Well, That's One Argument Against Metered Broadband

from the grasping-at-straws dept

There's been quite a bit of uproar over some ISPs' boneheaded plans to introduce broadband traffic caps and charge customers based on the amount of data that travels across their broadband connection. Already, the pushback against Time Warner's plans to expand its use of the caps has led another ISP, Frontier Communications, to reconsider its plans to introduce them, illustrating how competition could take care of this issue. Still, some politicians see it as a chance to wade in and drum up some publicity, such as a New York congressman, who (among other things) says the caps raise "broad and sweeping First Amendment issues." Erm, well, these caps aren't so impressive, but to imply they're unconstitutional seems like a bit of a stretch. But the rhetoric is -- unfortunately -- typical of politicians' positions on these issues. The rep says he'll take "a leadership role in stopping this outrageous, job killing initiative", which is nice and sure to grab some headlines in his hometown paper, but it ignores the real issue at play: a lack of true competition in the broadband market. Politicians jump on whatever hot internet issue pops up, whether it's these caps, or something like net neutrality, talking about the need for new laws and rules. If they'd do more to engender actual, meaningful competition in the broadband market, all of these issues would take care of themselves. But that doesn't make for nearly as great a sound bite, apparently.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Dana King, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 3:07pm

    Finally

    At least one politician is seeing how this could stop innovation.

    It is a shame that they are being allowed to put in plans like the wireless phone companies do, where you don't know your bill total until the end of the month, and then it is too late to go back. Not going to pay extra for bandwidth that they have for years pushed us to use, just to take it away and now charge us for.

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 3:10pm

    I am trying to figure out how people here could argue against an artist right to get paid for their work (if they so choose), but somehow think they have some sort of constitutional right to unlimited unternet bandwidth.

    toke, toke, pass it to the left.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 3:19pm

    Re:

    Often, it seems people who are acclimated to a particular subject will pull from some firsthand experience.

    Others lacking firsthand subject matter will often try to put themselves into the mindset of the subject matter they had in the past.

    Off the cuff suggestions such as "toke, toke, pass it to the left" should provide insight to Harold Hill's source of information.

    Bravo.

     

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

  4.  
    icon
    NIck (profile), Apr 8th, 2009 @ 3:24pm

    WH,

    No one here is supporting "constitutional right to unlimited internet bandwidth." I guess you missed the part where Mike says "unconstitutional seems like a bit of a stretch." The point is that dumb politicians are grandstanding, and it is on topics they are not even worthy of their opinion one way or the other because they are not informed enough.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Bennie Hill, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 3:24pm

    Re:

    Inquisitive minds want to know who you associate yourself with. Would you be so kind as to divulge us with a name of the person who sits on your right?

    Obviously, they are the one who sent you here on a wild goose chase.

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    TheStuipdOne, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 3:28pm

    Metered Broadband makes some sense

    Metered broadband, pay for what you use, would be good for some poeple. If you really just use it to check your email and read the news then you might just pay a small amount each month and still have nice high speed connections.

    Personally I'd avoid any metered plan because I do a lot of downloading

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    TPBer, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 3:32pm

    Time Warner is starting here soon..

    I live in between SA and Austin, with Time Warner as my provider. I cannot verify this as true but a co-worker's wife working for TWC says that June 1 this year they are going to cap ALL plans, with a per gig penalty above the limit.

    He said the rates would go up to $80/month for 250GB. It's only $35/month (part of a bundle) now for the turbo (10Mb) and that all current customers even those locked in as I am will be forced into this new pay scheme.

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Your Gawd and Master, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 3:43pm

    Re: Re:

    Don't fucking blame Weird Harold's behavior on marijuana; that's all him. I've smoked pot for over 20 years and don't have delusions like that.

    If you're a dick who smokes pot, it's very likely that you'd still be a dick if you didn't.

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    The infamous Joe, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 3:44pm

    Re: Finally

    I agree that I, too, can see a link between broadband caps and innovation, I don't think bringing in The Constitution will help anything. The real threat to innovation here is the lack of competition in the broadband market.

    As I've said before, the *true* cost of the data usage will come about only with a healthy market. If Warner wants to charge $80/month for 250GB/month, and it really only costs $45/month to break even regardless of a cap, you'd be safe assuming that the competition would see the negative reaction and push out uncapped access for $75/month, and wait as the flood of users to come in.

    Without competition, they can (and apparently will) fleece their customers for more and more without fear of losing them.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    JJ, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 3:56pm

    Re:

    I am trying to figure out how people here could argue against an artist right to get paid for their work (if they so choose), but somehow think they have some sort of constitutional right to unlimited unternet bandwidth.

    Keep figuring then, because that's basically the opposite of what was said. Reading comprehension is your friend... and it appears you have no friends.

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 4:01pm

    Re: Finally

    Could bait-and-switch laws be applicable here? IANAL, but they seem more applicable than this politician's First Amendment grandstanding.

    The real impetus for these caps is an intersection of two issues. First, the lack of significant broadband competition in most markets. Second, these caps are mostly coming from cable companies, which have a vested interest in wanting people to watch TV and movies on cable rather than downloading/streaming them (whether Bittorrent, Hulu, iTunes, or Netflix). The first point's been beaten to death by others, so I'll let it be.

    The problem with trying to cap bandwidth to limit piracy is that legitimate downloads of the same material won't be any smaller. Sure, the pirates are the ones with most of the bandwidth usage now. But as legitimate services take off, and people get more used to using them over cable/satellite TV, the rest of the users will approach the same bandwidth levels. And who benefits the most from slowing the uptake of online video services? The incumbent TV providers, i.e. the cable companies.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    The infamous Joe, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 4:11pm

    Re:

    I am trying to figure out how people here could argue against an artist right to get paid for their work (if they so choose)

    Still so confused, I see. An artist makes art. More specifically, a musician makes music. Furthermore, the mp3s on my iphone are not music, they are recordings of music. Who makes recordings of music? Why, the record industry.

    I am all for musicians getting paid for their work: making music. I, however, don't feel that recording of said music are worth purchasing, so I don't buy it. However, since I want to pay musicians for their work (making music) I need a way to determine with musicians to support. The only way I can do this is by listening to music they have once made, in the form of a recording. I'm sure even you can see the problem. I need to listen to their past music to know if I want to get out of my apartment, drive to their show, and pay them to make music for me.

    Think of it this way: When I go to see a musician play, I'm not paying them for music they made weeks ago, I'm paying them so they can go make *new* music. To know if my investment in their trade is a wise one, I need to know what their trade was like so far. (via recordings)

    It makes so much sense I can't understand how you don't get it.

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Erv Server, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 4:17pm

    the caps

    For those who depends on bandwidth for communication with family, work, entertainment, etc. the caps infringe on one's rights to all that

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 4:25pm

    What competition?

    The problem with bandwidth caps is the limited selection of providers for most of the country. You can choose your cable provider, or your telco. period. In most areas nobody else can put cable on the poles.

    I would love to see Condo arrangements for fiber in the last mile.

    Imagine a home owner with the option of buying dialtone, or internet at a local peering point. Suddenly it's economical to have quite a few service providers competing for that business. The owner just coordinates with the service provider and the condo management company for new service.

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 4:42pm

    Re:

    No, I didn't miss the point. I would say more that you missed mine. If this story is outrageous (and it is) why isn't Mike in the usual huff he is for things like artists actually wanting their rights respected?

    I think maybe because while he terms it a "bit of a stretch" he knows that forced uncapped bandwidth would play into his "FREE!" agenda. He probably just doesn't want this nutty politician to screw it up by asking for it too early or something.

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    Tealium MIke, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 4:47pm

    Have at it...

    I guarantee for every 1 excessive downloader there are 100 users that just use the net for email and basic surfing. If they choose to make it metered, then while users that are very active may see their rates go 2x, it has to be logical that users that don't download should see a reduction in cost, unless the ISP's can raise the bills on the big downloaders and leave the bills at the same level on the non-downloaders...

    Fine with me, as a result my parents, in-laws, sister, and aunt & uncle may notice an increase in remote connections coming into their homes, and I'll just distribute my downloads across all the connections and collect the data via a portable drive when I visit them...

    So suck it...

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 5:04pm

    Re: Have at it...

    ...and if you are that determined to download "infringing" stuff, I am sure you won't have an issue hacking on to your neighbor's wireless or perhaps spending your time in class running P2P on your school's network.

    It's amazing what people will do.

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Nathan, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 5:14pm

    Re:

    People here are not saying that we have a Constitution right to unlimited bandwidth. To the contrary, we have specifically said that the Congressman's claims don't hold much water. Just go away.

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 6:03pm

    Dumb politicians :p

    I don't know the cost to ISP with respect to internet usage.

    Do ISP's pay backbone provider according to bandwidth used?
    If yes, then I think metering is a good idea.

    In a way it indirectly takes care of piracy without trampling personal liberties.

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    The infamous Joe, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 6:06pm

    Re: Dumb politicians :p

    It also directly takes care of Hulu, Joost, Netflix, Pandora, Last.fm, iTunes, and a whole host of other perfectly legal high bandwidth activities.

    Talk about baby with the bath water.

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 6:16pm

    Re: Re: Dumb politicians :p

    Not at all - you want more, you pay for more. Not everything in life is a buffet.

    Want HBO on your TV? Is it free? Only if you are "borrowing" it. Want to watch hulu 24 hours a day on the internet? Well, you know the answer.

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    B.S.O.D., Apr 8th, 2009 @ 6:26pm

    Already Metered

    I live in rural area out of the reach of cable or DSL. My broadband choice is Hughes.net which ALREADY meters its customers - supposedly to prevent me from selling or sharing their signal to neighbors. Lame excuse. It stinks. I'm limited to 250mb per 24 hour period. A few minutes on YouTube and I'm over my limit. I don't know how they get away with this policy which they term Fair Usage Policy. It's anything but fair. If the cable people or Ma Bell tried this there'd be a huge outcry. I guess there aren't enough of us Hughes.net suckers to make a loud enough stink. Gee... I wonder WHY there's not enough Hughes.net customers?????????

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 6:26pm

    Hmmmmmm

    Will ISP customers continue to be happy - paying for the ads consuming their BW ?

    Probably not

    What will happen ?

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 6:40pm

    Re: Re: Dumb politicians :p

    If the price is reasonable I wouldn't mind ($1-5/GB range) paying that much money (water/electricity is metered but we do use it, but not waste it).

    Regarding file sharing: even it is paid I would share media with my friends and family. But I doubt I will be seeding torrent files helping those who I don't even know of.

    BTW, in a in a hypothetical scenario (due to metering reason) lets say you have to pay some money to share a song. WOuld you share it with strangers if cost is $0.01/song/sharing? $0.10/song/sharing?

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    The infamous Joe, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 7:03pm

    Re: Hmmmmmm

    That, my friend, is an excellent question.

    Thanks for the new point of view!

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    The infamous Joe, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 7:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Dumb politicians :p

    WOuld you share it with strangers if cost is $0.01/song/sharing? $0.10/song/sharing?

    That brings an excellent question to mind! Is this a cap on upload + download? If so, wouldn't sharing a song with a stranger cause them to be paid twice? I've always thought of it as a "download" cap.

    It's even worse from this point of view.

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 7:09pm

    Re: Hmmmmmm

    We already pay the cable company to watch the ads! You are not paying the content creator, just the bandwidth. It is your responsibility.


    There is an easy fix though. ISPs can educate their customers about firefox and ad blocking addons.

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    The infamous Joe, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 7:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Dumb politicians :p

    I personally have no issue with a capped system, as long as it's reasonably priced. Unfortunately, judging by my current bill, and the lack of real competition, I don't trust them to make it anything resembling reasonably priced.

    However, I was referring to the fact that some people say this is "to stop the pirates", and I was pointing out that there are plenty of completely legal ways to rack up that bandwidth.

     

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

  29.  
    identicon
    The infamous Joe, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 7:18pm

    Re: Re: Hmmmmmm

    MacAfee will come up with adblocking software and it will be "free for a year" with your subscription.

    :P

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 7:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Dumb politicians :p

    Phones already work that way (incall and outcall).

    Anyways for this discussion lets assume downloader and uploader split the cost.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 7:22pm

    Re: Already Metered

    "A few minutes on YouTube and I'm over my limit."

    Wow!!! you have a really fast connection! 100mbps!

     

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

  32.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 7:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Hmmmmmm

    The funny part being that ad blocking software runs on your machine, so you still downloaded the ads anyway - you just didn't see them, so no savings to be had there.

     

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

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 7:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmmmmmm

    The bandwidth hogging ads are flash or script based. In those cases the ad content is NOT downloaded (with browser integrated ad blockers).

     

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

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 9:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmmmmmm

    Never mind the Harold, it is just the noise in the system

     

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

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 9:29pm

    Re: Re:

    Because here he is pointing out the patently ridiculous instead of continuing to try and pound home that 'free' is NOT A BUSINESS MODEL unto itself despite trolls like you coming around and trying to make out that it is exactly what he's saying? Screw off, plebe.

     

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

  36.  
    identicon
    VlogHog, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 9:33pm

    Great article. Great discussion. Stumbled Up.
    I thought we were paying for use of broaadband. Raise the prices or got off the pot.

     

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

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 9:34pm

    Re: the caps

    You DO realize that you do not have a 'right' to telecommunications?

     

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

  38.  
    identicon
    Bob Frapples, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 10:01pm

    Re:

    The internet is not choking because people like me utilize 100% of the connection we're paying for. Why do we have the right to unlimited bandwidth? Grandfather clause sir. You can't provide a service with a certain round-the-clock bandwidth availability promised in an open-ended contract and then adjust the terms when you see fit to take away that service. That's called a bait and switch technique, and while it may not be unconstitutional it is certainly still illegal and considered a damning move for any company.

    Artists rights? Like people haven't been recording live tv or hbo or what-have-you for 30 years to get copies of movies they like or would like to see but don't really feel are necessarily worth cash up front sight unseen. Like people didn't record the radio for 20 years before mp3s. Music and movie sales have more than tripled in annual growth in the years since broadband became available to the household and the RIAA and MPAA should both take a few moments and recognize the fact that people that have been exposed to quality material for free are more likely to want to pay for that material in the future.

    Personally I went 25 years only buying roughly 20 albums and a dozen movies, but in this era of broadband file sharing I've downloaded thousands of episodes of tv shows and hundreds of movies and in turn have found reasons to go out and buy the box set to get the dvd commentaries now that I care about the show, or go out and get the movie because I like it so much and want a permanent copy.

    You and the thousands like you need to review facts and ask for actual proof of a problem before jumping on board with major corporations that are of the belief that less piracy equals more sales while in truth the moment they get their way they'll see sales figures plummet. I hope you wake up and realize you're not helping yourself or anyone else by pushing for more control and less freedom.

     

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

  39.  
    identicon
    ToySouljah, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 10:02pm

    Re: Time Warner is starting here soon..

    I'm in SA and have had Road Runner since 1999 and have rather enjoyed the unlimited deal and recently switched to their 22mbps connection, but if they decide to cap it then they will lose a long time customer. There are other options that are not nearly as fast, but at least they will be unlimited. Sucks that I might have to leave, but oh well hopefully they will see people leaving and change their minds or leave us under a grand daddy clause to retain some people.

     

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

  40.  
    identicon
    dontask, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 4:27am

    Ha Ha Ha

    What people seem to miss is the fact that the decaying infrastructure of our broadband system is due not to customer use, but misuse of funds by the companies in charge. The telecommunications act of 1996, which provided 200 billion in tax credit and stimulus to the various companies, allowed the creation of these monopolies through deregulation. This deregulation, and tax credits, is based on the promise that the companies would provide 45mbps broadband nationwide by 2006. These companies were paid to improve their networks but chose to rely usually on overtaxing their existent lines. The consumers have already footed the bill on this one and most don't enjoy the idea of being charged again.

     

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

  41.  
    identicon
    femtobeam, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 4:49am

    Bandwidth

    Cable buys cross licensing of bandwidth from fiber optic trunk lines that were originally grandfathered as part of railroad and highway rights of way. When rights of way are purchased in an area they are usually purchased as a right of way for a period of time, usually 99 years. Much of the US right of way in major metropolitan areas are now "leased" long term to foreign owned companies, many who have interests in hardware manufacturing, like HDTV displays. Cable currently has a must carry rule to carry broadcasters along with their programming to customers. Besides the profit motive, Cable companies, who do not usually produce their own programming and buy it from the Major Motion Picture Distributors who financed it through agreements with banks and guarantees of exhibition, like theater screens of a certain number for a certain time period. Cable is limited in bandwidth due to the nature of the materials and the ad-hoc network structure. Specifically, this is copper wiring and bus network architecture. The high signal to noise ratio inherent in copper means a bad picture, (snowy image), on larger screen sizes and a high cost in labor to adjust the network during seasonal changes in temperature. This is why your Cable signal to your display is better during the cold winter months. As screen sizes increase and Cable is limited to what they can “squeeze” into their limited lines, they are forced to either upgrade their networks, which they have had plenty of profit to do all this time, or limit their customers’ bandwidth so they have enough to go around, or to try and prevent larger screen sizes from being adopted. They are in trouble and this is why they scramble to get up in the air on satellites and try out new things, like using the power lines. Ever wonder why your computer is so slow even though you have paid for bandwidth? You can't unplug it either to solve the problem. All of these issues will be fixed with fiber to the home, with the exception of costs. Those will be determined by the new fiber middlemen. The owners of your local and metropolitan rights of way will become the new providers and determine prices. They will already have made a fortune off of your purchases of their affiliated HDTV equipment manufacturers, as well as the US government pushed adoption of their standards and forced buying by distributors of compatible equipment. This is all the result of a lost industry, sold as part of US trade agreements during the 1980’s in exchange for tobacco. It literally went up in smoke.

     

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

  42.  
    identicon
    Grr, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 5:29am

    No Competition

    There is absolutely no competition in the broadband market where I live because most places here if you want broadband you don't have a choice on your provider. Well, maybe you have a choice of DSL or cable, but if you want cable you are stuck with one ISP choice and, for a lack of a better phrase at the moment, that blows.

     

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


Add Your Comment

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

Close

Email This