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Internet Caps = BS?

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http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/20...ays-analyst.ars

 

There's a spectre haunting Internet service providers—the spectre of the "bandwidth hog." But does the mythical beast really exist? One telecom analyst is dubious, and he's calling out the ISPs.

 

Benoit Felten is a Yankee Group analyst who covers fiber to the home issues from Paris, but his "bandwidth hog" challenge is a product of his personal blog, fiberevolution. Felten is a knowledgeable voice on fiber issues, and his blog reliably makes for an interesting read, but it rarely takes the adversarial tone it struck today.

Hunting the mythical bandwidth hog

 

Felten's basic critique concerns bandwidth caps—not because they exist, but because he sees them as disingenuous. Carriers can use them as a way to control bandwidth and wean people away from what the marketing department implicitly promises: all-you-can-surf Internet access for one monthly fee. The caps are sold as cutting off "bandwidth hogs" who use "more than their fair share," but Felten's take is that ISPs really have no idea if these people are causing any sort of actual congestion at all.

ISPs "claim that bandwidth hogs steal all the bandwidth and cause network congestion, and therefore their behavior harms all the other regular and peaceful law-abiding users," he writes. "And to add insult to injury, they pay the same price as the others! No, policing and rationing must be applied by the benevolent telco to protect the innocent. Unfortunately, to the best of our knowledge, the way that telcos identify the Bandwidth Hogs is not by monitoring if they cause unfair traffic congestion for other users. No, they just measure the total data downloaded per user, list the top 5 percent and call them hogs."

 

That is, ISPs are going after "heavy users" simply for being "heavy users," not necessarily because their usage causes problems for anyone. Imagine that some of these crazed downloaders are BitTorrent fiends (not a real brain-stretcher, that idea) and that they have their client set to do most of its downloading in the wee hours. At the end of the month, they may end up in the top tier of ISP subscribers even without causing problems for anyone. So why cap based on total monthly data transfer, rather than capping or throttling based on actual congestion problems?

 

Felten doesn't get into the answer to this question in great detail, though he does say it's "actually an admission that telcos are uncomfortable with the 'all you can eat' broadband schemes that they themselves introduced on the market to get people to subscribe." One might also suspect that some companies (*cough* Time Warner Cable *cough*) may see low caps as a way to extract more cash from subscribers. (For ISPs like Comcast, with decent 250GB caps that aren't exceeded by more than a tiny fraction of the company's subscriber base, this doesn't currently seem to be a motivator for the caps.)

 

In any event, Felten wants to see data showing that caps actually relieve congestion, not just punish heavy users. So he throws down a gauntlet to ISPs.

 

"Here's a challenge for them: in the next few days, I will specify on this blog a standard dataset that would enable me to do an in-depth data analysis into network usage by individual users. Any telco willing to actually understand what's happening there and to answer the question on the existence of hogs once and for all can extract that data and send it over to me, I will analyse it for free, on my spare time. All I ask is that they let me publish the results of said research (even though their names need not be mentioned if they don't wish it to be). Of course, if I find myself to be wrong and if indeed I manage to identify users that systematically degrade the experience for other users, I will say so publicly. If, as I suspect, there are no such users, I will also say so publicly. The data will back either of these assertions."

 

If Felten is right, then the "bandwidth hog" is an imaginary creature for the digital age, a sort of postindustrial unicorn. Unlike the unicorn, however, bandwidth hog makes terrific eating; its bacon is the single tastiest kind of bacon imaginable, shot through with the flavors of 4chan, the essence of Twitter, and a small pinch of TechCrunch (warning: it's pretty pungent). If Felten does slay the mythical beast, Internet hipsters everywhere can rejoice… then slap crispy strips of bandwidth hog bacon into their vodka and ice cream.

 

 

This reminds me of that ISP that kept changing their off peak time and whinging about people using that off peak time soon as it started

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If ISPs claim downloading is causing congestion, they’re doing it wrong. And I fully believe Caps are just another way of extracting more cash from a customer without adding any real value.

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Hey AIMBOT, how about you lay a few more cables on the ocean floor, preferably not brown ones.

 

Congestion, especially in Australia for overseas will always be a problem, as it will always be a finite resource. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that when you have limited capacity and more and more people trying to access that capacity, then there's going to some issues raised that need to be dealt with.

 

Of course, some people only seem to be able think in terms of money going out of their wallet, rather than actually analysing any reasons.

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This reminds me of that ISP that kept changing their off peak time and whinging about people using that off peak time soon as it started

 

Probably Exetel. Mind you, they've now returned to 12 full off-peak hours and with 'no' limit. Well, there is a limit, you can download 3 times the average or something like that. Which is about 80gb they say.

 

All that and I pay $40 a month. I think that's pretty good without being able to go on a non-telstra ADSL service.

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with decent 250GB caps

??

 

 

250GB?!! Do you know what will happen if Australia gets a 250GB/month broadband cap on ADSL2 or cable for a reasonable price? We'll be singing and dancing naked on the streets!

 

Even the crappy leftovers of America is better than what we have here. :-(

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I once was speaking to a girl online in the US and she was telling me her net was slow. I said "Maybe you've gone over your cap." She asked me what a cap was, I told her it's simply the monthly limit of your downloading amount.

 

She lol'd "Yeah.. we don't have that."

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Screw the US. Even fucking China has better broadband deals than us. Sure they strictly control what you can see and dl, but at least they don't rip you off while they're at it!

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On the flip-side, I have heard that remote communities, e.g., Alice Springs, experience peak period slowness, (the common conception is that it's after school kids on Facebook, which, probably isn't causing that much congestion).

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I was talking to a bloke who's over here from Italy, where they don't pay for the interwebz, it comes for free - they only pay for phone calls.

Australia sucks when it comes to that shit......

:(

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Interesting article, and it will be nice to find out the results if there are any.

 

Of course it has SFA to do with the broadband situation in Australia, where data import & export costs and transit costs are the issue, mostly outside the hands of ISPs.

 

2 Options for handling long haul transit - Charge by bandwidth or charge by data.

 

Charge by bandwidth and there's a dimensioning and provision for peak load requirement - where the concept of a bandwidth hog might have an impact.

Charge by data and there's a direct correlation between end user downloads and cost to the ISP, hence a cap is required.

 

Either way, bringing data into the country is not cheap, the best solution is local content. That means games companies placing servers locally, local download mirrors, and region based p2p technologies - something most P2P people see as an infringement of the freedom of p2p.

 

All of those would also undo a change of the last 10 years - from a time when ISPs (including Telstra) actually paid users for their uploads to now charging for uploads - a change driven by the fact that most uploads are not local, but international, so you have to pay export costs. Previously, the payment was because you were generating local content and thus reducing the percentage of downloaded data that had to be imported.

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Hey AIMBOT, how about you lay a few more cables on the ocean floor

That's becoming an out dated argument considering how many we now have. And IIRC, a new one is almost finished being laid that connects to a node not 5ks from my home. I'd like to see the stats on how congested all these be cables really are.

 

My flatmates are Korean, and after 3 months they're still having a tough time understanding why our connection is shaped after 90GB. They’re in the habit of streaming all their music and TV – absolutely raped my connection in 4 days. It was a learning experience for all 3 of us.

Edited by AIMBOT

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I hate caps - especially this peak and off-peak business.

I guess our current infrastructure isn't up to it either.

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I disagree about international congestion - sure there might be costs there, but congestion I've always found is ISP based, and not in the greater network.

 

If I can reap 8 mbyte/sec from an international site from a real connection during peak periods, it can hardly seem congested to me.

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I once was speaking to a girl online in the US and she was telling me her net was slow. I said "Maybe you've gone over your cap." She asked me what a cap was, I told her it's simply the monthly limit of your downloading amount.

 

She lol'd "Yeah.. we don't have that."

Should've asked her why she has to pay for someone to call her.

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I definitely get the bandwith problems in australia, but why cap? Becuase theres easy money to be made. Instead of throttling home users under peak times and having bandwith plans based on bandwith priority they'll charge you for something much more real and measurable. ISP's cant do anything, its the wholesale bandwith distrubutors who sell per gb that have the issue.

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smithjoe1 and aimbot are on the money.

 

Geography and transport costs are part of it, but the rest is ISP's looking to be as profitable as possible. Which means placing artificial restrictions on their services which end up costing them less, and us more.

 

edt: I can understand the rationale for caps if the country has limited capacity, but as low as they are, and on domestic traffic?

Edited by willm

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My perspective is from a yank who'd never heard of a cap until he moved to Australia with caps in 2002. There, I paid $42 month for unlimited DSL 3Mbps connection. My local phone company was the ISP (Centurytel, very small company compared to Telstra). I lived in the sticks/boonies/bush (Elroy, Wisconsin - population 1500, nearest city of 50,000 was 75 miles away) and had an exchange within 4 blocks of my house. Here, I live 4.7kms from the exchange for ADSL2+ in a major city and am lucky to get 3Mbps, and in the process of changing from a 40/40GB plan for $69.95/mo to a 50/60GB plan (TPG) for $59.95/mo. My (American) kids are now getting unlimited 70Mbps in Elroy for the same $42/month on Fiber (started last month).

 

Bandwidth is finite. There is no disputing that.

 

That being said, its hardly fair that Americans (and many other countries) can download unlimited 24/7 at fibre/fiber speeds, while Australians are being ripped off on measely 25GB -160GB plans at ADSL2+ or cable speeds. There are American ISPs that have recently tried implementing caps. The difference is that there they have many choices, and here we don't. They simply change ISPs there to someone without caps, which forces all ISPs to reconsider implementing caps. If all ISPs tried implementing caps there people would be rioting in the streets. Here, people seem much more willing to accept things as they are rather than make a fuss. There's something to be said for being a sue-happy whinging yank. You can't really complain about what isn't worth fighting for to you. :p

 

If Telstra and other ISPs weren't such tightwads they could create their own portal to the www rather than have to run cable to a country who has already invested in the technology (embarrassing to know we laid a cable to Guam). Other countries could be paying us to tap into our lines rather than visa versa. Reality is that the Australia telecommunications industry is full of excuses on why they can't invest the money, which works to their advantage as they profit on our loss with caps. And we are happy sheep taking it up the bum while allowing them to do so. :-s

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The difference between "us" and "them", I think, is that I'd imagine that most US traffic is local.

 

Most of our traffic has to come over a link from there.

 

Not to mention that a substantial chunk of the bandwidth on our undersea cables is leased by private enterprise.

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The difference between "us" and "them", I think, is that I'd imagine that most US traffic is local.

And I thought they also slow down P2P traffic? So yeah have unlimited downloads but all your P2P is on dial up speeds.

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Ok theoretically speaking. If I wanted to lay some fibre to america, how much would it cost? And how much data would I be able to push through?

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Ok theoretically speaking. If I wanted to lay some fibre to america, how much would it cost? And how much data would I be able to push through?

 

>.>

 

http://www.southerncrosscables.com/public/...ork/default.cfm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Submarine_communications_cable

 

Fibre is limited more by the plexing and signalling tech at either end, depending on the quality of substrate.

 

As per above, however, the existing 295 could be readily increased through upgrades to the processing tech at either end.

 

Having trouble finding a cost.

 

Its expensive, though.

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Ok theoretically speaking. If I wanted to lay some fibre to america, how much would it cost? And how much data would I be able to push through?

 

>.>

 

http://www.southerncrosscables.com/public/...ork/default.cfm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Submarine_communications_cable

 

Fibre is limited more by the plexing and signalling tech at either end, depending on the quality of substrate.

 

As per above, however, the existing 295 could be readily increased through upgrades to the processing tech at either end.

 

Having trouble finding a cost.

 

Its expensive, though.

 

Thanks for the info, also fknlol

 

In March, 2007, pirates stole an 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) section of the T-V-H submarine cable that connected Thailand, Vietnam, and Hong Kong, affecting Vietnam's Internet users with far slower speeds. The thieves attempted to sell the 100 tons of cable as scrap.[18]

Edited by spaced

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