Comcast CEO: It's Not A Broadband Cap, It's A 'Balanced Relationship'

from the semantic-manure dept

Comcast continues to play semantic patty cake as it defends the company's broadband usage cap plans. With about 12% of the company's customers now capped (and growing), Comcast insists the 300 GB monthly usage cap (with $10 per 50 GB overage fees) is simply a "trial" of a new, "balanced" relationship. You see, Comcast isn't just taking advantage of a lack of broadband competition to cash in on Internet video, it's simply experimenting with "flexible data consumption plans" that bring greater choice and freedom than ever before to customers of the least liked company in America.

Speaking at a conference last week, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts added more insult to injury by insisting that imposing such limits on broadband makes sense, because broadband is just like gasoline and electricity:
"Just as with every other thing in your life — if you drive a hundred thousand miles or a thousand miles you buy more gasoline," Roberts said during Business Insider's Ignition conference on Tuesday. "If you turn on the air conditioning at 60 versus 72, you consume more electricity," he said. "The same is true for [data] usage, so I think the same for a wireless device — the more bits you use, the more you pay."
Except that's nonsense. Unlike gasoline and electricity, Comcast's cost to provide broadband is fixed. It costs Comcast the same to deliver 10 Mbps as it does to deliver 50 Mbps, and while the company does incur capacity costs overall, generally they're easily offset by modest network investments like the upcoming upgrade to the DOCSIS 3.1 standard. Any ISP earnings report will show you that with bandwidth costs generally dropping, flat-rate broadband profit margins are incredibly healthy, and it's the cost of service and support (which again Comcast is literally the worst in the country at) that tend to be the biggest expenses.

Roberts knows this, but his attempt to distort what the company's doing has been par for the course so far. Roberts also trotted another favorite Comcast claim -- that what the company is doing isn't a bandwidth cap:
"They're not a cap," Roberts told attendees. "We don’t want anybody to ever not want to stay connected on our network." Comcast is, the CEO claims, "just trialing ways to have a balanced relationship."
Except again, there's nothing "balanced" about what Comcast is doing. Users previously on unlimited (and already expensive) data plans not only face caps and overage fees, but they have to pay $30 to $35 if they want the same unlimited usage they enjoyed yesterday. Surely there's a planet where the populace thinks a mammoth rate hike of no benefit to the consumer can be considered "balanced," but it's certainly not this one. Remember, Comcast's own support documents have shown that these caps are in no way technically necessary. They're a rate hike to protect Comcast's TV revenues from Internet video.

It's clear Comcast brass hopes that by moving slowly, and framing the caps as a "trial" that offers "flexibility," it will keep the public and regulators slack-jawed and docile. But the company needs to tread carefully. ISPs have whined incessantly that they shouldn't be regulated like utilities despite being so eager to bill like them. And despite a lot of hand-wringing over "utility regulations" during the net neutrality fracas, so far regulators have complied, refusing to apply most of the specific utility regulations during the recent ISP reclassification to Title II.

But eventually consumers, the press and a few politicians will realize that unlike gasoline and electricity, nobody is objectively working to ensure that broadband usage meters are accurate. The result has been meters that at times have logged usage even when the modem's off or the power is out, problems that will only grow as caps expand. As such, broadband ISPs eager to cap may be inviting the kind of price controls and price caps (sorry, balanced relationships with regulators) that gives any good duopoly ISP executive nightmares.

Filed Under: brian roberts, broadband cap, data cap
Companies: comcast


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 6:36am

    "just trialing ways to have a balanced relationship."

    Meaning exploring ways to increase our bank balance while reducing the customers bank balance.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 2:27pm

      Re: Meet Vinni

      This is Vinni, he's my "friend", and that thing that looks like a baseball bat is for "balancing"

      Vinni and I would just like to have a balanced relationship with yous guys, so just open your pockets and share some of that cash so that we feel that things are more balanced, or Vinnie will balance up side your heads...

      It's not extortion, we like to think it as "balanced nieghborhood relations", you keep us "balanced" and we don't have to balance your skulls...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 6:38am

    It seems to me faster bandwidth would actually be a benefit since it allows resources to be used for less time. Like how a fast LTE connection can save battery compared to a slower connection because the radios are active for less time.

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

  • icon
    Kal Zekdor (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 6:45am

    TV Revenue

    Ok, first, I'd like to preface this with the fact that data caps are one of the least efficient methods for managing network saturation, and that they are always a blatant cash grab.

    That said, it seems clear that, barring FCC regulation, Comcast is going to be rolling out data caps in every market that lacks real competition (nearly all of them). So, my thought is, since this is obviously about protecting their TV business from Netflix et al., (Comcast's streaming services doesn't count against your cap, because of course not), then they should include a "free" Unlimited tier upgrade to every customer who gets their TV package alongside Internet.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 6:46am

    "I'm not a liar, I'm just 'full of shit'." - Brian Roberts, CEO Comcast

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 6:48am

    At what point are we going to decide that the system we allowed them to create isn't viable?

    Treating them like a utility makes the most sense given how they want to describe their service. People would feel better if they paid a monthly fee to be connected and then were billed for the data they actually used at the market rate. Oversight making sure that the meters were accurate, an outside board to handle complaints when the company ignores problems, penalties & punishments to keep them in line.

    We've let them screw consumers and governments, perhaps it is time to reign them in. They are a utility that people need/want and allowing them arbitrary caps to increase profits while delivering abysmal service isn't acceptable. Pity the system doesn't work like some gas providers work, where you are all on the same lines but you can use a different provider to get a better rate over the same pipe.

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

    • icon
      Kal Zekdor (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 7:28am

      Re:

      People would feel better if they paid a monthly fee to be connected and then were billed for the data they actually used at the market rate.


      Well, to be perfectly fair, Comcast's rate of $0.20/GB is only 2-3 times the common market price.

      The included data of 300GB at that rate is $60, and, from what I recall, the general monthly cost for Internet was ~$90/mo. That's a $30/mo connection fee, which is somewhat reasonable.

      They need to have discounted rates, though, for any data from services with peering agreements with Comcast. Netflix, for example, will cache popular content on servers in ISP data centers, saving expensive general bandwidth. Those peering savings need to be passed along to the customer, not just for Comcast's services.

      I don't think I'd care too much about the capped plans if they were truly optional. My problem is (aside from the BS marketspeak rhetoric) that they're rolling this out to existing customers, which is a rate rike of $0-$30/mo across the board, for an already expensive service.

      They are going through with this, though, so some more friendly suggestions to Comcast on how to make this more... palatable for your customers.

      1. Industry pricing is almost never more than $0.10/GB. Cut your data price in half.
      2. Only charge for data that you yourselves have to pay for. Don't charge your customers for access to Netflix when Netflix is paying to have their data get to your network for free.
      3. Do pure usage based billing. Get rid of the included data, and the data blocks. Charge a low monthly connection fee, and then the per GB rate.
      4. Cable is heavily weighted towards Download. As such, don't count Upload towards usage.
      5. Stop pretending this is about network congestion or "fairness". Honesty goes a long way. Call it a pricing restructure to a flexible billing model, if you must, but make it clear that this is a financial decision, not a technical one.

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

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 9:12am

        Re: Re:

        One just wishes they would stop lying consistently.
        It is some users taking more than their fair share, so we limit everyone. (We won't mention how people not trying new services benefits our offerings.)
        Its a few people causing congestion! (Not our failure to have nearly enough connectivity to actually deliver what we claim to be selling our customers.)
        Your town can't manage a network! (We fear this most of all because any competition even in areas we refuse to service is bad!)

        Something something 21st Century being controlled by a 1980s business model.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 10:10am

        Re: Re:

        What internet provider changes per GB of throughput? That billing structure is only used on Hosting providers. There are 4 basic billing structures for the Internet today.

        1. Flat rate, purchase a 1Gbps or 10Gbps link to provider X and get charged a set amount for it.

        2. Purchase a 1Gbps, 10Gbps link and be billed on a 95th or 90th percentile for overages on your set commit of say 400Mbps on a 1Gbps or 5Gbps on a 10Gbps link.

        3. Purchase a link and have the service provider throttle that link to Xbps at a flat rate. (Different from 1. as you usually can upgrade without equipment.)

        4. A private peering arrangement, where you connect to a provider and agree to set terms in which you exchange data at no cost.

        Realistic pricing now is anywhere from 2-6 cents per Mbps, though if you go with Comcast, Verizon, et al expect to be raped.

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

    • icon
      codereded (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 9:00am

      Re:

      I don't want them to charge me for data. They don't create the data, they don't store it, I certainly don't want them editing it in any way. They supply bandwidth. That's the service I am paying for. I pay other suppliers for the data (Netflix, Amazon, etc.).
      The caps don't help with bandwidth saturation, it's just a way for them to receive extra profits for doing nothing but billing for things they don't create.

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

  • icon
    One Nemesis (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 6:50am

    Data usage

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

  • icon
    One Nemesis (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 6:54am

    Data usage

    Hmmmm Comcast wants to charge more for data... And they won't even guarantee the bandwidth I'm paying for?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 6:54am

    Comcast CEO: It's not a prostate exam, it's a 'gentle interior massage'

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 7:04am

      Re:

      Why am I so turned on right now?

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 7:39am

        Re: Re:

        Thinking of your next TSA search, maybe?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 8:07am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Ahhh... Yes... The agent had sausage-like fingers.

          BTW, requesting a specific TSA agent for a cavity search will definitely get you on the no fly list.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 3:20pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            .... If I was not inherently concerned about the prospect of a cavity search, I would totally stake out an airport and do this.

            Seriously, go in, ask for a specific agent who doesn't even know you by name (preferably when you have a good inkling they aren't working), and when you are informed they aren't there, appologize and say you'll come back another day.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 7:00am

    it is a balanced way to go...
    assuming if you only use 100GB they charge you $40 less right?
    seems fair...

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

  • identicon
    Lurker Keith, 15 Dec 2015 @ 7:05am

    Surely there's a planet...

    Surely there's a planet where the populace thinks a mammoth rate hike of no benefit to the consumer can be considered "balanced"...
    I don't even think Ferenginar would put up with that.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 3:22pm

      Re: Surely there's a planet...

      To be fair... Ferengi culture is all about these sort of practices. YES that shopkeeper is trying to take you for all you are worth, you've been trying to take them for all they are worth to. When every interpersonal relation is entered into with the firm understand that both parties are equally trying to screw over the other, it balances out.

      In short, the consumers wouldn't PUT UP WITH that, because they are all penny pinching contract writing fine print spewing misers. We are not quite so fortunate.

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

      • identicon
        Lurker Keith, 20 Dec 2015 @ 9:31pm

        Re: Re: Surely there's a planet...

        That's my point. Ferengi all try things like that. It's how they are. But even they would't deal up w/ Comcast's shenanigans.

        Ferengi are all about trying to make a profit (or minimize a necessary loss). As much as possible. They wouldn't dare let someone get one over on them, if there was absolutely no way to benefit from it later!

        Accepting terms that don't & never will benefit you is ANTI-Ferengi.

        A Ferengi is free to try such a scheme, but it wouldn't get anywhere on Ferenginar itself. They'd have to find non-Ferengi suckers.

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

  • icon
    limbodog (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 7:05am

    Balancing the books, he means.

    Brian Roberts' name needs to be in the news more. He's making the decisions to act like a monopoly. He deserves the ire it generates.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 7:17am

    I wonder if Brian Roberts treats his personal relationships the same , I would think he does ,considering personal and business generally bleed into each other .

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 7:18am

    It's a balanced relationship: We screw you, and you just take it. Deal?

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

  • icon
    scatman09 (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 7:20am

    need or want (repost)

    Eventually people will learn the difference between necessity and want.
    That's what a lot of these "prices too high/monoploly/...blah, blah" rants boil down to. Although I GREATLY APPRECIATE internet access, it's not a necessity. Neither is cable TV. Until we, the shee...people, realize that entertainment is not a necessity --AND-- show the corporations that we hold the $$, get used to more of the same. Share holders gotta eat!

    Boycott or bend over.

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

    • icon
      Kal Zekdor (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 7:37am

      Re: need or want (repost)

      I'm going to assume that you don't have kids, don't have a white collar job, and aren't looking for a job.

      No, access to the Internet is not optional, it's a requirement of modern life. That said, high speed Internet access is optional. One doesn't really need more than 5/1, which even DSL can reach.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 7:58am

        Re: Re: need or want (repost)

        "That said, high speed Internet access is optional."

        Even that's highly debatable, depending on your employment or other communication needs. I certainly couldn't do my job or personal communication as effectively from a remote location if my apartment and those of friends/family didn't have broadband.

        Some people make the mistake of thinking that "internet" only means "entertainment" - which says a lot more about the way they use it than it does about anyone who finds it more important than they do.

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

        • icon
          scatman09 (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 8:36am

          Re: Re: Re: need or want (repost)

          Paul, Paul, Paul...
          Turn off your computer and your phone for 15mins. and take your pulse...I bet you'll still live. The internet was originally established as a means of communication between researchers at universities. Are you a college/university professor conducting scientific research? Were you born with an internet connection? Just admit it. Internet access is not necessary for you to live. Yes, it facilitates your lifestyle, but that's YOUR chosen profession.
          I was introduced to the web in the 1990's with Netscape Navigator, and I've benefited from it. Yet I still know fact from fiction. The internet is just the latest means of communication, and it doesn't sustain human life.

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

          • icon
            RainbowboomX (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 8:46am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: need or want (repost)

            But at the same time the internet itself as a way of communication is saving a lot of trees from being cut down for paper that otherwise would be used for letters and those other sorts of things :D

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

            • icon
              tqk (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 2:17pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: need or want (repost)

              But at the same time the internet itself as a way of communication is saving a lot of trees from being cut down for paper ...

              Pretty much all of the trees that are cut down for such things are farmed "weed trees" (they grow as fast as weeds and are essentially worthless for every other use), not old growth forests.

              Sorry for yet another bubble being burst.

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

          • icon
            nasch (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 12:11pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: need or want (repost)

            Just admit it. Internet access is not necessary for you to live.

            Neither is showering. Or access to a toilet. Or eating more than once a week or so. Or in some places having some place to sleep. You can keep breathing without all those things, yet we consider them necessities.

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

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 1:33pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: need or want (repost)

            "Turn off your computer and your phone for 15mins. and take your pulse...I bet you'll still live"

            Indeed, I never said I wouldn't. What I said was that my career, lifestyle and many other aspects of my life were dependent on its existence. You'll still live without roads, cars, power, gas, plastics, synthetic fibres, electrical appliances, international shipping and non-seasonal produce. But most people would argue strongly that they prefer those things and they improve their lifestyles.

            "The internet was originally established as a means of communication between researchers at universities."

            ...and that was based on DARPA's research. Are you in the military?

            "Yes, it facilitates your lifestyle, but that's YOUR chosen profession. "

            Indeed. As I facilitate my lifestyle, which involves monitoring, configuring and repairing systems in 14 datacentres in 5 countries on 3 continents, as I communicate in HD video with friends and family as far spread, as I live in a country I could not have expected such a decent wage in without the internet, as I have meaningful relationships with people I can regularly travel between due to my profession? I'm thankful for all of it, and aware that the internet is what makes it possible, as is my chosen profession.

            "The internet is just the latest means of communication, and it doesn't sustain human life."

            Nor does 95% of the things in your life, including most likely the quality of food you consume without having to personally go out and grow and harvest it. I'm well aware that many people have no electricity, let alone food or clean water. Yet, I'm not compelled to give up my power supply or indoor plumbing because there's someone else living without it.

            But, as I said, it's so nice that people find the time out of their fulfilling lives to come here on the internet and tell me that my life using it is so useless.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 1:58pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: need or want (repost)

            Scatman, Scatman Scatman...

            Leave your car at home, walk to work, and take your pulse... I bet you'll still live. Cars were originally established as a means of traveling great distances. Are you a truck driver? Were you born with a car? ust admit it. Cars are not neccessary for you to live. Yes, it facilitates your lifestyle, but that's YOUR chosen profession.

            I was introduced to cars in the 80's, and I've benefited from it. Yet I still know fact from fiction. Cars are just the latest means of transportation, and it doesn't sustain human life.

            By the by, I don't drive. Don't have the money for it. I rarely have the money for transit. This often means taking a 2.5 hour bike ride to see a medical specialist.

            If you'd like, I can also accurately rework your statement to cover such fun topics as:
            -Eating Every Day (I don't have that luxury, but I'm still here)
            -Reliable access to electricity (This one I do have, but I bet I can find large, sustained communities that don't.)
            -Reliable access to sanitation
            -Regular sleep (This one's a doozy too, but I'm still alive)
            -Access to quality health care (Boy being poor really makes one realise how well off you entitled pricks are)
            -A job (Like it or not, it is possible to live without money. We just live in a society that bases most of our transactions around it)
            -

            You are being a condescending asshole, deliberately ignoring the way society has grown and shaped around internet access, to make a 'holier than thou' point in defence of a company that refuses to so much as GLANCE at their bloated profit margins to provide for these 'unbearable costs' they claim to suffer under.

            Thanks to my socio-economic standing, the internet has been VITAL for supplying me with:
            (A) Low-Cost, affordable education
            (B) Reliable communication with support communities that have very much saved my life
            (C) Access to cost saving measures to enable me to eat more often than once every two days
            (D) The ability to research help for ailments and disorders that are very much affecting my ability to live
            (E) The ability to sustain a relationship over long distances (Again, this has very much saved my life. It's harder for me to be suicidal when surrounded by the love and support of people who care about me)
            (F) Access to political information no major news agency or newspaper is willing to cover, that has shaped my ability to best support candidates I at least don't think will utterly DESTROY the few means of survival I have
            (G) The ability to understand and prepare for my appointments (Since, you know, too poor to own a car)
            (H) Research that is assisting me in helping my doctor narrow down treatment options for disorders that affect my every day life

            So, here's my challenge to you.

            Give up all your modern conveniences society has determined you need, go spend a week living out of a hammoc in a forest scrounging through grocery store dumpsters for 'barely' edible food and tinfoil needed to try and make a cooking impliment, deal with vagrancy laws and policies, and THEN get on your high ****ing horse and try to sound superior about 'what someone needs to live'.

            I'm living proof it's possible. Maybe you just need a better perspective on what you need to 'survive', versus what you need to 'live'.

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

            • icon
              scatman09 (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 7:13pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: need or want (repost)

              There, there.. Wipe your tears and drop your rocks. The truth hurts.

              If no one is willing to go without internet access long enough (because it's a HUMAN NECESSITY now) to redress the local ISP's, and the laws that they purchased, then don't expect things to improve. People love to complain, but how many are willing to sacrifice for the greater good? The sit-ins in the '60's...the Selma bus boycott...I imagine these weren't fun nor convenient, but they were effective in reversing the Jim Crow laws.

              If we, the consumers, don't unite and demand local competition in the ISP/cable space--on a national level, who will?
              Again, boycott or bend over.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2015 @ 12:42am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: need or want (repost)

                Why are you even here?

                You sit there telling people to throw away their jobs, give up their livelihoods, but it's pretty clear from your posts you regard the internet as little more than a convenience people can just drop with little more than a mild inconvenience. Like those judges who talk about internet service disconnection as little more than taking TV away from a misbehaving child.

                If you want anyone, any of us to believe in your boycott, why not try taking the first step?

                Instead of smugly telling people how they aren't man enough to deal with a lack of 'fun' or 'convenience', try doing something.

                I'm willing to bet I do more to solve the problem staying informed and contacting my local, state and federal representatives than you do scoffing at peoples dependence on the internet... ON the internet! Cut the cords, grab a sign, camp out in front of Comcasts offices and start some activism. Then maybe... MAYBE... you'll actually have something credible and relevant to hear.

                While you're at it, taking a course on public speaking. You'd be surprised how much more people are willing to listen when you aren't a self-important prick.

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

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 16 Dec 2015 @ 12:57am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: need or want (repost)

                "The sit-ins in the '60's...the Selma bus boycott...I imagine these weren't fun nor convenient, but they were effective in reversing the Jim Crow laws. "

                You're honestly comparing the roots of the civil rights movements of the 60s to people who feel they're being charged too much for internet access? Really?

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

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 16 Dec 2015 @ 12:55am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: need or want (repost)

              "You are being a condescending asshole, deliberately ignoring the way society has grown and shaped around internet access,"

              No, you're being a condescending asshole. Incoherent, to boot. How am I ignoring the internet's effects on society when I'm detailing exactly how my lifestyle would be impossible without it? That makes no sense, no matter what you detail about how much "better" you are than the rest of us.

              No, I won't give up my life just because some holier-than-thou asshole on the internet has determined that another life is possible. Deal with it.

              "Maybe you just need a better perspective on what you need to 'survive', versus what you need to 'live'."

              I know the exact difference between the two. I'm sorry that the tool you're using to attack others for not camping in the woods every 5 minutes has been so useful to others for living a life that goes beyond mere sustenance. But you do look very, very stupid doing so.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2015 @ 1:32am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: need or want (repost)

                Uhm... my responses were to Scatman09 , mocking his attempt at mocking you. Or they were meant to be.

                I personally agree with you.

                Did I hit reply on the wrong comment? x.o

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

                • icon
                  PaulT (profile), 16 Dec 2015 @ 1:55am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: need or want (repost)

                  Ah, never mind, I didn't pick up on the sarcasm and thought it was a little elaborate for that! Good job on the Poe

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2015 @ 1:39am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: need or want (repost)

                Also, for the record, I wasn't camping. I was homeless. I was trying to point out to Scatman09 that simply 'surviving' is different from actually living a decent life.

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

                • icon
                  PaulT (profile), 16 Dec 2015 @ 2:01am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: need or want (repost)

                  Glad you got yourself out of that situation, I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

                  I'd still claim that just because most of us wouldn't choose internet if given the choice between that and food & shelter, that doesn't mean it's not needed. But, I'm well aware of how lucky I am to never have been faced with that choice. May you never be faced with that again.

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

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2015 @ 2:12am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: need or want (repost)

                    I think we have a misunderstanding still XD

                    The point of my post was to mock Scatman09's insistence that you would 'still be alive' without the internet by first rewording their argument to apply to cars, then pointing out a list of other things their argument could equally apply to.

                    Most of the rest of my post was pointing out ways the internet vastly improved my life.

                    The last point about them going out camping was basically to throw in their face that if all that mattered to them was surviving, then perhaps they should try being in a situation where surviving is all they can do, and then see how they feel about it.

                    I reiterate I very much depend on the internet for keeping myself out of that situation.

                    That being said, if my point was poorly worded, I apologize. Lots of fatigue mixed with new sleeping pills is having some definite effect on me XD

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

                    • icon
                      PaulT (profile), 16 Dec 2015 @ 2:15am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: need or want (repost)

                      Oh, don't worry I get your point and hopefully the other guys here will do as well! Thanks for your input :)

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

          • identicon
            Wendy Cockcroft, 17 Dec 2015 @ 5:42am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: need or want (repost)

            I need it for my job. I needed it when I did web design full time. There are whole industries that rely on the internet because the work itself is web based.

            I reject your philosophy, Scatman09, because it's morally bankrupt and anti-ethical to a truly free market. It ain't free and your take-it-or-leave it Ferengi-like attitude is the proof.

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

        • icon
          Kal Zekdor (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 5:15pm

          Re: Re: Re: need or want (repost)

          "That said, high speed Internet access is optional."

          Even that's highly debatable, depending on your employment or other communication needs. I certainly couldn't do my job or personal communication as effectively from a remote location if my apartment and those of friends/family didn't have broadband.


          Mm, true. There are plenty of edge cases (especially for those who work in the tech sector) where people need a reasonably fast connection in order to, y'know, continue to feed themselves.

          ~90% of people (obviously a number pulled from the aether) don't need more than basic web browsing/email, though.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 7:47am

      Re: need or want (repost)

      "Although I GREATLY APPRECIATE internet access, it's not a necessity."

      It's completely vital to not only my job, but my industry, my home and family life and major aspects of my general lifestyle in and outside of employment. I literally could not lead the life I currently lead had the internet not existed, at least not in its current form, and I'd consider to be a necessity to be as happy with it as I am now.

      But, hey, it's great that you utilised the internet to tell everyone else you don't need it and we're all stupid for being here. Especially since a large number of people you're addressing have no horse in this race, at least as far as specific US-only ISPs are concerned.

      "Neither is cable TV."

      Ironically, with regard to your rant, the internet is what's allowing a lot of people to boycott cable TV.

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

    • icon
      Brian (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 9:19am

      Re: need or want (repost)

      I work from home as software developer. My internet access is completely necessary so I would be unable to boycott without missing work.

      Try to think outside of your own viewpoint and realize that something that may be true for you is not true for someone else!

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

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 17 Dec 2015 @ 5:43am

        Re: Re: need or want (repost)

        Right-wing Libertarians are incapable of doing that. You have to hit them where it hurts: their whole philosophy is based on the lie that there's such a thing as the free market. Point out that there's not.

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

  • identicon
    Joel Coehoorn, 15 Dec 2015 @ 7:23am

    Inevitable, but too soon.

    Mr Roberts needs to think very carefully about this.

    If he wants to start comparing bandwidth use to water or gas, and billing accordingly, I'm actually okay with that, as long as he also picks up the corresponding utility regulations.

    I think this switch to Internet-As-A-Utility is eventually inevitable. Society is not quite to the level today where we depend on it in the same way as other utilities, but we are moving rapidly in that direction.

    I think it's a good idea to recognize this, and have the frameworks in place to support that before we have problems with what will be critical services. Rather than fighting this trend, let's welcome it.

    For Comcast, that means posturing such that they understands we won't fight the move, as long as it comes with Utility regulation. The two must go together. Water and gas companies at least typically have better customer service ratings than cable companies.

    I'd also like to talk about pricing. The suggested overage pricing right now is $10/50GB. If I could get a base service at that rate, with no other fees, I'd be tempted to take them up on that offer. I suspect I'd come out better off than what I have now. The problem is that bandwidth use is increasing rapidly. It won't take very long for this rate to seem ridiculous.

    I think that's why their making this push right now, at those prices. They're trying to set expectations for future rates. Utility company rates are often controlled by local boards, on which the utility company itself is just one of the voices. By setting pricing expectations early, they'll be able to convince at least some local boards to keep pricing high at the same time that operating costs per GB delivered plummet.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 7:48am

    He doesn't even use the same analogy!

    ...if you drive a hundred thousand miles or a thousand miles you buy more gasoline...If you turn on the air conditioning at 60 versus 72, you consume more electricity...

    I have choices for buying gasoline. Even "mom & pop" choices.

    I do not have a choice where to buy electricity. I might have a choice as to who generates the electricity but distribution and last mile delivery are regulated monopolies.

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

  • icon
    techflaws (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 7:55am

    Remember, Comcast's own support documents have shown that these caps are in no way technically necessary.

    No need to go there, just think about the fact that Comcast Comcast's own streaming TV service does not count against the caps and the whole "The more bits you use, the more you pay" BS goes right out of the window.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 8:03am

    I think many people are confusing the issue here - billing on a per-byte basis makes no sense because of the way that broadband works. Data isn't like gas or water - you're not consuming a finite resource that has to be replenished, you're just tapping into something that's infinitely available and always on. The only thing that makes sense from a practical standpoint is billing based on access speed...which ISPs currently do.
    I don't think you can make a logical argument that Internet access is optional in today's world. Getting a job is all but impossible without the 'Net. Physical stores are going under in nearly every retail industry. To the ISPs and legislators, I say sure, make Internet access a utility. Regulate it, impose price caps, all that good stuff. Just make sure to use the only measurement that makes sense for the service and charge customers solely based on access speed.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 8:35am

    Only a Trial

    I'm glad that it's only a trial. So, when we go over our cap.. er.. "balanced relationship" we won't be charged.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 9:00am

    Balance

    I would like to see Comcast's CEO balance some of his lies with some truth, though being the sock puppet he is, his ventriloquist (PR Firm) will have difficulty pronouncing those words because s/he has never spoken them before.

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

  • icon
    lucidrenegade (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 9:03am

    A truthful analogy would be that Comcast's service is like a road that never wears out. You may need to widen it on occasion due to increased traffic, but that's it.

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

  • icon
    limbodog (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 9:09am

    Sounds familiar

    All of our offerings are balanced. Some are just more balanced than others.

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

  • icon
    streetlight (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 10:28am

    Roberts said something like Internet data is like gasoline

    Not long ago gasoline where I live was ~$3.50 per gallon. I filled up the other day and it was $1.65. I haven't noticed my Internet subscription monthly cost drop by more than half.


    I don't think Roberts can reason.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 10:36am

    No regulations, we remember how well that worked out for Wall Street, the banks, and the housing market, don't we? Nothing like good old American greed, no wonder we can't have nice things. It will be a blessing to get off the grid.

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

  • icon
    Will-INI (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 10:57am

    Diamonds

    It's like their De Beers destroying diamonds to drive up the price per caret.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 11:15am

      Re: Diamonds

      I don't think De Beers actually destroys diamonds, I think they lock them up in vaults by the ton and then claim there is a shortage on the market to drive up the price per caret.

      Same thing with Comcast, they don't have a bandwidth shortage they have a profit increase shortage and by declaring caps is like locking up some bandwidth by the ton in vaults.

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

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 17 Dec 2015 @ 5:46am

        Re: Re: Diamonds

        They do indeed lock them up in vaults to create an artificial scarcity. Result: an entirely legal monopoly. Oh, and Blood Diamonds - illegally trading in diamonds not sourced via De Beers. Result: mass rapes and murders, etc. as vicious gangs of thugs attempt to control the trade in their spheres of influence.

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

  • identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 15 Dec 2015 @ 1:22pm

    ATT

    I recently contacted AT&T about getting U Verse for my home with Comcast now charging me for over 300 GB. But AT&T charges overage of 250 GB, with no unlimited option And slower speed. I hate duopoly. There goes my streaming 4k tv shows. Thanks for being innovating Netflix, sorry the ISP decided to mess it up for all of us.

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

  • identicon
    Concerned Citizen, 15 Dec 2015 @ 2:23pm

    I'm actually giddy Comcast's CEO has made these comparisons, because there are some very interesting parallels I can draw between electricity and bandwidth consumption.

    Interesting fact, my electric company (dunno about anyone elses) charges different rates depending on peak hour usage of electricity. Will Comcast commit to metered rates dependent on mean consumption periods rather than a consistant rate?

    That is, to improve overall network stability, will the rates they charge for data be lower during off-peak periods when network congestion is at it's lowest?

    Furthermore, my local electric company also offers services such as rate fixing, allowing me to pay a consistant, middle tier price for however much electricity I use, whether I'm on peak hour or not. Will I receive the same concessions from Comcast?

    As a utility, if I experience disruptions in service, my electric company is very much legally responsible to ensure swift response to outages, service interruptions and service disputes. Can we expect the same from Comcast?

    Many elements of my electricity service are regulated by the government, since as a utility, the service is understood as a neccessity. Can I receive the same concessions from Comcast?

    Please Comcast! PLEASE begin treating your service like my electricity company. I can't wait for the vast improvement in service, response time, pricing and regulation! :D

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 3:32pm

    "We don’t want anybody to ever not want to stay connected on our network."

    I hate to admit it.... but this is probably the most honest thing he's said.

    After all, if people don't want to stay connected on their network, their absurd profit margins dry up. If people feel unable to consume past their 'allotted share' of data, they don't get to collect overage fees.

    Its disgusting, but he is being %100 honest.... in that specific sentence.

    Of course, he doesn't not want people to not want to stay connected to their network enough to... you know... treat them fairly, because that would also make their absurd profit margins dry up.

    Really what he's saying is 'We never want people to stop giving us money.'.

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

  • icon
    Mayson Lancaster (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 4:59pm

    TV revenue

    For a true balanced relationship, Comcast will next be introducing a TV usage cap – more than 300 GB of TV watching per mont is to be billed at the same $10 per 50 GB rate.

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

    • identicon
      Zonker, 18 Dec 2015 @ 2:29pm

      Re: TV revenue

      That comes out to about 83 hours of maximum compression 8Mbps high definition TV per month before you hit your cap. The average American supposedly watches 5 hours of TV per day, which means the average American would exceed that cap about two weeks into each month.

      And yet the monthly cost of providing hundreds of TV channels costs Comcast the same if you watch 2 hours a month or 200 hours. Likewise, it costs Comcast the same if you use 5 Gb of your (up to) 100 Mbps internet bandwidth or 500 Gb.

      This is the most unbalanced relationship I've seen since Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2015 @ 10:01am

    Re: it costs Comcast the same to deliver 10 Mbps as it does to deliver 50 Mbps,

    B.S.

    Please, if you are going to hate on Comcast, do it factually. While the CPE costs for given capacities don't significantly change, backhaul and peering DO increase in cost related to capacity. It isn't just about the last mile.

    However, the cheapest way to limit those backhaul costs is to keep the capacity from getting on their network in the first place. Which means scaling the speed of the ports at the CPE, which can be done. They just don't it, because screwing their customers with unpredictable cost structures is more profitable.

    The reality is that this is targeted largely at exploiting people with poor judgement (predominantly minors). They are screwing parents, by making it difficult to regulate the usage of their children.

    Carriers need to be separated from Content providers, similar to the way that Glass Steagall separated Banks from Insurers until it was repealed by Bill Clinton. (And we all know how that went: See the documentary "An Inside Job", if you don't)

    Overturn Citizens United. Reinstate Glass Steagall. Bust the Trusts.

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 16 Dec 2015 @ 10:19am

      Re: Re: it costs Comcast the same to deliver 10 Mbps as it does to deliver 50 Mbps,

      similar to the way that Glass Steagall separated Banks from Insurers until it was repealed by Bill Clinton.

      Just to be clear, Congress repeals laws, just like they pass them. Clinton approved the Congressional act to repeal the law, he didn't do it on his own.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2015 @ 7:41am

        Re: Re: Re: it costs Comcast the same to deliver 10 Mbps as it does to deliver 50 Mbps,

        Acknowledged.

        Congress through a molotov cocktail on the economy, Clinton signed it into law.

        Monika Lewinsky 1998.
        Glass Steagall Repeal 1999.
        Clinton Acquitted in Impeachment case 1999.

        Draw your your own conclusions.

        Clinton had an economics degree from Oxford. There is some question about political expediency to be asked, that apparently never was. And a decade later the repeal resulted in the systematic sacking of the United States (and several other countries), by AIG, Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo, etc. etc. All while an AIG exec sat on Bushes Cabinet to ensure that the blame would be spread around if anyone went to jail.

        Overturn Citizens United. Reinstate Glass Steagall. Bust the Trusts.

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

      • icon
        tqk (profile), 19 Dec 2015 @ 12:21am

        Re: Re: Re: it costs Comcast the same to deliver 10 Mbps as it does to deliver 50 Mbps,

        Just to be clear, Congress repeals laws, just like they pass them. Clinton approved the Congressional act to repeal ...

        Yes, to really fuck up, it helps to have co-conspirators. You can spread the love/hate/blame around much more equally with them to muddy the situation.

        I prefer to minimize complexity. Others appear to thrive on it. I hate that messy side of life.

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

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 19 Dec 2015 @ 1:20pm

          Re: Re: Re: Re: it costs Comcast the same to deliver 10 Mbps as it does to deliver 50 Mbps,

          I prefer to minimize complexity.

          Sometimes trying to describe complex systems simply leads to misunderstandings.

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

          • icon
            tqk (profile), 20 Dec 2015 @ 12:47pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: it costs Comcast the same to deliver 10 Mbps as it does to deliver 50 Mbps,

            I prefer to minimize complexity.

            Sometimes trying to describe complex systems simply leads to misunderstandings.

            There's a trick to it. Watch for when their eyes start rolling up into their head. That's when you shake them back awake, then step back your description of the situation another (I don't know, 10 IQ points, or whatever your standard is). This even works on the oldest Grand-person you'll find. :-)

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2015 @ 2:26pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: it costs Comcast the same to deliver 10 Mbps as it does to deliver 50 Mbps,

              On reading my sentence again, I see it could be parsed in two equally valid ways, and you may have taken a different one than I meant. What I meant to say is, sometimes describing a complex system in a simple manner leads to misunderstandings. Not that describing complex systems at all can lead to misunderstandings. Sorry for any confusion.

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

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 17 Dec 2015 @ 7:55am

    "Monika Lewinsky 1998.
    Glass Steagall Repeal 1999.
    Clinton Acquitted in Impeachment case 1999.

    Draw your your own conclusions"

    I prefer to draw conclusions from complete data sets. The actual timeline is:

    Glass-Steagal repealed with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, signed into law by Clinton on November 12, 1999.

    But - Clinton was acquitted by the Senate on February 12, 1999.

    There may still have been shady dealing, but it's not evident in the real timeline as opposed to the one you implied.

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.