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Fights Over Bandwidth Caps

Bill St. Arnaud asks whether bandwidth caps are the next net neutrality, while a New York Congressman has announced plans to introduce a bill banning the practice.

14 Comments

  1. As I see it, either bandwidth caps or pay-per-GB plans are necessary to curtail unreasonable traffic levels in the most active users. Bandwidth caps are convenient because if caps exceed expected usage, users don’t have to worry about the cost of a particular download (and given how much most providers are charging for exceeding caps, you can bet you’ll think twice about those HD YouTube videos and 2 GB game demos).

    Given the mediocre level of network infrastructure in North America, Congress can’t very well demand ISPs run on a “take what you like” basis. ISPs couldn’t handle the strain.

  2. Bandwidth caps
    That’s simply not true. Bell has not proven they’re overburdened by use, and from what I recall reading last year, they’re nowhere near capacity.

    If you can prove otherwise, feel free, but I’d like to see it.

    Bandwidth caps are intended to force the consumers hand. Bell doesn’t want people to get just internet and watch all their TV streaming from CTV.ca and CityTV.com, they want people to pay for both internet and a dish. The bandwidth cap is intended to artificially increase the need to do so, when other options are more than viable.

    It’s a cash grab by a company frightened of losing a large chunk of (mostly dirty) business. This is just like DRM on audio, there is no way it’ll generate a positive reaction and the various ISPs involved will, eventually, be forced to reconsider. Technology continues to advance, regardless of their wishes. If they impose a small cap with large fees, someone will devise something to thwart it.

  3. Devil's Advocate says:

    It means literally paying twice
    You already pay for a bandwidth figure you never can even get close to as it is. Providers are already guilty en masse of false advertising and breach of contract.

    Caps are just another attempt by providers to further “maximize their profits” by simply charging more money on top of what they’re already getting.

    And, these new “plans” they sell you revolving around these caps are nothing more than a sneaky way of getting people with older “unlimited” contracts to abandon their original terms. (Those who have held onto them have actually retained the right to “unlimited” service. The arbitrary service contract changes they made without your informed consent are NOT legal.)

  4. Mr
    First off, I live in NZ where we’ve had bandwidth caps forever. This is because the carriers themselves pay termination fees to US ISPs to route Internet traffic, as well as carriage charges on undersea cables.

    Bandwidth caps are a good thing! They have several positive effects:

    1) Promote net neutrality. Yes, it honestly does. If the carrier gets paid per byte, they don’t care what bytes they carry.
    2) Allow them to achieve deeper penetration. The current usage patterns prevent carriers from offering the $10/mo broadband plan, a low cap will allow them to do this. Finally killing dial-up.
    3) Puts a price on piracy. Is that movie really cheaper now that it is costing you traffic to download it? I know that when torrents first started, it would cost me more to pirate the movie for free than order it from Amazon – so I didn’t do it.
    4) Makes the high-end users pay for their traffic, and yes, I am in that group.
    5) Encourages the carrier to better handle peak traffic – they make money per byte, so the more bytes they can handle, the more money they make. My plan says 10mbps, and I _get_ 10mpbs during peak time. When the carrier couldn’t provide it, they refunded people’s monthly fees (to the plan they could offer) until they upgraded.
    6) Encourages the creation of CDNs and peering. If I want to push a lot of traffic to you, I will have a competitive advantage if it doesn’t cost you money to receive my traffic.

    I think a lot of the fear is that people have no idea how much traffic they are using in a month. Even in my worst months, I rarely get over 80GB (I hit 100 last month). Most months I float around 40, and I consider myself to be a high-end user (lots of online video, VoIP, etc).

    Also, a cap doesn’t prevent price and package competition. Here in NZ, carriers are consistently increasing caps and speeds in competition with each other.

  5. So
    Someone plz explain if I pay $25 a month for my internet service with Rogers which includes 25 gigs of traffic a month, I pay $15 more when I go over 6 gigs? Shouldn’t buying 6 gigs be cheaper than that first 25 I get, not so many times more than?

    Of the $25 I pay. Whats the cost on that first 25 gigs? Rogers needs to explain why I pay say .50 cents a gig on the first 25, how it becomes $2.50 each addition gig…

  6. Charge per byte
    If they are going to implement caps, then charge me per byte per bit/second.

    Let’s see the real costs, bit per bit per speed.

  7. vaudevillian says:

    Jason does not get it.
    Seriously you dont get it.

    1) Promote net neutrality. Yes, it honestly does. If the carrier gets paid per byte, they don’t care what bytes they carry.

    You don’t have any idea what the 95th percentile is do you. All local traffic costs next to nothing to transfer.

    2) Allow them to achieve deeper penetration. The current usage patterns prevent carriers from offering the $10/mo broadband plan, a low cap will allow them to do this. Finally killing dial-up.

    “Every single ISP” has said rural access is not possible other then satellite. Those Large ISP’s that say they cant upgrade due to cost have brainwashed you. They are protecting their very huge profit margin. I know many smaller ISP’s that are running FTTH to the home with the same price or cheaper then the larger companies with no cap. Verison has already posted on their profits regarding FTTH and they love it.

    3) Puts a price on piracy. Is that movie really cheaper now that it is costing you traffic to download it? I know that when torrents first started, it would cost me more to pirate the movie for free than order it from Amazon – so I didn’t do it. Since their model does not rely on video services.

    4) Makes the high-end users pay for their traffic, and yes, I am in that group.
    I already pay a premium to have high speeds. Most users do.

    5) Encourages the carrier to better handle peak traffic – they make money per byte, so the more bytes they can handle, the more money they make. My plan says 10mbps, and I _get_ 10mpbs during peak time. When the carrier couldn’t provide it, they refunded people’s monthly fees (to the plan they could offer) until they upgraded.
    Oh, but thats the gott-cha right there. Most of the larger companies throttle everyone. Rogers in canada throttles everyone 100% of the time and in different areas they are throttling more then just torrents.

    6) Encourages the creation of CDNs and peering. If I want to push a lot of traffic to you, I will have a competitive advantage if it doesn’t cost you money to receive my traffic.

    The caps just make it so they can buy a less of a chunk of bandwidth and still get charged on the 95th percentile. Meaning they make way more money on caps and also protect their video services.

    Do yourself a favor and quit drinking the corporate spewing kool-aid.

    60 gig a month is very small for our house hold use. our average is around 80gigs a month. That’s 4 people using the net. Our use is from 60-90 a month and it will only increase over time. Your Idea of the way the net is, is just a brainwash by the large ISP’s

  8. Wow, you guys are bitter.
    I still can’t believe the vitriol.

    I stand by my statements. Most of the negatives that people are pointing out have come about because carriers aren’t currently charging per byte. Some are caused because people don’t know how much traffic they are using in a month. The complaints I’m seeing here are _exactly_ the same that I’m seeing here in Wellington when they talk about water metering (we get free water here, paid by local property taxes). The rest are because Canada and the US have got a totally messed up regulatory environment. Licensed local monopolies? Who came up with that idea?

    The ISPs need to get some SLAs from Bell. Stop reselling Bell’s retail package! Buy some hardware and actually do some LLU. A micro DSLAM costs

  9. Wow, you guys are bitter (rev2 – blog ate the <)
    I still can’t believe the vitriol.

    I stand by my statements. Most of the negatives that people are pointing out have come about because carriers aren’t currently charging per byte. Some are caused because people don’t know how much traffic they are using in a month. The complaints I’m seeing here are _exactly_ the same that I’m seeing here in Wellington when they talk about water metering (we get free water here, paid by local property taxes). The rest are because Canada and the US have got a totally messed up regulatory environment. Licensed local monopolies? Who came up with that idea?

    The ISPs need to get some SLAs from Bell. Stop reselling Bell’s retail package! Buy some hardware and actually do some LLU. A micro DSLAM costs <90k. Quit whining, man up, and start competing.

    Things to remember:

    1) The per byte charge today isn’t going to be the per byte charge in a year. I used to pay NZ$15/GB, I now pay NZ$1.50, and some are paying NZ$1. They used to do tiered charging too (international = x, national = x/10, local = free), but got rid of that because the prices collapsed under competition.
    2) Kiwi traffic charges are higher than Canadian, because we’re 12000km from Google.
    2) Per byte charging makes you _think_, which is a good thing. Much like water and electrical metering.
    3) Per byte charging turns the carrier into a bit pipe.

    I can only speak from New Zealand experience. Because carriers in NZ are bit-providers, they fight tooth and nail to keep from having to shape traffic. From a network point of view, shaping traffic results in a slower network, more equipment to buy and manage. All very expensive! They are anti-shaping to the point that the only reason that the “3 strikes rule” wasn’t enacted was because one of the big 3 carriers stood up and said, “Hell No”, and they couldn’t move forward without a consensus.

    Carriers in both Australia and New Zealand have both tried to offer flat rate internet service. In all cases, it has resulted in all of the high-use users switching plans and turning the service into a bottlenecked straw.

    Yes, some people will see their bills go up. I would expect that 95% will have their bills go down.

    My Internet bill last month was NZ$150 for 10/2 and 80GB. I still get free local, on-net traffic. That 80GB is enough that I am able to watch as much Hulu as I (and my wife) want, run servers from home, youtube, torrents, online gaming. We’ll be turning off cable TV this month. As I’ve said before, when I say 10/2, I _get_ 10/2, on a consumer plan.

    Heck, I’m even running VoIP to a different CLEC (transferred my phone number using NP) on the connection. No one cares. Static-IP, home web server, open WiFi? No one cares, it’s your bytes, you pay for it. It’s liberating.

    Traffic shaping, peering charges, etc are about propping up a video business. Charging per byte is about making the 1% users pay for the amount they use.

  10. The first Jason and second Jason are different Jasons, by the way. #2 is the guy from NZ who is kissing corporate ass. What a clown.

    After Time Warner just shelved their tiered caps because of public outcry I can’t imagine the CRTC selling us out to Bell, but considering what traitors they are, I don’t imagine they won’t.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gAJIZ3ykyndzt2r9xBh89QeqmyMQD97JQOK00

  11. Right
    “The ISPs need to get some SLAs from Bell. Stop reselling Bell’s retail package! Buy some hardware and actually do some LLU. A micro DSLAM costs

  12. “The ISPs need to get some SLAs from Bell. Stop reselling Bell’s retail package! Buy some hardware and actually do some LLU. A micro DSLAM costs 90k. Quit whining, man up, and start competing.”

    The fact that you said this shows you have no idea how things work in Canada and should probably not speak on these matters.

    “Charging per byte is about making the 1% users pay for the amount they use.”

    This is an easy fix for Bell & Rogers. Move all of the so called 1% heavy users to a business account. Done.

    But no, I have a cap plus I’m throttled even if I stay under the cap.

    You keep speaking from Down under. Well I’m in Asia for the month. I’m pretty sure Rogers isn’t giving me a discount of any kind for not using any of my bandwidth for the month or letting me carry it over. Charging per byte indeed…

    Speaking about being in Asia. I’m staying at a place right now costing me $25 CND a night and I’m getting free wifi use of 18 Mbps. Part of me wishes I could stay.

  13. #2 is the guy from NZ who is kissing corporate ass. What a
    clown.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    The fact that you said this shows you have no idea how
    things work in Canada and should probably not speak on these
    matters.

    To clarify, I am a Canadian telecommunications software architect with specialization in Mobile Communications, both Voice and Data. I’ve dealt with regulatory issues in Canada, US, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. I moved to New Zealand recently.

    This is an easy fix for Bell & Rogers. Move all of the so
    called 1% heavy users to a business account. Done.

    But you guys are complaining about the terms changing, so how would that be different? Other than a business account is usually even more expensive for even less, because it comes with SLAs that require Bell to pay the customer cold, hard cash if they don’t meet the guarantees.

    Why does Canada’s LLU arrangement prevent a CLEC from buying a DSLAM and competing without having to resell Bell’s retail plans? Is there LLU or not? If a CLEC can install a DSLAM, then all they’re doing is whining because they don’t get their pony. DSLAM ports are cheap (<100 each), and buying backhaul with an SLA is a lot easier than reselling a retail plan.

    As I’ve pointed out, New Zealand’s already been through all this. They tried wholesale prices on broadband plans. It didn’t work – the regulated price was too easy to game. The only real benefit appeared when true LLU arrived, and competitors were able to put equipment in the switch rooms.

    So far all that’s appearing in these comments is more vitriol and anger. We need to move past the venting and focus on the root causes.

    I am extremely doubtful that Bell’s product management team woke up one morning and decided that they would really like to annoy all their customers.

  14. Devil's Advocate says:

    A shil is a shill
    It doesn’t matter what you say in reply to “Jason”.
    You’re obviously wasting your time with this shill. The responses he gives you are always clue-resistant.

    Judging by the remarks, I would say he’s just another one of those Bell 1st-level Techs trying to pass himself off as some “network guru”.