlantic and Pacific states by electric telegraph, June 16, 1860.[26]"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_neutrality

     

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  263.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 8:58am

    Re:

    I agree but that isn't really the major complaint. The major complaint is offering an unlimited plan that really isn't.

     

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    Jay (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 9:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    Just adding fuel to the fire...

     

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  265.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 9:09am

    Re: What traffic counts?

    It get measured by the throughput at the switch and it doesn't break down what type of data is what much less discount any traffic as incidental. If for some reason you are affected by a large amount of nefarious traffic and complain about it, they may investigate it and block it at the switch for you so that it doesn't go against your quota but if you don't then they still count it.

     

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    Kevin (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 9:10am

    if the cap fits

    Capping data has one and one purpose only. Make more money.
    The decision to impose data caps is one made by bean counters, who have about as much long term strategy ideas as a fly.
    The unfortunate part of all is these so called economic masterminds and their lawyer mates are running the companies.
    If one looks at all the shenanigans that is part of the entire communications industry one will find either an accountant or lawyer behind each warped dumb idea mentioned here every day.
    So lets change tactics and start discrediting these non thinking twits and put them back to where they belong, the basement offices.

     

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  267.  
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    Derek Cramer (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 9:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    How much is a kilowatt hour? How many KwHs does your refrigerator use? Or your furnace, or front-porch light? How many gallons of water do you use when you shower? How many gallons of gas do you use to drive to the grocery store? Yes, a MB is an abstract measurement that is hard to visualize, but so are many other measurements we use every day.

    The biggest problem is the arbitrary caps, and the problems in trying to see where you are at any given moment. In theory you can go out to the water meter or Electric box and get a reading to see where you are, but even those are difficult to understand if you don't have a reading from the billing date to compare to.

     

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  268.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 9:46am

    Re: Study: Bandwidth hogs aren't responsible for peak network congestion

    So much for Derek's "useful approximation" theory.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 10:36am

    Re: Re: How do they charge more?

    I'm not sure how old you are, but it sounds like you don't remember how the phone used to work. You could place a local call and stay on for hours for one monthly fee. Yep, all the usage you wanted for one fee. Reconcile that with your statement.

    As I recall, when that system was set up, the telephone was a monopoly and for the monopoly to exist, there were conditions set up, which meant everyone could have access for one low price. The system was also overengineered so that whenever there was too much traffic in one place, it was rerouted to other places so it didn't fall apart. Ma Bell was reliable. Those phones you got from the phone company were also indestructible. Not like the junk you would buy on your own after they quit leasing the phones to you.

    The reason I ask what incentive there is for companies to offer true unlimited plans is that Sprint hasn't gotten as big a boost from theirs as other companies get from offering jazzier phones and faster networks. Maybe data caps will become an issue in the future, but right now it seems people go where the phone is and then get locked into a contract for several years. Unlimited data hasn't been a big competitive selling point, so what's the reason carriers would want to offer it so that people use even more data? Are they going to get to charge customers more for unlimited data? In which case, it's just a different version of having customers pay more for what they use.

    So I am asking, why should they offer it? If it doesn't bring them new customers and if they aren't getting an agreement from the government where they offer unlimited data in exchange for a monopoly, why would they want to follow Mike's advice to encourage more people to use their data plans more? What's in it for them? Your example of the way it used to be is an example of a system set up as a true monopoly. The phone company was a utility set up to serve the public.

     

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  270.  
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    Johnny5k (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 10:50am

    Re: Re:

    Jake's shower analogy is dead on. Users that are contributing most to the real problem (using for a short time during peak hours) are not being penalized, while users who do not contribute at all to congestion (extended usage during non-peak hours) are penalized with a cap. The only bottleneck is during peak usage hours, but there's no incentive not to use the network at that time.

    If the carriers really wanted to address the problem, they'd implement something more akin to the unlimited nights & weekends they've been using with 'minutes' for years, but with data, and a time scheme that addresses peak data usage times. Then if their networks really are getting hammered at a certain time every day, they can set a lower limit for 'anytime' data, in turn curbing use during high-traffic hours.

    I'm not a fan of any caps, but if they really wanted to address the actual problem, that kind of solution would make a lot more sense than just setting everybody's cap really low, no matter when they use the data.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 10:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    It's a stupid argument on both sides. The REAL answer is to allow sharing of the infrastructure (mentioned above) and promote competition (also mentioned above). This would make the argument moot.

    I'm curious how much more competition you'd actually get. If a new company has to come along to create its own networks, would there be anyone interested? Seems like creating buzzworthy Internet company attracts more money these days.

     

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  272.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 10:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Everyone needs to know (2)

     

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  273.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 11:15am

    Re: Re: Re: How do they charge more?

    Bell System - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: On April 30, 1907, Theodore Newton Vail returned as President of AT&T.[2][4] Vail believed in the superiority of one phone system and AT&T adopted the slogan "One Policy, One System, Universal Service."[2][5] This would be the company's philosophy for the next 70 years.[4] ...

    In 1934, the government set AT&T up as a regulated monopoly under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission, in the Communications Act of 1934.

    As a result, by 1940 the Bell System effectively owned most telephone service in the United States, from local and long-distance service to the telephones themselves.

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Data caps harm economies & education

    Then explain to me why your speed drops when everyone in your "neighborhood" is downloading stuff? Cable internet is a "shared" resource among "nodes" You share your connection with 8-15 other people. DSL is unicast, which is why thier speeds are more constant (although slower)
    Wrong use of terminology. broadcast and unicast are to do with the addressing of recipients of a packet. What you're talking about is contention ratio, which is the number of users that share bandwidth on a single uplink from the local exchange. It's the same as if you have 20Mbps multiple computers in your house. They are all sharing the same 20Mbps line even though they are all looking at seperate things, they don't get 20 each. Trunk links in the providor network do the same thing - the one that affects you most is the aggregation at the local POP (where all the local connections for that providor enter their main network.) DSL is usually a small ratio or 1-to-1 at that level, which is part of the reason it's usually more expensive.

     

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  275.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Data caps harm economies & education

    Correct. When comparing cable tv traffic to Internet traffic the broadcast vs. unicast description applies. However when comparing DSL to Cable Internet access it does not. Since the coax lines for cable TV were designed to handle the transmission of large amounts of analog video, naturally they have the capacity to handle a lot more users on the same lines and supported a stable connection at a rather long distance from the exchange switch. When DSL was first made available, it was implemented on existing POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) lines that were designed to carry only the limited spectrum necessary for voice communication when it was still mostly copper and very little had been replaced with much more efficient fiber optic lines. In those days, the distance to the exchange was much more limited which meant that many more of them had to be created and each of them had a lot less users sharing the same switch. Cable was MUCH faster but much more subject to latency and peak load issues that DSL at the time. As they replace the phone lines with fiber, DSL got faster but the existing switches that were already in place still had the same lower number of users per switch which is why it's more consistent to this day.

     

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  276.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 1:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    How about, "The infrastructure was already paid for by the public.... AT&T just didn't build it when they stole the funds (the funds are no longer available, so this isn't 'sharing') and are now asking for more to build what they promised they would build the first time we 'bailed them out' and gave them the money"...

    Sounds much better than 'broadband is free'.... promises of broadband were enough for them to steal the funds, and what did we get in return? Caps, Gouging, and Throttling (sounds like a dirty snuff film....) along with demands that we pay more and like it....

     

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    AzureSky (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 8:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    the fact you reply so much makes your posts trollish, the fact you say the same things over and over just adds to that, sorry but any forum I have been part of even some of the crappier ones with mods who troll all the time would have given you a vacation for your troll post spam.

    dont like it....to bad, your actions make you a troll, not your stupid opinions.

     

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  278.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 9:26pm

    Re: Re:

    I'm the AC above.

    What a silly analogy. The people who only shower at peak times will never hit the cap.

    You will will hit the cap if you shower at peak times and at other times. So the cap forces you to reduce shower times.
    Sure, maybe you might choose to reduce non-peak showers, but not everyone like you will: some will reduce their peak showers - TADA! Peak traffic reduced.

     

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    Torg (profile), Apr 17th, 2012 @ 9:37pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You will also hit the cap if you shower at other times and other times, and the cap will force you to reduce your usage without any benefit at all. That's the point. Caps operate independently of the actual problem, and can only incidentally help alleviate it.

     

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  280.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 9:52pm

    Re: Re:

    Not disagreeing that the deception ISN'T wrong, but people wouldn't have that problem in the first place if they just read what they were signing. I often hear people whine and bitch about things like cell phone service and mortgages that require signing some kind of agreement, when the stuff they don't agree with very well could have easily been found out by reading before signing.

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 1:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    I'll say it again: if you are willing to consumer the same amount of data as you did in 2000, then your bits have near-zero marginal cost, and your argument is good.

    Except that's not how it works. Even if the ISP got no more customers over that time and charged no more they would have to refresh their network to keep everything supportable if nothing else and that would have to be built into the operating costs otherwise they'd go out of business. A gigabit switch now costs in real terms less than a similar 100 meg switch would in 2000. There's a 10x speedup right there and 10Gb is getting way down in cost too. Costs for the curently accepted technology tend to remain roughly the same over time.

    In terms of, say, a dedicated leased line from an ISP, I can get a 1Gb link for about what I paid for 10Mb in 2000 (in the UK at least - might be different in the US where you seem to have less competition) and leased lines have no data caps. Do you think the ISP's could or would do that if increased capacity really cost so very much to provide?

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 4:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Data caps harm economies & education

    Well the bit I left out is that contention ratios these days are usually set throttles for QoS rather than absolute limitations of the infrastructure...

     

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    Cynyr (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 5:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    odd, i get 18-21mbps on my 20mbps DSL all the time, no concerns about the neighbor teenagers at all. Also my ISP doesn't seem to care that I have a steady stream of 35kbps outbound traffic (yes my upload is bad bad bad).

     

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    Cynyr (profile), Apr 18th, 2012 @ 5:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    And part of that is fair, I mean, business isn't a charity.


    Then no (more) tax dollars for them and they need to give the ones we gave them back thankyouverymuch. Because if I'm giving a company tax dollars I expect them to serve the common good with them. If they don't want to do tht then don't take the government/our money.

     

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  285.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2012 @ 3:05pm

    In Portugal the internet was limited by caps (ZON) but then appeared a new ISP without caps and most of people changed to them (MEO). :)

     

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    techflaws.org (profile), Apr 19th, 2012 @ 3:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Everyone needs to know (2)

    Thanks.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 2:04pm

    Re: Re: Study: Bandwidth hogs aren't responsible for peak network congestion

    The "end of the month problem" is silly.

    People have different billing periods. Their months end at different times. That problem (which never existed) is thus solved 100%.

    Furthermore, the idea is to get people to think about the overall data flow their apps use, and consider reducing. Your hypothesis that this will all take place in the last week of the month assumes people will never learn to use less throughout the period.

     

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

  288.  
    icon
    AzureSky (profile), Apr 29th, 2012 @ 11:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Everyone needs to know (2)

    google/bing are your friends....

     

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

  289.  
    identicon
    beerye, May 2nd, 2012 @ 11:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nobody Needs To Know

    You come across as the ultimate fanboi for these ISPS. You hide behind the guise of economics, yet you downplay the role of monopolistic practices used to control data prices.

    A large demand exists for data consumption from many media forms. It is quite obvious that these companies are greatly out of touch with the desires of consumers. This gap in understanding will only increase in the coming years, because insufficient pressure can be applied to them to alter their behavior. By increasing consumer understanding and awareness, (i.e. everyone knows what volume of data they'd need per month) then more pressure on companies will be the result.

    Stop defending them and keep your condescension to yourself.

     

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

  290.  
    identicon
    ANON, Aug 24th, 2012 @ 9:46pm

    The problem isn't ISP's having a problem implementing a system that notifies users of how close or how far they are to the data cap. The problem is that they have the cap in the first place.

    I can't believe people are blindly supporting these ISP's decisions to cap data. The ISP's already have the hardware setup, and it's been proven that they can support unlimited data. So how do you idiots not get the picture that they are clearly raping the consumer by including data caps into their ecosystem. They evidently want to make more money, but at who's cost? You, and you're sitting there trying to win an argument while these company's tear and tear away from people who made them who they are.

    No wonder why wireless companies and cable companies charge American's the most. They are the only country that have people that are sheepish enough to just sit there and take it up the ass. You want facts? Go ahead and search how much people pay for internet and wireless data in other countries. Generation of tools and sheep that dig their own graves. It's pathetic!
    I wonder how much it will take until finally you start realizing how much of your life and your petty day to day interactions are controlled and distributed by the same companies you put up for.

    Maybe that's fine for someone that doesn't care about anyone but their self, but for the people who care about others and how it effects their family and friends they will make a stance against this monopolized data erra. The others that have no idea what's going on around you I feel pure pity for you. Maybe when your mommie and daddy stop paying for your bills you'll understand more.

     

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

  291.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2012 @ 9:40am

    Re:

    1024 bytes is a kilobyte. 1024 kilobytes is a megabyte. If you're going to address semantics, at least get it right.

     

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

  292.  
    identicon
    Ivan stovall, Nov 24th, 2012 @ 8:31pm

    Re: Mobile Netflix

    Yeah I can't believe it. I work graveyard, so I was watching netflix for about 4 hrs and all my 10 gbs were gone. You see this is how they are ripping customers off. I already upgraded my plan like 3 times already, and yet I keep crashing and I have to wait like 3 weeks so it will start over...wtf. Then I called them threating to sue, and now they say it is cheaper, with an unlimited data plan..... So all these months they have been ripping me off.

     

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

  293.  
    identicon
    meh, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 1:10am

    Re: wrong

    no, 1024 bytes = 1 kilobyte. 1024 kilobytes = 1MB and 1,024MB = 1GB

     

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

  294.  
    identicon
    Erin Schaffer, Dec 1st, 2012 @ 5:18pm

    Re: sonic.net

    The problem is that some can get away with it. I live in the middle of Missouri and besides an unlimited DSL that connects on a good day 1.5 - but consistently at below 1 (horrible service and customer service may I add)....everyone else has these caps. So go with ....crappy or ??? crappy!

    They win!

    Hard to have a business that relies on uploading when you have limited service.

     

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

  295.  
    identicon
    Dustin Lee, Dec 25th, 2012 @ 5:52pm

    Does my browser have to open to use MBs? Or do I have to sever my wifi connection?

     

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

  296.  
    identicon
    sean, Jan 9th, 2013 @ 2:34pm

    scam protection

    There are many scams in the world. Send me £200 and i will tell you how you can avoid them.

     

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

  297.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2013 @ 11:32am

    Re:

    1024 Bytes is Kilobyte;
    1024 Kilobytes is actually a Magabyte;
    (1024*1024 Bytes = 1048576 Bytes = 1 MB).

     

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

  298.  
    identicon
    Tototh, Feb 8th, 2013 @ 5:37pm

    In other countries...

    It seems like there are 2 arguments here:

    1. Whether CAPs actually reduce congestion on the internet (which it kinda reads like it does in a secondary manner: ie. People fear overusing internet -> People don't go online as much -> traffic during peak times slows down)

    2. Whether CAPs are the best way to solve the problem.

    In South Korea, there are a lot of unlimited data plans, but all the 4G versions give a data cap on the 4G, and slow down to 3G speeds.
    Granted, there are fewer people in South Korea in total, but the average consumption of bandwidth should be much higher per person. (Plus much smaller space for towers, which probably means more users per tower)

    I mean, I don't care if my internet speeds slow down a bit, I just need reliable access (since I'm not paying too many games, and I'm ok with letting streams finish downloading themselves in the background while I'm doing something.

    So if they just slow down my speed a bit during peak hours, but don't force me to nitpick every update for every app I download, does that really destroy the economy?

     

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

  299.  
    identicon
    Michael, Mar 21st, 2013 @ 11:38pm

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:33pm

     

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

  300.  
    identicon
    Michael, Mar 21st, 2013 @ 11:43pm

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Apr 16th, 2012 @ 12:33pm

    Since you want to get technical, a MB is not 1024 bytes. That would be a kilobyte. A megabyte is 1,024,576 bytes.

     

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

  301.  
    identicon
    animan425, Oct 19th, 2013 @ 10:06pm

    Large Video-files

    I have a legitimate paid-for subscription to a website that offers large video-file downloads of 1 - 3 gb and yet I am constantly being "throttled" by Verizon and am unable to make downloads because either the files are too large or I have already gone over my limit for the week or month. The very worse aspect of the data-cap limits that Verizon is forcing on me is the fact that with video-files like this one never really knows what they are getting until they are downloaded. Even if the video-files are corrupt and will not play, the data counts against one's limit, which is exactly what just happened to me.

    Apparently, i reached my limit on the last download, and the dang thing would not play. I tried making another download and the dang thing is being throttled so badly that it won't download in less than 12 hours. And this is NOT a high-traffic hour; it is 1 am in the morning! I mean -- I have a legitimate subscription that I paid for and Verizon won't let me make downloads! UHHHGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

     

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

  302.  
    identicon
    Anon, Dec 12th, 2013 @ 10:12am

    Re:

    Did you mean that a megabyte is 1024 kilobytes? The mega prefix is used for a million.

     

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

  303.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Hero, Dec 29th, 2013 @ 7:31am

    Re: Size of Megabyte

    a megabyte is actually 1024*1024 but is sold as 1000*1000 or less. You're referring to a kilobyte.

     

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


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