Optimum Online Wants To Ban File Trading
from the biting-the-hand-that-feeds-it dept
John submitted this story about Cablevision’s Optimum Online broadband internet access service sending out emails to subscribers telling them they may get in trouble for using various file sharing services. Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with using a file sharing service (there are legitimate uses for them, after all), but it seems that the entertainment industry has gotten to Cablevision. Their reasoning is that it violates the end user agreement saying that customers can’t use their connections to run a “server”, and that technically these file sharing systems turn computers into servers. What Cablevision seems to be missing is that one of the bigger drivers that made people sign up with them in the first place was the ability to use file sharing systems. Blocking that just means customers are likely to look for broadband providers that are friendlier to those sorts of uses. It seems like something of a bait-and-switch to advertise all the benefits of higher speed access, and then send your customers a letter saying “yes, well, we didn’t mean you could actually use all that bandwidth we’re providing you…”. All this does is open up the opportunity for a broadband provider who is friendly to people who want to actually use the bandwidth they’re being offered.
Comments on “Optimum Online Wants To Ban File Trading”
Is peer-to-peer a
Well, yes. Does it violate terms of service? Depends, but in the case of cable broadband, probably. As I understand it, cable broadband as currently available is inherently asymmetric — lots of downstream bandwidth, less upstream. If my comprehension is correct, then things don’t work well if you have more nearly symmetric demand (unless it’s within the bounds of the slower side), so there might even be a technical justification for a policy decision. (And as geeks, isn’t that what we want — policies that recognize technical reality?) Saying it shouldn’t be that way is well and good, but doesn’t change the technology. Don’t like it? Find a different provider (with different policies or different technology, depending on where the problem lies) or convince your current provider to change.
It's a problem with perception
The broadband sellers are under the mistaken impression that people are buying broadband so they can read their e-mail and surf the web faster. They don’t assume that everyone will buy it, turn their file-sharing software on and leave it running 24/7.
They (the broadband sellers) don’t usually buy enough bandwidth to cover all of their users being active at one time, just like the phone company doesn’t have enough switches/connections for every person in your town to pick up their phones at once and try to talk. They assume that X% of their users will be using bandwidth at any time (for a dial-up ISP, that used to be around 5%) and buy enough bandwidth (or phone lines in the case of a dial-up) to cover that percentage. When more and more people start staying online indefinately the providers have to buy more and more bandwidth to cover, and eventually they hit a saturation point where they can’t buy more bandwidth without it costing them more then they’re taking in.
The only way to increase revenue is to either sell their already oversaturated service to more people, reduce the amount of usage by their current users or raise rates. We’ve seen many ISPs wanting to charge their big users more money, and now we see them wanting to make people use less bandwidth.
I use P2P file sharing at home, I log in, find what I want, download it and then disconnect. I would never think to leave it running 24/7 even though my ISP allows me to run a server, just because I respect my ISP and I enjoy the low rates, I don’t want to drive them out of business (although since I use DirecTV DSL, they went out of business without my help).
If more and more people would respect their bandwidth and use it appropriately instead of assuming that they’re entitled to 24/7 max up/max down on their bandwidth we’d have more ISPs able to stay alive and keep their rates down. Instead, as long as people continue to be greedy and continue to abuse their bandwidth priveleges, we’ll have more and more companies going under, less competition, higher rates and (I predict) bandwidth restrictions allowing so many MB/GB per day/week/month. Just wait and see.