Cable Industry Finally Admits That Data Caps Have Nothing To Do With Congestion

from the of-course-not dept

For years, the key rationale given by broadband providers for implementing data caps was that it was the only way they could deal with "congestion." Of course, for years, independent researchers showed that this was bogus, and there was no data crunch coming. If you actually caught a technologist from a broadband provider, rather than a business person or lobbyist, they'd quietly admit that there was no congestion problem, and that basic upgrades and network maintenance could easily deal with the growth in usage. But, of course, that took away the broadband providers' chief reason for crying about how they "need" data caps. The reality, of course, is that data caps are all about increasing revenue for broadband providers -- in a market that is already quite profitable. But if they can hide behind the claims that they need to do this to deal with congestion, they can justify it to regulators and (they hope) the public.

Of course, enough people have been calling this explanation out as completely bogus that it appears that even the broadband companies' own lobbyists may finally be dropping this line of reasoning. Former FCC boss Michael Powell, who is now the cable industry's chief lobbyist (president of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association -- NCTA), has finally admitted caps aren't about congestion:
Michael Powell told a Minority Media and Telecommunications Association audience that cable's interest in usage-based pricing was not principally about network congestion, but instead about pricing fairness...Asked by MMTC president David Honig to weigh in on data caps, Powell said that while a lot of people had tried to label the cable industry's interest in the issue as about congestion management. "That's wrong," he said. "Our principal purpose is how to fairly monetize a high fixed cost."
Of course, as Broadband Reports notes, Powell is jumping from one myth (congestion) to another (fairness) that is just as ridiculous. If it was true, we'd see at least some prices going down. But we don't.
Except the argument that usaged pricing is about fairness has been just as repeatedly debunked. If usage caps were about "fairness," carriers would offer the nation's grandmothers a $5-$15 a month tier that accurately reflected her twice weekly, several megabyte browsing of the Weather Channel website. Instead, what we most often see are low caps and high overages layered on top of already high existing flat rate pricing, raising rates for all users. Does raising rates on a product that already sees 90% profit margins sound like "fairness" to you?
Data caps are about one thing only: increasing profits for the broadband providers, who already have massive control over the market with limited competition. It's nice to see them give up on one myth (even if we still see pundits repeating it without criticism), but it would be nice if we could get past the others as well.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Ninja (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 5:38am

    If i were the owner of a isp I'd offer different tiers for the same pipe. For instance, if you wanted unlimited access you'd pay X. If you wasn't the type that had a heavy usage at peak times you'd get a nice discount in exchange for a reduced pipe during the peak. Or you can pay a premium to have an extra speed for when you are downloading that 10Gb 1080p movie.

    Other than that my network would be set up to deal with the entirety of the bw needed at peak times and if people wanted to keep their subscribed bw maxed 24/7 then so be it.

    Also, PLEASE could you freaking ISPs give us more upload speed? You know, kind of sucks to have over 10mbit and still upload at 1mbit max when you have increasingly larger videos and files to sync with your cloud drive.

     

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      Rikuo (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 7:31am

      Re:

      Ditto about the shit upload speeds. My own is 56kbps, and after talking with the ISP, the max I could potentially get is just double that. Completely eliminates the plan I once had for livestreaming gameplay footage.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 7:49am

        Re: Re:

        The limited upload speed is due to ISPs considering the Internet to be a client server system, rather than a peer to peer system. Limited upload, and dynamic IP addresses make it difficult for people to run their own servers.
        If it was much easier to run private servers, and use federation to spread the load, it would be much harder to censor the Internet.

         

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          Rikuo (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 7:57am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Exactly. For years, we were the people receiving internet data and generally not actually creating or doing anything of our own. In comes Web 2.0, and suddenly everyone's creating. But our basic ability to share what we're doing is still hampered. Hell, anytime I shoot 720p footage with my DSLR, I have to leave my computer on overnight for it to upload to Youtube.

           

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            Spencer, Dec 19th, 2013 @ 10:17am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You should encode / convert your footage using an H.264 codec after shooting if you are going to upload to youtube. Uploading footage straight from the camera will take forever. You should see about 1000% reduction in upload time.

             

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          Rich, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 7:57am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Actually, a lot of it has to do with systems not originally designed for uploading (e.g., cable, satellite). I've read some interesting technical papers on the work done to improve upload speeds on cable networks. (Not that I am trying to defend the cable industry. I certainly am not.).

           

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            shane (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 8:06am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Well, but what I mean is, a: they designed it that way on purpose and b: if all speed caps are pretty bogus, that would apply to upload and download.

            Is there some documentation anywhere on this? For the lazy such as myself? I just googled but help is always appreciated.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 9:22am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              They designed cable and ADSL (Asymmetrical DSL) that way on purpose. More channels are used for download than upload. It didn't originally have much to do with servers though. Servers were not really a thought at the time. It was more about how can we get more download speed to our customers because that is what they used the most of, so upload was sacrificed. SDSL for example, while offering much better upload speeds than ADSL, offers far slower download speeds. At the time these technologies were created, we didn't have online backup. We didn't often upload files to the internet except maybe email attachments. It doesn't take much upload for TCP connection to work, so there was no need to offer it.

              They have since begun bonding channels on cable to increase upload speed. DSL can use Annex M, but few companies in the US consider it worth the effort. VDSL2 can push out some nice upload speeds, as obviously can fiber.

               

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                shane (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 1:32pm

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

                We didn't have online backup, but rather shortly we had peer to peer, which benefits just as much from upload speeds matching download speeds. They attacked that despite no intrinsic fault, and indeed despite the fact that it distributes cost and eliminates single points of failure in a dramatically superior way to "cloud services", precisely because they knew they could not make a heck of a lot of money on people doing it all themselves on their home computers.

                I am old enough to remember people complaining about this almost from the get go. It wasn't an accident.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 3:17pm

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

                  P2P didn't become popular until long after ADSL and cable entered the market. The newer standards are just built upon the older ones. As much as ISPs hated P2P, they didn't design these standards with that in mind.

                  Now Fiber is fully capable of being symmetrical. Yet it most often is not. That is partly intentional to combat servers. Although even companies that offer symmetrical, specifically Google Fiber, do not allow servers. Go figure.

                   

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                    shane (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 9:40am

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

                    I'd agree that it did not become popular until later, but its at least by 1993 that the technology was available, if not earlier, and I don't buy that the ISP's were totally unaware and did not design with limiting that in mind. Killing P2P applications on the web also seems to me to be part of a larger, business model oriented scheme that goes hand in hand with the widening scope of IP law.

                     

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              Charles, Dec 18th, 2013 @ 9:05pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              It is, take your upload speed and your download speed (bandwidth)and add them together and that's your true pipe. How they decided to split that pipe is totally up to them.

               

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            Icarus, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 7:42am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Satellite, I understand is not designed for upload. Cable. I'm not so sure. It's copper wiring just like an ethernet cable. Why would a cable network be bad for uploading?

             

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            neil, Aug 28th, 2013 @ 6:44am

            > Actually, a lot of it has to do with systems not originally designed for uploading (e.g., cable, satellite)

            Cable systems might have 30 or 40 MHz of upstream bandwidth, vs. 700 MHz of downstream bandwidth (including 500 channels of mindless television). Like the article tried to say, internet-cable congestion (which is most likely to occur on the narrow upstream) - can be remedied by "basic upgrades and network maintenance [which] could easily deal with the growth in usage.". That maintenance would include installing additional fiber-nodes in upstream-congested areas (the afore mentioned "system-maintenance"), which would reduce the traffic by half for each node, ad infinitum, as necessary. I wish the article stated more clearly that the caps are an industry strategy that keeps them from having to perform such maintenance. With 90% profits, the imbalance is palpable.

             

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            Lynex, Dec 18th, 2013 @ 6:47pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Yet, I work with connections every day at 100/50Mbit Down/Up on Cable and the best I've ever seen a DSL line go is 9/3 and thats only because it was less than 2000 feet from the local CO.

             

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:25am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The vast majority of users are 90% download, 10% upload. Market forces dictate that technology caters to what the majority requires. If we were to switch to a tech that gave 5Mb/5Mb, all it would do is result in complaints from the vast majority of people who have no need for 5Mb upload, but download much more than that - ie. all your netflix users, youtube users, hulu/iplayer users, bittorrenters etc etc.

          Also, this is limited by technology - your physical link to your ISP has a finite amount of spectrum. If you have 10Mb down and 1Mb up, in order to get 10Mb up, you'd have to drop to 1Mb down. It has absolutely nothing to do with 'censorship' and more with the laws of physics.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 11:54am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You're close, but you can't reverse the signal without giving the customer the ISP terminating device (CSLAM or DSLAM) which costs around $15,000. You can't just invert the signal without swapping the gear.

             

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            shane (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 1:33pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Thus the discussion of artificial caps................................................................................................ ..............................

            Apparently, all this supply and demand stuff has been garbage almost since its inception.

             

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 11:51am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Except upload speeds are limited by the technology used. Its easier to send a sign to a modem with a gigantic, high power CSLAM or DSLAM that costs around $15,000 a pop than is it to send a signal from a puny little $50-100 modem back. Download speeds are higher because the ISP device on the far end has the ability to sync at speeds higher in the customer-receiving direction. Most of what people do is in the download direction anyway, unless you use a file sharing service and upload stuff. If you want better upload, then you need a synchronous, high power device to pull it off.

           

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            shane (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 9:28am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            If it ever came to be that people's upload speed was limited more by their own hardware than by the cap, they could just start buying better and better hardware.

            This point strikes me as a red herring.

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2013 @ 5:37am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The consumer does not need a CSLAM or DSLAM for higher upoload speeds, just a sligtly better modem and a service configured to supprer higher upload speeds. The CSLAM and DSLAM device are multiplexers, containing multiple modems, one for each subscriber connected, and one for the backhaul. This aloong with industrial grade construction is what makes these devices expensive.

             

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          Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2013 @ 4:50pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Actually its to squeeze more users into a single pipe. For instance if you have a sync 10m up and down, you can fit 5 users on a 100m connection. With a async 10m dn/ 1m up connections, you can fit 9. On a gig connection your talking 50 users vs 99 users. Its not a conspiracy to censor the net, its just about providers getting the most bang for their buck with network costs. As most personal users don't need high-speed uploads to surf the net, it works for a majority of home users.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 7:40am

      Re:

      the reason that doenst work is because the actual bandwidth is the cheapest part of the equation. youre trying to monetize the free while ignoring the fixed costs.

      actually maintaining the lines is far more expensive than paying for the bandwidth to travel across them.

      of course, this is what they all want to do anyways, because its extremely lucrative to charge more for what doesnt cost anything at all.

       

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        Ninja (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 9:13am

        Re: Re:

        But that's precisely what I'm talking about. It's the size of the pipe that matters not how much data goes through. That's why I'd cap the MAX SPEED for those who would be willing to go with less at peak times. I may have expressed myself in a not so clear way, my bad.

         

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      Mr. Applegate, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 9:40am

      Re:

      You do realize that uploads speeds on many types of networks actually are lower due to technical restrictions right?

      For instance for cable service using DOCSIS 3.0 the Max speed per channel in the US is for 42.88 Mbps/per channel for Download and for Upload is only 30.72 Mbps/per channel.

      DOCIS 3.0 allows up to 8 download channels per node, but only 4 upload channels per node. That puts throughput per node at 343.04Mbps Down and 122.88 Mbps Up.

      Additionally cable providers may choose to use fewer upload (or download) channels so that they can provide more HD content, such as On Demand programming, but they will normally use 8 (or more) download channels to provide the best experience for the majority of users.

      So there are actual technical reasons why your upload speed is restricted.

      Because the majority of users don't need a lot of upload bandwidth it would make since to have a fixed rate for download (always at max available speed) and tiered pricing for upload speed increases. Say 2Mbps, 5Mbps and 10Mbps, that way you are paying for what is the choke point on the network.

      Also in support of not charging a premium for download speed, most major ISP's have caching to prevent having to actually fetch pages off the internet, instead they fetch a cached copy off their own network. Many streaming services such as Netflix, Akamai... have equipment located at the ISP so that content only has to travel the last mile and not across the globe.

      Just something to consider.

       

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        John Fenderson (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 9:57am

        Re: Re:

        But these technical reasons were intentional design decisions, not some kind of inescapable limitation. Your example of balancing the needs of internet users and cable TV users over the same pipe is a perfect example.

        I couldn't care less about cable television, and would go to an internet-only provider in a heartbeat if that were an option. In my area, anyway, it's not.

        I do wish it were possible to get real broadband without having to concede anything to cable television usage. Real upload speeds, no need to have a basic cable TV package I never use, etc. It would be great.

         

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          Mr. Applegate, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 11:29am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "But these technical reasons were intentional design decisions, not some kind of inescapable limitation. "

          Well yes and no.

          Yes, DOCSIS is an international telecommunications standard, and design considerations do of course tend to favor the industries they serve.

          No, because many of the design limitations are required by technical limitations of the existing infrastructure. For cable systems, think of it like this. You are in a huge auditorium and there is one mic at a podium and a PA system. The Downstream bandwidth is like being at the podium and using the PA, it is easy for everyone to hear what is said. The upstream is like being out in the audience and shouting a question. It can be hard for the presenter to hear and nearly impossible if too many are yelling at once. Could those limitations be overcome, certainly, but not with the existing infrastructure. You would have to give everyone access to the same PA as the presenter, and then you are still limiting how many can effectively talk at once.

          If AT&T were smart they would rip out every bit of copper and install fiber to every home, they could then compete directly with cable and offer many additional services as well. What they chose to do with UVerse was leave the copper for the last mile and set up nodes connected via fiber for the backhaul. This means that they are still constrained by the limitations of twisted pair copper. It also means that they only choose to serve densely populated areas where they can get the highest return on investment.

          "I do wish it were possible to get real broadband without having to concede anything to cable television usage. Real upload speeds, no need to have a basic cable TV package I never use, etc. It would be great."

          I too would love to be able to get internet only and have many options where I live. But that is not likely to happen unless the government mandates sharing of the infrastructure and allows competition. If they don't mandate the sharing of the infrastructure there is no way to compete with the existing monopoly, the startup cost simply kill any incentive that there might be.

          Satellite can compete with cable ONLY because they don't need to build out infrastructure in each location. AT&T can only competes by leveraging its existing infrastructure. The reason is share holders only care about the next dividend and even though fiber to the home would be a slam dunk for AT&T long term, the short term pain would cause investors to flee. See Verizon for details, they tried it and abandoned the idea.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 12:25pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            At&t does have some FTTH, but almost exclusively in new construction. The VDSL/VDSL2 used in U-Verse isn't all that bad. They plan to launch 75Mbps service this year. At&t is just too cheap to run fiber. Even the few fiber customers they have can't get over 18Mbps most of the time.

             

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 3:26pm

        Re: Re:

        If I didn't know better (and I was a lawyer looking to make a fast buck), I would say that you just implicated all ISP's in 'copyright infringement' via storing a 'cached' copy that they can cash in on....

        Bazingaa...

         

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      Bengie, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 11:32am

      Re:

      The hardware required to allow packet shaping like that would be more expensive that just letting everyone have uncapped transfers for their allotted speeds.

       

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      kit, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 3:51pm

      Response to: Ninja on Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 5:38am

      That's a terrible idea. That limits free and unrestricted access to something that has become the centerpiece of modern society, so that less people--more wealthy people--could afford it. That idea is almost worse than current data caps.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 4:50pm

      Re:

      The upload rate is generally 10% of the download rate to discourage running servers from home. They'd prefer you purchase their "business" tiers in order to do that. Ironically, their business tiers are usually just as bad unless you want to pay a few thousand a month for a trunk.

       

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      winstongator, Dec 18th, 2013 @ 3:32pm

      Re: Upload Speeds

      Upload speeds are somewhat limited by physical bandwidth. DOCSIS 3.0 can use 5-85 MHz a huge upgrade from DOCSIS 2 which only had 5-42 MHz. DOCSIS 3.1, in development, will push the upper limit to 200 MHz and potentially above that. You'll get 2.5 X the physical bandwidth, plus an upgraded protocol, which should give much higher top-end upload speeds.

      I'm working on components for DOCSIS 3.1 systems.

       

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      breakerone9r, Dec 18th, 2013 @ 5:53pm

      Re:

      TBH, the reason that upload speeds haven't risen is exactly because download speeds have. The technology exists for faster upload speeds. At the cost of faster download speeds. The frequencies used for uploads are much fewer than the ones for download speeds over copper wire.

      Now, once fiber optics are run to more homes, you will likely see an increase in upload speeds.

      Problem is, most ISPs don't see the need for fiber yet, but they're slowly doing it anyway.

      Most cable companies are already fiber to the neighborhood, and so are most DSL/phone companies. That last few thousand feet is where the vast majority of bottleneck is.

       

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      Frost, Dec 19th, 2013 @ 8:44am

      Response to: Ninja on Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 5:38am

      I am the technology manager for a smallish ISP. I like your thinking but here's why it won't work.

      1. Having the bandwidth available for every user to max their connection is not economically feasible. Wholesale bandwidth raw costs are about a buck a meg. That's before we pay to get the bandwidth to your house which can add about 5-10 bucks easily. So that 20 meg home connection has a wholesale cost to the ISP of about $25. Now we have to pay for staff. Network hardware etc etc etc. this is why we use oversell. Generally we oversell by 6-20. Some providers do more.

      Regarding upload; it's available. Traditional technologies like DSL and cable aren't designed for symmetry because most users are downloading. That usage pattern is changing though. So many providers ( my company included) have begun to offer service that runs more to the symmetrical. We offer 30x30 for 99/month right now.

       

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    Greevar (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 7:39am

    Caps are like

    speed limits when every car has its own exclusive lane, pointless.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 8:36am

      Re: Caps are like

      You don't have exclusive lanes on cable internet nor truly for DSL for that matter.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 11:58am

        Re: Re: Caps are like

        Cable, no. Everyone shares available bandwidth to the nearest point they have a backhaul setup. DSL is dedicated up to the DSLAM on the ISP side. Then its a shared channel for the ISP's office backhaul.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 12:27pm

          Re: Re: Re: Caps are like

          And the DSLAM is where the problems all occur. CenturyLink and Windstream have horrible congestion problems at the DSLAM. They are still feeding many of the DSLAMs with multiple T1's and in some small markets, single T1's.

           

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      peppertherj (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 11:50am

      Re: Caps are like

      I think it's more like the car company telling you that you can only fill your tank once a month and making you responsible for the tow bill when you run out of gas. Even worse, the tools to see how much data you've used (the proverbial gas gauge) are embedded in some website that you have to visit and log in to in order to see it. It's like hiding the gas gauge under the hood of the car. If it's not immediately accessible, how can I keep an eye on it?

       

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      Zarggg, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 1:17pm

      Re: Caps are like

      Bandwidth caps aren't speed limits on the road. They're speed governors on the car.

       

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    shane (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 8:02am

    Total Internet Solution

    I was actually not aware that this claim was totally bogus, and am left more concerned than ever that the "cloud" is really nothing but the centralized response to the continued harassment of peer to peer technology that lets people just share information and services on the net without recourse to large corporate based services.

    I have always been miffed at the upload cap, as it is the primary reason a good web site needs to be hosted anywhere other than in your home and maybe a friend's house for backup.

     

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    Spike (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 8:12am

    cord cutters

    Theres also the other obvious elephant in the room... Cable providers want to sell TV services and milk those all they can, and as of late, many people are cutting the cord for over the internet TV services... see the problem? Caps hamper peoples ability to do this.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 8:24am

    Hey, if we get milk more money from you that sounds fair to us!

     

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    SJ, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 8:27am

    Eastern Europe

    Well, in Eastern Europe in urban areas 100mbit and in some places 1gbit is the normal thing. I think it's even symmetrical... I wish I had 10mbit symmetrical here :(

     

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    Orin, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 8:30am

    The root problem is lack of COMPETITION in U.S. Markets.

    Local politicians restrict the number of ISP's to one or two major providers.... thru needless licensing/regulation rules. Result is a monopoly or semi-monopoly in local hi-speed internet markets.

    Monopoly markets = monopoly pricing

    ISP's charge what the market will bear. You would do the same thing in their position. It's basic economics -- except that politicians forcibly change the voluntary market system to favor some ISP's -- and harm consumers.

    Open up the internet markets to real competition.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 8:44am

      Re:

      Even in markets where there are 3 or more ISPs, the end result really is not much different. The speeds are similar to those markets with 2 or less operators unless you have a company truly dedicated to bringing fast internet to the area, such as a muni. I can think of a variety of small markets with only 1 ISP, but speeds in excess of those with 3 or more. It is not the lack of competition (in number of ISPs) that causes our main problems. It is the lack of companies willing to be competitive.

       

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        Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 12:38pm

        Re: Re:

        We, in Pittsburgh, have at least 6 ISPs (not counting Dial-up or satellite providers). The fastest connection is 300mb/s down and 75mb/s up. I currently have 75mb/s down and 35mb/s up. I can, if I so choose, pay less and get a (slower) business class connection to my house.

        When Comcast implemented their 250G/m cap (and back when I had Comcast), they never enforced it here (and I tried to get them to cancel my service). There are just too many alternatives.

         

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      shane (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 9:37am

      Re:

      I like the sound of this, but its kind of inescapable that SOMEONE somewhere has to lay the cable, and that group is going to want the lion's share of the profits from said cable.

      Is this something that should be a public service, like roads? Or what exactly is your proposed set of regulations to do away with?

      I have to admit to a great lack of information in this area.

       

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        John Fenderson (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 9:59am

        Re: Re:

        Is this something that should be a public service, like roads?


        I believe so, yes. This is exactly the sort of thing that should be a public work, and the infrastructure made available for use by all. The result would be real competition in the ISP world.

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:34am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Publicly owned network infrastructure... that rings of extreme lack of privacy. The Feds are not satisfied with warrantless wire tapping. A public network would quickly become their wiretapping dream world.

           

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          •  
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            John Fenderson (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:40am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It would be no different than it is now. The government currently "taps" the majority of internet traffic.

             

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            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 12:31pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The government only has access to certain data. They would have access to all data.

               

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              •  
                identicon
                Mr. Applegate, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 12:37pm

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

                Cite please!

                I think you would be very surprised at what data the government has access too.

                Of course there is a very easy solution encrypt all connections end to end, that makes it much harder (not impossible) for people to listen in.

                 

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                John Fenderson (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 4:07pm

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

                The government has access to, according to the conservative estimates, about 70% of all internet traffic through the taps they've installed in just the AT&T owned switches alone.

                That's just what we know about. It's not unreasonable to assume the real figure is higher -- probably approaching 100% of all traffic flowing through the backbone in the US.

                 

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 11:06am

          Re: Re: Re:

          How would a government monopoly on the infrastructure result in "real competition?"

           

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          •  
            identicon
            Mr. Applegate, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 12:47pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The government would then lease the use of the infrastructure to companies wanting to provide service. In other words the government fronts the build out costs.

            This eliminates the number one problem for new providers, the cost of the infrastructure to provide the service. However, it introduces several other problems.

            Personally, I think the government should not be involved in covering the cost only in mandating that the company that builds a system must lease (share) it to competitors for reasonable rates. That way you get true competition without taxes going sky high to pay for the build out.

             

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          •  
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            shane (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 6:09pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Currently we have a private monopoly on the infrastructure which leaves no competition for the service.

            With a public infrastructure, people compete for the business of providing the service. It's the same general principle as having public roads, and different trucking companies competing for the shipping business.

            Of course, there are downsides as well. That's why I am asking for different input. I'm especially leery of technological government ownership because I am not sure why anyone would work on improving it then, and there is definitely a hardware aspect to better service here. Or well, in my opinion.

             

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          identicon
          breakerone9r, Dec 18th, 2013 @ 6:00pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Genius! Let's eliminate the -rest- of the competition! That'll CERTAINLY help lower prices!

          In case the sarcasm is lost on you, go into your poorest neighborhood in your closest city.

          Go look at the roads and their condition.. Now.. go to the richest neighborhood and look at the condition of -THEIR- roads.

          Then reflect on that, and then contemplate the fact that when the government is providing your internet service, then that means they control the flow of your information..

          Consider those two things.. and get back to me, Mkay?

           

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    •  
      identicon
      Davey, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 5:06pm

      Re:

      A market is a market. A monopoly is a monopoly, not a market. So they're not charging what the market will bear -- they're charging a toll for a bridge they never should have been allowed to own.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Ty, Dec 18th, 2013 @ 4:12pm

      Response to: Orin on Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 8:30am

      No, actually I wouldn't do that if I were in their position. As the article notes, it's already an incredibly profitable industry.

      Not everyone is selfish to the point of sociopathy, despite what adherents to classical economics would have you believe.

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 8:31am

    it wouldn't be quite so bad either if the extortionately high fees that the providers are conning out of customers were ploughed back into the service being provided. sadly, that is as big a myth as the data caps!

     

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    JWW (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 8:34am

    This will cost us

    There will come a time when the total backwardsness of the US ISPs is going to cost us any and all technological edge we think we may have.

    When other countries have 10x the bandwidth we have for 1/10th the price, they will technologically innovate while we will stand still.

    It is time for the FCC to drop the hammer on ISPs and make caps, throttling, filtering, and monitoring illegal. Its way past time that the internet be declared a common carrier network. But of course the FCC has be regulatory captured and refuses to serve the public like its supposed to.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 8:38am

    Caps

    Caps on cable internet may be pointless. This doesn't mean caps in general are pointless. Caps on satellite internet remain absolutely necessary. While no doubt too low, if the caps were to be eliminated the satellites would be filled to max capacity in no time.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 8:55am

      Re: Caps

      Data caps are largely pointless as they do nothing to spread the demand for capacity out over time. The provision of streaming services, which do not allow download also cause bandwidth problems.
      The problem is not the total amount of data a connection consumes, but having many connections trying to consume data at the same time. To illustrate, 10 hours of video download spread over 10 hours demands much less bandwidth than 10 1 hour videos downloaded at the same time.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 9:00am

        Re: Re: Caps

        True. Although the caps on satellite are so small that they essentially prevent people from using streaming services or downloading large files. In that sense, they are very successful. To the point where it makes the connection near worthless.

        Caps can be successfully implemented. However I don't think it is right to use them.

         

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        AdamF (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 9:04am

        Re: Re: Caps

        Caps are very usefull for ISPs. They sell plans based on "peak" download speeds. Yet the sum of all "peak" speeds sold greatly exceeds the actual capacity of the network. So if everybody decides to pirate the new blockbuster at the same time (or just watch Netflix at HD), the ISP cannot deliver on their promise. It is like airlines overbooking flights. You are fine until everybody turns up. Data caps keep you off internet, reducing conflict. So with caps the ISP can sell more "high" speed plans.

         

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 9:35am

          Re: Re: Re: Caps

          Data caps that you don't see, and can't guage when you're close to the cap doesn't keep people offline. Rather the artificially high prices that are a result of ISPs screaming about congestion keeps people offline.

          Besides that the premise of the article here is that there is no technical reason to have the caps in the first place.

           

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 9:43am

          Re: Re: Re: Caps

          Not really though. Caps keep me from doing things I would normally do overnight or while at work, cloud back-ups, downloading from steam ect. Caps do nothing to stop me from using my internet in peak hours, when everyone else in the neighborhood is using it too. I still watch TV (TV is usually on the same pipe these days) or game after work, I just don't move as much data overnight.

          So hooray, my whole neighborhood is still online from 5-10 pm but now almost no one is online from 12-4am but I can't use that empty highway because datacaps.

          If they had tiered pricing based on peak/off hours that would help distribute load and keep the local network from getting jammed up, but people would also hate it because those hours are peak for a reason.

          Datacaps do nothing but make them extra money.

           

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

        •  
          identicon
          fred, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 12:05pm

          Re: Re: Re: Caps

          No because its not like booking airline seats. The cost of bandwidth goes down continuously because of advances in technology. Its not comparable to things like air travel at all. This is just an attempt by a company to limit usage so they don't have to upgrade their system, its basically collusion in a regulated monopoly to hobble peoples usage of internet so they can reap maximum profit. Basically they do not acknowledge that the cost is going down while the amount they charge stays the same or goes up, its quite a rigged system.

           

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

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    Keroberos (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 8:55am

    Data caps and overage charges are totally fair. Because how unfair would it be to all those bigwig ISP execs and lobbyists if they couldn't get massive raises every year.

     

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    AdamF (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 8:57am

    Any pricing of cable internet will be entirely arbitrary. The actual costs are almost entirely fixed and have nothing to do with the actual usage. ISPs behave like any "good" corporation should. Anything they say is just PR BS in their effort to squeeze as much money as possible out of existing infrastructure. And regulation will not help, only real competition will. Look at Canada if you need a proof. Here the owners of cable are common carriers and independent ISPs are free to offer internet access over that infrastructure. Yet the internet access still sucks. Common carriers can still charge any arbitrary amount to cover their "costs", they just charge the independent ISP first, who transfers the cost onto you.

     

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    •  
      icon
      shane (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 9:41am

      Re:

      That's exactly what I was thinking. Should the infrastructure be a public service? What are the risks of a lack of innovation in the matter of transmitting signal if that is done? Are there any?

      What I mean is, if the infrastructure is a public service, what incentive is there to improve it, do research toward better infrastructure, etc? Or is there a regulatory regime that can help mitigate this?

       

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

      •  
        icon
        AdamF (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 11:23am

        Re: Re:

        Public service may be good at maintaining existing infrastructure, but it very often fails to innovate. What might help would be regulation (even local) that makes it much easier and cheaper to enter the competition. Perhaps whenever you put anything into ground (water, waste, electricity, phone, ...) or repave a street, you would have to bury certain amount of fiber and then lease to highest bidder?

         

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:26am

    The only blame here lies with stockholders and Wall Street. Companies that trade on Wall Street are continuously pushed to increase revenue and profit quarter over quarter lest they be judged as failures, at which point their stock price declines. The easiest way for companies to increase revenue is to milk their existing customers. With data caps, all you are seeing is a retooling of the back-end billing strategy to churn out further revenue from their existing customers. This is why you see the flat base price remain stagnant as offering a lower "$5-15" tier would cannibalize existing revenue and offset the additional revenue they make off the data cap overages, resulting in flat growth in Wall Street's eyes. This is how all publicly-traded companies operate. You can clearly see that other industries (banking, airlines, etc) do this same thing by increasing fees on every little thing. VMware tried it by changing their licensing structure with their 5.x series products so existing customers paid more. They only reneged after their customers revolted and the company awoke to the fact that the impending loss in revenue from the customers threatening to look elsewhere would not be offset by the increased costs on those who remained. In the end, the problem clearly lies with Wall Street culture. Until that is fixed, every company will nickle-and-dime their existing customer base in an effort to fudge their revenue numbers higher and higher quarter over quarter. They are beholden to their stockholders.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:43am

    For the nerds here is something useful

    GNS3 - Graphical Network Simulator 3

    Great to show what is real and what is not, also great for learning the basics of network in the modern world.

    You can see how full of crap cable companies really are.

    You don't need to trust me, simulate their networks and see if I am lying about it :)

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:50am

    http://sourceforge.net/directory/os:linux/freshness:recently-updated/?q=network%20simulator

    Other tools for network simulation can be found on SourceForge.

    Spin-doctors are about to get slaughtered in public, this is a great day.

    People have the tools to show how full of shite these people really are.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    velox (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 11:17am

    More truthfully stated

    "Our principal purpose is how to fairly monetize a high fixed cost."
    That should actually read: "Our principal purpose is how to fairly maintain a high fixed price."

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 11:20am

    Google fiber, please come and put these jokers out of business.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 11:48am

    Still bullcrap. Bandwidth caps are about protecting the cable industry from online video. Its that simple.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Mr. Applegate, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 12:12pm

      Re:

      Except of course when the cap is put in place by a provider that is not a part of the cable industry.

      I would also note that Comcast suspended enforcement on its data caps last summer and has yet to re-instate them. That would seem to refute your assertion that "Bandwidth caps are about protecting the cable industry from online video. Its that simple"

      Yes, it is all about control, just not necessarily for the reason you stated.

       

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

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 12:29pm

        Re: Re:

        Comcast has never really actively enforced their caps. Even when it was supposedly in full swing many people went over the caps and little happened.

         

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

        •  
          identicon
          Mr. Applegate, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 12:55pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          This is true, though I do know a few people that got warnings (and subsequently lowered their usage).

           

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  •  
    identicon
    RAM, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 2:03pm

    Bandwidth

    I've long (like, since 1994) advocated for a packet meter, much like water meter or electric meter, for every user of the public Internet. As a true power user, I should pay more and grandmothers that get an occational email should pay way less. Fact is, the public Internet IS now really a utility, more so than telco phone service. A packet meter is the only fair way to go. Now, let's argue about how much per packet...

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Angry Voter, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 3:17pm

    You can't stockpile bandwidth

    You can't stockpile bandwidth - any not in use is lost forever.

    Blocking access is obstructionist and damages the US economy the same as the last person in the path of a freeway refusing to sell their land.

    All companies found guilty of withholding bandwidth should be turned into co-ops via eminent domain.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 3:40pm

      Re: You can't stockpile bandwidth

      Firstly, people shouldn't be forced to sell their land for any reason. Have you ever owned land that you worked years of your life paying off and been forced to sell it for a fraction of it's value? That happens everyday.

      Secondly, ISP's infrastructure is theirs to do with what they want. No one is entitled to it. The ISP paid for it. That's like saying if you are not using every room in your house you should be forced to let someone off the street live there.

       

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

      •  
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        shane (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 9:44am

        Re: Re: You can't stockpile bandwidth

        I would say that could be cured by doing away with the concept of private ownership of land. Land, as a resource no one ever created and one that is necessary for life itself, is not something we should be in the business of doling out to specific people. Land use needs to be largely communally governed.

        I do deeply sympathize though with the situation you describe. My only caveat is that you were the victim of a long tradition of attempting to assign ownership to something that simply cannot be fairly owned.

        Your own work, the fruits of your labor, and things you traded for are examples of things that are easily "personal property". But when you go to make something big enough that it obstructs other people's use of land, that begins to be something we all need to consult together about.

        Imminent domain is necessary in some cases to provide basic services. I do like it better though when they use easements rather than taking entire chunks of land though.

         

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    identicon
    alex, Jun 16th, 2013 @ 3:59pm

    US speeds are insanely low and overpriced because of monopoly. I still have a few buddys in russia - they have a 500 MBIT download and 300 MBIT upload internet for $30 a month.... lol. NO DATA CAPS. they can upload 10 GB file in like 5 minutes!

    if this was about fairness they would offer plans that starts with ZERO dollars a month and go up per GB used.

    for instance, if i use 1 GB per months - id only pay $5 a month or less

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Jason Grey, Jul 10th, 2013 @ 1:58am

    Comcast has never really actively enforced their caps

    Comcast has never really actively enforced their caps. Even when it was supposedly in full swing many people went over the caps and little happened.

     

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

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    identicon
    thecrud, Dec 18th, 2013 @ 1:28pm

    Cable

    They have abused their customers exactly the same way Blockbuster Video did and the result will be the very same mark my words.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Joe, Dec 18th, 2013 @ 3:57pm

    Google....

    I keep hearing how google's current high-bandwidth network roll out is not sustainable, but here you have idiots trying to justify less product for more price. It won't be a surprise when a similar competitor comes from the shadows and upends their business model entirely.

     

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    identicon
    quawonk, Dec 18th, 2013 @ 4:20pm

    If we had a justice system worth the name, one that actually favored the people rather than corporations, there would be swift, firm legislation outlawing this bullshit.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    snellalisa, Dec 25th, 2013 @ 11:39am

    caps

    I don't know why everyone Is talking Is talking bandwidth and fiber optics those are made for profit words. Everything runs through Your telephone line thats 75 yrs old.

     

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


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