Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bandwidth Hogs Face Limits on Internet Use

Some people use the Internet simply to check e-mail and look up phone numbers. Others are online all day, downloading big video and music files.

For years, both kinds of Web surfers have paid the same price for access. But now three of the country’s largest Internet service providers are threatening to clamp down on their most active subscribers by placing monthly limits on their online activity.


NY Times article "Charging by the Byte to Curb Internet Traffic"

Related CD post from yesterday

7 Comments:

At 6/15/2008 10:32 PM, Blogger Thomas Blair said...

I take it the outstanding comments from yesterday's CD post didn't convince you of the folly of metered internet service?

 
At 6/16/2008 7:28 AM, Blogger Shawn said...

...the metering is being done as a contract with your ISP, n'est pas? So, this is a contract, freely entered between two parties...and the problem is...??

If it's really worse, a company will start to do things the old way.

Help me understand how this is not an example of free markets working (those of you who are against metering).

 
At 6/16/2008 7:42 AM, Blogger Gregory said...

Metered internet service is a brilliant solution to the problems as they exist. It would impose marginal prices on those causing the problem (the 1% of people consuming 75% of the bandwidth) while leaving 99% of us with margin-free internet.

What I expect is for this to eliminate throughput caps, it is unnatural to have 10mbps down and 512kbps up, and have the mettering not kick in until the customer exceeds 100gigabytes a month, thus retaining the 'unlimited' component for 99% of users.

It seems so elegant I can't wait!

 
At 6/16/2008 8:29 AM, OpenID sethstorm said...


Help me understand how this is not an example of free markets working

You forgot to read about the part where ISP's drive out alternatives.

That is, they drive out alternatives to known undesirable levels(by non-market means). Next, the quality drops as the alternatives are next to unusable(in cost, terms of service, and speed).

Another interesting side effect is that this kills "Net Neutrality". What use are those laws if there's a huge end-run at the ISP- in the form of a transfer quota?

Interesting that the ISP's mentioned are doing so in not-so-clear ways.

* Time-Warner: Trial in an area "safe from complaint", Beaumont, TX. Hunting for a friendly audience does not make a study valid. It only tells people the conclusion you'll accept.

* Comcast: Deceptively modifying data on protocols "safe from complaint".

* AT&T: Admitting they want to imitate the Australian model of quotas). They don't want to be the one stuck with the unmetered demand.

freely entered between two parties
When it deals with an ISP, that is only a technicality. The reality is that it is dependent on the ISP's behavior. The way those ISP's are behaving, it's far from "freely entered" and closer to "shotgun wedding".

 
At 6/16/2008 10:06 AM, Blogger Shawn said...

seth...let's start the conversation this way:

do you ever say "i believe in free trade...so long as it's fair trade." If you do, that's a bigger conversation than we can have in this space.

If you're typically a free-trader/libertarian, and you have a problem with this specifically (and not as a part of a larger subset of many "market failures"), then that's what intrigues me.

I've seen Don Boudreaux say a couple times that people always believe in free trade, except for their own industry, because there are "special circumstances." Just wondering if this is a case of that.

 
At 6/16/2008 5:12 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> I take it the outstanding comments from yesterday's CD post didn't convince you of the folly of metered internet service?

Obviously not.

From the NYT article.

> Time Warner would not reveal how many gigabytes an average customer uses, saying only that 95 percent of customers use under 40 gigabytes each in a month.

but:

> As the technology company Cisco put it in a recent report, “today’s ‘bandwidth hog’ is tomorrow’s average user.”

Not if this crap comes along.

Like I said. You want to screw up the internet, this is how to do it.

The ones putting the major real load on the system are and have always been the spammers -- and their localized bandwidth requirements are not that high -- they don't send out a single e-mail to each customer, they send out a mail packet with multiple destinations. It only becomes "big" when it hits the trunk and explodes in a thousand different directions. How is this going to stop that?

The idea is stupid. The only reason they can implement it is because of limited competition.

> it is unnatural to have 10mbps down and 512kbps up

Showing how little you grasp of the technology. The reason for the assymetry is the network and equipment design, not some artificial, arbitrary decision of the provider. "DSL" is generally shorthand in most cases for "ADSL" which the "A" stands for "Asymmetric" -- i.e., faster one way than the other. This may not apply in all cases, but there is usually a reason for the asymmetry having nothing to do with arbitrary limits.

> seth...let's start the conversation this way:

No, let's start it this way:

When I can choose between 5, 10, 20 different companies to provide me with broadband service, THEN it is "free trade". If I'm hostage to whatever bunch of cable crooks bought off my county commission, and to AT&T -- at best two companies -- to provide me with connection service, It's not "free trade". As seth suggests, it's more of a shotgun wedding.

I'm not complaining directly, BTW, at this point, my own provider has somehow steadily increased my bandwidth (2x in the last 2 yrs) while doing nothing to increase the price.

According to T/W&AT&T, they must be damned well losing their shirts!!

I can but hope that these crooks at Time Warner and AT&T don't give them any ideas.

 
At 6/16/2008 5:27 PM, Blogger Shawn said...

so...this is a special case? are barriers to entry somehow infinite? the current situation need not be the permanent situation, does it?

these are, I assume, regularly-free-traders arguing against free trade? intriguing.

 

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