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The Internet

AT&T Broadband Introduces Tiered Pricing 537

Joey Patterson writes "It had to happen sooner or later. CNET reports that AT&T Broadband has introduced a tiered pricing plan called UltraLink (3 Mbps down/384 kbps up) for $79.99/month if you buy your own modem and $82.95/month if you lease one of theirs."
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AT&T Broadband Introduces Tiered Pricing

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  • Is this bad? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Saib0t ( 204692 ) <saibot@hesper i a - mud.org> on Thursday August 01, 2002 @12:53PM (#3993516)
    Could someone please explain why this is bad? I fail to understand...

    • Re:Is this bad? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by soapvox ( 573037 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @12:58PM (#3993562)
      I actually don't think it is bad at all. I run servers so I need the upstream and realize I am more than the average customer so I should pay more for a premium service, but along with that I hope I get premium customer service on thier end (not sure if that is the case or not). This way I can run my servers and not have to pay business prices!
      • Re:Is this bad? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by DrewK ( 44568 )
        ATT already doesn't allow home users to run servers. It is unlikely they will do so under this new plan which seems to come from a desire to maximize the profit from their existing infrastructure and not to provide any enhanced service to their customers.
      • Re:Is this bad? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jafac ( 1449 )
        This IS a good thing, as long as they don't gouge the fuck out of us - their previous stance was: cap and limit DSL to try to browbeat "power users" into a $600/mo. T1.

        That's fucking outrageous for someone who just wants to run a small webserver or do a little P2P, or their own sendmail server.

        This is much more fair, as long as they don't say; kick T1 up to $1000/mo, high grade (business) DSL to $600/mo (because they can), midrange (power user) DSL to $300/mo, and home-user DSL to $100/mo. Which is where it looks like it's headed, since even the home-users aren't going to suffer some of the limitations that the Cable assholes slap on customers at $49/mo.
      • no servers (Score:4, Informative)

        by phriedom ( 561200 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @01:48PM (#3993963)
        Sorry no. It took some searching, but I found their Acceptable Use Policy and:

        "Examples of prohibited programs and equipment include, but are not limited to, mail, ftp, http, file sharing, game, newsgroup, proxy, IRC servers, multi-user interactive forums and Wi-Fi devices;"

        so you are not allowed to run any servers, nor an open WAP node. I have no personal experience with them so I don't know if they even try to enforce this restriction, but it is there and they could. They want you to pay the business rate even if you aren't making money on it.
    • Re:Is this bad? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Ditto, why should I have to pay for bandwidth hogs? I do extensive browsing but rarely download anything except for RedHat's latest ISO's. I don't do the filesharing thing and my mp3's are ripped from CD's I own. No, I won't share them.

      Unlimited and equal access is great. But there is really little reason to make responsible users subsidize users with high bandwidth demands.

      I'd love to see tiered service:
      - 128k up/386k down for $20/mth
      - 386k up/1M down for $50/mth
      - whatever... >$70/mth

      On the other hand, I strongly disagree with dynamic limits, where ones b/w is reduced as a certain amoutn of data has been moved.

      Just my few pennys worth...
    • Re:Is this bad? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Enigma2175 ( 179646 )
      I think it is very good. I am in one of the cities in which this service was rolled out, and I just tested my speed. Just as the article says, it is 1.5 Mb downstream and 256 kb upstream. However, the last time I checked it, it was only 128 kb upstream. As a result of this change, I got my upstream speed doubled for no cost :-). Of course, when I originally got the service both upstream and downstream were uncapped and I could get around 2Mb/6Mb, respectively. I am still mad about that, but this change mitigates it somewhat. At least they realize there are users who use their bandwidth, and are offereing a service for them. The one thing I am concerned about is the limits they might place on their "standard" service. Are they going to have a global byte cap like they recently put on the news servers? And if you complain about it, they can always say "We do have a plan available for high-bandwidth users" and force you to use the higher bandwidth plan. I have not yet received any communications from AT&T on this matter, hopefully they will send me something that gives me some more information on the limits and benefits of the different service levels.
  • That ain't bad! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by swordboy ( 472941 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @12:54PM (#3993524) Journal
    It had to happen sooner or later.

    You make this sound like a bad thing. As long as it doesn't affect my current service, I like having the option of jumping up a notch in performance.
    • Don't forget that ATTBI is trying to give itself to Comcast, who forbid any use of VPN on "residential" service. But Comcast doesn't offer a "commercial" service! This is the first step toward offering a (naturally, higher-priced) "service" where VPN will be allowed -- same crap, but you get to pay more! So yes, it will affect your current "service" in that Real Soon Now they'll either block VPN or cut you off if they detect it; or, more likely, bump you into the more expensive package if they detect it. For those of us who occasionally work from home, this is a Bad Thing, and it's a kick in the crotch after the wedgies of recent price increases.

    • As far as I know, most people are totally content with the downstream bandwidth they get from all of these providers. anything upwards of 768Kbps is probably sufficient for most people's needs and even most power users. I personally have 1.5 down and I could drop to 768 without really caring and I'm definitely a power user.

      The problem is the upstream. If I want to be hosting a P2P server, or running a website off my computer, 384 is barely sufficient (I know because I run on 384 right now). Would I pay a premimum every month to get double my downstream bandwidth? Heck no, I'd never use it. But I'd pay a premium to double my upstream bandwidth in a heart beat.

      The other thing I have to wonder about with this is what the terms of service are. If I get 3Mbps down and I actually use it routinely am I going to get unplesant messages from AT&T telling me to stop using my service?
    • "You make this sound like a bad thing. As long as it doesn't affect my current service, I like having the option of jumping up a notch in performance."

      Yeah.. Damn them for allowing one to spend more money to get faster service! Heh. Dontch'a love the knee-jerk "When prices change it's bad" reaction?

      Actually it happens when ANYTHING changes these days. My favorite is "There's a new version of Quicktime out, I'm going to start learning how to not need it right away!". :)
  • ... If i had this service in my area. We have always complained about poor throughput and this is the resolution.

    We have demanded a service, and now the way we want it is being presented to us.
  • by hendridm ( 302246 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @12:55PM (#3993529) Homepage
    Must be nice - we're enjoying 500kbit cable for $50/month here in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Damn cows must be sitting on our optic cable.
    • "500kbit cable for $50/month"

      Ouchies. Broadband in the US is *expensive*, apparently... I have a 2Mbit down/400Kbit up ADSL line here and it costs me $40 Cdn$... about $25 US$ per month.

      Not only is it cheap and fast, it's VERY reliable too... I think I've had maybe 2 outages in the last year, and none that lasted more than 2 or 3 hours.

      - Jester
      • . . . and if they'd offer 56k DSL, for $15/mo. No web hosting, (though I can run my own webserver), no email, (though I can run my own sendmail server), no blocked ports, always on, I'd frickin JUMP on it.

        I'm not a high-bandwidth user, but I'd fucking gouge my eyes out if I had to go back to dialup, with all that flaky modem crap. (waiting for the modem to try to dial, having a dedicated line, hoping the modem doesn't drop the connection, hoping that the dialup software doesn't hang, etc). Sure, every once and a while, 384k is nice - but do I really NEED it all the time? Do I need to be paying $49/mo for bandwidth I only need maybe one night a month? The rest of the time, I'm just doing casual surfing and email. I'm not spewing MP3's or anything - I'm not downloading ISO's - so I don't really need that much bandwidth. But I sure do like all of DSL's other qualities. It's just gotten so damn expensive. It started out $29/mo.
      • by Clay Mitchell ( 43630 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @02:52PM (#3994461) Homepage
        yeah, but once you run it through the Canada->US exchange, it's only like 1.25MB/250KB :(
    • I pay the same as you and get 60% of the amount of bandwidth you get. I could pay Verizon for a 384k DSL over the 300k cable modem, from metrocast online here in NH (i thought NH was supposed to be a tech haven? Only if you're below route 101 really) but in that extra 84k bits, I lose web and mail ports. I dont think I'd give those up until I got over a megabit for the same price, and I would still think about it long and hard.
    • Hell yeah, In Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, I have a basically Static IP, no downtime EVER. I've pushed 55KBps (440kbit) upstream, And have pulled stuff in at 400+KBps (3200kbit). I can't stress enough how cool this modem is. And for $47 (after tax) I am not wanting for more. They are even cool about me having a bunch of servers behind a NAT.
  • I noticed on my ATTBi bill that cablemodem rental had dropped to $2.95 a month. I wonder if that's because I've been a customer for awhile, or if they lowered the price across the board to discourage people from buying thier own.
    • ...but did you notice that the cost of your cable service went up? Or is your bill actually lower than it was previously?

      My modem rental went down and the service cost went up. The total remains the same.

      There was a slashdot article on this a few weeks ago.
  • Honestly, my cablemodem is plenty fast enough for me. I'd like to know of a cheap alternative to having a static IP, and allow more than 2 machines to access the internet without anything fancy going on on my end.
    • Set up your second computer using DHCP and then hardcode the numbers it gives. It's almost as good as static. So long as you don't power off for too long your address shouldn't chqange. PLus the DHCP server doesn't seem to mind if you milk more than one ip address (I think we had 5 at one time once) and as far as I can tell we have never been charged for additional IPs. I don't think their functional system is tied to the billing system. They expect you to be on the honor system with extra IPs.
    • Bleh, I didn't ask for ways around it. I have a few computers networked to me "1 computer only" cablemodem (including a linux server dishing out webpages from a custom DNS, using dyndns.org), and I know how to hide it from the cable company. That wasn't my point. I'd like to do this with no strings attached, and not having to worry about the cable company noticing that I'm serving up webpages and stuff, and disconnect me.

      I want a service that gives me a static IP address. The best I have right now is to co-lo and its waaay out of my pricerange.
    • In the same boat.. I really wish my cable company could give me a static IP for a reasonable price. I don't understand how they can justify charging so much (I think I'd have to go to a business account, which is over $100). It's just one lousy entry in the DNS table, right?

      As far as hooking up multiple computers with a static IP or dynamic, I just use a linksys router. I think I paid $60 for it. It just acts as a firewall and in conjunction with an old 8 port hub I had laying around, I've gotten that many computers on the internet with it (of course you can also buy routers with more ports and not worry about the hub). I can do IP forwarding with it so if I had multiple machines that are acting as servers (say one is mail, one is web) the router can handle that as well...
  • Wow,... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ImaLamer ( 260199 )
    I was really hoping this could be a way of getting good, quality based pricing but I guess it's just going to become a way to charge a busload of money... ...although for $82 a month I should get some legal mp3's or local TV streaming for free or something. The mention of being able to set-up home networks is nice though, I'll wait for that story next (that is when they shut those down)
  • Change of tune (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dfenstrate ( 202098 )
    AT&T Broadband said UltraLink will serve power users, which it described as those who have "set up home networks, send or receive large files such as when downloading software, or enjoy other bandwidth-intensive applications."

    This is a change from the usual tone of set up a home network and die. Of course, you are paying much more for the privilege. My question, then, is if they give you more IP addresses too.

    Currently, me and my roomate use ATT, and we pay them another $10 a month for a second IP. Not sure if there's any bandwidth increase with that; probably not.
  • With SBC I am paying $159/Month for 6Mbit down / 384k up aDSL line. This is with 5 static IPs and a very loose AUP. I'd like to see what AT&T Broadband's Terms of Service look like for this new service level, but I don't think that the price is bad at all...
    • Plus, there's that l33t feeling of being close enough to a CO or RT to even get that speed. Mine tested for 8M down, even though they don't offer that. Beyond 6M or so, 10BT half duplex becomes a limiting factor.
  • by hitzroth ( 60178 )
    "AT&T Broadband Introduces Tired Piercing"

    and wondered what high-speed internet has to do with body modification
  • by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @12:57PM (#3993557) Homepage Journal
    Jesus! You people whine too much. At least they're not charging per bit, like just about every other country on the planet does.

    For better service, in the real world, you do have to pay more. To me, this sounds like a good deal.

    - A.P.
  • Power users? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ioldanach ( 88584 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @12:58PM (#3993563)
    AT&T Broadband said UltraLink will serve power users, which it described as those who have "set up home networks, send or receive large files such as when downloading software, or enjoy other bandwidth-intensive applications."

    Why must providers always assume that someone who sets up a home network is a bandwidth hog? Personally, I have several computers on my home network. However, none of them hog bandwidth unless I'm downloading a system upgrade. It just happens that the best way to have everyone able to access e-mail and surf at once is to network the computers. (Duh)

    I'm on Time Warner Cable, and they prohibit servers. If they were to enforce that prohibition, would that mean their bandwidth usage would go down? I doubt it. How much e-mail does a normal, non-spamming personal e-mail server handle in a day? Come to think of it, the traffic isn't any more than I'd handle if I had to POP it all at once!

    • they prohibit servers

      They just do that cause it scares the hell out of them that a customer might be able to think.

    • Re:Power users? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sentry21 ( 8183 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @01:18PM (#3993734) Journal
      Why must providers always assume that someone who sets up a home network is a bandwidth hog?

      One of the techs at Shaw Cable told me, long ago, that the reason they didn't support home networks is that people buy cheap, and don't understand the difference between a hub and a switch... so they buy a hub, because it's cheaper, and then all your lan data gets thrown to the cable modem, which dutifully passes it on to the upstream gateway, which then deals with (and disgards) it.

      While I'm not sure if this is necessarily applicable in all (any?) cases, it sounds like a good indicator of what's wrong - stupid or ignorant people doing networking badly. Networking can be a very finicky thing if it's not extremely well done, and it's easy for people to cause problems.

      --Dan
      • Re:Power users? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Enigma2175 ( 179646 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @01:46PM (#3993948) Homepage Journal
        so they buy a hub, because it's cheaper, and then all your lan data gets thrown to the cable modem, which dutifully passes it on to the upstream gateway, which then deals with (and disgards) it.

        I don't think that is the case with AT&T, at least with my service. The cable modem acts as a bridge, it should only pass traffic that is destined for the MAC address of my default gateway (and broadcasts). I don't have my network set up in that way, but if I did I don't think it would cause much more data to be pushed up my cable. Maybe the NetBIOS(except AT&T explicitly blocks NetBIOS) broadcasts from the Windows machines and ARP requests, but the bandwidth consumed would be negligible.

      • Re:Power users? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Master Bait ( 115103 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @02:14PM (#3994158) Homepage Journal
        Stupid and ignorant people with home networks could benefit from clever and informed cable network companies. Don't you understand that home networking is an economic opportunity for cable ISPs, rather than a trouble? The ISP COULD sell switches and install everything for profit. I have yet to see the government-supported monopolies that sell cable go much beyond a stupid minimal revise of the failed @home's Terms of Service, which was only a rewrite of old-fashioned dialup TOS.

        People want and need services that the government-supported cable monopolies are too lazy to supply. Some want fixed IP numbers, some want domain hosting. Some want fatter upstream, some want home networking, some want to serve their own email or web pages. Some don't want ISP-supplied webspace of ISP supplied POP email or a newsfeed. These are economic opportunities for ISPs in a free market, but competition in both cable and DSL is next to nothing, and this absurd level of service is our reward.

    • While certainly those who set up home networks are more likely to be tech savvy and more likely to use more bandwidth, this is also about marketing. You call up AT&T and have a conversation like this:

      You: Hi, I wants me some Internet
      ATT: Alright, fine, would you like to use our basic plan or our ultralink plan?
      You: Ummmm, what's ultralink?
      ATT: Ultralink is a service we provide that provides the bandwidth that home networks demand.

      Average customer, at this point, will probably think that if they are planning to set up a home network, they'll need whatever this service provides and pay the extra money.
    • Re:Power users? (Score:3, Informative)

      by dattaway ( 3088 )
      I'm on Time Warner Cable, and they prohibit servers

      What TWC are you on? This is what they say about servers [rr.com]. They say keep it secure and don't behave like an idiot. They also do basic scanning for things like open relays.
  • by Misch ( 158807 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @12:58PM (#3993569) Homepage
    AT&T Broadband said UltraLink will serve power users, which it described as those who have "set up home networks, send or receive large files such as when downloading software, or enjoy other bandwidth-intensive applications."

    *wink* *wink*, *nudge* *nudge*, say no more!
  • Tiered Pricing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vex24 ( 126288 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @12:58PM (#3993570) Homepage
    I like the idea of tiered pricing. I don't like the idea of bandwidth usage charges. Yay for that not being mentioned.

    One more thing I could ask for though -- a low end option, say 256k down / 256k up for $25 or something? The nicest part is the always-on connection and that it doesn't block phone use.

    • Re:Tiered Pricing (Score:3, Interesting)

      by crow ( 16139 )
      Yes, that would be nice for consumers, but they don't want to do anything that would reduce their revenue. If they thought that they would get far more new customers with that plan than they would old customers switching to it, they would, but I doubt that would be the case.

      The traditional pricing was easy to justify, as it came it at about the cost of a phone line ($20-$25) and a dial-up ISP ($20ish).
      • Yes, the key to making lots of money is to sell something people don't need, alongside something they DO need.

        It's called the invisible hand-job.
    • Re:Tiered Pricing (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @01:07PM (#3993656) Homepage
      One more thing I could ask for though -- a low end option, say 256k down / 256k up for $25 or something?

      On it's way, apparently...

      Later this year, the company plans to test a lower-speed tier of Internet service for consumers who merely want to upgrade from dial-up access.

    • Re:Tiered Pricing (Score:3, Interesting)

      by b1t r0t ( 216468 )
      My mom recently lived in a Cox cable area. Apparently they have an offer (which probably requires Digital Cable) where you buy the modem for like $80 or so, and get a 64K/64K connection for NO ADDITIONAL COST. Sure, it's not much faster than a modern modem, but there's no 20-30 second connect time either.
  • Alright (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cdrj ( 556227 )
    Well that's fine, just as long as they don't offer a tiered price plan based on the amount of bandwidth used...
  • by Anonvmous Coward ( 589068 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @01:00PM (#3993587)
    The 384 cap, though much better than it was, still leaves me aching.

    I wish I could do a 2 meg down 1 meg up. I'd pay $80 a month for that RIGHT NOW.

    • The 384 cap, though much better than it was, still leaves me aching.

      I wish I could do a 2 meg down 1 meg up. I'd pay $80 a month for that RIGHT NOW.

      ...and I'd pay $1000 for a brand new Porsche RIGHT NOW, but it ain't gonna happen. :-)

      --Matt

  • by Rikardon ( 116190 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @01:00PM (#3993588)
    Bloody hell! Here in Calgary, AB, Canada I have 1.5Mbps down, 640Kbps up, for CDN$34.95 per month with a bought modem, $39.95 with a leased one. Cap is 5GB down, 1GB up.

    That's DSL; the cable company pricing is similar, and the performance (I was a cable customer) is virtually identical -- it's theoretically 3Mbps down, but I never saw that. However, there's theoretically no bandwidth cap. That's with Shaw Cable, for the other Canadians reading this: YMMV with Rogers et. al.

    Mind you, IIRC, Calgary and Edmonton were the first two cities in NA (maybe the world?) where you could get broadband at any residential address, so the competition has been going on longer, which affects the pricing, but MAN the prices quoted in the article are expensive!
  • Comcast too (Score:5, Informative)

    by kawika ( 87069 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @01:00PM (#3993589)
    Comcast has been offering a premium service for a few months now:

    http://comcast.comcastonline.com/memberservices/ Ad ditionalProducts/serviceupgrades.asp

    They don't seem to promote it though.
    • by BenSnyder ( 253224 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @03:08PM (#3994581) Homepage
      I'm on the phone as I type this trying to upgrade our Comcast service to Comcast Pro. I swear we just had this conversation.

      Me: Hi. I'm currently a Comcast Broadband Subscriber and I'd like to upgrade my service to Comcast Pro.

      Comcast: What?

      Me: The premium bandwith service, Comcast Pro.

      Comcast: I have no idea what you're talking about.

      Me: I saw it on your web site. Would you like the URL?

      Comcast: Comcast Pro? I've never heard of this before.

      Me: Well let me tell you about it...

      Comcast: Hold while I transfer you to another department.

      I dunno, I just found it funny that the number they give you to call to get the service is answered by somebody who has no clue that there is, in fact, a service.
  • by red_gnom ( 545555 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @01:00PM (#3993592)
    In Canada, company called AEI offers 3.5 Mbps download speed and 800 Kbps upload speed ADSL for $50 Canadian/month (US$32).

    The link is over here here [www.aei.ca]

  • Higher level of bandwidth is nice, but it's really throughput that makes the difference (eg, even though you are supposed to currently get 1.5 Mbps downstream, sometimes the throughput is much smaller due to network congestion, etc.). Paying nearly twice as much should result in some sort of service "guarantee" which I have never seen AT&T or any of its predecessors that I used (RoadRunner, MediaOne, Highway1). So, I'm a bit leery of such a level of service.

    Anyway, more important to "power users" would be things like offering DNS service (they are removing "vanity hostnames" -- why not provide nameservice for people that really want to have their own identity on the net?), and static IP's (it's a bitch having your own domain when your IP address may change at the whim of some faceless corporation).

    All in all, I'm really quite happy with my current service from AT&T. I don't know what will happen when the Comcast merger happens. I *do* know that my IP address hasn't changed in a couple of years (so the static IP problem is mitigated, at least for now), and my throughput has mostly been pretty good.

    Another thought... does the new "Ultra" service give you telephone support from people that actually know what they are talking about? On the ATTBI.* newsgroups, the complete lack of competence of the lackeys in Florida and Canada that answer the phone is legendary...!
  • by Anonvmous Coward ( 589068 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @01:03PM (#3993618)
    ... What if the $80 a month charge means that they won't complain if you use bandwidth intensive stuff like P2P. If they'd put in the ToS "You can max out the connection 24/7 without fear of being disconnected or having ports blocked.", it may be worth $80 a month.

    I already pay $55 a month now. If paying $80 would guarantee those clauses in my ToS for as long as I'm a subscriber, I'd probably go for it.
  • Tiered pricing is only reasonable, since infrastructure costs scale with bandwidth.

    What I would really love is to see a lower bandwidth option for less than $20 or $30 per month. Somewhat faster than a modem but not 1Mb/sec, either.

    The only reason I stick to a modem, now, is the huge jump in price to get ISDN or DSL.
  • by jgsfcaus ( 230393 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @01:04PM (#3993620) Homepage
    Oh how quickly people forget the early days of being online...text based bbs software, arcane keywords and CompuServe with tiered access pricing:
    300 baud 6.50/hr 2400 baud 14.50/hr (prices are in 1982 dollars, so let's say roughly double for 2002 dollars?) Sign me up!

    Then the world was invaded by the likes of PCLink, the Commodore 64 version of PCLink and the Mac based version which bore the same name that these three companies were known as once they merged in the mid 80s...AOL. Now downloading new artwork at 2400 baud, only 30 minutes left to go...but aint it pretty!

    Hey, at least they aren't rolling out METERED BANDWIDTH pricing ... at least yet...

    And funny how they chose 3Mbps for the enhanced services...similar to RCN in it's fiber network markets...however, RCN didn't raise its price one cent. Still appx. $40/mo in my bundle from them...that includes modem rental.

    However, I daresay that AT&T may have difficulties consistently delivering the higher speeds as their digital network nodes are already overcrowded causing traffic jams and more general angst in the world....

    • CompuServe with tiered access pricing:

      Actually, in most areas, CompuServe used a network of systems called Tymenet [tymenet.com]. The company has now turned to broadband...but I think one of the many National ISP Modem Pools took over their network. (yes, this is even used in the "internet age")

      Anyhow, Tymenet would charge an hourly maintainence fee to the online services and they would just pass on the costs to you. More than just CompuServe used them, I think AOL^H^H^HQ-Link even used them at one point. But I agree, this is really just adding a faster access speed to their "lineup". It's actually been happening for ever...when you buy DSL you can generally decide on the speed you want, normally something like 256/128 for dialup prices, 512/256 for about $15-$20 more, 1M/512 for a much higher price.

      At least that's what they've got around here...
    • by gmhowell ( 26755 ) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Thursday August 01, 2002 @02:12PM (#3994140) Homepage Journal
      Amen. Sometimes I think that the first experience most slashdotters had with being 'online' was in the 14.4k era. Very few remember the fun of war-dialing and looking for BBSes.

      They act like the 'dueling 56k standards' was a big deal. Lemmetellyu, nuthin' like the 9600 fight, or the earlier fights (ever wonder why modems have like 27 different acronyms on the box or in the manual?)

      Oh, or remember actually have to know Hayes codes in order to get your modem to talk to a certain other modem?

    • by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @02:43PM (#3994379) Homepage
      "Hey, at least they aren't rolling out METERED BANDWIDTH pricing ... at least yet..."

      Metered bandwidth has been mentioned for a long time. It makes sense. You pay for electricity and water that way and it works great. You want to use more, you pay more. You want to save money, you conserve. The problem with metering is the fact that it would make people furious when they downloaded X-10's latest "illegally tape naked girls without their consent" pop-up ads. Those ads are bad enough, but when they cost you money I think people will openly revolt. I've gotten two telemarketer calls on my cell phone during the day and I was pissed. They would have to figure out a way to differentiate content you asked for and unsolicited content that wouldn't count towards your fees. Then 8 minutes later a 10K software program blocks all the content you aren't being charged for. Then 8 minutes after that, the remaining ad revenue supported sites go under.

      Instead of yelling at you for leaving the front door open, your dad could yell at you for leaving the firewall open. "I'm not paying to serve warez to the whole neighborhood, you know."

      -B
  • by Jonny Ringo ( 444580 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @01:05PM (#3993637)
    I'm wondering if they have the option to differ my money directly from my paycheck, shit I would gladly replace my money loosing 401k with at&t broad band!
  • by WeirdKid ( 260577 )
    Wide Open West [wideopenwest.com], a cable provider making its rounds currently in the Midwest (Detroit, Chicago, etc.) has been offering tiered cable broadband pricing for a while now.
    • by VP ( 32928 )
      They have 3 tiers:
      29.95 - 256 Kb/s
      39.95 - 768 Kb/s
      49.95 - 1.5 Mb/s (I am currently getting anywhere between 1 and 2.5 Mbits/s)
  • Nice Idea, But... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SamBaughman ( 74713 )
    Look at their pricing. 1.5M/256K for $40ish, and 3M/384K for $80ish. Why didn't the upload rate double on the high-end offering?

    Oh yeah, we're consumers, not supposed to upload, share, or be creative, only eat the drivel provided for us. Why would we want to connect to our computer remotely? Or videoconference? Or share movies from our ReplayTVs?
  • Uhhhhhhhhh (Score:3, Informative)

    by psicE ( 126646 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @01:11PM (#3993683) Homepage
    I watch in vain as yet more people fail to understand the evils of tiered pricing.

    Recently, Case Western University decided to equip thousands of computers with a 1gb/s fiber network. They didn't quite know what people would use the bandwidth for, but they wanted to find out.

    Why am I bringing this up? Ordinary users will only pay AT&T the cheapest price possible for a broadband connection. Now, that's $45; soon, AT&T may introduce a $20-$25 package, and theoretically some people now paying the higher price would downgrade to that package.

    But there's tons of high-bandwidth applications available that most people don't use yet. Imagine real-time videoconferencing with resolutions as good as a printer. Imagine downloading OS or application upgrades from the Net in seconds. Hell, who would need hard drives anymore; bandwidth would be faster! There's all sorts of things we haven't thought of yet. But as long as AT&T imposes artificial bandwidth caps, that won't happen.

    As bad as tiered pricing are upstream caps. That means that two cable modem users can only communicate with each other at ISDN speeds. There goes any useful peer-to-peer connectivity applications. Don't you all remember back when you used Napster, you'd always sort downloads by modem type, and skip anything lower than a T1? Downloading from one of your fellow cable modem users would have taken 8 times as long as downloading from someone with a leased line - but we can't all have leased lines, can we?

    Tiered pricing is fine if it's due to technical constraints. If cable lines in San Francisco and Boston, for example, are higher-quality than lines elsewhere, there would be nothing wrong with offering faster service. But AT&T cannot justify offering service slower than what the cable lines allow; doing that will do much to halt the pace of network innovation. Shame on all providers who offer anything less than network capacity, in both directions.
  • Yes! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mlknowle ( 175506 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @01:12PM (#3993692) Homepage Journal
    It is much better that they do it this way than a bandwidth cap / per MB charges. I'd much rather choose a connection speed / price tiered plan than be thinking about how many MBs I have used each month, tracking them like minutes on my cell phone plan.

    Tiered access is a reality; now hopefully they will introduce a cheaper, low speed plan (like perhaps 500k u, 100k d, for $30/month)...
  • This is how DSL service has worked for years. In my area, for example, Verizon has 3 levels of DSL speed in a similar price range to this AT&T cable. I don't understand how "this had to happen sometime" when it has been happening, just not for cable. I realize DSL is tiered and cable is not for technical reasons (DSL's distance factors, dedicated servers, etc.). But to offer more bandwidth at a higher price makes sense if you believe in the basics of supply and demand. My only real issue with this topic is that there's virtually no competition (at least in the NYC metro area). Phone service is mostly monoply and cable is pure monopoly. That throws a wrench into the whole supply and demand thing, but basically if you want more data through the provider, it makes sense to pay more.
  • I don't mind paying more for more bandwidth, but does this really solve the cable provider's problems with 'greedy' users? I would think their big hits come from people who run P2P or other bandwidth intensive applications 24 hours a day.

    Granted, tiered bandwidth cuts theoretical throughput, but is it the most effective way to share the cost of bandwidth? There are a hell of a lot of people who just want fast browsing, but will probably use less than a GB each month. Will this new pricing structure bring in more customers from this huge demographic?
  • My original (mid '99) @home link was consistantly that fast, and it was only $30 per month.

    However, that kind of pricing is probably impossible to maintain profitability.

    However, the regular AT&T service offers 256k upstream, and it would take more than a 128k improvement on that for me to double my monthly bill. I would never pay $80/month for less than 5 mbps down/ 1 mbps up, and a guarantee that I wouldn't be penalized as a "bandwidth hog" for using the service I'm paying for to its full advertized potential.
  • DirecTV [directvinternet.com] has DSL for $50/month with no limits and a static IP address. You can't beat it, plain and simple. They are good to deal with and I've had no downtime so far. They will set up a network in your house for you, or they'll let you do it for yourself at no extra charge. It's the way to go, and for us they let us have the first 3 months at $30/month.
  • I looked on the site and there wasn't a clear answer to that question.

    If you can't run your own servers, you basically have to eat what they dish out to you, and you're limited in what you can say. 10 megs for webspace - that's nothing. On my DirectTV DSL line I have a static IP for $49 a month. I have an 80 gig drive in my webserver. That's a whole lotta opinions that I can put on that drive.
  • The question: TOS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @01:17PM (#3993731) Journal
    I don't see the real question addressed in the article, which is, will this new service have a different TOS agreement (Terms Of Service) then the current service? I'm annoyed enough at being told that I can't run servers, regardless of the bandwidth. I simply will not pay more then I pay now, and still be told that I can run servers, can't VPN, can't this, can't that, can't do anything but consume. (Yes, I tweak the rules with the SSH server that can do anything, but I shouldn't have to.)

    On that topic, anybody noticed how almost all of the nasty trends lately that annoy Slashdot denizens boil down to making laws about enforcing the easy things, rather then the illegal things? Instead of enforcing theft laws, make it illegal to change phone ID numbers.... it's easier. Instead of enforcing bandwidth usage (the real money-eater for an ISP), enforce server bans... it's easier. Don't enforce piracy laws, make it illegal to create or use DeCSS and enforce those laws.... it's easier.

    I wrote an essay that tangentially touched this issue in the context of automated enforcement a few months ago, but I think the problem is extending out from there. Enforcers of all kind (not just law, AT&T enforces a contract) are getting lazy, and making laws/contracts to help them be lazy.
  • hey insightful person who knows how the Internet works

    Think we'll pay more for tcp packets than udp packets? 8 pennies for each 10 meg of TCP, but 5 for 10 meg of UDP?

  • Good (Score:2, Insightful)

    This actually makes sense to me. (Don't flame me for taking a different opinion)

    First of all, the way it was set up before was not fair. My mom, who uses the internet only to send email (that's all she knows how to do with it anyway) would be paying the same amount that I would be paying to play online video games, downloading whatever into My Pants, and transfering whatever to whoever (and all that pr0n when my wife is away) et cetera et cetera.

    Yeah yeah, I know: if she wants to just send email, then she should use dial-up. But she shouldn't have to. Dial-up is a totally different service, requiring tying up your phone line or paying for another phone line. On top of that, it requires you to (duh) dial out - a concept to complicated for my mother. She needs it Always On.

    The way I see it, she has been paying to support bandwith hogs like myself (and I am not as bad a hog as many others are - I haven't networked computers at home since I left my college roomates).

    I would honestly be more worried about their Networking Policy [computers4sure.com] (you need to pay for additional IP addresses, etc.) than to complain about not getting a free ride anymore.

    [FYI: I find it compelling to add another tidbit on the irrationality of my parents. They are paying AOL dial-up, Earthlink dial-up, MSN dial-up, and Comcast cable internet. They only use the cable. I have told them twice to get rid of those they don't use. "But we use Earthlink - that's what comes up (reffering to their home page) when we go online (reffering to opening IE).]

  • But it is called "Cox Internet" and it is $34.95, or $44.95 if you rent the modem. Of course I'm biased. But I'd rather have a lower tier where I can pay less for a slower connection (than what they have been offering). I might even pay that much for a faster one... if it was MUCH faster. 38kbytes up sucks.
  • So I can't buy it. Damn.

    (Disclosure: I work for AT&T Business Services, but this is my own opinion.)

  • This just proves why we need ubiquitous wireless internet.

    To all you who would say that there are health problems: Bah. There's already tons of wireless signals going through the air with radio and TV, and you don't see everyone getting cancer, do you?

    TV, especially now that it's becoming digital, can easily be transferred over the Internet. Radio can easily be transferred over the Internet (look at Shoutcast). IPv6 insures that there are enough IP addresses that every person on the planet can have a subnet and we're nowhere near running out. So why not just make everything go over the Internet?

    Take away all public TV wireless broadcasts, and all radio broadcasts. Then, in their place, start broadcasting wireless networks, everywhere. Completely for free. Radios are reworked to use IPv6 and pick up Internet signals; TVs the same. Support for 802.11g, or a newer protocol, is built into every single computer, TV, car; the list goes on.

    There's another important impact if this happens: you're no longer paying for connectivity, so that money is freed up for other uses. People who are now paying $10/mo for NetZero, $23/mo for AOL, or $50/mo for AT&T Broadband now can use that money to pay for premium content. Micropayments can be instituted on a mass scale; most people would only end up spending about $10/mo anyway on micropayments, and power users who spend huge amounts of time on the Internet just pay more. People get the same speed no matter what.

    Why not?
  • by Pinball Wizard ( 161942 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @02:12PM (#3994143) Homepage Journal
    get their bandwidth from? What I really want to know is why pricing of T1 lines has remained amazingly static since, oh, 1996. I figured by now T1's would be installed in new housing and cost under $100 a month. I realized back then gains in networking wouldn't be like the gains in CPU speed(remember back in 1996 a "good" computer was a Pentium 133 with 16MB or RAM), but I figured there would be at least some improvement every year.

    Nope. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Bandwidth is still every bit as expensive as it was when we were still using 486's and first gen Pentiums. No wonder the internet never took off like it should have. As I recall, many of the pie-in-the-sky projections for the dot-com companies were based on the assumption that everyone would soon have high speed bandwidth. Based on the last six years I would have to project that the internet will never see significant bandwidth gains.

    Why? Because if computing and home network power continues to increase as it has, while internet connection speeds remain static, the internet itself will become more and more useless. Our own personal networks will be faster and contain more information, so why bother?

    • Look at the top of the bandwidth food chain and you'll see why things cost so much. Teleco's have their lines locked down and can pretty much extort however much they feel like, especially when busineses are now at the point where the internet and networks are essential to compete. Along with the high cost for the proper infrastructure hardware to keep things running smoothly and allow for growth. It's a very slow moving animal but it constantly creeps forward.
  • So? (Score:3, Funny)

    by gmhowell ( 26755 ) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Thursday August 01, 2002 @02:32PM (#3994271) Homepage Journal
    If AT&T and the others can make a buck in broadband, perhaps they'll lay some cable to CT's house, and he can quit bitching about being stuck on a modem.

    I'd pay an extra $30 a month if I didn't have to deal with his incessant whining. (But for $30/month he also has to stop whining about:

    trolls,
    dual booting,
    not being able to set up a Win XP box,
    not being able to view movie trailers in Linux,
    spam,
    people who post too much. Oops. Sorry. That's michael.)

  • by supabeast! ( 84658 ) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @03:43PM (#3994804)
    Also announced was the "Still cheaper than renting your movies" plan, 3.5mbps down and 128kbps up, as well as the "Bored guy in southeast Asia with a big hard disk on an ftp server" plan, 1.5mbps down and 5mbps up.

I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best. -- Oscar Wilde

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