Home » Astroturf »Data Caps »Editorial & Site News »Net Neutrality »Public Policy & Gov't » Currently Reading:

Broadband Usage Caps: “Just Switch Providers” — George “Out of Touch With Reality” Ou Misinforms (Again)

Phillip Dampier August 26, 2009 Astroturf, Data Caps, Editorial & Site News, Net Neutrality, Public Policy & Gov't 92 Comments

Astroturfers like Scott Cleland got all excited yesterday about another misinformed piece about broadband usage caps from George Ou, a technology blogger who previously gained infamy from his strident opposition to Net Neutrality and his ridicule of the “scare-mongers” who predicted throttled speeds, multi-tiered broadband service, penalties and blocks for using Voice Over IP services, and providers trying to control what you see on the net.

George Ou

George Ou

Back in 2006, he wrote a three-pager on ZDNet lambasting Save The Internet, MoveOn, and other Net Neutrality proponents who didn’t agree with Ou’s position that this was simply a technology issue.  He accused the groups of hysteria at a fever pitch over their concerns Net Neutrality opposition was much more about politics, profit, and protection of the providers’ business models.

With positions like that, Ou need not ever worry about job security because his rhetorical stars are in perfect alignment with big telecommunications companies.  I’m sure as long as he joins the broadband tug of war on the side of AT&T and other big providers, some policy institute, astroturf group, or other industry-friendly job would always be there for him to take.

Oh wait.  He has.  But more on that later.

These days, Ou has been pondering broadband usage caps, our bread and butter issue on Stop the Cap!

You do not get a cookie if you guessed he’s all for them, because that would be too easy.

Ou decided that the recent comparison between broadband usage caps in Japan and the United States by Chiehyu Li and James Losey of the New America Foundation, was… problematic.  That usually means we are about to get a technological-jargon-cannon barrage in an effort to suggest those folks at the New America Foundation ‘just don’t understand how the Internet works.’

You decide:

Li and Losey point out that while Japanese ISPs caps the upstream; they are generous with unlimited downstream while American ISPs are beginning to cap both the upstream and downstream.  But this is a flawed analysis because capping the upstream effectively cuts to total downstream peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic to the same levels.  And because P2P is one of the most heavily used application on the Internet accounting for the vast majority of Japanese Internet traffic, cutting upstream usage greatly reduce all P2P traffic and all Internet usage which was necessary because their Internet backbones were severely congested.  I’ve argued that it is far more efficient to manage the network but until then the caps are needed.

Another problem with Li and Losey’s analysis is that it only looks at the usage cap without an analysis of the duty cycle and its ramifications.  When we compare the usable duty cycle between ISPs in Japan compared to ISPs in the U.S. derived from Li and Losey’s data, we see a completely different picture.  By splitting the U.S. ISP usage caps (some of these caps are only in proposal phase) into an upstream and downstream cap proportional to the upstream/downstream connection speeds, I was able to generate Figure 1 below.  What it actually shows is that U.S. broadband providers have usage caps that allow users to use their Internet connection far more frequently than users in Japan.  So while a user in Japan is capped to 40 minutes a day of upstream Internet usage, which indirectly caps download speed because it severely trims the number and generosity of P2P seeders.  AT&T’s proposed DSL usage caps (similar to other DSL providers) allow for 1111 minutes of usage per day on the upstream and 97 minutes on the downstream per day.  So broadband consumers who are dissatisfied with their tiny Time Warner usage caps can simply switch to their DSL provider.

I guess that wraps that up.  Or not.

Ou wants us to assume quite a bit in his own analysis.  His contention that the “vast majority” of Japanese Internet traffic is peer-to-peer is “proven” by linking to an earlier article… written by him… saying just that.  But let’s grant Ou the premise that peer-to-peer is at the epicenter of bandwidth congestion in Japan.  Ou defends Japanese providers for specifically targeting the upstream traffic, pointing out stingy torrent users that don’t give as much as they get will automatically be speed limited during downloads (Bit Torrent’s way of equal sharing).  But he never extends the upstream cap argument to the United States, where he implies a similar traffic overload is occurring.  Instead, he merely acknowledges that domestic providers are experimenting with caps that limit both uploading and downloading, impacting every broadband user, not just those “problem” peer to peer users.

Caps.  The necessary evil?

Ou is okay with the equivalent of dealing with a pesky fly in the kitchen by setting the house on fire.  Doing that might solve the fly problem, but makes living there unpleasant at best in the future.

In fact, the impetus for dealing with the peer to peer “problem” in Japan turns out to be as much about copyright politics as bandwidth management.¹

I also have no idea why Ou would spend time developing a “duty cycle” formula in an effort to try and convince Americans that those generous looking caps in Japan are actually worse for you than the paltry ones tested in the United States.  His formula is dependent on the speed levels offered by Japanese vs. American providers to work.  But then Ou tries to debunk the speeds on offer in Japan as more fiction than reality, and throws his own “duty cycle” formula under the bus as a result:

Li and Losey also paint a dire picture that Japan has 10 or more times the connectivity speed as the US, but the most accurate real-world measurement of Internet throughput in Japan according to the Q1-2009 results from Akamai’s State of the Internet report indicates that Japanese broadband customers only average about 8 Mbps.

Ou then exposes he is completely clueless about the state of broadband in some of the communities that actually cope with usage caps, or were threatened with them.  Ou’s suggestion that unhappy Time Warner Cable customers could simply leave a capped Road Runner for DSL service from the phone company leaves residents in Rochester, New York cold.  For them, that means coping with an Acceptable Use Policy from Frontier that defines 5GB per month as appropriate for their DSL customers.  In Beaumont, Texas, the limbo dance of caps last left residents picking between a cap as low as 20GB with AT&T or a 40GB “standard plan” from Time Warner Cable, before Time Warner dropped the “experiment” for now.

Ou should have just suggested customers in western New York and the Golden Triangle just pick up and move to another city.  It would have been more realistic than his “if you don’t like them, switch” solution.  It also presumes there is a viable DSL service to switch to, as well as whether or not the service can provide a sufficiently speedy connection to take advantage of today’s broadband applications.

And here is where you can draw lines between the special interests, astroturfers, industry-connected folks and actual real, live, consumers.

Ou brings out the shiny keys, waving them in consumers’ faces telling them to look somewhere else for answers:

So the reality is that usage caps isn’t what Americans should be focusing on and the priority should be to encourage more next generation broadband deployment.

Internet Overcharging schemes that charge consumers up to 300% more for their broadband service, with no corresponding improvement in service, is not the problem for Ou, but it certainly was for Time Warner Cable customers in several cities chosen for their Overcharging experiment.  The need to encourage more broadband deployment is fine, but American broadband customers will be broke long before that ever happens without some other pro-consumer solutions.

Ou has a problem though.  He has a new employer.

A corporate restructuring at ZDNet in the spring of 2008 meant Ou was free to pursue other professional interests, and wouldn’t you know, he turned up as Policy Director of “pro-commerce” Digital Society.  That’s a “free market think tank” website whose domain name is administered by one Jon Henke in… you guessed it, suburban Washington, DC (Arlington, Virginia to be exact).

The sharks are in the water.

Jon Henke

Jon Henke

Henke, Executive Director of Digital Society, and presumably Ou’s boss, has quite the agenda of his own, and it’s not consumer driven.  He has a long history of involvement in conservative politics, which brings new questions about how Henke would approach “encouraging next generation broadband deployment.”  Does he favor broadband stimulus money?  How about municipal broadband competition?

In addition to his work with Digital Society, Henke also runs something called the DC Signal Team.  What’s that?  Let’s see:

DC Signal is a strategic intelligence and communications firm specializing in new media consulting. Based in the Washington, DC area, we work with a range of clients — corporations, trade associations, campaigns, and individuals — to craft and execute an effective online strategy.  We provide timely intelligence and analysis, as well as communications that can reach and resonate with key opinion makers, policy experts, and elected officials.

Our expertise in new media communications sets DC Signal apart, allowing us to filter out the background noise on the Internet to deliver just the most relevant information, make creative, appropriate recommendations based on that information, and target communications directly to the most influential audiences.

I love the smell of plastic grass in the morning.

That’s right, folks.  DC Signal is a classic PR firm that uses targeted communications to reach the most appropriate audience for their campaigns.  Need to reach consumers and sell them on a pro-industry position?  Set up a “grassroots” group to do it.  Need to baffle the media, lawmakers and opinion leaders with industry BS?  Set up “authoritative” websites to deliver carefully filtered “relevant information.”  What better way to do that than with a blog like Digital Society?

But wait, there’s more.

Henke is also working for an innocuously named group called Arts+Labs, which starts its mission statement out innocently enough:

Arts+Labs is a collaboration between technology and creative communities that have embraced today’s rich Internet environment to deliver innovative and creative digital products and services to consumers. From the early development of motion picture technology, voice recordings and radio to today’s 3D computer graphics, streaming digital movies, “on-demand” entertainment,  online games, news and information, innovative technologies and creativity have always gone hand in hand to enrich our understanding and appreciation of arts, entertainment and culture.

Then things become more ominous.

At the same time, Arts+Labs is working to educate consumers about how net pollution – spam, malware, computer viruses and illegal file trafficking – threatens to transform the Internet from an essential catalyst to safely deliver this content to consumers, into a viral distribution mechanism that will choke off the Internet for consumers and future innovators and creators alike.

I can understand the threats from spam, malware, and computer viruses — what groups out there actually advocate for these? — but the “illegal file trafficking” thrown in at the end had me wondering.

I smell industry money, probably from providers who oppose Net Neutrality and want to throttle peer to peer applications, from Hollywood content producers who want to keep their content off The Pirate Bay, the music industry who is always paranoid about piracy, and of course equipment manufacturers who sell the hardware that does the bandwidth management.

So who “partners” with Arts+Labs?

  • Viacom
  • NBC Universal
  • AT&T
  • Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)
  • Verizon
  • Microsoft
  • Songwriters Guild of America
  • Cisco
  • American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP)

There you go.

astroturf1Arts+Labs tries to be clever about its agenda, not so much with strident opposition to Net Neutrality, but instead promoting “consumer interests” by insisting that providers fully disclose the abuse about to be heaped on their customers.  In a press release in June, the group advocated its own national broadband strategy recommendations to the FCC:

A Safe Internet and Smart Management Will Boost Digital Society

It also said that a safe Internet must be a core part of a national broadband strategy and that the failure to protect online data and crack down on net pollution such as malware, spam, phishing and other Internet crime will erode the value of the Internet and discourage broadband adoption.

“To drive adoption and build a successful digital society that reaches every American, all of us must accept responsibility for minimizing online risks, protecting users’ privacy, and ensuring data security against malicious online activity and cybercrime,” A+L said.

It also urged the Commission to embrace “smart management tools and techniques.”

“Used effectively, smart management of our networks will stimulate broadband adoption by expanding the scope of activities available to consumers, by addressing network congestion, and by defending against hacking, phishing, identity theft and other forms of cybercrime,” the filing added.

But it said network operators must not abuse management tools to interfere with competitors or consumers rights and noted:  “In a digital society, network managers owe their customers transparency about their network management practices, including proactive disclosure of new policies or innovations that may affect users’ experiences.”

A+L Urges Collaborative Effort, Says Pragmatism Should Trump Ideology

It also urged the Commission to avoid unnecessary regulatory constraints that would interfere with the ability of content providers, network operators and other Internet-related businesses to experiment with new business models and to offer innovative new services and options to consumers.

Finally, A+L urged every Internet industry and every individual who uses the Internet to work together to achieve the nation’s broadband goals.

“Building an inclusive digital society and achieving our broadband goals will require all of us to think outside of silos, to choose pragmatic and effective policies over ideology, and to drive broadband adoption by encouraging the creation of exciting content, protecting intellectual property, and ensuring that the Internet is a safe place to be.  And, the guiding principle on every issue should be to find the solution that moves broadband forward,” A+L concluded.

Broadband throttles and Internet Overcharging aren’t anti-consumer — they are “new policies or innovations.”  As long as the provider discloses them, all is well.

The ideology reference in the press release is remarkable, considering the people who involve themselves in Arts+Media represent a veritable hackathon of the DC political elite, from Mike McCurry, former Clinton Administration press secretary, Mark McKinnon, who advised President George W. Bush, to the aforementioned Jon Henke, who was hired originally to do “new media” damage control for former Virginia senator George “Macaca” Allen and then went to work for the presidential campaign of Fred Thompson.

As usual, the only people not on Arts+Labs’ People page are actual consumers.

To wrap up this party of special interests, which consumers aren’t invited to, we wind our way back to the home page of Digital Society, which features a familiar roster of recommended blogs and websites to visit.  Among them:

  • Arts & Labs blog (Henke works with them)
  • Broadband Politics (run by Richard Bennett, who forgot he worked for a K Street Lobbyist, actually on K Street (read the comments at the bottom of the linked article)
  • Cisco Policy Blog (also a partner with Arts+Labs, has a direct interest in selling the bandwidth management hardware)
  • Verizon Policy Blog (also a partner with Arts+Labs, and an interested provider in this issue)

In the beginning of this piece, I recited some of the “scare mongering” Ou accused groups of engaging in on the Net Neutrality debate back in 1996.  The first major Net Neutrality battle was with Comcast over bandwidth throttles.  The barely-conscious FCC under Kevin Martin spanked Comcast (who sued, of course) and we’ve been in a holding pattern ever since.  But the predictions have become remarkably true north of the American border, where Canada endures all of the things Ou swore up and down in 1996 would never happen.

  • Most major broadband providers in Canada throttle the speeds of peer to peer applications, reducing speeds to a fraction promised in their marketing materials.
  • Most major broadband providers in Canada not only charge customers based on broadband speed, but also by the volume of data consumed, causing spikes in customer bills and a reduction in usage allowances in some cases.  Customers now face overlimit fees and penalties for exceeding the Internet usage ration they are granted each month.
  • In 2006, Shaw Communications in Canada tried sticking a $10 monthly fee on broadband customers wanting to use Voice Over IP telephone service.  Vonage Canada complained loudly at the time.
  • As far as controlling what you see online, that’s already in the cards in the States, if the cable industry has any say in the matter.

With a pliable FCC, what exists in Canada today will exist in the United States tomorrow without Net Neutrality protections enacted into law.

(footnoted material appears below the break)

¹Winny copiers to be cut off from Internet
The Yomiuri Shimbun

The nation’s four Internet provider organizations have agreed to forcibly cut the Internet connection of users found to repeatedly use Winny and other file-sharing programs to illegally copy gaming software and music, it was learned Friday.

The move aims to deal with the rise in illegal copying of music, gaming software and images that has resulted in huge infringements on the rights of copyright holders.

Resorting to cutting off the Internet connection of copyright violators has been considered before but never resorted to over fears the practice might involve violations of privacy rights and the freedom of use of telecommunications.

The Internet provider organizations have, however, judged it possible to disconnect specific users from the Internet or cancel provider contracts with them if they are identified as particularly flagrant transgressors in cooperation with copyright-related organizations, according to sources.

The four organizations include the Telecom Service Association and the Telecommunications Carriers Association. About 1,000 major and smaller domestic providers belong to the four associations, which means the measure would become the first countermeasure against Winny-using rights-violators used by the whole provider industry.

They organizations plan to launch a consultative panel, possibly in April, together with copyright organizations including the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers and the Association of Copyright for Computer Software. They will then begin making guidelines for disconnecting users from the Internet who leak illegally copied material onto the Net.

The number of users of file-sharing software such as Winny in the country is estimated to be about 1.75 million, with most of the files exchanged using the software believed to be illegal copies.

A brief six-hour survey by a copyright organization monitoring the Internet found about 3.55 million examples of illegally copied gaming software, worth about 9.5 billion yen at regular software prices, and 610,000 examples of illegally copied music files, worth 440 million yen, that could be freely downloaded into personal computers using such software, the sources said. In other words, this survey alone, uncovered damages amounting to 10 billion yen.

Two years ago, a major Internet provider tried to introduce a measure to disconnect users from the Internet whenever the company detected the use of Winny or other file-sharing software.

However, the provider abandoned the idea after receiving a warning from the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry that such an approach was regarded as Internet snooping and might violate the right to privacy in communications.

According to the new agreement, copyright organizations would notify providers of Internet protocol addresses used by those who repeatedly make copies illegally, using special detection software. The providers would then send warning e-mails to the users based on the IP addresses of the computers used to connect to the Internet. If contacted users did not then stop their illegal copying, the providers would temporarily disconnect them from the Internet for a specified period of time or cancel their service-provision contracts.

(Mar. 15, 2008)

0 0 votes
Article Rating
92 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Smith6612
Smith6612
12 years ago

You just have to love reading or hearing about how these guys contradict themselves all the time over issues such as these, and of course the smell of Astroturf in the morning. Besides, the article did mention Japanese upstream caps. Aren’t those caps around the 125GB per day/week mark? But considering Japan is wired up with fiber optic cable and DOCSIS 3.0 cable, and has 1Gbps satellite service, with the ability to get a symmetrical 100Mbps line for $30-50 a month, maybe even a Gigabit for something affordable, that’s crazy. I’d only imagine to get speeds like that for that… Read more »

Jon Henke
Jon Henke
12 years ago

Actually, I’m perfectly happy to be transparent about this stuff. You may have noticed that I’ve published it. We’re still building the Digital Society website, but I’ve been perfectly transparent about the project with everybody I’ve talked to about it, and I’ll be disclosing any and all involvement in the project once we’ve actually got the website built and the various pages written out.

Jon Henke
Jon Henke
12 years ago

Well, as you point out above, I’m quite open about where I work and have worked. You’re welcome to do the same. Arts+Labs does not have a position on net neutrality; in fact, our members take different positions. While I have not checked with them, I believe they support the FCC’s 4 principles. The purpose of Digital Society is to explore a lot of technology policy issues from a pro-culture and pro-commerce perspective. As we say there, “We believe that culture and commerce are inseparable, that the digital economy flourishes when people are free and rights are secure, and that… Read more »

George Ou
George Ou
12 years ago

First of all Phillip, I’ve been saying publicly saying that metered Internet is a bad idea for a long time and I’ve argued before the FCC against Larry Lessig that usage caps were a poor substitute for good network management. Lessig was the one insisting that we need usage caps http://www.lessig.org/blog/2008/04/testifying_fcc_stanford.html while I testified that it was a bad idea. I’ve also argued against the EFF and FreePress for saying that metered Internet was a great alternative. Here http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=914 and here http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=919. I’ve said that consumers would reject the metered pricing model, but I have NEVER said was that it… Read more »

TM
TM
12 years ago
Reply to  George Ou

“I mean 150 GB is pretty much a sanity check that will never be exceeded by any reasonable person.” Right now that may be true. But what about 5 years from now? Five years ago, waayyyy back in 2004 (I say that tongue in cheek because that was not very long ago), I used no where near the data I do now. My usage has enhanced my life and greatly increased my knowledge and understanding of a number of topics. It has directly had positive influence on me to grow as a person. I met my soon to be wife… Read more »

George Ou
George Ou
12 years ago
Reply to  TM

Why would you assume that all will remain the same in 5 years? Isn’t that kind of like assuming we won’t get more bandwidth at the same price in 5 years? I mean by the end of this year, Comcast will already be hitting 80% of their market (40 million homes) with DOCSIS 3.0, and they’re already doubling customer speeds at no additional charge. As the speeds increase, and average user consumption increases because content bandwidth is increasing e.g., YouTube jumping from 320 Kbps to 640 Kbps to 2300 Kbps, consumer broadband caps will be tailored to the vast majority… Read more »

TM
TM
12 years ago
Reply to  George Ou

I can not even formulate a proper response to address the ridiculousness of your reply. First i live in Rochester, NY. Comcast is not in this market. We have TWC or Frontier for internet. They are not equivalent services. By your ideology, if I don’t like something I should just change my provider. That would be an option I’d love to have. but if you change from TWC in Rochester you have to go to a lesser level of service for the same money. There is no real competition here. You are envisioning and living in a hypothetical bubble. Second,… Read more »

George Ou
George Ou
12 years ago
Reply to  TM

I’m not sure what is so difficult to understand that Time Warner’s final proposal wasn’t THAT unreasonable since they lowered prices for the lower usage caps. I’ve criticized them a lot in the past when they had no price cap safeguards in place and no warning months where they waved overage charges, and when it wasn’t certain that they would lower prices for the lower cap tiers, but that changed. Now while I still don’t think it’s as good a deal as other ISP like AT&T, Verizon, or Comcast, I don’t think it ought to be made illegal but I… Read more »

TM
TM
12 years ago
Reply to  George Ou

I truly question your ability understand the position of those against this proposed practice. Your responses decrease rather than increase my confidence in your ability to comprehend the true gravity of the situation and it’s impact on the markets that don’t enjoy the luxury of real and equal competition. We can choose A or we can choose B, but A and B are not equal on any level. And if you really believe that TWC (or others) will not come back with cap and tier pricing, I have prime ocean front property in Iowa you may be interested in. Or… Read more »

George Ou
George Ou
12 years ago
Reply to  TM

“And if you really believe that TWC (or others) will not come back with cap and tier pricing, I have prime ocean front property in Iowa you may be interested in. Or perhaps you might like to buy a bridge in Brooklyn?” Again, why are you making asumptions about what I believe or don’t believe? Did I say that TWC or others won’t try it again? If so, please cite a specific quote. What I said was that the American market (most of the OECD nations have gotten used to tiny caps) will most likely reject something along the lines… Read more »

Michael Turk
12 years ago
Reply to  TM

I’d like to challenge TM’s assumption here as he is propagating a dangerous misconception. We have TWC or Frontier for internet. They are not equivalent services. By your ideology, if I don’t like something I should just change my provider. That would be an option I’d love to have. but if you change from TWC in Rochester you have to go to a lesser level of service for the same money. There is no real competition here. There is a tremendous misconception that all competition is based on price. That’s simply not true. At any given time in the airline… Read more »

TM
TM
12 years ago
Reply to  Michael Turk

Price is only a part of the concern as to the equalness of the available services in my market. Don’t assume it’s my only basis of comparison.

Michael Turk
12 years ago
Reply to  TM

You specifically stated that it was a question of lesser services for the same money. That implies quite directly that you want either a) more services at the same money (which is competition on features) or b) lesser services for less money (which is competition on price).

My point is the fixed costs are roughly the same from the node backwards, so lesser services for less money isn’t very likely. So that leaves the former. I wasn’t really assuming your position, just going to the logical conclusion your statement created.

Michael Turk
12 years ago

Thanks for making my point. You’re fortunate that you had the luxury of flying out of Buffalo. I’m from Albuquerque. If you don’t like the flights there, you get to drive 8 hours to Phoenix or Denver to catch a different flight. Imagine if you had to drive to DC to get competition. in Albuquerque, there are similar issues with few flights/airlines into the city. There are few non-stop flights in and out and those are always full (competition on features). Albuquerque is a fairly small city (750k people) and not close to another large metropolitan area. This is where… Read more »

Michael Turk
12 years ago

You can also click on my name which has been linked on every comment to the cable industry’s blog which I co-author with a colleague on behalf of the association. The e-mail address I provided you with each submission is my NCTA address. I have done absolutely nothing to hide my association with the cable industry. I routinely track what people are saying about cable and broadband and reply under both that address and url. Those are nasty habits I have as the guy who handles social media outreach for the industry. However, if you want truly full disclosure, I… Read more »

Ron Dafoe
Ron Dafoe
12 years ago
Reply to  George Ou

The problem is the language that you use. There should never be a talk that well, I don’t like a cap system, but this cap system is pretty good. I see a cap system as a direct end around to net nuetrality. It allows providers to collect “bandwidth insurance” (kind of like that protection insurance from the mafiaa) that your data will not be limited to our customers. There is already examples of what I would call abuse of usage caps in other countries. Why should we, as a group, accept usage caps when there is a history of companies… Read more »

George Ou
George Ou
12 years ago
Reply to  Ron Dafoe

“Would your zdnet article have been read by less people if metered access was the norm? I would say probably, becuase these kinds of things are only liklely to be done when everything that people need to do on the internet is done. I don’t care how much bandwidth that your article takes, it is bandwidth that I have to evaluate wether or not I want to use my precious resource in looking at.” This is just plain silliness, and you know it (or at least I hope). You could load my old ZDNet page and thousands of other websites… Read more »

Ron Dafoe
Ron Dafoe
12 years ago
Reply to  George Ou

Your not getting my point. When people have to think if they should use their bandwidth for everything they do because it is rationed it is not good for anyone. The fact is, it will cause people to think about wether they want to do this or that or the other thing. Especially low limits, like 1 or 5Gb a month. What is wrong with the tiered services that are offered now from every major provider? They all seem to do well with the current plans they have. I don’t want to check a meter to make sure I don’t… Read more »

George Ou
George Ou
12 years ago
Reply to  Ron Dafoe

I’m not sure why you’re focusing on a hypothetical, because there are no outrageously priced 5 GB cap services. I only raised the 5 GB cap to point out the absurdity of your claim that just surfing web sites will run you over the cap, which can reasonably be interpreted as scare mongering. They type of caps we’re mainly seeing is $43/month for 15 Mbps service with a 250 GB cap, or a $35 service for 6 Mbps with 150 GB cap when almost all the OECD nations are dealing with 5 to 40 GB caps. I don’t see the… Read more »

Ron Dafoe
Ron Dafoe
12 years ago
Reply to  George Ou

Your still not getting me. Yes, my example was extreme but but not so extreme. We can debate this issue to death. You took one of my stances, missed the generalization, and skipped the rest of the post. My point is what you do on the internet adds up. When I access you articles, I may have to decide if it is worth using up any of my bandwidth allotment for the to read it, however small the size. I can only tell you what is in my area. TW “competition” says that 5gb is acceptable. While not enforced at… Read more »

George Ou
George Ou
12 years ago
Reply to  Ron Dafoe

Well it’s kind of hard to “get you” when you’re willing to take liberties and just make up phony examples.

Ron Dafoe
Ron Dafoe
12 years ago
Reply to  George Ou

I specifically told you (the competition) Frontier Internet has a 5gb per month acceptable usage policy. That is what they consider fair usage. They say right now, that they will not doing anything about it, but that can change at a moments notice and that specific language has been there for 1 year. It is also a similiar price to TWC.

https://frontier.com/~/media/corporate/policies/aup-residential.ashx

And your still skipping the rest of the post and focusing on an example.

Michael Turk
12 years ago
Reply to  Ron Dafoe

Your not getting my point. When people have to think if they should use their bandwidth for everything they do because it is rationed it is not good for anyone. The fact is, it will cause people to think about wether they want to do this or that or the other thing. Especially low limits, like 1 or 5Gb a month. Gas, electricity, and cell phone minutes are rationed with no complaints. I have to pay attention to how much I drive because gasoline is not a free, unlimited resource. When I turn up the heat in my house, I… Read more »

Ron Dafoe
Ron Dafoe
12 years ago
Reply to  Michael Turk

We have seen this response before. Please go back and read some of the articles all over the internet about it. I pay for my services based upon my speed. I have the highest speed available in my area. TWC has stated that those of us on the higher speed tiers are suplimenting their lower speed tiers, am I mad about that? No. I pay for the speed that I would like. Managing traffic on a network is a totally different subject, a subject that I agree with as long as it is made known what kind of traffic you… Read more »

Ron Dafoe
Ron Dafoe
12 years ago
Reply to  Michael Turk

I am going to reply becuase I despise the analogies presented. Bandwidth is not a consumed product in the end like all of the things you mentioned. Nobody has to make another GB after I “use” the GB I received from my broadband connection.

The better analogy would be cable tv service, as it is data as well.

We don’t and are not talking about metered cable tv service, why are we talking about metered internet services? We don’t consumption bill on the amount of data that is consumed by watching TV. We package it, just the like internet service.

George Ou
George Ou
12 years ago
Reply to  Ron Dafoe

“Nobody has to make another GB after I “use” the GB I received from my broadband connection”

Every GB you use is a GB that another 19 people can’t use. There’s a finite number of GBs that a network can support, and it can’t support every user saturating their pipes 24×7. That’s why broadband (which is always shared) costs about 20-40 times less per Mbps than dedicated circuits. This shared model is the secret sauce of packet switching networks like the Internet. It’s a much more efficient network.

Ron Dafoe
Ron Dafoe
12 years ago
Reply to  George Ou

But when I am done using it, it is there for the next. It magically appears and is not consumed forever as the other items. That is why ISPs use network management, to make sure their shared resource is available to everyone.

Just as every time I watch a tv show, it is not consumed and someone has to make it again.

George Ou
George Ou
12 years ago
Reply to  Ron Dafoe

“But when I am done using it, it is there for the next. It magically appears and is not consumed forever as the other items. That is why ISPs use network management, to make sure their shared resource is available to everyone.” And that’s precisely the reason I say that usage caps are inferior to network management. However, Phillip’s buddies at Free Press testified before the FCC that usage caps were superior to network management, and he still hasn’t clarified if he’s affiliated with Free Press though he’s eager to defend their hypocrisy. However, you do need to understand that… Read more »

Ron Dafoe
Ron Dafoe
12 years ago
Reply to  George Ou

The problem is, caps do not manage a network, ever. It is an arbitrary usage measurement. The person that is connected and using their connection all day long, everyday is consuming more of TWs network resources in the month, than I am if I download 5Gb a day in 2 or 3 hours and never utilize it again in that day. Even though I may consume 150Gb of data, it is in bursts rather than constant while the previous user is constantly using bandwidth. He may only use 75Gb in one month. Why am I using more network resources on… Read more »

Michael Chaney
12 years ago
Reply to  Michael Turk

So in a truly “metered” world, as with the gas in my car and the electricity at my house, I should receive a bill for $0 if I unplug my router right? I mean if the analogy holds up then this would be true right? Of course this isn’t how it works now is it, and why is that so? Because the true cost of service lies in providing the connection (yes, plus admin, facilities, etc.) and NOT the actual data over that connection. Just ask the movie studios what answer they were given when they asked ISPs for true… Read more »

John Passaniti
Admin
12 years ago
Reply to  George Ou

Ah, the debate tactic where instead of addressing the issue, you instead address the example. Yes George, nobody is going to go over a bandwidth cap downloading your article every 10 seconds. And it’s a good thing too, since that’s obviously how people use the Internet– to read your old articles. It sure is good that in a typical day, I don’t get email with links to YouTube videos that friends and family want me to see and file attaches that my boss wants me to act on. It sure is good that I’m not streaming music from both familiar… Read more »

George Ou
George Ou
12 years ago
Reply to  John Passaniti

Enough with the cheap sarcasm. I was simply pointing out the ridiculousness of the claim that mere web surfing (my old articles or any other site) would run out a 5 GB cap. There’s no reason to take it literally. The main reason I pointed to those old articles was to point out that I have been fighting Free Press and the EFF for endorsing those 5 GB cap plans as supposedly a better alternative for intelligent network management. So please stop your selective listening, and stop saying that I think a 5 GB cap is somehow a good or… Read more »

Ron Dafoe
Ron Dafoe
12 years ago
Reply to  George Ou

I think this sites point is clear:
No caps. Sell on speed tier services.

That is what I agree with.

I would also add that these companies stop telling their customers one thing and their investors another. Stop trying to save your cable business with limiting your internet service.

George Ou
George Ou
12 years ago

1) I was aware of your comments and your position on this issue before writing the story. I am aware you do not feel usage caps are the best solution — network capacity upgrades are, but you yourself have stated that they “are needed”: Only if you believe in the myth of the “dumb pipe” or the “rise of the stupid network” which even the author admitted doesn’t work. Capacity upgrades don’t obviate the need for intelligent network management as applications like P2P will consume 100% of the bandwidth no matter how much capacity you build in. Even 10% P2P… Read more »

George Ou
George Ou
12 years ago

“Also, what is “intelligent network management.” That has to be defined carefully because one person’s QoS can be someone else’s throttled broadband experience. We may turn out to agree on the need for this as well, if you specifically define what this means. Does it mean reducing the bandwidth for specific Internet applications by up to 90+% of available speed, like what happens in Canada with BitTorrent during most of the day? Or does it mean intelligent switching that better and more efficiently handles traffic without impeding it?” Check the white paper I wrote. I talked about intelligent prioritization based… Read more »

Papa Midnight
Papa Midnight
12 years ago
Reply to  George Ou

I suppose I, as a video game journalist, am unreasonable then because I can break 150GB in under a week. Actually, more accurately, I can do that in 3 days flat.

George Ou
George Ou
12 years ago
Reply to  Papa Midnight

“I suppose I, as a video game journalist, am unreasonable then because I can break 150GB in under a week. Actually, more accurately, I can do that in 3 days flat.”

If you were truly video game journalist, then you would understand that video games are very low bandwidth applications. In fact, I just did the math and it works out to 32 GB per month if you were to game nonstop 24×7.

Papa Midnight
Papa Midnight
12 years ago
Reply to  George Ou

I guess you don’t understand the fact that we have to transport media including images and videos. The last Left 4 Dead 2 trailer I received from VALVe was over 1GB. You also have to count in cost to bandwidth of screen shots, updates (patches), etc.; Batman: Arkham Asylum demo: a little over 2GB. That doesn’t even take into account the process of downloading, re-encoding to make it web user friendly as not everyone appreciates a 27megabit video stream at 1280×720, and shipping it off. I’ve been given titles from Electronic Arts totaling over 6GB per title; Rockstar’s Grand Theft… Read more »

George ou
George ou
12 years ago
Reply to  Papa Midnight

I guess you don’t understand the fact that we have to transport media including images and videos. The last Left 4 Dead 2 trailer I received from VALVe was over 1GB. You also have to count in cost to bandwidth of screen shots, updates (patches), etc. Batman: Arkham Asylum demo: a little over 2GB. That doesn’t even take into account the process of downloading, re-encoding to make it web user friendly as not everyone appreciates a 27megabit video stream at 1280×720, and shipping it off. And how often do you download trailers or trials per month? If you downloaded one… Read more »

Papa Midnight
Papa Midnight
12 years ago
Reply to  George ou

2.5MBPS? 720p?! That might work well for 480p but unless you’re up for what a friend of mine would refer to as a “pixelfest”, 2.5MBPS is not the way to go. Let’s take the smallest trailer I could find on short notice and use it for an example. Game TrailersLeft 4 Dead 2l4d2_e3_teaser_v37_st11_steam.wmv Format : Windows Media File size : 118 MiB Duration : 1mn 16s Overall bit rate mode : Variable Overall bit rate : 13.0 Mbps Maximum Overall bit rate : 18.5 Mbps Encoded date : UTC 2009-05-30 00:58:06.482 Considering how often media is released by publishers and… Read more »

Ron Dafoe
Ron Dafoe
12 years ago
Reply to  George ou

Let’s actually see what someone might do, in a household that has 2 children, 2 computers and an xbox 360: Wow – playing and updates Other online games for PC XBox 360 – game updates, system updates, demos Windows Updates for 2 computers AntiVirus Updates for 2 computers Misc software updates – Office, Adobe, Kodak software, Logitech, etc – for 2 computers Video Driver are released on a monthly basis and they are BIG Movie streaming from Netflix to the XBox 360 Youtube video watching Internet music streaming Web Browsing E-mail, with pictures attached Homework Connecting to the office through… Read more »

Stew
Stew
12 years ago
Reply to  George Ou

Mr Ou, You wrote “They type of caps we’re mainly seeing is $43/month for 15 Mbps service with a 250 GB cap, or a $35 service for 6 Mbps with 150 GB cap”. That was certainly not the case in the beaumont area. My rr service cost 55/month with a 20gb cap. Phillip has a copy of the letter ATT sends out via fedex after signing up, with the speed and limits, on the site here. Your comment “At this point, I see no point in arguing with a habitual liar.” totally out of line. After reading most of the… Read more »

George Ou
George Ou
12 years ago

Strident opposition to Net Neutrality? I guess you’d have to lump Larry Lessig and Sir Tim Berners-Lee in to the same camp, because they opposed regulatory bans on tiered pricing for better service as well.

Here was my position on Net Neutrality, and it was linked to by people on both sides of the issue as a good article.
http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=512

Michael Chaney
12 years ago

“Now in no way am I suggesting that American broadband is better than Japan because the speed and absolute usage cap size Japanese ISPs offer is nice, but we need to understand that the usage caps in proportion to the advertised bandwidth is more usable in the United States.” -Ou You’re completely contradicting yourself. If I had a 768 kbps speed with a 20 GB cap, I’d have a max possible volume of ~250 GB and a “duty cycle” of ~8%. In your example, “…if a Japanese IPS has usage cap of 900 GB, and .. a maximum transmissible data… Read more »

Michael Turk
12 years ago

Stop trying to save your cable business with limiting your internet service. This is another fallacy that seems to be a popular refrain from the “regulate the net” crowd. Per capita and household TV consumption is up, ratings on cable shows are up, most cable content outside the basic tier isn’t available anywhere else. And while cable customers aren’t growing exponentially, they aren’t declining either. Most experts agree the flat growth of cable revenue is due to a saturated maket, not a loss of customers. There simply aren’t “more” customers to attract. So what are we trying to save exactly?… Read more »

Ron Dafoe
Ron Dafoe
12 years ago
Reply to  Michael Turk

It is not a fallacy if in Time Warners own documents and conference calls they specifically raise the concern that internet video is an issue that the cable end of their business has to deal with. “TWC faces competition from a range of other competitors, including, increasingly, companies that deliver content to consumers over the Internet, often without charging a fee for access to the content. This trend could negatively impact customer demand for TWC’s video services, especially premium and On-Demand services.” Aslo their TV Everywhere initiative where you have to pay for a cable or satellite station to get… Read more »

Michael Turk
12 years ago
Reply to  Ron Dafoe

Actually, such statements are typically included in any company’s financial statements. There are even special names for them – disclosure and safe harbor statements. Any publicly traded company is required to state things that “could” be a threat to the business. Any solicitation for investment made without such acknowledgment could be considered fraudulent if investors who lost money discovered that the company was aware of such things and didn’t warn them. That’s simply business practice. As an example, look at the financial statement for a company like EA Games and you’ll see statements that discuss the nature of MMORPGs and… Read more »

Ron Dafoe
Ron Dafoe
12 years ago
Reply to  Michael Turk

It means that it is a concern and all of their business decision have taken this concern in account.

Michael Chaney
12 years ago
Reply to  Michael Turk

“Cable largely created the broadband market because it wasn’t regulated…” Cable provided the network, but they didn’t create the market. Content providers created the market, and that market has grown and flourished because, up until now, Net Neutrality principles have been observed by ISPs and they kept their hands out of the content cookie jar. Even though the market was unregulated, all the players understood that this new Internet frontier had to be open and free of hindrance if it was going to grow. But now baby is all grown up, and these ISPs now see un-monetized traffic as wasting… Read more »

Ron Dafoe
Ron Dafoe
12 years ago
Reply to  Michael Turk

“most cable content outside the basic tier isn’t available anywhere else”

I am not sure I know what you mean by this? Are you saying that alot of cable content is not available outside of the cable medium?

Please give me an example so I know precisely what your talking about, as when I go and look, most series, including premium channel series and cable channel series are available on DVD not too long after the season is done.

Even non-series shows seem to get released on DVD.

Michael Turk
12 years ago

Your argument with FP historically comes as a result of your opposition to their belief in Net Neutrality. In a world where a true metered model, with usage allowances sold for closer to what it really costs providers — 10c per gigabyte or less, and would guarantee the user with a non-throttled experience, I can see why a group might advocate that over throttles and premium tiers of service for content producers. Your assessment of costs at this moment in time is not an accurate assessment of costs OVER time. To quote a 10 cent per GB number reflects a… Read more »

Michael Chaney
12 years ago
Reply to  Michael Turk

Do you have actual investment figures, dates and ammortization schedules? I really have been wanting to see the hard numbers of how that factors into their COGS. I think all of us here have been trying to reach an honest fact-based figure for actual cost-per-GB for various ISPs.

Brett Glass
Brett Glass
12 years ago

Phillip, you need not ever worry about job security because your rhetorical stars are in perfect alignment with Google. Which, I am sure, is paying you to promote its corporate agenda — just as it is paying your buddies at Free Press, Public Knowledge, and New America Foundation to do so.

Papa Midnight
Papa Midnight
12 years ago

Come now, Mr. Dampier. You of all people should be aware from what you post on that actual evidence is irrelevant in this world.

Sorry to engage in sarcastic wit at your slight expense.

PROUD AMERICAN
PROUD AMERICAN
12 years ago

Michael Turk your specious arguments reek of the bias infused by someone whose agenda and paycheck is sourced solely from the cable industries efforts to screw the consumer, protect monopolies and salvage dying VOD revenue streams. Pathetic and transparent. Your downfall is believing that rhetoric, fear mongering and spin will somehow fool the average broadband customer….a significant miscalculation. The beautiful and ironic aspect of all this is that this very medium provides the vehicle to disseminate actual facts, data, truth and the knowledge that intelligent free thinking individuals can use to protect their rights. No amount of BS from you… Read more »

Jeremy
Jeremy
12 years ago

I just have to say, the industry reps. here are not doing themselves any favors. Pick and choose items to attack, personal insults, and then avoid solid facts about the impact on consumers and the internet in general. These comments have just brought me to the realization that I need to contact my representatives again stating my support of this sites values, just more strongly. It seems the reps. here are ok with selling out their neighbors, friends and every other American for the quick buck from the big providers. This earns them no trust at all from me.

Smith6612
Smith6612
12 years ago

May I just mention a few things: 1: Yes, a lot of video online today that is in “720p” that streams at 3000kbps bitrate (which does look like crap in full screen). I can’t expect people to boost the bitrate to something such as 7000kbps for 720p or even 6000kbps video with 256kbps MP3 audio which is what I export my 720p files at with the H.264 codec inside of the AVI container, and of course without having tons of servers or servers with direct to fiber connectivity, I don’t see te bitrate increasing anytime soon. Just take a look… Read more »

George Ou
George Ou
12 years ago
Reply to  Smith6612

Smith6612, I do play TF2, and I’m talking about the client end and not the server end. Server end obviously takes a lot more bandwidth, and that’s why they limit it to around 100 Kbps average (yes I know it bursts well above that at times but I’m talking average which is what affects your overall usage). Everything you talked about pretty much fits into a 150 GB budget. Speaking of Google, they’re hoping more people don’t jump on the 2 Mbps 720P train, at least not all at once because they’re getting murdered by the bandwidth costs. And yes,… Read more »

Smith6612
Smith6612
12 years ago
Reply to  George Ou

I’m in Garry’s Mod at the moment. What I was talking about above is in fact the bandwidth usage I typically run my clients at. Here are the console commands I use in my Source games. TF2 will use 300kbps of bandwidth on a busy 32 player server, given the server has a high tick rate (many of the ones I play on do). rate 50000 cl_updaterate 100 cl_cmdrate 100 cl_interp 0.01 cl_interp_all 1 cl_interp_ratio 1 cl_interp_threadtickmode 1 I use the same settings in Garry’s Mod and it can sit around 400kbps when a lot of props are moving around,… Read more »

Ron Dafoe
Ron Dafoe
12 years ago
Reply to  George Ou

I used 4.5Gb last night streaming 2 episiodes of The Hunger from netflix to my xbox 360. This was NOT in HD. 2 episodes is roughly 2 hours.

Oscar@SA
12 years ago
Reply to  George Ou

150GB.. my family blows through that in less than a week… no cap is reasonable.. period… If you were here I would beat you down with the astroturf you are sitting on.. LMAO 🙂

Michael Chaney
12 years ago
Reply to  George Ou

“Well, that’s not what the broadband provider sold you when they told you it was “up to” 6 Mbps” Maybe this isn’t what they sold us, but it’s damn well what they marketed to us. For 20 years now I’ve watched commercials yelling “UNLIMITED INTERNET” all the while burying limits in the fine print or not disclosing “abuse” limits at all. So over the last 20 years we’ve developed apps (games, video, streaming in general) to fully utilize the “UNLIMITED INTERNET” we were sold….figuratively if not actually. My response to the ISPs is, you made your bed, now lie in… Read more »

Ed Hilton
Ed Hilton
12 years ago

I live in back woods Tennessee. I had a sprint wireless Data plan that was unlimited. I was 13 months into the plan. I really enjoyed the 1mb connection compared to dial up. I paid $59.99 per month. I used 17gb on average. They kicked me off discontinued my service which I had a contract with them to receive. I always paid my bill which upheld my end of the bargain but they broke the contract with me. Why for going over this 5gb cap thing that they all have imposed on everyone. I even ask if they had a… Read more »

Tim
Tim
12 years ago
Reply to  Ed Hilton

Damn, I did not know this. PBS even covered this. Thank you for sharing this. Every news outlet out there should be on this.

Tim
Tim
12 years ago

Finally got through these comments, whew. Anyway, someone tell me this, are we having a data crisis or a bandwidth crisis? Because if it is the later, then it would seem the problem is one that ISP’s are over-selling their backbone. If it is data, then how are we going to run out of data? Please explain to me why data needs to be capped and not bandwidth? And don’t the ISP’s have lower speed offerings for people who are lite uses? And don’t ISP’s make a killing, already, off of people that usually go for the premium speed tiers?… Read more »

Jon Henke
Jon Henke
12 years ago

“Mr. Ou, since the company you work for claims to encompass “culture” as well, what is your take on the culture aspect of 20 years of “UNLIMITED INTERNET” marketing?”

I can’t speak for George and I can’t speak to commercials you’ve seen over the years, but I do agree that advertising must be accurate, ISP’s should be transparent about exceptional network management practices and companies should not market “unlimited internet” while imposing undisclosed caps.

George Ou
George Ou
12 years ago
Reply to  Jon Henke

I’ve always stated that there needs to be much more transparency needed. I’ve said this during public speaking, in my writing, just about everywhere.

As for the claim of 20 years of “unlimited internet” marketing, the Broadband market is barely 10 years old. So this kind of hyperbole isn’t helpful to the debate. Moreover, a few broadband providers used the term but I don’t think any of them do that now. Still, it hurts the honest ISPs not to have a transparency standard in place if other ISPs misrepresent their goods and services.

Ron Dafoe
Ron Dafoe
12 years ago
Reply to  George Ou

I don’t know if this is what he meant but I was using the internet through local dial up providers in 1995 or so.

While broadband is barely 10 years old, dial up internet access was available in the early 1990s and some companies billed as unlimited back then as well (as long as there was no busyanyways).

Tim
Tim
12 years ago
Reply to  Ron Dafoe

And I might add that caps have been tried before and failed. I was with AT&T dial-up back in the mid 90’s and they decided to change their unlimited plan to limited. Supposedly, they sent an email telling their already unlimited account subscribers about the radical change in their account. I never received the email and boy was I surprised when I got the bill at the end of the month, $400+!! I complained and I did get a credit on my account and soon there after they stopped the silly cap stuff because it was ridiculous. $400 for internet?… Read more »

Sonicmerlin
Sonicmerlin
12 years ago

I don’t understand. Where is George Ou getting his information that the vast majority of developed countries employ caps, let alone *stricter caps* than in the US? Was there an international study demonstrating this information? Furthermore, how does he explain the profitability of ISPs in countries like Sweden and Japan, where symmetrical 100mbit connections have been offered for years? Finally, how does he justify Time Warner’s desire to impose caps when they’ve had the same speed tiers for a DECADE, and internet speed increases according to Moore’s Law? They also make billions upon billions in profit. The only Cable company… Read more »

George Ou
George Ou
12 years ago
Reply to  Sonicmerlin

“I don’t understand. Where is George Ou getting his information that the vast majority of developed countries employ caps, let alone stricter caps than in the US? Was there an international study demonstrating this information?” The data comes from the OECD broadband portal. http://www.oecd.org/sti/broadband/broadband-statistics/ It’s also well known that the caps in the UK, Australia, and Canada are very restrictive. The OECD data simply confirms it and it also shows the caps in other nations as well. Broadband usage/uptake and Internet traffic has shot up exponentially at a very steep climb. This idea that we’ve been flat over the last… Read more »

Alex
Alex
12 years ago
Reply to  George Ou

Bandwidth costs have also lessened, and broadband ISPs have had increasing profits. Even the CLECs in Canada which still offer uncapped broadband in parts of the country are profitable.

Considering that more internet content is still produced in the US than any other country and that the US is home to several major hubs it would be fair to say that the US can certainly afford more bandwidth relatively.

Search This Site:

Contributions:

Recent Comments:

Your Account:

Stop the Cap!