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ISP Trying Free (But Limited) Home Broadband Plan 213

Posted by Soulskill
from the market-pressure-on-the-big-boys dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "Earlier today FreedomPop, a telecom company headquartered in Los Angeles, announced its plans to launch a very low cost home broadband plan for extremely low-intensity users, with 1GB monthly for free. Clearly this is much lower than an average U.S. home broadband usage, which is between 24 and 28 gigs per month. The 1GB of free Internet is basically a teaser; the company aims to disrupt the cable and DSL business with its 10GB for $10 plan which is extendable by paying $5 for each additional GB beyond 10."
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ISP Trying Free (But Limited) Home Broadband Plan

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Remember when everybody was screaming about bandwidth caps and the need for government to regulate them out of existence?

    This is why that regulation was a bad idea.

    1GB/free and 10GB/$10 is highly disruptive to the major cable cartel. It is also extraordinarily beneficial for low income or student subscribers. This is innovation. We need more competition, not more regulations treating the symptoms of the lack of competition in most markets.

    • by PhxBlue (562201) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @04:30PM (#43096819) Homepage Journal

      Highly disruptive. Sure. Whatever.

      Given my bandwidth usage, I'd have to pay about $1,000 a month to get what I have now for about $70. I'm not seeing what's "highly disruptive" about that.

      • by Sez Zero (586611) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @04:36PM (#43096881) Journal

        I'm not seeing what's "highly disruptive" about that.

        Well, it would be highly disruptive to your wallet.

        • by noc007 (633443)

          It would. Look at how they bill. You have to provide a card upfront. If you reach your allowance, they go ahead and charge for the next block of data. I don't believe that block gets rolled over to the next month either. It would be pretty easy to have a kid or malware burn through a bunch of data and max out the card.

      • by alen (225700) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @04:37PM (#43096885)

        yeah, but lots of people like my inlaws who don't use too much will jump on this if it costs them $20 or $30 a month

        if i use less than 1GB per month on my iphone i'm sure there are lots of people who use the same on their home internet

      • by dmatos (232892) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @04:41PM (#43096939)

        RTFA - median internet usage numbers in the US are 5.8GB/mo. This plan is cheaper for those users than _any_ other plan out there right now.

        If they can steal 50% of all internet customers from other service providers, to the benefit of those customers, it will be disruptive.

      • by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @04:53PM (#43097051)

        Holy shit, I didn't realize we had The Guy Who Is Representative Of Everyone's Bandwidth Usage on Slashdot.

        (If you didn't get the sarcasm, what I mean to say is "Maybe this product is targeted at certain demographic/market of which you are not a member")

        My maternal grandmother uses a few dozen MB a month, she does almost nothing beyond email a couple times a week, look up the odd recipe and a little online banking. My paternal grandfather does even less with his Net connection. Both are on fixed income.

        • by PhxBlue (562201)

          My maternal grandmother uses a few dozen MB a month, she does almost nothing beyond email a couple times a week, look up the odd recipe and a little online banking. My paternal grandfather does even less with his Net connection. Both are on fixed income.

          There's still dialup.

          • by PhotoJim (813785)

            Dialup ought to still be a viable alternative, but it really isn't. With the average website pushing 1.5 MB (or so I read earlier today), the slow speed of dialup Internet is increasingly less usable, even if the actual total bandwidth you can get on dialup is adequate.

            I have limited bandwidth at my cottage, and occasionally use dialup as a workaround (I get 20 free hours of dialup with my home wired ISP, and my home city is still a local phone call from the cottage). If you need to update your web browse

          • Dialup used to be viable for people who simply did web browsing and no "multi-media" consumption, but the increasing amount of bandwidth intensive content on web pages has made that effectively unusable.
      • by dintech (998802)

        Given my bandwidth usage, I'd have to pay about $1,000 a month to get what I have now for about $70. I'm not seeing what's "highly disruptive" about that.

        When the debt collectors come to take away your computer. I think that would be highly disruptive. :)

      • by PhotoJim (813785)

        Given your bandwidth usage, clearly a wired solution makes more sense than WiMAX, which is what this provider is using.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      The problem Ms AC was NOT the very idea of caps at all, it was and is the fact that with zero competition and conflicts of interest they have you by the short hairs which is what pisses everyone off. In my area the cable is pushing their PPV and VoIP and guess what? Those do NOT count against the cap but if I use a competing service they DO count.

      Now as for TFA? In my area most of the poor can't afford Internet AT ALL, the minimum cost to get cable or DSL (if you are lucky enough to lie in the 1/3rd of th

      • In my area the cable is pushing their PPV and VoIP and guess what? Those do NOT count against the cap but if I use a competing service they DO count.

        Ha ha! Bittorrent over VOIP! Take that, evil cable monopoly!

    • by Applekid (993327)

      Remember when everybody was screaming about bandwidth caps and the need for government to regulate them out of existence?

      This is why that regulation was a bad idea.

      1GB/free and 10GB/$10 is highly disruptive to the major cable cartel. It is also extraordinarily beneficial for low income or student subscribers. This is innovation. We need more competition, not more regulations treating the symptoms of the lack of competition in most markets.

      We just wanted the government to enforce that the duopoly doesn't get to redefine the term "unlimited" just because it was starting to become inconvenient.

    • by shaitand (626655)
      I doubt it. It's a scam. My phone's data usage is higher than that. The data usage is so ridiculous any student, low income, or other user will exceed it within a week even trying to "behave" they'll be getting massive overage bills. The faster the link, the faster they'll exhaust it.
      • by admdrew (782761)

        The data usage is so ridiculous

        At those prices, it's not ridiculous, no. Even for home service, 10gb/month is very manageable.

        Your phone plan may allow for more than 10gb, but you're definitely an outlier if you're using close to that in a month.

      • by nabsltd (1313397)

        It's a scam. My phone's data usage is higher than that.

        I don't think it's a scam at all. I barely go over 1GB/month with my phone (since I'm not a "check Facebook every 2 minutes" kind of user), so the 10GB plan would be great. I've got a grandfathered unlimited plan, and the only reason I don't switch to something with a limit is that they are more expensive. If some company offered a 2-4GB/month plan that was substantially lower than my current plan (as this wired plan is compared to other wired plans), I'd jump on it in a heartbeat.

        For my home, though, an

        • by shaitand (626655)
          If it were a phone plan it wouldn't be a scam but it isn't, it's a home internet plan. I doubt they expect anyone to use less than 1GB a month, the idea is to make profits on the $5/GB overages.
    • by Synerg1y (2169962)

      Not all ISPs are looking at caps in this price range, I've heard $50 for 250gb before... i get 250gb + unlimited bandwidth right now for $50, how would that be helpful again? You're underestimating corporate greed by a very large magnitude.

      • You get unlimited bandwidth? You can download at infinity megabits per second?

        I don't think bandwidth means what you think it does...

        • by Synerg1y (2169962)

          Bandwidth is the maximum amount of data that can be transmitted over a fixed period of time.

          Now why don't you make yourself useful by contributing to the discussion... or make me a sandwich!

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Highly disruptive to my wallet maybe.
      I can't wait for my first $400 bill.

      • Here is an idea. Don't sign up with them.
        This service is not for most of the people here. It is for our parents. I seriously doubt my mother has ever used a gig of data in any month.
        • Except any month in which one of her loving children stop by and connect to her WiFi!
        • by IANAAC (692242)

          I seriously doubt my mother has ever used a gig of data in any month.

          Have you actually measured her usage? I can blow through 100M in a hour, simply visiting websites and checking email with Thunderbird. Add Pidgin or whatever chat (never mind Skype) and it goes way up.

    • It depends.
      People don't like paying for metered services. They would prefer to pay more for unlimited, even if the metered service will be less for their normal use.

      Even if you get the first bit free, it doesn't mean people will be comfortable with it.

      • The main problem with internet metered by data volume is that you don't usually know what data volume you are using. When making phone calls, you know how long you speak, and therefore you can estimate how much it will cost you. However few people have any idea about what data volume is associated with a typical web site.

        However if metered data becomes more common, I guess ad blocking will become more popular. I don't think many people will like to pay for being served ads.

        • by mk1004 (2488060)
          I'm not sure that most ad blocking will reduce the data. I remember some years back that I blocked ads coming from one particular service at the firewall--I couldn't even use the website that was using that ad service. I was under the impression that software ad blocking usually just diverted the ads into a bit bucket. But that wouldn't keep the data from passing through the modem, which would count against your cap. I'm just waiting for the day that ads add a considerable amount to limited phone data plans
    • No; you've misunderstood the issue people have with bandwidth caps. Bandwidth caps are fine on their own. No one expects all caps to disappear. The problem is companies that are offering unlimited bandwidth and then imposing caps on the service, because you're not actually receiving unlimited bandwidth.

    • It isn't highly disruptive at all. It's a continuation of pathetically slow internet connections. If you're going to use less than 1GB a month, you can probably get by with a flash drive and a trip to the public library for anything you can't just do on your cellphone.
  • Model cycling (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nycsubway (79012) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @04:25PM (#43096763) Homepage

    Hopefully the home ISP market won't follow the cyclic model of the cell phone industry. With cell phone data, first you paid by the kB, then they introduced unlimited data plans, then they capped the limits and you paid by the GB, now they're going back to unlimited data plans. I'd prefer the home ISPs to not do that. They've always been unlimited (within reason) so I'd wouldn't like to see some small company changing the model for the industry.

  • Could Work for Some (Score:4, Informative)

    by cluedweasel (832743) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @04:31PM (#43096831) Homepage
    Interesting to see the average usage at 24Gb to 28Gb. When our local cable company was trying to bring in a 30Gb monthly cap, their argument was that 95% of their users went through 2Gb a month or less, effectively subsidizing heavier users. Total bollocks argument of course, but that's another story. The age demographic tends to skew high here and a lot of people only use their Internet connection for email. even here at work, people will reach for the Yellow Pages book before using Google. Those people would be a good target for this sort of service.
    • by skine (1524819)

      They could still be telling the truth.

      If 95% use 2Gb or less, and the mean usage is 26Gb per month, then the average heavy user only uses about 700Gb per month.

    • by Rogue Haggis Landing (1230830) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @04:53PM (#43097053)

      Interesting to see the average usage at 24Gb to 28Gb. When our local cable company was trying to bring in a 30Gb monthly cap, their argument was that 95% of their users went through 2Gb a month or less, effectively subsidizing heavier users. Total bollocks argument of course, but that's another story.

      The summary is a little misleading. The 24-28 gb is the average use, but the mean is a lot lower. Here's the full quote:

      "While average [U.S. home broadband usage] is 24-28 gigs per month, the average is skewed heavily by the whales. The median is actually 5.8 gigs, which is basically your non-streaming user," Stokols said.

      So half of all users are using 5.8 gb or less. Still makes the 2 gb limit ridiculously low, but the 24-28 gb average is skewed by some heavy users.

    • How long ago was that? Netflix and the likes probably accounts for a big portion of that 24-28GB, so I wouldn't be surprised if that number is four or five times higher than it was just a few years ago. I'm a pretty heavy Internet user, but five years ago the only way I would exceed 2GB/mo would be if I were downloading ISOs or movies... which isn't too common among the general Internet population.

  • Back in the day 600 megs a month was what you got with the standard ADSL account (which cost NZ$200 per month) and you paid extra for any overage.
    There was a cheaper plan that gave you only 126Kb/s but was unlimited.

  • How is $10 for 10GB plus $5/GB after that a good deal? A 24GB average user is going to end up paying $80/month.
    This sounds extensively like the cable company plans where they want to cap right below the level where someone trying to replace their $150/month cable subscription with $10/month netflix streaming would be.
  • Opt-In Cap Limits (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MatrixCubed (583402) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @04:42PM (#43096945) Homepage

    If they're implementing cap-excess fees, they should also enable the user to hard-limit his internet access when the cap is reached, with a manual bypass when the user wishes to "accept the charges".

    My ISP (Rogers, up here in Canada) offers soft-cap notifications in your browser when the cap reaches 75% and 100%, but these notifications would never be seen if I, for example, were to Netflix my Gbs into oblivion.

    • by isorox (205688)

      If they're implementing cap-excess fees, they should also enable the user to hard-limit his internet access when the cap is reached, with a manual bypass when the user wishes to "accept the charges".

      My ISP (Rogers, up here in Canada) offers soft-cap notifications in your browser when the cap reaches 75% and 100%, but these notifications would never be seen if I, for example, were to Netflix my Gbs into oblivion.

      They inject code into webpages you're viewing? Aside from the technical problems that would cause, and being a breach of copyright and trademark law, it just sounds like a terrible thing to do. Why don't you change ISP?

    • by sdnoob (917382)

      the only cap system that is fair and prevents outrageous overage charges is throttled-but-free usage over the cap. e.g. pay $30 for 100 gigs at 15 mbit, over 100 gigs in a month then speed falls to 1/10th that... want more full-speed gigs this month? call or login and order extra gigs for $7.50 per 25 gigs. extra gigs rollover, monthly quota does not. simple and fair.. provided it is marketed in plain english and limits are as obvious in marketing materials as the price or 'full' speed.

  • Get a license to practice law in CA, because the shit's about to hit the fan with bandwidth abusers with a refusal to pay. Ingeniously profitable!

  • I've seen background processes that take up more than that a month.
  • On a rainy weekend, with a bunch of Netflix, Gamecenter and music streaming and some other downloads, we can easily hit 50 GB in a day.

    • Hehe - I have been out of town for a couple of weeks. I consoled into my home box yesterday to check something out. Turns out I left my freenet node running before I left town. Whoops - there is 688 GB I'll never see again. Thank goodness my ISP is not yet employing limits on usage (though the day is sure coming)
      • PS - I pay for 50 down and 10 up. Given that I live in DC and we have great pipes, I actually get about 55 down and 14 up. Easy to get to insane numbers when you have insane bandwidth for home use.
    • by admdrew (782761)
      ...meaning this is probably not the service for you. But for many other people, $20 a month for 10gb of data at 8gbps is a great deal.
  • Wow... that's really high, I did 30GB in February and I work from home, use a softphone/voip and often do video conferencing with my coworkers.

    Does the average home user download 5-6 720p movies a month?

    • I'm right in that average, maybe a little over (pushing 30gb). I work from home. I am on 1.5mbps down line of sight wireless and 512 or 384 (forget which) up. We watch youtube videos on the 3xx setting (380? 324? 340? I forget). Occasionally stream music. We average somewhere between .8 and 1.2gb per day. We download almost no videos, I don't even play online games anymore...
      • by IANAAC (692242)

        I'm right in that average, maybe a little over (pushing 30gb). I work from home. I am on 1.5mbps down line of sight wireless and 512 or 384 (forget which) up. We watch youtube videos on the 3xx setting (380? 324? 340? I forget). Occasionally stream music. We average somewhere between .8 and 1.2gb per day. We download almost no videos, I don't even play online games anymore...

        My bandwidth and usage is almost exactly like yours, except I average a couple hours of Hulu every day, maybe skipping a day a week. I can get the average as low as .6g a day if I lower the rate to 240. I don't think I've ever gone above 1g per day, unless I've downloaded either large files or system updates.

        One other thing to be aware of that doesn't seem to get mentioned very often is uploads. Depending on what you're doing, you can rack up a few hundred megs in a day just on uploads.

    • by tantrum (261762)

      well, I seem to have downloaded 308gb and uploaded 368gb during february. No wonder I have to keep buying new drives.

      Didn't even download a single movie during february.

    • Well my house streams all of the TV now through netflix, hulu, the individual channel's sites, etc. Given that this is becoming more common it wouldn't surprise me if people are streaming the equivalent of 5-6 720p movies a month, I know my household easily exceed that. Then add in the windows updates, other software updates, general browsing, working from home, and my downloading of large public data sets (GIS data) and I fall in the heavy user category.
  • It would be nice as a failover for when my primary ISP goes down.

  • This looks more like a plan to hose poor people.
  • $1/GB? That is way too pricy for broadband internet. It would be a godsend for mobile pricing but not broadband. I guess people who barely use the internet might save money but a lot of us get our digital entertainment/media almost solely through the internet these days. Hell, if I bought a game off Steam, it would cost me $4 after the cost of the game. If I spent $20 on a game, that would be a 25% increase in price. This all assumes I use less than 10GB a month. I wouldn't be surprised if my household hits
    • by PhotoJim (813785)

      In the old days, when people bought games on physical media, they probably paid well over $4 extra to get that physical copy, considering physical disc production, packaging, shipping and distribution, etc. So soon, we are spoiled.

      • by Githaron (2462596)

        By that definition of "spoiled", everything humanity has designed and created to make parts of our lives easier or more efficient "spoils" us. By that definition of "spoiled", we should all be living tool-less, outside, sleeping in the dirt or trees, and spending 90% of our waking hours hunting, planting, and gathering so that we can continue to live out our 20 to 30 year lifespans.

        Technological progress changes expectations.

  • Evil (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Iamthecheese (1264298)
    Customers who use the internet in more sophisticated ways, for example to cut their TV cable and stream; to use bittorrent; to game, and so forth will not benefit from this pricing plan.

    We're left with less informed and poorer customers as the target demographic. The problem here is that most people and especially those in the target demographic don't realize how many bits that javascript game is transferring. They don't realize Mom's facebook page links to 3 gigs of pictures. This will inevitably result i
  • I entertained the idea of getting this as a backup internet connection for the home, but they way they auto-charge for blocks of data and the reports of the inconsistencies in data tracking has me shying away. I'm looking for a prepaid data option that lets one buy the allowance upfront, doesn't expire, won't auto-charge for additional data, and either has an ethernet interface or has driver support in FreeBSD 8.3 (pfSense 2.1) since it'll be used as a failover WAN connection.

    The only option I've found so f

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