Is the 'Bandwidth Hog' a Myth?

3 Dec

Pig (This is a collaborative post between Fiberevolution and Dadamotive)

With the debate on net neutrality in full swing in the US, we've been hearing about Bandwidth Hogs again. 'Bandwidth Hog' is a sound bite that conveys a strong emotion: you can virtually see the fat pig chomping on the bandwidth, pushing back all the other animals in the barnyard with his fat pig shoulders all the while scrutinizing with his shiny piggy eyes to see if the farmer isn't around…

The image is so powerful that everyone thinks they understand what the term means , no one questions if the analogy is correct. In discussing this issue, Herman and I realised we had serious doubts about the existence of that potentially mythical beast. In fact, we are not sure even the telcos know what a bandwidth hog is and does.

But it makes great headlines: "Net Neutrality will force the telco’s to give The Internet away to Bandwidth Hogs". They claim that bandwidth hogs steal all the bandwidth and cause network congestion, and therefore their behaviour harms all the other regular and peaceful law-abiding users. 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% and call them hogs.

For those service providers with data caps, these are usually set around 50 Gbyte and go up to 150 Gbyte a month. This is therefore a good indication of the level of bandwidth at which you start being considered a "hog". 
But wait: 50 Gbyte a month is… 150 kbps average (0,15 Mbps), 150 Gbyte a month is 450 kbps on average. If you have a 10 Mbps link, that’s only 1,5 % or 4,5 % of its maximum advertised speed!

And that would be "hogging"?

The fact is that what most telcos call hogs are simply people who overall and on average download more than others. Blaming them for network congestion is 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. In other words, the marketing push to get people to subscribe to broadband worked, but now the telcos see a missed opportunity at price discrimination…

As Herman explains in his post, TCP/IP is by definition an egalitarian protocol. Implemented well, it should result in an equal distribution of available bandwidth in the operator's network between end-users; so the concept of a bandwidth hog is by definition an impossibility. An end-user can download all his access line will sustain when the network is comparatively empty, but as soon as it fills up from other users' traffic, his own download (or upload) rate will diminish until it's no bigger than what anyone else gets.

Now I'm pretty sure that many telcos will disagree with our assessment of this. So 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.

Please email me if you're interested. And please publicise this offer if you're not in a position to extract such a dataset but are still interested in the answer. This is a much more important question than knowing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin!

86 Responses to “Is the 'Bandwidth Hog' a Myth?”

  1. Richard Bennett December 3, 2009 at 9:27 pm #

    Your analysis of TCP’s congestion drop behavior omits a very signficant fact: while TCP may be fair across all TCP virtual circuits, it doesn’t ensure fairness across all users of the network. This is because some users and some applications employ more TCP virtual circuits than others. This is particularly bothersome when users are running applications such as BitTorrent. In a typical scenario, BitTorrent uses 20-40 TCP virtual circuits at a time for each download in progress. TCP fairness ensures that each of these 20-40 VCs has a “fair” chunk of bandwidth, but it does nothing about the fact that the BitTorrent user is grabbing 20-40 times the bandwidth as the ftp user, who is only downloading on 1 VC.
    Some aspects of network arithmetic are bothersome, but I would hope that the analysts at the Yankee Group would appreciate the fact that 20 is somewhat larger than 1 in most scenarios. We don’t, in fact, need to subject this hypothesis to experiment; in any experiment conducted correctly, 20 will in fact be larger than 1.

  2. Mason Kramer December 4, 2009 at 4:16 am #

    Re: R. Bennet:
    But such an analysis misses the point (almost as if on purpose, I daresay). It is technically trivial (or nearly) to load balance by IP address instead of by TCP circuit. The fact of the matter is that this debate is actually about the cost of renting bandwidth on the middle mile. Links which are advertised as unlimited are only profitable if the users take advantage of between, let’s say, .1-5% of the advertised bandwidth, depending on specifics. Instead of coming clean and grading their plans by bit caps, ISPs have adopted the strange approach of _advertising_ unlimited while very explicitly limiting the plans, and calling it “abuse” if you go over.
    This makes sense if you believe that ISPs have the eventual goal of being content providers – their caps are at just the right level to stop users from getting content through third parties. Instead, it looks like you’re going to have to sign up with the ISP to get video internet. Besides video, there are also other legitimate uses for high-bit, high-bandwidth connections, such as peer to peer backups, that are undermined by bitcapping. I don’t think one size fits all, but I don’t see graded plans being offered, either. My theory, as already mentioned, is that these plans are going to come, eventually, in the form of sky-high video content/internet packages, even though I’d rather pay for a higher bit-cap plan and have my choice of third-party content providers.

  3. Herman December 4, 2009 at 1:19 pm #

    The straightforward implementation of TCP will lead to a more or less equal distribution of bit-rates per TCP/IP session. How many sessions do you create as a user? Very few with email, maybe (but not necessarily) a lot more by using Bit-Torrent or by surfing the web. That having said, a more complex implementation of TCP might do it differently and reduce the bitrate for all sessions coming from one IP-adress. It is all a design choice. A design choice of the vendor of equipment and the ISP, as you can see in the different implementation in cable access networks. So why blame the user for your own design choices?
    see more over here

  4. Jorge Ortiz December 4, 2009 at 2:13 pm #

    In the case that the middle mile and backbone are not oversubscribed, then the customer will only get the nominal bitrate that he paid for (i.e. if he has let’s say 5 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream, he will get that) irrespective of how many TCP connections his applications have.
    However when the middle mile or backbone of the ISP are oversubscribed, then the user that has more TCP connections will get:
    1) Less than the nominal bitrate that he paid for, but
    2) A grater share of the oversubscribed bitrate than what another user with less open TCP connections gets
    However on that case, it is the ISP (or carrier) who is at fault by not provisioning the bitrate that they sell, the fact that one user gets a higher share (but less than he paid for) does not make him a “hog”, it makes his ISP (or carrier) a liar who is delivering less than promised (the real “hog”)
    So Mr. Bennett is partially right, but he is omitting to mention who the real “hog” is (the ISP), as in his hypothetical math of 20 vs 1, both of the users are getting less than they contracted for, so who’s fault is that?

  5. Anonymous December 4, 2009 at 6:19 pm #

    This issue has nothing to do with usage and everything to do with industry lobbying against people sharing software, movies, and music which is cutting into their bottom line.

  6. Anonymous December 4, 2009 at 6:30 pm #

    If airlines worked like the cable companies…
    Airlines decide to remove armrests to attempt to fit 3 people into each 2 seats to reduce cost, even though they’ve told the customer that they have a full seat (they blindfold them on their way into the plane, so most don’t notice). They pass part of this cost benefit onto the customer. Then, obese people are on the plane and people start complaining that they are squished. The airlines complain to the government about people that take up an entire seat, but the obese people claim they bought those seats.

  7. Jason Philbrook December 4, 2009 at 8:51 pm #

    Only the kind hogs use 20-40 simultaneous connections.
    Some will use as many connections as their home router will let them before it crashes from overload. Then they’ll hook their computer straight in and see if they can get more simultaneous connections. Barring that, UDP is commonly used to gain a little more performance than TCP commonly permits.
    I’ve run an ISP for 14 years and provide broadband with wireless, dsl, and fiber.
    The comparison to all you can eat is unfair as well, because your stomach is only so big. People’s hard drives are getting bigger and the content is getting richer. Customers are also not buying dedicated bandwidth for <$50/month, and it would probably be made clear to them if they asked. Unless you work at an ISP or have some fancy NDA with them, you are not likely going to get legal access to their customer usage information, either because of their privacy agreements with customers or government CPNI rules.

  8. The ISP “is at fault for not provisioning”??? Do you have any freaking idea what it would cost for a rural ISP to “provision” so that the 50 users @ 2mbit each can have full bandwidth at any time, or all of them all of the time?
    This cost absolutely cannot be recovered from the revenues of 50 subscribers @ a nominal 35 to 40 dollars per month. In fact, it would require EVERY rural ISP to go at least 100,000 a month in the red.
    No, the fact is, that the average user uses a tiny fraction of the “hog”. If I randomly selected 100 of my customers, and measured their use, you’ll find that less than 10 of them consume nearly 75% of the bandwidth. If we can’t appropriately limit them, or charge them, then there simply cannot be anything known as “affordable broadband”.

  9. Phatpenguin December 4, 2009 at 9:54 pm #

    I am an obese man, and I approve this message.

  10. Andy December 4, 2009 at 10:31 pm #

    I have an idea since we pay it here as an ISP. That being about $4k a month for 50mbps and its about $50 through Comcast for 40mbps on a residential.
    Whose hogging what? If we had to pay 2mbps for every user that would equate to roughly $105,000 per month at the rate we’re getting 50mbps right now. We would have been out of business the first month.

  11. TSO December 4, 2009 at 11:31 pm #

    So, ummm, what stops the “FTP guy” in your example to start using BT as well (well, beside his own ignorance)?
    FTP is soooooo XX century.

  12. Clayton Doty December 4, 2009 at 11:46 pm #

    I am very glad to see this being brought up but there is part of me that thinks that it is missing the point. Please correct me were I am wrong in the following. Also I am not a very good writer, so if bad grammar and spelling get you worked up, don’t read.
    There are 2 points.
    Point 1 – ISP’s cannot provide what they sell.
    Most ISP’s do not talk about dedicated bandwidth at all. It is located in fine print. Yes it is available but the user has to know to look for it. Because of this the user only see’s that they are paying $XX a month for X Mbps. Because of this the fact that many advertise as “Unlimited” is a complete lie. “Unlimited” is not possible. Bandwidth is measured relative to time. Well if you pay for a month of service X Mbps then it is easy to figure out how much bandwidth you are actually paying for. Heck you can easily find how much you can use each month, each week, day, ……, even down to the second. Wait. That means I should be able to download X Mbps. That is why I would say that the ISP’s should be held accountable for their marketing and stop using bait and switch tactics by promising something they (or anyone in fact) can provide. This brings me to the second point of what I see the ISP really doing.
    Point 2 – ISP’s are realizing their mistakes and blaming the customer for it.
    Let’s say I am a reseller of jelly beans. (Sorry, I like to over simplify things, and also most ISP’s that deal with the end customer are in some way a reseller.) Each month I am given access to 100 jelly beans. At the end of the month whatever I don’t sell spoils and is un-usable. Now it is my job to go out and sell what I have. To be safe I start by selling 10 jelly beans to 10 people. When they want a jelly bean, they come and ask me for one and I give it to them. When they want another, they ask, and I give. Repeat. Because of my limit of 10 customers I can never exceed my limit of 100.
    Over time I start to notice that most people only eat about 4 jelly beans, also I now have competition that is saying for the same price someone can have 20 jelly beans each month. In a rash and short sighted marketing decision I start offering 20 jelly beans each month for the same price. It seems ok. Technically I will never go over my limit of 100, but then I get 2 people that like jelly beans. They eat all 20 every month. One likes to ask for a bunch of jelly beans at one time and shove them in their mouth, the other takes one a day until out. This puts me in a very bad spot. I don’t have enough jelly beans to give them what they want and still serve my other customers. What contract do I break? Either way I have put myself in this position and I should be held accountable to fill the contracts I have set in place. Even if this mean I have to go and pay that other seller for more jelly beans. Do I make money? NO. Is this any one of my customers fault? NO. It is my fault and only my fault. I need to be held accountable for what I have promised.
    This is what position that I feel is what is the root of all of this. The ISP’s cannot keep up with the demand for bandwidth they not only helped create but promoted with their promises of “Unlimited” use. They need to stand up and account for what they have done and actually put out packages based on what they can deliver. Then we all move on.
    What is funny about the jelly bean analogy is that it I am supporting bandwidth caps. I am not supporting filtering of different types of bandwidth, I want to be able to use what I pay for how I want to, but I would much rather pay for something and know what I am getting. As far as the caps in place. Giving someone a fast connection and a small cap is just another bad move coming from the ISP’s marketing groups trying to get money but deceive the customer into thinking they are getting more than they actually are.

  13. Richard Bennett December 5, 2009 at 12:04 am #

    My point is that this claim in the article is false:
    “As Herman explains in his post, TCP/IP is by definition an egalitarian protocol. Implemented well, it should result in an equal distribution of available bandwidth in the operator’s network between end-users; so the concept of a bandwidth hog is by definition an impossibility.”
    TCP is not an egalitarian protocol by any reasonable definition of “egalitarian.” It does not distribute bandwidth equitably across users, it distributes it across streams, and each user is free to use as many streams as he wishes. Therefore, Benoit Felten’s claim that TCP prevents bandwidth-hogging is hogwash, and anyone with even the most cursory knowledge of TCP, Jacobson’s Algorithm, or Internet protocols in general would never make such a ludicrous, outlandish, and foolish claim. I believe he should issue a correction to this false claim and promise to study the issue before carrying on like this in the future. Any standard text on TCP explains these things, and I’ve summarized the issues in the executive summary of a report on Internet architecture for ITIF, . Check it out.

  14. Jorge Ortiz December 5, 2009 at 1:21 am #

    Yes, I’ve run a small ISP, so I have a pretty clear idea of what it costs to provision bitrate. But if it is a cost issue, then don’t pretend to deliver “unlimited” internet access at a certain bitrate, it’s all about truth in advertising. Sell a capped bandwidth, charge per Gigabyte, etc, there are options, but don’t call a customer “hog” for using what you provision to him as access rate, and then under-provision in your backbone.
    Same thing if you sell a voice plan with “unlimited minutes”, they are either really unlimited or you have a quota of minutes, but you can’t call something capped “unlimited”.
    Mr Bennett wrote “it doesn’t ensure fairness across all users of the network”, fairness is delivering on what you advertise, so if you don’t deliver what you advertise (for cost reasons or whatever), the unfairness is on your side, not on the users side.

  15. Eatmoresoap December 5, 2009 at 1:27 am #

    I am the owner and operator of a small WISP, Wireless Internet Service Provider. This is a subject that all of us WISP operators have been agonizong over for over a year now. Do we want to do traffic shaping or put caps on our speed? No. Do we want to oversell bandwidth? No. To be honest, all of that is a pain in the a** to have to deal with day in and day out. But we are forced to do it in order to stay in business and provide service where there would be NO service if we didn’t take these measures.
    We purchase bandwidth from upstream providers. We are held hostage by their prices and of course, their prices are differnet depending on how much competition they have in a particular area. At the momemt, my company pays $40.00 per megabyte. Think about that……… Fourty Dollars for only ONE megabyte. If we were to not do what we need to do to provide fair access, a customer would pay $120.00 per month for 3mb access. And that’s just at cost! Now lets take in account that we are a capitalistic society so I have to eat as well so we need to try to squeeze a profit out of that. The profit has to pay for my wireless access points, $500 to $1000 each for equipment, if there is a lease we pay for the site then there is more cash. Labor to install the equipment. Then what I need to pay our utilities other than the bandwidth, salary for the emnployees, we have 2 besides myself. Their taxes and our taxes as well. Vehicle maintenance and fuel. If we add a margin of 40% (and that’s a very low margin in this business) to cover our expenses, that brings the end user to $168 per month for a 3mb download speed.
    Now, who is going to pay $168 per month for a 3mb download speed? Do you think if we explain that it’s really a bargain because they have a full 3mb dedicated they will jump at the chance to sign up? I think not.
    We have to deal in reality. A customer, rural ones are what we mostly deal with and who have no real economic options, will pay $30, $40 maybe $50 for only 512k or if they are lucky, 1mb speed. And, get this, THEY ARE HAPPY TO GET IT! We aren’t making tons of cash in this business. Not at all! Some can offer more speed depending on the availability of fiber access, most can not. (My last quote just to EXTEND a fiber line so that I could save a few bucks per MB was $45,000! Yes, that’s fourty five thousand dollars!!! No way can I cover that.
    So we bring broadband into areas that never had access before. We don’t rape and pillage the peasants because they are held hostage with us as the only choice, we are very fair. We treat them as partners in our business because without each other, we’re nothing. So we have to oversell. It’s how it works and the only way it can work at all. Most ISP’s list the speeds as “up to” because normally you can get the full speed. There are times where you can not but we monitor the network very closely so that if we start hitting 60 to 70% capacity, we either add bandwidth or try to find out what the issue is. Sadly, the issue almost always seems to be someone who has lived in the city and had 15mb download speed from their cable provider moved out to the country and wants to operate as if they have cable. They turn on the limewire, the uTorrent, Hulu, Netflix, etc. All at the same time. Install a router, hook up all the kids laptops and the playstation 3′s and the Wii’s…….. Then call and complain that it’s slow. If we don’t do any traffic shaping and put priority on all types of traffic, this one user can take down an entire area. We NEED to throttle certain “hogs” back because they take everything out of the network just to serve them while grandma a few miles down the road can’t get a good enough connection with her webcam and skype to talk to her grandson in Iraq or the kids on the other side of the county can’t do the research for their school reports. One customer, downloading everything they can think of, can affect everyone and essentially take their internet down.
    Lets think of it this way……
    Your electric company provides a certain amount of current throughout the day. An Aluminum plant comes to town and opens up, zaps all the current out of their system. The power company HAS to build a new generating plant but they pass the cost to build to ALL the users just so they can provide more current to this new user. Is that fair? You paying more yet you are using the same.
    If I am forced to purchase more bandwidth, who pays for that bandwidth? The amount of users we have is the same. We have NO additional revenue! We only have more usage. At least the power company can get payment from the killowatts they sell to the aluminum plant, we don’t meter so we have no other recourse but to raise prices or throttle their extreme access.
    A large high rise building has a certian number of exits that is calculated from the number of persons who would be occupying that space. There is never one door for each person. Never. Everyone shares the doors. The doors have been oversold yet it’s not a problem, people have a particular pattern that allows the number of doors to be less than the number of people. Then…… something new comes along. Lets say something like a StarBucks moves in across the street. You notice more usage of the doors as some of the coffee drinkers want to go leave the building more and more. not that big of a problem, then a deli opens up next to Starbucks drawing even more people through the doors, a pizza joint opens up then a few other places follow causing the entire building to leave and enter 15x more than before. The door usage has increased 15%. But get this, next year, it increases another 15% and every year after that it increases 15%.
    The United States increases internet usage at close to 15% per year.
    Should the owners of the building install more doors or should they try to get the users of the doors to use them in a uniform way so that everyone can enter and leave in a timely manner?
    Traffic shaping and filtering is the only way we can survive and provide service to EVERYONE. Caps only help when they are used in conjunction with shaping.
    Until the United States backbone and middle mile providers are able to sell bandwidth to the last mile providers for $1.00 per mb, you’ll never see this go away.
    We can’t import cheap bandwidth from China.

  16. RickG December 5, 2009 at 2:36 am #

    I almost wrote the same words! -WISP in Kentucky

  17. Clayton Doty December 5, 2009 at 3:01 am #

    You have some very good points. But you fail to address why you have to over sale. Why not tell customers what they are going to get and then give that to them. If someone wants more, they can pay more. If you don’t have the resources available to provide it, don’t over it. A dedicated T1 is very close to the prices you are talking about in terms of $100 to $300 a month. Looking at that there is anywhere between 250% to 750% available room for margin and other costs. So I fail to see your point. I want to be direct about this and I don’t mean it as a jab. Why do you have to lie to make money? I only word it that way to keep the question simple and still reflect how I see the practice.
    Now a few notes on some of your examples.
    Electric company – if a plant came to town you would be amazed what they end up paying to get the electricity they need. Because of this it is becoming more common for medium to large plants to build their own substation and buy their power directly from a higher provider or bring in a larger service from the local provider. This is a good thing because then the plant is does not over load the existing system. I would have to do some research to find them but there are cases of what you stated happening and let’s just say the ISP’s are lucky that the general public does not react the same way to slow internet and they do to brown outs, and other fun power related issues. With that said, you might say that then the hog should have to pay the $45,000 to get fiber to his place. In some cases this happens, but the point i am focused on is that you are limiting the user for using what you made available to him. You are setting the rules, starting the game, and then saying “Oh wait you also can’t do this or that.” when you happen to find yourself in a bad spot.
    “If I am forced to purchase more bandwidth, who pays for that bandwidth?” You are only forced to buy more bandwidth because of what you set up in the first place.
    As far as doors I recommend you looking into local fire codes. I would start with looking at occupancy limits and then also the amount of available exits (i.e. doors). Have you ever wondered why a building has doors for emergency use only? In a time when everyone needs to use a door they can. When this is not followed and something happens, it tends to get really bad, really quick.
    “Should the owners of the building install more doors or should they try to get the users of the doors to use them in a uniform way so that everyone can enter and leave in a timely manner?” This is actually a point I really like. My answer to it is YES. If there are not enough doors you need more. But also people (end users in this case) need to have reasonable expectations of what is available. This comes from setting customer expectations. If your building only has 10 doors, and some amount of people use them every day. Don’t put up signs that say “Exit any time, any place, as much as you want, whenever you want.”
    As far as poor grandma, the home sick soldier, the struggling young child that is trying really hard to explain to his mom that he was just doing research on the female anatomy for school (sorry i don’t mean to make light of this, but i just had to say it.) Well I can only say you have yourself to blame for making promises you can’t keep. Please don’t bring in a sad story to buy sympathy. If you keep it up I will start calling you Joe ISP owner.
    Now this is not just you. In all honesty this needs to start much higher. You have to feed a family. I would also guess that you not only feed your family, but also the jobs you create feed the family of who you employ. This is something that I have a very deep respect for. Because of what has happened, you are put in a position to make promises you can’t keep, just to be competitive. I view this as a major flaw in many areas of business here in the US. It is ok to lie. Why not just be upfront and honest in the first place. Additionally the end user has to understand that if you live in the middle of nowhere, expect things to be different than if you lived in the middle of a city with a much larger user base to spread the costs over. This is not as much of a one sided issue as many people want to make it out to be. There needs to be common ground and a solution that attempts to meet the needs of the users and the providers. What I see as the worst thing we could do, is to not do anything and let things go until we have a real massive problem. We need to set a plan, go with it, and then readdress that plan and adjust on a set timeline. All that said. It is much easier to say than do. But if we all work together, and people on both side are not lead by greed (for money or for bandwidth) i think that things can work. In all honesty, I think this approach could solve a lot of issues we are currently facing.

  18. Mike Hammett December 5, 2009 at 3:03 am #

    I am not a fiber based provider, I am a fixed wireless provider. However, I can assure you that bandwidth hogs are real, do exist, and can cause great harm to the network.
    My operation is in the middle of the road as far as costs go, but some of my not so lucky colleagues are faced with costs upwards of $1,000 per megabit per second. At those costs, they can’t let everyone run BitTorrent and stream NetFlix to 7 TVs per house. If they did tap into some low cost fiber (fiber may be available, but it’s not low cost in these areas), the wireless equipment capable of penetrating foliage and dealing with horrible terrain also can’t support those high speeds.
    Who sells Internet as “unlimited” anymore? I certainly haven’t seen any advertisements like that.
    Eatmoresoap: There will be no point where the problem goes away. As bandwidth gets cheaper, people find more ways of using more of it.
    Sadly, I am a member of the entitlement generation.

  19. Stopthecap December 5, 2009 at 3:30 am #

    We have lived and breathed this issue continuously since 2008 on Stop the Cap! There are differences here between independent ISPs and those owned by giant corporate telephone and cable operators, but for most Americans, this is really just an issue of Internet Overcharging. Establishing usage caps like Comcast did is one thing, but what consumers fought off last April from Time Warner Cable was quite another. Their “consumption billing” scheme was just an example of rape and pillage pricing. Charging a higher price -and- limiting consumption to 40GB with enormous overlimit penalties was simply naked profiteering. If you wanted the same service you have enjoyed from this provider since 1998, your price literally would triple, from $50 to $150 a month, with absolutely no corresponding improvement in service.
    Rochester, New York has been the only city in the country that fought off not one, but two consumption billing/usage cap-happy providers, and is where Stop the Cap! got started. Frontier Communications, a DSL provider, entertained a 5GB usage limit in 2008 and to this day retains that language in their Acceptable Use Policy. But it’s not presently enforced because customers banded together and lit the proverbial torches and said no. With a phone company like this, Time Warner Cable had no problem choosing Rochester, the only major city in New York State not being wired for FiOS, for its overcharging experiment. In the end, it resulted in a piece of legislation from local Rep. Eric Massa to ban unjustified usage capping/consumption billing schemes (a bill which still needs consumer support) and a visit from Sen. Charles Schumer who stood on the lawn of the cable operator with me last April to announce the experiment was shelved… for now anyway.
    One need only look at the naked profiteering in Canada, where rationed broadband is the order of the day thanks to a CRTC that might as well be an industry trade association. There, providers like Bell actually lowered usage caps -and- sell “insurance policies” to consumers worried about exceeding them. A nice business if you can get it, and they did. But even better, with most independent ISPs purchasing wholesale broadband from Bell, they just slapped caps on wholesale service as well, in addition to speed throttles. Why bother competing when you can’t offer a different product to customers?
    The limbo dance of usage caps among some providers, who define broadband piggies as anyone who uses more than 5GB (Frontier) – 250GB (Comcast), is literally about monetizing the product further. Arbitrary limits exceeded often are accompanied by overlimit penalties designed to punish customers for using their service, and is a nice piece of change in the provider’s pocket to boot. And where is this phantom investment in improving service? Financial reports from providers like Time Warner Cable openly admit they’ve literally REDUCED their investment in their broadband service, as well as enjoying reduced bandwidth/traffic costs to provide it, all while enjoying enormous profits from providing it. It’s the one bright spot in cable revenue as customers resist dropping it even during these difficult economic times.
    We already have a tiered billing system for broadband in this country – speed-based tiers. Upgraded networks delivering faster speeds can enjoy extra revenue earned from subscribers only to happy to pay premium prices to get that speed. DOCSIS 3 upgrades on the cable side offer an affordable pathway to vastly improving the efficiency and delivery of broadband, and can deliver the enhanced speeds cable companies can charge $99 or more dollars a month for subscribers to access.
    Simply slapping limits on your customers with no corresponding improvement in service will simply enrage them, and that is precisely what’s happening, despite their propaganda campaign that suggests Australia and New Zealand have limits, so why not the USA? Of course, in the Pacific, there are other reasons for such caps, and government efforts to expand broadband to be rid of them once and for all enjoys popular support. Canadian broadband needs a more activist political solution to put a stop to the CRTC’s pro-industry rulings (no surprise considering the number of folks working there who rotated in from commercial telecom providers and will likely rotate back to them in the future).
    To the small independents, I’d like to see some verification of the $40 per MEGABYTE wholesale rate, please. How any provider could stay in business at those rates, considering the average customer consumes (if you believe the lowball estimates from national providers) 2-5 GIGABYTES per month seems impossible. If a customer used just 1GB, you would have to pay your upstream provider $40,000. I am just not buying that.
    Phillip Dampier
    Editor, Stop the Cap!

  20. Clayton Doty December 5, 2009 at 3:32 am #

    Sorry I just have to point this out. In Eatmoresoap’s post he states the following:
    “If we were to not do what we need to do to provide fair access, a customer would pay $120.00 per month for 3mb access. And that’s just at cost! ”
    * Really it is that whole section but I did not want to copy the whole thing.
    Now from my understanding the bandwidth you are paying for is dedicated bandwidth. Looking at your site you charge $599.99 for a 3Mb connection. Please provide more information so that I can understand how you agree with this point? Thank you.
    Looking at your “Optional Services” i think you have done an amazing job and setting up additional ways to help generate income buy providing a useful services. That is unless all those prices reoccurring monthly. If them I might have some issues with it.

  21. Clayton Doty December 5, 2009 at 3:45 am #

    Sorry for the double post but can you also explain how with your residential account you provide a 3Mb / 512Kb connection for $59.95?
    What concerns me are your standard features. I have placed stars by the ones that concern me but include the whole list as to try and make you out as the bad guy.
    UNLIMITED POP3 E-Mail Addresses
    UNLIMITED E-Mail Aliases
    ** UNLIMITED Data Transfer **
    No Phone Line Needed
    FREE Anti-Virus Software
    FREE Spyware Removal Software
    FREE Technical Support
    FREE Use of Access Equipment
    ** “Always On” Dedicated Connection **
    Web-Based E-Mail Access
    Fast Professional Installation
    Friendly Local Service & Support
    ** Multiple Computer Connections **
    ** Super Low Latency **
    ** Best Solution For Online Gaming **
    Environment Friendly
    No Hidden Fees
    I do have to say I like the free use of access equipment. It is worded very directly. The user can use it, but they do not own it.

  22. Mike December 5, 2009 at 4:06 am #

    I live outside of the US, currently the state of the art broadband here is around 2mbps with cable modem. I have a 1mbps “unlimited” connection without traffic shaping or throttling as far as I know. But as the local providers battle to gain more subscribers, I see more and more unlimited deals. What I’m concerned here is with the possibility that those ISPs begin using shaping and throttling to cope up with the wave of new subscribers they so desperately seek.
    Considering myself a heavy internet user (not a hog), using bittorrent, youtube, webcam, a PS3, web surfing and downloading, for only about 3 hours a day… in the nights when I’m at home, is it fair to throttle or shape my traffic? I’m paying for a whole month of “unlimited” usage. If my math serves right, a sustained megabit per second is 0.123 megabytes, around 7.5 megabytes in a minute, 450 megabytes in an hour, 10.54 gigabytes in a day, 316 gigabytes in a month… yet I use just a tiny fraction of that. About 12% of the 316 gigabytes I’m entitled (37 gigabytes).
    I completely understand that there is no way I’ll get maximum transfer speed, less a sustained transfer speed. But if I’m not even approaching the theoretical limit I’m paying my ISP, is it fair that my 12% of usage gets shaped and throttled?

  23. Anonymous December 5, 2009 at 4:10 am #

    Point 1 – Dedicated Bandwidth: If any one chooses to offer dedicated bandwidth this would be a potential contract breaker / potential law suit. The nature of Internet Protocols does not allow for truly dedicated bandwidth.
    Unlimited: Most ISP’s advertising unlimited usage refer to the fact there is no bandwidth cap. Just because you are receiving X Mbps does not mean you should be able to download xMB total per month.
    Point 2 – What you have just explained here is a case of over subscription. Any properly planned, engineered and executed network that is managed should know its over subscription limit. Just because I have 5Mbps capable on one link and I sell 10 1Mbps customers off of it does reflect the fact I have made a mistake or that I have a short sided marketing plan……

  24. Anonymous December 5, 2009 at 4:11 am #

    Very Well Put

  25. Eatmoresoap December 5, 2009 at 4:14 am #

    Hmmmm…….. Okay. We are indeed truthful to our customers. We tell them they have access UP TO a certain level. I even sometimes go as far as to explain how we have to traffic shape and throttle certain types of service. We also ALL have a “Terms of Service” agreement that we give the customers and no, it’t not fine print and it’s in plain english. But even with that, we don’t shape or throttle users who go beyond “normal” use once in awhile. It’s the ones who go “Hog Wild” 24 hours a day, every day. They don’t get noticed unless we have a significant bottleneck or slowdown in an area.
    Now, to your comment about giving them what they pay for, okay, I’ll play. We pay $40.00 per meg. We sell this customer 1 mb download. (Remember, we are wireless in an area with NO fixed access and we have a certian amount of bandwidth we can even carry over wireless equipment so 1mb is decent for people coming from dial up speeds of 32k) Adding a margin of 40%……. Well, we now make $16.00 to cover all of our costs. The customer who was previously paying $30.00 per month is now paying $56.00 for only 1mb download. (We can explain that it’s a better deal for them) With 200 customers, we only make $3200 for the month. Then we pay employees, taxes, utilities, site leases, replacement equipment…. Oh dear, looks like we have to close up shop and then NO ONE has internet or we raise prices. To what? $56.00 per mb isn’t going to cover it so we would probably have to charge $99.00 for that same 1mb. Excessive? Think it over. What pays all the bills, the equipment, the salaries? We aren’t rich, as it is. I don’t even own my own home. What is the alternative??? Seems to me, the “alternative” is what we are already doing.
    Back in the golden years of dial up, I was fortunate to visit Compuserve. They had a modem room. Racks of modems with a phone line attached. This was back in 1989, by the way. Even in 1989 they HAD to oversell the modems. It doesn’t make sense to have one customer, one modem. I can tell you, they didn’t have half the modems being used yet they had way more customers than they had modems.
    How have things changed? You aren’t using “your” modem but no one else can use it. We “share” the bandwidth. Out customers normally get their 1mb or whatever level they are at. We even allow bursting where they can go OVER the speed that they pay for. Some of us go even further and allow the users to use the full speed of the network and only throttle the subscribers to their level when the network is being stressesd.
    We have indeed done our research and we have indeed been upfront with our customers. I doubt that you have done much reaearch yourself on what issues we have to deal with. It’s very easy to condemn from the outside. Could you explain how I have “brought in a sob story for sympathy” when that is a REAL situation that we find ourselves in from time to time? You talk as if we are some robber barons with bags of money and are out to squeeze every last penny from our victims. Why is that?
    As I said before, and you should really read and try to understand this, many of us provide service to areas where there would be no service otherwise. One reason why they have no service is because the access is cost prohibitive. We have to deal with those issues and pay the high costs to provide that service. We pay one price for a certain amount of bandwidth for a certain number of customers. If we were to provide a dedicated 1mb per user, the user would pay $100 for that dedicated 1mb. At that cost, the customer would NOT subscribe thus there would be no service and we would not be in business. Can you not understand that or do you really feel that your $29.00 per month 15MB download speed from your cable company is the same that we are paying but we are keeping it a big secret? (Your cable access is also shaped, by the way. Call and ask them for a dedicated 15mb and prepared to choke. 1MB dedicated from the phone company is called a T1 line, by the way, you can look up prices of a T1 right here on the internet.) As a result of your thinking, we either give the customers a dedicated line at the true cost of delivering that bandwidth or close up shop. I would love to have about 100 of my customers respond to you vocally because I assure you, 99.9% of all my customers would tell you exactly how you are wrong.
    Done correctly, traffic shaping, prioritizing traffic and caps aren’t even noticed by the customers. Honestly, the only issue here is from people who seem to just want “theirs” and to hell with everyone else.
    Yes, I have to feed my family and provide for many others. But we aren’t doing what we do to be compentive (What comeptition, we’re in the middle of nowhere), we do it because it’s the only way to operate. There is no other option. As I said before, we can’t import cheap bandwidth. The key to all of it is to find cheaper transport into the internet backbone, period. Without that, this is what you have.
    We are at the bottom. Maybe that makes us look like bottom feeders but no, we are what is called LAST MILE. We have lots of middle men and by the time we get the access we have to pay everyone above us. Stop beating on the providers, the LAST MILE people, we have ZERO influence on the upstream. Beat us all day if you like, we aren’t the ones to blame in any of it. Show mw a rich internet provider who ONLY provides internet.
    We work with what we have and we do our best for our customers and our business. After all that I deal with and sacrifice for my customers I actually take it very personal when we’re told we aren’t doing enough when every day we try to improve our service, work day and night to make sure everyone is up and running and going out in all types of weather to repair storm damaged equipment. We aren’t the bad guys and I doubt that there are any bad guys anywhere in this. Everyone has expenses in the transport of the information to the backbone and unless there is a big push to install major data centers in every county or parish in every state we will never have consistent and inexpensive access to pass to our customers.
    Join us and put your energy towards that goal and stop looking to blame the one closest to you. Afterall, as I said before, we are at the bottom of the food chain and have not much influence on our final cost.

  26. EatMoreSoap December 5, 2009 at 4:38 am #

    RickG must have a higher cost per MB than I do. The price is not the same for everyone, depends on how much fiber is in your area and who owns it. As it is, I’m considered lucky for “only” paying $40.00 per mb. I’ve heard of others paying $75, $100 and higher. That 1mb T1 line from the phone company here will cost you $900.00. That’s 1MB dedicated access for $900.00. RickG is offering 3MB for $599.00? The mere fact that he even advertises it shows that in his area, it’s a bargain. I seriously doubt that Rick is sitting in a dark corner waiting for some sucker to come by and be tricked into signing up for that service. He’s selling it, I imagine, because there is a need for it.

  27. Eatmoresoap December 5, 2009 at 5:03 am #

    Unbelievable……… If you have no knowledge of the cost of bandwidth then how are you able to defend your position?
    I have no interest in “proving” that I pay $40.00 per mb. We don’t go to our local cable company, install a cable modem, hook up some wiz-bang router and then charge big bucks for access. I pay $800.00 per month for 20mb DEDICATED access. DEDICATED! Call your cable company and ask them the price to install a 20mb dedicated fiber connection in your office. Your jaw will drop. Better yet, I’ll go to your site and fine your email and send you my address and then YOU can call around and get me a better price than the 40 per mb. Heck knows I’ve tried and failed.
    Do you know what a T1 line is? It’s a 1mb dedicated line. My local phone company, AT&T, charges $900 for that line. Oh, and that’s without internet, by the way. that’s just for the line. One 1mb line. You want internet? Pay some more cash.
    How can any provider stay in business? We traffic shape, prioritize and cap and sometimes cross our fingers. But we pay that per month for 1mbps access. sorry, it’s real.

  28. Jason Philbrook December 5, 2009 at 5:14 am #

    Do some searching for t3 prices. You’ll see a variety of prices around $1000-2000/month, all of which say “local access not included”.
    In my area, Verizon (and the local independent ILECS) have traditionally charged $2000/month for the local loop of a T3. This is if it’s just crossing the street from the CO.
    That figures to be $67-100/meg.
    The only ways to avoid this is to be at a “carrier hotel” where you can get more bandwidth for less and don’t have local loops like that since you are in the same building. Such things only exist in major metropolitan cities and are substantial distances from the places many of the ISPs here do business in. Another way to avoid it is to work with clecs and other ISPs who can help avoid the local loop, but still have to be paid for their own investment and mangement.

  29. YeahRight December 5, 2009 at 5:23 am #

    Stopthecap, you are truly among the most ignorant people I’ve ever addressed. Check pricing on a T1 line to ANY remote location. You will not find a T1 line for less than $300 in ANY rural area. I’d be surprised if you found it for under $500. $40/Mb would be a GOOD deal for dedicated bandwidth in some areas. Most rural areas are MUCH MUCH higher.
    You are also confusing some of these terms. The bandwidth caps are NOT about data transfer RATES. Bandwidth caps are about total USAGE. You can read the posts by eatmoresoap, as HE has detailed VERY well why your internet connection costs what it does, and WHY it is important to shape (and sometimes cap) over agressive users. I’m supposing your are pretty young (based on your picture AND your truly uninformed post), so I guess some of your attitude is to be expected. However, I’d suggest you NEVER go into business for yourself, or you will almost certainly lose your shirt (and none of us want that to happen). I’ve already wasted 2 minutes on this reply, which is 1 minute 58 seconds more than your education is worth to me, so good luck with your campaign…SHEESH!

  30. Clayton Doty December 5, 2009 at 5:28 am #

    EatMoreSoap thank you for responding. My main point is how things are advertised. Please see the below post were i mention RickG offering UNLIMITED Data Transfer. Even with a connection that is *Up to* 3Mb download. I am ok with that. How can an ISP justify making choices on what traffic is ok and not ok, while making a statement like “UNLIMITED Data Transfer”? This is a point I do not understand. Will you please explain. Also it would be nice if you could provide me with a link to your ISP web site, but I understand not wanting to. I do not like asking you to answer for statements made by a different ISP.
    Also thank you for your other comments, I want to respond to them but have to run out for a bit. You might be suprised that just because I don’t own an ISP, I still have to provide service as needed at odd times of the day. I say that more jokingly than anything else.

  31. EatMoreSoap December 5, 2009 at 5:36 am #

    I sent Phillip my contact information through his site and asked him to find me cheaper access. Time for his education, if he feels like getting one.
    Phillip – Find me some fiber for less than $40.00 per 1mb!!! Save me from my ignorant and reckless overspending!

  32. Richard Bennett December 5, 2009 at 5:54 am #

    Here’s comment I left on Herman’s blog.
    Herman, you’re seriously confused. This is not a matter of emotion, it’s a factual matter regarding the claims you’ve made about TCP that don’t happen to be remotely true.
    In the first place, TCP is an end-to-end protocol which happens to be implemented outside the carrier network; to change the behavior of TCP, you need to alter the implementation in Windows, Linux, and MacOS. The network operator cannot do this, the only control he has is over the packet drop procedure that drives the TCP backoff behavior. Most carriers use a tail-drop algorithm inside their first/last mile networks and a WRED at the border router. Neither is user-oriented, they’re packet-oriented procedures that simply respond to congestion by dropping packets more or less randomly at or near the point of overload.
    If carriers want to allocate bandwidth fairly across all users, they will have to buy specialized equipment that goes beyond the TCP spec and implements algorithms that are not defined by the IETF’s definition of TCP behavior. Carriers do various things to ensure fair access to network resources, but this is not a part of TCP, it’s actually a layer 2 behavior.
    It is not the case that “overbooking the link is a bad thing.” Overbooking the link – which is to say, allowing each user to take advantage of 100% of the link for the duration of each packet – is a good thing, the very capability that makes packet switching more suitable for human/computer interaction than circuit switching. Over-booking is the reason that residential broadband is so much less expensive (and generally faster) than commercial broadband sold according to SLAs.
    Packet-switching has great economics because it’s a statistical system. If each user has dedicated bandwidth, and there’s no sharing allowed across the entire pipe, you’re back in the circuit-switching world and paying much higher prices to build a network. The problem that arises in provisioning a network is the prediction of the mix of applications, because that guides the models about provisioning and underlies the economics of network operation.
    Predicting is hard: three years ago, it looked like P2P was going to take over the world, and it demands symmetrical links; but today, streaming is growing much faster, and it works best with asymmetrical ones. So what’s the ISP to do?
    Your analysis of TCP was wrong at the start, and now you’re arguing that if TCP were different, it might be fair. But it’s not, and the ISP is not the implementer. So just admit you were wrong and we can move on. No emotion, just fact.

  33. EatMoreSoap December 5, 2009 at 6:06 am #

    Clayton, I respect your thoughts. I read Ricks “Unlimited Data Transfer” as him not charging as a metered service. Some wireless ISP’s are metered and charge more money when you donwload over a certain limit. Some WISPs go further and also turn off your access for 24 hours as punishment. (Those are normally the satellite providers) Not metered is unlimited data transfer. The amount of data is not limited. that has nothing to do with speed, however. He’s also honest in saying “Up To….” It’s no trick or lie. Almost ALL of us are having to look at the metered option, however, because the bandwidth usage has exploded with sites such as Hulu, Netflix, You Tube and the like yet we are still payign the same for the bandwidth. We can’t really raise our prices 100% due to a 100% increase in usage. We all want to provide the best service and at the best price for the CUSTOMER but unless someone comes up off some cheap bandwidth, we are stuck with going to metered service, raising prices or closing up shop and putting rural America back in the dark.
    I, as well as many others, belong to an organization called WISPA. You can go to and see that we have a certain code we follow. We strive to be honest and fair with everyone we deal with and I, for one, take the face of what we do very seriously and I take the time to explain it to anyone who wants to listen. I hold no secrets.
    My website? You won’t see much there. I don’t advertise on the internet and our site is mostly for our customers who use our email to login to the webmail. It’s at You can also see our other site at We provide internet access to those who wouldn’t have it otherwise and at a price that is more than fair and much less than what we could probably get since we have a captive customer base but again, we try to be FAIR. (I have stood in many a doorway saying goodbye to a customer and have them THANK me with all sincerity because of what we do, not to mention a 13 year old kid coming outside while I was running a network line and was afraid to ask me if he would finally be able to use his PS3 online. The answer was yes and that family called me a week later to also thank me) We also provide dial up service to those who only want that and we charge a pitiful 6 bucks per month for it. Keep in mind that AT&T charges $21.95 for dial up and they can get away with it because persons who use dial up normally can’t get anything else so it’s an opportunity to fleace the populace. We make 2 bucks profit from a dial-up customer. We aren’t getting rich from it. We are part of the community and this is more than a business, it’s also partly a public service. I’d do it for free if I could. That’s the honest truth.

  34. Shada December 5, 2009 at 6:08 am #

    Who Cares about throttling it was all for not since BT is on its way out already replaced by its vastly popularizing Large file hosting sites. Megaupload is one flavor but that is where it ends for the majority public, a Youtube style streaming site. But hidden amongst it is the new community faster then BT on scale with newsgroups without the hassle. a back door access to the gentlemens club of Megaupload and similar sites.
    File Hosting Sites use HTTP protocol, you can stream are download original file instantly without waiting for dealing with throttling. Only downfall is unlike with BT where you can limit download and upload speed to reasonable levels, HTTP will use your max Download till files is done right from the moment you click download, about 150K to 300K to stream tv shows or movies.
    So again I say WHO CARES they already lost and all money spent by the Telcos to define your traffic as p2p was all a waste since it is back to HTTP single but full use source files.

  35. RickG December 5, 2009 at 7:35 am #

    I couldnt have answered better myself.

  36. Mark Salpeter December 5, 2009 at 7:36 am #

    TSO, way to completely miss the point.
    I’m going to have to side with Jorge on this one. If ISPs can’t deliver on their promises than they need to make their promises more realistic, not accuse users of abuse. It’s false advertising, plain and simple. I find it hard to believe that the FCC or any other government apparatus hasn’t looked in to regulating these claims. If someone says their food is “organic” the FDA makes sure that the producers of said food are making objectively “organic” food (more or less). If an ISP says 50+ people can get unlimited internet access at 3mbps than the FCC should make sure that they have the necessary infrastructure to deliver that to all of their customers, all of the time. If they can’t there should be at least some mention of it, maybe even an alternative plan of some sort that adhere to a different set of clearly laid out rules (ie. the current set of rules, but disclosed better).
    I think that kind of honesty in the marketing of ISPs would strengthen the push towards curbside fiber. If ISPs are forced to charge by the gigabyte or make more realistic, finite, claims (as opposed to “unlimited” bandwidth) than someone coming along and saying, “we can realistically offer 100 times that” is more significant for the consumer. The cynical side of me thinks that most ISPs realize that as well and, as many of them are not heavily invested in curbside fiber, they purposefully choose not to take such a route voluntarily. The optimistic side of me thinks that ISPs simply cannot see past their own greed and marketing bullsh*t long enough to realize that unlimited use of data is NOT abusing and “unlimited” data plan. The nihilistic side of me thinks “why bother writing this anyway?” while contemplating deleting this post (although, that hardly seems relevant).

  37. RickG December 5, 2009 at 7:41 am #

    Clayton, How are you defining “data transfer”? Are you saying the wording applies to types of data, as in unlimited types?

  38. Eatmoresoap December 5, 2009 at 7:43 am #

    Really? Maybe in your world but in mine, torrents are still king. Higher than streaming. A household using Netflix or hulu will watch maybe ONE video at a time. With Bit Torrents, however, a user can and will have 5, 10 even 20 downloads going at the same time as well as SHARING by uploading to outgoing connections and will sustain this for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Much more intense and I have yet to see BT “On it’s way out” in fact the opposite has been true.

  39. RickG December 5, 2009 at 8:01 am #

    I might be dense but I dont understand the issues with the above. Note that neither do my customers. With all due respect, while I’m somewhat interested in your opinion, it’s a free country and you and they are free to choose my service or not.
    I’m not sure how to answer your question on how I offer 3Mbps for $59.95. It’s simple. Get a large, dedicated connection and distribute it. As far as your concerns, here are some quick definitions to our terms-
    Unlimited Data Transfer: My customers are not capped monthly on their bandwidth transfer.
    Always On: It is!
    Multiple connections: We allow up to 5 computers on a single account.
    Low latency: 10-50ms to my peers edge.
    Best Solution for Gaming: Compared to anything you can get here in Kentucky! I’ve got a lot of gamers kicking butt against cable & DSL users.
    Free equipment usage: They also benefit because since they dont own it, they dont have to worry about replacing it.

  40. RickG December 5, 2009 at 8:10 am #

    I figured this was about the “big boys”. My only problem is that the cable companies are private and should be allowed to run them as they see fit. Now the Telco’s, thats a different story.
    At any rate, I pay over $100/Meg. It was $400/meg with multiple ATT T1′s until I switched to fiber. Its easy to verify. Just call AT&T and Time Warner and and ask for a dedicated connection with dedicated bandwidth pricing.

  41. RickG December 5, 2009 at 8:19 am #

    The best I can do for now is $100/meg. Much better than the $400/meg I was paying for the last 3 years! We’ll see how it goes in the future.

  42. RickG December 5, 2009 at 8:20 am #

    And some of my customers would say, is it fair that you slow down the other people on the network who pay the same as you?

  43. Eatmoresoap December 5, 2009 at 9:18 am #

    We don’t make choices on what traffic is “ok and not ok”. what we are forced to do is put different priorities on different types of traffic. All traffic will move however if someone is using skype or vonage or any other voice protocol, this would be given higher priority. Without that there would be lag and possibly echo. Next would be streaming video or gameing. Video needs to be smooth without buffering. Gamers need low or zero lag time. We have to put priority on things in order to maintain quality of service. Would you rather your limewire run faster but your vidoes stop every 8 seconds to buffer? Maybe so and if you do, just call me and we can change the priority. But keeping it real, I think everyone would agree to how the priorities are set and why. We all want unlimited, net neutral internet. Trust me, I do! I lived with an OC-48 line all day when I worked for Qwest and was very spoiled. But no matter how much you hear how the price of bandwidth is dropping, “It ain’t so!”. Not out here in the sticks, anyway.

  44. Eatmoresoap December 5, 2009 at 10:08 am #

    I feel for ya, my brother. I really do. I can burn you some internet onto a dual layer DVD and send it to ya if that would help. That 9gb could do ya for a month or two!

  45. Eatmoresoap December 5, 2009 at 3:57 pm #

    Yeah, the cable companies are private but they usually have to have a franchise agreement with the local government. I never had to deal with that so I don’t know if broadband falls under that agreement. A few years they were, however, forced to allow access to their lines to outside broadband providers so I will only assume that the internet portion of their operations are indeed at least partially controlled by the local government. On the flip side though, that just caused them to charge outragous access rates to outside providers and then offer discounts to their customers. The result was that we were economically “locked out” of their system as far as using them for transport.

  46. Mike Hammett December 5, 2009 at 4:10 pm #

    Guys, watch your terminology. You aren’t using it correctly. He wants you to prove you pay $40 per megabyte transfered, hence the MEGABYTE in all caps. I believe that’s because that’s what someone said above.
    You are paying per megaBIT which is indicative of a line capacity vs. megaBYTE which is indicative of data transferred.

  47. Mike Hammett December 5, 2009 at 4:12 pm #

    Actually a T1 is about 1.5 megabits per second, not 1 mb.

  48. Mike Hammett December 5, 2009 at 4:20 pm #

    So we’re going back to web downloads? Welcome to about 10 years ago. In those days someone had to PAY for the big pipes to host that content. It’d be about $1200/month for a dedicated server with 100 mbit. That would support just under 7 people on a cable or DSL connection. Oh, and it’ll only be up a couple months until the feds knock it down. Know anyone willing to pay for that?

  49. December 5, 2009 at 4:22 pm #

    Something with the Bandwith Hog argument is NOT KOSHER.
    What about speed and prices in other parts of the world?
    How come this is not a problem in the 13-21 countries depending on the study who are faster and cheaper than us? And don’t tell me it’s because the country is all spread out…if that were the case, we’d at least be fast in NYC and we aren’t we’re slow and expensive.

  50. Eatmoresoap December 5, 2009 at 4:59 pm #

    I’m correcting myself. In the heat of the argument I said megabyte when it is actually $40.00 per mbps. I also tend to generalize the speed of a T1 which is a near 1.5mbps speed, not 1mbps. However with analog T1′s they were indeed closer to 1mbps and were between 1mbps and 1.3. I’m old enough to remember having to deal with those as well as personally paying $125 bucks a month for 128k ISDN service as recent as 1999. That hurt! Just keeping it clear or confusion.

  51. Eatmoresoap December 5, 2009 at 5:05 pm #

    Sorry, Mike. I stand corrected. Comes from generalizing the speed from analog days of long ago. I need to THINK before typing sometimes! And then, proof read!!!
    Good to have you around for keeping it right.

  52. Eatmoresoap December 5, 2009 at 5:10 pm #

    You say tomatoes, I say toe-mah-toes……..
    Heat of the battle and lack of proofreading, I admit my errors on all counts. It is indeed megabit. Glad you caught that, we need to keep it real.

  53. Shada December 5, 2009 at 5:26 pm #

    I do agree that BT will not disappear but will go to the shadows more like usenet. the new streaming Method is vastly more user friendly for non techies internet users. Ever try to explain to someone how to use bittorrent then how to uncompress files so on so forth. Streaming is like the Napster of files sharing it is simple one click easy.
    Which is why like napster I think it will take off more with the general population faster then BT ever did. But yes BT will never Die, just be hindered by the telco’s

  54. EatMoreSoap December 5, 2009 at 6:03 pm #

    Sorry, time to get back on the soap box.
    Some of it comes from greed, certainly. There is always an element of greed in every industry. I’m not familiar with the rates there in NYC but I do know that in the past, the NYC area was the most expensive and hardest to get access into and out of. The density of development, the amount of people, the sometimes crazy regulations, the cronyism, etc… If I were to guess, there is limited fiber, it would cost big $$$ to install more, they are pushing whatever they can through whatever pipe they can find thus you end up with slow speeds and big prices. And again, I will admit that there may be a level of greed included in that.
    As far as why other countries are faster and cheaper, they have different priorities, differnet regulations and a different mindset. If a government wants to provide broadband to everyone, they can do that! They can clear the obstacales thrown up by smaller towns and cities and the like that want to fleece the people trying to provde that broadband. They can help facilitate the laying of more fiber optic lines, they can regulate those lines to allow access for transport by anyone at a fair price. And one of the biggest things they can do, in my eyes, is to NOT favor large corporations when it comes to granting access as well as loans and grants. These large telecommunication companies have no interest whatsoever in making less money so they do everything they can to keep the small time providers out of everything. To them competition equals a smaller bottom line. There are many European companies who have lots and lots of smaller operators providing better service than any of the big telecoms could do. Here in the United States we have the same type of operators, people who are part of the community and who do it more as a community service than a business. You won’t find the CEO of ATT agonizing over your slow conenction. We, however, will do out best to resolve the issue because we realy and honestly care about the quality of our service. To us it’s personal, not cash.
    I provide internet wirelessly. To do that we use the free radio frequencies that the FCC allows everyone to use. We are given these because they didn’t have much use to any big shot due to their limited range. 2.4GHz is what we normally use as well as cordless phones, baby room monitors, directTV, microwave ovens (Radio is Microwave) garage door openers… etc. The 2.4GHz band is saturated. Can’t even be used at all in some places now. We were then given 5GHz. That has helped a lot but it has less range in most cases. Then they threw us a bone, 3.6GHz. (We also have 900mhz but it’s pretty much worthless) We have to pay to use that one as well as document and report to the FCC everything that we do with it and where we install it. We also have zones where we can not use it due to grandfathered users of that frequency.
    What I’m getting at here is that we take what we are given and do our best with it. The US goverment states that they want every citizen in this country to have access to broadband but it’s all lip service unless they actually give us what we need to do that. What do we need? The correct frequencies to do that job! Television was forced to give up their frequencies and go digital. The FCC then took those and “tried” to sell them all to the big cellular providers with total disregard to the people out here not trying to make millions but trying to provide service to EVERYONE. Now keep in mind, the frequencies that we use will not penetrate trees, not even one, won’t go through hills, buildings, nothing. It’s line of site which means to install a customer, both antennas have to physically SEE each other. You never had that with TV, wouldn’t it make sense to take these new found channels and let us use them to provide you internet regardless of local regulations, fiber cost, permits and the like? We thought so to and raised heck over it. So, they threw us a bone yet again which we are still trying to figure out how to overcome issues with it.
    The little guys, at least I do, want to provide you with net neutal 100mbps speed at a cost of 19 bucks. I’d love that! Instead, we are held back by lobbyists, big corporations protecting their bottom line, local governments who think we make millions so they charge outragous antenna and tower fees and bogus permit fees. And get this, I can’t even find out if there is fiber access anyplace unless I pay a fee for a fiber map or make phone calls day after day begging for information and then get lucky. Fiber is a secret and I don’t have any logical explaination of why it’s such a secret. We are kept in our place by the big players because they absolutly know that we’re crazy enough to actually provide 100mbps for 19 bucks. If I could build a “Bandwidth Factory” you better believe I would but as it stands, the little guy isn’t in control and we are really the only ones who can do things the way it should be done. Fight to make it easier for us small players to have a level field when it comes to backbone access. Things will never be different until the ones in control have to share. Period.

  55. Mike Hammett December 5, 2009 at 6:50 pm #

    Here’s the thing about America… you can START YOUR OWN ISP!
    If you don’t like the way it’s being done, start your own. If you think in NYC you can do a better job than Verizon or Cablevision, start your own. There are a lot of companies like SpeakEasy and Covad that have different policies as well.
    If you have the gut to start your own, you’ll quickly learn how right we are. ;-)

  56. RickG December 5, 2009 at 7:07 pm #

    Right on Mike! A couple of other things about America:
    1) You usually have a choice due to competition.
    2) You don’t have to take the service.
    Sure beats them prying your small amount of money each month out of your hands to support the cause.
    People who want the USA to look like other countries are truly lost. Ask yourselves – why does everyone want to come to the US? Many pay dearly to just get here. Of course, that’s all about to change. Then where will we go? I guess the hope is that there are other countries that wanted to be like the US and are starting to look like a great place to live. Well, I digress.

  57. YeahRight December 5, 2009 at 7:49 pm #

    Sorry, Shada. With the intelligence of today’s filtering and QOS implmentations, even your HTTP is handled well. A well thought out approach to traffic prioritization will still capture your large downloads and affix the appropriate behavior on the handling of the traffic. For some providers, that will be throttle, for others, it is move to a lower priority and still more will do both. Either way, many providers are setting bit caps (which is the topic at hand). They allow you to download at whatever speed you want, but will charge you for using your shared circuit ($40 for up to 5 meg instead of $500 for a dedicated 5 meg) as a dedicated circuit. I personally like this better as a provider.

  58. Scottie Arnett December 5, 2009 at 8:10 pm #

    I operate a WISP in North Central Tennessee, in the 931-243 NPA-NXX. We pay over $1200/mth for a 6 Mbit backbone, so a little over $200/Mbit. Until recently, we had a 2xT1(3 Mbit) from AT&T and it was costing us $1379/mth. As eatmoresoap has stated, their is not way to provide affordable broadband to the very rural areas without limiting usage and/or bandwidth caps. Until you have set in the shoes of the WISP/ISP or a rural customer that is glad to have a 128kbit connection, you should think about what lobbying for no control by the ISP will do these rural areas. We do not all live LA, NYC, etc…

  59. Eatmoresoap December 5, 2009 at 8:45 pm #

    Isn’t it interesting to see how many small ISP operators are here saying the exact same thing? The biggest common thread I see is that we all talk about service, what we do for others. Forgive us if we somehow manage to make a buck doing it, sometimes it’s only by accident.
    We finally see Scottie’s face……..

  60. EatMoreSoap December 5, 2009 at 8:58 pm #

    Anything people have to pay for will not be as popular as the “pirate” methods. It’s been that way since the early 80′s. There will always be that percentage of the population who wants to stick to the man and get all they can for free and BT is the latest in that war. The major reason why BT is in use is because there is no central brain for the copywrite police to find and kill. If you are paying for streaming, good for you! But on my side of the fence I see way more of the “pirates” getting all they can for free and then some. That, my friend, is human nature and will never, ever go away.

  61. Jim Bryant December 6, 2009 at 7:23 am #

    I used to work at the Sprint Lenexa LDD (Long Distance Division)OSSC. In 1998, I recall attending a company meeting in an auditorium in which Bill Esrey personally stated that all of the calls made in a day in North America at that time could be carried SIMULTANEOUSLY on a single SONET ring (two pairs of fiber) using Sprint’s network. He went on to talk about all of Sprint’s dark fiber and it’s theoretical capacity. This meeting was where Esrey “bet the farm” on Sprint ION (a failed ADSL offering that Sprint was working on at the time that ended up going the way of Internet Passport).
    I want to see these so-called stats that these ISPs keep talking about too! I think they are full of crap!

  62. Jim Bryant December 6, 2009 at 7:28 am #

    Scottie, I don’t care if your ISP is in Bumfuck Texas. If I pay your outrageous price for BRI speeds, I’m going to use every fucking bit per second of it. If you have a problem with that, then take that up with your NSP and get a better deal for your company.

  63. Jim Bryant December 6, 2009 at 7:35 am #

    Not only that, I’m not going to take kindly to censorship of any content, site, or TCP port by some redneck like you, in the face of that, I’d go into competition with you and take all of your customers.

  64. Eatmoresoap December 6, 2009 at 8:49 am #

    Oh, Jim, Jim, Jim………. So it has resorted to name calling…. What is it that you do not understanding? In the terms of service, that you would have to agree with, it states that your speed is an “Up To” speed. That’s not a lie and it’s not a trick. This “Outrageous” price you would pay is based on the actual expenses that this provider has in bringing you that service. I really do not care where you worked, who you heard talk or any of that because it has nothing to do with how much we providers have to pay for bandwidth to serve our customers. If Sprint has dark fiber, fine. How does that affect us? If they don’t have fiber near me, it’s pointless. If they don’t want to sell access to us for a low price, again, it’s pointless.
    It’s so very easy for you to prove to yourself and everyone here how full of crap we are, just take the time and make some phone calls and see what the cost of 10 or maybe 20mbps dedicated fiber will cost you. Go ahead! But don’t go the easy route and ask for LA or Dallas or any large metropolitan area. Try looking in a town were Scottie operates, in North Central TN, or where Rick operates in Mt. Sterling Ky. If we are so full of crap, this is a very open invitation for you to go check yourself and then come back here and crow about how you were right. Make sure you bring actual information and not just “I talked to a guy over at…..”.
    Will you make the calls? Will you actually do what it takes to prove your point of how we are making money hand over fist by buying bandwidth at the next to nothing prices that you pay your local cable provider? And also, if by some REALLY outside chance that you find out that we are being truthful, will you come back here and admit to that?
    I have zero fear from this because I live it every day, it’s easy to look in from the outside and call names and be a scary and angry man but it’s not so easy to step up and do a little work so that you can base your emotions on facts.
    We’ll be waiting for your informed report.

  65. Eatmoresoap December 6, 2009 at 9:15 am #

    Why the anger? If you signed up for service with Scottie, that would have been your choice. If you don’t like his service or what you agreed to then you call and drop the service. After that you can call up Wild Blue or another satellite provider, pay their $300 install fee, sign that 1 or 2 year contract, get your 512mb or 1mb of speed with a latency of 300ms or so and pay 60 bucks or more for the pleasure. Or you could go with a cellular card but that would depend on cell coverage in TN, which out in the hills you may get 2 or 3 bars if at all. Oh, we can also add that the satellite may not see clear sky there in KY depending on your terrain. If none of those work you could possibly consider dial up. You would pay 15 bucks or more per month plus the cost of your phone line, total for that is still 50 bucks or more per month. Depending on your phone lines you could connect at 32k or maybe on a good day 43k.
    As far as you using every bit of speed you can get your hands on from Scottie, you just made our point about Bandwidth Hogs. Sorry.
    I’ll also add that Scottie has indeed got the best deal he can get for his company and he be the only one who would have a problem with your actions but your neighbors who are on the same network. Scottie provides wireless internet in one of the most difficult types of terrain to do it in… Mountains and trees. The equipment alone to do that is major cash.
    But it’s pointless to even worry about since you would either be dropped as a customer by Scottie or you would move away because you missed the 15mb download speed from your old cable company. (You should also be aware that unless you already have your own dedicated fiber access and are using it right at this moment, your speed is being managed by your provider while you read this. Scary, huh.)

  66. Eatmoresoap December 6, 2009 at 10:11 am #

    Earth to Jim…. Come in Jim. Jim, are you there?
    We don’t censor a darned thing. Where did you pull that one out of? What we and most every ISP does is line up the traffic for an orderly exit and entrance. We prioritize the different protocols to allow things such as Voice over IP, streaming video and online gaming to be given faster travel time through the network over email or uTorrent and other non-critical data. It all moves in and it all moves out. I really and truly do not give a darn what you do on your computer and not one of us can afford the type of equipment it would take to selectively censor any of your traffic nor do we even care to do so. Myself, if you had an issue with priorities I would gladly give all of your traffic the equal priority you think it deserves. It wouldn’t be very long until you made another call to either have us put things back the way they were or to another provider because you didn’t want to admit that we were right.
    I’m sure after all of that you can start making those plans to go into competition with Scottie. First off, find that fiber or dedicated access. Since you want low prices, what are going to charge? 30 bucks maybe for something like they have up in them big cities? 15Mbps. Yes! Your plan is to give dedicated service, afterall you want to give them every bit per second…… Now with the big lies that Scottie is telling, he is paying $200.00 per mbps. For a 15mbps speed, dedicated to the customer, with Scottie that comes out to a cost of $3000.00. (And we all know he’s lying so we won’t put much effort into that number) Then of course you need to make a profit… Well, in your case I think part of your point is that you shouldn’t so we’ll skip that. You can work 28 hours part time at the wal-marts like the rest of us rednecks to pay for your expenses. Internet, after all, should be free. Right?
    Oh, but Scottie just hasn’t taken the time to find that magical underground well of $1.00mbps bandwidth. You are much smarter than him made your phone call to the local telephone company, had a great laugh over how you are gonna take Scottie down and “learn him” for his greedy ways. You then pay a $99 install fee to have your new found fiber extended acorss town to your new 250 foot free standing tower on a quarter acre of land on top of the highest mountain near town. The tower, of course, cost you 5 or 600 bucks with free installation and the land was free for the taking. It was just left there on top of the mountain doing niothing and no one was using it anyway. Finders Keepers, I say! Now on your breaks from the Wal-Marts and after work (when you aren’t practicing your banjo and harmonica or courtin’ your lady friend, Pearl) you can attend to the work of installing your customers. You are in some pretty rough terrain but we all know these lies about “Line of Sight” are bogus. “If my CB radio works here then my internets is gonna work too!” You find yourself saying. You install all of your customers on 2.4GHz using just this one antenna tower with one omni antenna on top of it, (Sector antennas are just a marketing ploy to make us buy more antennas when only one will work just fine!) If a customer already has a wireless card in their laptop, they have everything they need and are good to go. If they don’t, you can give them one of them wireless UBS cards to pop in their modem. Works just fine and you even get a 10% discount on them over at Wally World.
    In the meantime, Scottie is sitting in his corner crying and saying how sorry he was for all of his lies and deception. Before he leaves town in his Bentley he admits his treason to the community and leaves to never be heard from again. But you, Sir…. You! You are now the hero and saviour to an entire community. You have broken the shackles of internet tyranny and have become righteous. A shaning star of what one man can do to bring down the gigantic and all powerful money hungry wireless internet industry!
    I bow to you sir and offer my humble blessings on your moral, wireless venture. You are the example that we have all been waiting for to lead us out of this den of sinners and in to the bright sunshine of truth!
    All Hail Jim!
    All Hail Jim!
    All Hail Jim!
    (Crowd is roaring about now)
    I feel a tear coming so I must go.
    Good luck to you, my new best friend.

  67. Eatmoresoap December 6, 2009 at 5:46 pm #

    There is no greed or marketing bullshit on this end. The vast majority of the SMALL ISP operators don’t engage in such things and the ones who do, well, tnhey are usually jerks anyhow and we choose not to deal with them. You have to look at all sectors of the ISP business before you lump us all together. I have never advertised unlimited anything. In my terms of service agreement, it lists clearly that this is shared bandwidth. If a customer desires dedicated bandwidth we can provide that. What peol,e seem to missing is, we have 2 different types of service out here. Shared, which the speeds are listed as “Up To” and dedicated service which is the full 3, 4 or whatever mbps you wish to purchase. Even with our dial-up service we tell the customers that if they wish to be online with the dial-up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (And some do) they can purchase a dedicated line for them to do that.
    For some of us, the cost for us to purchase dedicated access it very, very expensive. As I’ve told others, if you doubt this pick up the phone and call around to check prices of 10mbps dedicated fiber in a few places out here in rural america. No big cities, please. It’s still abit pricy in some cities but out here in the “sticks”, and I’m only 35 miles away from 3 large cities here in Ohio, it’s high. $40.00 for that 1mbps dedicated fiber.
    The smaller providers can not pay to have curbside fiber. You are again lumping all providers together abd assume we are all Comcast or Time Warner. We have 50,75,maybe 100 customers. Some go upwards to 1000. Conmpare that to the big cable providers.
    Make the phone calls then come back with your report. I challange anyone who has a doubt. Try this town….. Blanchester, Ohio. Find me some cheap fiber
    and I’ll be sure to buy it!

  68. Scottie Arnett December 6, 2009 at 6:06 pm #

    “I want to see these so-called stats that these ISPs keep talking about too! I think they are full of crap!”
    I see we have another well informed know-it-all. You are almost as smart as these stupid politicians that don’t know their butt from a hole in the ground about Internet and sitting in Washington making laws that they have no idea on how they will affect the American people at large! Oh forgive me, you showed your IQ level in first replies to me to prove it to the whole world to see.
    You want proof. Here is where I buy the 6 Mbit circuit from, Twin Lakes Telephone Company, 931-268-2151. Call them up and price it in any 931-243 NPA-NXX. Here is AT&T’s link, go there and price a T1 to the same place. or go here and price it from their cheaper subsidiary: . I do not know you or any one here from Adam. I have no reason to lie to you, and if you think I would lie and use my REAL name and FACE on here, than you are more stupid than I thought to begin with!
    You guys are fighting for the wrong things. If you want cheaper and better Internet, lobby the politicians to end the duoply of cable and telephone companies. Then the Independent ISP’s can afford the bandwidth to let consumers do whatever the wish anytime they wish.

  69. HonestBusiness December 7, 2009 at 9:21 am #

    As a home internet connection user with a 20 MBb/s Charter Communications connection I am paying for a network connection that (up to) 20 Mb/s all the time not just part of the time but ALL THE TIME and I SHOULD NOT BE LIMITED TO ONLY A FRACTION OF THAT TIME. If Charter is going to really only give me a fraction of that then that is FALSE ADVERTISING. The government has been extremely clear about such business practices being illegal. Charter has been talking about imposing bandwidth caps and if that happens I will be canceling all of my Charter services (Basic Cable, Digital Cable, HD, and their Max Internet Package) and I would strongly recommend that other do as well in the event of such changes taking place. For well over $150 per month I EXPECT to be able to download as much crap as I wish to whenever I wish to at the maximum speed that I am paying for. If Charter is too stupid to run their business and make money publicly and honestly then they should not be in business. I have a business and there is NO WAY THAT I WOULD SELL A CLIENT SOMETHING THAT I CAN NOT PROVIDE! But that being said business is all about RISK AND REWARD, AGAIN RISK AND REWARD. If a service provider like Charter, Time Warner, Comcast, and even some of you little WISPs or Rural Providers want to take the RISK of selling something that you know you might not be able to provide that is your/their right and in doing so they/you might be able to reap the rewards but there is no reason why the client should be punished because of the risk that the company/you take. It is very very unsettling that consumers, no citizens, of America are more often being screwed by people that make Risky and Poor business decisions. I own up to my personal and business decisions and that is why my company has been booming. Its time that others do the same!

  70. Edward Mckay December 7, 2009 at 1:58 pm #

    So what you are saying is that you are overselling your product and blaming the customers that are buying it?? How about doing this. Stop advertising falsely and start telling the truth. As a consumer, if i buy 3 megs “unlimited”, i should be able to use 3 megs any and all the time. Do you understand what the word ‘unlimited’ means?
    1. not limited; unrestricted; unconfined: unlimited trade.
    2. boundless; infinite; vast: the unlimited skies.
    3. without any qualification or exception; unconditional.
    So where in the definition of ‘unlimited’ is the word or reference to capping?
    How about this. Stop lying to the consumer!!!! if you only want him/her using a certain amount, then get them to agree with it before they give you their money and want to use ‘unlimited’.
    Yes technology is changing. More people are using more bandwidth. Either adapt with the times, or stop using false advertising to lure people in and hoping that they only check their email.

  71. EatMoreSoap December 7, 2009 at 6:25 pm #

    My dear Edward, have you not read these post or are you ignorant on purpose? (Not meaning to offend, much, just stating that you are speaking from fantasy)
    Not one of us who have posted here have said we provide unlimited internet. I have never advertised unlimited internet, I have never told a customer that they have unlimited internet and I never will unless we can access unlimited internet ourselves at a price that is reasonable for the majority of customers to pay for.
    You bring up a good point, however, when you say “Over Selling” our product. We don’t oversell. We don’t. But do you know what that term really means? To “Over Sell” means that you have taken the number of customers on your network over the limit of where the network hits 85% or even higher of capacity and will sometimes spike to 100%. Then things fall apart. We try our best to NOT oversell the network at all because it causes way too many headaches that couldn’t even begin to describe to you. The problem is this, and I wish you will read it…. If we have 100 customers and we have a network designed to handle 100 customers using a pretty consistent amount of bandwidth, all is good. Everyone gets their “Up To” 1mb most of the time and then some because if our network isn’t be used much we allow them to actually use MORE than that 1mb becuse it’s there doing nothing anyway. Are you seeing this? Okay, now the problem comes in where our consistent usage starts spiking way up over hwat we are built for. Things like Hulu, You Tube, Netflix, a lot of HD video streaming, etc. Not such a big deal, we monitor the network so closely you’d think we were married to it and some of us are. We see the pattern and then we have to buy more dedicated bandwidth to add to the network to smooth things out. Now, for me it’s not that big of an expense, $40.00 per mbps is very, very cheap in this business so I can absorb that easier than a WISP who has to pay $200 or $500 or even $1000 for 1mbps. Those numbers are scary but they are totally real. (Don’t shake your head, as I have asked other unbelievers, go make your phone calls and find out for yourself the price of 10mbps dedicated fiber installed at an office out here in no mans land. We’ll wait……)
    Now we maybe added another 20mbps. For me I just added another $800.00 per month expense yet I have not added any additional revenue to cover that. You see, the usage went up but the revenue from the customers stayed the same. We charge $29.00 per month for 1mb speed. If you live someplace where you get cable internet you might scoff at that but out here in the land of no internet access and high priced bandwidth, that is considered CHEAP! (Look at Wild Blue, Verizon or AT&T broadband and you’ll get the picture) Just to cover the direct COST of that additoonal $800 we would have to add 30 customers. Now do your math….. We added TWENTY MBPS and in order to cover the cost of that, we have to add THIRTY more customers. 20mbps vs. 30 more customers to cover only the direct cost of that 20mbps.
    Are you getting mad? Hot under the collar? Well there is no need for that. You see, that’s NOT over selling. there is so much empty, unused space in that 20mbps you’d be amazed at it. We buy DEDICATED bandwidth. Virgin, untouched (for all practical purposes) bandwidth. The bandwidth you use at home from cable or DSL, you are sharing that bandwidth. Every single internet system that I know of is shared EXCEPT for DEDICATED. The reason why you get $49.00 10mbps speed from your cable provider is the same reason why we only charge our customers $29.00. We share the cost and take turns. If done right, you don’t notice any of it. (Our latency is between 23 and 32ms)
    You go to web page, you click, a page downloads. After that normally quick donwload, you are done with your share and the network goes to someone else and they do the same. While you sit there reading, you are idle. Everytime you click and sit, you go idle. Same with everyone else. This is shared bandwidth. It’s how it’s affordable to most everyone.
    Now, to quote you, you said you wanted to know if i knew what unlimited means…
    You said..
    1. not limited; unrestricted; unconfined: unlimited trade.
    2. boundless; infinite; vast: the unlimited skies.
    3. without any qualification or exception; unconditional.
    “So where in the definition of ‘unlimited’ is the word or reference to capping?”
    All ISP’s are different. Most of us are open and honest with our marketing and if anyone DID say one thing then do another, you actually have a cause of action against them if you didn’t agree to the extra charges.
    As I said, we have never said “Unlimited”. We say, “Up To” a certain speed that you have subscribed to and it’s very true and we take the time to explain to the customer what that means. Do you, yourself, understand what unlimited means? One definition of “Unlimited” in the context of CAPS is that we would only allow you to download a certain amount of data for a set price and if you went over that limit then we would charge you a fee for whatever amount of data that you went over in your plan. But, happily we don’t meter our service. Not yet anyway but the option is there in case things get much more out of control with bandwidth usage and the wholesale bandwidth prices remain high. Another explaination for your “Unlimited” is DEDICATED and if you want service that is DEDICATED to you and only you, not to be be used by anyone else whether you are using it or not, then you can have that. As I said before, make your phone calls and write that big check and have the fiber installed where ever you want it. If you are lucky, maybe you can get it for $4.00 per mbps plus the transport cost of the fiber. And if you are even luckier you will have fiber out at the curb so your install fee might only be a few hundred bucks. (My last quote to extend fiber was $45,000 so be prepared to possibly write a bigger check than you thought. Sucks, I know)
    How many months of writing a check for big $$$ to pay for your DEDICATED fiber that somehow deems to be just as fast as what you had before you uinderstand that we are right?
    You ask us to adapt to the changing times. How do want us to adapt? The times, yes they do change but my prices remain the same. We adapt the best that we can, our equipment costs get more and more. But when our costs raise but income stays the same we are left with one of 3 eventual outcomes.
    1) Raise prices, and not a little, a lot!
    A customer using the system as a DEDICATED line does not allow sharing. This bandwidth is lost while they donwload and share torrents 24 hours a day every day. This persons “free” music and movies has caused the other customers to pay for it in higher prices.
    2) Put the customers who use the shared network as a dedicated line on a metered billing system.
    “Caps” as you would like to say. This way the customers who are playing well together and “loving thy neighbor” pay the same as they always have paid and not subsidizing the bandwidth hog. It’s really the only fair way in my eyes. A dedicated line is expensive and they would still be getting a bargain.
    3) Close up shop and turn off everyones internet.
    If our prices for dedicated bandwidth doesn’t decrease yet usage increases the eventual and logical outcome is bankruptcy. This would cause our customers who were paying $29.00 for very decent and fast service to sign up with Wild Blue, one of the cellular companies or go to dial-up. The cost of those is much more than the 30 bucks they were paying and the service is horrible, just in case you never used it. (Sure, the cellular cards are just fine in the big cities, try using them out here with no signal and no fancy new equipment on the towers to handle it)
    Put yourself in the position to pick one of those 3. Which is it? Please some real logic and some real knowledge before you blurt out some idiotic alternative. I’m not a bad guy, I’m way to easy to get along with and to be honest, I’d like to hear it if anyone has a real alternative to the above. All of us in this industry have been looking for an alternative and we can’t find one.
    An analogy…
    You purchase a membership at your local YMCA and the membership says that you have “Unlimited Use of the Facilities”, You YMCA has only so many excercise machines, maybe one pool, a certain number of showers, etc. If they have 13 showers in the mens dressing room, do they only have 13 male members? If they have 15 elliptical machines, do they have only 15 total members? There are 8 lanes in the lap pool. 8 members? Now, think to yourself for a moment…. If 8 guys joined up and then decided that they liked taking showers so they took a shower for 3 hours or more at a time, that would leave 5 showers for everyone else to use. There then becomes a line for the shower. A bunch of people love the Ellipticals so they are always in use when you go. You wait and wait and wait. Some old ladies are in the pool just walking up and down in the water in the lanes like they have nothing better to do….
    What do you do? Your YMCA wasn’t this busy before and they have the same number of members that had prior to this, the use has just increased. They only make so much money and revenue isn’t increasing so they have no extra cash to expand or buy more machines. What happens in this senario? What normally happens is they start to put timers on things and people have to reserve time.
    You still have your unlimited use, you just have to be abel to get hold of something to use!
    We operate the same way. We have a certain amount of resources and we all share. You can’t go out and buy your own pool, you can’t buy your own room full of excercise equipment. None of the equipment at the YMCA has YOUR name on it, it’s for everyone to share. The ones who are in the showers all day and the ones who stay on the ellipticals and never get off are in a sense, “Hogs” and they are pissing you off.
    If you go to the YMCA director and yell that you want your own machine that you can use whenever you come in, (Dedicated) he’ll laugh at you and tell you if want your own machine go and buy it!
    Isn’t this the same as what we’re talking about here? We are both shared systems and a few selfish “all for me” people can tear it apart and ruin it for everyone.
    You can;t afford your own room full of machines, you can’t afford your own indoor pool and you can’t afford you own dedicated 15mbps fiber drop out here in rural america. Unless you’re rich, and if you were you wouldn’t be at the YMCA, this is an absolute fact.
    Please. Stop jumping on the bandwagon of hate and finger pointing until you make up your own mind with facts that you have found for yourself. Do some thinking, make some phone calls if you are so angry abotu these “lies” I am telling you. Be informed about what you are angry about before you place blame. Fight for better, cheaper access on the head end because to be honest, we are doing that ourselves. We don’t like havign to fight the war on 2 fronts with one of them with people who should be fighting WITH us instead of against.
    Think. Find the Truth. Act.

  72. Eatmoresoap December 7, 2009 at 6:48 pm #

    Please, please, please read what you just said.
    “I am paying for a network connection that (up to) 20 Mb/s all the time not just part of the time but ALL THE TIME and I SHOULD NOT BE LIMITED TO ONLY A FRACTION OF THAT TIME.”
    Yes, you are paying for UP TO 20mbps. Up to. Up to. You seem to know that it’s there, why the issue?
    And you aren’t limited in any way unless your plan has a data limit and you would have had to agree to that as well. If you have it and you don’t like it, this is America, you can show them exactly how you feel by going with another provider. It’s that simple, but please don’t confuse an UP TO speed with “Unlimited” because they are 2 different things.
    If Vharter is indeed telling you that you have “Unlimited Download Speed” that would be a bit strange because broadband is not infinite and an unlimited speed would be downloading the entire Library of Congress at the blink of an eye and then some.
    What you are confusing is the difference between Unlimited Data Transfer, (No Caps) and your “Up To” speed. You, as well as most everyone else in the world, are on a “Shared Network” where you pay for access and you are allowed to download at a speed UP TO 20mbps. If you go to a site such as you can do various tests to see what your actual speed is at any time. you shoudl hit pretty close to 20mbps most times but there are times when you might see it a bit slower, in the case of my network that would be when the kids get home from school and between 7 and 9:00 at night when a bunch of our Bit Torrent users start downloading.
    But you hit the nail on the head in one respect. If you aren’t happy, pull the plug and your cash and go elsewhere. Just be sure to read the Terms of Service and to make extra sure you get YOUR bandwidth and no one else can use it, call and get yourself that DEDICATED FIBER installation that you seem to desire. More power to you!

  73. James December 8, 2009 at 9:19 am #

    Well, FTP is one example (try uploading a web site via torrent), what about all the other legacy protocols that are still in use because they work and are expensive to replace, or ones that don’t fit a multithreaded model very well
    It’s all well and good when you’re 14 years old on your parent’s dell, but in the real world, you can’t just replace a protocol on the justification that it’s “soooooo XX century”

  74. David H Deans December 9, 2009 at 4:58 pm #

    @Eatmoresoap you said ” It’s still abit pricy in some cities but out here in the “sticks”, and I’m only 35 miles away from 3 large cities here in Ohio, it’s high. $40.00 for that 1mbps dedicated fiber.”
    Therefore, perhaps you have identified the key issue that the FCC “National Broadband Plan” must address — expose the reasons why a large city in the U.S. is not at broadband parity (cost/value) with a large city in South Korea, or one of the other recognized global market leaders. Then, propose a plan of action for the U.S. market to catch-up to the apparent cost/value global leaders.
    The rural market issue can be addressed with the same approach — identify a realistic objective for progress, based upon what’s “reasonable and customary” in the more evolved markets.

  75. David H Deans December 9, 2009 at 5:25 pm #

    @eatmoresoap you said “We purchase bandwidth from upstream providers. We are held hostage by their prices and of course, their prices are differnet depending on how much competition they have in a particular area.”
    IMHO, once again, you clearly state the case for public policy reform that the FCC must implement, as part of their strategic “National Broadband Plan” recommendations in February 2010.
    It’s increasingly apparent that the status-quo scenario that you describe will not change without meaningful intervention. The global market cost/value leaders didn’t get that way by “hoping” for the best outcome, they planned thoughtfully and decisively for their ultimate success.

  76. David H Deans December 9, 2009 at 5:47 pm #

    @eatmoresoap, and here perhaps you have exposed yet another issue that the FCC must address; franchise fees and other forms of taxation that raise the “total cost” of broadband access in America.
    Why are telecommunications services currently taxed at combined rates that equate to it being a vice (similar to tobacco and liqueur taxation rates)?
    If the U.S. federal government really intends to remove the economic handicap on the nation’s essential broadband infrastructure, then substantive policy must place limits on the “total taxation” burden that’s applied to communication services — at the federal, state and local government level.

  77. Eatmoresoap December 9, 2009 at 6:31 pm #

    Exactly. The government can give it all the lip service that they want but the reality is that we either do not have the infrastructure in place (fiber) or the ones who have the infrastructure will not allow the use of it or they underastand that they are the only game in town so they charge an exorbitant fee that has to be passed along to anyone downstream.
    When fiber is placed into the ground, it has to get permission from the local and state governments to pass under and over roadways. Could there not be some provision in the agreement that since they will be using a public right of way that they will offer partial use to providers? I’m not a lawyer, I only play one on TV, so I have no clue how all of that works but I do know that we have a lot of fiber in the ground that isn’t being used and it would be nice to at least know where it is and then have access to it at a reasonable price if it is close enough for someone to use.

  78. Eatmoresoap December 9, 2009 at 6:38 pm #

    I agree 100%. As far as franchise fees go, I never could understand how the local government could charge a fee just for having cable in their town. Where I am at, when dish access was the “new thing” they created zoning that essentially outlawed having a dish. The only purpose for that was to hold on to their franchise fees no mater how they dressed it up. Government will tax anything with disregard to the governed and with no other logic other than cash.

  79. Eatmoresoap December 9, 2009 at 6:43 pm #

    Some of us sent you our contact information and where we need cheap fiber access. I can only assume from your silence that you are still working on obtaining this information for us and not that you were only speaking and not willing act. Good luck to you, my friend. We need you and will be waiting so that we can help you stop the cap. Thank you.

  80. Luke Peters December 10, 2009 at 2:48 pm #

    ISPs: Don’t talk to me until you are upfront with customers. This article is spot on. If you offer X then put a disclamer in fine print, that’s not being up front. ISPs have been spending as little as possible for years and promising the moon. Verizon wants into the big fiber market, as long as they can do it without spending money. Look what they did in New England, put fiber into the big cities where the return was good then when it came to putting fiber in rural areas they sold the entire thing to a company that is now in Chapter 11.
    Ok, the ISPs are supposed to be able to make a profit, granted. But the US is far behind when it comes to the last mile (I am talking about speed here), fix that and the problem with people using more bandwidth goes away.
    Face it, most large Cable Company/ISPs have realized that TV over “cable” is going away over time and that content is moving to TCP/IP. They are trying to protect thier bottom line (or just thier bottom if you perfer) by limiting the amount of data you can download.

  81. Eatmoresoap December 11, 2009 at 6:20 am #

    Uh………. Luke? Have you read anything at all that I have written here or are you another mindless follower of hate?
    Since I and almost every other small ISP have been honest and upfront with the customer, I’m allowed to talk to you now?
    Big corporations do anything they can do to turn a buck. We aren’t big. We are also the ones who are bearing the cost of high priced bandwidth. You don’t see the big cable companies out here for a reason. No profit.
    Don’t put it on us, you really need to read what I have written and stop pointing the finger at all of us when your beef if actually with some big faceless cable provider.

  82. Steve January 4, 2010 at 7:54 am #

    Still, assuming $100 per MB (you used $40), and a 100% margin (you used 40%), the 3mb line costs exactly $600 ($300 in bandwidth, $300 in margin). Using the 40% margin, as you did, still with $100 per MB, his cost is $420, with profit of $180 (30%). Also, while comparisons should certainly be made, comparing RickG’s 3mb line at $600 to a 1mb T1 line from the phone company at $900 only shows that he’s charging less, not that he’s not “sitting in a dark corner waiting for some sucker to come by and be tricked into signing up for that service.” An equally apt conclusion is that he’s only raping his customers less than the phone company.
    Out of curiosity, EatMoreSoap, what do you charge for a dedicated 3mb line, given your estimation of $168 at cost?
    Additionally, I find your metaphor regarding the aluminum plant disingenuous. As an initial matter, electricity IS sold on a per use basis, so the aluminum plant IS paying for its share of distribution and cost proportional to its new usage. Making the assumption that such a plant would rely on just the standard electrical lines is like stating that Google only uses the residential internet access from Comcast. I admit, my knowledge of aluminum power usage is limited, but the metaphor is the same: if you require extensive usage, you use, say, a dedicated line, and pay the extra price for that dedication.
    Let’s try a different metaphor, one that is far more appropriate. A ski resort offers a season pass for their ski lifts. They know that most users will only use the pass a few times over the season, so they can afford to offer it. However, some passholders go every day. This causes some days to have large lines and the passholders that only go occasionally get upset at having to wait so much to ski. While some people may yell at the passholders who go every day, most would agree that they are within their rights to do so, and instead, wisely yell at the ski resort. The resort sold the passes without restriction. Either add more ski lifts (or make the current ones faster) or limit the passholders some way, but equally and fairly.
    To be sure, I don’t think that one person, or one class of persons (the so-called “hogs”) should slow down the network for everyone. However, rather than a pure, unnuanced system for determining such throttling, let it be more egalitarian. We have complex distribution systems in place for many other elements of our lives. How is it that we cannot establish one for bandwidth?

  83. Ajhayter January 4, 2010 at 11:36 pm #

    There seems to be a rare exeption in the UK with Virgin Media. Their fibre service provides the speed they state, and although they don’t mention it in the adverts, their traffic management seems fair (except for having none if you have the 50mb option :s)
    I’m on the 20mb service, and the limits don’t seem a problem. I torrent, and I get stuff from Steam, but even if I do trigger the traffic management I STILL get a solid 5mb/s.

  84. Dave January 8, 2010 at 3:08 am #

    Well, my stomach always getting bigger too. That doesn’t mean I’m going to get into the restaurant and find they are cutting people off so everyone else gets a share or because it is simply too expensive to really give people all they can eat.

  85. globus November 19, 2010 at 6:53 pm #

    Yes, technology improves over time. CPUs get faster, RAM gets bigger, hard drives get bigger. The only thing that hasn’t improved one iota is internet access. My broadband connection speed has been flat for 7 years. Rather than regressing by creating caps or throttling usage, the ISPs should improve their technology and infrastructure, just as everything else improves.

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