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The Internet The Almighty Buck

ISPs Experiment With Broadband Download Capping 804

W33dz writes " has an article detailing how some ISPs are now capping bandwidth usage by some of their high end users. Comcast claims this is an attempt to create better speeds for their average users, but you can't help but wonder how much of this is in response to the RIAA's subpoenas. Interestingly enough, there is no set limit, but just a subjective limit of 'more than the average user.' The World Tech Tribune has an article on the same topic."
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ISPs Experiment With Broadband Download Capping

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  • Throttle it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Monday September 22, 2003 @02:55PM (#7026717) Homepage Journal

    .. but you can't help but wonder how much of this is in response to RIAA's subpoenas. Interestingly enough, there is no set limit, but just a subjective limit of 'more than the average user.'

    Lose the tinfoil hat, Sparky. Home broadband is dirt cheap for what you get. It's subsidized by business accounts much like telephone service. When cable and DSL first came out no one heard of Napster let alone Kazaa or eMule. Those apps use up a huge amount of available bandwidth which we get damn cheap.

    Personally I'd rather them use bandwidth throttling for P2P apps rather than dictating a certain amount of usage over the course of a month. Most P2P users leave the thing running all day anyhow (I do and check in to home via VNC through an SSH tunnel) so why not throttle it back? A few K less incoming for P2P isn't much, but when you're waiting for a website to load.. well that's where you want the real speed.
    • Re:Throttle it. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chester K ( 145560 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:10PM (#7026930) Homepage
      When cable and DSL first came out no one heard of Napster let alone Kazaa or eMule.

      When cable and DSL first came out, we were all being sold on the idea of video-on-demand and bandwidth-intensive rich media. The media companies never delivered on this promise, which is where Napster, Kazaa, and eMule came into the picture.
      • Re:Throttle it. (Score:5, Informative)

        by yintercept ( 517362 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:54PM (#7027445) Homepage Journal
        The media companies never delivered on this promise

        The media companies have delivered this. You can download music from a number of services including (free),,, etc.. You can download movies from MovieLink.

        The thing the media companies haven't delivered, and probably will never deliver, is free music or free full feature movies with no commercials. The media companies never promised that we would stop paying artisans for creating things.

        Here are three free songs [] from a musician I know. You have to pay to get the full CD (ha, ha) it's an ad. It's a teenager trying to get cash by writing songs and playing a guitar.

        I also do not ever recall any ISP saying that the subscription fee that you pay for bandwidth pays for the content.

        The media companies never delivered on this promise

        I don't ever remember being sold on anything other than 4 or 5 times faster than the modem. I guess I am not naive enough to think that 256K is fast enough to deliver high quality video. It delivers music well...not video. It takes several hours to download a movie from MovieLink.

        P2P is not about the music industry failing to provide. It is about people wanting music for free. P2P is not more efficient.

        P2P is probably the least efficient way to deliver music. KaZaA creates incredible amounts of white noise as P2P servers ping each other. The economies of P2P are all about externalizing costs...not efficiency. It is about driving an extra mile to avoid paying for a product. Rather than an investor having to pay for a $100,000 box to delivering music and having to pay royalties to musicians, you have a 10,000 $1,000 boxes sitting around buring up electricity downloading pirated music.

        A highpowered server in a server farm with large bandwidth pipes is substantially more efficient than several thousand P2P servers hooked to DSL. It is just that P2P externalizes all of its costs. Rather than paying for the creation of a product, the P2P community is willing to bear a much higher expense to get the stuff for free.

        As for the ISP, P2P externalizes its expenses to the community. A P2P is both a publisher and an end user. Essentially, the person using P2P is trying to get the service of both a web host and an isp in the same subscription fee.

        KaZaA and toxic waste disposal are all about trying to externalize costs.

        • Re:Throttle it. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by danila ( 69889 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @04:21PM (#7027723) Homepage
          Wow, that was good. :) You almost persuaded me to uninstall eMule and KaZaA. :) Still, the common sense took me back over. ;)

          P2P doesn't create much noise. Actually you can easily get the whole traffic picturee simply by measuring your own searching and download traffic. You'll see. Dedicated server might be a good idea in theory, but the truth is, it's not so bulletproof. Just look at Steam and it's recent problems and compare it with eDonkey2000. Do you think eDonkey will slow to crawl when Half-Life 2 is released? I don't. ;) But anyway, P2P was specifically designed to avoid the need for servers. It's not its fault, it's part of the specification. And claiming that P2P users consume more electricity is just plain nonsense. But you might want trying to sell this idea to RIAA for their PR^H^H FUD campaign. :)

          Now back to topic. When P2P was created, there simply wasn't a feasible alternative authorised by labels. To deny labels' partial responsiblility for the emergence of P2P is to ignore reality. Today there are such alternative (still not perfect) and people gradually start using them. But the problem is that users are now accustomed to another consumption patterns and labels still try to ignore that. People want a more active role in selection of the music. They want to taste much more than before and only then buy what they like. Labels still can't face this reality and continue pushing their 15$ CDs, now copy-protected. That's simply not what consumers want and in the end consumers always win.

          May be, if labels had offered online music services in 1995, P2P would not emerge and online piracy would remain confined to Usenet, IRC and private FTP. But now people know the taste of music without limits and nobody will be able to take it away. At least I hope so.
        • Re:Throttle it. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by shepd ( 155729 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <gro.todhsals>> on Monday September 22, 2003 @05:00PM (#7028117) Homepage Journal
          >P2P is not about the music industry failing to provide.

          It is, though. They have failed to provide a popular product (while I like emusic, rarely is there a lot of current top ten hits availible) in a format people like (iTunes DRM + AAC Mac only? Blech).

          They have also failed to provide it at a reasonable price. According to the RIAA, when CDs were first made, they justified the price divide between CDs and casettes as an extra cost to produce CDs. According to them this almost doubled the cost of the product, from $8.99 to $17.99.

          Therefore, considering a decent casette costs $2.00, the cost of a digital music download, which incurrs only a minor ($0.01) penalty for transfer should be $6.99 or less per album.

          It isn't.

          Also, with the lack of physical art a digital download has, and the reduced quality, another rebate should be made for the consumer. I propose $1.99. The price for an album online should therefore be $5.

          But wait, media companies want to further denigrate their online music by introducing DRM and proprietary formats. I believe an album that cannot be resold should sell for half price, like most AS-IS sales on working items. The price for an online album is now $2.50.

          Media companies have failed to bring to market goods that are cost representative.

          P2P is all about trying to rationalize costs. While free is far less than consumers are willing to pay, it isn't free. The cost to the user is working for various marketing departments. A value which I say equals the proper cost of a legally downloaded album, $2.50.

          Heavy piracy is always an indication of failed market attempts.
        • Re:Throttle it. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by acidrain69 ( 632468 )

          P2P is probably the least efficient way to deliver music. KaZaA creates incredible amounts of white noise as P2P servers ping each other. The economies of P2P are all about externalizing costs...not efficiency. It is about driving an extra mile to avoid paying for a product. Rather than an investor having to pay for a $100,000 box to delivering music and having to pay royalties to musicians, you have a 10,000 $1,000 boxes sitting around buring up electricity downloading pirated music.

          This is COMPLETELY ina

          • Re:Throttle it. (Score:3, Informative)

            by Minna Kirai ( 624281 )
            And who says P2P is inefficient? Bit Torrent seems DAMN efficient to me.

            BitTorrent is not truely P2P, to the extent Kazaa and gnutella are. It's more like a Napster situation.

            Both Napster and BitTorrent have a centralized server that knows where the file is. The former had, the latter has whichever webserver is hosting the *.torrent file. Without a centralized computer doing some matchmaking, the peers would never learn about each other.

            The difference between naptser and torrent is that
    • Re:Throttle it. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by swb ( 14022 )
      Home broadband is dirt cheap for what you get. It's subsidized by business accounts much like telephone service.

      Is it? Do you have any documentation to show what the monthly actual cost of DSL is to the telephone company?

      My ISP gets no subsidies for the IP portion of my DSL bill (about $34 per month), and the subsidies associated with my voice line presumably cover all the maintenance associated with the copper loop to my house, so they must be doing *something* with the $34 per month they get for suppl
      • DSLAM aren't cheap (Score:3, Interesting)

        by BreadMan ( 178060 )
        The phone company has to pay for the DSLAM on the other side of the loop to split out the data part of the signal and wrap it into a ATM circuit. Think of this as an additional line card the phone company must buy/finance/install/fix/power/administer. When I was working with these things, they cost a ~$500 a line to buy, and a small DSLAM would service 64 lines. But that few hundred per line would be much more if the phone company did not sell all the space on the DSLAM. I'm not sure about the additonal
    • Re:Throttle it. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Torinaga-Sama ( 189890 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:17PM (#7027009) Homepage
      Someone has to be a grub fanboy, so I suppose it will be me.

      He is right. Tinfoil hat and all. The problem is really noticable on residential Cable networks.

      When I am actually reading text in a browser noting upsets me more than having to wait for the next page, where on the otherhand if I am downloading something that takes an hour, an additional 15 mintues would not even be noticable (as I usually get up and go something else while doing that anyway)

      Also I think there are a lot of people on file sharing networks that are pack rats, they download everything they think might even be vaguly interesting even though a lot of it they will never use it.

      This f's my ping and I hate that too. :-)

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:55PM (#7027457)
        I am one of those users... I network 12 PC's at home and run kazaa on them all, my traffic light NEVER goes off... if my speed slows, I simply poison the arp table for everyone else and throttle my neighbors connection, redirecting them through a wireless laptop and laugh, mwahahahaha!

        My kazaa Lite ownz joo!!!
    • by Srin Tuar ( 147269 ) <> on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:28PM (#7027123)
      Home broadband is dirt cheap for what you get.

      You cant be serious?
      What you call "broadband" I call a poor quality, overpriced, asymmetric leecher link. The telecom monopolies have been trying to prevent broadband adoption inasmuch as they are averse to change of any kind.

      Fiber to the curb should be here, and it should be cheap. I dont know why so many are happy to be bent over a barrel for a pittance in bandwidth. The network grows in value for each user online, and not the other way around.

    • Re:Throttle it. (Score:5, Informative)

      by jilles ( 20976 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:41PM (#7027269) Homepage
      Bullshit, telecom corps are not doing charity (which is what you seem to imply). Edonkey, gnutella and kazaa are pretty much driving subscriptions.

      If my provider would start 'experimenting' with throttling on me, I'd start 'experimenting' with changing providers. Here in the Netherlands the trend is quite opposite BTW. In november my bandwidth will go up from 768kbps/128kbps (up from 512kbps/64kbps when I got adsl back in 2000) to 1Mbps/160kps to match similar increases in speed from the competition (the increase won't cost me anything). At the same time they are going to be even less strict in enforcing the fair use (as far as I know it only exists in name) policy they were hardly enforcing anyway.

      There are now several hundreds of thousands of ADSL subscribers in the Netherlands (on a population of 16 million and competing with even more cable users). These people pay upwards from 30 euro per month. ADSL is pretty big business here, thanks to filesharing. Without filesharing, few people would have a need for the more expensive subscriptions. As it is now, these subscriptions are very popular.

      Maybe in the US it is different because you have not deregulated the telecom market yet. That throttles competition and makes telecom companies lazy in upgrading their infrastructure and organizations. It took a while here too but since a few years, prices are dropping and several new, presumably profitable companies have started to offer their services in the telecom market. Compared to a few years ago, international calls are dirt cheap, prices of local calls have dropped significantly (still not free though) and mobile services have become so cheap that you see kids on elementary schools carying a cell phone.
    • by djtack ( 545324 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:49PM (#7027371)
      Instead of fixed caps, why not implement some sort of traffic-shaping based on past usage?

      I help administer a mid-size linux cluster, and we use PBS Pro [] to handle job scheduling. In many ways, allocating cluster resources is similar to bandwith:
      • The resource in finite, and expensive
      • It needs to be shared fairly between a lot of users
      • It's a "perishable" commodity. A lot of proponents of metered bandwith compare it to other utilities, like water, power, etc; however unused bandwidth (like CPU cycles) cannot be stored for later use. It helps nobody to restrict usage when there is extra to spare. Contrast this to other metered utilities, where the surplus water, coal, gas, etc can be saved and used another day.

      The scheduling algorithm we use on the cluster is called "fair share". I think it would also work to share bandwith, and it works like this:

      Usage is tracked with an exponential half-life of 24 hours. For example, someone who used 20 cpu-hours today and 20 hours two days ago would have a total usage 20 * 2**0 + 20*2**-2 = 25 hours. A user's priority in the queue is based on their past usage, and optionally their number of shares (users can be given an unequal number of shares, if desired).

      To apply this to bandwith, you could track the bandwith usage the same way. During peak usage times, when the lines are congested, a traffic-shaping router would give a lower priority to packets from the "bandwidth hogs".

      It seems to me that customers and ISPs would both benefit from a scheme like this. I'm not exactly a networking guru, so I'd be interested in what other people think about it. Is there hardware out there that has this capability? Could it be done with Linux's iptables?
      • by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @07:11PM (#7029150)
        What you're talking about has already been done by my ISP [] in Australia. They introduced their FlatRate plans when every other ISP with unlimited download plans was either changing them or going out of business. Their plans have remained sustainable. Since then, other providers have started up again with the unlimited plans, although not using Internodes priority system.

        One unintended consequence is that any packets going through the priority system, even if they're at a high priority, are slowed down. In response to this, Internode has put most of the main gaming servers people use outside of the priority system.

        Internode use CISCO routers and a homebrew software solution to manage all this stuff.
    • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @04:48PM (#7027990) Journal
      I think the above statement depends LARGELY on how you define "what you get".

      I find it interesting that the cable companies have no problem feeding you nearly 100 channels of television, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (remember, that's bandwidth too - voice and full screen video), for, say, $50 a month -- yet when it's *Internet* bandwidth people want, suddenly we're supposed to respect all these artifically set limits/caps, and understand what a "great value" we're getting for that additional $49.95 per month.

      True, home users' Internet broadband is currently subsidized by businesses - but that's only because they've got the current rates jacked up so high for T1 and T3 connections. There's no real, concrete reason I can see why a T1 should cost a business many hundreds of dollars per month. They've simply created artifical "costs" for connections, and tried to justify them by claiming they "help offset" expenses giving home users service.

      DSL runs over existing copper, and shouldn't really present a telco with any additional overhead - other than maintaining the routers and the customer support/billing aspects of it.
    • Re:Throttle it. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nmos ( 25822 )
      Lose the tinfoil hat, Sparky. Home broadband is dirt cheap for what you get.

      Agreed. I'm actually surprised that the smaller ISPs (those that arn't part of a telco and have to purchace their own Tx or OCx links) even stay in business serving dsl customers.

      It's subsidized by business accounts much like telephone service.

      Do you have ANY evidence for this part or you post? Unlike residential phone service residential DSL and Cable broadband are NOT services that the telcos are required to provide so wh
  • This is news? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 )
    Maybe 10 years ago this might have been news.. but today? Half the ISPs out there have caps of some sort.
  • Capped fun (Score:3, Informative)

    by Crazieeman ( 610662 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @02:56PM (#7026728) Journal
    Here in Wichita, prior to the Cox Communications buyout, we had 10Mbps down/up.

    Now (since 2001) its been 3Mbps down/256Kbps up. Sucks.
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Monday September 22, 2003 @02:56PM (#7026730)
    First of all, this is WAY old news. Comcast had been sending out bandwith notices quite a while ago.

    Second, this has nothing to do with RIAA pressure. It has to do with tricky marketing, bait-and-switch, and money. Comcast likes to claim they are an unlimited service yet they want to give you an UNKNOWN limit of bandwith you can use (subjective to those users in your immediate area it seems - so if you are in Podunk and 5 people have cable and you are using X amount of bandwith above the average of the other 4, you are busted and lose your service).

    Third, Comcast has a monopoly and almost 25 million subscribers. Like *I* have a choice of another provider for broadband (no DSL, wireless is cost prohibitive). I loved the note on my door on Friday: "Please note that we will be inspecting your cable outlets on Monday with your landlords permission, please move all furniture out of the way." How about no. Glad that the landlord changed my locks when I moved in and forgot to keep a key for themselves. I don't appreciate Comcast coming in in the first place, nevermind when I am not at home.

    Comcast is real cute. Takeover a monopolized market, raise prices even higher if you don't have CATV, create bandwith caps if you go over some mysterious number, etc.

    See here [] and here [] for more info.

    Just my worthless .02
    • by switcha ( 551514 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:12PM (#7026951)
      Glad that the landlord changed my locks when I moved in and forgot to keep a key for themselves.

      I only told you I didn't keep a key for myself.
      -Your Landlord.

    • by BrynM ( 217883 ) * on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:18PM (#7027012) Homepage Journal
      Let's take their methods out a few generations. Right now, they are threatening or terminating their top 1% of "bandwidth abusers". Let's assume that these folks consumed 50GB a month in bandwidth. Now that those people are "fixed", the top 1% becomes the folks who consume 45GB. They can go throught the same process next quarter/billing cycle/year. If they keep eliminating the top 1%, then the threshold is constantly getting lower for the other 99% before they get their "warning". If left unchecked, the top 1% could very well end up being someone who has less than modem usage.

      Regardless, they now not only have the reputation of being a capped service, but they have become the most unreasonable and vague capped service. Way to fight a PR war guys! Comcast/ATT (they keep passing the broadband and cable properties like a hot potato) have had a captive customer base for so long that they have really lost touch with how to keep those customers, let alone build any customer loyalty. I hope you dump them if you can.

      I'm lucky, my DSL ISP lets me host servers, have a static IP and give them a call to say "Hi" for fairly cheap. Before you ask, Omsoft [].

    • by swb ( 14022 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:30PM (#7027153)
      I had an apartment where the landlord used to come in all the time, without notice, and with dubious cause.

      The last time it happened this way I had taken a day off and had just gotten back from the gun range. I heard a soft knock and a key enter the lock. When the door swung open, I was standing there with a gun in my hand asking who the guy was and what he wanted.

      He mumbled something about an upgrade to the door buzzer system. I stood about 6 feet from him, gun in hand, the 5 minutes he spent in my apartment taking apart the 1920-era intercom and fishing wire from below. He said he'd be back in 10 minutes, which he was, and he installed the new unit.

      After that, I never had an unannounced entry into my apartment again.
      • by Abm0raz ( 668337 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @04:07PM (#7027605) Journal
        Heh, My landlord did the same thing, till one day he found out that, since I live alone, I tend to walk around in various states of undress. I happened to be getting out of the shower and walking to the living room to turn on the TV while I got dressed and he walked in with someone to show the apartment to. I just looked at them and said, "Dunno what you want, but unless you get the fuck out now, you're gonna see a fat, nekkid man** kick the shit out of you." I've gotten phone calls ever since anytime the landlord is even coming to the building. :)


        ** I'm 6'4", 285#, a part-time bouncer at a sports bar and an ex-minor league hockey player.
      • I used to work maintenance for an apartment complex. The law in the State of Texas was, in brief, that if you hadn't paid your rent, you didn't have any rights. And, realistically, when you're three days delinquent in your rent the management simply must stick their head in your door to find out, at minimum, if you've skipped on your lease.

        So I go out with the manager while she's looking for skips. Everyone got a note on their door two days previously and they're now three days late on the rent. She al
        • Re:OT: Landlords (Score:4, Insightful)

          by bellings ( 137948 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @04:38PM (#7027874)
          They refused to do anything since she hadn't seen the thrower.

          Ha Ha! You can bet your sweet ass if someone threw a knife at a cop they'd be busting the fucking door down, right now, and putting a cap in anyone's ass who didn't get on the floor, right now. None of this shit about "I didn't see who it was, so I'll let them go."

          I guess its true that we get the governement we deserve in this country. Too bad we deserve to be assreamed.
        • Re:OT: Landlords (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Metaldsa ( 162825 )
          There should be a web site to swap landlord tales. My parents have 500 apartments and I have worked for them since I was a little kid. People would do the dumbest things. No pets in the lease yet call us up because they saw one spider. Suddenly a $25 fine hits them for the kitty cat. Or how about not paying rent but having tens of thousands of cocaine sitting in your living room. Now you go to jail for many years all because you didn't want to shell out a few hundred. Each landlord could write a book o
    • "Please note that we will be inspecting your cable outlets on Monday with your landlords permission, please move all furniture out of the way."

      I don't know if it's the same everywhere, but where I live the cable company only owns the cable lines until they enter the building where you live. The internal wiring is the homeowner's to do whatever he or she wants with.

      As an apartment renter, you need to know that Comcast has no right to enter your apartment without your permission, and your landlord has no
  • Capping (Score:2, Funny)

    by Leffe ( 686621 )
    Well... mine is already capped at 640KiBit/s.

    It would be more interesting if the ISPs would start experimenting with uncapping speeds for especially law-abedient users(this group does not include me, unfortunately).
  • University (Score:2, Informative)

    by sik0fewl ( 561285 )
    Well, I get great speeds at my university, but ports like FastTrack and FTP are slowed down quite a bit. Pretty annoying. KaZaA download at about 1k/s (on good days). Not that I use it anyway, but my friends sure hate it.
  • Ass hats (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mao che minh ( 611166 ) * on Monday September 22, 2003 @02:58PM (#7026751) Journal
    Those were the first two words that came to mind. Ass hats.

    Is it really so bad that users of broadband like to utilize as much of the pipe as they are appropriated? I think that if capping is implemented, the prices of the broadband connections should be decreased appropriately - since you will be recieving a lesser service.

    • by John3 ( 85454 ) <> on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:04PM (#7026840) Homepage Journal
      ...for residential users. Business users basically already subsidize the home market. The telcos and cable companies probably didn't forsee the impact of P2P when they promised "unlimited" bandwidth, assuming web browsers, email, and the occasional Quake server connected at home. P2P takes off and suddenly they need to back off on their promises a bit, but don't expect them to drop the price lower as they are already losing money on home broadband.
      • by neurojab ( 15737 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @04:12PM (#7027650)
        Just to be devil's advocate... Gym memberships work much the same way as broadband access. A certain set of shared resources are used by those that show up, but the majority of the profit comes from the people that buy a membership, but don't actually go to the gym. Now in the broadband scenario, the low end market (people who don't use the net very often) is cornered by simple dialup. People buy broadband so they have a much bigger pipe to the internet. Why do they buy it? Because they want to use it. I find it hard to sympathize with providers that never thought of that. If my gym decided it could sell more memberships if its members used less resources, and started telling me which days I was allowed to appear and which hours I could use the facilities, I'd switch to a different gym. Likewise, there's no reason to put up with ISPs that don't figure out their business plan up front and offer a service they can actually provide.
    • Re:Ass hats (Score:5, Informative)

      by ctr2sprt ( 574731 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:28PM (#7027134)
      Funny, those were the first two words that came to my mind. Of course, I applied them to the submitter of the article rather than to Comcast.

      Here's the deal. From my experience working for an ISP and the IT dep't at a college, the top 1% are not just using a little more bandwidth than the majority. At my college, the top 1% were using over half the school's total bandwidth. At the ISP, I didn't see the numbers myself, but was told by the admin that it was pretty much the same situation there. I strongly suspect that it's the same deal going on here.

      Comcast here is actually going for a very friendly solution. They aren't imposing hard caps, which is a good thing. This means that the ISP can judge the network conditions and adapt their caps to accomodate them. So if their average user starts using 20% less bandwidth, then their power users can use a little more. On the other hand, if their average user starts using more, then they can clamp their power users a little more. This is also far more flexible than traffic shaping software, which will probably be their next step.

  • by snillfisk ( 111062 ) <mats.lindh@no> on Monday September 22, 2003 @02:58PM (#7026754) Homepage
    This may be implemented very simple:

    #1: determine the top 10% of the users
    #2: cap their bandwidth so that they're no longer in that group
    #3: if (bandwidth_used > 0) goto #1
    #4: sell off your backbone
    #5: profit!
  • If they stick to this, then the cap will, by necessity, spiral down.

    Consider, if the current average is M, and people using more than M are capped at M, then the average will decrease to M'. Now, the former average is more than the new average, and presumably would initiate a new round of caps at the value M'. Lather, rinse, repeat.
  • Makes sense... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22, 2003 @02:58PM (#7026765)
    Give more bandwidth to the people who don't download anything and less to the people who do...
  • by DragonMagic ( 170846 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @02:59PM (#7026774) Homepage
    Why on earth if someone changes a policy that somehow will affect mass P2P traders, etc., it's some underhanded effort behind the scenes of one of the hated groups, SCO, MS, RIAA, MPAA, etc.?

    Could it just be that bandwidth costs money, and some people just use way too much of it? That perhaps this usage could hinder others in the area or across the whole network?

    Nah, usual paranoia sets in, it must be the RIAA strongarming them to change their policy so people have to take an extra thirty seconds to download that song off Kazaa . . .
    • by crazyphilman ( 609923 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:18PM (#7027014) Journal
      Too true. What I found interesting was that the people used as examples of the target of the caps were downloading the equivalent of 90 movies per month. Earlier in the article, they say two movies take up 2GB. So, assuming one GB per movie, that means the people targeted by the ISPs were using over 90GB per month. 90GB!!!

      Perhaps the people who are complaining about this could take a deep breath, drink some soothing tea, and realize that that's a whole lot of downloading. Most of us don't even use 5GB, much less 90GB (90GB!!!). And, when you think about it, during normal web browsing, I doubt you use more than a couple hundred meg a month, total.

      At first, I saw the article, and I was like, "bandwith caps? Oh no!" Then I read it and realized they're talking about capping up in the couple-dozen-gigabyte range. For the life of me, I can't see what the big deal is. You know? It's not like it's going to affect very many people...

  • by dswensen ( 252552 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @02:59PM (#7026778) Homepage
    ...but the good news is, you pay the same low price for involuntarily downgraded service! Thanks for using Comcast! Have a nice day!
  • This is BS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by grey3 ( 160961 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:00PM (#7026781)
    When I pay my monthly internet bill, I'm not paying for an average download speed, I'm paying for a MAXIMUM download speed. Is it legal for them to change the contract for the amount of bandwidth I can use at any time?
    • Re:This is BS (Score:2, Informative)

      by Brahmastra ( 685988 )
      Unfortunately, embedded deeply in the user-agreement you signed when you got the connection, there are a few lawyer-written lines about how they can change the terms of the service whenever they want.
  • If nobody's allowed to download more than the average user, the average will drop pretty rapidly. Soon, nobody will be able to download anything!
  • Traffic shaping? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by VAXGeek ( 3443 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:00PM (#7026792) Homepage
    Why don't they just shape the traffic to their needs? I'm sure there has got to be some way to do this at an application level. Couldn't they just assign lower priorities to p2p traffic? It's not like bandwidth is some tangible asset that we are USING up every day. Just have us capped to under their bandwidth needs.
  • by GreenCrackBaby ( 203293 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:01PM (#7026796) Homepage
    Here in Edmonton, Alberta we have a choice of two high speed ISPs: Telus (DSL) and Shaw (Cable). Telus does not impose any download caps, while Shaw does.

    I switched away from Shaw. My brother-in-law switched away. Several co-workers switched away. My neighbors switched away.

    I don't know if you'd consider that annecdotal evidence only, but I see that as a pretty clear sign that people want unmetered downloads and are willing to switch to an alternative if one's available. I guess if you are using so much bandwidth that the ISP is losing money on you they might have an argument for capping, but otherwise it just seems suicidal.
    • by Cloudmark ( 309003 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:08PM (#7026894) Homepage
      Just as an aside, and not to argue with your conclusion that people will go to the service that offers them the greatest benefit, Telus does actually call you if you maintain high downloads. Shaw is stricter in their enforcement but the penalties are usually lower. If you call Telus or dig through their website, they do actually list 2gb up, 6gb down as limits.

      All ISPs list some form of limit just for legal backup, even if they choose not to enforce it. That way if someone burns the pipe up with 500gb downloaded in a month, they retain the legal right to call you up and make you stop.

      Again, not to dispute your conclusion...I just figured I'd pass on the information.

      A former 'bandwidth management' specialist in Alberta
      • Interesting...I have a friend who used to work for Telus and he told me that Telus doesn't even have the capability to measure bandwidth usage.

        Regardless, considering that I easily go through 80 gigs a month, up and down, and have yet to receive "the call", I think I'll stick with Telus. :-)
  • you can't help but wonder how much of this is in response to the RIAA's subpoenas

    Having just downloaded three Yellow Dog Linux [] ISOs last night, I couldn't help but wonder if there's some anti-open source something going on here too. But then I remembered: Windows users should be regularly downloading updates, too, which must add up in terms of bandwidth. If "average users" aren't downloading critical updates, does that mean more responsible users won't be allowed to?

  • by Mirkon ( 618432 )

    ...just a subjective limit of 'more than the average user.'

    Mathematically speaking, if they always go after everyone above the average, it'll just continually lower what the average is in a never-ending cycle of bandwidth oppression.

    And if they're not speaking mathematically - that is, if there's no literal weight behind the 'limit' - then you can't even maintain the illusion that they're trying to be fair; it's entirely arbitrary.

    Whenever I hear about bandwidth caps, suddenly I don't feel so bad

  • The article submitter mentioned his theory that the RIAA is behind this latest ISP tactic to impose new, fuzzy bandwidth limits on their customers. While I don't doubt that at all, (lots of fingers in the pie with those guys...) think of the backlash if the RIAA is 'successful' in their current endavours to end illegal copying and filesharing.

    Here I define 'successful' as having such a strong effect in stopping people from downloading music, that sales of CD burners go down (no one is copying and/or burni
  • No RIAA about it... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Cloudmark ( 309003 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:03PM (#7026824) Homepage
    Broadband ISPs have been including this clause in their ToS agreements for quite a few years. I worked in the department responsible for bandwidth consumption two years ago trying to deal with the onslaught of file-sharing and they were pushing hard on the arbitrary 'more than most users' limit. It was miserable to enforce. In our case, it was later changed to 'more than our lowest-end business broadband package.'

    In the end though, most ISPs aren't out to cause problems for the average user or even the average file-sharing individual. Most will publish limits of around 2gb up, 6gb down, but within the industry you're not usually contacted until you break 10gb up, 40gb down in a month. That's a lot of traffic to be honest.

    In the end, the biggest problem we ever saw was careless use of file-sharing software. Whole drives left on unlimited share 24/7 creating 300gb a month upload tallies. I know it doesn't sound like a lot but if enough people do it, traffic like that will grind a broadband network down.

    It's also important to note that the primary concern on cable and certain ADSL networks is the upstream traffic. Cable in particular normally allocates 1/10th of their bandwidth to upstream and 90% to downstream. Too much going out and everyone loses.

  • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:03PM (#7026829) Homepage Journal
    1. sell service
    2. don't deliver.
    3. profit!


    i would be ok with this if the thing they were selling it as capped from the day 0 they give it to the user and had spesific rules, so that YOU KNOW WHAT YOU BUY(around here, consumer protection makes a necessity anyways).
  • The day my ISP does this I sware I'll cancel the service. If no other ISP wants to sell me an unlimited broadband service I'll use cheap dial up or just say screw it all together and get a life. I'm not paying premium prices for unlimited services and then be told it's only unlimited for those who do not use much of it.
  • I wonder if they calculate a new average after cutting off the upper extremes. And then cap the above average guys again, and calculate a new average. And so on...
  • by CGP314 ( 672613 ) <> on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:04PM (#7026842) Homepage
    I don't understand where the bandwidth costs are coming from for an ISP. The cables have been laid down right? How does it cost the ISP more to run them at max?
    • by dissy ( 172727 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @04:04PM (#7027566)
      > I don't understand where the bandwidth costs are coming from for an ISP. The
      > cables have been laid down right? How does it cost the ISP more to run them at
      > max?

      I used to run an ISP (dialup, but still) so can provide some authoritive numbers for you.

      To get a carrier class T1 line (carrier class meaning you can push traffic 24/7 at the lines max, as well as do things such as BGP which are needed to be more than just a leaf on the internet) you get 1.54mbit/sec up and down for anywhere between $1200 and $3000 per month.

      Also, you need at LEAST two T1's for redundancy alone.

      So, we had 3 T1's at one point and total were paying around $6000 /month for our connectivity to three different ISPs. This gave us three links of 1.54mbit/sec, which no single TCP connection would be able to exceed, but multiple TCP connections, or UDP/ICMP packets will take whichever route is best at the time, so may appear to be 4.5mbit/sec.

      So we pay $6000/mo.
      Dialup accounts are $15/mo.
      This requires 400 dialup accounts just to pay for the bandwidth (let alone any other costs such as servers, staff, electricity, rent, etc.)

      Now with dialup, you know all 400 wont be on at once, and if they tried alot will end up with busy signals.
      Cable and DSL work a touch different, as they are 'always on'.
      With a dialup who cant possibly exceed the hardware limits of a 56k modem, 400 modem users transfering data will only be about half of your total bandwidth, so your all OK.

      But with broadband, you generally get more than 56k down, its usually closer to 1000k/sec or more.

      So lets do some happy fun math with madeup numbers to see if this can be a little more clear.

      Broadband user pays, oh lets say, $40/month (Ive seen $35 and $50, $40 seems a happy medium to me)
      I dont have prices on T3's handy, so will stick with T1's, even though I can assure you a cable/dsl company would not do this if they had a customer base over one digit.

      3 T1's cost $6000/mo and provide (for the most part) 4.5mbit/sec in both directions.

      At $40/mo to the end user, you would need 150 customers just to pay for bandwidth.
      150 cable customers at 1mbit each is 150mbit/sec.

      So there is a huge problem here.
      Either you charge $40/mo and all those users cant have full bandwidth because it simply isnt there, OR they raise the price to $1500/month to the end customer.
      At $1500/mo to you, they only need 4 customers to pay back the $6000/mo, and 4 customers can share the 4.5mbit (assuming 1mbit each customer) and have not step on eachothers toes.

      So really you can take your pick.
      You can have cheap service at $40/mo and share it with a TON of other people and mostly not get your 'fair' share, or you can get garenteed service but pay $1500/mo.

      BTW, an end usage T1 (IE for a home or business) will be at or under $1000 /month. THen you are given a contract that states how much bandwidth you are garenteed, and if the ISP fails that, they credit your account.

      My T1 at home is a touch over $400/month total.
      I get a Class-C of IPs (253 usable for machines) and can get more IPs by requesting, I can do anything with it that isnt illegal, and I am garenteed 1.54mbit/sec both ways.

      Yes its 10 times what broadband users pay, but I get what I pay for and can enjoy it, instead of getting what you pay for and realize its almost nothing and then bitch about it on slashdot :P

      Oh yea, and about your "The cables have been laid down right?" comment...
      The ISPs dont own the cables that have been laid down, so no they can not do anything at all with them without 'renting' them from the phone co.
      That part is called the loop, and is usually the cheapest part of the line.
      I can get a T1 loop for around $200 (Price is based on distance from the CO in miles, added to a base fee.) Its the port charge (ISP charge at the other end) that is generally $1000 or more.
  • by gpinzone ( 531794 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:04PM (#7026847) Homepage Journal
    Online games. Cable companies scrutinize the upload much more than the download. Try plaing games online for a few hours a day and the cable company may not be too pleased. I've heard of people getting capped simply by hooking up their XBOX and playing online.
  • My, am I glad that my ISP doesn't do this.

    Since I'm flushing about 200MB/day, more or less, of copies of the Swen virus, it's obvious to me that it would be possible to get your enemies' bandwidth capped (or even get their service terminated) simply by mounting a DDoS attack that mailbombs them.


  • by Sean80 ( 567340 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:07PM (#7026883)
    My understanding is that they had a dreadful time with these sorts of caps in Australia.

    I believe it was Telstra which gave users a 'download meter' which recorded how much you had downloaded in the month. Only problem was that it was never accurate, and you could well be paying through the nose for being above your cap, while your little meter said everything was just fine and dandy.

    In other news, thinking this is in response to the RIAA sounds a little paranoid to me. Cable companies everywhere are looking to make everybody happy without have to spend a cent on infrastructure upgrades. At the end of the day, the very specific audience here at Slashdot means we're probably not getting a good cross-section of the discussion on this topic....

  • by rogueMonkey ( 669464 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:08PM (#7026901)
    In my area I have access to both DSL and Cable. Both were uncapped, both got capped, and now, guess what? They are starting to uncap!

    Ma Bell found out people would switch over to them if they actually offered uncapped service. Most people won't even download near the cap they had set up anyway. Users who actually do bust the cap are usually a little more at ease with computers... Which means that when their low-tech friends ask which service to subscribe to, they'll suggest the uncapped one *they* are using.

    Anyway, I think the capping will eventually go away if there is competition. Pray you have competition in your area!
  • No set limit? (Score:3, Informative)

    by ergonal ( 609484 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:10PM (#7026927)
    Having no set limit is the worst possible thing they could have done. Being in Australia, I know all about broadband download caps, and not having a defined limit is the worst solution. It's subjective, you may or not be punished by the ISP, you don't know how much is "too much" so if you really do download a lot (even legitimately) you are hestitant to download too much incase you're punished.. besides, what does the "average user" download? You have no idea, so the ISP can define the "average user downloads" as whatever they like, whenever they like, and against whoever they like. It's the ultimate of evils!
  • Comcast Notice (Score:5, Informative)

    by $exyNerdie ( 683214 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:19PM (#7027020) Homepage Journal

    Here's what Comcast Notice [] looks like.

  • hmm really bad idea (Score:3, Informative)

    by josepha48 ( 13953 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:19PM (#7027031) Journal
    Some people use thier dialups for updating thier systems. Like cvsup on FreeBSD or up2date on Linux or sup on NetBSD or windows update. I wonder if these ISP can be held responsible if a user is NOT able to update thier system because of some undisclosed cap and their system gets hacked / 'virusized', or somehow else exploited and they loose important information, like their quicken / gnucash checking inforation. If my ISP ever did that I'd switch ISP and tell them why. I'm allowed to connect 1 computer to the internet and what I do in my home is none of their business (except for sending spam which is bad anyway). Personally I HATE comcast and think their name should be comcrap. My cable tv keeps going in and out and in and out. It is really annoying.
  • by Crusty Oldman ( 249835 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:24PM (#7027069)
    If they have the capacity, then using that capacity doesn't cost the ISP an extra nickel. If they don't have the capacity, then they are selling you something they do not have. We call this fraud.
  • by mugnyte ( 203225 ) * on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:26PM (#7027098) Journal
    As broadband gets adopted, the entry to provide service for it becomes lower in term of hardware. However, the wiring de-regulation efforts here in the US (telco and cable) are still a bit crazy. Sadly, those fights come in small waves.

    If deregulation ever *does* open the door, I predict we're going to have another round of ISP start-ups, this time with broadband. Then, all kinds of tweaks are going to appear. This kind of competition is good for everyone, IMO. Customers have to be arena of what works and what doesn't. Ok, so I'm not saying anything new. Caps, Rates up and down, etc, should be on those menu.

    For now, try getting most (DSL) ISPs to solve a line problem (they need to use the telco, who denies anything is wrong). Cable agreements are little better, but splitting the carrier and provider can be a headache anywhere.

    But if the public knew the cost of broadband at the higher levels, they may not complain at 3.0Mbs for $50/month (my current Comcast agreement). Trying upping your agreement to a "business" service. What a whopper.
  • by *weasel ( 174362 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:28PM (#7027138)
    ... and I have not received any such letter.

    So i've got to wonder, if the ~8gb/mo of traffic that i've been going through is ok - how much are these guys using that they're getting capped?

    I mean, sure, it isn't right for comcast to cap without publicizing a formal cap - but these guys aren't saying what their usage is either.

    Perhaps because we know what the price of bandwidth is, and would feel a little differently if we knew just how far on the fringe their usage was.

    (i grab data regularly from for backup to my home network, as well as having a video game demo and mod habit. while i have a considerable quantity of music on my harddrive, it is all ogg rips done myself from CDs I own.
    so snuff your flames and stay on-topic.)
  • by MerlynEmrys67 ( 583469 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:33PM (#7027187)
    Based on their Terms of Services, they are at best web service providers (ok they provide e-mail service as well --- sorta). Any service that doesn't let me use the INTERNET to do useful things like post information - connect to and have connected any port I want is not an Internet Service Provider.

    I expect my ISP to allow me to open ports to allow useful services to come through (25, 22, 23, 80, 53, etc). Without the ability for me to have these services running an WSP is of little use to me. Thank God there is DSL to compete with Cable Modems so I can still get an ISP that is worth something

  • by Rushmore ( 172963 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:34PM (#7027200)
    Canada's largest ISP implemented bandwidth caps while the competitors didn't. Several months later the caps were removed because customers fled to the competitor.

    Any ISP would need everyone in their competing market to agree to introduce bandwidth caps or it will fail. That's good for the consumer but bad for the ISPs.
  • by alispguru ( 72689 ) <bane&gst,com> on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:36PM (#7027219) Journal
    ... my Comcast bandwidth was capped at zero, starting Thursday evening, and hasn't been above that since.

    I think I'm going to ask for a credit on this month's cable bill. My neighborhood didn't lose power (for more than a few seconds at a time) or phone service, but the cable and internet have been solidly down since the storm.

    • My neighborhood didn't lose power ... or phone service, but the cable and internet have been solidly down since the storm.

      You know you're good when you can post on /. without internet.
  • by JFMulder ( 59706 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:37PM (#7027227)
    Since day one about 6 years ago when I subscribed to the local cable Internet connection in Montreal, Canada, I've been subject to download caps. It started off with 6 gigs of download and 1 gig of upload a month. Downloads were 300k/sec max and uploads were capped at 15k/sec. Over the years, the service has IMPROVED (well, competition helped a lot for that to happen) and now I have 450k/sec in download and 50k/sec in upload, plus I get 15 gigs in download and 5 gigs in upload. Now, I wonder what legal uses people are making of 15 gigs a month.

    Personnally, the only times I was able to download over 3 gigs in a month is when I decided to download all the Alias episodes so I could start watching the show on ABC this season. I did the same in the past with 24, Smallville and That 70's Show.

    Otherwise, I mostly watch trailers on and video trailers off Gamespot or, read the news and do instant messenging. That typically sums up to about 2 gigs of usage in download. And I use the Internet often. So, what can you people legally do with 13 others gigs of download? Yeah, I know, Linux distributions are 2 gigs now and VNC is pretty bandwidth intensive, but I bet more than 99% of broadband users don't give a flying squirrel about VNC or Linux and thus have no LEGAL use of 15 gigs a month. With only maybe the exception of multiplayer games, are there really any reasons to have 15 gigs a month in download?

    Of course, if you're into heavy music, movie and software piracy, I'm sure that 15 gigs a month is not enough for you. Especially since the only people I hear complaining about download and upload caps are the ones who are using their connection for illegal activities. Me, I complain only when I have to wait another month to download the last 3 Alias episodes. But it's over now, and I'm back to my normal Internet usage.

    So, is capping really THAT bad?
    • So, is capping really THAT bad?

      Ah yes, the old "i cant think how to use it so noone must be able to" argument.

      What if I want to send video of my kids school play to my parents, ready for them to burn with their new DVD-R. There's my 3-5 gb of uploading right there.

      What if I want to subscribe to or one of those places that makes movies available for download? Or iTunes or rhapsody or streaming radio, for that matter.

      Broadband promises a media-rich experience, there's a ton of legitimate conte
      • What if I want to send video of my kids school play to my parents, ready for them to burn with their new DVD-R. There's my 3-5 gb of uploading right there.
        Yes you're right, but honestly, I don't think you'd find it really viable to send a 5 gig video file to someone. I recently uploaded 100 megs to someone and it took an hour. Even if I had 10 times the speed, it would still take me around half a day to send the file. But you're right, it can be done. Now, I don't agree that ISP should not put a cap becaus
  • by Zakabog ( 603757 ) <> on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:37PM (#7027231)
    Road runner did a cap a LONG time ago. I used to have as much bandwidth as my computer could use (downstream, up was like 25-30K/sec.) I downloaded redhat ISOs in 40 minutes for each one (700 megs from think it was like 600K/sec. Now I'll be lucky if I can get 250K/sec. But as they were capping the downstream they were increasing the upstream so I considered it a fair trade off. I get around 45-50K/sec now which make a big difference when you're hosting a game. I liked having 600K/sec but 250 is just as nice, and uploading to people at twice the speed is worth it.
  • I'm all for it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by realmolo ( 574068 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:50PM (#7027381)
    I work for a cable ISP, and I set up an Allot NetEnforcer to do some packet-shaping. The P2P apps just KILL us, and really any other broadband provider. I throttled that shit down to 16 kilobytes/sec down/8 kb/sec up (per user), and watched in amazement as network utilization by 40% during peak hours. And so far, no one has complained. Keep in mind that I throttled ONLY P2P stuff. It's not that we want to screw you, but the truth is that P2P apps use up more than their share. E-mail and web pages and even games are a higher priority. It's all kind of a moot point anyway. I expect that within the next year or so, most ISPs will simply block all the P2P stuff to avoid the legal hassles.
  • by ChicagoBiker ( 702744 ) <> on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:51PM (#7027388) Homepage
    Doesn't this just go in the opposite direction of progress?

    I've been on the "net" for over 11 years, I started with a 2400 baud Hayes modem and AOL, quickly replaced within the first year with a 14.4 modem and an ISP, in those 10-11 years where has it progressed to? A 700k modem and I still can barely send anything more than keystrokes and a few postage stamp sized images to another person across the Ether. We all sit here like monkeys with a coconuts hammering away at keyboards and cellphone keypads.

    It's the 21st century and they're talking about rolling back the bandwidth?

    Where are the Gigabit Ethernet lines over glass, or better, to every single household? Where are the video conferencing screens in every living room? Why can't I call my friends and see them on my flat plasma screen via voice command? Where are my HD Dolby Digital movies on demand? Are we going forward or backwards?

    To affect real change here I think it can only be done on a federal level by throttling the telecommunications industry by the neck away from it's profit model and back into a citizens utility so it can truly serve the citizens like it was intended to do 40 years ago and earlier!

    All of these wonderful dreams of the future of technology and the internet are being strangled through the 300k broadband bottle necks that half the populous can't even get and those that can are paying double what they were before for no real improvement.

    Comcast shouldn't be figuring out caps, they should be figuring out ways to offer 10 times the throughput to everyone in their service region and expanding that service region beyond what it is now.

    The pipes need to be bigger or we're just spinning our wheels on this information superhighway.

  • by bs_02_06_02 ( 670476 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:51PM (#7027390)
    Comcast is trying to save money. They say that the internet use is increasing every day... new applications, etc, but they don't want the heaviest users to be able to take advantage of it? Comcast should bite the bullet. If the phone company called up and said you've been using your phone too much, we're cancelling your service, the news media would FREAK! People would call their politicians, this would be a big deal.

    Comcast doesn't send letters telling cableTV subscribers to watch less TV. Policing user habits shouldn't be their responsibility.
    Comcast is just trying to pinch pennies. Frankly, I'm tired of the cableTV monopoly. I wish cableTV was regulated exactly like the Phone companies. I wish, as a resident, I had the ability to tell them to get out, and choose someone else. I could with DSL, but it won't reach to where I live. CableTV picture sucks. Digital cable sucks too. They simply carve up the bandwidth. Some channels have color that has to be less than 16 bit! I switched to DirecTV, the picture is fantastic.

    Sadly, I had to keep my cable modem. No other solution in my neighborhood. Comcast really went overboard when they raised my rates $15/month after cancelling cableTV. Isn't that extortion? $60.00 per month for cable modem?
  • by AxelTorvalds ( 544851 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:51PM (#7027392)
    I'd be interested in the habbits. I've seen the stuff on DSLreports. One of the guys I've heard of being warned had 6 128Kb internet radio streams rolling 24-7 which seems a little on the excessive side if you ask me; he's not even listening he's just stream ripping them most likely. I have an rsycned mirror of and redhat and mandrake from one of the sunsites, I refresh every week and on the heavy months when they spin a new release it goes up to 4GB or so of traffic. Typically it's under 1GB. Nobody has said a damn thing. That seemed like a heavy load to me.

    I'd just be curious to hear an example of what someone did and got warned. With DSL there is at least a somewhat legitmate claim that you're buying the bandwidth, on cable you are sharing the stream with other people. I could see non-stop streaming being a problem. Somebody downloading 6 stream 24-7 not listening is somewhat upsetting, especially if he was on my link. From my personal experience with DSL, Sprint Wireless Broadband and then AT&T and now Comcast cable based internet, I'd have to say that Comcast/AT&T handedly spanks the others.

  • by Essron ( 231281 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:52PM (#7027411)
    I know we are all used to a relatively low access fee, and psychologically its difficult to accept a price hike, but really we have been enjoying an artificially low price due to firece competition and a general lack of knowldege around a newly emerging market. If 1% of your users are consuming 28% of your capacity, they should be charged more. This trend will continue and the new pricing is the only way to stay in business. Capacity issues aside, such pricing may be necessary simply to differentiate higher priced business services from residential access. The prices were poorly set from the beginning.

    Even people who never come close to the cap will be outraged, but it should translate into lower prices for them in the long run. If ISP's charged by the byte for low bandwith users access would be so cheap that everyone would sign up. Really, /. users generally use lots of bandwidth, and most folks just check their email a couple of times a day and do some casual surfing.

    We should have been paying more all along, be thankful you were in early enough to enjoy the golden age.

    I'm not a troll, just an bandwidth hog with an MBA, which many of you will consider even worse...

  • I wouldn't mind seeing bandwidth capping on my line if they did 3 things to make it fair.

    1) Use the "toilet tank" method of capping people, instead of completely cutting them off entirely. This method has been deployed in several places, and people of course don't like it, but it is the fairest system that has been devised so far. Unlimited downloading (or uploading) is allowed, up to a point. When that point is reached, downloading will continue, but at a dramatically lower speed. The download will not be interrupted, but it will be capped to that lower speed. If the customer stops downloading for a period of time, they will re-earn the right to download at a higher speed, as their toilet tank slowly refills over time. This system also doesn't require strict time intervals (such as 24 hours, 1 month, etc.), because it is both triggered and released by the user's behaviour. If the user voluntarily downloads at a speed slower than the top speed, they can stretch out the length of time during which they can enjoy a noncapped connection. This is a good system because it has its intended effect (keeping high-volume users from abusing the service for everybody else) while not punishing people by cutting them off entirely or charging them a huge bill (important for cases in which the user isn't to blame for the high bandwidth usage, such as a virus or a Slashdotting). Also note that uploads and downloads are treated separately and independently, with a different toilet tank for each.

    2) Make it clear what the cap level is, for both upload and download, including both the capped speed and the "toilet tank" size. Include this both in customer contracts and advertisements to non-customers. Advertising a connection as "unlimited" is false, when it could be capped! An example of an acceptable service description that could be advertised would be "1.5mbps download (capped 1GB/64kbps) and 256kbps upload (capped 128KB/64kbps)". This refers to a system that would have a toilet tank size of 1GB for downloads, after which the download speed would be reduced to a mere 64kbps. At this speed, it would take roughly 36 hours to refill the toilet tank once drained, but the user could still use their connection during this time (they just wouldn't be able to download another full 1GB without hitting the cap again). There's another similar toilet tank for uploads.

    3) Provide tools for the user to monitor their current bandwidth usage, and how it applies against the cap. At the minimum, this should include both a live program that can be installed on the user's computer, and a webpage that can be visited occasionally should the user not wish to keep an extra program running. I would set that webpage as my homepage! The program would display the user's current usage and the threshholds at which capping would occur, and the current fill level of the "toilet tank". It should be made absolutely clear to the user what is going on, and how their current behaviour affects their cap, so there will be no guessing or finger-pointing.

    I currently use DSL, not cable, because my connections are largely two-way. I do just as much uploading as downloading (no P2P, just old fashioned stuff like web servers), and cable companies are hostile towards uploaders and servers. The reason I use DSL is because so far my ISP (SBC) has not instituted any unfair caps! If they were to cap the line in an unfair way, I would be screwed, because I can't switch to cable. A friend of mine eats the cost of having a full T1 to his house. Maybe I'd have to do the same?
  • by Esion Modnar ( 632431 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @04:06PM (#7027592)
    you know, the one where the Insurance Guy denies his client's claim, on the basis that in his policy, it says that his company does not have to pay-- for anything.

    And furthermore, he blames the client, since if he never made a claim, this would not be a problem.

    Why does this remind me of the skit? Because the broadband providers are saying you can't use all the bandwidth they're selling. If you sell me a pipe to the internet, and call it unlimited, then unlimited means, goddammit, unlimited. Don't blame me if I start using it for all the stuff that broadband is good for. After all, that's why I'm paying you guys $50-60/month.

    Don't sell us broadband expecting us to use it like dial-up. We won't.

  • I know why (Score:4, Informative)

    by $exyNerdie ( 683214 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @04:07PM (#7027607) Homepage Journal

    I am moving and I was looking on Comcasts's website to determine availability in new area. I saw updated website where they are offering the *new* "Comcast High-Speed Internet Pro" service (with download speeds at up to 3.5Mbps and uploads as fast as 384Kbps).

    The price is -
    "Standard monthly rate of $95/month applies, with no additional charge for modem rental. Installation fees may apply. "

    You can read about the new service offering here - Comcast High-Speed Internet Pro at $95/month []

  • by bellings ( 137948 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @04:45PM (#7027951)
    Is there some requirement that no-one may read an article, before or after it is submitted to slashdot?

    A guy got a letter from his Cable Provider. It said, "Stop uploading and downloading so much crap. It costs us more to give you service than you pay us. If you don't stop being so damned expensive to deal with, we'll stop doing business with you under the current agreement. Have a nice day."

    Last time I checked, this is a good thing. The company is being forthright and honest with the user. They're not dicking him around in unusual, untraceable ways. They're not going out of their way to make his experience worse.

    They're saying, "Change your usage, or we'll stop selling you service. Thank you."

    What kind of pig-fuckers live in a world where this is a bad thing?
  • by Mike Hawk ( 687615 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @05:21PM (#7028284) Journal
    According to Comcast, just 6 percent of subscribers use about 78 percent of the company's bandwidth.
    If thats true, I'm seriously impressed. Nice work.
  • by ottffssent ( 18387 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @08:30PM (#7029695)
    Step 1: At the end of every month, all above-average bandwidth users get capped to that month's average bandwidth.

    Step 2: Repeat every month, and pretty soon nobody gets *any* bandwidth!

    Step 3: Profit!!


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