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Old 2009-10-04, 00:13   Link #1
chikorita157
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Metered Internet and Why you should be concerned

Just recently, I have seen an article about Verizon wanting to implement metered internet and saying it will be the future:

Quote:
Verizon: Metered Broadband Is Coming
As long as consumers are stupid enough to allow it...
There's not a broadband provider out there who wouldn't instantly begin billing you by the byte if they thought you (the consumer) would sign off on it. Unfortunately for them, Time Warner Cable's recent PR disaster illustrated that consumers aren't sold on low caps and high overages when broadband delivery costs continue to drop. Many customers may be stupid, but they can apparently read an ISP's 10-K form, which shows that flat-rate billing provides broadband operators with very healthy profits.

There's only one way that the broadband industry is hoisting metered billing on a wary public, and that's if all broadband carriers embrace the idea at once. Since most broadband users only have the choice of one or two carriers, if the industry made a collective shift to per-byte billing there's very little consumers could do about it. With AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable all either engaged in metered billing trials or consistently thinking about it, that leaves Verizon standing in the way of the ultimate investor pipe dream: billing you by the byte.

Right now, the competitive threat of uncapped FiOS acts as a deterrent to companies in Verizon's territory eager to cap or meter. Verizon has consistently told us they have no plans for metered billing, though they've been careful to use vague language that left the door open to the possibility. Back in May the company's CEO strongly hinted at a metered future, and today Verizon CTO Dick Lynch gave investors the strongest hint yet (see Telephony Online and GigaOM) that a per-byte future awaits you:
When asked how Verizon would meet the burgeoning demand for bandwidth for Internet video and other services, Lynch admitted "the concept of a flat-rated infinitely expanding service for everyone just won�t work." "We are going to reach a point where we will sell packages of bites," (sic) Lynch said. "Now I�m not announcing a new pricing plan. But we have already gone this way in wireless because that is where the resource is most constrained."
It's pretty clear right now that Verizon's primarily interested in making sure that net neutrality rules don't prohibit creative pricing models (not that the industry has presented any), but it's also pretty clear they're interested. For now Verizon will use all that uncapped GPON capacity to sock it to cable competitors. But eventually, execs like Lych will realize that the only way Verizon can retain the kind of power they're used to in an evolved broadband ecosystem is by creating artificial scarcity and squeezing the bandwidth pipe.

It's not a matter of if, but a matter of when. And when Verizon decides to fully embrace metered billing, watch out. While Time Warner Cable flubbed their attempt to ransack your wallet like a randy teenager over-eagerly fumbling with consumer bra straps, Verizon, who's a little more experienced in nickle and diming, will make no such mistakes. Verizon's shown they're a lobbying, PR and spin juggernaut, and if anyone can convince American consumers that paying already very profitable companies more money for less product is wonderful and fair, Verizon can.
Source: Broadband Reports

Recently switched from Verizon DSL to Optimum Online, I could care less since Cablevision would never put metered internet nor throttle or cap your usage... but with others, this could be a big problem. Remember the time that happened several months ago when Time Warner wanted to have metered internet in select markets with outrageous caps and overages. Time Warner is not the only one that is currently testing metered internet, AT&T is also doing the same in some of their markets.

Metered internet will cause many consequences, however... People will start getting worked up about overages with bandwidth intensive applications like video streaming, buying HD movies off iTunes, music downloading, bittorrent, VoIP and gaming. Metered internet will hinder innovation and most people will be hurt with the decision of metered internet since overages will cost a outrageous amount per GB. In my opinion, metered internet is a way for companies to charge more for people to use the internet for any use and it's caused by greed. Bandwidth doesn't cost much these days, but like with SMS, they charge alot of money for it.

What is your thoughts about metered internet?
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Old 2009-10-04, 00:20   Link #2
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It sucks, f*** it.
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Old 2009-10-04, 00:40   Link #3
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Old 2009-10-04, 00:48   Link #4
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Yeah unfortunately me too, but its better than torrent throttling comcrap.
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Old 2009-10-04, 00:58   Link #5
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if this gets waaaaaay out of control then I will move to 1010 Wilshire (some condo), where you can get 100mbps internet because it's connected to networks of datacenters in downtown Los Angeles
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Old 2009-10-04, 00:59   Link #6
Ichihara Asako
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Being Australian, I've lived with metered broadband forever. There's never been unmetered broadband in this country (a handful of small ISPs have attempted it and rapidly gone bankrupt) so on one side of the coin I can relate to people's distress over this trend spreading across the world. On the other side my sadistic side kind of wants to say "ha ha suck it, about time you felt the pain" but that is rather mean. The sad thing is even with the caps US providers (eg Comcast and their 250Gb) are issuing now, you still get far more quota for far less than we pay. So I find it hard to be sympathetic.

Especially when I understand the reasoning behind quotas and limits; it's not a matter of 'costing' them anything, but with more and more highspeed connections, the contention ratios are getting out of whack. When a neighbourhood backbone is only OC3 (150Mbit) and you have a dozen people on 50Mbit (something Comcast offers) then all it takes is three people downloading at full speed to saturate the entire neighbourhood's backhaul. Of course those figures are just examples, I'm sure backhaul would be OC12 or higher in areas where 50Mbit is offered, but it just highlights the issue; there's not enough backhaul to satisfy many people downloading at full steam.

So they put caps in so people have to ration their usage and can't just open the taps 24/7 and saturate the backhaul links which in turn degrades everybody's service. The natural solution would be to upgrade the backhaul, which ISPs obviously do as they are able, but the modern high definition media rich internet is far beyond the scope of what most ISPs prepared for and they can't keep up with the data requirements. Quotas and caps are a stop-gap measure, which as I said, I understand... even if I don't really agree with it since it's very easy to go through small quotas these days.
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Old 2009-10-04, 03:58   Link #7
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And I thought the cell phone market is completely insane in the US (prices/rates). But metered Internet access will top it when introduced. Then again maybe non-power users can profit from it (with a lower base price that allows to send/receive several GB per month before it becomes equally expensive to flat rates today). At least this might be the strategy they are going to use to introduce metered internet into the market.
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Old 2009-10-05, 14:09   Link #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ichihara Asako View Post
Being Australian, I've lived with metered broadband forever. There's never been unmetered broadband in this country (a handful of small ISPs have attempted it and rapidly gone bankrupt) so on one side of the coin I can relate to people's distress over this trend spreading across the world. On the other side my sadistic side kind of wants to say "ha ha suck it, about time you felt the pain" but that is rather mean. The sad thing is even with the caps US providers (eg Comcast and their 250Gb) are issuing now, you still get far more quota for far less than we pay. So I find it hard to be sympathetic.

Especially when I understand the reasoning behind quotas and limits; it's not a matter of 'costing' them anything, but with more and more highspeed connections, the contention ratios are getting out of whack. When a neighbourhood backbone is only OC3 (150Mbit) and you have a dozen people on 50Mbit (something Comcast offers) then all it takes is three people downloading at full speed to saturate the entire neighbourhood's backhaul. Of course those figures are just examples, I'm sure backhaul would be OC12 or higher in areas where 50Mbit is offered, but it just highlights the issue; there's not enough backhaul to satisfy many people downloading at full steam.

So they put caps in so people have to ration their usage and can't just open the taps 24/7 and saturate the backhaul links which in turn degrades everybody's service. The natural solution would be to upgrade the backhaul, which ISPs obviously do as they are able, but the modern high definition media rich internet is far beyond the scope of what most ISPs prepared for and they can't keep up with the data requirements. Quotas and caps are a stop-gap measure, which as I said, I understand... even if I don't really agree with it since it's very easy to go through small quotas these days.
That would be a limitation with the Cable internet since each node is hooked up to 20 houses which share the bandwidth provided by the Cable. Cable uses fiber optics and cable hybrid, but the DOCSIS standard isn't really meant for alot of traffic compared to just plain fiber. This is why fiber is alot faster and can give a high number of bandwidth, but I don't see the reason why anyone would start metered billing with fiber since the bandwidth is unlimited, but for a reason of milking more customers. This is why DOCSIS 3.0 is important so that they can open more bandwidth, but these upgrades cost money, but they wouldn't need caps unless they want to milk more customers. This is the reason why Cablevision's connection is uncapped since they have already upgraded their networks to DOCSIS 3.0 and able to provide 101/mbps down and 30 mbps up speeds.

With Wireless, this is a different story since wireless bandwidth costs more and it's alot more limited compared to Cable. This is why most wireless broadband providers like Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon limits your bandwidth to 5GB a month and if you go over, you get expensive overages. The difference is, there is alot more wireless devices connecting to the connection compared to other mediums which cause the internet to be alot slower, which can lead to dropped calls and other problems. This is a major problem with the iPhone due to it's popularity, which requires AT&T to upgrade it's network to gain more capacity.

Metered internet will only benefit grandparents and people who only use internet for webpage surfing, instant messaging and email and the benefit of the plan being cheaper since they won't use all the cap anyways. The majority of the internet users would only hinder from metered internet because most stream videos, download big files, upload alot of pictures and other intensive activities. Metered internet will only be okay if it's not forced on everyone and it's one plan with a cheap price while maintaining the unlimited access at the same price levels... If they were to implement outrageous prices with outrageous caps like Time Warner originally wanted, then it won't go so well.
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Old 2009-10-05, 14:12   Link #9
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We need to go in the direction of South Korean internet!
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Old 2009-10-05, 14:57   Link #10
mg1942
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alchemist007 View Post
We need to go in the direction of South Korean internet!
or if you live in L.A.
just move to 1010 Wilshire
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Old 2009-10-05, 19:09   Link #11
Ichihara Asako
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chikorita157 View Post
This is why fiber is alot faster and can give a high number of bandwidth, but I don't see the reason why anyone would start metered billing with fiber since the bandwidth is unlimited,
Sorry, but you're completely wrong. Fibre bandwidth is not unlimited. The backhaul has very fixed hardware limits, as it is typically rolled out in OC bundles of 3 (150Mbit), 12 (622Mbit), 48 (2.4Gbit) or large backbone at 192 as 10Gbit; it was once quite sufficient for connecting cities, now with high speed residential internet it's only enough for a few hundred. Start rolling that out across a city of millions and you can see where the issues start.

Some ISPs with the money have upgraded to 768 (40Gbit) but even then, if you're offering 100Mbit internet, that's four hundred people maxing out their line and the link is saturated, causing service degradation to potentially hundreds of thousands if not millions of people the backhaul is supposed to provide service to.

ISPs banked on the fact MOST people won't utilise a fraction of their line speed most of the time. However the internet has evolved, and it's very easy to have constantly maxed out lines from hundreds of millions of homes across the world, which then starts creating international congestion, too. The pipes connecting everything can only carry so much data. That's a fact. It's what ISPs are trying to deal with now in parts of the world where congestion wasn't a real issue. Australia has always had to deal with it due to limited connectivity to the rest of the world. Limits worked here to keep congestion down, so other ISPs across the globe are cottoning on to the idea to reduce their network congestion.
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Old 2009-10-05, 19:45   Link #12
SeijiSensei
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chikorita157 View Post
Metered internet will only benefit grandparents and people who only use internet for webpage surfing, instant messaging and email and the benefit of the plan being cheaper since they won't use all the cap anyways. The majority of the internet users would only hinder from metered internet because most stream videos, download big files, upload alot of pictures and other intensive activities.
No, actually, they don't. Here's some recent data for the US from the Pew Internet Center:



Original Source

Now you might argue that the age-related differences displayed there mean that, in the future, a majority of people will be streaming videos and downloading big files, but that assumes that these differences are purely generational without any "life-cycle" component. I'd argue that some portion of the observed differences in behavior reflects the amount of time people at various stages of their lives can devote to using the Internet, and the relevance of Internet usage to what is happening in their lives. Notice the big drop-offs between "Gen Y" and "Gen X" in some areas like social networking or streaming video. I'd bet a lot of that has to do with becoming employed, getting married and having children. Those things take up a lot of time that might have been spent earlier in life on social networking.

I'm sure I'm going against the crowd here, but I actually think tiered Internet plans make a lot of sense for most users. If Dan Downloader wants to move 5 GB through his house every day, he should pay more than Wilma Websurfer who just visits the occasional web site and reads her email. People who leave their lights on all day and night pay more for electric service than people who switch them off. People in cold climates who set their thermostats to 77 F (25 C) pay more for heating than those who set them to 68 (20 C) and wear sweaters. Why should Internet services be exempt from usage-based pricing?

Obviously most people here would prefer that their Internet service not have any caps because their usage is being subsidized by Wilma Websurfer. In a fair world, we'd each be able to choose a tier of service based on our need for speed and our ability to pay. Historically Internet tiers were defined by the difference between dialup service and broadband. Stratifying broadband users into low, medium, and high tiers makes the most sense from an overall equity perspective, even if AS members will find themselves paying more for indulging their hobby.

I'll also note in passing the rather explicit ageism of your comment, as if grandparents and people who don't live on the Internet somehow shouldn't have a say when it comes to policies that affect their lives.
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Old 2009-10-05, 19:51   Link #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
I'm sure I'm going against the crowd here, but I actually think tiered Internet plans make a lot of sense for most users. If Dan Downloader wants to move 5 GB through his house every day, he should pay more than Wilma Websurfer who just visits the occasional web site and reads her email. People who leave their lights on all day and night pay more for electric service than people who switch them off. People in cold climates who set their thermostats to 77 F (25 C) pay more for heating than those who set them to 68 (20 C) and wear sweaters. Why should Internet services be exempt from usage-based pricing?
Too logical. Thus I cannot compute .


No, but really, it just bothers me that they offer a service for so long, then they want to take it away. So people who are used to all these functions every day already, get shafted.
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Old 2009-10-05, 19:57   Link #14
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Maybe I was wrong about the bandwidth in fiber optics, but yes, it's a problem mainly in cities, but metered internet would go against net neutrality. The problem with limits, although it would solve the worries of the internet being overcrowded is that innovation will be hindered. Like I previously mentioned, limits would only prevent people from streaming video, using VoIP, downloading legit movies, software updates (although not much, some can take a chunk of bandwidth), etc and they would have to worry about overages. From what we seen with Time Warner charging outrageous prices (like $150 dollars for unlimited internet and lower pricing levels with small caps and expensive overages per GB, like $2 per GB), people, especially in the US don't want metered internet and there is no way of telling how much you use unless you use a program that tells you or have your router track the usage, neither average Joe would know how to set up. Metered internet will only cause more outrage and frustration, while the companies rake in the money from all those overages.

Here are the plans that Time Warner originally wanted to set in some areas, but didn't with the outrage:
Quote:
• We are increasing the bandwidth tier sizes included in all existing packages in the trial markets to 10, 20, 40 and 60 GB for Road Runner Lite, Basic, Standard and Turbo packages, respectively. Package prices will remain the same. Overage charges will be $1 per GB per month.

• We will introduce a 100 GB Road Runner Turbo package for $75 per month (offering speeds of 10 MB/1 MB). Overage charges will be $1 per GB per month.

• Overage charges will be capped at $75 per month. That means that for $150 per month customers could have virtually unlimited usage at Turbo speeds.
Source

SeijiSensei: If pricing for metered internet are fair with a fair cap, it would probably work, since from data collected from my router, I only use around 70 GB per month.

The problem is, metered internet will only bring the internet back to the stone age. Every time you load a page, ads load up which takes bandwidth. Blogs which uses a lot of images or Flash content would have to pull back to just text on a page. Metered internet will also hurt content providers like iTunes, hulu, Netflix and others the most since most of their services require a sizable amount of bandwidth. I'm not saying the concept of metered internet would hurt a average joe or people who don't use alot of bandwidth, but the flaw is, if metered internet were to be applied to all broadband, most people would just go back to dialup instead of deal with metered internet since we know that most companies will price gouge on overages to maximize profits. Metered internet looks good on paper, but in practice, it's not going to work in my opinion and just make the internet more restricted.
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Old 2009-10-05, 20:17   Link #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chikorita157 View Post
metered internet would go against net neutrality
Again, I have to object. Net neutrality concerns whether ISPs can manage traffic based on the source or destination of the IP packets, the protocols employed, or, more ominously, the content that IP packets contain. These concerns have nothing to do with speed or pricing. A high-priced, high-speed service that nevertheless slows down video packets specifically from Netflix is not neutral, but neither is a low-priced, low-speed service that does the same.

Net neutrality is just a fancy name for what we used to call "common carriage," the policy that carriers cannot discriminate among the items they transport based on irrelevant features. Railroads had to charge the same amount to carry a pound of gold as they did a pound of lead. FedEx charges the same price to deliver a box of a given weight regardless of what the box contains.

I favor pricing service by speed and usage; I'm unalterably opposed to allowing the carriers to discriminate among the packets they carry.

I've written more extensively on net neutrality over here.
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Old 2009-10-05, 21:56   Link #16
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Like Seiji... I'm actually okay with the metering idea (pay as you go) BUT (very very big BUT) - I would be EXTREMELY intolerant of the ridiculous levels of data transfer driven by advertisements these days. Think about the amount of *crap* you get sent...

Hell... try loading any of the entertainment sites (CBS, Nascar, NFL...) and watch the flash/graphics/spew ensue.

That's the nasty bit under metering... its flat rate pricing that has allowed all that sort of stuff to flourish without too many complaints.

I'm unalterably opposed to allowing the carriers to discriminate among the packets they carry.

I'd qualify that a bit with quality-of-service shaping... but yeah in no way should a packet be discriminated against because it has a particular source or a particular destination. A packet should not be dropped or blocked based on protocol. True common carrier...
(I'd really prefer ISPs be totally divested from "content creators" as well just to keep it clean.
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Old 2009-10-05, 22:02   Link #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
Like Seiji... I'm actually okay with the metering idea (pay as you go) BUT (very very big BUT) - I would be EXTREMELY intolerant of the ridiculous levels of data transfer driven by advertisements these days. Think about the amount of *crap* you get sent...

Hell... try loading any of the entertainment sites (CBS, Nascar, NFL...) and watch the flash/graphics/spew ensue.

That's the nasty bit under metering... its flat rate pricing that has allowed all that sort of stuff to flourish without too many complaints.

I'm unalterably opposed to allowing the carriers to discriminate among the packets they carry.
The beauty of this, though, is that you can turn all that crap off. Flip off Flash when you don't explicitly need it, disable java, and put up your ad blocking program and bam; garbage free web browsing. I'm not sure if all that stuff actually stops the data from being sent (and, thusly, stops you from being charged for it), but as long as it's not on my screen, I tend not to worry about it.
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Old 2009-10-05, 23:06   Link #18
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Originally Posted by Quzor View Post
I'm not sure if all that stuff actually stops the data from being sent (and, thusly, stops you from being charged for it), but as long as it's not on my screen, I tend not to worry about it.
I believe it does. Software like AdBlock Plus intercepts requests the browser makes for items in its block lists. I pass all the traffic on one of my client machines through a Squid proxy. I don't see any log entries for the blocked ad traffic.
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Old 2009-10-06, 00:07   Link #19
Vexx
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Originally Posted by Quzor View Post
The beauty of this, though, is that you can turn all that crap off. Flip off Flash when you don't explicitly need it, disable java, and put up your ad blocking program and bam; garbage free web browsing. I'm not sure if all that stuff actually stops the data from being sent (and, thusly, stops you from being charged for it), but as long as it's not on my screen, I tend not to worry about it.
Ok... now teach "grandma" how to do that....
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Old 2009-10-06, 00:48   Link #20
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Quote:
and there is no way of telling how much you use unless you use a program that tells you or have your router track the usage, neither average Joe would know how to set up.
I'd just like to point out that here in Australia (at least with my ISP anyway), it's not that difficult to track your usage at all, unless you are visually impaired. All you need to do is log in to your ISP's home page, and you can access your usage meter from there. It is no harder than logging in to check your email. With my ISP, they provide you with the actual MB/Kb usage AND a bar that fills up the closer you get to your limit for the numerically challenged. There is also a bar that indicates how far into the month (or however long your quota lasts) you are. I highly doubt personal monitoring will be a problem if metered internet is implemented in the USA, but trasnparency and trust will be a different thing, as I am not sure about your competition laws. I'm very confident that my ISP does not mess with my meter.
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