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Time Warner Shutting Off Austin Accounts For Heavy Usage 591

mariushm writes "After deciding to shelve metered broadband plans, it looks like Time Warner is cutting off, with no warning, the accounts of customers whom they deem to have used too much bandwidth. 'Austin Stop The Cap reader Ryan Howard reports that his Road Runner service was cut off yesterday without warning. According to Ryan, it took four calls to technical support, two visits to the cable store to try two new cable modems (all to no avail), before someone at Time Warner finally told him to call the company's "Security and Abuse" center. "I called the number and had to leave a voice mail, and about an hour later a Time Warner technician called me back and lectured me for using 44 gigabytes in one week," Howard wrote. Howard was then "educated" about his usage. "According to her, that is more than most people use in a year," Howard said.'"
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Time Warner Shutting Off Austin Accounts For Heavy Usage

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  • Two words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jurily ( 900488 ) <jurily@g m a i l . com> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:23AM (#27712517)

    Fuck them.

  • The rise of Hulu (Score:5, Insightful)

    by downix ( 84795 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:23AM (#27712521) Homepage

    My bandwidth usage averaged about a gig a week, between internet radio, VoIP, etc. but then, I noticed my usage jumping to 12Gig/week virtually overnight. Initially I feared a virus. Then I checked, all of the traffic was going to my wifes computer. I then cross-referenced it, the day it jumped was the day she found Hulu, and signed up for Netflix. Now imagine 3-4 computers in the house, each one with someone seperately watching netflix or Hulu....

  • by chill ( 34294 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:28AM (#27712565) Journal

    Why is it so difficult for people to comprehend that if you use more, you're going to have to pay more?

    And why is it so hard for TWC and others to advertise what they actually offer instead of what they know they can't deliver? The word "unlimited" means "no caps" or "without limit". You don't get to redefine it by slapping on some fine print.

  • by jmccarthy ( 228531 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:37AM (#27712645)

    One would think being sold all you can eat service, then having it cut off for using it would be seen as universally crappy.

  • Re:She was right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:40AM (#27712677) Journal

    44 GB is more than most people use in a year.


    Rather than going after "abusers", you want to start upgrading your network now to accommodate them, before the majority discover sites like Hulu and Youtube.

    But the majority would not want their fees to go up because of that kind of usage.

    Nor, I suspect, would the majority want to get hit with that lecture the second they discover how to actually use the connection they've been sold.

  • by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:44AM (#27712719) Journal

    there are parts of the Backbone that are oversold, and it would be physically impossible for every customer to use 100% of the bandwidth at one time and get the speed they were advertised.

    Then that is the problem than needs fixing, not these "abusers".

  • Gee, No Shit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:45AM (#27712737) Homepage

    Right now, the ISPs are charging the same price to heavy users and light users. Heavy users cost the ISP more than light users. Therefore, their profit motive is to maximize light users and minimize heavy users.

    Tiering would align their profit motive with heavy users (due to volume discounts).

    As long as heavy users keep demanding that light users subsidize their usage, by not charging differential pricing, the ISPs will continue to be profit motivated to cut off heavy users. They will continue to be on the side of content restriction. They will continue to be the enemy of we heavy users.

    Choose your poison: Get the ISPs on our side by letting them profit from our heavy usage, or keep them in an antagonistic position towards us. I like getting free money from light users, but it's not a healthy market strategy. It puts me in an adversarial relationship with my ISP. I'd rather pay for what I use and have them treat me as their golden customer.

    Support tiered pricing (and net neutrality - which 1's and 0's is none of their damned business). Get the ISPs back on our side (like they were in the 90's, when we geeks were their only customers). It'll cost more, but we'll be the golden-haired boys again. Stop demanding free stuff you cheap fuckers.

  • by grapeape ( 137008 ) <mpope7 AT kc DOT rr DOT com> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:46AM (#27712741) Homepage

    Cable faces the predicament of being next in line behind print newspapers only for them the situation is even more awkward since they themselve provide the very service that they fear will lead to their demise. They push watching streaming video and music, faster download speeds and a "better" internet experience but dont really want you to use it. Its a rough spot they put themeselves into and the only way cable providers can fight the inevitable is to limit usage and hope the customer base is incapable of finding better alternatives.

  • Re:WTF ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cortesoft ( 1150075 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:47AM (#27712749)

    He did pay for it. He signed up for an account and everything! I am pretty sure 44 GB is less than unlimited, which is what he is paying for.

    It reminds me of this hilarious self-car wash near my parents house. It has a HUGE sign that says "WAS AS LONG AS YOU WANT!" and then a tiny little disclaimer saying "up to 20 minutes". Well at least they are a step above Time Warner... they have the disclaimer that EXPLICITLY states what the limit is.

  • by david.emery ( 127135 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:48AM (#27712765)

    Of course, most contracts are written so that the big company preserves the right to do any damn thing they want at any point, but it still might be worthwhile looking at your contract, and then going to your state/county/city consumer affairs office and asking them to look at it. Cable companies are normally regulated utilities.


  • by feepcreature ( 623518 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:49AM (#27712775) Homepage

    If the terms and conditions ban that sort of usage, then the customer has little to complain about (other than the lack of notice).

    If there is nothing in the terms and conditions about such usage, then the supplier is clearly in breach of contract. That might suggest the customer could sue (was there any financial loss, time and cost of equipment while investigating, etc)?

    Or maybe, if this is a pattern of behaviour, or company policy not mentioned in T&C, the local trading standards authorities might take an interest? Or it could constitute some sort of fraud, or false advertising?

    Is there such a thing as a private prosecution in your jurisdiction?

  • Re:The problem is (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:51AM (#27712789) Journal

    When I worked for Lucent as a network engineer, I ended up doing some work for Cricket Wireless down in Fort Lauderdale.

    You see, Cricket was started by some wireless guys that looked at the numbers and said "Hey, the average length of a local telephone call is under 3 minutes. The median length is under 1 minute. At those network usage levels, we could start a company giving people UNLIMITED local calls for $20 a month and make a killing!" Right?


    I was down there with a couple other engineers to assess how best to upgrade Crickets collapsing network. You see, people figured out that they could buy two of the phones and use them for things like BABY MONITORS! Just dial and drop one in the crib. Don't hang it up and wander around with the other, all over town if you want. It was cheaper, had better sound quality and less interference than normal baby monitors. They were seeing the average call length jump to over an hour, with some peaking at 8-10 hour calls!

    Needless to say, this was NOT in their business model. They didn't take into account that the average usage was so low because people had to pay for it.

    Just about every other utility -- electricity, gas, water, sewage, garbage -- you pay by volume used. The Internet isn't any different.

  • 44GBs!? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:53AM (#27712817)

    This is nuts! I could easily blast through 44GB. I just bought the PC version of Grand Theft Auto IV on steam the other day. That's 15GB right there. I also downloaded that windows 7 beta iso. That's another 4GB. I watched half a season of The Office in HD on Netflix. 4 or 5GB right there. And consider this, I'm not the only person that lives here. Everyone else in my family is using youtube and Hulu and downloading god knows what!

    I've been picking up games on Steam whenever they're on sale for a few years now. I checked my folder and I've got about 200GB worth of games now! A lot of games take up 7 0r 8GB these days so this isn't really that crazy, and I got most of them on the cheap so I've gotten quite a few over the years. What if my hard drive fails? What if I lost my backup files? Should I wait 5 or 6 years to get them all back?

    Am I being unreasonable here? I'm paying for internet, why can't I use it?

  • Re:Not surprised (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:54AM (#27712823) Journal

    If you're streaming 10hrs a day of music 7 days a week at home, you need to go get a job.

    And what if I work from home, and like listening to the music while I work?

  • Re:She was right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:55AM (#27712829)

    Then TW shouldn't sell unlimited transfer volume to people.

    Or, if they already did sell it, let the contract run out at the next possible opportunity without renewing it.

    But cancelling it overnight? Unacceptable. Making people jump through hoops just to find out what happened? Unacceptable. Lecturing people for making use of the resource they paid for, the one that TW *contractually agreed* to provide? Unacceptable.

    Besides, 44 GB per year is 120 MB per day. Do you seriously think that "most people" don't use 120 MB of transfer volume per day? Oh, sure, those that only check their email or read the occasional news website won't. But as soon as you're starting to do things like watch streaming video (e.g. on Youtube), play games, use iTunes etc. etc., it's actually quite easy for anyone to reach this volume.

    Also, consider how much he actually COULD have transferred. If you assume that he's got e.g. 16 Mbps downstream (average here in Germany where I live for broadband users), that's about 1.7 MB per second that could be transferred at most. 1.7 MB times 86400 times 7 is 1028 GB - that's a *Terabyte* per week.

    In other words, he was using less than 4.3% of what he COULD have used if he had actually gone all out and made FULL use of the resource that TW *contractually agreed* to provide to him.

    4.3%. And you think that's excessive, just because TW oversold their capacity dozens if not hundreds of times and because they couldn't figure out that if they advertised "unlimited" Internet access, people woudl expect to get, duh, *unlimited* Internet access?

    Where do you live - Bizarro World?

  • Re:She was right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by v1 ( 525388 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:55AM (#27712835) Homepage Journal

    A single hulu show is roughly a gigabyte if you have the bandwidth. 44 hours a week is not unusual for television watching in some circles.

    I was just thinking about that, 44 hrs/wk that's over 6 hrs a day 7 days a week, which does seem a bit extreme. But then I realized, that's if you're the only one in the house. How many houses have three televisions now? Imagine an entire family that uses hulu. Even three family members could easily average over 40 hrs combined video time a week if they preferred different shows, which is not at all uncommon.

  • Re:She was right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nick Ives ( 317 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:59AM (#27712859)

    So pay for TiVo and internet just because your ISP doesn't think you should be using the internet that much? Get real.

  • Re:She was right (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zwede ( 1478355 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:00AM (#27712863)

    But the majority would not want their fees to go up because of that kind of usage.

    I don't understand why you would think the fees would go up? The ISP's cost per GB towards the backbone provider goes DOWN each year as technology improves. Yet the cost the ISP charges the end user stays the same or increases. Why would we not expect some of the extra profit made by the ISP to be re-invested in their network? Or are you saying that running a large ISP gives you a license to never upgrade your service and charge ever higher fees?

  • Re:WTF ? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by skine ( 1524819 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:09AM (#27712935)

    To make an analogy:

    Imagine a that there's a 24-hour all-you-can-eat buffet that sells monthly admission. This of course means that anyone who signs up for the service can come in at any time they want and eat as much of anything that they want.

    Most patrons only come in for one meal a day, though there are quite a few that come in for two or three squares a day.

    Then one day, someone decides to take full advantage of the service, and spends every waking hour in the buffet eating. He's not necessarily gorging himself, but on top of his constant stream of small entrees, desserts and drinks, he tends to eat some of the most expensive and labor-intensive dishes that the business provides.

    Then, without warning, the buffet decides to kick him out.

    The problem isn't that he should be paying for every meal. He did sign up for a service that provided, quite literally, all you can eat. This would imply that what was provided was unlimited food, or (sorry, I'm a math student) he was limited to an infinite amount of food.

    Despite this, he was kicked off for eating a finite measure of food.

  • by AigariusDebian ( 721386 ) <aigarius.debian@org> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:09AM (#27712949) Homepage

    South Korean ISPs can afford to have backbone pipes of dozens of 1 Gbit fiber optic lines. Time to grow up and upgrade you decades old infrastructure USA. If the companies cann't do that maybe it is time for socialism and have government do it. Best Internet in the world with lowest cost is municipal Internet.

  • by andymadigan ( 792996 ) <> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:11AM (#27712963)
    People know that an ISP can only do best effort for the advertised speed. If streaming is too slow, they'll stop using it, or use it less often (low reliability = low usage). There's also the fact that both of these services use Akamai. Simple solution, get Akamai to put a server on your (the ISPs) local net, pay them money for it if you have to. Akamai's business is getting data to people fast, if they're not doing it somewhere I would think they would want to fix that.

    The simple fact is that TW is trying to protect their Cable TV business by degrading their internet service. For this reason I think the government should get involved and split RR from TWC. Obviously TW's conflict of interest in this area threatens people's access to a service that has become a necessity of modern life (Cable TV still isn't). Letting them arbitrate how much internet access people get is unacceptable.

    Charging people for using the internet "too much" is ridiculous. The problem is bandwidth on the pipe, not the number of bits it can handle in a month. Offer them speed tiers, not usage tiers.
  • by mariushm ( 1022195 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:11AM (#27712967)

    250 GB is not a problem NOW.

    In a year or so, when you'll be able to buy blu-rays online, you'll be able to download a 20-30GB movie or watch it while it's being downloaded.

    If you'll plan to watch a movie each afternoon with your family, you'll go over the limit in 2 weeks.

  • Re:Gee, No Shit? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo ( 1000167 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:13AM (#27712973)
    By that argument, when I go to a buffet my 4 trips to the pasta bar are subsidized by the poor guy who could only make 3. If you're going to advertise for all-you-can-eat, shouldn't you have to provide it?
  • Re:She was right (Score:2, Insightful)

    by iocat ( 572367 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:16AM (#27713003) Homepage Journal
    Read the comment above about people using unlimited cell phones as baby monitors and stuff -- it's mean-spirited to purposely use the wrong tool for the job. I could torrent Big Bang Theory every week, but it's about a billion times easier to just DVR it and watch it on my actual TV. Does it cost more? Depends on who you ask. It costs me a bit more, it costs Comcast a ton less, and it costs my neighbors a ton less in terms of bandwidth. But, when you add in the convenience side of things, it costs me a ton less, because I don't have to deal with the time and effort hassles of piracy. Using the wrong tool fro the job (a knife to unscrew a screw, a wrench to pound in a nail, a computer to watch TV shows) just strikes me as an inelegant solution to a problem.
  • Re:Not surprised (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Grimbleton ( 1034446 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:21AM (#27713047)

    Because there are no disabled people or people who work from home in the world, right guys?

  • by Jbain ( 1453725 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:23AM (#27713061)

    The difference is that the restaurant is stating the limit, TWC is not. If they clearly stated the limit, and the limit was reasonable(their previously advertised caps were not) people wouldn't care so much.

    iirc I have a 250gb cap on my comcast line. I wasn't happy when they introduced it, but it's far above what I will use in a month and they stated it clearly. I wasn't thrilled but I don't have an issue because they were upfront and reasonable about it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:31AM (#27713123)

    No, that's the only reasonable way to operate networks, and always has been. Contention ratios need to be reasonable, but they can't be 1. The real problem is how you market this in a fair way. You can't tell people their minimum guaranteed bandwidth, because that depends a lot on other operators' networks. Limiting the total data volume per month doesn't help either, because that doesn't keep people from using their quota at the same time as everybody else, so it doesn't prevent congestion. Flat-price metering has the same problem. The market way would be to treat peak and off-peak traffic differently, but that significantly taints the product.

    Peer 2 peer protocols aside, the biggest congestion risk is created by video streaming services. The current implementation just makes no sense. The streams, which are essentially the same for a lot of users, give or take a couple of minutes, are sent in duplicate as unicast streams. That is a terribly inefficient way to send video. If there is no economic incentive to solve this problem, it will only get worse, but the only reasonable way to create that incentive is unmarketable (unless you live in Australia).

  • by EvilIdler ( 21087 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:38AM (#27713185)

    A gigabyte or two a day is not hard at all. Play some FPSes, or play games which constantly have updates/new content, or rent movies. A few computers auto-updating, rather than downloading a combined patch and sharing, eats bandwidth too. Add the stupid web's tendency towards lots of Flash adds (and not the lightweight GIF-anim replacements, but full song & dance affairs) for extra effect. Finally, try to do actual development work and distribute the results to all servers which require it. If you are an iPhone developer, enjoy them rejecting your 50MB app a few times, forcing you to upload it in its entirety :)

    An active Internet user could reach terabytes per year legally.

  • by Dissman ( 997434 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:43AM (#27713233)
    Korea, and Japan are highly competitive markets when it comes to telecommunications. So, I beg to differ that "the best internet in the world with the lowest cost is municipal internet." The problem in the US is very low population density combined with a duopoly when it comes to internet service. Municipal/Government corporations have a history of being less effective, and more expensive than private business... If anything, stimulus money needs to create competition in regions... I.E. a competitor to AT&T, and the CableCo. So, pay Verizon to overbuild AT&T... AT&T would have to compete or die. Like i said, it's simply the lack of competition.
  • by Planesdragon ( 210349 ) <> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:49AM (#27713291) Homepage Journal

    Municipal/Government corporations have a history of being less effective, and more expensive than private business

    But far, FAR more even.

    You can easily build a business selling internet service in New York City. For the whole state of New York, though... well, if the state didn't require telecoms to service some parts of NY, they simply wouldn't get serviced.

  • by Tuoqui ( 1091447 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:57AM (#27713355) Journal

    Why is it so difficult for people to comprehend that if you use more, you're going to have to pay more?

    Probably because people are being overcharged already.

  • Re:Two words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flyneye ( 84093 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:58AM (#27713373) Homepage

    This guy is a clown.My favorite thing to do is keep saying " let me speak to your superior." and "What about 'right now' don't you understand,moron?" until you are speaking with someone suitably responsible, then lay it on the line.
    " So, I'm sure my readers will love a warning about your 'no-tell' capping system and your bungling service. It's nice to be able to finally let my readers know AT&T is the only acceptable broadband in the Austin area. Of course though readers from other markets read me as well. It's too bad we couldn't clear this problem up. Your service represenatives seem to think that Streaming entertainment constitutes too much bandwidth for your little network to take. I'm sure they'll be glad that AT&T aren't asshats to their customers and mind their own business."

              Just ad lib it a bit and kick 'em in the crotch good. You'd be surprised how attitudes change with the threat of constitutionally protected opinions available to their customers.
    If not, well, f**k 'em anyway. Blog it up.

  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) <> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:59AM (#27713383) Homepage Journal

    This is why capitalism failed: because commoners and the intelligent don't understand that no transaction is one-sided except theft (which is why government is theft, by the way).

    You aren't the consumer of broadband, you are a party involved in a transaction. You decide that a broadband connection is worth more than the dollars you have. The provider decides that the connection is worth less than the dollars they want. You consume broadband, they consume dollars. You're both providers of something. It's not an equal trade because both of you are profiting.

    Here's why you all will fail: unlimited broadband does not mean unlimited data. It means unlimited connect time.

    Do you people remember dial-up? You paid by the hour (x.25/Compuserve). That's how it was. Then there were some "unlimited" plans but you'd get disconnected every few hours. You might have still paid for the phone minutes.

    Then broadband came along offering unlimited connect time, not data.

    Ugh, when will people learn? There's a ton of competition on the broadband-consumer side, but not a ton of competition on the dollar-consumer side that offers broadband. Whose fault is this?

    I'd point to the voters of the communities that allow monopolies to exist rather than letting competition reign in pricing.

  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @12:01PM (#27713397)

    Well, the people using 40 gigabytes a month are just a harbinger of the future.

    They can oversubscribe right now, but they can't stay at the same oversubscription numbers forever, if they do, they will be shooting themselves in the foot (as far as new revenue and better competition against dialup internet service is concerned) -- i.e. they can't offer "5 megs download", and not expect customers average usage to eventually increase over time to 5 megs sustained usage when they're doing things on the internet like watching high-def movies.

    Just to be clear, using 5 megabits of download speed sustained for 2 hours a day, results in a usage of 4500 megabytes, or 4.5 gigabytes per day. Which is a weekly usage of 31.5 gigabytes per week, and 126.0 gigabytes per month.

    And what if someone wants to watch two movies one day?

    This is not even counting usage of commercial download services like iTunes, which are only becoming more and more popular. It's definitely forseeable someone may want to watch a few movies during the day (esp. on weekends), and download a bunch of music and videos off iTunes.

    The ISPs are going to have to eventually upgrade their infrastructure to be able to provide as much per month to every customer that their customers want.

    It's just a fact that logically arises from the fact that customer demand is increasing as more commercial bandwidth-hungry services are made available. This is a good thing (not a bad thing) for ISPs, as it means the customer pool will also increase, the more popular and useful these services are, gives more people reason to want high-speed connections.

    It's only a question of time.

    By cutting off these "extreme users", they are only delaying the inevitable a little bit, and pissing people off (possibly losing more and more customers, to competitors, who will respect that bandwidth requirements for ordinary users are in a process of massively increasing and/or realize the demand).

    When it comes to new video technologies, new uses for bandwidth, there will often be a small number of early adopters of new technology, who will ultimately increase demand from the public both for new ISP services and for better ISP services.

    By discouraging, shunning, or disconnecting these users, they are disconnecting/shunning new sources of revenue for the coming years... These people will pick competitors like AT&T.

    They'll eventually have to build out their infrastructure further, and if they want to be competitive, INCREASE the speeds of the links they offer (so that they're oversubscribing again, but at a bandwidth much higher than their customers need).

  • Re:Two words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @12:08PM (#27713433) Homepage

    There's limits to that clause, set by the state, since they're in Texas. I think a little discussion about realistic minimums, etc. with the PUC would go a long way, actually- because they'll have the same discussion with TWC about them, and TWC won't like it at all. :-D

  • by Dan667 ( 564390 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @12:14PM (#27713483)
    US taxpayers paid for $200 billion in infrastructure so there should be limits on what Time Warner can do. []
    Write your congressman to support this bill []
  • Re:Two words (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jurily ( 900488 ) <jurily@g m a i l . com> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @12:15PM (#27713493)

    Your service represenatives seem to think that Streaming entertainment constitutes too much bandwidth for your little network to take.

    This sentence is just too cool for words. Thank you.

  • by andymadigan ( 792996 ) <> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @12:17PM (#27713515)
    More and more people are becoming "heavy users" blu-ray players that support Netflix, plus the Roku. My parents stream netflix movies all the time. If you're a "light user" then you can get RR Lite, and pay less. Plus, TW can (and does) degrade the service for super-heavy users so that light users still get good service.

    44gigs in a month is not going to kill TW's network, they just want to make sure they're the only source of video so they can charge $80/month for it.
  • by tsm_sf ( 545316 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @12:19PM (#27713525) Journal
    The problem in the US is very low population density[...]

    This comes up again and again, as if the population were evenly distributed. I don't know how this meme got started, but it's foolish and needs to stop.
  • Re:Two words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jurily ( 900488 ) <jurily@g m a i l . com> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @12:23PM (#27713555)

    Terms of Service would generally allow a company to do whatever they please. I imagine somewhere in there it says they reserve the right to terminate any customer account at any time for any reason.

    Terms of Service does not overrule general contract law.

  • by stonewolf ( 234392 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @12:29PM (#27713603) Homepage

    First off, I have to laugh at the folks in Europe and Asia bragging on their Internet infrastructure. This is *not* an infrastructure issue. In the Austin, and Round Rock, Texas area TWC already has huge fiber infrastructure. The cable box for this part of the neighborhood is in my back yard. The fiber bundle going into the box is two inches across.

    Back in the middle '90s TWC went billions into debt to build out mixed fiber coax infrastructure. When they opened a ditch they dropped a minimum of four cables. Each cable was 4 inches across and each one contained thousands of fiber strands plus power.

    The connection to my home is DOCSIS 2.0 There are 4 Gbps coming in and 1 Gbps going out and more than enough fiber to handle that all the way back to the head end. They have the bandwidth. They have already paid for infrastructure.

    So what kind of an issue is it? Two things, good old capitalism and a corrupt government.

    TWC is desperately trying to preserve their cable tv business and their telephone business. Having sold an all-you-can-eat service they are finding that people are actually using it that way and the people are using it to bypass TWC. They are using it to use VOIP for dirt cheap prices and service like that let them access the video they want when they want it. They do not want to be in the business of selling commodity network transport.

    The trouble with commodity network transport as a business is that there a few opportunities to sell high profit premium services. You can only compete on price and performance. And, if there is any competition at all, you find your self in a race to see who can sell the "best" service for the lowest price. TWC and AT&T are scared to death, and will fight anyway they can, to avoid winding up in the commodity transport business.

    That is where the corrupt government comes in. Those two companies have manipulated the laws in Texas to their own benefit and are doing the same everywhere else. Look at the laws barring cities and counties from build their own networks. That is like barring governments from building roads. Oh, yeah, governor good hair (Perry) has been trying to eight years to privatize all the long distance roads in Texas. And, he is succeeding to.

    Republicans are proof that God hates the USA.


  • Re:Two words (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bigjeff5 ( 1143585 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @12:52PM (#27713839)

    True that. From my understanding talking to contract lawyers and such (IANAL), TOS's are generally regarded as weak contracts - weak because they throw everything but the kitchen sink in, regardless of enforceability. There are general contract laws and specific federal, state and local consumer protection and contract enforcement type laws that supercede anything that may be in a TOS contract (it is a contract, by the way, you have to agree to it to use the service).

    It's basically a CYA in case someone misunderstands something, they might be able avoid liability with a TOS.

    It is by no means a license to do whatever the hell they want, regardless of what is explicitly stated in the TOS.

  • by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @01:03PM (#27713939) Journal

    Limiting the total data volume per month doesn't help either, because that doesn't keep people from using their quota at the same time as everybody else, so it doesn't prevent congestion. Flat-price metering has the same problem.

    However, both provide reasonable constraints, alongside the "unlimited bandwidth" possibility.

    Put another way: If everyone used 100% of the electrical capacity in their house, the plant would likely fall over. So what you do is, you charge for the amount used -- then people will at least make some effort to cut back. If they don't, and they still pay the bill, you invest that money in building infrastructure.

    For all other utilities, this works. You very rarely have the power go out because everyone turned their AC on at once, or the water run out (or the sewers overflow) because everyone flushed at once (the mythic "superbowl flush", as busted on MythBusters).

    Only with Internet do we find so much focus on limiting or penalizing "abuse", rather than simply charging for the amount used, and investing it back into service.

    A simple comparison: Two "utility computing" services I know charge about the same -- 10 cents/gig upload (to the server), 20 cents/gig download. In other words, were someone to download 20 gigs from my computer on such a service, it would cost a grand total of... $4.

    Contrast this to my current fiber service, capped at 20 gigs/month, for $65/mo. Overage is 50 cents/gig.

    Look, I know it costs money to lay fiber. I know it's cheaper to buy bandwidth in bulk for a datacenter, than to run cables all over the last mile.

    That still doesn't justify a tenfold increase.

    The streams, which are essentially the same for a lot of users, give or take a couple of minutes, are sent in duplicate as unicast streams. That is a terribly inefficient way to send video.

    CDNs help with this, and are likely a way for ISPs to both save money (on their connection), and make a little on the side (for hosting the CDN's boxes). I'm not entirely sure how that works -- maybe they usually pay CDNs for the privilege -- but I'd imagine it would be the other way around, or at least free.

    If you can't do that, you lose the biggest advantages of a video streaming service: On-demand, and diversity. I can go to YouTube and watch a video no one else wants to watch at the moment, and I can have it start playing instantly, if my connection is fast enough, rather than having to wait for it to start broadcasting from the beginning again.

    Multicast is cool, and I hope they find a way to leverage that, especially for live streams (like Internet radio). But it buys you very little for the kind of service we're talking about here.

  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @01:18PM (#27714059)

    The simple fact is that TW is trying to protect their Cable TV business by degrading their internet service.

    And this is the real reason. Time Warner knows that anyone who downloads 44 GB a week downloads a whole lot of video and entertainment. And because of the likely cable monopoly that is the area, that is money coming directly out of their pocket. So the only logical proposition for them is to terminate heavy users. No matter how much they pay TWC, they will never pay enough to make up both data costs and lost opportunity costs.

    Fer fuck's sake, how deeply bought off are politicians that this is in place? This is a classic case of a vertical monopoly abusing its position. Not to mention that it's compounded by the fact that there is at best a limited oligopoly providing internet access.

    The reason this development bothers me is that this is actually the most rational approach for a cable provider. This is the future for cable - or for any provider with an existing content delivery arm.

  • by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @01:24PM (#27714117)

    Please explain that last part, because I can't see any logic in that statement.

    Kids these days reading too much Ayn Rand and not enough Hobbes.

  • by Bigjeff5 ( 1143585 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @01:30PM (#27714171)

    So explain to me where it clearly states the limits on Data?

    You know, that's an important part of a contract. If they are going to sell you a service, and what you agree to is an "always on" connection at X speed, it is reasonable to assume that connection will always be on at X speed, or close to it. In fact, just browsing the website, there is no disclaimer, or any statement restricting the service. It is quite reasonable to assume this connection has no limits, because they didn't place any limits on it! Not that they told you about, not that you agree to. BTW, in case you don't get it, it's the "agree to" part that is important. You have to agree to it to make it legal

    It is quite unreasonable to expect someone to make an odd jump to "unlimited time" from "Always on at X speed". Never mind the fact that, by disconnecting this guy they did not fulfill "always on" or "unlimited time" of your argument.

    Your argument is bogus no matter how you look at it.

  • by Bigjeff5 ( 1143585 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @01:55PM (#27714423)

    Of course pure capitalism doesn't work, neither does pure socialism. However, capitalism requires less effort to be made to work well than socialism.

    The key is to leverage the "willing to do anything to make a profit". It's called MOTIVATION, and greed is a very effective motivator. Properly leveraged it can be extremely beneficial with very little effort. Socialism lacks this kind of motivator, as very few people are actually inspired to do their best work based on "the good of the people", and most modern socialism relies leaching off what is left of the capitalism in the system.

    "Capitalism" didn't fail, it just did what it always has and always will do. What may have failed (and it hasn't gotten there yet folks, these things take time to play out and work out) is our leveraging of capitalism in this instance. And who do we appoint to make sure capitalism is leveraged to our best benefit (via regulations on industry)? That's right, local, state, and federal representatives.

    So where is the failure? Is it capitalism doing what it has always done, and will always continue to do? Or was it the government's failure to reign it in? If a government official can be bribed, that's not a failure of capitalism.

    Who set up these monopolies in the first place? Who CAN set up these monopolies? Only one entity, and that is the Government of these United States. I suggest you read up on the history of our telecomunications network. There were good reasons for it, but the monopolies created the current situation, and we have done little to fix it.

  • Partially right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aepervius ( 535155 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @02:02PM (#27714503)
    The problem in the US is very low population density we always hear that lame excuse. But many (if not all) of your high density city have sucky broadband access. Only countryside and small cities would have a problem with low density. The *SOLE* problem you have is the partially again one you cited in the next sentence. The problem in the US is very low population density combined with a duopoly when it comes to internet service. The problem is that many high density corner of the US have a partial or full monopoly, not even a duopoly. So there you have it.
  • Re:Two words (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr.mac@com> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @03:37PM (#27715373) Journal

    I used to be be agains government until I had to use my local pubic utilities commission (PUC) to get a problem solved

    Don't forget that it's government that protects a lot of these vendors from competition. It's great that the PUC bounced on their heads for you, but I would rather have a choice of several vendors.


  • by pipatron ( 966506 ) <> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @03:48PM (#27715487) Homepage
    So does every block in NYC have fiber, with cheap unlimited 100/100MBit connection? If not, why?
  • by miracle69 ( 34841 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @04:24PM (#27715781)

    1) Social Security money has a negative rate of return.
    2) Social Security money is not put into a bank where you get to draw from in the future. The money you pay in now is used now. It does not even have to be used for health-care.
    3) If you've ever seen a couple try to live on Social Security, you'd be mad about #1 and #2.
    4) $100/mo from 18-65 in the S&P 500 is about million dollars, which would give easily 80,000 a year withdrawal without hurting the principle, or 6600/month to live on. The highest social security comes out to about 20,000 a year, or 1600/month. Social Security hurts those it is supposed to help.

  • by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @05:40PM (#27716291)
    So does every block in NYC have fiber, with cheap unlimited 100/100MBit connection? If not, why?

    Frequently, the biggest bang for the buck is in the suburbs. More disposable money per household (on average), and easier installation because you don't have a 200 year old infrastructure to deal with.
  • by DustyShadow ( 691635 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @06:27PM (#27716653) Homepage

    XYZ Government Program hurts those it is supposed to help.

    fixed that for you

  • Re:Three Letters (Score:4, Insightful)

    by countach ( 534280 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @06:52PM (#27716823)

    Exactly. I'm in Australia on a 55GB / month plan. Costs around $US 40 per month. ($AUD 55). There would have been some weeks I got close to downloading 44GB in a week, which is ok because I know where my cap is, and anyway it drops down to modem speed when I hit it, I don't get cut off altogether. This US invisible limit stuff is crazy.

  • Re:Two words (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bigstrat2003 ( 1058574 ) * on Sunday April 26, 2009 @02:17AM (#27719099)

    a) Not everyone is in a position to quit a miserable job. Rest assured, if they're miserable they're either looking for a better job or trapped where they are.

    b) The fact that there are less miserable jobs out there is no reason to be a prick to someone who's just trying to do their job.

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham