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The Almighty Buck

Death of Decent Australian Broadband 455

iamplasma writes: "As reported by several Australian newspapers, Optus cable internet services will be switching their standard plan to a 3gb "soft-limit" broadband service (once the limit is passed, the service slows to 28kbps). This is effectively the end of decent broadband in Australia, with Optus being the only major provider to offer a service without a highly restrictive usage cap. This is also the ISP who proudly promoted themselves over their main competitor specifically over the issue of the competitor's 3gb limits."
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Death of Decent Australian Broadband

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  • I signed up for Optus cable a month ago! Now I'm stuck in a twelve month contract with a download limit... This really sucks.
    • Re:Dammit! (Score:2, Informative)

      by bollocks ( 80650 )
      Well according to the article, they will still honor existing contracts.


      So suck down that data while you still can

    • I'd be lying if I said I was surprised. Fortunately our equipment here has been set up to count the data going in and out. We're planning to setup a huge squid cache (not to mention a dumping ground) and we should be able to stay under 3Gb per month.

      Two things that deserve a mention though are the speed being "throttled" and no extra charges. At least you don't run up a massive bill as you do with another company we know well!
  • by AlaskanUnderachiever ( 561294 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @04:34AM (#3556812) Homepage
    While I know the vast majority of broadband packages I've used either don't have a cap, or simply have a "per gb" fee after a cap is reached, I have the sinking suspicion that my current provider (1.2mb DSL) puts "heavy" users on a cycle that gradually decreases bandwidth with total amount used. In talking to others in my area with a similar file sharing setup, as we approach 2-3gb of data per week, our speeds slow to a trickle (only to mysteriously appear at 12am monday). Could this be the implementation of an unoffical soft limit? Could similar tactics be in place already with many other providers across the US with most users not aware of it? The "gradual" drop in bandwidth is the scary part though. Until I talked to friends and realized the relationship between amount downloaded and speed, I didn't see anything other that occasional "traffic jams" down the line. Now my paranoia has kicked in. . . .
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Wahhh!!! The World isn't free! Mommy and Daddy aren't spoonfeeding me anymore!!! Waahhhh"
  • by Anonymous Coward
    See the site of the Australian Broadband Community - http://www.whirlpool.net.au/
  • by wackybrit ( 321117 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @04:40AM (#3556829) Homepage Journal
    What are they thinking? 28kbps is slower than what you'll get out of the average DIAL-UP, let alone broadband.

    In fairness though, they have a point. $54.95AUS per month does compare favorably with getting a second phone line and hooking a modem up to it all day.

    And it's also true that regular users don't need anymore than 3Gb per month. Unless you're a techie and downloading a lot of Linux ISOs or watching independant movies, 3Gb per month will get you a long way. It applies to Web hosting, so why not here?

    Perhaps it's time for ISPs to charge per megabyte? There's no such thing as 'unlimited' or 'free'.. you end up paying in the end. So why not charge per megabyte, which will force users to consider what they're actually downloading. US$0.01 per megabyte sounds fair.

    (In the UK, BT is also trying a similar scheme with dial-up. That is, their 'Anytime' service is not actually 'any time' anymore.. you can only use it for a maximum of 12 hours a day!)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      There is no such thing as "unlimited?" That is what my ISP advertised and it is what I am paying for. I have absolutely no sympathy for a company that deceitfully promises unlimited bandwidth then proceeds to pull a fast one effectively screwing their customers. The company was quick enough to take their business and the customers paid their dues, but the company failed to live up to its end of the bargain.

      3GB is NOTHING. Your average webpage is around 100K. You use about 50M for an hour of gaming. The streaming video that features prominantly in almost every broadband commercial will take much more than that. Game demos, streaming music, all of the reasons to use broadband. To say that someone who has broadband should not use it to its potential pisses me off. I however agree that there is a difference between abuse and power "use"...but I certainly don't put that point anywhere near 30GB.
      • 3GB is NOTHING. Your average webpage is around 100K. You use about 50M for an hour of gaming. The streaming video that features prominantly in almost every broadband commercial will take much more than that. Game demos, streaming music, all of the reasons to use broadband.

        Telstra provides a number of unmetered sites for their 3GB capped users, including gaming servers, game demo downloads, 24 hour video music (thebasement.com.au), even the latest Linux and Free/Net/OpenBSD distros are available for unmetered download.
        If Optus are not planning a similar system, I would be looking at switching to GASP Telstra for my broadband service. Sounds like they offer for free just what you want from broadband.
        By the way, I too was pissed when Telstra introduced the 3GB limit, but I find by using the free sites on offer, especially GameArena (for my Linux downloads) I have no problem staying under the limit.
    • by bleh-of-the-huns ( 17740 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @04:56AM (#3556883)
      Perhaps it's time for ISPs to charge per megabyte? There's no such thing as 'unlimited' or 'free'


      This may apply for ISP's outside the US getting service from major backbone providers of which most if not all are based in the US, and are charged by the amount of data they use.

      However inside the US, ISP's pretty much pay flat fees from backbone providers, and in alot of cases, ISPs have peering agreements with each other, so source and destination traffic stays within the respective source and destination networks.

      However once you have to cross the ocean, your being charge by the amount of data (whether undersea lines or satellite). The problem is, the US providers don't bear any of the costs, whether its someone in the US sending data to an ISP outside the US, or that ISP sending data to the US, that ISP bears ALL the costs

    • by E-prospero ( 30242 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @04:57AM (#3556889) Homepage
      ...regular users don't need anymore than 3Gb per month. Unless you're a techie and downloading a lot of Linux ISOs or watching independant movies, 3Gb per month will get you a long way

      However, you will notice that the people complaining about the 3GB limit are ususally those who were sucking 10GB of warez a month. The "normal" consumer in Australia hasn't even considered ADSL yet.

      Admittedly, some people do have a legit claim - Telstra sold their service as "unlimited bandwidth", and then imposed a limit. However, now that limits are here, I for one expect them to stay.

      Perhaps it's time for ISPs to charge per megabyte? There's no such thing as 'unlimited' or 'free'.. you end up paying in the end. So why not charge per megabyte, which will force users to consider what they're actually downloading.

      There are already some ISP's in Australia doing just this. TPG [tpg.com.au] for instance charges A$26.95 per month, plus 15c a meg. Note - this is not intended as an advert - I know nothing about their quality of service, or their terms and conditions, just their pricing scheme.

      US$0.01 per megabyte sounds fair.

      Sounds fair to whom? I don't know about the rest of the world, but here in Oz, whenever paying for bandwidth gets mentioned, the same figure of $0.15-0.18 per meg gets mentioned (eg, this figure was always mentioned at uni whenever volume billing was suggested to a department).

      That said, I notice that TPG sells high levels of bandwidth at 5c/meg - I have no idea where their figures come from.

      It may be fair for the consumer to pay 1c/meg, but not if the supplier is paying 1+Xc/meg, X>0...

      Russ %-)
      • I don't know about the rest of the world, but here in Oz, whenever paying for bandwidth gets mentioned, the same figure of $0.15-0.18 per meg gets mentioned...It may be fair for the consumer to pay 1c/meg, but not if the supplier is paying 1+Xc/meg, X>0

        I don't think it should cost that much.

        If we can assume that T-1 lines are priced such that it's expected that you'll fill it up, we can get an estimate of a reasonable per MB bulk data rate.

        A T-1 moves 1.54 Mbps, which is 16.6GB per day at full throttle, or just shy of 500GB per month (using 1 meg = 10^6, not 2^20). A T-1 generally costs between $600 and $1000 US per month, which equates to between $0.0012 and $0.002 per MB. Even if we assume that T-1 pricing is based on half or one-quarter usage, the cost is still less than $0.01 US per MB.

        So it appears to me that $0.01 US or $0.02 AU (is that the right abbreviation?) is quite reasonable and, in fact, a very large markup over T-1 prices. $0.003 US or $0.006 AU would seem feasible, even.

        • by newt ( 3978 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @09:44AM (#3557842) Homepage
          The thing that always chokes me up about these sorts of conversations is that the people who have strong ideas about how much it "should" cost don't actually know what they're talking about.

          Just a hint: Anyone who is even remotely interested in thinking about how much bandwidth in Australia "should" cost really needs to understand that there is no such thing as a T-1 in Australia. Trying to make judgements without that kind of basic knowledge is a bit like making judgements about how much cars "should" cost without knowing that they're made out of steel.

          If the deficiencies in your knowledge are really that basic, you just aren't qualified to comment about how much it "should" cost. A fundamental understanding of the market conditions in Australia is required before you can put yourself into the position of making authorative statements about costs.

          What you are really doing is taking a US-centric view of the Internet, and applying it to other parts of the world -- And anyone who lives outside US territory will be able to tell you that that's just nonsense.

          - mark
          Network Engineer, Internode [on.net]

          • Anyone who is even remotely interested in thinking about how much bandwidth in Australia "should" cost really needs to understand that there is no such thing as a T-1 in Australia.

            Doubt you'd find many T1's anywhere outside of North America. Sicne most of the world's telecoms is more likely to use 2M than 1.5M primary rate.

            What you are really doing is taking a US-centric view of the Internet, and applying it to other parts of the world -- And anyone who lives outside US territory will be able to tell you that that's just nonsense.

            Not only do the technical details of telephone switching systems differ. ISPs in the US tend not to have to pay for international connectivity.
          • Of course there isn't any such thing as a T-1 in Australia; however, there is an E-1 (the European equivalent; 2 megabits, IIRC).

            Most providers in Australia charge around .15/Mb because connect.com.au started per-meg pricing about five years ago, and at the time the majority of Australian ISPs got connectivity through them [disclaimer: I am a former (disgruntled) employee of connect].

            Later, when connect dropped their own overseas links and got a 100Mb pipe to Telstra because Telstra was beating them at their own game, a number of the ISPs switched, but by that time the pattern had been set; all of the first-tier providers were doing usage-based pricing.
          • The thing that always chokes me up about these sorts of conversations is that the people who have strong ideas about how much it "should" cost don't actually know what they're talking about.

            Well, I'd hardly say I have "strong ideas" about it, and I never claimed to know how things work in Australia. I stated my assumptions, did some calculations and stated the results.

            there is no such thing as a T-1 in Australia

            Okay, so how *do* businesses and universities buy bandwidth? And what prices do they pay? The idea is to try to get a handle on what the costs should be; if my assumptions were bad, please provide some better ones rather than whining about my cluelessness. Do you know how much fully-utilizable bulk bandwidth costs in Australia? Someone must.

            • It occurs to me that it might be worth working this in the opposite direction. If we assume that 0.10 AUD is a reasonable per-MB charge, this means that the equivalent of a T-1 (which is a reasonable amount of bandwidth for a small web hosting company) would cost approximately 0.02 AUD per second or 50,000 AUD per month.

              Is that really what they pay? Even half of that seems impossibly expensive. For that matter, the bandwidth required to fill a 28.8kbps modem line 24x7 would cost 750 AUD per month.

              Nope, 0.10 to 0.l5 AUD per MB seems way too high. 0.01 AUD would make sense if bandwidth in Australia costs 2-3 times what it does in the U.S., but I have a hard time believing that it really costs 40 times as much.

          • The thing that always chokes me up about these sorts of conversations is that the people who have strong ideas about how much it "should" cost don't actually know what they're talking about.

            If only those who knew all the facts posted to slashdot the site would be cleared out.&nbsp Talking out of one's ass is a invaluable content-generation strategy on the internet.

      • Sounds fair to whom? I don't know about the rest of the world, but here in Oz, whenever paying for bandwidth gets mentioned, the same figure of $0.15-0.18 per meg gets mentioned (eg, this figure was always mentioned at uni whenever volume billing was suggested to a department).

        ISTR reading that the cost to Telstra was about A$0.02 per MB -- possibly in one of the columns in The Australian's IT section.

    • A per megabyte fee is NOT the way to go, not in the slightest.

      I use cable internet for the freedom of having it on all the time, and being able to just surf around a bit while I'm bored. I don't want to be thinking about every little page I visit and weighing up whether it's worth visiting. Or worse yet, to spend a long time downloading a large movie or game demo, only to find out it's absolute crap... and I've then effectively paid for it. That would annoy me no end.

      No, I think Optus's decision is about the best we could hope for, I'm absolutely against the 'cap at XGig, and then xxcents per Meg after', it's just unworkable, and forces you to be constantly eyeing your usage meter... at least with Optus's plan you know straight away when you've used your allotment, and you aren't charged anything for it, you just cruise along at a slow speed until the next cycle.

      Considering their large losses over the past few years, I would rather they switch to this and remain a competitor to Telstra ($69.99 for 3Gig vs $85 or so), than to close up and give the monopoly back to them.

      I for one will be supporting Optus.
    • by suzerain ( 245705 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @05:09AM (#3556912) Homepage

      In truth, your post is coherent and logical, but let me play devil's advocate:

      And it's also true that regular users don't need anymore than 3Gb per month.

      I've heard I don't know how many times that "xxxx is enough for the average user" in computer-speak, and every time it's short-sighted. It may be enough given usage patterns right now, but as soon as video is distributed on the network, all software is distributed that way, and as soon as The Next Big Thing (tm) comes along, your point becomes moot. Believe me, 3GB a month will seem like a pittance sooner than you think.

      Computers in general aren't even 1 1,000,000th as powerful as they need to be. Look at the latest greatest game, look at how beautiful the 3D is, and then look out your window and realize how truly shitty it looks and you get the idea. We will need more computing horsepower for graphics and AI and everything else, and we will definitely need more bandwidth than 3 lousy GB per month.

      Perhaps it's time for ISPs to charge per megabyte?

      Well, it makes business sense, pure and simple. If I want to download the 500 MB Lineage installer, and that alone takes one sixth of my monthly allotment, then it ought to be my problem, right? Wrong. The problem is, the Internet is as much an entertainment medium as anything else, and it's competing with technologies that are not pay-as-you-go, like television and so forth. I think the public will demand unlimited access, if given a choice. The first time they get a bill for $1000 in a month, they'll be looking elsewhere.

      Of course, the industry coould just collude and force per-download pricing, but it's ridiculous.

      As a consumer, I'm already pissed off that my cable company won't allow me to broadcast. It's their way of keeping distribution in the hands of the few; a way to maintain the status quo. Yes, I understand the reasons why they don't want to host my pr0n and wArEz, but I'm being selfish here; this is about what I want.

      I for one will always seek out unlimited pricing if possible.

      • I've heard I don't know how many times that "xxxx is enough for the average user" in computer-speak, and every time it's short-sighted.

        It is short-sighted, but complain when the Next Big Thing actually arrives. We have 2.4 GHz Pentium IV's, and I'm 'chugging' along on my 500 MHz Celeron, and the most processor intensive operation I do (aside from dnetc, but that doesn't count) is run mplayer, which eats 25% CPU. This is why the tech industry's in a slump, we don't have a Big Thing and haven't had a latest Big Thing for a while now.

        Look at the latest greatest game, look at how beautiful the 3D is, and then look out your window and realize how truly shitty it looks and you get the idea. We will need more computing horsepower for graphics and AI and everything else, and we will definitely need more bandwidth than 3 lousy GB per month.

        And in twenty years when we're at that point, we'll have a far better Internet infrastructure than what we have now. You presume that the 3GB a month limit will still be the same in the year 2022, and it won't. Sorry.

        The problem is, the Internet is as much an entertainment medium as anything else, and it's competing with technologies that are not pay-as-you-go, like television and so forth.

        While the Internet is an entertainment medium, it differs from traditional devices by the method of transport: Waves vs. bytes. You can put a 100,000 watt FM tower and cover millions of people with your radio station. With radio and television, you don't pay for each user like you do with the internet distribution.

        Calculate the bandwith costs to cover four million people listening to 128 kbps Internet radio instead. To serve this, you'd have to be thinking 4,000,000 * 16 * 1024 bytes per second. Each OC unit (Optical Carrier, as in OC-3) transmits data at 51.84 Mbps, or 6,794,792 bytes per second. Divide out and you're going to need an OC-9645.

        Even if this were a regular day, ie, not four million people listening, and you had a fraction of the total listeners, you'd still have to serve massive bandwith out; the costs of which would be far more than any large-market FM radio station could cover.

        I'd rather put up my 100,000 watt FM antenna.

        I hate to rain on your parade, but the Internet is not the best method of distribution for, uh, packaged entertainment, like pay per view and radio and television shows. Maybe in 2022 when we have your true-to-life 3D, things will change, but it is unfortunate that in 2002 we have advanced so far but still have a long way ahead of us.

        If you disagree, reply.
        • It is short-sighted, but complain when the Next Big Thing actually arrives. We have 2.4 GHz Pentium IV's, and I'm 'chugging' along on my 500 MHz Celeron, and the most processor intensive operation I do (aside from dnetc, but that doesn't count) is run mplayer, which eats 25% CPU.

          Great, so you don't do much with your computer. If I merely capture some video from my DV camera and compress for Web playback (i.e., take a home movie and show to my friends), my computer is at 100% CPU utilization, and the compression takes a goddamned long time (it shouldn't). There's plenty of room for speed improvements. And that's to say nothing of gaming. Pretty much any game will max either your CPU or video (pick one). I'm talking consumer applications here; not futzing around at command lines writing code, which I also do, but which requires a computer made in 1985.

          I have no idea why you selected 2022 as the year we will need more than 3 GB a month. 3 GB is nothing! I've downloaded that inside of a week before. Hell, a few movie trailers and some game demos will get you there pretty fast, not to mention casual surfing.

          While the Internet is an entertainment medium, it differs from traditional devices by the method of transport...

          Thanks for the primer on how the Internet works, but you're missing the point. I was discussing it from the consumer perspective, not the business perspective. From the consumer perepective, I don't care how they do what they have to do. If they could give me a bajillion terabyte per second connection for $20 a month, I would be more than happy.

          My point was, whether IP networks are an efficient mode of transport for television or whatever, compared to broadcast, it doesn't matter, because that's one of the things it's going to be used for. And they have to get used to it.

          Furthermore, just like Cable TV fragmented the television market (the networks are getting smaller and smaller auiences all the time), Internet distribution of viewable media will fragment the market even further, and this changes the economies of scale.

          In other words, there will never, ever be 4,000,000 people listening to your online radio station. The only reason that happens at all is because there are so few stations, and people have to listen to something....so they do.

          When there are a hundred thousand online stations for you to choose from, you will be able to choose "traditional sumatran folk music", with 15 other people, and the listening communities inside a given genre will be much smaller. In short, there will be different metrics for success.

          This also means there will be different metrics for usage patterns, and different metrics for creating business models. The slowdown in the technology industry is, in my opinion, largely due to the fact that technology companies are operating under old economy business models rather than new economy business models (in short, they hemmorrhage way too much money and hire way too many people).

          I agree with what someone said in another thread on this topic: these decisions are partly motivated by money, yes, but they are also motivated by a desire to maintain the status quo. These companies want to limit broadcasting, file sharing, etc., as much as they want to limit costs.

          And, as a consumer, that's why it irks me. If I thought they would go out of business without a limited pricing structure, I would agree with you. But money is not the only operative concern here.

          • I'm only going to discuss a few points here, as almost everything here is incredibly well-said.

            First off, the reason why I picked 2022 is that you compared looking out the window to today's modern 3D graphics. We're running into hard, physical limits with what we have now, and to get to that true-to-life 3D will require a radical architecture shift (like PlayStation 2's Emotion Engine vs. conventional x86 computing) or maybe those CFNET-manufactured chips, which are 10 years off. Maybe 2022 is a bit late, but I try to be realistic. But I digress.

            You made a loose tie-in to bandwith usage: We will need more computing horsepower for graphics and AI and everything else, and we will definitely need more bandwidth than 3 lousy GB per month.

            Key word: Will.

            Second thing while I have my soapbox:
            I don't know what the average Joe does, and you're not an average Joe either--you're posting on slashdot. You can throw out statistics that X number of people own a DV camera and Yahoo has Y million users and casual surfing eats 6 - 20 MB/hour and try and correlate them to till the cows come home, but discussing what the average Joe does is wholly academic, and you can't add up anecodtal evidence of a hundred slashdotters to figure Joe out. He's a mythical bastard like that.

            I read somewhere that something like 1% of cable internet users eat 90% of the bandwith used, and Optus cable is doing something about it. And this whole slashdot discussion is largely that 1% complaining.

            From the article:
            The [Optus] spokesperson said about 75 per cent of OptusNet Cable users would fall within the 3GB download range, but conceded that some customers would eventually pay more under the new system.


            75% is a pretty clear majority, and I think Optus, after much research, has figured out Average Joe.

            Lastly, you made one very disagreeable point:
            These companies want to limit broadcasting, file sharing, etc., as much as they want to limit costs.

            Start apache on port 8080 to circumvent your ISP blocking incoming port 80. Serve and broadcast at will. Pay for business class service which raises your upload cap and removes port restrictions. If you have something to say, pay the messenger, just like everybody else.

            By the way, @home only blocked incoming port 80 on my segment because of Code Red, et al. Cox.net continues this cap and block as most people are too stupid to run a webserver, and looking at the big picture, I'm actually kind of glad they do this.

            If you disagree, reply.
          • 4,000,000 listeners off a single 100,000 watt antenna? where do you live anyways? I haven't heard of any single radio station that can claim 4 million listeners, the weekly top 40 which is run on thousands of stations is still in the tens of millions of listeners.
            Besides which, radio does have a saturation point. Every large object can reflect or absorb that radio signal, so that there are shadows, or possibly echos. Not to mention static that can interupt the signal.

        • Calculate the bandwith costs to cover four million people listening to 128 kbps Internet radio instead. To serve this, you'd have to be thinking 4,000,000 * 16 * 1024 bytes per second. Each OC unit (Optical Carrier, as in OC-3) transmits data at 51.84 Mbps, or 6,794,792 bytes per second. Divide out and you're going to need an OC-9645.

          Or you could get an ISDN line and multicast your Internet radio program to the entire Internet. The only problem with that is that it seems the average commercial ISP doesn't deal much with multicast users and definitely doesn't promote it like it should, especially with home users. I suppose it'd be a support hassle in their minds, but it'd save a ton of bandwidth.

          In the end though, do ISPs really care? You're paying them for bandwidth and they don't really have any incentive to help you conserve it.. especially if you're a large Internet radio broadcaster as their customer. They'd rather sell you some massive pipe when you could have gotten by with a much smaller arrangement and used a more efficient "broadcasting" technology.
    • 28kbps is slower than what you'll get out of the average DIAL-UP, let alone broadband.

      Was it was a typo for 128kbps?

    • Perhaps it's time for ISPs to charge per megabyte? There's no such thing as 'unlimited' or 'free'.. you end up paying in the end. So why not charge per megabyte, which will force users to consider what they're actually downloading. US$0.01 per megabyte sounds fair.

      US$1 per 100 megabytes? That seems awfully steep. I sure wouldn't want to pay that for my cable modem (even though we currenly have a 1GB per day limit [sunflowerbroadband.com] and have no option to pay for more). Bandwidth is a lot cheaper than that, at least in the US. The web hosting company I work for, ITmom.com [itmom.com], only charges US$0.50 per gigabyte for bandwidth. Obviously we are paying for some big pipes to get the cost that low, but I'd think that an ISP covering half of Austrilia would be in a similar position. I'd be willing to pay about US$1-2 max per gigabyte for home usage, and that's after hitting a limit of say 1GB per day.
      • You see, internet usage in the USA is subsidized by users who aren't in the USA. That's because ISPs in say Europe have to pay for traffic both to and from the USA. If a European user downloads an ISO from the USA, the European ISP has to pay for it. If a US user downloads an ISO from a European site, the European ISP still has to pay for it. It's the same in Australia.

        This fabulous deal is called "peering". If you're a Tier-1 ISP, you don't pay for data. This is by agreement amongst the ISPs. All the Tier-1 ISPs are in the USA, and guess what? They won't let any non-US ISPs join the club.

        Eventually the principals of "free market forces", "globalism", and "user pays" will take over, and people in the USA will face a dramatic increase in internet costs. Then we're going to see a lot of complaining! But it'll actually be a fairer system, except for people in the USA who won't be getting a free ride any more.

        There's no point saying "But the USA INVENTED the Internet!!!1!". Weren't cars invented in the USA? But you don't get free cars. And sooner or later, you won't get "free" internet any more either.
    • by Raetsel ( 34442 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @06:29AM (#3557095)

      Napster isn't much in the spotlight anymore, but do you remember when college netadmins would cringe as the students returned from break, turned on their computers, and brought previously more-than-adequate 'net connections to their knees? It happened a lot [google.com], and made Packeteer quite happy. (One of their Packetshaper [packeteer.com] appliances sold for (at the time) $10,000 each.)

      Peer-to-peer (obviously!) is still quite popular. About two months ago, I fired up Gnucleus [sourceforge.net] to show my wife that the as-yet-unreleased-on-DVD Harry Potter movie was easily available. For my own curiosity, I set "pfctl -l we1" on my OpenBSD firewall, and logged the amount of data transferred across my 128/768 Kbit DSL line. The result was sobering:

      1. The movie was two files, each approximately 250 MB.
      2. I allowed Gnucleus to run 24 hours a day
      3. I maintained connections to 4 other nodes (for re-searching for the files when one source would die)
      4. I attempted parallel downloads
      5. I did not share any files
      6. I did not accept incomming connections (I was behind NAT and a stateful firewall anyway.)

        In the short span of 10 days, my downstream traffic count exceeded 7 Gigabytes!

        From that massive amount, I received about one-half of a Gigabyte of useful data!

      Good Lord. Yes, that number includes all our other traffic as well, including my addict-level /. habit. It works out to a roughly 14-to-1 data:network "noise" ratio. All behind the scenes and completely hidden from "normal users."

      It's an impressive demonstration that a single computer (a Pentium MMX 233 at that!) can incur such massive amounts of traffic. Just doing the math, I find that if 100% saturated, my DSL could have transferred that much in less than one day!

      Wow.



      Now for the point of all this:

      • ISPs need to realize that "normal users" aren't just Dad surfing the NY Times and checking email.

      • "Normal users" use file-sharing networks from time to time.

      • "Normal users" cannot be defined by decree.

      • Not all "normal users" cause traffic only when they're physically in front of their computer -- some of us have figured out how to get our computers to do things while we're away! (I'm not talking about servers, either. In this case I'm thinking about offline-web-browsing spiders. <SARCASM> Internet Explorer does it, so it must be "normal!" </SARCASM>)

        A "normal user" is going to get blindsided when s/he runs (Gnutella | Kazaa | Morpheus | ???) for a few days, and ends up throttled. How will they react when they think that the files they now have are all that got transferred, and ignore connection overhead? They'll likely scream bloody murder when their connection turns to crap.

      I admit that I'd love to have an all-you-can-eat, 10-Mbit, $50/month connection. It's just not realistic. I've used cable modems, I've used DSL, and DSL with a good ISP was noticably better, even though the data rate was supposedly one-half to one-quarter that of cable modems. It was a "you get what you pay for" situation.

      I expect 'net access will eventually be billed like electricity -- you pay for what you use. The idea isn't new, but the last time it came up it received a lot of resistance.

      • You touched on another good point here. We recently switched over our DMZ network at work to a different provider to save a bit of money. Part of this switch was getting new IP addresses for all of the machines. About a day after the switchover I got a call from our information security folks who were ready to bite my head off because they detected Gnutella traffic in my network. When I dug for more information, I discovered that the traffic was going to a host that was turned off. As it turns out, the IP we were using was previously used by a machine running Gnutella. Because the ISP switched over the IPs so quickly, the IP was still in the Gnutella cache of many clients around the world. In the end we recieved something like 2-3GB of traffic a DAY from that host that was never turned on. I think the traffic finally died down after awhile, but if we were paying per megabyte we would have been very screwed.
    • I wasn't going to respond to this article, but this attitude has really started to peeve me off recently.

      Just because you can't think of a legitimate use for bandwidth doesn't mean that people shouldn't be allowed to use it. 3GB doesn't go very far at all if you are working on a collaborative video editing project with your friends (from around the world) in your spare time. Perfectly legal, legitimate, and very bandwidth intensive.

      Honestly some things require more bandwith than others, and the infrastructure for charging people per megabyte isn't free either. You have to hire additional people to maintain the much more complex billing process, incuding handling incidents where some jerk on a university connection sends 500GB of UDP traffic to some unsuspecting sap on a Cablemodem just to surprise them with the $5k bill at the end of the month.
      • incuding handling incidents where some jerk on a university connection sends 500GB of UDP traffic to some unsuspecting sap on a Cablemodem just to surprise them with the $5k bill at the end of the month.

        Have there been any incidents of this occurring yet? If not, I'm sure there soon will be.

    • US$0.01 per megabyte sounds fair.

      The three ISO images for Mandrake 8.2 are about 2000 megabytes. At $0.01 per megabyte, downloading Mandrake 8.2 would cost $20! In the meantime, cheapbytes.com [cheapbytes.com] sells Mandrake 8.2 for $5.99, plus shipping, which usually brings it to around $11 or $12. In this case, it would be almost half the price to just order the CD's through the mail than to download the ISO images!

      Is this a bad thing? Well, it would certainly lower the number of copies of Linux distributions that get downloaded. It would lower the bandwidth costs for those that provide the ISO's, since demands on their network would decrease as people look for alternative means to obtain the software. At my school, the one department keeps an internal FTP server with mirrors of popular ISO images, so students can download the ISO's without using up university bandwidth. Perhaps ISP's could set up similar mirrors without bandwidth restrictions that have popular ISO's?

      In any case, charging per megabyte would lead to definite changes in the way people behave when downloading data from the Internet. I think it would be interesting to see on what content people place the highest value per megabyte.

    • Perhaps it's time for ISPs to charge per megabyte?

      There are a couple of problems with this first is that the ISP has to install something to measure and bill based on traffic, the more serious is that people could end up paying to be subject to denial of service attacks.
    • You're kidding right? The people around here (Toronto) are up in arms about 5GB caps that major ISPs (Sympatico & Rogers) are currently proposing. My ISP (istop.com) offers 20GB per month, which I think is fair. They only charge CDN$3/GB for excess too, which apparently will drop to $2 later in the year. The owner of the company has posted in can.internet.highspeed (I can't find it in google) that something like 15-20% of his users exceed 5GB/month (IIRC).

      It's easy as a regular user of broadband to hit 5GB, let alone 3GB. I don't download Linux ISOs (I use Debian), nor do I use file sharing software, or get in to downloading movies. I can easily break 3GB though. I do listen to the BBC radio test OGG streams occasionally. Here is a table/chart of how much 5GB can limit you: http://www.carricksolutions.com/bandwidthlimits.ht m [carricksolutions.com]. For example, just over 3 hours of Quake World a day will push you over the 3GB limit. When I was a big Quake 2 player (with a full time job too) I was playing more hours than that every day on dial-up. (talk about serious addictions!)
  • I was just considering upgrading to Optus cable this month - I am glad I found out that they have now declared themselves as a useless excuse for an ISP - it will save me a lot of money. I could put that money towards moving to a country with decent internet access. At $70 a month who would want to pay for slow capped internet access! Optus you just lost a customer. Problem is we both lose :(

    Maybe I will just have to go sat or dsl - is that a viable option in Oz?
    • I guess I will just have to stick with my dial up for a while yet where I pay under $20aud a month for unlimited time/download. It is possible to download more than 3GB in one month, not that I ever push a modem that hard :P
  • Ok, I'm going to throw caution to the wind here:

    How much is reasonable? There has been alot of debate lately within australia, but I'd love to know what the world thinks - How much is a reasonable amount to download, and for what price?

    For the record, I get (ADSL, Internode, Australia):

    4.5 GB download, no upload limits, 512/128 Kb/s

    Cost: $99 /mth (approx $45 USD)

    And, for the record, I think thats alot. I've used about 1500 MB this month, and cant see why I'd use much more... Of course, this could start a flame war - but that's not the point of this post. The question is, how much do we need to have for broadband?

    Michael
    • It is very hard to comment on what is reasonable because the structure of the broadband market can vary significantly. One should perhaps split it up in the cost for bandwidth use and the cost for everything else. For instance, in the Netherlands a telco that wants to offer DSL has to pay at least EUR 12.68 a month to the ILEC for rent of the ADSL frequency on the local loop. Add another EUR 133.87 for connecting the line, another 133.87 for disconnecting, both of which get deprecated in 2 years, and you can do the math for the first part of the line. But you get no guarantee whatsoever that the line is actually suitable for xDSL.
      But in Belgium the ILEC actually searches for the best wires in the local loop to connect you. It charges quite a fee for it, but that means you can actually reclaim money if the line is unsuitable for xDSL.

      The numbers by themselves don't mean that much.

      But I am famous for putting out nonsensical numbers, so here I go for the Netherlands anyway.

      Academic pricing for students/university employees
      one-time EUR 400
      512/256, unlimited GB, EUR 35
      uncapped/512, unlimited GB, EUR 53

      Commercial pricing:
      one-time EUR 400
      512/256, 10 GB, EUR 53
      uncapped/512, 100 GB, EUR 99

      Commercial pricing (different ISP):
      one-time EUR 200
      512/128, FUP, EUR 50
      1024/256, FUP, EUR 85

      uncapped: as fast as the line goes, most people get about 6 Mbit/s
      FUP: Fair Use Policy, sometimes capped at 30 GB
    • And, for the record, I think thats alot. I've used about 1500 MB this month, and cant see why I'd use much more... Of course, this could start a flame war - but that's not the point of this post. The question is, how much do we need to have for broadband?

      I have Telstra ADSL with the 3Gb/month limit. I don't believe I actually need that much - in an average month I'd use 1.5 - 2Gb.

      However, I dislike Telstra so intently, especially after they jacked the prices recently [1], so what I do, round about the 27th-28th of the month, is check my usage, and then go out of my way to download as many game demos and MP3s and so on as I need to bring it right up close to 3Gb.

      If that's what they want to charge me for, damned if I'm not going to get it.

      [1] Some of you may be under the delusion that a "contract" is an agreement which is binding upon 2 parties. An Australian ISP contract is different: it reads something like: you must continue paying for this service for 2 years, or else we'll charge you hundreds of dollars in early cancellation fees; we, however, reserve the right to change the price of the service, or the limitations upon the service, at any point during the period of this so-called "contract".

  • Reality Check (Score:4, Interesting)

    by noahbagels ( 177540 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @04:47AM (#3556852)
    C'Mon Slashdot Crowd:
    Let's not bash every company that tries to succeed. I mean - we, and f---edcompany, and other sites all trash businesses with stupid business models. Cable modems, while awesome, have the side effect of providing incredible upload and download speeds to their users. Unlike a voice phone call - which uses relatively static bandwidth during a typical conversation, broadband connections can have vastly different usage patterns.

    Now: if you were a cellular provider - would you price a phone the same if one person was able to talk at such a high pitch, that they took up 10, or even 100 times the bandwidth as the average person?

    Let's analyze the post - it said the speed effectivaly drops to a 28.8k modem - well, sure, if you're browsing 24 hours a day all month long! If you browse for 6 hours a day, you still get 16.6MB per hour, which is not bad at all. Anyone short of an online gamer or warez/mp3 trader would be perfectly happy with 16MB per hour. This even assumes that the user goes online for 6hrs per day, every day. Even I with unlimited DSL, used ZER0 bandwidth for the 5 minutes it took me to write this.


    Before everyone flames: what I'm saying is this:
    We need differentiation in our services - one size fits all clearly doesn't work when you compare my parents browsing for 1 hour, 5 times a week, to someone telecommuting 20 hours a week, playing online games, and streaming mp3s. I'm certain that our friends down under will get either via competition, or market demand, other broadband options. Good Luck :)
    • Re:Reality Check (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Edmund Blackadder ( 559735 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @05:10AM (#3556918)
      I have no problem with a company honestly trying to charge consumers fair costs. But this is very fishy.

      if you look at their price listings, the larger bandwidth plans actually charge MORE per Gig than the smaller ones.

      If they were really trying to honestly account for the cost of bandwidth the larger bandwidth plans should charge the same or less per Gig of bandwidth than smller plans.

      This smells like a penalty.

      Keep in mind that the "culture producers" have been very aprehencive about giving end users a lot of bandwidth, for some reasons that they tout (piracy) and some that they do not admit (desire to maintain monopoly on broadcasting). So for example in the US you get what is called asynchronous DSL that has a lot of download bandwidth and very limited upload bandwidth.

      There is absolutely no technical reason for the upload bandwidth to be so limited, but it is. And of course that means makes things file sharing harder.

      To summerize i dont think this price hike is based on purely economic reasons. It looks more like a penalty.

    • Re:Reality Check (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @05:28AM (#3556965) Homepage
      • We need differentiation in our services - one size fits all clearly doesn't work

      Yes, yes, very insightful. Shame you didn't read the actual article. The issue is that now Australia only has one-size-fits-all. The two DSL providers now offer comparable services, one one price plan.

      As regarding the viability of that plan, this is a return to the bad old days of metered diallup: it puts the cost of receiving spam, portscans or ping floods on the customer. I wouldn't mind, but residential DSL (and cable modem) providers seem to be astonishingly clueless and unhelpful regarding network security and efficiency even when they are paying for carrying junk traffic. If they're dealing with that problem by punishing the recipient, what chance that they'll even pretend to give a damn?

    • Anyone short of an online gamer or warez/mp3 trader would be perfectly happy with 16MB per hour.

      Speak for yourself. I definitely use more than 3GB on some months. I like watching the movie trailers at Apple.com, which are around 24MB for a minute. I like being able to use files on my home PC from the office, rather than having to transfer disks around. And I like downloading the latest software releases.

      Sure, I'm a Linux user, and using Codeweavers Crossover, Fish, and apt-getting packages for my Red Hat box from FreshRPMs, but I don't think a Windows user would be any different. They'd be viewing movie trailers, listening to online radio, downloading shareware and game demos, using remote desktop or PCAnywhere, being or talking to cam w**res on Netmeeting, acquiring porn, talking to Aunt Beatrice using a VOIP util, or whatever.

      These were all the funky technologies broadband was supposed to give us.
    • Anyone short of an online gamer or warez/mp3 trader would be perfectly happy with 16MB per hour.

      Really? 3GB = 5 CD's which is less then quite a lot of full linux distros.

      3GB = 100MB/day. Tahts 2 apt-get update && apt-get upgrade -y's a day on the unstable branch.

      You get sent a movie/video diary of your nephew in guatemala, or you famlily that have just moved abroad (as mine have) - high quality, 10 minutes a day. At VCD quality thats £3GB a day.

      3Gb is a lot, but theres a lot of LEGAL stuff to download.
  • by Darth Rex ( 578603 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @04:49AM (#3556855)
    here [whirlpool.net.au] or here [wpool.com].

    They said it's up to 100 times faster than standard dialup.. except if you go over 3gigs you're only up to 1 times faster than standard dialup... wow.

    (standard dialup being 28.8kbps)
  • Time for a petition! (Score:4, Informative)

    by The Evil Muppet ( 261148 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @04:50AM (#3556864) Homepage
    A small group of Optus@Home users are coming together to try and actually force Optus to consult with their users on this issue.

    Send all indications of support to optuspetition@ifinitech.com
    • I'm already sending a letter to Optus by sail mail to tell them that as a user who's NetStats were usually below 1.0 I disapprove. Anyway their address is:
      Customer Relations
      Singtel Optus
      Locked Bag 'yes'
      Salisbury SA 5106

      Also don't forget to join your local community wireless networking group eg Melbourne Wireless [wireless.org.au].

  • by ASIO ( 193653 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @04:52AM (#3556872) Homepage
    Here's the Optus [optus.net.au] page describing the new plans in detail, and their reasons for it.

    Personally, if I was living by myself, it wouldn't affect me, but on 3GB, with 3 other moderate users in the house? ooh, about 1/2 a month and we'll be back to 28kbps
  • Wasn't the #1 advertised reason to get broadband to 'experience a wealth of rich content'? Do the math. You can't even listen to internet radio (about to be dead anyway from CARP, but thats another rant) on a 3.5GB cap. Just listening to net radio at 128Kib you hit the cap if you listen an average of two hours per day. And that is assuming you do nothing else with the connection! So forget video and bitch at sites that stuff flash down yourthroat as soon as they detect a broadband connect.

    Or just screw broadband. Thankfully BellSouth has been very good so far, but at the rate providers are capping broadband, and seeing as they have an absolute monopoly in my town I am taking it as an 'enjoy it while it lasts' thing.
  • by g4dget ( 579145 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @05:18AM (#3556939)
    I don't see anything particularly wrong with this. Volume charges are a lot more reasonable and easier to live with than the bandwidth limits many other ISPs offer: you get fast downloads, you just can't use all your bandwidth 24/7.

    Be happy that you get fast Internet access at all: in many areas, DSL providers have gone out of business.

    One thing they should consider, IMO, is an peak/off-peak system similar to what you get on cell phones. They could probably give you 3Gbytes peak and, say, another 10Gbytes off-peak, for all those scheduled nightly Debian upgrades. Also, with volume-based pricing, the ISP should then not meddle in content anymore--"business", "home", and "server" uses should all be equivalent, since the main argument against "non-home" use has traditionally been the supposedly higher volumes.

    • Actually, that is *not* a bad idea, notwithstanding the technical barriers to that type of metering.

      At the small ISP where I work, we fret every day about folks who are allowing unlimited uploads with P2P. Our argument is that with a consumer-grade ADSL, we reserve the right to get pissed if a customer is doing psycho traffic. By doing so, they are using a far larger share of our (expensive) T's than most of our customers.

      We don't advertise "unlimited" this or that, only 24/7 connectivity. We allow servers, as long as they are not super-popular. We will terminate Spammers as fast as you can say "no refund." Our AUP is one of the most lenient that you will find.

      From our perspective, however, since we pay X dollars for our backbone connections, and the average consumer will use X mb/gb per day or month, if there are even a few that use disproportionate amounts of bandwidth, we have a few choices:

      1- Get more T's, and charge more. Tough sell, since Verizon already hits the customer pretty hard.

      2- Don't get more T's, and let a few customers make our life hell by sucking all the bandwitdh from others, who will call and complain (rightfully, and incessantly) about slow downloads.

      3- Get the extra T's, let the bandwidth-hungry folks go crazy, charge the same prices, and be out of business in six months.

      Do the math. *Especially* for the smaller guys like us, bandwidth is *not* free. It is quite finite.

      Hey, I have cable, and have done tons of FTP installs of FreeBSD (Hey, somebody said that they were dead...), do occasional extended LimeWire download sessions, not to mention some prOn. Heck, early on, I downloaded Star Office 4 times in a row, because 65 mb in a minute-thirty was *amazing.* Still, I have to respect that somewhere up the pipe, my provider has to pay for it.

      Couple that with the fact that our ISP proactively alerts customers to Code Red/Nimda/Virus-of-the-day infections, and offers to help the cutomer fix the problem (often at no charge) it's hard to call us jerks for getting crabby about excess bandwith usage.

  • What a shame... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ImaLamer ( 260199 ) <john,lamar&gmail,com> on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @05:22AM (#3556947) Homepage Journal
    It seems that broadband providers are slowly cutting, capping and metering bandwidth.

    Why have these companies looked at the Network Worst Case Scenario Handbook (don't steal it's, my idea!)?

    You are selling a huge pipe to residental customers. They don't consider the prices that their ISP's pay. They have figured that they are making enough on the deal already - I can't buy the idea my provider TW/AOL isn't able to keep up. Many broadband providers have been laying pipes for years.

    I understand the problems in Australia - some of the content of their (backwards spiraling) downloads are not coming from Aussie Land. I'm very sensitive to that point. I'm also aware that the redundant infrastructure that we enjoy in the USA and elsewhere isn't exactly 'global'.

    My rant I guess is off-topic, I admit that. My rant is with broadband providers who knew that for years we've wanted faster downloads and access to more, well, stuff. We've been salivating over this for years and they said "It's here! We've got it!".

    Stop showing me a million Road Runner ads a day -beep beep - save those bucks, we are buying it. Spend those bucks on pipes.

    From now on kids; if you are planning to set up a DSL service or any other type of broadband service (wireless even) do this:
    Take you total number of subscribers(potential, look at your market and get with the business analysts).

    Now look at what is the most they download with any cap you place on them.

    Now look at what you pay for bandwidth.

    Now you have a solution: Base your monthly fee on that.
    I know that this is a simple(-ifed) plan. You start off sometimes with a small subscriber base - you may need venture capital to get it going (ask Microsoft, but they might end up owning you...). It's not that easy - I understand. Maybe someone can help put this into mathematical terms for me or add something I've missed; and I'm sure I missed a few things.

    But for God's sakes these companies are backpedaling and it's making me sick. Ok - I'm firing up my cable modem and getting linux and *bsd ISO's all day long until the cows come home. I'm also sending them to my friends (for some reason?). (Fuck it, I'm getting porn streamed to me for 3 bucks a minute-same difference). Either way why tell me now that "unlimited" means "limited" and $39.95 a month means $44.95 and then maybe more if I use the bandwidth I pay for.

    It's not that I want bandwidth for free. Just figure out how much it's going to cost. If you take my plan above you don't have to "solve for" the monthly fee, or "solve for" the cap - maybe later on you can work with your own providers and "solve for" your own cost of bandwidth.

    Dammit; you can't tell me they aren't making money.
  • Prices (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ambush ( 120586 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @05:24AM (#3556955)
    Here's the new pricing plans;

    1. 550Mb/Month $AU64.95

    2. 3Gb/Month $AU79.95

    3. 5Gb/Month $AU164.95

    4. 10Gb/Month $AU305.95

    The average user, according to Optus, uses around 65Mb per day (or almost 2Gb/Month). The 3Gb plan could therefore be construed as offering 50% more than the current average usage.

    For comparison, the plan I am currently on is $AU74.95/Month (incl GST) for up to ten times the average monthly usage, or 19.5Gb.

    So, time to start hunting for alternatives. Oh, and ways to monitor my usage.

    • If you need more than 3Gb, you should just order more than one 3 GB plan. The 5 Gb and 10 Gb plans are more expensive per gb than the 3 Gb plan. And when the soft-limit kicks in, you still got 2x28k or 3x28k. You will need to use load-balancing to use the bandwidth, but that should be possible. It should work at least for web surfing.
  • by Taliesan999 ( 305690 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @05:28AM (#3556968)
    Having started and run an ISP in the mid nineties, there is a simple equation. In Australia, bandwith costs money and is considerably more expensive than in the US (because of the poor deal Australia gets on bandwith to/from the US).

    Asking Australian service providers, no matter how large to foot the bill for file sharing networks, movie downloads etc. is a non starter as an idea. Would you like Optus to go the way of One.Tel? No bandwith is considerably worse than limited bandwith.

    As far as file sharing goes, why not start building networks using wireless links etc. in urban areas (I realise this is a non starter in rural areas), or perhaps start an ISP who's emphasis is on file sharing (connections provided via wireless or ADSL (I have a feeling such an ISP would quickly attract the attention of the Australian equivalent of the RIAA)).

    As far as distributing Linux ISOs via CD/DVD is a far more efficient method while bandwith is still limited. Perhaps talk to Optus about putting certain large files like this online for download at reduced bandwith cost (i.e. the bandwith used is say 10% when downloaded from their "mirror"). This could be a different way for Optus to distinguish their service from Telstra's (perhaps some sort of voting system could be implemented to request files)

    • For Melbourne users, there is a group called Melbourne Digital and Wireless [wireless.org.au] who are dedicated to building a community wireless network. Other states have the same (there are links on that page).

      There is the Planet Mirror archive and the AARNet mirror site, which are both located on the AARNnet [aarnet.edu.au] not-for-profit network, which is currently operated by Optus backbone-wise. It would be a good idea if we had unmetered traffic to these sites. Telstra may win me as a customer based on their mirror archive on GameArena.

    • It's not quite as simple as you appear to believe.

      There is a lack of competition in the Australian marketplace. The encumbent has no reason to provide reasonably priced wholesale and expedient access to the local loop. Just try getting a bank of DSL modems co-lo in a Telstra PoP. They own the only access point for broadband to the majority of potential customers. Laying cable/fibre/whatever is expensive.

      Ok, so we use wireless to get around local loop issues, and take on the issues that come with using wireless (range, fresnel zones, interference, etc). Cool. Now I can talk to a wedge of other people in the same city as me. As soon as I want to send or receive content outside the local net you need longhaul upstream pipes. Guess who owns them?

      I still think it'd be a fantabulous idea. Get a local WLAN ISP set up and buy wholesale longhaul pipes from whoever has them. There is slightly more competition in the PoP-to-PoP wholesale business. Sooner or later you're going to need to connect to the rest of the 'net though, and that's where you'll get slugged.

      Building your own network is fine if you're a UUnet or a Sprint or just want to talk to the other WLAN people within line-of-sight. As soon as you start needing PoP-to-PoP connectivity, you're going to start needing wads of cash to pay the big boys.

      So basically, if you want broadband you have to either jump through all the Happy Fun Hoops of setting up a small ISP or just embrace the BOHICA principle and hand over the cash.

      Either way, I don't relish the idea of going back to dialup.

  • First all these telecom companies start going out of business because they say they put in too much capacity that is not being use, then they start creating an artificial scarity of bandwith to make more money...maybe we should put together a class action lawsuit...oh, sorry, I forgot we were not down in the States....

    ttyl
    Farrell
  • First off 28kbps is far too low for a "cutoff". Also monthly setups mean you can go quite a while at low bandwidth. While I have posted this idea before [the idea of a cutoff] I normally mentioned a daily cutoff not monthly.

    What they should have done is say limited the connection to a couple 100 MB a day, then after that quarter the bandwidth. If you normally get around 2Mbps down 28kbps is 1/71'th of the bandwidth!!!

    Seriously while it would be nice to be able to listen to shoutcast 24/7 and download fresh ISO's of *nix every two weeks you have to face the fact that this "unlimited inet pipe" was really just a fluke. It wasn't supposed to happend yet!

    Tom
  • by lpontiac ( 173839 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @06:40AM (#3557114)

    There are plenty of decent deals out there. You just have to be reasonable. Leechers should get their head around the fact that they are *not* profitable customers, and will be treated accordingly.

    In Perth, Western Australia, Arachnet [arach.net.au] offers ADSL at pretty much the same price points, which the bonus that traffic to and from WAIX, a local peering point, is free. (Subject to fair use; don't run a heavy-traffic VPN across to your other office in Sydney over it). PlanetMirror [planetmirror.com] is on a network peered to WAIX, so that's all your ISOs taken care of.

    The wholesale situation with exchanges and the local loop has finally reached the point where companies other than Telstra and Optus can offer decent pricing. They just need people to start buying the services they offer.

    There are others here in WA too; Westnet, iiNet and probably more. I personally don't have any of these products at home (can't justify a long-term contract) - I'm a satisfied Arachnet dialup customer. At work, we have iiNet's offering and it's very, very nice.

  • Australia is *the* country which could make Wireless useful and ubiquitous. Even UMTS would be a good alternative in that country.

    However large Australian corporations tend to be run by greedy little bastards who have no qualms in squeezing their customers for those last few pennies. Perhaps Telstra should be known as Taipan and Optus as Funnel Web.

    Customer satisfaction is not a widely recognised concept in Oz.
  • Only some parts of Sydney, Brisbane and Melborne ever had cable internet.

    As far as warez goes: the main reason I want broadband is so I can download linux ISOs.

    The second reason is warez. But people, if the entertainment and software companies arn't forced to provide downloadable versions of their products, they ain't going to do it out of kindness.

    I'd pay for fast servers. I already do for some programs (ei DAVE, Virtual PC and EV Nova). The rest of software, movies and music will be legally downloadable if the corperations are forced by consumer soverignty. I'm not advocating free beer. But internet distribution (not just the ordering) is a good thing, and better when it's legal with artists and programmers compenstated.

    BTW the only broadband for those aussies not in syd/melb/bris is ADSL. Decent ADSL (3GB peak, 7GB off-peak 512K/128K) is AUS$100 (US$50)

    The again relates to why adam smith's free market is a good thing. As it is, their is 2 cable companies in Australia. If one changes terms, there far less incentive for the other to keep there old terms. This is far different with real competition.

    Barto
    • Only some parts of Sydney, Brisbane and Melborne ever had cable internet.

      BTW the only broadband for those aussies not in syd/melb/bris is ADSL.

      Some parts of Adelaide have Telstra's cable internet, but Optus never rolled out here -- they stopped their (TV) cable rollout halfway through cabling Adelaide, and economically it didn't make sense for them to sell internet access here.

  • First of all, it would be hard to make it fair and profitable at the same time. Take my current connection at home: I download 20GB/month, and pay $40/month for that capability. However, there are some people who just check email and do very little web browsing, with usage around 300MB/month. If they were paying for thier usage based on the same rate I pay, they would be paying less than $1/month. That would not be profitable for the ISP.

    Another reason, is the simple fact that tracking bandwidth usage and billing for that usage can be very expensive in itself. It's not enough to just say "You transfered 8GB last month, so the bill is $80". With per MB billing, the biller would have to break down where exactly each download came from and each upload went to. That isn't cheap. This also brings to mind the fact that denial of services would take on a whole other meaning, someone on a hacked cable connection could suddenly have a $200 bill. And then the real reason against per MB charges, is that the real cost is in laying the lines, not running data over them. It doesn't cost the real ISP much at all to transfer data, why should the end users pay?
  • Does anybody know... (Score:3, Informative)

    by ocbwilg ( 259828 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @09:09AM (#3557601)
    Does anybody know the difference between GB and Gb? Here's a hint...one is bit and the other is byte. If the article is posted correctly then it would seem that they have capped their users at a total of 384 megabytes of downstream per month, not even enough to download a single Linux ISO. Why is it that I get the impression that they're actually talking about gigabytes instead of gigabits, even though the original poster and the Slashdot editor can't tell the difference?

    Maybe they could get a job at NASA converting meters to yards.
    • Actually if you want to get technical, you're wrong too. Go read over the new IEC standard (issued in 1998) [romulus2.com]

      Basically what everyone calls a Gigabit (Gb) now, is really a gigabit (Gbit).
      What everyone calls a Gigabyte (GB) now, is really a gibibyte (GiB).
      Megabit is now megabit (Mbit), Megabyte is now mebibyte (MiB) (not to be confused with Men in Black).
      • True enough, but nobody here is talking GiB's and GoB's and MoB's and MiB' and BoB's and Boob's. As far as using the MB Mb GB and Gb scale goes (as does the original post) I'm on the money.
  • Optus was never going to be a viable competitor to Telstra. The Australian broadband industry is being held by the balls at the whim of this one company.

    Telstra is a telecommunications company that happens to be the largest company in Australia. It was created by the government as a public utility by from the public purse in the early 1900's. Through the 20th century, the Australian public paid for all of its infrastructure development many times over.

    If the CEO of Telstra (Ziggy - http://members.ozemail.com.au/%7Eisherwood/fugitiv e.gif) wasn't a soul-less ex-banker, we could have cheap unlimited broadband in Australia. Yet, if you study his strategy and read his speeches through the years, his plan is to get Telstra the brand into every aspect of Australian life. The company whose example he cited in his plans was AOL, and if you look at the directions they have been taking, a clear picture can be seen. Telstra have blamed their introduction of a 3GB cap (upload and download inclusive) on the 'fact' that overseas data is too expensive and due to leechers, those people who buy broadband but don't continue using it like a dialup connection. Interestingly, Telstra own 90% of the fibre and copper wire infrastructure in Australia but have also included local data transfer into the 3GB as well - *except* (And here's the good part) when using Telstra's own web portal www.bigpond.com. You can download as much music and reviews, streaming video, game demos and files, news, and other amazing content as you want without being charged to the quota. Yes ladies and gentlement, they are succeeding where AOL has failed. Telstra's aim is to cordone off the entire Australian Internet population into their own Intranet, like a herd of sheep, and all is going to plan. Now that the artificial bottlenecks have been put in place and we have been charged to buggery out of accessing the global part of the Internet (US8 cents per megabyte if you go over the 3GB), the shackles are popped on and we're *free* to roam around in captivity.

    The only way for this situation to get better is if the government (who still owns 51% of Telstra), make a decision to split the company into service and infrastructure, then keep the infrastructure publicly owned (just like the road system). Only then are we going to see competition in Australian broadband, and only then will we find freedom.
  • There should be a class action lawsuit against Optus suing for emotional damages arising from the new pricing plans.

    ... who's with me? ;]

  • Actually, I can see this being a problem with any type of bandwidth counter.

    Let's say I don't like you or whatever, and at the beginning of every month/billing period I send 3 GB of UDP packets to your IP address. It will only take me a few hours to transmit this amount of data to you.

    Your computer will ignore the packets, but the ISP's counter will log them and, blammo, have fun in 28k land.

    I can only imagine the tech support hell I'd have to go through to get satisfaction - if ever.

    That would suck, for lack of a better word.
  • On June 12th, Bell Sympatico here in Canada is implementing a cap as well. 5GB/month @ $44.95 (CAD), and then $7.95 per Gig over the limit (in 100MB increments). The plan seems to be to add tiers later on.

    "Basic" service - 128kbs, 1GB limit - $29.95
    "Normal" - 1.2Mbs up, 250kbs down, 5GB limit - $44.95
    "Ultra" - 3Mbs up, 650kbs down, 10GB limit - $69.95.

    Raising quite the uproar here, as the only major alternative is Rogers Cable, which will be doing the same thing shortly.
  • With the 3Gb limit, how will we ever be able to keep up with Microsoft's security patches? This could be a national security threat [slashdot.org].
  • Why is it that nobody seems to consider bursting / short-term throttling? It seems more logical to me to run a simple IPchains-like setup per address that kicks down after so much bandwidth being used in a period of time. Just not in the way mentioned by others here.

    Example: I'm downloading a 650 Meg file. The first minute I'm really cranking speed, but after that it kicks down because I've exceeded my burst rate. This would have let me load a web page in no time, but keeps me from sucking bandwidth. This also doesn't nail me in the fourth week of the month for getting a new distro in the first week. Bandwidth is not per month, it's per second. Overall usage really shouldn't matter (who cares what I do at 2 AM? I'm the only loony on!), it's the bitrate. Want it faster, pay more.

    When you buy a line, you should own that bitrate at every second for no extra cost. Bursting ought to be something you can buy above that. And the smart provider would include that in the default plan to make their customers really happy. I just can't stand this per month thing...

  • by coli2 ( 519109 )
    This will happen where ever the telecoms are privately owned. Don't tell me you didn't see it coming.

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