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UK ISP Imposes Download Limits 704

Richard_at_work writes "The BBC news site is reporting that NTL have announced it will be imposing 1GB download limits per day for its users. As you can guess, reactions have not been mild :) One thing to note, NTL has said that they will only be persuing persistent offenders, so i guess they understand you cant track your usage to the byte! Also with NTL, they appear to ban the usage of VPNs, citing that their service is for resedential use only. Does this mean I can't email work now?"
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UK ISP Imposes Download Limits

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  • D'oh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 09, 2003 @06:50PM (#5266916)
    They're going to lose a few customers now who take for granted the fact they can leech at 1Mbit 24/7 and are now throwing the toys out the pram - maybe they'll implement a similar pricing structure to DSL - thank God we're not in Australia w/ BigPond cos their prices are scary!
    • Re:D'oh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JamesO ( 56897 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @06:58PM (#5266979) Homepage
      Parent is absolutely correct, please mode them up!

      Either dump or control the 1% of customers using 80% of the bandwidth and everyone is happier because NTL can support more (paying) customers on the same bandwidth with better service. The only cost is a bit of bad PR which will evaporate with the noisy users.

      These 1Mb cable connections are contended 50:1, so even 1GB a day is 5 peoples' share. It's not unreasonable, but people who have been treated to cheap peak bandwidth on the assumption that they won't use it all the time are getting a lesson in how much it costs.

      • Re:D'oh (Score:3, Insightful)

        by oolon ( 43347 )
        The only problem is where are those new customers going to come from? Cable companies in the are the minority phone providers here. There are alot of people offering ADSL via BT phone lines, who is going to sign up for a Limited service for the same price as they could get an unlimited one?

        If I have to change my BB provider I will need to replace my cable phone with a BT phone line (Man they are going to love this). So I guess I wont be needing the cable one any more, and cos I will now not get discounts on my TV I am better off switching it to SKY (satelight), who are also the majority player in the UK. So this move could cost them alot more than they think.

      • Re:D'oh (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Yeah. It's just great for them to sell "unlimited" Internet, and then bait-n-switch them on "limits" on bandwidth and "limits" on kinds of traffic, giving their customers the feeling that they've been cheated.

        It's so much better, in fact, than putting caps on traffic and advertising fixed bandwidth rates, and ensuring that they can support those rates. Doing it that way would probably give their customers *good* feelings.

        And in the Modern Business Era, giving good customer service is simply the wrong thing to do.
      • Re:D'oh (Score:3, Interesting)

        >These 1Mb cable connections are contended 50:1, so even 1GB a day is 5 peoples' share. It's not unreasonable, but people who have been treated to cheap peak bandwidth on the assumption that they won't use it all the time are getting a lesson in how much it costs.

        I'm just pointing out, in case JamesO didn't make it clear, even if your line to the Cable company is 1 mbps, the Cable Company probably does not have that much throughput to their upstream provider. All broadband providers oversell for their capacity, on the perfectly accurate assumption that not all of your clients will be using all of their bandwidth at any given time. That's why you get 1 mbps for $50 per month: they're assuming you won't use it. That's a hard assumption for a business to make in these times of Kazaa, DIVX, and shoutcast.
    • Re:D'oh (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mitreya ( 579078 ) <mitreya&gmail,com> on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:11PM (#5267072)
      few customers now who take for granted the fact they can leech at 1Mbit 24/7

      Why do you assume that anyone who downloads a 1M in a day is a leech? Mind you, 30Gig/month is (very arguably) above what a user might need... but 1Gig a day can be broken easily.
      1. Linux install images (RedHat required 3)
      2. Online movie rentals?
      3. Music in non-lossy format (i.e. wav) -- 2nd albom will break the cap
      4. I guess porn falls into #2 :)

      • Re:D'oh (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Omicron32 ( 646469 )
        Right, I'd just like to point out that I'm one of these people.

        I'm with NTL. At the minute I'm trying to find the right Linux distro to suit me, and I therefore regularly leave my computer on for extended periods of time to download linux distros. On average I'm only getting through about 800meg (est, but I'm a heavy net user, on net for many hours at a time), roughly per day without linux distros, so fair game to them, but when I go on a Linux grabbing session, I'm breaking 2-3Gb per day. But that might only be for a day or two. Every linux distro I've tried so far DOES NOT want to connect to the net through NTL anyway. It sets up my ethernet card fine, but won't allow any connections out. I'm thinking this is NTL's fault and not mine, but I dunno. So I'm still stuck with WinXP.

        I'd rather they put the price up by £5-£10 and let me have my promised 'unlimited' bandwidth, rather than be restricted into calculating how much I can get away with.

        Does this include playing games too? Cause I play a helluva lot of those too... and the bandwidth for that adds up...

        As for porn... well... ;)

      • Re:D'oh (Score:5, Informative)

        by Karamchand ( 607798 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:51PM (#5267298)
        Did you read even the slashdot story? NTL has said that they will only be persuing persistent offenders - I hope this clears up the fog in your brain a bit ;-)
        • It's been clarified a little in this article [] on The Register. Apparently, NTL "will ONLY contact customers who exceed the daily data limit for three or more days in any consecutive 14-day period". I was concerned that merely downloading a 3xCD image distro of Linux would get me cut-off, but that's not the case. Unless I do that day after day, but that's not going to happen.

          Anyhow, it's all a bit academic now, seeing as I've had to move out of an NTL serviced area. I'm waiting to see if BT consider me worthy^H^H^H^H^Hwithin range of an ADSL service.
  • No VPN service? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WinkyN ( 263806 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @06:50PM (#5266919) Homepage
    IMO, this is a blow for the British telecommuters out there. All I know is if Earthlink had the same policy I wouldn't be able to work.

    I thought technology was supposed to make our lives easier?
    • Re:No VPN service? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dnoyeb ( 547705 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:05PM (#5267031) Homepage Journal
      Comcast bans VPN. Personally banning things that are not a burdon to the network should be illegal, but of course since its a private network, they can do as they please.

      I sincerely hope they keep removing things. The internet is something we can bring ourselves. I think its time for the people to be the government as it was always intended and do more like seattlewireless and houstonwireless and those wireless groups in Australia, etc...
    • I think this "No VPN" policy is tough to enforce. How do they define VPN? VPN traffic is usually encrypted, but so are secure payment sessions. How are they going to discern between those? Does it boil down to "no long encrypted TCP sessions"? What about disguising VPN traffic as downloads or online gaming (by using steganography)?
      • Re:No VPN service? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Xformer ( 595973 ) <avalon73.caerleon@us> on Sunday February 09, 2003 @08:01PM (#5267338)
        The popular VPN systems are easy to identify and block. IIRC, Microsoft's PTPP uses an IP-based protocol for its tunneling that isn't implemented on top of TCP (the IP protocol number is different).

        One could always invent their own VPN protocol that rides over normal TCP/IP and where you can configure the server's port. That would get around bans like this.
    • That would really stink if I was a commutter at my school.
    • That's the whole reason behind banning VPNs, etc. They just want to be able to charge you extra for a "business" account. They figure plenty of telecommuters work for large companies who have already afforded sophisticated IT, so they'll have plenty of money to pony up to support their telecommuters. It's not uncommon to see static IP or "business" accounts sell for 2-3 times as much as standard. This really sucks for freelancers and contractors, because it comes right out of their own pockets, not The Corporation's. But if it's any comfort, Earthlink in the US sells static IP accounts for $10-20 more than standard, so they're not as bad as most.
  • No news for me... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LordChaos ( 2432 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @06:50PM (#5266920) Homepage
    We hav had download limits here in .au for ages... all our broadband providers limit usage.. I am on a 4GB ADSL Plan.. gives me 4GB/month!
    1GB per day would be *very* nice indeed.
    • What are you doing people with your traffic that 4GB per month is not enough? Watching p0rn?

      And if it's not enough, then what would be the difference in price to upgrade your plan?

      • Re:No news for me... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Mitreya ( 579078 ) <mitreya&gmail,com> on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:19PM (#5267124)
        What are you doing people with your traffic that 4GB per month is not enough? Watching p0rn?

        Actually 3 RedHat images == ~2GB right away. And pray that the download will not fail or you might use up even more of your quota.

        I, personally, also like to download movie trailers... in highest resolution available. These are up to 60Mb each. And since fairly often I can't f**king download them, I have to stream them again for any of my friends that might be interested. And no, they don't look like they are cached on my machine...

        Lesse... oh yeah, and I like to download game demos too. These tend to be 100Mb and more...

      • by jandrese ( 485 ) <> on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:29PM (#5267184) Homepage Journal
        Well, if you were creating your own music videos and collaborating with several of your friends that 4Gb wouldn't last very long.

        If you were an aspiring artist that allows anybody and everybody to download your artwork, that 4Gb won't last very long.

        If you actually use those teleconferencing solutions (Netmeeting for example) with your friends that 4Gb will be gone in no time.

        If you were trying to download fansubbed episodes of old foreign TV shows you can't get anymore, that 4Gb won't last you a season.

        If you are interested in television commercials and want to download them in storable/indexable format, especially for old commericals, then you aren't going to get much with your 4Gb

        If you are trying to download all of the independant free music online to try to find the diamonds in the rough, then you're 4Gb are going to fall short.

        I've noticed a trend from MRTG that some games (RTS games in particular) take up a surprisingly large amount of bandwidth, especially if you are acting as the server in an 8+ player game. I don't have hard numbers, but I wouldn't be surprised to see that add up quickly if you are an avid gamer. I don't know of MMORPGs are worse, but if they are then it's almost certain that the 4Gb wouldn't be enough.

        This is only the tip of the iceberg. As time goes on more and more people are going to start using high bandwith applications on a regular basis. I don't think there has every been a time where the amount of bandwidth people use decreases without some sort of drastic outside influence (bandwidth caps for instance)

        I could turn the question around and ask: if you aren't using 4Gb a month then why are you paying the big $$$ for broadband service? It seems to me you aren't utilizing it enough to make it worth the $40/month minimum it tends to cost. You don't need 1.5Mb download speeds to surf the web, read email, or SSH around.
        • If you're an aspiring artist letting people download your music or other work, I salute you. But I also suggest you get a service that's intended for constant use.

          I'll say it agsin: P2P networking and "personal servers" are exactly the reason that DSL and cable will soon offer a cheap service which uses a webTV type box with a closed, no-storage OS.... And another more expensive service for users who want to run windows or linux on a machine attached to the net.

          Come to think of it.. Why should I pay the same flat fee to browse the web and play a couple games of Quake when my neighbor runs a VNC session that chews up 400kb/s 24x7?
          • by madprof ( 4723 )
            What part of 'always on' do you not understand then?
            You pay the same flat fee for your web browsing as those running VNC sessions because you bought the same product. If you have a problem with that then can ask your ISP you limit your service and charge you less.
            If you under-utilise the service you've bought then that's your problem.
            • Utter bollox (Score:3, Insightful)

              My electricity supply is "always on", that doesn't mean I should be charged the same if I leave all my appliances on all day as someone who doesn't.

              If people using more than a gig a day are in a minority then it is they who should have to request special pricing from an ISP. There's no reason a majority of people who fit in some 'normal usage' bracket should subsidise extreme users by default.

              To me it makes sense for an ISP to offer a broad range [] of pricing options to consumers but if an ISP wants to go down the "one size fits all" route then it makes sense for the size and cost to fit the majority of users.
              • Re:Utter bollox (Score:5, Insightful)

                by liquidsin ( 398151 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @11:32PM (#5268216) Homepage
                The electric company makes no claims of giving you all of the electricity you want for a flat rate. Most broadband providers are doing just that, and then trying to set limits after the fact. If my isp wanted to offer different tiers I'd have no problem paying for what I use, but I'd be pissed if they just capped us all with no option to pay for what we use.
        • The overall monthly cost of broadband here doesn't seem to be prohibitively more expensive here than non-broadband internet. I pay $79.95 [] a month for a 4 gig plan. Previously I was paying $35 a month plus phone costs for unlimited dial up.

          Overall I think I get quite a good deal. I have a static IP so I can run my own little web server without hassle. My ISP runs some gaming servers that don't count towards the bandwidth limit and also host copies of Linux ISOs. Only incoming data counts towards the limit (the ISP says they may have a word in extreme cases).

          The 4 gig limit is certainly reachable if you consume a lot of "heavy" media. But even then there's enough to download several hours of video a month and have plenty left for general use. If I hit the limit then I get charged 11c a meg which isn't bad if you just use it for mail and web browsing for the rest of the month.

          You are right that high bandwidth applications will become more prevelant over time. Hopefully this will be tempered with new technology (eg improved codecs shrinking video further) as well as bandwidth costs being driven down.

          Over all the broadband market in Australia seems quite healthy to me. There seems to be enough players to avert a monopoly situation and with ISPs like the one I use offering contract free broadband hopefully there will be enough fluidity to keep competition strong.
  • Notes (Score:5, Informative)

    by matthew.thompson ( 44814 ) <matt AT actuality DOT co DOT uk> on Sunday February 09, 2003 @06:50PM (#5266923) Journal
    Things to note...

    NTL are one of the cable duopoly in the uk. The other party being Telewest.
    NTL are in big big debt along with the majority of the telecoms business so this is probably a play towards limiting their upgrades for Internet connectivity in their cable division.

    I don't suppport this and personally use one of their DSL competition who don't imit in this way - in stead I pay a similar fee get a flat 500kbps bandwidth and a block of IP addresses.
  • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardprice@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Sunday February 09, 2003 @06:51PM (#5266927)
    their service is for resedential use only

    And the thing is, i checked it as well to make sure there wasnt any typos :( Im going to have a coffee.
  • by KeatonMill ( 566621 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @06:52PM (#5266937)
    AOL announced a new plan to let users try their unlimited services free for 10000 hours*. *for one week. [/sarcasm]
  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 403Forbidden ( 610018 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @06:52PM (#5266940)
    1GB a day is fairly good compared to most limits I've heard. It seems they only want to weed out those few people who are using their residential line as a big warez trading pipe.

    I mean.. how many days do you download 2 linux images at once?
    • Not just two images per day.. two images per everyday for a month ;>
    • Re:So? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by orangesquid ( 79734 )
      SGI's IRIX upgrades are about 1.5 gigs each, as one huge file.
      My school does the same thing... 1Gig limit per day. They allow VPN's though (although they don't allow servers of any kind and say students are not allowed to give each other access to their computers! Sounds like a Stallman story I read!)
      My cable ISP, surprisingly, doesn't do anything like this, but maybe they don't have any trouble with bandwidth usage (they do forbid VPN's though; they only want you to browse the web and do nothing else.)
    • Re:So? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 )
      Fine, but they'd beter not call it an "unlimited" plan then. I get real tired of services (you mainly see this in teh webhosting world) that calim "unlimited" then get mad if you try and use lots. No, if you claim there is no limit on something, there needs to be no limit. IF you sell me a 512kbit line that is unlimited, I'd better be able to use the full 512k 24/7 if I like. If you want to limit it to a gig a day or something, that needs to be stated.
  • by Corvaith ( 538529 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @06:54PM (#5266954) Homepage
    Maybe they haven't gotten around to it in the UK, but my University's got a VPN, and commuter students have to logon to send email through the university servers, access things like the PsycINFO databases and Oxford English Dictionary Online, etc.

    As far as downloads go... well, it's not like they're limiting it to 50meg a day or something. For the general populace, a gigabyte is plenty. And if they have to go over that--say, to download a new Linux distro--it'd be once in a great while, not Every Single Day.
    • And if they have to go over that--say, to download a new Linux distro--it'd be once in a great while, not Every Single Day.

      KDE 3.1 was just released, so we're about to have, in a few days, final releases of:

      Gentoo 1.4

      RedHat 8.1

      Mandrake 9.1


      I'll be trying each out in turn. I suspect that will be more than a gig a day.
  • by ADRA ( 37398 )
    No VPN's? Who the hell do they think use VPN's? Did they never hear of telecommmunters?

    Ok, Ban inbound VPN sessions, given, but to block 'client' connecting outbound VPN's, they will definitly isolate more than a few people. Maybe this is just a conspiracy to move their users to a private IP address block ala NAT, baby!
  • by Fearan ( 600696 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @06:55PM (#5266964)
    Many countries have been living with monthly download caps for a while now. For example, Videotron (the largest cable ISP in Quebec, Canada) limits its users to 10gigabytes/month, which is 1/3 the amount NTL allows. 1GB per day is MORE than enough for anyone, even hardcore warez downloaders (30gb/month!) If someone has to download more than 1GB worth of software/music/etc it is easily possible to schedule your downloads. Even with 15 hours of streamed audio at 128Kbps, someone would only do about ~850megabytes. Stop putting your panties in such a fit for something other people have suffered through and accepted to live with already.
    • 1GB per day is MORE than enough for anyone

      Maybe for you it is but some of us use more data than that

      if I were to find myself on those restrictions I would be insensed. Especially as ovber the last few months I usually average at least over 100GB a month
      • If you average at least 100 GB per month then you should be paying more money than your average home user pays.

        If you are paying more, fair enough. But for these £20/month schemes to be economical the companies offering them have to allow for reasonable usage levels amongst most users.
  • by Mitreya ( 579078 ) <mitreya&gmail,com> on Sunday February 09, 2003 @06:56PM (#5266968)
    Cable services seem to be as much of a monopoly in UK as they are here in US (no DSL is rarely viable here, dunno about UK). So what is stopping them from this? NOTHING. So the customers get pissed and set up websites... but how many are going to pack up and move? None.

    Now the best they could do is to sue for false advertising on "unlimited access". But once the cable company takes it out of the ads... everybody is screwd.

  • by SuperDuG ( 134989 ) <> on Sunday February 09, 2003 @06:58PM (#5266983) Homepage Journal
    What the hell is the point of limited broadband? I really must be missing something here. Is it just me or do boradband companies really just count on their users to have an always on service that they never use?

    I know when a new release of any (insert free OS here) comes out on 3 or 4 CD images I want to download them all at the same time because I'm forking out $60+ US to be able to get all 4 of them in a few hours. Not to mention stream a little porn, web radio, or download just about everything I can from file planet.

    Putting a limit on downloading to stop software piracy is the same as duck taping a cracked dam back together. The only thing I can see this benifiting is for the company to fuck over the consumer who has purchased a service. If they can't provide 3 meg/s to every person on the system at the same time with "always on" than maybe they need to re-think their business model.

    Quite frankly I'm happy that Radio, DSL, and Cable are now offered in my area, makes things like this virtually impossible because of the tight competition for such a still narrow market.

    • by rnicey ( 315158 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:05PM (#5267032) Homepage
      Didn't read the article did you? It's averaged over a month so go ahead and download your distro and porn. Just don't do it every day.

      That's the point of limited broadband, as you ask. It's not that customers sit on an always on service they never use, it's that customers sit on an always on service with normal use.

      I doubt this move is to stop piracy or anything else except to stop them bleeding cash. It's kind of like flipping the closed sign on your buffet restaurant when the Klumps pull into the parking lot. Not that nice but good business sense, especially when too many of your customers are like that.
    • Exactly correct. Good post.

  • by PhreakOfTime ( 588141 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:00PM (#5266994) Homepage

    Come on, this type of reporting is getting out of hand. It clearly states that this is for residential use only. If you are using it for business why not pay more for it. Youll get better quality for one, since you will be on nodes with other business customers. Minus the occasional code red and nimda probes.

    I originally had residential cable service, I then outgrew what it offered and realized the cable company was just using it to 'push' content, not a true internet connection. So I simply found a company that offered the service I wanted, I ended up on a business class DSL line with all the features I need, and none of the side stepping you get from residential accounts.

    Basically, my point is that you just look like a moron if you only accept whats presented to you and dont look for options to better fit your circumstances.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's not going to make me popular, but I'm with NLT on this one. I don't think it's fair for bandwidth hogs to expect 100% capacity 100% of the time. I doubt it's even possible. NTL are merely saying that there comes a point when you're taking the piss.

    What pisses me off is the "No VPN" rule. Unless I'm doing something stoopid like tunneling NetBIOS there is no additional overhead.

    I think it's perfectly fair to ask customers to limit the NUMBER of IP packet that send and receive. But I think it's totally unfair to restrict what I fill those packets with.

  • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:01PM (#5267000) Journal
    I can't imagine really what home user would use a gigabyte per day downstream for... but then again, perhaps there are some who use that much. These users need to wake up to the fact that bandwidth costs money, it is by no means free. When an ISP finds that the bandwidth of their routers, backbone, or outbound links falls short of the demand, they have two choices:
    - Increase the capacity of their network and pass the cost on to the customers in the form of higher subscription fees.
    - Cap bandwidth usage per subscriber so that the total demand for capacity falls within the capabilities of the infrastructure.

    Charging for bandwidth is fair, but I would like to see more flexible subscriber plans. Usually ISPs offer only a few limited home subscriptions with very low caps and limits, and business subscriptions that cost 10 times as much. Usually there is nothing in between. Also... not being allowed to run VPNs or NAT networks stinks. I'm glad my ISP has taken a flexible approach: basically they say "We sell you the connection; as long as you do not resell it, do whatever you want". Webservers, commercial activity, NAT networks, everything is allowed.
  • Pop-ups (Score:4, Insightful)

    by allism ( 457899 ) <alice.harrison@ g m a i l . com> on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:02PM (#5267015) Journal
    So, does this mean that people can sue companies that advertise using pop-ups for using their limited bandwidth without permission?
  • by Pike65 ( 454932 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:02PM (#5267016) Homepage
    We were forced to deal with these clowns in halls at uni because no other ISP dialup numbers would go through the phone system they installed. A really sweet deal from their point of view, and probably for the uni as well, but it sucked for everyone who had to use it.

    NTL are the only ISP I know of that had their own hate site in the form of NTHell []. Which they then bought out, employed it's creator and turned it into a customer services forum thing.

    Cute, huh?
  • by T-Kir ( 597145 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:06PM (#5267035) Homepage

    NTL is a merger of some many local cable companies, and half their departments don't even talk to each other (a friend works there so I've heard how disorganised they are).

    This is so much so that someone else I know has managed to get away without having to pay for her cable internet for a while (don't know if it is still going on though). All because they initially bodged the installation and it worked periodically (where they gave her a month free because of this issue), but then it worked fine... so she phoned up each month to complain, and they gave another free month... add to that the account wasn't capped at all, instead of being the usual 512kbps downstream!!!

    So you have to wonder why they're in so much debt (at least they have a good infrastructure though).

  • by Large Green Mallard ( 31462 ) <> on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:06PM (#5267039) Homepage
    Australia specialises on these things.. standard for ADSL is 3GB/MONTH .. many places are changing to 6GB/month, but still.. 30GB/month would be nice.

    Of course, most ISPs don't charge for traffic between midnight and 6am, so their network gets slagged then, but it's not during a peak usage time for most people. And after you hit the limit, most ISPs will rate limit your DSL connection to 56/64/72k for the rest of the 30 day rolling window.

    Sorry, but if you're doing more than 30GB of month at home, you're really lucky your ISP isn't just getting so pissed off that they report your downloads to the police :P How much of that 30GB+ is legal? 1GB? 2GB?
    • by assaultriflesforfree ( 635986 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @08:46PM (#5267561)
      Sorry, but if you're doing more than 30GB of month at home, you're really lucky your ISP isn't just getting so pissed off that they report your downloads to the police :P How much of that 30GB+ is legal? 1GB? 2GB?

      I think that's a really unfair assumption. While I'm sure there are quite a few people that use more than 30GB/mo. for illegal purposes, it seems like an indefensible non-sequitur to imply that such a fact gives any reason to believe that a person is doing something illegal simply because they also happen to use 30GB/mo....

      It's that type of propaganda logic that supports the RIAA and allows it to continue functioning.

      There's a LOT out there on the net. I could easily find 30GB of legal stuff worth downloading every day. Fortunately for me, though, I have better things to do, but the point remains.

      Personally, I really fear that this type of stuff will start happening. It would be my guess that the type of people who do use that much bandwidth are not the type to spend lots of money on other forms of entertainment, because they seem to be able to get plenty right at their computer. Those are perfect targets for the RIAA and MPAA... And I'm sure they'd be more than happy to label anyone who finds entertainment outside the accepted forms a criminal.
  • 1GB per day? Bring it on! Optus gives most people 3GB per month in Australia...
  • by mikeophile ( 647318 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:07PM (#5267048)
    Encrypted VPN traffic is hard for us to read.

    Plus we're only able to log 1GB/day or less of your traffic.

    So don't use VPN's and don't use more than a gig/day of traffic.

    Thank you.

    NTL World Total Information Awareness Division

  • by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:07PM (#5267050) Homepage Journal
    Internet ( P ) Pronunciation Key (ntr-nt)
    An interconnected system of networks that connects computers around the world via the TCP/IP protocol.

    By definition it connects to computers "around the world"

    If you are selling "internet" then you should be able to access whatever is pubically availiable over the "internet". Even if this means my work has publically made a VPN endpoint for me, I should be able to access it.

    By restricting my access, you are no longer selling "internet" What you are selling is, well, not "Internet" I'm sorry, I just cannot come up with a term for what they are trying to sell, what word could one use to describe a network restricted to only certain type of activity to certain portions of the "internet". Maybe the word i'm looking for is "Shitter-net?"

    So when they claim they are selling "internet" when in fact they are selling "shitter-net" wouldn't they be guilty of misrepresentaion of product or services?

    -An american POV.
  • Be grateful (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IanBevan ( 213109 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:08PM (#5267056) Homepage
    Here in the World's bottom (New Zealand) my download limit is 1GB per MONTH. It's a serious pain... I can get 8Mbit with ADSL as I live just 300 metres from the local exchange, which means I can use up my entire month's bandwidth in literally a few minutes. Not funny.
  • Anything preventing you guys in the UK from slinging ethernet out your window or setting up wireless access points and running the whole neighborhood (or country) from 1 E1 leased from MCI? With a big enough citywide WAN, you could probably mirror most of the big-and-interesting content (Red hat ISOs, etc) inside the WAN and rarely if ever have to go to the internet.
    • Re:So... (Score:2, Interesting)

      erm aside from needing local authority permision (and usualy a telco licence) to cross a public road with a cable..

      as for the "setting up wireless access points and running the whole neighborhood (or country)" check out which aims to do just that.
    • Re:So... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by davesag ( 140186 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @08:44PM (#5267546) Homepage
      funny you should say this. I am up at a friend's place in a university town just outside of London (not naming names) and I was wondering if the place I am staying would have a decent network here. I brought up all sorts of crap just in case but to my, and my friend's suprise, some kindly neighbour has left their 802.11 base station open and my mac took about 0.2 of a second to discover it, connect and had in fact checked my email before I even realised that it was online! a short ethernet cable later and my friend is online too. now right now this is no skin off their nose as they don't have bandwidth charges, or download caps. there are no disincentives to leaving your 802.11 open as long as you use ssh to communicate between boxen.

      I am curous as to what they really mean by VPNs anyway. If I commit files to a sourecforge project, or any of my CVS servers about the place, using SSH is that a VPN? or do they mean the M$ VPN product that used to floor's global network about once per day.. or do they mean any IPSec connection? or PGPNet?

      what about people who use SSL to check their email, or in fact any private citizen (or 'subject' as they are here in the UK).

      they'll have to tear the SSH out of my cold dead hands.

  • how they plan on filtering out the traffic from the guy down the street that has the Slammer Worm and Nimda from counting against my quota.

    Until those lousy cable providers are more proactive against snuffing that stuff out, the limits should be high enough to account for that...
  • by Kombat ( 93720 ) <> on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:19PM (#5267125) Homepage
    In Canada, we've had bandwidth caps (much lower, I might add) for some time now. One of the most common objections I heard to the decisions were from people who felt that they should be allowed to max out their "high speed" 1Mb product that they were buying. They felt that something advertised as "1Mb" should mean they can use it at that bandwidth all the time, for a flat fee. Does your cable bill go up if you watch too much TV in a month?

    On the other hand, the reality is that ISPs don't budget for everyone to have their connections maxxed out all the time. The only expect people to use a small fraction of the allotted bandwidth. Doing so allows them to offer generally high speeds, for a relatively low price.

    Around here, a T1 connection (1.44 Mb/s) will cost you around $1000CDN per month. Why do these people seem to think that they should be able to get the same service for $29.95/month? Don't they understand WHY T1's cost so much more?

  • Aww, poor babies (Score:4, Insightful)

    by l33t-gu3lph1t3 ( 567059 ) <`arch_angel16' `at' `'> on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:21PM (#5267139) Homepage
    Poor frikkin babies. I get 5GB/month aggregate bandwidth on my residential broadband access. They get 1GB/DAY. Quit whining!
  • Further info (Score:5, Informative)

    by Glyndwr ( 217857 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:22PM (#5267141) Homepage Journal
    I've been staying on top of this right over the weekend (and had a /. story about it rejected 36 hours ago, grrrrr), so for those new to it, some links:

    Massive thread on, a offical ntl gripe site.

    Complaint site []

    Basically, ntl are somewhat losing their nerve. I've exchanged emails with the MD of their home products range who claims to have only found out about this key strategic business decision on Saturday morning; he's either lying or incompetent, I suggest. The biggest gripe amongst the sane posters (barring all the "I pay for 24/7 and I'm going to damn well get it" breast-beating") is that the 128bps, 600kbps and 1024kps services all have the same download limit, making you wonder why you pay for the higher speed service.

    It should also be pointed out that, unlike many other ISP's schemes, NTL offer no FTP mirror service with "free" bandwidth and recently started dropping alt.binaries groups [] from their newsspool, which is in any event so slow as to be unusable. So for big alt.binaries downloads or Linux ISOs, for example, customers are forced to external sites, pushing up ntl's bandwidth.

    The biggest fear is that this is the thin end of the wedge. In the last two weeks, ntl have dropped a few warez newsgroups and introduced a fairly generous cap that won't inconvenience too many people. That's all well and good, but many think it won't stop there; once you get the caps in place and the groups erased, you can squeeze them down and down. ntl is desperately short of cash, newly emerged from Chapter 11 protection, and this would appear to be a beancounter-led efficiency drive that is turning into a PR nightmare.

    I was part of a similar revolt over a no-servers line in the AUP a few years back (more info []) and ntl backed down and clarified their position with a set of clear-cut and sensible rules. Let's hope that happens again.

  • hmm.. doing the math, thats (1024*1024)/24/60/60 - 12.13k/sec (if its continuous). if you assume a working day is 8 hours (yeah rite), then, your looking at 36.39k/sec for the working day continuous. i think thats probably ample enough dont you? at 12.13k/sec - your looking at as 128k line, at 36.39k/sec - your looking at less than 512k line.

    i am on 2.5Mbit line, and, even when bombarding with 300k/sec downloads - i barely reach 1Gb per day, i get close - but, it isn't really that un-realistic is it?
  • by slainfu ( 528905 )
    Please note the facts before making the same old "we have it even worse here" assumptions:

    * The cap is exactly the same for all 3 tiers of service (128kbps, 600kbps and 1Mbit).
    * The prices for these services are £14.99, £24.99 and £34.99 respectivly.
    * This is coming from the same ISP that recently did away with most of the binary newsgroups because it was easier than investing in some new hardware to cope with the demand.

    NTL's network can't cope with the demand, and that's a fact. Rather than update their network, servers and infrastructure, they find it more cost effective to charge their mostly loyal users the same price for an inferior service. I'm sorry, but that just doesn't wash with me. Broadband is being sent back to the stone-age.

  • by Erpo ( 237853 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:31PM (#5267191)
    From a business perspective, this seems like a smart move. If 10% of the customers are using 90% of the resources (adjust the numbers to your liking), then either reaming that 10% with unbelievable fees or disconnecting them all together is a great way to increase profits. Now, from there, I could guess that the 10% mentioned are the users who run p2p software, and since 99% of the users running p2p software are violating copyright on a fairly regular basis, they can't really complain too loudly.

    Here's what puzzles me: why do most broadband users pay for broadband service, which typically costs more than twice as much as regular POTS service, if not to pirate content on p2p networks? I know there are gamers out there that love the decreased latency, but what percentage of broadband users do they represent? I'm occasionally part of that demographic, but I only know a few other people that fit into that category. Some people like downloading and sharing uncopyrighted content (again, I'm one of those people [project gutenberg is awesome ;)]), but I would bet the majority of broadband users don't know that uncopyrighted content exists on the internet (after all, due to copyright industry lobbying, no new content has come under public domain within the majority of internet users's lifetimes).

    So, really, I'm at a loss as to why people get broadband. Could it be that people really want web pages to load a split second faster enough to pay more than double price for internet access? If not, then what's going on? Clearly ISPs wouldn't disconnect or overcharge (too much ;) ) their customers as a group -- they wouldn't have a source of income. Maybe there are 'heavy' and 'light' p2p users, or perhaps 'sharers' and 'leeches'?

    p2p is broadband''s killer app. Are broadband ISPs killing the killer app?

    Maybe it's just that I'm under the weather and my brain's been in a low gear the past few days, but this doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
  • by cranos ( 592602 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:33PM (#5267201) Homepage Journal
    When I was a lad we had to use 300 baud, and sleep in cardboard box on tip.
  • by HalfFlat ( 121672 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:44PM (#5267258)
    The provision of so-called 'residential' services by broadband providers really disturbs me.

    Typically in any area (thinking Europe, UK, Australia - true for US too?) there are only one or two high-speed providers to choose from. They offer two tiers of service: one is with a fixed IP, costing $lots per month and where one is charged by the incoming MB; the other is a residential service with a temporary IP -- that is often forcibly expired, killing connections etc. once or twice a day -- with an affordable cost and a relatively high cap before per-byte charging comes in.

    These residential services though don't offer the Internet per se, but some sort of diluted version. No fixed IP means no reliable servers. No home-served content for you! I haven't yet seen a mainstream provider that offers IPv6 addresses; if lack of IPv4 addresses were the only motivation for this IP cycling game, then surely they'd offer a stable IPv6 address. The access agreements further compound the situation, with restrictions such as this 'no VPN', or no web serving, or only one computer on the connection, or no multiple accounts, or so on.

    The dynamic IP stuff also means that one is pretty much forced to use an SMTP relay for outgoing mail, as so many sites blacklist known dynamic IP blocks out of hand. T-online here in Germany is about to start charging for their SMTP relay service!

    The whole point of course is to extract the maximum amount of money out of the market. These service restrictions aren't there to cover otherwise present costs or the like, they're there to provide a differential betweeen their services, so that the providers can extract more money out of anyone who might possibly want to use the 'net for anything serious.

    In the same way that major Telcos dragged their feet with ISDN and the like in the UK and in Australia, pricing it per minute _and_ per byte, and thereby siginificantly delaying the adoption of the 'net by businesses at large, the current practices are also limiting the adoption of the Internet as a tool for anything other than passive content consumption.

    If there were a level marketplace for internet services, then the situation probably wouldn't last. But of course this isn't the case when there are $10^8 barriers to entry against an entrenched monopoly or duopoly.
  • by caluml ( 551744 ) <slashdot@spamgoe ... g ['m.o' in gap]> on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:51PM (#5267293) Homepage
    FreeSWAN [] with some patches allows you to wrap the ESP packets inside UDP packets.

    Then all you have to do is get around the initial udp/500 IKE stuff.
    I assume you could edit the ports that pluto listens on on both ends.

    If ISPs blocked udp/500 and protocol 50 and 51, that would stop IPsec based VPNs.

    Of course, there's always CIPE, and SSH tunnel, etc.
  • Old News :) (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:54PM (#5267308) Journal
    I Posted this on my site [] yesterday along with an explanation of exactly why this is unreasonable (but then the BBC are never good at keeping up to date with tech news) and have since then received an email from NTl: Dear Sir, I will be sending an update out within a day or so. I am sorry for the manner and way this has happened. I learnt of it on Saturday morning and have been managing it since. Our problems is that there are a few users, under 1% of our total, that are setting up such heavy usage patterns that it is affecting the quality of our other 550,000 customers. You may not notice it, but it is coming through in different localities. You need not worry. There is no daily cap to speak of, our goal is to manage the customers who are using the service for consistant and prolonged periods of time especially around peak hours. This can mean that a few have set up mini-data centres from which large-scale file sharing is taking place. Further clarity will follow, but we truly value your custom and hope that your fears of restricted service fall away -- our typical customer uses 20X less capacity than the recommended usage level (and even that level will not mean you are disconnected or service stopped). Many Thanks, Aizad Hussain PS. I have also copied this email to Bill Goodland, our internet director who can address some of your specific points.
  • by lewp ( 95638 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @07:59PM (#5267326) Journal
    If you combine all the trickles of bandwidth you take for granted on an always-on connection it becomes apparent rather quickly that it's not very hard to exceed 1GB/day.

    Right now I'm listening to Digitally Imported [] at 128kbps. Over a 24 hour period that will eat almost a gig and a half (granted, to be kind to their servers I turn it off when I'm AFK, but I'll still be listening to DI or SomaFM [] 8-10 hours a day most week days, and potentially much more if I'm on some sort of coding binge). Add in IRC (maybe on multiple networks if you're a junkie or have special interests that have their own IRC networks, ie. GamesNET or Freenode), IM (which can be three or four different sessions if you have friends on all the major networks, thank god for gaim/trillian), a SSH session or two that you leave open for convenience, and fetchmail checking your remote mail server every 10-20 minutes or so and you could be using most of your daily bandwidth allotment on things you're not even actively doing, but that just kind of get taken for granted in the background.

    If you're a gamer, Half-Life (which has the stingiest netcode I know of in a game that's still heavily played) will typically use almost 200MB over a 24 hour period. I know some people who almost play it that much, too. Other, newer games easily use 2-3x that much, especially if you tip them off to the fact that you have a broadband connection.

    Anyway, it's true that bandwidth isn't free, and I don't even think NTL is doing anything particularly wrong by imposing a cap. I kind of wish Comcast would do it, then maybe all these people who keep their connections pegged at the max all day with file sharing traffic (like my roommates before I asked them to stop) would calm down and I could have a decent connection outside of 3am-8am. My likely small additional usage would be worth a reasonable overage charge to me under these circumstances.

    I do think all their subscribers should be given the opportunity to bail from any current contracts without penalty, though, since they signed up for "unlimited usage".
    • I do think all their subscribers should be given the opportunity to bail from any current contracts without penalty, though, since they signed up for "unlimited usage".

      I bet if you asked the business manager at the ISP they would be *delighted* to lose the class of customer for whom this is a problem.
  • by reallocate ( 142797 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @08:03PM (#5267340)
    I've never understood why ISP's, especially in the U.S., don't follow a pricing model akin to U.S. cable television? I.e., sell a "Basic Broadband" package for one level of bandwidth usage, an "Enhanced Package" for another, etc. You get the point. If the customer goes over their monthly bandwidth limit, send them email and bill them per kilobyte for the excess.

    Selling unlimited access to all comers for the same price just encourages people to imagine that an ISP is a public utility and that access to bandwidth is a right.
  • by xA40D ( 180522 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @08:05PM (#5267354) Homepage
    My doctor has just told me I need at leas 8 hours of sleep a night. This is totally unfair. What use is existance if you can only use it for two-thirds of the time.

    This is not what I paid for, and I will be writing to my MP. Just because Good is an omnipitent entity it does not give him the right to impose such limits on me. ;-j
  • by coolmacdude ( 640605 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @08:28PM (#5267464) Homepage Journal
    In the feedback article it says they are only looking at the monthly report that averages under 1 GB per day. This means you would have to dl more than 1 GB per day for the whole month to violate the limit. I really can't see anyone complaining over that. It is perfectly reasonable.
  • Why not charge people by their usage + some basic overhead.

    It would be tough for anyone to complain if they were charged $20/mo plus a dollar a gigabyte downloaded (or whatever is the bandwidth cost for your provider plus some fair markup).

    I understand how the broadband companies don't want to raise prices on 90% of the users for the extra cost that 10% of their users incur.

    So charge by use. I don't think anyone would argue "No, I shouldn't have to pay more just because I use more." There may be a few people out there that think bandwidth is free and unlimited, but.. well they're dumb.

    Imagine paying $40/mo for gas. No matter how much you use. If you drive 4000 miles a month or 40. It doesn't make much sense does it? Bandwidth has cost per gigabyte just like gas has cost per gallon. It's not like 'pirating' software, where there's no additional cost incurred. When you use bandwidth, you are causing a cost to your ISP. You should be responsible for that.

    That said, they shouldn't be bothering me with WHAT I do with the bandwidth I pay for.. that stuff bugs the crap out of me..
  • by Querty ( 1128 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @08:44PM (#5267547) Homepage
    That's Alan Cox's ISP.

    Quote from his diary []

    December 10th NTL broke my so called 'service' again.

    Word of advice for the wise - avoid NTL business cablemodem services if you can.

    I'm just thinking how he'd react to "I'm sorry sir, I'm afraid you will have to stop using VPN". I sure wouldn't want to be the one making that call.
  • Eclipse (Score:3, Informative)

    by oob ( 131174 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @08:46PM (#5267565)
    I use Eclipse Internet [] for ADSL here in the U.K.

    Around GBP 25/month buys me a connection to the second fastest ADSL provider [] in the country.

    There is no fixed term contract (I pay month by month), no traffic restrictions, no closed ports and very little downtime. Static IP addresses are standard and more are easy to obtain. In addition, all the usual webspace, mail and news stuff are included in the standard price.

    I share the 512kb/s uplink with the three people I live with and two of our neighbours via a 802.11b. Between us we have a number of servers running so pretty much max out our bandwidth all of the time.

    I suggest that anyone considering a switch from NTL consider them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 09, 2003 @09:43PM (#5267858)
    Mate, if you are in Australia, like I am, you'll have to put up with download limits for any pipe thicker than a 56Kbps Dial-up. The typical "Broadband" plan for households have a limit between 1 and 3 GB (depending on the plan) per month (yes you heard right, PER MONTH). Any extra download is charged at an unbelievable 15 cents/MB. The whole thing just sucks - all the ISPs are in collusion (it's an open cartel), there is no competition, and consumers have no choice. The Average UK bradband user is "UltraWideBand" by comparison.

  • Quotas and caps (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sayjack ( 181286 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @10:16PM (#5267971) Homepage
    Quotas and caps are not the answer. What they really need is a flexible and *reasonable* billing system based upon fair usage. The problem is that the pricing is based upon overselling available resources. At any rate, the market is self correcting, it will adjust. In the end, users will flock to the system which makes the most of them happy.

    This problem reminds me of the late '80s when the phone companies wanted to charge modem users extra since they couldn't multiplex as many modem signals across the same line as they were using all available bandwidth (miniscule though it was at the time).
  • by EvilBastard ( 77954 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @10:36PM (#5268030) Homepage
    "I just use it to download Red Hat ISO's" is a explanation often heard when ISP's try to get their residential customers to stop abusing their service. Second only to "I only use it to get free, open distributed MP3's"

    These people seem to download Red hat ISO's 4-6 times a week. Why not just come out and admit that 90% of the time you are downloading copyrighted material ?

    The biggest bandwith hogs are :

    Pirate Software
    Pirate Music
    Pirate Video

    If Red Hat ISO's didn't exist, it'd be OS service patches, or redownloading the virus definitions every 20 minutes being used to justify massive data bills.

    No pure residential user in this world can justify 30 gb of data / month. And if you are using it for CVS or streaming video, bite the damn bullet and purchase a Business plan, and claim it on tax. You are ruining it for the true residential customers.
  • You're Lucky (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Adaptive ( 198549 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @11:18PM (#5268175) Homepage Journal
    Here in Australia we pay Telstra [] $111.45 for 3 gigs a month! That said we can VPN all we like.
  • The solution: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Performer Guy ( 69820 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @12:36AM (#5268480)
    It's real simple, if you want to download 1GB per day regularly then PAY FOR IT!

    Geeze, why some people get all flustered when a cap is introduced on a low cost service is beyond me. Quit freeloading of other customers and pay for what you use.
  • As an NTL customer (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Inda ( 580031 ) <> on Monday February 10, 2003 @06:03AM (#5269379) Journal

    I've been with them for 5 years. Never been uphappy with the services they offer until now. I've even praised them up on here before. Apart from them closing down all their shops, reducing staffing numbers on the call desks, digging up the roads in my town for 3 years and forcing me to pay them three separate bills each month they are not bad.

    The thing that makes me annoyed is that I first found out about them closing down alt.binaries through a friend. I knew they were on about upgrading their servers at some stage, I knew that they were thinking about charging extra for Usenet access - I filled in an online poll telling them I would consider paying extra. I would of paid if they had given me the option. I will now have to pay for another Usenet service which will only make bandwidth issues worse for them.

    I found out about the 1Gb limit from Slashdot. Why have I not had a letter, a phone call, a god-damn-simple-email from them explaining this?

    Now I'm one of these people that is connected to a P2P server 24/7. I'm not a leech, I don't download flat out at 600k all the time (impossible on most P2P networks). I am an average user. I get a 1 to 2 films each week and I like to evaluate some new software once or twice a month.

    I pay a substantial part of my wages (7% of my gross income) to NTL for ALL my communication and entertainment needs. NTL is in the business of providing me with my needs - they don't do much else. What am I going to do now? Can they afford for me, as an average user, to switch to another provider? Another provider who would be cheaper and offer a higher upload speed as all ADSL providers seem to be doing at the moment. I am not getting the service I was getting last week, I am not getting the service I was getting when Usenet was functioning properly... and I'm still paying the same for it. I sorry but there are some simple sums for me to do as well now, even if I'm unlikely to go over the 1Gb per day limit. You get what you pay for, as the saying goes - or not in the case of NTL.

    God damit, they even advertise on billboards about offering rich streaming media. More like poor steaming shit now.

Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984