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Charging for Cable Internet Access in Australia 337

Anonymous Coward writes "Australian Cable Internet users suffered another major drawback yesterday, with simple services such as E-mail and Newsgroups being charged on a per megabyte basis. This practise is ludicrous as a client can now be charged for spam. Previously, traffic from one cable modem to another was free, yet Telstra have amended their terms and conditions without user consent to include cable modem traffic. In fact, any traffic will be now charged on a per megabyte basis. So angry is the cable community, that it has made headines in Australian news. "
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Charging for Cable Internet Access in Australia

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  • Having Been Here since '94 I've watched the rise of the Internet in australia.

    There's one thing stopping the internet in this country, The Government.

    Right now in sydney the situation constists of about 1000 dialup isps and 1 consumer high bandwidth isp. While the Infastructure is in place for high bandwidth big buisness aint letting it

    Some history about the infastructure's history:
    When australia recived Cable TV back in '95, it's a shock going from 50 stations to 5. There were 2 companies, one the government owned phone company, Telstra and Optus. Due to some arcane planning both companies decided to lay there own cable instead of sharing the costs involved in deploying the infastructure. The end result is that some of sydney is covered by both companies, while other parts have only coverage for one and some are without coverage.

    And now the govenment has sold off about 1/2 of telstra, when the should have sold all of it yet repurchased the infastructure thus allowing them to lease the infatructure and keeping the competition around for customers.

    From personal experience, its outrageous that my neighbors 2 doors from me can get cable and connect at 50kbps while my max connection is 31.2kbps. While in the country everyone is gaurnteed 56k while we get stuck with shit

    If the government wanted to show it's doing something for the country and the internet it should lay the infastructure and stop dicking around with content laws until everyone has DECENT net access. /Rant

  • Let's simplify things. How about: I think one of the moderation things options should be "SIG".

    But would that be positive points for a particularly funny sig, negative points for spam in the sig, or one that uses no points because the comment has a sig?

  • It's right next to the chat server for people who secretly fantasize about turnips.

    (ask a silly question...)
  • I have never once in entire my life (all spent in the States) heard anyone in the U.S. call a penny a copper.
  • I am a BigPond cable user, and this is what is happening:

    • Monthly fee goes UP (from $65 to $95 in my case)
    • EVERYTHING is included in the quota now. No such thing as FREE (except uploads to Telstra's news server for some obscure reason).

      Oh woo-f'n-hoo. From 35c to 28c. Still plenty to get one lumped with a HUGE bill.

  • That 2GB limit you speak never actually came into effect. The backlash from it's proposal was so great (I think about a third of the customers responded negatively about it) that it was bumped up to the 10/1 GB limit that is in place now before the 2GB limit was imposed. So, user feedback in this case turned out to have a huge impact on the service. Unfortunatly, some things have changed for the worse. For example, at first, the charges for extra data was much more affordable (something like $5 for an extra 128MB upload or $5 for an extra 512MB download). I guess the moral of the story is that the customer can sometimes win, at least partially in this case. If you make life more difficult for the cable company, chances are they will eventually make life easier for you.


  • You can view it all you like. It's just encoded, and they happen to sell or lease a nifty little box that can decode it for you.

  • That's an interesting situation you describe there. Seems like the gist of it is, "I only use a the phone a little and I only use a few of all the channels I get. Therefore I'd save money with metering and metering is better". Meanwhile, anyone who did make many calls or liked many channels would get a huge increase.

    Funny, now who's getting a "free ride" and who is getting screwed?
  • no. I want my ISP to do two things.
    1) charge me for the resources I use, and stop telling me *how* to use my bandwidth. The internet is different for everyone. It's not just 'web and email' to me.

    2) Tell me, broken down by the day, and preferably the hour, how much traffic I both received and generated. You need not tell me where it went to, or where it came from, only if I sent or received it.
  • And I thought 35 cents for a public telephone local call was a rip off...

    Australia has flat rate local calls. Optus [] charges 20c (US 12c) per call, Telstra [] seems not to be telling... I think it depends upon your pricing plan.

    There are two major problems we face with local calls to service providers - the first is the large land mass/small population, meaning that people not living in a city often don't have local call access to an ISP and have to pay long distance rates. The other is that if phone calls drop out while the modem is connecting, thus running up a large bill (our call waiting tends to kill a connection too), then Telstra, who own the lines, and the ISP can bounce the blame back and forth between each other.
  • Somehow, I don't think that the high-ranking executive who made the decision would have to pay his own company for his cable modem (if he even has one).
  • As far as I could ell from the article, this looks like they want to charge for receiving e-mail rather than for sending it. That's not the same thing at all.
  • Actually three cities I'm on BPA in Brisbane. Optus will be offering competion (with @homes help) real soon (Though the service has been in this vapourous state for some time now).

    Australians are hard to connect, in fact competition does not help in this case. The Austrailian market is too small and widely dispersed. Duplication of services is driving the price up in marginal markets like broadband. As I understand it Optus has given up rolling out cable becuase It belives the market is not there in Australia.

    There are not enough consumers for two cable networks, let alone more.

    In fact it's becuase of the competition that we don't have aDSL and the like. Remember Telsra was owned by the public, much of its enormous profits were poured back into the network. Telstras network plans were pretty schweet, they were abandoned when Optus came along.

    I'm not for monopolies, but competition does not always make sense, the market needs to be big enough to support it.

    ---Did someone say Turnip?


  • Caine's statement was "We must take a stand NOW! The Australians are more and more getting cut off from the internet. Not just this, but previous censorships."

    The second sentence can be interpreted a couple of ways, which makes Caine's statement ambiguous. Here are the two ways I can see to interpret his statement.

    1: 'Not just this censorship tactic, but the previous censorship tactics as well are cutting the Australians off from the net.'

    2: 'This (pricing) tactic is helping to cut the Australians off from the net, along with the earlier censorship tactics,'

    Caine is guilty of bad grammar, so it isn't clear which meaning he meant. If number one, I agree with you. However I suspect he meant number two.

  • Most cable providers these days FORBID you from running your own servers. They sell you an internet connection, but proced to define what 'proper internet use' is.
    'No internet servers of any kind'
    'Not for unattended use'
    'Only one computer'
    well well.... THAT is far more fearsome and detremental to the intenret than simply charging people for the bandwidth they use.

    To the TV generation, who just wants video & audio streaming off the net.. oh well. BOO HOO.
    What about those who want to use it for NEW and INTERESTING things?
    Cable providers are not receptive to this already.
  • Ummm... have you *been* to the California beaches here? Fine by me if someone wants to own 'em.

    Cottesloe and City Beach is a different story... at least in the US they're not *pretending* to be an advanced civilization.

  • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @02:49PM (#1488463)
    if you can be charged for spam, you can put a precise, true, documented amount on the damage caused by spam. Then you have a leg to stand on,
    unlike in the states, where it's not possible to say "this spam cost me $x"
  • So, as your homeland succumbs to the ravages of commercialism, you prefer to live in the country that invented and has the major franchise on it?

    BTW, it's America that has private beaches ... If a Yank or Japanese company tried to to annex Dee Why beach in Sydney, the local surfers would KILL them once they entered the water. In Australia, I can walk along the beaches in Port Douglas, Broome, or Whitehaven ... I can't do that at the Hollister ranch in California.

    So we have inept and corrupt politicians, and Telstra is a monopoly run by morons ... I think by moving to the States you went from the frying pan into the fire, boyo.

    Stay there. You complain too much.
  • hmm, so does that mean that the .cx domain i just got can't have any porn on it because of austrailias internet censorship laws? or does the fact the .cx domain simply redirects to the united states make austrailia's laws irrelivant? You'd think it would, but then again they don't need a real reason to yank my access to the domain.

    i'm NOT going to be any porn up on the domain ( in fact it doesn't have anything there right now, as i'm still trying to find someone to get to host my DNS and set up a VirtualNameHost-- but i'm just curious.
  • I could swear that ISDN lines in my area used to be $40/month and $0.4/MB... Probably the same idea... The phone company made a killing until the cable company buddied up with @Home to do cable internet for $40/month...
  • Actually, for a PUBLIC telephone local call, it costs 40c in Australia.
  • Can someone from Australia tell us why there's always some sort of privacy abuse or internet racket going on there? Is it usually coming from one company (Telstra?) or is it corporate culture at all net companies?
  • No, but MPs might not get free service lest it be viewed as a bribe.

    And even if every MP and mid-level bureaucrat got free service, you could pick the victims out of the phone book. How many people would keep DSL service, no matter how convenient, if it exposed them to large phone bills because the rate structure is totally insane? IIRC, Robert Murdock is Australian so I'm sure there's at least one national media outlet which could take a semi-credible threat of this type of action and run with it.
  • They say that 80 percent of their customers will be better off under the per-megabyte charging? I seriously doubt that, unless they've got a high estimate of the amount of bandwidth most people use. I don't know how to seems to some of you people, but people tend to go for higher bandwidths for a reason: because they have a use for it. Most of the people using cable use it because a modem simply isn't fast enough for their purposes. And, as is said, charging per megabyte screws over the customer because of certain downloads beyond their control (ie spam). On the flip side, the customers do seem to have another choice for a cable provider. It seems that Telstra will just have to learn their lesson as their business drains away towards their competitor(s).
  • Interest has been very high in the upcoming rollout of Optus@Home, a join venture between a English-Australia telco and @home in the US.

    People have been running around evangelising "$60/month flat rate" "$40/flat rate" in a country where decent (i.e. >3k/s on a 56k modem) speeds cost you $35-$45/month for 150 hours.

    This suggests that they know what the competition has planned, and it's not a threat to them. A multi-billion dollar company doesn't change something like this because they feel like it.
  • If the cable companies really need to charge for bandwidth like this, they should charge the sender. The companies get the same amount of dough, and spammers are REEEAAALLLYYY screwed! :)

    "There are no shortcuts to any place worth going."

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Has there been one SINGLE good piece of news to come out of this country?

    Good this point I think Christmas Island would be a better place to live. You can all get hosts on my new domain:

  • Damn, it is news articles such as this that make me so glad I'm an American and live in the gold ole US of A!!

    And I thought 35 cents for a public telephone local call was a rip off...

    And I thought AOL at $25 a month was a rip off...

    And I thought paying $100 a month for all the channels on the DSS Satellite was a rip off...

    And I thought Microsoft Windows 2000 was a rip off- oh wait that is still a rip off!!!!!

  • Our trouble in Australia is that we basically have a duoply. In the US you have cable companies fighting tooth and nail with the telcos to provide access to your home. In Australia our two telcos, Telstra and Cable and Wireless Optus are also the two main cable companies. Neither of them is in a hurry to slit their own throats by lowering prices. Telstra has plans to double it's number of internet users (Telstra's ISP, Bigpond is also the largest ISP) by 2002 with the introduction of 2Meg ADSL modems. Hopefully the pricing will be sweet so we can all sit behind pipes that are slighter larger than our 56K modems! James Eling
  • The problem isn't that this is metered, but that it is metered the wrong way. The fee should be incurred by the party that initiated the movement of the data. But this idea ends up making you pay for things you recieve unknowingly - like SPAM. You can't just swap it around and have the 'sender' pay either, because that ends up making web sites pay for DoS attacks on them. The problem is that there is no technical way to detect who 'asked for' the data to be sent. You can't just charge the client software all the time since the server could send more data than the client expected (for example, downloading SPAM via IMAP.) The problem with metering internet packets is that there is so much atuomation that the customer is not in control of the amount of data he traffics, and nobody has proposed a *fair* way to bill people only for the traffic that is "their fault".
  • Telstra [] is behaving like a typical monopoly at the moment. In areas where they don't face competition they charge like a wounded bull so as to maximise profit while they can. As competition is introduced this changes, and they drop their prices, and introduce new services.

    The cable situation in Australia is interesting. Initially cable was laid by Optus [] to give them access to the local loop so they could totally bypass Telstra. At the moment Telstra owns the local loop and other telcos don't have access to it, so Telstra gets a slice of every call made in Australia that involves a fixed line phone.

    To protect its Telephony business Telstra rolled out cable to pretty much exactly the same places Optus did.

    Both Telstra and Optus laid digital cable, with the aim of providing phone, internet and pay TV services on the cable. Optus made a lot of hoopla about 20c local phone calls across their cable network, but ran into technical problems and IIRC only in recent times has voice over cable worked for them. They had some similar problems with their cable internet service, which has been in beta for over a year. Telstra have never tried to carry voice traffic on their cable network -- they don't need to because they have the local loop.

    Cable in Australia is about to change with Optus@home [], a partnership between Optus and @home []. They will be offering a cable internet service targeted at home and small businesses, with prices more competitive than those offered by Telstra.

    AAPT [] are introducing satellite soon, which will also add pressure to the high bandwidth internet market.

  • Yeah, I'd have to agree with you that if the marketing types are hyping up the internal point-to-point freebies, then Telstra suddenly cutting it off (early/mid contract) is seriously bad.

    Of course, did anyone who signed up after hearing the marketing types ensure that it was in the contract that point-to-point was free?

    Does the contract allow for cancellation if Telstra changes service? Knowing Telstra, I'd say probably not :)
  • I'm Australian and I don't know why either. The re-elected government had a history of convenient election 'promises'; increasing inequity in higher education; lack of concern for social wellbeing; decreasing job security and furthering the gap between the well off and the not nearly so well off.

    I wish I knew why nearly 50% of Australians voted for them, when their policies seem focused on increasing the wealth of the most wealthy at the expense of everyone else, and to instigate regressive and highly conservative social policy. I can only guess that people were blinded by the nice sparkly shiny promised tax cuts (which after the GST again, only benefit those on an average or better income - at the expense of our whole social support fabric.)

    Remember these are the people who - in a time of public hospital fundinc crisis - subsidised *private health insurance* to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. I'm simply disgusted.

  • Who cares about BPA? There is a lot of competition around the corner.

    TPG have announced a satellite access plan that is supposed to start in Januray, $20 per month unlimited ($12 US) and you also get some TV channels thrown in as well.

    I don't know why people are getting so upset.
  • That's an even better way.

    However, you don't usually pay 'per megabyte' on switched circuit networks, it doens't reflect any resource used. You pay for time, because the resource you are using up is the number of active circuits.

    Priority, yes, of course. Make all bandwidth free, but have a way to pay for priority. This makes good sense, as you are not paying for things when they are not in demand.

    I think a per-byte charge -vs- a priority charge amounts to the same overall effect... in a per-byte system, the 'priority' is regulated by who is willing to pay what. in other words, if you don't want to pay, you aren't using the network.

    The priority system is more elegant, certainly.
  • au is becoming the equivalent of internet hillbillies. the contrast between foward looking american/international companies and governments put's ours to shame.

    here's some of the impediments to doing e-commerce/web companies and even just plain surfing in au.

      • technical
        bandwidth - because of the lack of competition, Telstra has effectivly hindered any growth in high bandwidth access to the backbone. What access exists is too expensive, is inflexible. Telstra goes out of it's way to extract $ (and hugh profits) but any implementations of broadband is laughable.

        IT skills - it skills levels are good to very good, but there is a severe shortage coupled with a brain drain of top technical staff.

      • human rights
        privacy laws - lack of, hence allowing business, government and external bodies to push the limits of basic privacy and rights, that other countries take for granted.

        government censorship - federal government trying to force internet censorship that is technically very difficult even of it forces local ISP's for a lot of extra expenses.

        governent cracking - ASIO [] given rights to crack domestic computer systems [] with permission [] from the crown, no legal process can be involved.

        business - weak privacy laws allowing business (PBL []) to attempt to capture, store and profile the entire country.

      • business
        business conservatism - banks, big business, the engines of change for the country are reluctant to go boots and all>.

        e-business's - toe-dipping, lack of funds, lack of business exploitation skills (not techincal skills) is holding back the growth of e-commerce.

        venture capital - venture capital is looking up. More vc's are looking at funding start-ups.

      • education -
        funding - funding to education is being cut (Monash University []), privatisation and business driven courses is the word.

        course access - hard core science (and other non essential academic cources) are being replaced with vocational courses.

    While I may be portraying a gloomy picture (there are may success stories), the emerging theme here is that the problems are being created and perpetuated from the top. The real innovation and positive work is coming from the bottom up, much like the Internet itself. Moveover Beverly HillBillys, the Internet HillBillys are moving in.....
  • That's more to do with payphone vandalism. In the States I somehow doubt payphone is as cheap as home phones... Those things cost thousands of dollars to thief proof (unfortunately hard to vandal proof againt sulphuric acid and some of the other stuff vandals have previously used!)
  • When I say 'ISP' that has per Mb pricing, I refer to those that provide high-bandwidth lines to other ISP's, not those that provide end-user connections.

    The reason a T1 line to uunet and a DSL line to your local ISP are so different is because of this. Both are megabit connections, and the T1 costs 10x the price.
  • by gargle ( 97883 ) on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @04:41PM (#1488493) Homepage
    We're not really living in a high bandwidth world at the moment. Most of the content you see is designed for low bandwidth users. So while their claim that most customers will save from the switch-over may be true at the moment, in the long term, as high bandwidth content becomes more and more prevalent (video, live conferencing, etc.), everyone will end up paying more.

    The same thing happened in my country, but this time with phone lines. The national telephone monopoly, in a prescient move, decided to charge time based rates for local phone calls that were formerly free. This happened right before the Internet became prevalent. Their claim was that most users would save from the switch-over: which was true, at that moment. But as the Internet became more and more popular and people were connecting with their modems, the money rolled in and people payed through their noses.

    If this doesn't convince you, think about it: why would the company make such a change if their line that the vast majority of customers would save were true, and they didn't believe that it would make them more money in the long run.

  • Two points:

    1. The medium doesn't cost per-bit, it costs a one-time, large, capital cost, plus a much smaller maintenance cost, for a fixed large capacity. If we're being all fair and equitable about it, the charging should be based on the proportion of bandwidth to your PoP you are guaranteed, with some auxillary scheme for charging for the use of any unused remaining bandwidth on a time-to-time basis. Charging by the bit doesn't make sense in this context.
    2. Charging by bit has negative effects on the Internet as a whole. Charging the sender cripples services. Charging the receiver makes them vulnerable to expensive denial of service.

    Sometimes subsidising a service by charging a flat rate is overall beneficial, even if a strict usage-rate might be fairer per-user (bit-charging I think isn't even this.) Quality public education may well be much more expensive to provide in areas of low population density. So, should we charge people there? The cost would be: a significant portion of the populace being financially forced to move to high-population density areas (at a cost to our agricultural industry) or that same portion being left uneducated, crippling our future. I believe a similar argument can be made for telecommunications, and even Internet access.

  • if you don't agree, i'd like to hear why. why is a flat fee better than metered billing?

    - joshy
  • Yeah and they quite often don't accept coins (only phone cards).
  • > We are a tiny marketplace...

    Ok, why can you get much cheaper cable internet access in New Zealand than you can here (Australia).
    See Saturn [] an NZ co offering phone, Cable TV and cable internet.


  • It costs 40c for a public telephone call.

    And they don't give change.
  • This isn't "completely" accurate.

    In the states, the billing scheme differs
    between each state! In Pacific Bell territory in CA we are charge 0.01 cents/minute for each
    B channel during standard business hours and
    we get 120 hours of access per month during
    off hours for $30/month.

    Your mileage WILL vary state to state.
  • Someone finally worked out what Telstra are doing (apart from those of us that work there).
    The Telstra cable modem service is currently run with NO restrictions.
    You can run a pRoN FTP site, host web servers, use it as point to point high speed data link, whatever you want.
    There are no service limits either, if you're the only ftp server running then you get the whole upstream bandwidth to yourself.
    The product has been poorly marketed (I often wonder if any marketing types know what mis-representation means), but the technically astute could see the service for what it really was, a 24/7 big pipe to the Australian backbone, and with no charging for internal (to the cable network) traffic you could go sick with point to point data.
    This has been abused to the point where the average net surfer Joe now notices that his email with the jpg attachment takes a lot longer to send that it did a few months back. He logs a call with the helldesk and they send a tech to check the network. All the tech finds is that the guy down the street is running an ftp server and hogging the upstream bandwidth. He's not doing anything wrong, but Joe still has a 'slow' connection and isn't happy.
    IMO service limits (1.5Mb down/64kb up) would cure most of these problems, and differential rates for internal and external traffic would probably be palatable.

  • Yep.. here in Alberta I'm on cable. Unfortunatley, where I live, I can't use shaw (@home) A different cable company has jurisdiction where I live, so I'm forced to go with them and pay $40/month + $40/gig traffic whereas if I lived 2 blocks east of here... I could be on shaw and run free for my $40 a month.

    It's absolutley insane! And I can't believe they're getting away with it. It's either this or dialup. They say it's so people arent running webservers off their cable modems. Couldn't they just port scan instead to see whos running web servers and whos not? Not to mention they advertise "Unlimited internet for $40/month" hmm thats funny... I see that and think unlimited bytes, not time.

    I can't do anything I want to do. And it sucks. I'm constantly checking how many megs I've transferred in and out of here for the month.
    I fear for your future internet access Oz
  • Well put.
    They want to say 'We let you use this internet connection so you can do things we approve of. Surf the web. Send email... that sort of thing. We don't want you, say, simply transfering files between 2 places 24 hours a day.'
    'So, when we said we would sell you a net connection that was 100 x faster than your modem, we meant it, but we are going to tell you what is acceptable'.

    I want an *internet* connection, not a *web and email* connection, and I'll thank any potential provider not to tell me how I should use the internet, or what the internet is for.
    After all, it's the explorers attitude, the ability to do new things with the network/protocols involved that made it so cool in the first place. Why stop now?

  • > The problem is in order to download the mass media approved b.s. you still have to
    > break the download limits. When ever they fix that people will be going back to anarchy mode. Right?

    Nope. ISPs hate traffic that goes out over the backbone because it costs them money - IIRC all big ISPs pay by the byte as part of the peering arrangements. But all traffic internal to their network is free. The obvious thing to do:

    $BIGCORP pays Telstra $BIGNUM dollars to mirror its $MEDIACRAP inside Telstra's network.

    Since internal traffic is basically free of peering charges, it doesn't cost Telstra anything for two cable modem users to share data between each other's stuff. Of course, they can still monitor and charge for it if they like, leading to the second obvious thing to do:

    Packets to any host other than the ones hosting mirrors of $MEDIACRAP get billed.

    This gets us away from the Internet and back to the business model that cable companies understand. You can only get "free content" (TV) from "content providers" (TV stations) that your "infrastructure provider" (cable company) has "approved of" (has received $BIGNUM bucks from in order to put on their cable lineup).

    As a sop to the little guy (public-access TV), you can still produce your own content, but in keeping with the TV model, you're just like the little guy in the TV world. Yes, you can host a web site (get on the air), but with a per-month bandwidth cap that ensures you look just as small and insignificant as you are. ("on the channel nobody watches", "your show gets aired at 3:00 in the morning every second Tuesday", and "look at the way the guy's old handycam washes out all the color and the big snowy skips where he must have pressed Record and Play on his second VCR to edit the video".)

  • You may not want to use BigPond - but it's looking like all Australian Dreamcast users will be. When they finally get around to enabling the Dreamcast internet service here, sometime in February.

  • Oh puh-lease. I only wish more American companies would come here. And er yeah.. Telstra's last CEO was American.. This surprises you? Telstra has always been largely US-owned. Sadly they don't seem to make much use of US expertise though. Telstra's problem isn't that it is US owned, it is that it is basically a very lazy, inefficient and backward company, and that Australians are so stupid as to perceive them as being "Australian" and therefore better. We have a telecommunications system that most 3rd world countries can rival. Those of you who think Optus, AAPT, Primus are dodgy and not very good; check your facts, you may be surprised.
  • An AC barely-coherently ranted:
    YOUR PUBLIC SCHOOLING SYSTEM ISNT EVEN SAFE!!! Look at all the masacres you have in your Schools in America.

    Please point out "all the massacres" in the American schools. Guess what, there were rather few -- the ones that happen just get a ton of publicity. Now, take that number and compare it to the sheer number of schools in the US. Hmmm, sounds like you're exagerrating a problem here.

  • There seems to be a very large effort to kill the Internet in Australia. I am going to save and move overseas.. (I hear you can get a nice house in Borneo for about $11).
  • No it's not. try, their pricing is far better than that of telstra.
    To get 1.5gb of data, phone and cable TV I would have to pay $300+ per month more the the offering by Saturn.

    Now how is that even remotely the same!


  • The big problem (IIRC) is that when someone in Australia downloads from America, the Aussie backbone provider pays the US backbone provider, but not the other way arround!

    I don't know if that's still true, but it used to be at one stage. The US arguement was basically that there was so much more US->AU traffic than the other way around that it wasn't worth the US paying for their share. It was a one way deal. The AU (and other countries) telcos weren't too pleased, but short of not letting their customeers connect to the US, their wasn't much they could do about it.

    I pay per meg (uni dialup modem line). A$4 a month, + 0c/Meg local (inside a few local unis), 3c/Meg Aus, and 17c/Meg International.

    The uni doesn't like us running servers either, but mainly becuase they (and the government, and the telco) subsidise it. We can't use it for commercial purposes, that that isn't as much of a problem.

    They don't like semi-permenant connections when the lines are busy (which is fair enough), so they have a kickoff arrangment that starts by kicking off people who have been connected the longest when the lines get busy. Almost never happens though.

    I prefer it this way. Its cheap and useable.
  • It's also the ISO code for the currency.

    I believe you are thinking of "GBP".

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • relation to all of the "bad" news coming out of Australia in the last few months:

    1. We currently have an overly conservative governement in place.

    The current government came to power due to the economic hardships of the previous decade (thanks to a global recession), and the fact that the previous government had been in power for 13 years (ie. it was time for a change).

    The current Government has been in power since 1996 and almost lost the last election, and are guaranteed to lose the next election. (They know it too).

    2. Australia has the rough equivalent of the population of New York, spread across a land mass the size of the United States. This usually results in Australian's depending on its media services to highlight issues of concern. IT issues generally get drowned out by the latest political gaffe, or our sensationalistic story of the day.

    IT in general doesn't sell newspapers and as such, Internet censorship and other technology-related issues are not news-worthy. It should be noted though, that the PBL-Acxiom database story made the front page of all major newspapers and TV news networks. There was significant outrage... for once I was happy.

    3. Don't forget to do the maths with the exchange rates. I don't know exactly what it is at the moment, but the Aussie dollar usually sits at around $0.70 USD. That means that ISP rates and Cable-modem rates are not necessarily as expensive as you think they are, if its an Australian news article.

  • The problem here is in the terms and conditions. Australian corporate culture has made it almost mandatory for terms and conditions to have a little clause in it that lets the corporation get away with quite a lot. It doesn't matter if it's Telstra's cable Internet dodge here, or the terms and conditions of most ISP's, or the terms and conditions of your bank account, or your insurance. They all have a "we-can-change-the-contract-but-you-cannot" clause.

    This clause would say something like "We can change these terms and conditions at any time without telling you about it." Or, to paraphrase, "This piece of paper is worthless. The terms and conditions are whatever we want them to be, and we will change them whenever we please if we think we're going to make more money out of you by so doing."

    The terms and conditions commonly foisted by corporate Australia onto individuals and small business also tend use terminology like "We have the right to amend these terms and conditions at any time..." Note the use of the word "right" here, implying that the corporation has a right to do as it pleases, and you can't do anything about it. A more correct word to use here would be "privilege". The word "right" is also an unusual choice, with such terms and conditions usually being full of long words with Latin and Greek roots, instead of their more easily comprehensible Germanic counterparts. This suggests that the word "right" is a deliberate emotive choice intended to bully anyone questioning the terms and conditions into thinking that this clause is above question.

    In practice, such a clause is far from being a "right". Instead, you have the right to negotiate on the terms and conditions of any contract. For example, while negotiating the contract, you could strike out the whole paragraph with this clause, insert a new clause that says "These terms and conditions cannot be modified without the written consent of both parties" and get both parties to initial the change. Of course the large corporation, being the bullies that they are, would have none of that because it's a more evenly-balanced clause instead of the clause that is extremely heavily weighted in favour of the corporation.

    These corporate abuses are unlikely to be stopped as long as the corporation-friendly conservative Federal government we have in place now continues in power. This week, the Employment Minister attempted to "reform" labour laws (read: bash unions again and further erode working conditions of workers). This was understandably rejected by the Senate. Strange how there was nothing in these proposed labour laws to curb the widespread exploitation of salaried employees who work an average of 5 to 10 unpaid hours a week.

  • For those who failed Geography, Australia is a fair distance from the states, and trans-pacific fibre aint cheap, and since there is a slight lack of spare fibre, Telstra seems to have most of the monopoly and they can charge whatever the hell they want.

    So get this. Very few ISPs in Australia even offer an unlimited time+date modem account (I happen to be one of the fortunate few who signed up with Microplex, an ISP which was recently aquired by C&W Optus, and managed to get on an unlimited account while it still existed). Not many ISPs can afford it when Telstra charge like wounded bulls (don't believe me? - has more info than you need). If one ISP decides to offer unlimited time and data (OzEmail, Telstra with their BigPond home dialup service, corplink/ozramp have done so in the past), all the users flock to the service, clogging dialin lines and incoming bandwidth, forcing the ISP to close the service. The only three ISPs who offer unlimited time+data that I am aware of are iHug ( who use satellite for externally routed traffic (laggy), Dingoblue ( - $45/month, basically resold microplex accounts under a dealership arrangement or something) and EISA ( who offer unlimited time and data, and are quite reasonable (they run a nice games server network) but they kick you off every four hours to stop abuse. This is a pain when on IRC, playing a good game of Quake, or doing a "make world" on a FreeBSD box.

    Okay, we can allow for that. Till the southern cross cable network ( comes in, international bandwidth will remain scarce, and yes, Telstra does deserve a little money to cover costs. But charging for a network which costs them pretty much nothing to operate in terms of whether it's 20% or 80% utilised is just beyond the joke. I was really considering Telstra BigPond Advance for a VPN, but I guess I've missed out. Thank god I didn't sign up with them these holidays.

    So now everyone's hanging out for Optus@home (, the cable service we've been promised for the last three and a half years by Optus. According to a phone call I made to their information centre, it *WILL* be unlimited data (yes folks!), and it will use standard DOCSIS cable modems (the telstra BPA network does not - so the market will be flooded with useless cable modems now), and it will be limited to a 128Kbit/sec uplink, so using the network for servers won't prove to be successful. IPs are also dynamically assigned (like Telstra), and running proxy servers/NAT gateways is against the Access User Policy (anyone know if they can actually detect a NAT gateway being used?). So if you want to run a server, you can either wait for optus@work (which will be bandwidth metred, but I've heard that it will have static IP addresses, IP address blocks, reverse lookup DNS records, that sorta stuff), or we can sign up with Telstra's ISDN service (around $270/month for OnRamp express, allowing you to have a perm virtual "circuit" which allows you to call the one number you need for net access) plus internet access charges (typically AU$990/month for unlimited transfer). They are prices for a 64K ISDN link. anything above usually has utilisation costs and excess bandwidth charges.

    You know, I think that Australia is the only countery with a national bandwidth enquiry.

    I've got a few friends of mine who are cable users. Both of them are jumping ship to optus@home as soon as they can, and one of them gets "smurfed" (flooded with data) every so often. A few months ago, he was smurfed a few GB (I think it was 3.something, meaning around AU$810 for data that wasnt used).

    well in closing, I'd like to say that if Optus@home pulls off an unlimited data cable network and charges *reasonably* for it, it has the potential to change the Australian internet market.
  • Is this really that uncommon? We pay by the meg after a certain amount (5 or 20gb) on DSL. It's like that in a lot of regions of Canada.. it used to be a lot worse here in NB, where they were going to start charging $0.05/meg (cdn) for access over a gig. Mind you - we get very good speeds, 250+kilobytes/sec in some areas, but it can get very expensive.

    What BOTHERS me is that I can write a client that might attack people I don't like with pingfloods when they're inactive on the machine, and run their bills up very high. This could easily be done given the average number of protocols you could exploit - ICQ, Quake ....

    I wonder why people don't get more upset about this - the flat fee model for bandwidth is what has made the net a huge success in North America, allowing telcos to make obscene profits selling hardware and service. Mind you - pay per use / metered bandwith is what those marketing types have wet dreams over.

    Ah well. U auzzies be SSLin stuff, eh. :)


  • by h2so4 ( 33298 ) on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @02:56PM (#1488579)
    I'm at university in the UK, and I can sympathise with the problems this can cause... For 100 ukp we get a permenent ethernet connection in our room, which is very tasty.

    However there is a drawback. Because universities in the UK are now charged for their transatlantic bandwidth, the charges get passed down to us, on a per MB basis: each quarter, you get 5 ukp worth of credit; transfers are about 2 pence per MB.

    During November, some loser decided he would smurf me though, didn't he....using American broadcast IP's. As I had a static IP, this was an inconvenience to say the least... The result: 25 ukp worth of ICMP charging! But kernel loggin on ICMP comes in handy when you have to show your sysadmin proof...even if it did mean being assigned an IP.

    Making the "victim" pay for being DoS'd is a major flaw, which if protocols become metered, is going to become a major problem to the internet on which we work.
  • by Cef ( 28324 ) on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @05:14PM (#1488585)

    There are many problems with Australia in regards to the Internet.

    1. Telstra (formally Telecom Australia) own the largest and most complete network of copper/fibre/radio systems in Australia. Their existing infrastructure from when they were a government entity is not open to other Vendors to intergrate to. This will change, hopefully middle of next year, however until then, Telstra will try and make as much money as they can on their existing services. Admittedly it does cost them money to bring in bandwidth from the US, but no where near as much as they charge.
    2. Optus (the main compeditor) was originally only geared up to provide Mobile Phone services. They soon moved into long distance carriers, cable (TV/Modems), and Internet Access. This puts them "behind the ball" compared to Telstra. Optus are (in conjunction with a few Australian, New Zealand and American ISP's) running in a large bandwitdth pipe for internet access. The vendors will get a guaranteed minimum bandwidth, with the potential of using more of the pipe if there is no traffic. Until this is in place however (Next year at the earliest), you either have to pay Telstra for bandwidth out of the country, pay them for access to dedicated bandwidth (eg: pay for an under-sea fibre), use satellite systems, or run your own cables under the sea (big money!)
    3. Because there isn't that many links out of the country, it's easy to place controls on what goes in and out. Less places you actually need to choke off, as it were.
    4. There isn't any actual declaration of "Freedom of Speech" in our constitution. It's implied and referenced to a lot, but no implicit declaration. This provides all sorts of loopholes (see censorship legislation.
    5. You get weird governmental hangups when the floor of their the Senate or House of Representatives hang in near 50/50 proportions. Independant candidates control the votes, and to please them, some groups will go to extraodinary lengths to get their votes. eg: The Internet Censorship Bill was one such example, which was passed by the government, thereby allowing them to pass various other bills.
    6. Things work much differently here economically. Some things here are cheaper, some things are more expensive. People have a different view on what is necessary, and what isn't. A friend of my mother who lived in Canada mentioned she had to buy a new refridgerator. They then told us it needed to be replaced because it was getting old. Turned out too old was 3 years old. We replaced ours because it stopped working (it was 15-20 years old). Same goes for cars and the like. The Australian dollar isn't doing that well either (at 63.5820 US Cents) - Remember this when you hear how much someone is being paid in Australia (or how much we are being charged) it's a lot less than you might think.
    7. We also have a much more rugged environment. We don't get long heat and long cold. We get quick heat snaps and short cold bursts. A few (real) bridges have collapsed because of this problem (using British steel, which is not used to quick changes of temperature).

    Of course the people probably most outraged over the cable modem fiasco are the ones playing network games, chewing through large amounts of bandwidth on the cable network. They didn't have to pay before, and suddenly they are paying LOTS for what they believed was a free service.

    Remember one thing. We are an isolated country. Unlike the US, which has borders with Mexico and Canada, we have no such luxury. The Island nation. We also have a lot of land that has very few people spread across large areas of it. Providing services for them all (and usually at a flat rate across all areas) is a difficult task. Things you might take for granted aren't happening here. No DSL (due to Telstra not allowing Vendors access to their copper - Telstra want to run DSL services once they are ready, and not before). No multi-vendor infrastructure. I guess you can see where this is heading.

  • Bad ganster mvoies, maybe?

    Officers Penelopy Persimmons and April Apricot closed in on Dangerous Dan.
    "Watch out, Penny," cried April. "He's got a gun!"
    Dangerous Dan snarled at Penny. "You'll never take me alive, copper!"

  • ... I am consistently disgusted by news of the state of the Internet industry in my homeland.

    Oh sure, we can whore our coastlines out to any American movie company we want to (those portions of it that we haven't already allowed to be annexed by the Japanese, that is), and we will gladly divert taxpayer money into developing such amazingly destructive industries as tourism so that irresponsible Yanks can get their Dundee fixes any time they want to.

    Give the film industry nice big fat government sanctioned kickbacks so that we can make trashy TV shows and B-level movies and be proud of it, no problem.

    But when it comes to propagation of the Internet, which is guaranteed to be one of the big industry motivators for the new millenium, oh no, we have to resort to old-school big-business tactics and draconian censorship laws.

    I'm ashamed.

    My plans for moving back to Australia have just been extended another 5 years... which sucks, because I miss the beaches - oh wait, those are for Japanese tourist families only, now... (sarcasm)

  • I better idea would be to charge the sender of the emails, pings or whatever. Most people who really don't send much would hardly be effected, but the people who spam 1000's of messages would be screwed!

    Ding, I think you've just hit the jackpot.

    Just like phone service, sender pays, unless it's a collect call.

    Unfortunately, this wouldn't work too well with web traffic. A whole new type of attack would emerge...
  • by intmainvoid ( 109559 ) on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @02:59PM (#1488596)
    I'm a subscriber to Telstra Cable, and I'm very happy with the new arrangement. For my monthly fee of AUS$65, I was getting 100MB traffic, with 35c per MB over the 100MB. Now I'm getting 250MB, with 28c per MB over the 250MB - for the same fee.

    I don't see what the problem is - there is adequate compensation. My unmetered traffic at present is definately not more than the 150MB difference. It's definately a benefit for me.

  • Isn't the base fee $95 now? Or did I read the article incorrectly?

    I wanted BP cable, but apparently it didn't go down my street - at least Optus does.
  • by mjh ( 57755 )
    Honestly, per-meg pricing, IMHO, is THE way to go.

    I respectfully disagree. First, (in the US) there are too many providers out there that offer flat rate pricing. So implementing usage pricing is next to impossible without all of them essentially agreeing simultaneously.

    Second, Moore's Law suggests that performance will double every 18 months for the same cost. So as time goes on, that T3 will cost half as much to provide. 18 months after that, 1/4 as much. Sooner or later, someone will figure out that bandwidth availability is growing faster than the number of people getting connected. That person will make a killing as the only company to offer flat rate pricing. And then everyone else will be forced to offer it, too.

    The only reason that AU and UK provide usage based pricing right now is that the cost to jump the pond is prohibative. Right now, most of the info on the net is in the US. You'll note that US users don't pay anything to get data from UK or AU. That's because for all practical purposes, the US gets very little data from them and provides huge amounts of data to them. As time goes on, that will even out, and they'll provide enough valuable data to merit a US company paying for a link to AU or UK, instead of the other way around. When that happens, prices will be alleviated in UK and AU, too.

    The cost of technology always goes down over time. Usage based pricing of Internet services would not survive the market. I don't think it will ever happen in the US, and I think it will eventually become a dinosaur everywhere else, too.

  • by hawk ( 1151 ) <> on Thursday December 02, 1999 @04:34AM (#1488613) Journal

    Usage based pricing isn't necessarily socially desirable. Most goods get classified as private goods, where a public good such as a park or lighthouse is distinguished by two characteristics:
    1) nonrival--one person's usage doesn't diminish the value of the good to another, and
    2) non-exclusion--it's difficult or impossible to stop anyone else from using it.

    Another class of good is "excess capacity," which is nonrival, but possible to exclude people from, such as a movie theatre.

    Internet access might (depending upon conditions) fall into this category.

    Digress for a moment to your favorite public park. Suppose you go 20 times a year, and pay $100 in taxes to support it, and that you're satisfied with this arrangement. Now suppose that instead of the tax, you pay $5 every time you go. Would you still go as often? Or turn this around: you go 10 times a year, paying $10 each time. If it was a $100 tax, you would go more often (20 times).

    Either way, the park is $100. Assuming that it isn't overcrowded, you're much better off with the flat rate. But take it a step further: if you pay the 10x10, you would likely be happier paying $125 for a park with unlimited use--or better yet, the $100 is all that's needed for that park, and you help build yet another one.

    There's plenty of ways to manipulate these numbersl, but the point is that there are combinations where you will happily pay *more* for unlimited use than you would have paid in total for metered use. You're happier, and the park system gets better revenue.

    *if* the ISP is not running into bandwidth limits (i.e., nonrival), it may see better revenue by flatrate pricing than by usage pricing, while its costs remain the same. If usage is forcing it to lay new lines, it *may* be better with metered usage. However, if technology causes capacity to grow faster than demand, this will not necessarily be the case.

    For more info, take a course in public goods or finance at your favorite university :)

  • I assume the 80% is the www user who clicks around and talks about "surfing" and propogates the email worms when they get them by blindly clicking.

    I assume that the other 20% is advanced users and gamers.

    And I really doubt that this is cost recovery. More likely profit taking.

  • ...But kernel loggin on ICMP...
    ok...."kernel logging"


    ...even if it did mean being assigned an IP....

    assigned a new IP


    Damit I should get some sleep...can't see what I'm typing... :/
  • Yabbut, what are you going to do? Sue the spammer for 0.01 cents? With the amount of spam sent in this country, we'd need a separate legal system (small, small, small claims court?) just to handle these cases!

    Plus, if you pingflood someone, do they have to pay for the packets that you send? What if someone mailbombs you. Keep in mind that the pinger or mailbomber might not have to pay for bandwith likr the pingee/mailbombee does.

    I better idea would be to charge the sender of the emails, pings or whatever. Most people who really don't send much would hardly be effected, but the people who spam 1000's of messages would be screwed!

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @03:03PM (#1488627)
    Quoth a Telstra droid:
    > "(The remaining 20 per cent) are basically using the network as a data network and they're pulling vast amounts of traffic off the network."

    Just magine, people using the Internet as a "data network". How the fsck else do you use the Internet?

    More to the point: unless Telstra assumed that the only people interested in cablemodem service would be the casual web surfer (for whom a 56K dialup is probably quite sufficient - most dialup users sit on a 56K dialup and has it idle for 5-10 minutes while they read a large web page), if you use your broadband connection like a television or a telephone (which about the only way other than "as a data networK" that I can think of), aren't you using just as much bandwidth as if you're using it to download gigs of pr0n, warez, and MP3z? :-)

    The more cynical side of me says this is the first step towards a policy of "if you use it to upload large piles of your own content or download piles of data from other cablemodem users, that's bad, but the quotas won't apply if you're downloading streaming video from our TV-based mondo-multimedia-marketing-partners, 'cuz TV is Good For You" -- i.e. the logical first step that mass media might want to take in reclaiming their role as the gatekeepers of content. After all, what would a cable company like more than to see a world where writing your own content and downloading other people's content was bad and expensive, but downloading mass-media-approved and advertiser-sponsored content was good and free.

  • Saying that we (Australia) have the population of New York spread out over the land area of the US is misleading. The figures are more-or-less correct, but to say we're "spread out" would be stretching things. Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world, with >75% of the population concentrated in the big(ish) cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth).
  • I'm not going to gloat too much over the flat rates that are pretty much the standard here in America. The big telcos get a big woody whenever they think they can ass-rape the internet customers out of some more money (IE: The furor a while back over treating calls to ISPs like long distance.) It's just that in this case Telsta is the one with the woody and the aussies are the ones about to get ass-raped. I say leave those poor aussies alone, they've been ass-raped more than enough for one year.

    I'm still holding out for a modem that works using quantum entanglement to send data instaneously across arbitrary distances without the use of wires.

  • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @03:05PM (#1488642)
    Honestly, per-meg pricing, IMHO, is THE way to go.

    At some point, there is always a shared medium. The only way to regulate these services fairly is to put a price on it. It really irritates me that @home sold me an internet connection that was '100 times faster' than my dialup, but then told me that 'Oh, you can't run internet servers. You can't use it unattended. It's for one computer only'. blah blah blah...
    I want to be told 'We'll lease you the equipment for $25/mo, and we'll charge you $xx/GB, period.'

    Because, in the end, the resource they claim to 'protect' with their bandwdith limits and rules about fair use is nothing more than the channel capacity. Put a fair price on the bits, and I'll pay for my fair share.

    Also, yes, spam is a problem. Yes, spam will end up costing you a bit of money. 2 things to remember, though.
    1) Spam messages are *small* compared to everything you do in a day. This doesn't neagate the fact that spam sucks, but the totaly bytes incurred by spam every day, and I get a lot, is dwarfed by the amount of traffic involved in simply loading up the slashdot page once, or heaven forbit, the default MSN or Netscape page.

    2) If you can put a real value on traffic, then you have a leg to stand on when you charge a spammer.

    3) You can force the ISP to SHOW YOU what traffic they are charging you for. They can't just throw numbers at you, saying 'you used xx bytes'. They must be able to back that up somehow. That means records of how much traffic you used, what type, and when. After all, it's only fair.

    In the end, billing by usage is a good thing, but we have to make sure we do it right.
  • You can only complain about the CA beach if you haven't been to the NJ beaches. Trust me even santa cruz boardwalks looks great compared to NJ beaches.
  • Go to Hawaii, where you can get that nostalgic feeling of home by looking out over the japanese owned beaches there.

    Hey, at least you guys don't have to deal with a plague of Californians in their 4WD SUV's (Let's go to Starbucks! I'll use my credit card!) I'd take the Japanese any day. At least THEY'RE polite.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @03:19PM (#1488674)
    ... that's because you don't understand what they're saying about you...
  • by TheDullBlade ( 28998 ) on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @03:21PM (#1488676)
    3) You can force the ISP to SHOW YOU what traffic they are charging you for. They can't just throw numbers at you, saying 'you used xx bytes'. They must be able to back that up somehow. That means records of how much traffic you used, what type, and when. After all, it's only fair.

    So you want your ISP to record all of your internet activity? Remember that you'd have to pay for that too; it'll take extra processing time and hard drive space to record confirmable details (not much, though, I suppose). I'd support it if it was just "during this hour you used X bytes", but I don't want a record of IP addresses accessed or anything of that kind.

    I can just see the billing disputes:
    "Let's see, you spent 14 hours downloading pictures of half-dressed semi-humanoid female cartoon characters, you ran a chat server all month for people who secretly fantasize about turnips, and spent an average of 4 hours every day playing a network game of a Sailor Moon Quake mod where you shoot hearts that make the target giggle and remove a piece of clothing. If you want to make a public fuss about what we're charging you, we'd be happy to release our supporting data."
  • InfoWorld scribe Bob Metcalfe [] has been predicting for some time that Internet packet metering would happen sooner or later []. In fact he has even suggested 'ePostage' for email [] to deal with the cost of Spam. In other words the Spammers pay to send rather than you paying to receive, putting many of them out of business. Of course you and I would have to pay to send our personal and business email as well...

    But then Metcalfe is also known for repeatedly prophecying the collapse of the Internet from an overload of data [], and then changing the date he predicts it will happen as each past date rolls by. Not to mention some other rather bizarre musings about the possible impact of the real world on the Internet.

    Still, if we assume a metered Internet of any kind, it only seems fair that the person originating the packet (requesting it if viewing a web page or sending it if email) should pay the freight.


  • What about all of this pyramid-scheme crap that people push in their signature's on slashdot? Like the alladvantage crap. I think one of the moderation things options should be "SPAM".

    Let's simplify things. How about:
    I think one of the moderation things options should be "SIG".
  • by TheDullBlade ( 28998 ) on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @03:25PM (#1488681)
    The real cost of spam is the time you waste sifting it out from among your worthwhile mail. There will never be a precise, objective way to calculate the damage caused by spam.
  • @Home's policies will be contested within the next year -- there are two many people sick of their profit-mongering tactics. Either they will be legislated into acceptance (unlikely), or they will be regulated out of the practice -- assuming the market doesn't take care of them.

    I avoided @Home for 6 months until ADSL was deployed in my area and now I have better speed (in BOTH directions) for the same price, I can run whatever servers I want, and I'm not on 24.*.*.*

    While it is true that at some point we're all on a shared medium, with @Home it often happens right outside your house. With ADSL it generally happens at the back end of the CO. I've got something pretty close to a clean feed onto their backbone - regulated to 1.5Mb - with phone connectivity being multiplexed in between the CO and me. So long as their big outbound pipe can handle all of us (and having taken a tour of the facilities with an engineer I can guarantee you that's not an issue) I could give 2 whether everyone or noone in my neighborhood are connected. With @Home if you put your neighborhood on their system your bandwidth turns to crap.

    The thing about it is that it's cheaper for telco-supplied ADSL (which I have) to supply me data than it is for me to do dial-up over existing POTS. While they can sell leftover bandwidth on their pipe, having wide deployment of ADSL out of a CO doesn't do a hell of a lot (IIUC) to their profit margin. The accounting for /Mb usage would cost them more than charging for it.

    Not only is /Mb not the only way to go, it is the backwards way to go. It generally reeks of mismanagement and/or profiteering. It is not supported in the market unless there is a local monopoly. Any such local monopoly will cease to exist as more competitors deploy (where there was only ISDN and @Home here a year ago, there are now multiple ISDN providers, @Home, and 3 home ADSL providers... and this ain't one of the 10 biggest metro areas in the country, either). Everyone here charges fixed rate because otherwise they'll get beat out by any competitor that charges fixed rate. If they team up and all offer /Mb rates I know some VCs more than ready to fund other ISP vendors dying to move into the broadband deployment market -- i.e., a new competitor giving what the people want.

  • Telstra was formerly Telecom Australia, the government monopoly telco. Now it is 49% privately owned and has competition in a deregulated market. This has happened in recent years. While there is plenty of competition in the mobile phone and long distance area, Telstra is still the only company to provide ISDN and cable modem access. Thus consumers in Australia have no choice other than Telstra if they want faster than modem internet access at home.

  • I'm a poor bigpond cable user ... have pity on me and not make this a troll ... ;)

    More information available from ; [] [] [] [] [] tm [] 2/02/bizcom/bizcom2.html []

  • Internet racket? Like the *vastly* disparate costs of things like ADSL and Cable in the States, depending on location? The problem is monopoly... The other problem is that the competition has had to fight Telstr - who are hanging on by the skin of their teeth to keep the grip...
  • while i like having an unlimited account, bit taxes will eventually be necessary. i pay by the unit for electricity, natural gas, water, gasoline and many other products. why not pay for our media and internet with the same scheme. sure, we are all complaining because a 250 GB/ month limit is not a lot when you download code all of the time. but eventually we will all be downloading lots of things much bigger than linux kernels and using many more GB/mo. and when that day comes the price per GB will be very low. lower than the unlimited accounts we have today. internet deployment isn't sustainable without such a metered scheme.

    lets take a look at some examples of flat fees:

    the phone company: do you realize that a phone bill in the city is subsidising the cost of providing phone service to rural areas. i don't even use a phone very often because most of my communication is in person or through email. and yet i still pay the same amount each month. if i paid by how much i used and how expensive it was for the phone company to provide the service to me (not much since i live in a 4 million person city), then my phone bill would probably be 5 bucks a month instead of the 25/mo i pay now.

    the cable company: i pay 35-45 dollars to media one per month for cable. and yet i only watch 5-7 stations. if i could pay by the station i would have fox (for The Simpsons), wb (for buffy), comedy central (for southpark), cartoon network (for dexter's lab) and a few educational channels like the history channel and discovery. and yet i have to pay 40 bucks a month to media one because i have no choice. if i paid by the channel then media one would know exactly what i want to watch and it would be to their advantage to offer stations i really want rather than the most popular or the cheapest stations. (ever wonder why they have so many shopping channels? because they make money off of those instead of paying for them). with metering they might start to offer stations like m2 (mtv with actual music instead of reality shows) or oddessy (with lots of muppet stuff). a metered system would do wonders for my tv viewing, but as it is i can no longer justify paying media one for 50 stations i never watch. i may switch to a dish if they can offer fox, but i'll still have to pay for much more than i watch.

    flat fee: gives some people a free ride and others get screwed. this is oppression.
    metering you pay as you go. you buy as much as you can afford. you save as much as you want. this is freedom.

    vote for choice. vote for freedom. vote for metering and competition.

    (maybe i went a little over board there. :)

  • I hate to say it, but my first reaction to this ludicrious idea is that we should organize "ping parties" so that each of us will send a few megabytes of data to every single person who was either responsible for the idea of billing a person for the actions of others, or who declined to strangle this shining example that of misconceived raw capitalism in the cradle.

    Let's see, if we get even 1% of the people who currently devote cycles to SETI@Home to donate bandwidth we should be able to saturated this arseholes' bandwidth. That way the don't get horrible performance and a sizeable bill. (E.g., 250 kbps, for a month solid, is over 80 GB.)

    Of course, in deference to Jane's that would be cyberwar if non-Australians did it. But if it was done by Australians, within Australia, the worst they could call it is cybercivil war, and most people could call it the world's first cybercivil disobedience. That, and a damn fine example of being hoist by your own petard.

    The saddest thing is that I honestly can't decide whether I'm serious about this. I have a very low opinion of DoS attackers, but I have an even lower opinion of anyone who would casually break one of the central foundations of Western Society. If a country allows you to become liable for a substantial charge for something totally beyond your control, it's only a very small step to other charming ideas we left behind at the last millennium (or at least the last century).

    Some other ideas not far removed from this, at least IMnsHO? Visiting the sins of the father on the son. (Your mother died owing MegaHospital for his cancer treatment? *You* are now responsible for her unpaid $500,000 bill. Your father died in prison after serving only 12 years of a 20 year sentence? *You* will spend the next 8 years in prison finishing his term, and if you die, your child will finish the term!). Debtor's prison. Slavery (or in polite society, "indentured servitude") in lieu of payment of debt.
  • There's a slightly different reason for broadband (DSL & cable modem) companies in Australia, Canada, and elsewhere outside of the US to charge by the MB. I've seen estimates that anywhere from 40% to 80% of a non-US country's traffic is coming from outside of that country, though this quantity is declining as internet use grows and the caching companies like Akamai get busy. Since most non-US providers aren't all that big, they're not allowed to peer with US providers and must pay for tranport, which means getting an international leased line.

    Now, a 56K line can easily run into the thousands per month as soon as it crosses the US border and there are only a few companies running anything like a T3 or faster, especially when crossing oceans. If your a provider and give an average speed of 500K for a cable modem or DSL connection, that means it takes <1 or only a few dozen users to suck up all of your international bandwidth, which as previously noted is a big part of your traffic.

    So the major reason why the international providers are doing bandwidth metering is so they can recoup the costs of delivering all that traffic from US web sites from those users who insist on doing it while discouraging other users from hogging the pipes. There are a number of other schemes being talked about, like separately metering & billing on-net vs. off-net traffic, traffic shaping so that low-latency services like gaming could have guaranteed bandwidth (at a price), etc. but all of these depend on fairly new systems (IP mediation, traffic shaping, and that mythical beast called QOS) that few providers have in place. That's why Excite@Home and other broadband carriers in the US throttle down connections, if they had the infrastructure you can be sure they'd let you get that extra bandwidth for a price.

    Most of these broadband companies aren't out to screw the customer (too much), they're just trying to offer services and make a buck, or maybe a billion bucks. However, it's been shown that unless you're Mindspring, you the provider can't make a decent profit off $x/month unlimited consumer access alone, you've got to get into other services. Therefore, the broadband companies think they can say "Hey, we're giving you this much faster connection for some base price, and if you want more than a certain amount of bandwidth we'll charge you for it."

    And, finally, if you're a broadband provider who happens to be part of an incumbent carrier (like Telstra Big Pond), you get hamstrung by corporate politics (incumbent carriers can't/won't offer the high bandwidth connections too cheaply because that'll cut into T-carrier revenues), and if you're not careful the government regulators will make your life hell.

    Ob-disclaimer: I used to work for Lucent Technologies on internet billing and customer care systems and interacted with most of the major providers at one point or another as a vendor. Your mileage will vary. jonathan

  • It seems that Telstra's finally figured out what has been going on for a while now. Last year I remember discussing data comms issues with a number of the multimedia operations in Melbourne. They were connecting to Telstra's cable network and transferring gigabyte files between themselves for free. Basically, Telstra wasn't charging them for any packets that were kept wholly within the cable network. It was only packets that originated from outside the network that were charged for.

    Thus, they could transfer to their hearts' content within the loop. I think that this was what the Telstra rep was referring to when they said "used as a data network" - eg: intensive data transfer between points on the cable net.

    This is also similar to what happened when some ISP's changed from "all you can eat for $x per month" to time & MB charging. They had profiled their useage and discovered that 80% of their bandwidth useage was consumed by 10% of their clients. At one ISP, one guy was paying AUS$30 per month and sucking AUS$1k per month 'cos he was listening to radio, watching videos, grabbing warez, etc. After they changed to the new billing, the slurpers left (following LOTS of bitching) and their previously congested link suddenly became much more effective :)

    Thus, it could be that Telstra have realised that their network is being overloaded and they haven't even reached the majority of the population. If they keep going this way, they'll need to upgrade their infrastructure (which has already cost them a shitload). Thus, they're clamping down on internal "freebies" to ensure that bandwidth is available for charged useage.

    How they're doing it may suck, but hey, when you're looking down the barrel of a major infrastructure upgrade vs pissing off a few people - which one do you go for? :)
  • This is nothing new for the telecommunications industry in this Country.

    Those in the US who enjoy unlimited local calls?

    We dont, we pay for each one.

    Those who enjoy ADSL?

    Telstra here are testing it to the point of stupidity, we will be lucky to see it before 2001. And even then, only in sydney.

    Those who enjoy cable in the US?

    Only one, perhaps two cities(Sydney, perhaps melbourne) in all of Australia even have cable. So most of us dont even have it.

    Australia is an internet Dinosaur in regards to integration of emerging technology and services for internet access, and Telstra charge ridiculous fees to users and ISP's alike. To the point where it is rare to find a decent unlimited data dialup connection.

    Until we get some large well funded competition in this country(at&t, bell, MCI, sprint etc), and can loosen telstra's strangle hold on the larger internet fibre pipes and services here, we will still be that dinosaur, and will be poorer for it aswell.
  • In fact, from The Age... "The scheme which PBL (Packer Broadcasting Limited) has already in use in several countries, including the very privacy-conscious EU"
  • And I thought 35 cents for a public telephone local call was a rip off...

    We pay 24c. And you can get as low as 18c...

  • Let's be fair here...

    1. Your point about free local calls. In the US, the local call zones are a LOT smaller than here in Australia - outr local call zones, by comparison, are HUGE - and $0.25 a call really isn't that much.

    ADSL is being trialled in Australia now by Telstra. It will come. Yes, cable is only available in capital cities, and even not all of those.

    But let's consider the following..

    Telstra are a single company, covering a country as large geographically as the US (check an atlas if you don't believe me), with only 17 million potential customers (and when you consider there's 4.3 people on average per household, and most households have only one phone line, that reduces their effective market to around 4 million homes. Compare this to the US, with several regional carriers, all with a substantially larger market to deal with.

    While I agree that Telstra are making an absolute fortune, and aren't providing all the services, and the quality of service, that they really should be, there are valid reasons for our late uptake of high speed Internet access.
  • For being an IRC Oper on a very large IRC network ;p

    See you on #au-help ;-)

  • The problem they are talking about is the cross cable traffic, not internet traffic. There is currently no metered data so long as you do not exit the cable WAN to the rest of the 'net.

    What does it mean?

    It means, for AU$65/month you get a 1Mb/s WAN link, regardles of distance, time or utilisation. That makes it about 100 times cheaper than ISDN, and about 500 times cheaper than a 2Mb frame link. It's safer, and more reliable, and so long as you don't turn off you box, you can run a Linux based router, with software firewall, on a 486 with cable connection for about three months on the same IP. IP changes? no biggy, just manually update your routing table and viola.

    This is what the 20% (more like 5%) of people they're referring to are doing. I know, I suggested it to our Co. for a cheap alternative to Frame (Melborne/Sydney/Brisbane) plus, you get net access direct in each city.

    I understand where they are coming from but they are going about it the wrong way. They should be metering traffic on a port to port basis, thereby selecting the difference between standard internet and mali et al traffic.
  • by Buaku ( 93539 ) on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @04:27PM (#1488762)
    Personally, I prefer pricing to be based on quality of connection (speed and reliability) rather than quantity (per-meg).

    To your points:

    1: That spam messages are small. Spam messages are whatever size the spammer makes them. Nothing stopping them from embedding binaries of various types including images or other crap.

    2: That you have a leg to stand on when charging a spammer: How are you going to charge the spammer? Are you assuming the spam originates in Australia? If so it is a bad assumption. I could spam you from someplace else in the world and you're SOL.

    3: You can force the ISP to SHOW YOU what traffic they are charging you for. They can't just throw numbers at you, saying 'you used xx bytes': Sure they can. All they need to do is log the number of Megs that go to your connection. This isn't like a phone company where the rate is based on WHERE you called or WHAT you downloaded. Just how much. If laws were passed making them record where you went and what you downloaded, they could do that of course, but they would have to pass on the cost of recording you a la Big Brother. So your rates go up if you require this. Screwed either way.

    Per-meg pricing also makes you vulnerable to attack. I can just send big attachments or ping you go death and drain your bank account.

    Another problem. If you are hosting a web page, heaven help you if it becomes popular for some reason. Someone posts your web site on /. in an article for some reason for example, and you are so totally fscking screwed. I would think twice about putting up a web site if I were charged based on the number of people who visit it. It opens you to financial risk.

    Come to think of it, this open a whole new avenue of messing with Aussie sites we don't like. Just /. them to death and drain their bank accounts. Cool.

  • Voting is "compulsory" in AU.

    Why aren't they? The same reason as lawmakers in the States aren't, when they pull stunts like CDA and Son Of CDA

  • Between BPA (Advance: Cable) and BPD (Direct: Whatever the hell you like from 56kbps modem to 155Mbps ATM)...

    BPD users can happily do whatever the hell we like. Of course we get gouged. Just not as much. :)

    Yeah, my access costs SUCK. $435 ($300 US or so)a month for 128kbps ISDN plus 19c/mb received.

    I like it tho :)

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?