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Networking Your Rights Online

The Coming Internet Video Crash 419

snydeq writes "First, it was data caps on cellular, and now caps on wired broadband — welcome to the end of the rich Internet, writes Galen Gruman. 'People are still getting used to the notion that unlimited data plans are dead and gone for their smartphones. The option wasn't even offered for tablets. Now, we're beginning to see the eradication of the unlimited data plan in our broadband lines, such as cable and DSL connections. It's a dangerous trend that will threaten the budding Internet-based video business — whether from Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, Windows Store, or Google Play — then jeopardize Internet services of all sorts. It's a complex issue, and though the villains are obvious — the telecom carriers and cable providers — the solutions are not. The result will be a metered Internet that discourages use of the services so valuable for work and play.'"
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The Coming Internet Video Crash

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  • Utility (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 05, 2012 @05:47PM (#41563399)

    It needs to be regulated like a public utility.

    • Re:Utility (Score:4, Funny)

      by desdinova 216 ( 2000908 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @05:50PM (#41563427)
      .....but....socialism...what about the Free market

      note: the above is meant to be sarcastic.
      • Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 05, 2012 @05:52PM (#41563463)

        A market controlled by cartels or monopolies is not free, and is every bit as bad as a market controlled by a government.

        I know you were being sarcastic. I am just adding to the thought.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          You can't have a monopoly or a monopolistic cartel without government intervention. "Free market monopolies" are a misnomer, as the company that has provided such a high quality, low cost product that no-one can compete with them must continue to provide such quality, or risk new competition arising.

          However, the OP is right that it should be like a utility, but utilities need not be regulated, nor be given exclusive rights to some geographical area (which is what you would get with the imposition of a util

          • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:16PM (#41563743) Homepage Journal

            You can't have a monopoly or a monopolistic cartel without government intervention. "Free market monopolies" are a misnomer, as the company that has provided such a high quality, low cost product that no-one can compete with them must continue to provide such quality, or risk new competition arising.

            I see you failed to read all seven books of Adam Smith on what capitalism is, and are a servant of the Mercantilists that opposed Capitalism.

          • Re:Yes (Score:5, Interesting)

            by calzones ( 890942 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:17PM (#41563763)

            Collusion, oligopolies, and high barriers to entry for certain enterprises (once established by first-to-market types, or when invested in by rich types) mean a free market does indeed lead to monopolistic abuses.

            Of course, all you have to do is look at human history and the natural world to see that this is the case. Mafias, gangs, cliques, pecking order, castes, nobility, feudalism, etc, etc... It's the nature of all social organizations that some will become strong and leverage that strength against others and some who ultimately become utterly dominant.

            Establishing rules and enforcing them, (i.e., a regulated society that values more opportunity for more members of society and a more level playing field) is the ONLY way to circumvent this tendency.

          • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:42PM (#41564043)

            as the company that has provided such a high quality, low cost product that no-one can compete with them must continue to provide such quality, or risk new competition arising.

            That is outright false.

            There are a host of perfectly legal things that established monopolies can do that prevent competition from ever arising, and that require no intervention from the government. Here are just a few:

            1) Buy up any emerging businesses, and just shut them down.

            2) Lock up the suppliers of any emerging businesses into exclusive contracts, so the new businesses can't get their supplies (or at least not affordably) and hence can't cash-flow their business long enough to get a foothold.

            3) Lock up the potential customers into long-term contracts, so the new businesses starve before they can get a foothold.

            4) Regionally price your offerings at a loss wherever competition starts to spring up, and starve them out of existence, then re-adjust your prices once they are gone.

            5) Hire all the talent out from under the owners of the new businesses, and let them fall apart.

            6) Use your wealth to out-market the new businesses (as *anyone* can tell you, good marketing beats good product any day of the week).

            7) Sue the new businesses with compeltely frivolous charges. It doesn't even matter if you lose, you drown them in legal expenses.

            There are also some dirty-pool options, like hiring goons to burn down their places of business. But why bother with those...any combination of the above will prevent any serious competition from ever arising, and you will be free to offer crappy service at high prices.

            And, of course, any large and wealthy business *will* have influence over government (that is just how money works). They will get special tax breaks and what-not because of the jobs they create (and the government wants those jobs to be local, obviously). These breaks will not be fairly distributed to potential competitors. Also, laws can be passed that establish quality or regulatory requirements that work as severe barriers-to-entry to any businesses not already established.

            There is, in fact, so much more than this...but you have to suspend your blind faith in complete hands-off governence to think the possibilities up.

            • by Doctor_Jest ( 688315 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @07:34PM (#41564503)
              What's really funny is that all those things occur now with our "socialist governance" here in the United States. So you're basically pointing out that you don't understand what free means. Free doesn't mean unchecked. Free means unmanipulated. The government acts as facilitator for established companies in the market because those companies know that they can buy legislation favoring their established market at the expense of the rest of the emerging market (you see this every day with Cable companies).

              Furthermore, a non-committed arbiter that can handle disputes in the market with no personal gain (something the government cannot do now) prevents most of your items from occurring. How? When the government has no stake in who wins... things work as they should. We are far from that. People think that when someone says "free market" that they're promoting robber barons and evil to run amok. It is another in a long line of misunderstood ideas about free markets. It's easy to think the government can do something when they pretend to do so when it's election time. The trouble is, the government we want to referee the free market doesn't exist... so by the very nature of our current crony-capitalistic state we cannot achieve anything close to a free market, even if we could eliminate some of the corruption between corporations and the government. We can't because we think the government is doing "the right thing" and all those "evil free marketeers" are just trying to squash the middle class or some other nonsense.

              When the government can't be purchased by corporations and legislation can't be railroaded through... we can start to have a free market. That's a pipe-dream I fear, however. Because quite frankly. too many people think like you do and shut off logic. If we got a Constitutionally limited government that we're supposed to have, money couldn't be used to corrupt the free market because the government COULDN'T manipulate things. It's pretty simple, really... but most people are still hung up on the "evil free marketeers" to get past the nonsense and towards the real facts.
              • Dude you DO realize you are simply arguing the exact same thing the communists did? 'Oh its not the system, its the people IN the system!" well no shit, if you could get everybody to hug and be friendly you wouldn't need any regulations now would ya?

                What amazes me is how few of you "free market is God" types will accept the fact that we already tried that and it was called "the age of the robber barons" by historians. look it up, they didn't regulate shit, hell you could sell rat poison to babies, no rules

          • How did the government facilitate Microsoft's monopoly? I don't recall them mandating that I use Windows.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by jthill ( 303417 )

            You can't have a monopoly or a monopolistic cartel without government intervention.

            Fucking horse shit. The Sherman act was written _precisely_ because it's a la-la-la child's fantasy. You want to see what happens without government intervention? You look at the history of what that act stopped. You want to say oh, it wouldn't happen today? You're going to try to float that _here_, on _slashdot_ ?!!!?!? There simply aren't words. That fantasy is literally inexpressibly stupid.

          • by Genda ( 560240 )

            In American history, this would be a fallacy. There have been any number of ways a large powerful player could wipe out competition. Sell a product below cost until the competition went out of business this knows as "Wrapping a buck around it and giving it away." Large companies in American history have resorted to hired thugs to beat and kill striking workers, denial of service to customers unwilling to be bent and then broken by railroads. While its true that governments were involved, there is nothing st

        • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

          by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:03PM (#41563583) Journal

          The problem here is that the telecommunications tends towards natural monopolies. The costs of rolling out large area copper or fiber means the market will almost inevitably favor those who get in early. The only reason that cable ever was competitive was because it started out as an entirely different service than telephone, and it was only very late in the game that both cable and telco lines started being used for large scale data transmission.

          Then you go to wireless. Well, there's only so much useful spectrum out there, and unlicensed bands are far too filled with clutter to be of much use, so again, you're left the companies who get on in early dominating the market, with the costs of creating a competing network, even where you have spectrum, or at least there are protocols in place to share the spectrum, new players are not likely to come along very often. For even most moderate sized cities, there are only a handful of meaningful broadband competitors.

          So the only real option you're left with is some sort of government-imposed regulations.

          • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:52PM (#41564133)

            The problem here is that the telecommunications tends towards natural monopolies. The costs of rolling out large area copper or fiber means the market will almost inevitably favor those who get in early.

            That's like claiming parcel delivery tends towards natural monopolies because laying new asphalt is cost-prohibitive.

            If you forcibly separate the infrastructure providers (road construction) from the service providers (UPS, Fedex, etc), then you have beneficial competition with very little downside.

            • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

              by calzones ( 890942 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @07:44PM (#41564579)

              This is quite true. I've certainly believed the pros would outweigh the cons if we nationalized the telecom infrastructure and allowed any old company to come along and attempt to compete as a service provider on that infrastructure. Esp. the "last mile" could do to be excised from the cable companies.

              However, the screams that would arise when the telecoms lose ownership of something into which they invested billions of dollars would be deafening.

              While we're at it: no company selling connectivity should be allowed to sell content. Not even affiliated with a company that does. It's an inherent conflict of interest.

          • Re:Yes (Score:5, Interesting)

            by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @07:00PM (#41564207) Homepage Journal

            The flaw in this is that 'early' means different things.

            The Bells got into telephony early, and dominated. The Breakup tried to remedy the monopoly, and did so, though the aftermath was a new set of problems.

            When cell service came to be, the government decided the Bells and Baby Bells would noobe allowed to dominate this market, so they created 'A' service and 'B' service, 'wireline' and 'non-wireline'. Does anyone remember which was which? And they oermitted CDMA and TDMA to slug it out. We now know TDMA as GSM, its successor.

            Data service brought an entirely new set of options, and the telecoms were the logical leaders, going from slow speed leased lines to faster, and faster. Proprietary protocols, DDS2, T1/E1, and all the T3 and OC- speeds. SONET, MLPS, etc. The telecoms fought and lost the battle to keep their copper and fiber to themselves. But the CLECs failed to account for other players.

            Cable companies jumped in and provided data service on their networks. Power companies toyed with it, but failed to deliver working solutions.

            Today, Internet service is pretty much split into three providers in most areas, cable, telecom (DSL) and wireless. In the rural areas, the providers are either limited by range or nonexistent, but where service is avaialble, mostly it has 2-3 players. Please, before you flame me with the exceptions, it's generally true that cable reaches a little further than DSL, and wireless is generally limited to the cell footprint. Satellite is a poor quality solution, and is not germane to my examples. FIOS and other telecom or higher speed non-copper services only add competitors, though not many.

            To turm Internet service into a utility in most of the US is to ignore the reality that there is a competitive market, and the utility model doesn;t seem to fit well, at least not to me.


            This is an issue of The Commons. And net neutrality is a disguised Commons issue.

            If the Internet providers are still also providing other services, they have potential incentives to limit one in favor of the other. Case in point, cable services.

            Video over the Internet is insanely popular for several reasons, but two come to mind as direct threats to cable providers: On-demand video, and non-real-time video.

            On-demand video, like Netflix, competes directly with cable company movie channels, both the HBO model and on-demand/rental channels. this is revenue lost to them, and Netflix is literally eating their lunch.

            Non-real-time video I think of as the Hulu model. While cable companies have DVR solutions, again Hulu takes the bread from their mouths. Direct competition.

            BitTorrent is just another delivery method, with the added unpleasantness of rampant copyright violation, which then gets the cable companies in hot water with their bread and butter video providers.

            Add in another factor - video is a bandwidth hog, at least more than even Flash gaming. Probably even PC gaming. This increases their network costs, and logically so, at every part of their network.

            You could make the case that Internet service is a significant threat to the cable companies, yet they are stuck with being their own worst enemies, for now. too much money to turn down, at least at the moment.

            Notice I haven't even mentioned the VOIP services they got into to scrape mor erevenue from their networks, and the threat of Skype etc, and the challenge of various videoconferencing solutions such as Facetime?

            So video, to the cable provider, is a necessary and detested evil. The solutions? Traffic shaping, packet inspection, etc.serve to make the competitive services less useful, and discourage them. Bandwidth caps can nail Netflix and Hulu. Add speed caps, and the cable cos. can deal their competitors a blow. But users then might flee. To where? Well, DSL providers are not much better behaved. Any other provider with a relationship to broadcast media is also of divided loyaltes.

            DSL providers are limited in

        • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:10PM (#41563661) Homepage Journal

          exactly right.

          You either go the socialism route and the gov't mandates a reasonable service for a reasonable price, for example 20mbps/2mbps unlimited internet for $49 a month... the public wins.

          OR you go full capitalism and deregulate *everything* while protecting against monopoly/cartels (such as the Verizon/AT&T duopoly) with Sherman Antitrust-esque laws. Result: the public wins even more.

          Right now in the US we have the worst of both worlds, with a gov't protected cartel without the gov't mandated price controls. Crony capitalism at its best.

    • Re:Utility (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mitreya ( 579078 ) < minus threevowels> on Friday October 05, 2012 @05:51PM (#41563431)

      It needs to be regulated like a public utility.

      Or at least decoupled from the monopolized infrastructure so that other providers (that do not own an exclusive and non-negotiable cable hookup to your house) can compete.

      • Re:Utility (Score:5, Informative)

        by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:53PM (#41564147)

        This is exactly right. We went through this in Australia. I remember it quite fondly.

        Back at the turn of the century we had completely unlimited cable for around $80 from what I remember. After a while (and with only 1 single broadband provider in the country) they introduced a 3GB cap. Not a typo. THREE GIGABYTE CAP. We hit that cap on the second day of the month 10 years ago. Eventually they got slapped quite hard from the Australian Competition and Consumer Comission and the cap raised to 10GB.

        Enter ADSL. This same single broadband provider happens to own all the copper lines. So they offered their service with the same crappy caps but they also sold on their network wholesale to other telecom companies who wanted to offer ADSL as well. ... At a price higher than the retail value. Eventually they got slapped quite hard from the ACCC and they dropped their wholesale prices leading to competition and a rise in the caps again.

        Eventually I can't remember who think it may have been the ACCC again required Telstra to offer their exchanges to other companies to house equipment. Several companies jumped on the idea and started installing DSLAMs everywhere. Caps at the end of all this were around 50-250GB depending on plan.

        Now we have a situation here where the introduction of Naked DSL and a ruling which requires Telstra to completely offer it's copper infrastructure to other providers means we no longer have a monopoly. End result is I now have completely unlimited internet.

        Chronology of events of my internet bills:
        2001: $80 unlimited
        2003ish: $80 3GB
        2004ish: $80 10GB
        2006ish: $70 50GB peak + 100GB offpeak on ADSL + $30 phone line rental paid to Telstra.
        2009ish: $70 250GB+250GB peak/off on ADSL+ $30 phone line rental paid to Telstra (DESPITE NOW NOT ACTUALLY USING A PHONE ANYMORE).
        2012: $60 unlimited ADSL and phone line bundle.

    • Well, they ARE, sort of.

      When Vz and Comcast were threatened with the prospect of having to scan and filter their networks of P2P traffic and be held responsible for the theft of music and movies, they went to the government screaming "hey, we're a public utility and common carrier, not a content provider! We're not responsible for what goes on our network!" And, the government bought it.

      Now, they'll be talking out the other side of their mouths saying "hey, we're content providers, not common carriers! We s

    • Re:Utility (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:01PM (#41563569)

      It needs to be regulated like a public utility.

      You mean like water, where you pay for what you use? Or electricity, where you pay for what you use? Or gas, where you pay for what you use?

      Yes. Exactly like that.

      I don't watch movies over the internet very often, and I don't keep my bandwidth at capacity 24/7 downloading stuff, and I certainly don't want to be subsidising those that do.

      Screw the business models of those "budding internet video businesses". I'm not (indirectly) paying for a service I don't use just to protect a poorly thought out business plan. This isn't health or something important, it's entertainment, and you can pay for it yourself.

      • Re:Utility (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:08PM (#41563647)

        You mean like water, where you pay for what you use?

        You know what water companies don't do? They don't make you pay $10/mo. for 10 liters of water or $20/mo. for 80 liters of water.

        Oh, and water, electricity, and gas are finite resources. Data is not.

        • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

          You know what water companies don't do? They don't make you pay $10/mo. for 10 liters of water or $20/mo. for 80 liters of water.

          No, but there no unlimited water plans for a flat fee which is really what this discussion is about.

      • Re:Utility (Score:4, Insightful)

        by KhabaLox ( 1906148 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:42PM (#41564045)

        You mean like water, where you pay for what you use? Or electricity, where you pay for what you use? Or gas, where you pay for what you use?

        Sure, as long as they price it at the marginal cost to push that bit down the pipe. ;)

    • The Supreme Court already defined [] cable Internet as an "information service", which cannot be regulated, rather than a "telecommunications service" which can be regulated.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      It needs to be regulated like a public utility.

      My electricity is a regulated utility, but I still pay by the kWh. That's kilowatt hour, in case the US has some weird non-metric unit. Why should the Internet be any different? I want fast burst speed when I'm downloading 10GB from Steam, but I don't need it 24x7 just like I want my 2000W stove to work when I need it but most of the time I only have a 10W light bulb on. Doing some quick math I could download about 18.5 TB in a month, I think even in my craziest month I was at less than 5% of that. If they

  • by Mitreya ( 579078 ) < minus threevowels> on Friday October 05, 2012 @05:48PM (#41563405)
    No worries, I am sure the highly competitive and heterogeneous market will take care of it

    As providers try to cap their data plans, new market players will emerge and take over by offering unlimited plans that consumers want


    • Re:Free market! (Score:5, Informative)

      by raydobbs ( 99133 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @05:50PM (#41563429) Homepage Journal

      ...or the large players will gather and plot to harm the consumer. Adam Smith pretty much makes the case that you -need- to regulate some industries, since they will not do it themselves. The consumer cannot 'vote with their wallet' when all the players offer the same vile offerings, racing each other to the bottom.

      • Re:Free market! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @05:56PM (#41563499)

        Once everybody was captured (and by a couple of years ago pretty much everybody was), all they had to do was start turning the screws.

        People, I've been telling you for years, here on Slashdot, to write the FCC and your congresscritters, and fight the mergers and acquisitions and takeovers as anticompetitive. ESPECIALLY when carriers and content providers were proposing deals together. But few of you did.

        Now you get to live with the results.

        I hate to say "I told you so", but I did. The reason I hate it is because I have to live with it too.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          Unless the envelopes have checks in them with donald trump level 0's on them, those people could give two craps.
      • Re:Free market! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:24PM (#41563853) Homepage Journal

        Except in this case, regulation is the problem. This problem didn't exist back in the dial-up days. Some 15 years ago, there was a choice of like twenty different ISPs in the area, including some that were "free" and ad-supported.

        Now, there's a choice between two: Verizon and Comcast.

        Why just those two? Why does no one else compete with them? Because they're legally forbidden from competing with them.

        Of course, it no longer matters. Because Comcast and Verizon are the big players, even if the regulation preventing anyone else for competing was lifted, no one else could possibly compete anyway. If they tried, Comcast and Verizon would just lower prices to undercut the newcomer. (Hell, Comcast and Verizon already try and undercut each other in a similar way by offering "introductory pricing." First year, you can get like 75% off your bill! Then the price skyrockets...)

        So - yes, now the only solution is regulation. But that's not a failing of the free market, that's a failing of the original regulation that created the current oligopoly in the first place!

        • by Qzukk ( 229616 )

          This problem didn't exist back in the dial-up days.

          AHAHAHA you mean back when the telco charged you 4x as much for a "data" line as they did for your daughter's second phone line?

    • Re:Free market! (Score:5, Informative)

      by ThatsMyNick ( 2004126 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @05:52PM (#41563449)

      If you have already given the cable companies exclusivity, how do you expect the magical free market to work. If we did not give the cable companies exclusive rights, we would already have free and healthy market. And yes it would have taken care of it.

    • Re:Free market! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jimbouse ( 2425428 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @05:56PM (#41563493)
      I run a small WISP (wireless ISP, tower based) that does exactly this. We cost more than the incumbents but offer unlimited downloads and you get what your pay for.

      People are happy to pay money for a service that performs as advertised.

      My tiers bill out at $36/Mbit. It sounds steep compared to a 10Mbit for $80/mo from the local incumbent. Except that the incumbent can't actually provide that speed, nor will they let you use your connection to the fullest.
      • And what happens when you go to renew your contract with your upstream provider, and he decides to turn the screws on you, and even worse, any other potential upstream provider is doing the same or worse? I applaud you for your efforts, but you're still a middle man.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jimbouse ( 2425428 )
          Upstream data is plentiful. Last mile data delivery is the problem.

          The routers and fibers carrying the internet backbone are upgradable and there are plenty of routes.

          The problem comes when a incumbent drops 200 households on a single gigabit line. You can do the math. Although everyone is not using their full connection, at some point there is a limit.

          I agree I am a middle man. The rates I pay are in the $50/Mbit completely unlimited. When I started a year ago, the rates were closer to $90/Mbit.
      • If you're in the WISP biz, can you tell me how to search for a WISP? Every time I try to find one, I get links to services that shut down ten years ago, or are Sprint / Verizon, or 'Get Comcast and a free wireless router!'

        I'm in the Knoxville, TN area, and I keep vaguely hearing about WISPs around here but can never FIND one.

        Is there some bit of industry jargon that would appear on a WISP's page that I can plug into Google to find one, or something?

  • by geekoid ( 135745 )

    My tablet and phone has unlimited data, so I don't really know what they person is talking about.

    • And i'm fairly sure of the main UK broadband providers i've seen adverts for BT, Virgin Media, Talk Talk and PlusNet all advertising no limit (although its quite possible there are 'fair use' t&c's). Most providers just choose to traffic shape if you go over unreasonable daily limits (with virgin media this is during peak time).
      • by jo_ham ( 604554 )

        I can confirm this is how it works on Virgin.

        I use their fibre service and I have no cap, up or down, but my traffic is managed (for a few hours) if I exceed 10GB or so of transfer at peak times. Outside of peak times, traffic is unmonitored. Even if they do throttle you down, you can still keep using your connection, just more slowly. There's no data cap and your speed will reset back to full after a little while.

        In practice, I have never been throttled down (and the penalty is 25% speed for a few hours) d

    • Same here, my phone service is unlimited and uncapped. My ISP is also unlimited, unthrottled, and uncapped. Not everyone goes with the same 2-3 big carriers. And I have no major complaints with my service...

    • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      Likewise. I moved to Sprint because of AT&T's redefinition of unlimited. That said, I doubt enough people will do this to actually effect change.

  • Wrong (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NewtonsLaw ( 409638 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @05:51PM (#41563435)

    Commentators (including myself) have been predicting the end of the internet (as we know it) for almost two decades now -- but I (and all the others) have been proven wrong.

    Yes, the demand for bandwidth is growing at a huge rate -- but so is the provisioning of that bandwidth.

    If you live in a country like New Zealand (where I live) you get used to living with capped data plans -- they're just a part of life and, to be totally honest, it's never really been an issue for me -- despite the fact that I do a *lot* of online video, as you can tell by my Youtube Channel [].

    Sure, the arrival of IPTV will change the picture a little, as TV programming starts to make up an increasingly high percentage of the total traffic -- but hey, nothing's free and many people pay for cable so why not pay for IPTV in a way that includes the bandwidth you use as well? (as will soon be the case).

    Uncapped internet? Never had it, never really needed it. I have 120GB a month and that's all I need -- perhaps because I don't like the kind of dross I find on TV anyway. Quality of content is *far* more important than the quality of the image.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      "Quality of content is *far* more important than the quality of the image."
      those aren't mutually exclusive.

  • by TaoPhoenix ( 980487 ) <> on Friday October 05, 2012 @05:51PM (#41563441) Journal

    It started with the old hourly charges from the old services like CompuServe and AOL, then "because of consumer demand" they went to Unlimited.

    Notice this article talks about the "entertainment" side. Look at the Cloud side.

    1. "Everyone use your software from the Cloud! It's nice and fluffy!"
    2. "Let's cap bandwidth so that when you pull your data every 7 seconds you burn 4 megs, and then you will hit your cap and we can charge the fees."

    If I was better at graphic design, I've wanted to make "chart news" with trends like these pointing in opposite directions in 2010 that becomes 2012's news when they collide.

    • Well, consumer demand and a couple ftc complains about giving away more hours than there are in a month.

    • AOL only went unlimited when the internet became more important than AOL's content, and an assload of competitive dial-up providers sprung up all offering unlimited access.

  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @05:52PM (#41563453) Homepage Journal

    There are two solutions, both of which are obvious. The first, which is the solution the telecoms want to choose, is to charge content providers for providing content at reasonable speeds. This, of course, leads to a two-tier Internet, i.e. the big media conglomerates and the independent ghetto. The second is to pass laws that ban download limits for all wired service providers.

    At this point, those are the only two options. Well, no, there's a third. We could build up a government-run infrastructure. But I'm not holding my breath.

    • by Twinbee ( 767046 )
      There is a fourth solution. Google Fibre [] spreads across more of America (the rest of Kansas is next on the cards), and either takes over completely, or forces the others to play catch up. Kinda like what Gmail did for email.
    • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @07:25PM (#41564419)

      Actually, no, there are a LOT more than 2-3 solutions...

      The major reason for usage capping is not the backbone costs of all of that bandwidth, it's oversubscription; the cable companies can't provide unlimited guaranteed bandwidth to everyone all the time.

      However, they do have an absolutely MASSIVE pipe coming into your home, even if it is shared - the problem is they are using almost all of it to send you 799 TV channels you aren't watching while you are tuned to the 800th. If they just dumped the traditional broadcast system to use ALL of the available frequencies for IP-based video, the whole oversubscription problem would go away.

      Of course, then they might actually start having a backbone issue, but that's a nice scalable problem they have been continuously solving for decades...

  • by EmagGeek ( 574360 ) <gterich AT aol DOT com> on Friday October 05, 2012 @05:55PM (#41563487) Journal

    With so many people ditching Cable and Sat TV plans in favor of an Internet-Only household, and with the Cable Companies being the majority providers of Internet Access, of course we had to see this coming.

    Vz and Comcast aren't going to sit idly by while their subscribers ditch the media services and keep only the delivery service, and spend their money at Netflix and other media services.

    The question is, will it be considered anti-competitive for them to allow unlimited delivery of their own media over the pipe, while charging extra for media from their competitors? I certainly think that's anti-competitive, and where net neutrality needs to come into play. But, I doubt we'll see it happen, at least in the US.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm in Australia. Internet access was once metered by the hour ($10 per hour dial-up) then prices fell to under a dollar an hour. Then I got ADSL in the very early 2000s with a whole gigabyte over a month, always-on. Then it increased to three per month. Then ten, fifteen, forty, then a jump to 200, and in 2012 I'm 'limited' to over a terabyte a month.

    A fucking terabyte.

    I can't stream that much video (even in good quality) and actually watch it in a month without quitting my job and family time and attachin

  • by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @05:57PM (#41563511)

    Free market never really works well with critical infrastructure.

    • It's my understanding that there's no free market in the US for internet acces. The big players have local monopolies, and are all too happy with that situation to compete with each others.
      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        I have a choice of providers. all of them 'big' players, and yes, they do complete. It's why I have 25/25Mb for 30 bucks, no contract.

        • That's nice for you. Not everyone has that. My choices are: satellite with cap, WISP (locally run) with cap, or a tethered phone with a cap.

  • The market will fix this, or legislation will.

    Bandwidth is cheap and it gets cheaper every year. Carriers make a lot of money on bandwidth resale even at the fairly small level (few gbits/sec feeds). Not many people are aware of HOW cheap it actually is though.

    Most of the problem can stem from the fact municipalities were too short sighted, or unable legally, to run fiber infrastructure that could be leased to ISPs (egress). A modern fiber network has effectively unlimited bandwidth.. and then there's next

  • As some markets mature (some, not all) with few players remaining leaving an oligopoly, the agreed upon consensus is that there's bountiful profit in scarcity. So you artificially restrict a resource to improve profit. It's a win win for the providers. They sell less, and make even more profit because now you have competition for those resources and thus will pay more. More so if you're a monopoly for your area.

  • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:01PM (#41563559) Homepage

    There was never any such thing as "an unlimited data plan".

    There were plans that were misleadingly labelled as "unlimited", but what they really were, was plans where the ISP simply let people use up bandwidth in a first-come-first-served fashion. Whenever the demand reached or surpassed the infrastructures capacity, the de-facto limits of the hardware kicked in, regardless of what the sales droids had promised in the brochure.

    For a company to offer a genuine "unlimited plan", the company would have to build up enough capacity to allow 100% of their unlimited-plan customers to use 100% of the bandwidth capacity of the wire running to their house, 24/7/365. The cost of such an infrastructure would be significantly larger than most people would be willing to pay for, especially since most people don't use or need anywhere near that much capacity.

    So my feeling is that the demise of "unlimited plans" in the marketing is a good thing -- at least we're no longer trying to fool each other into believing bandwidth is infinite (as opposed to finite but cheap).

  • We've allowed last-mile internet to devolve into monopolies and duopolies.  Same for cell carriers.

    Would else could you expect?

    Sad...the internet is American, dammit, and we have the worst internet in the first world!
  • Few people use their cellphone for serious online use. Most of them use it because it is convenient and it is there. Most might be irritated if the cellular telcos put huge caps on it, but in the end no one is really that completely put off by it. Many people will be angry about it but will continue on their merry way paying for it. There is not huge amount of people that would be seriously inconvenienced by it, and certainly not the apocalyptic way it is worded.

    Now caps on wired are not gonna be as tou
    • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

      Few people use their cellphone for serious online use. Most of them use it because it is convenient and it is there.

      You might be surprised. I've had people tell me they use their phones to stream music and podcasts while driving. They don't use the radio, they don't use the CD player, they just stream all day long.

      That's the kind of user who's going to run into a phone bandwidth cap. Unlike with wired internet connections, it's not the techie types running BitTorrent that suck up the bandwidth. Geeks actually might be more likely to think, "Streaming music this way is wasteful and inefficient, and the sound quality isn't

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        Or they think, I'm listening to it on the road, so quality would mostly be drowned out anyways.

  • Obviously, Google are trying to do something in the US, and here in England, Virgin Media and Sky are both doing relatively good stuff (Virgin pushing speeds, Sky offering a truly unlimited package - unfortunately neither does both).
  • It's easy, really... Google just has to find a way to smack down the incumbent network providers (AT&T, Comcast, etc) so they can't stop municipalities from laying their own fiber municipal networks with an access point every mile or so, then empower citizens to take matters directly into their own hands and lay their own fiber bundles in trenches they dig with their own shovels (or hang their own fiber from a public support attached to the lowest rung of the city's utility poles) to get to those access

  • Simple as that. They are installing a network, getting it right and then will start building it out. It IS an unlimited model and it will put immense pressure on everybody else to change to that model. After all, that is the way REAL competition works.

    America's problem is that the American politicians, esp. neo-cons, have been pushing monopolies for all solutions. IOW, they love the communist model. Hell, just look at the all of the neo-cons pushing Constellation and now SLS, over what private space can
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      "over what private space can do for a FRACTION of the money."
      no, private industry can not do that for a fraction of the money. Assuming you were being figuratively. If you where being literal, then bear in mind 2/1 is a fraction.

      And no private industry is biling anything that they can do. And, frankly, I don't think they ever will. while there are great technologies, and a lot of money finding secondary uses for that technology, but no money in the actual goal. And skimming the atmosphere is not the same th

  • Around here 100 mbit optic fiber is the default internet connection that comes with your cable and you can access their TV channels from "the cloud", so every iPad is now a portable TV.
    Thanks to the joys of "FON" (, if you allow your wifi router to resell unused bandwidth, you can have free wifi anywhere in the country, so long as you stumble upon a FON link. And they're everywhere.
    But apart from that, we do have flat-rate everything, including 3G, to the extent that some non-TV-watching

  • I live in the deep south and have been lucky so far "Knock on wood"

    we have 2 options for internet here in this tiny 1 redlight town. Comcast cable (low speeds since its tiny town), or ADSL2+ through ISP who is promising an upgrade to VDSL next year.

    I would never use comcast ever, due to bandwidth caps which I go over all the time using my DUmeter app to calculate monthly useage.

    but my landline provider is who i have adsl2+ which why upgraded to 2 years ago so I have 12 megabit down / 1 megabit up, with full

  • I have a simple proposal with simpler regulations: sell internet connectivity based on MINIMUM standards, not 'up to' or 'maximum' or 'capped'. The vendor MUST guarantee a minimum speed to the modem with 99% uptime. Any failure will be easy for all parties to monitor. Let competition and the market decide the pricing and speed packages, but let the end user be guaranteed of getting what they are paying for.
  • So, in other words, we give the content cartels just enough rope, and they'll hang themselves for us? Cool.

    Full Circle. We'll get there.
  • You mean... like "The Good Old Days?" Swell! I'll just dust off my old UUCP manual! You know, back in the 90's, netnews accounted for several TERABYTES of data a week across MCI's pipe! This was back when a few hundred megabytes was large for a hard drive. Ah here it is... Whoo, that's a lot of dust... I had a bang path you know? True story. The first company I worked for shelled out for a uunet connection for a while. Back before the September that never ended. We built this network, the users, the techies
    • by Z34107 ( 925136 )

      If UUCP was so great, and the graphical web so awful, why are you using the latter and not the former?

  • I just downloaded a 10.8GB beta version of the Rift expansion and then spent the evening watching Netflix. Where are these caps people talk about?

  • by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @07:39PM (#41564545)
    Nobody would have the balls to do that in my 100,000 person city because we have 4 ISPs that I know about, more likely 10. As far as physical lines, there's 1 coax and 1 telephone line owner so that's at least 2 truly separate ISPs. As soon as AT&T institutes a cap, everyone switches to Time Warner and vice versa. But if it was just AT&T, they're capping you.

"Call immediately. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die." -- Message from Ralph Steadman to Hunter Thompson