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Time Warner Cable to Test Tiered Bandwidth Caps 591

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "According to a leaked internal memo, Time Warner Cable is testing out tiered bandwidth caps in their Beaumont, TX division as a way to fairly balance the needs of heavy users against the limited amount of shared bandwidth cable can provide. The plan is to offer various service tiers with bandwidth fees for overuse, as well as a bandwidth meter customers can use to help them stay within their allotment. If it works out, they will consider a nation-wide rollout. Interestingly, the memo also claims that 5% of subscribers use over 50% of the total network bandwidth."
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Time Warner Cable to Test Tiered Bandwidth Caps

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  • by kcbanner ( 929309 ) * on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @08:38PM (#22074198) Homepage Journal

    I think that ISPs need to take a different approach other than imposing hard caps on the users, even if you can choose your cap with varying amounts of cash.

    First, the users that occaisonally download large files should be treated differnetly than those that leave their p2p clients/home webserver/internet radio on all the time. For example, I often need to download isos for linux livecds or install disks. If my average daily usage is low, this download shouldn't count against my bandwidth usage. However if I'm downloading isos all day every day, then some of that bandwidth should be counted.

    Also, during non-busy times for that region, large bandwidth use shouldn't be counted, seeing as it isn't disadvantaging anyone.

    There should be no "hard line" between free bandwidth and 1$ per mB bandwidth. The users average bandwidth usage per month should be used in calculating their monthly rate, and they should pay for the next month based on their projected usage.

    I once had an ISP that had a monthly cap, it was awful. My two cents (how much they charged per mb over the 2gb/month) on the matter.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      How about really giving customers unlimited bandwidth? If they lack the infrastructure to support what they claim, then they should get better lines.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TeraCo ( 410407 )
        You couldn't afford it.
      • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) * on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @08:57PM (#22074516) Journal
        How about really giving customers unlimited bandwidth? If they lack the infrastructure to support what they claim, then they should get better lines.

        That's just it! They DO have the infrastructure in my area. I never experience slow downs due to TW's pipes getting flooded.

        This is merely a money grab!
      • by taniwha ( 70410 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:15PM (#22074792) Homepage Journal
        it's cable - you get to listen to 1 qam (6MHz wide - more for the new docsis that isn't here yet) and you're limited to ~25Mbits by that technology ... and you're sharing with your neighbors - upstream is much much less - you're never going to get more than what the cable modem can give you anyway - the cable company has a limit to the number of qams or analog channels they can fit on the cable (~120) and you're sharing that with TV.

        Not to excuse the cable company but they see it as that they're in a bind trying to trade off how many TV channels they can support (and how many analog ones in particular - (the sooner they die the better) with how many qams they dedicate to cable modems - and the expense of injecting the internet feeds in lower and lower down in the plant to support more and more customers with more and more bandwidth (ie sharing with fewer neighbors)

        They shouldn't have ever offered 'unlimited' because as we all know it really isn't and for technical reasons can't be as the customer base increases - they're depending on statistical models which those 5% who use 50% of the resources (if that's a real number) break

        • by Tiger4 ( 840741 ) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @12:26AM (#22076682)

          "and how many analog ones in particular - (the sooner they die the better)"

          Analog cable isn't going anywhere. Analog Broadcast TV may be going away (that story isn't finished yet), but analog cable to the home will be around for quite a while. The cable companies and their customers are going to very quickly realize that the cable company can serve as the Digital Converter box. All those old sets just need a cable connection and they will live a new life in the digital TV era. No need for all the subscribers to buy separate converter boxes. The cable company does it for you when they shove the signal down the line.

          That will be an interesting time. All broadcast will be digital. The cable company will convert some of it back to analog, ship it plus scrambled digital to you, then charge you (again) for a digital converter box to descramble the digital portion of the cable signal so you can see it all on your TV.

        • by nuintari ( 47926 ) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @12:41AM (#22076782) Homepage

          ...5% who use 50% of the resources (if that's a real number)...

          Um, I'd say that is accurate, I run an ISP, and without getting out my graphs and doing some basic math, I am tempted to say that is a _conservative_ estimate.

          It is the same in tech support, 5% of my customers are the morons I hear from on a weekly basis. They account for about 75% of my total time spent on the phone.
      • by SimonBelmont ( 1089255 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:20PM (#22074862)
        How about really giving customers unlimited bandwidth? If they lack the infrastructure to support what they claim, then they should get better lines.

        This statement is utterly stupid. It is harder to develop backbone capacity than last mile capacity, and ISPs have a very limited amount of backbone capacity. If they can supply a 10M last mile to 1000 customers and only have 1G of backbone, it still makes a lot more sense to give everyone a 10M line than to give everyone a 1M line, because not everyone's going to use it at once and this allows a lot more efficient allocation of bandwidth to whoever's demanding it at any given time. I think that in some instances they could do a better job of this allocation, but this is exactly what they are trying to do with a market solution, and it's no reason to choke off everyone's last mile.

        Even if the technology was available to give ISPs a blazingly fast cheap backbone that would let everyone saturate existing last-mile technology, in such a case it would be likely that better last-mile technology exists as well, and you run into the same problem. If you're really so concerned about being able to saturate your line 24 hours a day, you can get a line with a higher SLA (and pay the true market value of the bandwidth). Alternatively, you could exercise some courtesy and just not leave BitTorrent downloading 24/7.
        • by Fatal67 ( 244371 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:33PM (#22074998)
          While his statement was utterly stupid, yours was a bit off, too.

          The last mile is where the problem is. There is competition galore for long haul fiber (ie, to build a backbone) and you can pick up a dark fiber us footprint for under 20 million. Optics to light the gear and all of your routers will cost more.

          If it were easier to build the last mile, you'd have 20 people with a cable to your house fighting to connect you to the one or two backbones.
        • by pla ( 258480 ) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @10:32AM (#22080010) Journal
          This statement is utterly stupid.

          That statement translates to "give me what you agreed to sell me, which I dutifully paid for". I'd hardly call that stupid, except in the sense that we shouldn't need to say it in the first place.

          Most people don't care about the plight of the poor, starving "merely" 30% market share ISP. They care that they can play their online games, get their email, surf the web, and download streaming HD porn. The end user's obligation to "care" ends when they send in their monthly check.

          The ISP, on the other hand, has an obligation to actually provide a reasonable approximation to what they've sold. Does that mean they'd need to charge far, far more per customer? Too bad! If they can't provide it, they can't sell it. If they sell it, they damned well better provide it.

          Alternatively, you could exercise some courtesy and just not leave BitTorrent downloading 24/7.

          Why? I want to sell you this orange, the whole, unlimited, complete orange - But wait! I sold the same orange to nine other people, so could you "considerately" only eat 10% of it and leave the rest for others?

          Don't sell what you don't have. End of story.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by damista ( 1020989 )
      Not sure what's wrong with the approach chosen. To me, this looks like it's been handled by my ISP (and others) for quite a while now. My cable provider has tiered plans and for me, it works fine. I get 20GB/month "peak" volume (12pm-12am) and 40GB/month "off peak" (12am-12pm). If used smart, it gives me 60GB/month. There are no excess fees but the speed will be capped to 64kbit. The imposed cap sucks a bit cos it also affects the IP-phone and I think they should give at least 128kbit. But to be honest, I'v
      • by grumpygrodyguy ( 603716 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @10:41PM (#22075786)
        Not sure what's wrong with the approach chosen. To me, this looks like it's been handled by my ISP (and others) for quite a while now. My cable provider has tiered plans and for me, it works fine. I get 20GB/month "peak" volume (12pm-12am) and 40GB/month "off peak" (12am-12pm). If used smart, it gives me 60GB/month. There are no excess fees but the speed will be capped to 64kbit. The imposed cap sucks a bit cos it also affects the IP-phone and I think they should give at least 128kbit. But to be honest, I've only reached the speed cap once and that was about 5 hours before the new month started.

        Sure it isn't ideal but anything bar a REAL flat rate isn't ideal.

        Have you all gone crazy?!? where am I? My browser window says slashdot.org but I feel like I'm at a luddite convention! You're all talking like a bunch of nansy-ass accountants and librarians.

        Applauding the implementation of bandwidth hard-caps at the ISP level? You're all fucking crazy! 60GB/month?!? And you're happy with that?!?! You've got to be kidding, do you know how many Slashdot readers that kind of cap would cripple? (by Slashdot readers I mean people who actually value technologies like the internet, and call and complain to their ISPs if it isn't delivered properly...which is apparently almost noone in this thread)

        As a poster further up said, this is a money grab. If I pay for a 3mbps connection, or a 6mbps connection...then dammit that's what I should get! If the infrastructure of cable is a limiting factor then they need to RE-INVEST IN INFRASTRUCTURE instead of putting out another dividend to their pigs-rolling-in-telecom-monopoly-shit stockholders.

        I can't believe how many of you are bending over and giving a nod to the telecom monopolies, they should be INNOVATING! I.e. Improving services, reducing latencies, increasing bandwidth, expanding coverage, and ultimately PRESERVING THE YET UNTAPPED AND UNEXPLORED APPLICATION SPACE OF BROADBAND.

        The next thing they'll do is standardize tiered billing for low-latency connections (not lower latency mind you, but the one you ALREADY HAVE NOW), are you all going to clap them on the back for that brilliant idea too?!?

        my god wtf...

        If used smart, it gives me 60GB/month.

        What nauseating crap...I guess we should all count our blessings and be happy we aren't living in 1970s east berlin...that toilet paper isn't considered a luxury item...of course the 2008 east berlin has FAR better broadband coverage than we do now...but then what civilized country on this planet doesn't have better broadband than us? "Gimme 60GB/month, at least I can say I'm an american where consumers come first and we have access to the the best services and technologies"...what a crock. It grieves me terribly to read comments like these on Slashdot of all places...you've all turned into complacent kowtowing pussies!
        • by damista ( 1020989 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @11:36PM (#22076260)
          Yeah sure, we all want unlimited volume, at least 1Gbit data rate and of course we all want it for under 20 bucks, preferably for free. Dream on matey!

          WTF do you do if 60GB will "cripple" you? Download 10 TV shows/day? Where do you put all the stuff?

          There's limited bandwidth that's shared amongst all users. Sure bandwidth can be increased but that costs money and who do you think pays for it? Do you think any ISP can invest billions in infrastructure and not charge anybody for the extra cost? Last time I checked ISPs were businesses whose purpose is to make money and not hand it out. Put yourself into the shoes of an ISP? What would you do? I'm sure you wouldn't mind investing a crap load of money and not get anything in return.

          I'm not applauding the move but I call what I have reasonable. Before this plan I'm on, I had a so called "unlimited" plan. Unlimited? Yeah right! The fineprint said unlimited subject to an "acceptable use policy", stating that if my volume is more than 10 times the average usage (where average meant take the top and bottom 5% away and calculate the average from what's left...), I get cut off 'til the end of the month. The deal I have now not only costs less, it also gives me substantially more traffic than the "unlimited" deal.

          Limited bandwidth and unlimited traffic don't go too well together. But of course ISPs shouldn't advertise unlimited plans if they can't keep their promises.

          Btw. what made you think I'm American? Believe it or not, there are other countries out there who offer cable as well. Amazing isn't it?
          • by Your.Master ( 1088569 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @11:57PM (#22076450)
            > WTF do you do if 60GB will "cripple" you? Download 10 TV shows/day? Where do you put all the stuff?

            When I lived in Toronto with 3 other engineering students, we ran over the 60 GB limit within a couple weeks when we were trying to limit our bandwidth usage (there was no surcharge, but frequent threats from Rogers to cut us off), with "regular" usage, where "regular" includes frequent multiple-ssh sessions with GUIs being displayed and ftp'ing bulk data to and from the school servers and so forth. If we would have been cut off, we would have been forced to commute to the school on all weekends and stay the night on many weekdays, and given the money a student can't afford and the time this takes it could well be crippling.

            I agree with much of the rest of your point, though.
    • by j1m+5n0w ( 749199 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:20PM (#22074860) Homepage Journal

      I think the fair way to deal with heavy users is to give everyone the same fast rate for their first twenty gigs or so per month. If they exceed the cap, there are three things that can be done:

      1. cut the user off completely
      2. charge a confiscatory per-gigabyte fee or
      3. but a bandwidth cap on the user

      The first option is bad for customers because they don't want to have their connection cut off abruptly. The second is bad because it leaves open the possibility of getting a surprise bill for hundreds or thousands of dollars. The third option, imposing a bandwidth cap once users exceed their monthly limit, solves the problem and is much less intrusive: their internet still works (just not as fast), and they don't get any surprise bills. If they want their service to be fast again, they can pay a fee. (note: to avoid congestion, the payment cycle would have to be staggered so that everyone doesn't have their caps lifted the same time each month)

      Another approach ISPs would like to use is to target specific applications (bittorrent, youtube) rather than users, but this is just a short-term remedy that doesn't address the real problem - users who don't care how much bandwidth they use.

      • BTW, Option 3 is the way most broadband plans work in AU.
      • by mikael ( 484 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:51PM (#22075222)
        Start by giving everyone the actual cap limits on the network. Then provide them with a web page showing their usage for the billing period, along with a little icon widget that can be placed on the bottom tab of the web-browser that would provide a warning if the current level of usage is going to exceed the usage cap. That should help sort most of these problems out.

        I've experimented with PAYG Internet using a couple of wireless data cards (GPRS/3G networks). Once you start being billed by the kilobyte, it's straight back to text only browsers (those advertising banners, corporate logo frames that fill the entire screen and flash intro's are real bandwidth munchers).

      • by JackHoffman ( 1033824 ) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @01:27AM (#22077078)
        Consumers should never attempt to solve a corporation's problems by not demanding the full product or service. Corporations will not lower your fees when you are in a tight spot.

        The first fallacy is to assume that there is a problem which can be solved by generating less traffic: New uses will always require higher bandwidths and generate more traffic, so even casual users will exceed any perceived "acceptable" limit. Back in the nineties, students were asked not to use the web (with its bandwidth eating graphics) too much. Internet access was much more expensive back then. Would the internet be as fast and as cheap as it is today if people had restrained themselves? The web dwarfed email traffic. P2P dwarfs web traffic. HDTV streaming or whatever is next will dwarf P2P traffic. The only solution is to keep upgrading the net.

        The second fallacy is that generating much traffic is unfair towards casual users who pay the same price. There's always someone who uses the net much less. Even without any P2P, most of the /. readers would without a doubt create several hundred times as much traffic as people who only use email and read news on the web. On the other hand, the casual users will make frequent use of the ISP's helpline to configure an email client or "fix the internet." The heavy users on the other hand would not be caught dead calling ISP support staff. Which do you think is more expensive, upgrading routers or paying people to handhold customers through everything remotely related to your product?

        The third fallacy is that imposing traffic limits would reduce the problem: If you can't download all you want, are you going to use up your limit at night or when it's convenient, i.e. when everybody else uses the net because that's when it's convenient for them too? The problem isn't the total traffic, it's the bandwidth at peak times. Whether anyone downloads hundreds of gigabytes at night is totally irrelevant, because there is no off-peak bandwidth shortage.
    • by krotkruton ( 967718 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @10:22PM (#22075586)
      Yeah, and maybe they can give the "light" users some type of refund for the bandwidth they don't use each month... I know, they could call it "rollover bandwidth"! As long as you stay within your bandwidth allotment, you'd only have to pay a monthly fee (plus any add-ons you have, of course), but anyone who goes over their bandwidth would be charged heavy fees.

      And you could get packages that allow you to do different things, so if all you want is instant messaging and html, you can buy one package, but if you want to download a file there will be additional fees unless you have a download add-on. VoIP would be free if you get a phone through your cable company, but you'd need a different add-on without the phone.

      And they could charge less for users who only access local sites but charge more for those who receive information internationally, unless you get the international package.

      This all sounds like a great idea. It's not just a ploy to squeeze out that extra dime, these are great features that you can add to your plan! This way everyone gets what they want, even if it's more expensive. It's also less complicated since you pick the plans you want instead of getting a service that does everything, because no one really knows which features are included with "everything".

      But seriously, do you really want to see ISPs turn into cell phone carriers?
  • And to think that I was thinking about switching to Time-Warner, however now I will not.
    • Re:And to think... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @08:43PM (#22074272)

      And to think that I was thinking about switching to Time-Warner, however now I will not.

      Why, because of the absurd notion that you should get what you pay for - and vice versa? Flat pricing just means that someone like me - who isn't downloading movies all day - is helping pay the bills of people who are.

      • No, I belong to a small ISP that really does offer "unlimited bandwidth" (or my usage isn't excessive enough) however its a rather slow connection (1MB/Sec) and I was hoping for something a bit faster.
      • Re:And to think... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Yo Grark ( 465041 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:08PM (#22074708)
        And to think, Time warner won't mind STILL charging you for the usage you're at, only moving the heavy users to a more expensive package.

        Never seen a company that charges monthly rates go DOWN when introducing change.

        You'll keep getting screwed so who cares if you share with the top tier?
        • AT&T operating as an ISP for a recently rolled out fiber project in my area started offering a lower priced plan for more limited speeds and total bandwidth usage per month. The target use is the dial-up user who doesn't see a need for super high speeds and ever expanding promises, but would like a reliable always on connection that could at least support VoIP and such things.

          They aren't the ONLY ISP for this fiber rollout, so they do have direct competition in this market. That could explain their wi
      • Re:And to think... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pionzypher ( 886253 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:12PM (#22074762)
        I think you're making the assumption that your price will go down because you'll no longer be supporting these "paying freeloaders" who are using the service they bought. It seems more likely that you'll pay the same, and the heavy users will pay more. Bigger profit margin versus giving you a lower bill when you already seem ok with the current rate.

        It will be interesting to see what effect this has on digital media distribution online. How much will it stymie growth, if at all?
      • Re:And to think... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by blahplusplus ( 757119 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:26PM (#22074928)
        "Flat pricing just means that someone like me - who isn't downloading movies all day - is helping pay the bills of people who are."

        Which is bullshit since most ISP's advertise "unlimited" access AND bandwidth. You're not "paying for the other user" according to CONTRACT. Sorry buddy. I just find it hypocritical to accuse another customer of "paying for him", when the company is itself at fault for false advertising and advertising bandwidth it doesn't have.

        My ISP advertise full unlimited unrestricted bandwidth for a monthly price per month, if it can't handle that, that's not my problem THAT is what I payed for *in the contract*.
      • Flat pricing just means that someone like me - who isn't downloading movies all day - is helping pay the bills of people who are.
        Oh, I'm your worst nightmare. Right this very second I am uploading my backups to Mozy while downloading some TV episodes. Feel the BURN!
    • by Faylone ( 880739 )
      Well, you're lucky. I'm already a Time-Warner customer...in the Beaumont division! I shall have to keep a very sharp eye on this...
  • Frist Po (Score:3, Funny)

    by plague*star ( 731804 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @08:39PM (#22074216)
    crap outta bandwith
  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) * on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @08:40PM (#22074232) Journal
    As one of those 5% people, if they roll this out in my area, I'll become a DSL subscriber!

    • by antdude ( 79039 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:25PM (#22074916) Homepage Journal
      You're lucky. Others and I don't have that choice. I live in a Verizon area and I am too far to get DSL (20K ft. from CO), no FIOS service here, etc. I am not rich enough to get a T1 line. No WISP services around here. Forget satellite services since they are too slow (especially for online gaming), have caps, and expensive. :(
    • by edremy ( 36408 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:25PM (#22074918) Journal
      Don't know who modded this funny, but it's what they want. You aren't a customer they want to keep- you stress their network and force them to reduce the number of people on a single cable, which costs them money far beyond the $50/month you pay back. They'll be much happier with the grandmothers who download a few pictures of their grandkids every now and then.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ickpoo ( 454860 )
      What is never entirely clear is what is excessive bandwidth? Over the past year I have used about 25 Gigs per month with a high water mark of 40. I'm not sure that this is high, low or what.

      What is the norm?
  • If they're only going by total bandwidth, this is probably palatable to most users. My biggest gripe with my cable provider is not the total bandwidth but the uptime... I expect my internet connection to be always available for small packets (web browsing, email, etc) as a priority over fast downloads/streams or sustained bandwidth.
  • by Bryansix ( 761547 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @08:44PM (#22074292) Homepage
    Right now they already offere tiered service but it's all unlimited. IE: 5Mbps or 8Mbps
    What the difference is here is that they will actually not be "capping" the bandwidth per say but actually metering it. That's akin to buying 1Mbps on a Co-Lo that is on a burstable 1Gigabit link. That is, you get the sum total of bandwidth you could use if you were at 1mbps for the month but your connection is actually WAY faster(wider). Then you get charged for overages. This is great because it charges for usage and make it way less expensive for people who simply browse the net in their off time as opposed to those people who have no life and upload videos of themselves whoring on youtube all the time.
  • This isn't news (Score:3, Informative)

    by trainman ( 6872 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @08:44PM (#22074298) Homepage
    Where is the news in this? Canadian ISPs have had caps and over usage charges for years. I can tell on any day exactly how much bandwidth I've used and how close to my cap I am.

    I don't see a problem with this, having usage tiers with costs depending how much you plan to use is fine. The problem in the past has always been claims of "unlimited" until you reach a magical, secret cap. I don't think users will have a problem with tiers as long as you make the exact numbers completely clear, and of course that you charge reasonable rates.

    US ISPs have charged different rates for different speeds for a long time, how is this any different? It brings clarity to users.

    I, for example pay $35/month and am told I get 2.5Mbps down, 760kbps up, and 30GB total transfer. And if I want to transfer more, I pay more. It seems reasonable to me.
    • It must be news to all the people on Slashdot who have said they would move to Canada since broadband in the U.S. was so terrible. Maple Syrup is always sweeter on the other side of the border.
  • I am paying for X MBps download and Y MBps upload (it is dedicated). If I don't use it, that's fine. Nevertheless, I should be able to have that bandwidth at my leisure at all times (excluding other considerations like the server to which I am connecting). Please (Comcast/TWC/ISP) don't use the excuse that 5% of the users use 50% so we need capped service. It means they are taking full advantage for what they are paying for just like if I had a 50GB download cap (or 1 GB upload cap), I would probably
  • Time Warner customer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Propaganda13 ( 312548 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @08:47PM (#22074368)
    I'm a Time Warner customer and I have enjoyed their service. If this is legit, at least, it sounds like the right direction for it, though I'm not happy about it.

    1. Defined limits, overlimit fees, and prices for tiered service
    2. Monitor software to show customers where they're at

    I'm curious about the monitor software. Will it have options to shutdown internet access based on time frames and activity? This would be useful for people that want to budget their internet usage. Also it could useful if the computer is infected.
    • by Original Replica ( 908688 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:06PM (#22074664) Journal
      'm curious about the monitor software. Will it have options to shutdown internet access based on time frames and activity?

      How about by user? I'm thinking of parents that will now have to settle agruements between siblings: "Moooomm! Jonny used up all the internet."
    • Will it have options to shutdown internet access based on time frames and activity? This would be useful for people that want to budget their internet usage. Also it could useful if the computer is infected.

      Or ... you could go and buy timer for the electrical outlet and plug your cable modem into it.
      Or ... use an X10 module.
      Or ... unplug the modem when you're not using it.
      Or ... log into your router and disable it when you're not using it
      Or ... Use a router with parental controls and set them up
      Or ...

      I thin
  • The question is... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jafafa Hots ( 580169 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @08:48PM (#22074396) Homepage Journal
    Will these new, metered accounts be less expensive than their current standard charge, making this a good thing for the budget conscious, or more likely, will their current standard price become the lowest tier and unmetered will be a new higher cost tier, thereby making this simply news of a massive price hike?
  • I will opt for the unlimited option at twice or even three times the price no matter if I will hit the cap or not, it's just the way I do business. I can budget $80 a month for unlimited, I can't budget $20 a month, except january where I have a $500 overage because MSDN licenses changed and I have to download 100 DVD ISOs before they lapse ;)
    • ... during the course of the year, the second option is actually cheaper for you. I'd recommend option 2, while putting $60 a month into a special savings account that only gets touched to pay for overages.

      Of course, this all depends on the exact numbers that Comcast will use. I strongly suspect that I blow past a 2Gb monthly limit in about 1 week. That's about how often I download a full game demo, ISO or movie (iTunes, for anyone wanting to accuse me of Piracy) per month. And depending on release schedule
  • 99.99% of the problems companies like Comcast and Time Warner have with Bandwidth will go away if they introduce hard caps. Everyone gets, say, 20gb per month or whatever the plan they have paid for contains. If you exceed that amount, you get cut off (or have your speed cut back to dial up speeds) for the rest of the month.
  • by ohsmeguk ( 1048214 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:00PM (#22074558)
    How many average joes will get infected with a virus/trojan horse that spams out millions of emails, and not only have the hassle of disinfecting their computer, but also face a massive broadband bill at the end of the month for all of their bandwidth?
    • by Soko ( 17987 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:16PM (#22074808) Homepage
      Problem? This is not a problem - it's a benefit.

      At present, what does it cost Joe Luser if he gets nailed with a spambot and spews a few gigs of SPAM onto the Internet? Nothing extra (maybe a bit of speed on his connection) and he likely won't even really know he's been pwned.

      This way, when he gets a $300 bill for over using his bandwidth, he'll most likely fix the damned problem and take steps to ensure it doesn't happen again so he doesn't get blindsided by a lage ISP bill.

      Or, he'll blame the ISP and get off the net - either way the spammers lose a spambot, and we admin types win. Bring it on, TW!


      • by Dirtside ( 91468 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @10:02PM (#22075350) Journal
        Thanks, I was hoping someone would post this typical elitist BS. Your attitude is that users who aren't tech-savvy enough to prevent things like this from happening deserve to suffer -- and like it's going to help TW's bottom line if they lose a customer permanently because he's outraged that they charged him $300 without (from his perspective) warning, and possibly lose some other customers because this one guy convinces them TW sucks, and engender loads of ill will.

        The fact is there are a lot of people who are intelligent and not tech-savvy, either because they grew up too late and are stuck in a pre-Internet mindset, or just don't have the aptitude for tech; but these people still have plenty to contribute online, and cutting them off just because you think they're "lusers" is foolish and short-sighted.

        It's also telling that your primary interest is in the experience of "we admin types" rather than wanting the Internet to be a vast, diverse place; and you didn't even consider the possibility of other capping schemes that don't just kick people off because they're not as geeky as you.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          > Thanks, I was hoping someone would post this typical elitist BS. Your attitude
          > is that users who aren't tech-savvy enough to prevent things like this from
          > happening deserve to suffer

          Please don't take away my driver's licence, Your Honour. I know that I've run over 10 people in the past month, creating several widows and orphans. But you see, Your Honour, I'm a car user who isn't tech-savvy enough to prevent things like this from happening. I don't deserve to suffer.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      In Australia we've had caps since around when al gore invented the internet.

      There's one dishonest company that is charging people 15c/megabyte for excess usage on a 200mbyte plan. There have been people with $20k internet bills.

      http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=862549 [whirlpool.net.au]
      http://users.bigpond.net.au/Ice_Cold/BPbill01.JPG [bigpond.net.au]
  • Good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:01PM (#22074588) Homepage
    ISP's cant actually offer "unlimited" access to everybody, unless you want to start paying $300/month for home Internet. Its not realistic. People will do things like P2P that just eat up way too much traffic. They have two ways of dealing with the problem:

    1. Charge people for how much network capacity they actually use, ie: this. This is how gas, electricity, and other things are portioned out, and I haven't heard many people complianing about how its unfair.

    2. Start trying to get rid of some of the traffic. See: Comcast screwing with P2P.

    Of the two, I like this a lot better. My mom can pay for a little bit of network capacity, I can pay for a lot, and we both get what we paid for.
    • Or 3.) They could actually increase their capacity by investing in their infrastructure. They're going to have to do this sooner or later, and it may as well be sooner.

    • Re:Good idea (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Frenchy_2001 ( 659163 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:38PM (#22075066)
      That's funny, because Europe is *STILL* offering unlimited access and with much higher bandwidth than here.
      In Europe, you can get a service that offer phone (VoIP) + TV (over IP, with HD and DVR) + internet (up to 20Mbps/1Mbps) for 30 euros/mo.

      No restriction on the amount of DL.

      Then again, they have a weird thing in that domain: actual competition. All operators are actually trying hard to earn your money. But shh... Europe is communist, we all know that...
  • I can't see how bandwidth caps would be a good idea for the cable companies, especially when there are competitors [reuters.com] out there [betanews.com] that don't need to worry about capping their customer's usage. I also want to know how this would play out if other cable companies followed suit, considering that they're promising much faster speeds. [cnn.com] I would think that at 160Mbps you could hit your cap pretty quickly (depending of course on what the cap is set at, and your actual usage).

    I'm a Time Warner customer, and as far as

  • by BlueParrot ( 965239 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:07PM (#22074692)
    I moved out of the country before I could determine how it worked out, but some Norwegian companies tried a scheme under which you have two tiers of bandwidth. By default your connection uses the higher speed but if you exceed the quota it degrades to the lower speed until the end of the month. This works quite well since you will still have a fixed bill every month and you won't just lose your ability to use e-mail if you exceed the quota.

    Of course, it is all about the marketing. You don't say "we degrade your connection if you exceed this quota", you say "In addition you get EXTRA HIGH SUPER SPEED for the first 20 gigabytes (ZOMG!!!! thousands of songs) each month". You then proceed to sell "top-up packs" at your website where users can pay for extra quota, and then offer an optional service by which quota... err... extra-bandwidth-top-up-packs .... will be added to your bill automatically.
  • 5% use 50% (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jbengt ( 874751 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:10PM (#22074736)

    . . . the memo also claims that 5% of subscribers use over 50% of the total network bandwidth.

    Give those 5% some virus scanners ! !

  • too logical... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fred fleenblat ( 463628 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:15PM (#22074794) Homepage
    Is there a way to set up a network so that the people who have used the least bandwidth get highest priority?

    say i download linux distro iso's all month. i use up 99% of my ISP's capacity, then one day my neighbor starts up a VPN and telnets in. Since he's used hardly any bandwidth, his packets get top priority. my bittorrent client slows down a little bit then goes back up when he's done.

    that's a fair way to do unlimited service.

    it just seems like any throttling back beyond prioritization is just a waste of installed capacity.
    • got it in one (Score:5, Interesting)

      by !eopard ( 981784 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @11:30PM (#22076222)
      Australia has had monthly download quota's for 7+ years now. In many instances it will be split into peak and off-peak quota. Eg: my current plan is 150GB/month, 40GB peak, 110GB off-peak (which is 1am to 7am for this ISP).

      Back in '02 Internode http://www.internode.on.net/ [on.net] introduced Flat Rate plans, whereby you could download as much as you wanted while the network wasn't congested, however when utilisation reached 100%, those with the highest downloads over the last 28 days (rolling period) would be progressivly slowed down, to as low as dial-up speed. Once the network was less congested, your speed would ratchet back up (again depending on network congestion and your priority based on your downloads).

      Those that only occassionally downloaded large files would get full speed pretty much all the time, those that downloaded continuously would see their downloads slow during peak periods.

      It wasn't rocket science, but that 28day rolling period and how it worked was a confusion that eventually forced the cancellation of these type of plans - which is too bad, as they essentially gave everyone a fair go depending on how much you downloaded. No excess charges, just a flat fee and as much GB as you could squeeze out of the link.

      It was a great system and I was sorry to see it go. I'm sure the developer of the software was dissapointed in much larger ways - this system could have made bandwidth provisioning & customer charging a lot easier to predict and manage.

      More info in an FAQ http://whirlpool.net.au/article.cfm/1037 [whirlpool.net.au]

  • If you want to download warez and movies 24/7 then why should I subsidize your connection?

    As long as they offer a nice selection of caps that is with maybe even an unlimited one (expensive as that level would be). And of course they have to actually let the customer know of the caps (ie: don't be fuckers like comcast).
  • I was one of Cablevision's very first internet subscribers. I saw their service degrade heavily over the years. They finally started secretly capping their users to balance out the bandwidth usage. It became unbearable.

    I moved to verizon FIOS asap and i've been in heaven since. Its a quality service, that doesnt cap you for uploading or downloading.

    I work in 3d animation and special fx here in NY, and i often need to tranfer large batches of frames at film res from home to clients or from home to the office
  • That's right. You pay some money each month and you get a fair amount of datatransfer each month. I think that is reasonable for both side. For the consumer side it is reasonable because they don't have to worry about caps(which bite) or varying costs(which bite even harder). For the ISP it is reasonable because they know how much the users can use at most and they know how much datatransfer to facilitate. If someone surpassing fair use they need to be charged heavily for that. It is stupid that networks bu
  • Time Issues (Score:2, Interesting)

    One thing this dosn't seem to allow for, is the differences on bandwidth demand based upon time of day. If you're stealing all the bandwidth downloading huge files or torrenting around 7pm, well, then you're going to slow people down. But if you're downloading alot at 3 a.m. and nobody is even online to notice, who cares? This system is going to end up with alot of unused bandwidth if they have hard-coded caps. If they're going to cap, they should at least make it dynamic. I suppose they want money thoug
  • ... you find out that your 1 gig monthly usage is in the 5% of users....
  • by vtechpilot ( 468543 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:24PM (#22074912)
    When I first moved to the UK and found that all my choices for ISPs had a metered usage plan, I was against it at first. My major complaint was that I had no way to predict how much data transfer I was going to use, so I didn't know what tier I should sign up for. Now that I've been on such a system for a couple years now I really do say that its more fair. The provider I am with now (plus.net) has a pretty good system I set a fixed monthly cost. For each £ I prepay I get so many GB of transfer. If I go over limit, I can choose to have my speed capped at 128K (Still plenty for email and most surfing), or optionally choose to pay a per GB charge that is slightly more expensive than the prepaid rate. Additionally They make a distinction between peak and off peak hours. So only transfers during peak hours actually count to my monthly transfer. The result is that I've learned to schedule my large downloads into Off Peak Hours. I have a had a few months where my home transfer was nearly 100 GB. However 80+ GB of that was Off peak usage which I did not pay for directly. Whats the result of all this? My ISP gets to manage their network performance during peak hours so all users have a pleasant experience. I still get big downloads, and I pay whats fair for what I use. The limits on my account are clearly defined. There is no mysterious 'use too much and we'll cut you off' amount.

    I am very happy with this system, but to be clear, the reason why I am happy with this system is my ISP has provided choices. If Time Warner fails to provide similar choice then it will be awful.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nursie ( 632944 )
      Well, I live in the UK and have for some time. And if you look around you'll find that a few ISPs will give you a fast speed an no caps.

      eclipse have been good to me in the past. bethere.co.uk are even better. They're not capped, I get a static IP and the speed is 24Mbps (sure, I only get 12 or so, but it's better than anyone else is able to give me). All for 19 quid a month.

      Yes, they have a FUP, no, I haven't been called on it yet despite frequent torreent traffic.
  • I'm on an 80GB/mo plan. You pay for speed and for traffic, and it works. It means that you can be pretty much guaranteed to get full speed on your connection ALL OF THE TIME. No more throttling, no more peak hour BS. I've got 10mbps connection, and I get 10mbps. If the carrier can't provide it, we get refunds (as we currently are).

    Additionally, it puts a price on p2p. If you're paying $1.50/GB of traffic (each direction), then that 4GB torrent that you let run until 1.0? It just cost you $12+. It pu
  • Knowing how capitalism works, we'll see it end up more like: You use more you pay more... you use less, you pay what you currently pay.
    • by Myopic ( 18616 )
      Yes, this is very insightful. I live in Juneau, Alaska and we have a tiered system here (I was surprised to learn it wasn't this way everywhere). Our vendor is GCI. I have no idea how much the rest of you pay for internet, but we pay an astounding eighty dollars for a cable modem, and that is the cheapest tier. We just upped to a higher amount this month (so I could download more porn, you know) and I bet it'll be a hundred dollars.
  • Linux penalizes "CPU-hungry" programs that want to use all of the CPU time, by pushing their priority down. That way "nice" programs can still get CPU when they want it, the "greedy" programs get whatever is left over, and no processor cycles are wasted. It would be cool if ISPs could do something similar with bandwidth resources. Easier said than, done, of course... but it seems silly to me to bandwidth-cap a "greedy" user at 3AM when nobody else is using the network anyway...
  • At least in Australasia, a split tariff of speed + bandwidth has been the norm pretty much ever since charging-per-minute-online went away. We've not generally had pure 'flat rate' deals, except for some very shonky providers who went out of business rapidly. I've been watching the debates here over 'tubes' and filtering and wondering just what's going on in the USA, that people think they can get unlimited amounts of data transfer for free with no consequences - and then resort to weird restrictive contrac
  • People pay for a download rate, and the cable company provides it. This is nothing more than a scheme to hit customers with additional charges that they have no way of monitoring.

    I used to live in a small town in NE Pennsylvania. The only place I could get broadband was the local podunk phone company. I paid $70/month for 512 Kb/s, and I got it all the time if I wanted it. I think that Time Warner could do what my backwoods, East Bumblefuck phone company did if they really cared about a rise in bandwidth us
  • Truth comes out (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Tilzs ( 959354 )
    I tell you, there is no pleasing some of you people. First people complain about cable companies limiting people for offering "unlimited bandwidth" and say that they shouldn't say unlimited if they don't mean unlimited. Now someone comes out with a plan for limited tiers and people complain that there are caps in place. Personally I'd be OK with just paying for what is used say $5.00 per month + $2.00 a GB for example, however companies may never do that because you don't get the big profits on the people w
  • Ad bandwidth (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LM741N ( 258038 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:59PM (#22075306)
    Just how much bandwidth is used up by ads? Over and over again its the ads that hold up the loading of pages.
  • by Progman3K ( 515744 ) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @12:06AM (#22076544)
    Why don't they start by shutting down the zombies?
  • sad but necessary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nguy ( 1207026 ) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @12:23AM (#22076662)
    I think the ISP's approach of selectively targeting the worst bandwidth hogs when they became aware of problems was the best one: it's easy to do and it doesn't limit what you can do unless there's a problem.

    Bandwidth caps and tiered pricing are a result of a few people not being able to exercise some self-restraint. It's the tragedy of the commons again. And the result of it is that bandwidth costs will go up significantly and everybody suffers.

    The culprits here are not the cable companies, it's people who believe that "unlimited bandwidth" entitles them to running BitTorrent and Joost 24/7, in clear violation of the actual TOS.

Information is the inverse of entropy.