I used to work for an ISP and I totally get the concept of oversubscription. But they're saying I can only use my paid account for about one-seventieth of the month without paying extra, all while advertising all the great streaming services I can use through my account.
I could not possibly be more wholeheartedly supportive of reclassifying Comcast as a common carrier. Using fines to maintain a 70:1 minimum oversubscription model is all the proof I need that this is sorely needed.
For most people, higher speed isn't about being able to download more data per month. It's about their data not taking as long to download. Average use is only 50 GB/month, according to data quoted in the discussion on North American usage earlier today .
E.g., I have 30 mbps Comcast instead of 3 mbps DSL because when I need a 1 GB file I'd much rather get it in 5 minutes than in 45 minutes.
I want to know the distribution curve, because I bet it's a pretty flat distribution. Presumably Comcast knows that too, and that's why they even -have- that "use only 5 gigs a month and save $5", which is the biggest ripoff I've ever heard of, but which, for grandma checking her email, might make sense (provided her grandchildren never visit her and use the internet).
You are conflating two very separate issues and the statement is false. Being a top-1% user by volume does not mean that you are subsidized by everybody else.
Network costs are diven by peak usage, i.e. when there is a risk of congestion. Peak usage is during primetime and the majority of users are online then. Thus almost everybody uses the network at the same time and it makes sense to share the cost equally. Hence nobody is subsidizing anybody else.
Here's the data to back me up:
"In order to investigate these issues, we took real user data for all the broadband customers connected to a single aggregation link and analyzed the network statistics on data consumption in five-minute time increments over a whole day.The data was shared by an ISP in North America who wanted to understand its own network usage. Our analysis tracked both data consumption (i.e. total MB downloaded) and bandwidth usage (i.e. Mbps being used).
42% of all customers (and nearly 48% of active customers) are amongst the top 10% of bandwidth users at onepoint or another during peak hours."
Source: diffeaction Analysis
At the same time, I do think they're a bad idea for everyone. If we had usage-based billing ten years ago, I don't think there would be a YouTube or a Netflix. Electronic distribution of games would probably not exist. Major image sharing sites like imgur would not be nearly as popular. Webapps would be less common. People would be much more likely to delay software updates or forgo them altogether.
I think that usage-based billing does represent a major impediment to the continued advancement of the Internet. This is certainly a major blow to any future where cloud-based backups or video sharing are more common or see new applications.
Secondly, the problem isn't with 'usage-based billing' in general. The problem is that this isn't 'usage-based', because the only thing that has changed from the previous billing is a over-priced fee tacked on for people who go over the cap. True usage-based billing would allow for people to actually save money when they used little bandwidth a month, but this doesn't allow for that.
WAY back when cell phones were first getting popular I got one through my employer. It was a personal phone, but they allowed employees to get personal phones through their business plan. I paid a very modest monthly flat fee and then $0.10/minute for usage. No caps. $0.10/minute for voice sounds absurd today but then it was quite reasonable and the costs were completely predictable.
It is true that many of the people reading this thread are top bandwidth users overall, but I question whether their peak-hour contribution to e.g. Netflix congestion is any more or less than the average Netflix subscriber. I also do not accept the claim that advanced users are "subsidized" by the other subscribers. If anything, the higher monthly fees paid for 50, 60, or 100mbit/s are helping to pay for the physical costs of the lower tiered users.
That said, usage-based billing is not a terrible idea, as long as the metering is 100% transparent, standardized, and as dirt cheap as it really should be. The second biggest argument I have against metered billing is that it's mentally taxing to have to think about every bit you send and receive. The first argument against it is that it's a technique to gouge customers.
You know what, let's do that usage-based billing, the difference between 5GB and 300GB would be about 1%, because of the small cost of the shared pipe. This is just more bullshit from Comcast, unheard of anywhere else on this planet.
Maybe I'm biased, but I can't see where I went wrong.
It's not your personal pipe. The bandwidth on the segment connected to you is shared with your neighbours. Upgrading the bandwidth on your segment costs money, ergo we do not want you to use "too much" bandwidth. Pre-emptively curbing bandwidth usage with threats of and/or actual overage fees, ensures higher operating margins and puts off upgrade expenses, thus increasing profits.
Not perhaps the answer you were hoping for, but hey, corporations gotta make money, right?
The vitrol is aimed at unreasonably high fees. Quite justifiably, I might add.
The person being subsidized is the computer-illiterate person who uses no data except for during peak times and then requires several tech-support calls a month.
Usage based cost makes sense for electricity or water. If you use more, they have to send more to your house. It's not the same for bandwidth, unless the total amount is over the available bandwidth.
I have a feeling they just have more people in the "peak users" category than the "over 300gb" category, so its easier to piss off the smaller group.
With more people cutting the cords, this is only going to get worse -- people come home and watch TV. I personally don't want to pay for a 10 lane highway with 5% utilization 90% of the day just to avoid 2 hours of traffic, so I definitely don't want to pay for internet that guarantees 50 mbps or whatever even during peak hours (if I wanted that I'd lease a line - I just want a cheap connection to the internet). I don't want to pay the ridiculous cost of over engineering. I'd rather see solutions that embrace the reality of that situation.
As to metering, that might work if there were competition. But, as has been repeatedly pointed out, there is little or no effective broadband competition in the U.S.
"No capacity" has a similar spectre in the last mile as to that which was recently demonstrating in the Netflix inter-connection choking scandal. Although last mile requires more outlay than "fixing" Netflix, the money is there (currently in outrageous profits).
The major ISP's have had years -- and very significant government subsidies and other favors -- to fix this. They haven't. We need the infrastructure to keep our economy competitive. Time to (re)regulate, and to open the field up to municipal development and competition.
There are a few problems with this. Firstly, very few users are going to cut down peak usage, because it's during primetime that they have the free time and inclination to use the Internet.
Secondly most people don't even know what a GB is. Thirdly, you assume usage-based fees are meant to curb usage rather than drive profits.
> or services would offer a way to cache episodes locally during the night so you can watch them after work.
Since we are basically talking Netflix here, this is never going to fly with the DRM guys.
This is not a technical problem, as you can see, since the desided outcome can be reached, if you are willing to ignore some legal niceties...
(and fwiw, i have no interest in defending comcast. i bring this up mainly inform myself about the circumstances.)
The marginal cost to Comcast is close to zero, the question is how to account for upgrades if everybodys usage goes up enough to exceed network design capacity.
Regular folk unexpectedly think that the cost of normal network upgrades are included in this so called "monthly subscription fee", but Comcast has real accountants with actual hard copy degrees on their walls that tell us that we need additional "bandwidth usage fees" and "overage fees" to pay for it in the US.
Also, common carrier phone services only had usage charges for long-distance service.
Someone else just needs to come out with better and cheaper services. Comcast sucks and is milking their monopoloy.
Not really true. Maybe within an exchange--don't really remember. But there were certainly usage-based charges even within an area code.
Not to mention, electricity has always been usage-based. Heck, a modern desktop PC probably burns through a nickle or two as he browses as well!
Why is it OK for AWS & Google Cloud to meter by the GB, but not Comcast?
In addition, with AWS I can always switch to a cheaper provider. I can not switch to a cheaper cable company.
And that only kicks in after the first 300GB.
AWS/Google retail bandwidth prices are a bad comparison, as they are ridiculously expensive compared to wholesale bandwidth prices.
Wholesale bandwidth costs about 0.1 cents per GB. Not quite 1000X what Comcast charges, it's "only" 100X the wholesale rate.
To give you some perspective, Dane Jasper, CEO of Sonic.net said they spend about 3% of their costs on bandwidth. Please consider that Sonic is a small actor and at scale costs will be less.
Source? I've often wondered what this number is when viewed in aggregate across carriers - I can just never find it.
Just kidding. Seriously though, you are not going to see wholesale rates posted on a website. Contact your bandwidth provider and ask for a quote. For serious volumes and good pricing, expect to sign an NDA.
However, to give you an idea of lowend pricing here are some examples from FDCservers. This is not an endorsement, just a site with easily accessible prices that I could remember off the top of my head. In fact, I emphatically do not recommend them. There are much better providers both in terms of price and quality.
Remember 0.1 cents per GB equals about $0.30 per Mbps.
Asymmetrical 100G at $0.15 per Mbps
Metered 10G at $0.60 per Mbps
Unmetered 10G including server $500
Better providers like L3 are around $3/Mbps, last I heard.
So $0.001 a GB means you'd only pay 33 cents per Mbps, which seems pretty low. But maybe at terabit commits, HE goes even lower.. I've only looked at 10G commits.
Not to mention that bringing bandwidth to a DC is way cheaper than bringing it to individual homes.
We are not talking about individuals buying retail bandwidth here.
It doesn't make sense to compare retail prices to wholesale prices. If an average coder can't even get bandwidth at $0.001/GB with some serious effort, then how this this a valid point of comparison for how much bandwidth should cost for the average internet user?
I doubt you can get Level3 or Internap to beat HE prices.
It very much does. It gives you a sense of real world marginal costs, a fair assessment of fair market value (fair retail cost = reasonable markup factor * wholesale cost) and a sense of scale.
> If an average coder can't even get bandwidth at $0.001/GB with some serious effort,
If I can, you can. I've even given examples with links to order pages. Not that I recommend FDCservers, mind you.
> then how this this a valid point of comparison for how much bandwidth should cost for the average internet user?
It's a valid point because it tells you how much bandwidth ACTUALLY costs compared to what Comcast says it costs.
> I doubt you can get Level3 or Internap to beat HE prices.
How much money do you have on you? There's a bet I'd like to win.
Commit to a single DC is not the same thing as metered bandwidth to thousands of customers.
- Running fiber to a DC is way easier than running it house that could be in the middle of nowhere.
- Commit != selling bandwidth by the byte. I think you fail to understand this. I don't have the time to explain this in detail to you anymore as I've already spent more time than I wanted to writing the rest of this.
> If I can, you can. I've even given examples with links to order pages. Not that I recommend FDCservers, mind you.
Uh still wrong, and not even close even if you include FDCservers.
1GBPS $2500/328717GB = $0.007/GB
10GBPS $15000/3287170GB = $0.004/GB
Where's the $0.001/GB?
A page asking you to contact their sales team is not an example. If you are buying transit you need to be in the proper DC and you need to colo. This is out of reach for most programmers that deploy on EC2 or Digital Ocean.
> How much money do you have on you? There's a bet I'd like to win.
You're probably going to make another flawed comparison that you can get tier 1 bandwidth lower than HE by buying some absurd amount of commit. Feel free to prove me wrong with actual quotes.
We are the 98%! And charging the heavy users more makes our service cheaper.
Some of the people complaining here are elites – in technical and economic terms – and want poorer, less-sophisticated people to subsidize their outlier usage. And they're dressing this desire-for-handouts up in a righteous anger!
If they don't have competition, regulation can't always simulate the same consumer benefits, for a number of reasons. The regulators are often at the mercy of the regulated company. (The FCC, for example, is all telecom/lobbyist/party-functionary lawyers.) The regulated company tends to do fine, as their model and margins get frozen into slow-moving regulatory law. Smaller/newer companies with other models and technologies can't as easily fit into the regulatory mold, which often even bans them from offering the high-value (differentiated) services that could offer a competitive toehold. Can't have some upstart skimming off the cream from the now-tamed monopolist!
Which is why in all cases new competition, not formulaic rules from DC lawyers, should be the policy priority.
I think this argument conflates whether Comcast is too expensive with whether usage-based pricing is necessarily unfair.
Put another way, why is it ok to charge less for a capped speed but it isn't ok to charge less for a capped monthly transfer?
The best kind of rate raises are rate raises that don't look like a rate raise but effectively is one.
> Put another way, why is it ok to charge less for a capped speed but it isn't ok to charge less for a capped monthly transfer?
Because the monthly cap is far too low and the usage fees are ridiculously expensive. Combined with the fine print 95% of customers are worse off with a monthly capped transfer.
So is the complaint that usage fees are inherently wrong, or that Comcast is simply too expensive?
I don't agree that the price needs to have any relation to the wholesale cost, though. It's just price discrimination. Expensive shampoo doesn't cost more than cheap shampoo because of the ingredients.
Price discrimination is ok, if it in addition to providing a premium product also makes the good or product more affordable and available to another class of customers, thus creating a consumer surplus. Classic example: air travel.
Comcast's offering is a sham. It makes broadband more expensive for everyone. This is inherently worse.
For families the numbers seem sillier.
AWS bandwidth usage is not an issue because when the traffic to my websites increases, my ad revenue increases too.
in swaths of the bay area, there is exactly one high speed provider
So it is disingenuous to complain that your top speed means you burn up your allocation. It's unlikely anyone is happy to pay per Mbps, so they gotta work out something which requires compromise.
Now, the limits are tiny, the pricing nuts, etc., but it's not fundamentally a terrible model. On cell data, I'm very happy to buy per GB so I can decide how much to spend.
The real downside is that capping users or offering low cap plans stifles innovation. It sounds nice to be able to "pay what you use" but that has a negative impact overall.
Wholesale rates from quality providers are about $0.30 per Mbps per month at 95th percentile. For paid transit, that is, and Comcast does a lot of peering which brings the cost down for them.
So that's $30 per month for your 100M line, even if you run it full tilt all month and manage to hit only paid transit routes all the time. That's not too bad and most people use only a small fraction of their theoretical monthly throughput.
first, the costs cited above are for handoffs at major peering points, private or public. Pulling 10Gb/s across to your apartment complex is going to add a lot to the cost, if it can even be done (right of way issues).
second, the expertise needed to realize that you can do this and then provide support for it is neither common nor cheap.
If you had a tower on a nice highly-visible location (say, the giant Jesus statue in Rio) and could do line-of-sight laser links, that would be an extremely cost-effective solution. Sadly, that sort of opportunity is rare.
Heck, smack in the middle of Seattle is a cable ISP called Wave Broadband. They have 100GB-1000GB usage tiers and even actively market that "more gigs can be proactively purchased each month." (But at least they bought out CondoInternet so the high-rise dwellers and houseboats in Eastlake can have no-quota gigabit fiber service.)
What informed consumer would agree to this?!
Streaming Netflix uses about 1GB/hour for "good" quality streams and 2+GB/hour for HD streams. That would make watching an hour a night come out to $30-60/month of bandwidth charges. Multiply accordingly if you watch more or have multiple people streaming simultaneously. Oh and the way it's worded it sounds like you lose the $5 discount if you go over 5GB.
I can see this leading to some serious bill shock for anybody that signs up.
I can easily imagine someone using less the 5GB.
For example they use the internet only for email and some government websites.
Generally, heavy data users go for faster plans, and so the very low data users should be disproportionately concentrated in the Economy Plus plan.
I don't understand why most people in the discussion here and on Reddit are overlooking that this is only for Economy Plus customers.
Informed consumers that know they don't use that much data? Not everyone streams movies or what have you.
If I cancel my Netflix subscription and switch back to physical media, as I have contemplated doing, I will be < 5GB.
This is part of the problem. It's very difficult for normal customers to understand how much data they're going to use.
When choosing a phone data plan, my dad asked me what plan to go for. How much does google maps use? No idea..
Also, extremely difficult for the customer to dispute the particular data usage, because they don't have access to the audit data that comcast has, and they don't have the technical skill to determine that they really accessed "turnerhd-f.akamaihd.net" when visiting cnn.com anyway. Contrast this with the relative ease of checking phone numbers you don't recognize on your itemized phone bill.
Lastly, most objectionable is this idea of charging penalties for overages. In most industries, if you get more, you pay incrementally less. If I buy a hamburger, soda and fries, I get a discount on the price. If I buy 1000 widgets I get a better price than 10 of them. Comcast and the telcos turn this on its head by charging penalties for overages.
Regulators could force carriers to pro-rate based on the price you paid for your service. For example:
ISP offers 3 packages:
100 GB for $10/mo (overages charged at $0.10/gb)
300 GB for $20/mo (overages charged at $0.06/gb)
750 GB for $30/mo (overages charged at $0.04/gb)
2000 GB for $40/mo (overages charged at $0.02/gb)
EVEN better, offer automatic price brackets... Why make people worry about choosing the right plan. People don't want to make this decision.
First 10GB: $0.10/gb
Next 20GB: $0.07/gb
Next 50GB: $0.05/gb
each GB after that: $0.02/gb
(for illustrative purposes only.. I haven't done the math to see how it compares with current comcast offers)
I don't understand why the telcos think massively penalizing people for going over is a useful pricing model.
If anything, if you agree to use a lot of power you will have a larger fixed price, but a lower per kWh price.
Same up here in Washington for service to a single family residence through a single meter for customers of PSE .
The two models I am familiar with:
- Normal tiered pricing. Low usage is cheap per kWh; high usage is expensive per kWh. This is because of inflexible production capacity.
- Demand rates. You pay a large fixed price, get a lower kWh price, and (this is key) contractually agree to never exceed X amperes. The higher X is, the higher your fixed price. This is a special plan structured for people who need a lot of power, but only at a modest rate of consumption- think baseboard heaters. Again, this model is constrained by inflexible production capacity.
> (grandparent) I don't understand why the telcos think massively penalizing people for going over is a useful pricing model.
It makes no sense to me, either. It's like they don't actually want to sell more bandwidth.
Maybe demanding big penalties from people who accidentally go over is more profitable than actually selling to people who actually want more bandwidth.
The logic is that the utility company plans for generating a "usual" baseline amount, and peaks and use beyond anticipated "norm" are more expensive since you have to spin up/buy additional capacity. In B.C. at least the tiers are set up so that the first category will cover most "average" use.
Also in many places electricity prices are government-regulated to a greater or smaller extent, and a government might structure pricing like that to try to reduce overall energy use or subsidize the lowest users who might be presumed to be poorest.
I don't really see any advantages. It would make more sense if they said they'd cut your bill by 50%, or something.
I expect that there are plenty of people who actually that that profile and who are using under 5 GB a month, and will find the Flexible-Data Option to be a good deal.
I wouldn't even mind billing by traffic, but then they have to play by the rules that other utilities do. There needs to be a clearly established standard for what is counted, when it is counted, where it is counted, and they better make sure to provide an itemized bill for the usage accrued. Otherwise, it's fraud.
oh you mean like:
I see where you're coming from but careful what you wish for.
When we arrive the routine goes like this:
Airplane mode for all phones/tablets unless in use
Turn off Dropbox syncing (all devices)
Turn off Backblaze (cost us about $100 in data last time we forgot to completely disable)
iOS updates for our 4 smartphones? Wait until we return home
Disable app updates (some are several hundred MB)
No Pandora/Sirius streaming or audio streaming of any kind
Limited Netflix/Video streaming (only for must watch shows)
No large FTP transfers (common for our industry)
No Facetime (our kids use)
Schedule Dropcam power to turn off at night
Block podcast downloads within iTunes
The list goes on....
So basically every day you check, and recheck your data use to "catch" any device or service that may be using too much data. When family visits and the number inside the house reaches 6-10 the monthly data cap is blown in just a few days.
And our data cap is not a measly 5GB or even 10GB a month, it can easily reach 40-50GB which costs a relative fortune.
If you look at the list of accommodations above, you'll see a nice collection of US businesses (Apple, Dropbox, Pandora etc.) for whom I can't do business with in a "metered" world.
I can deal with this for 2 months out of my year, but if my home residential Internet was also metered like this our involvement online would be dramatically changed.
The "overnight" data usage by services is actually very interesting. Often I would go to sleep well under my daily goal, and wake up to a "mysterious" 2GB transfer around midnight-2 AM. the usage wasn't nefarious in nature, however the timing (middle of the night) made it difficult to manage.
Specifically with smartphones- the built in controls to keep you from blowing through your cellular data plan don't apply when your wifi...is connected to a meted plan. So your device thinks "I'm on wi-fi, update all the things" yet the connection still "cellular".
It would be a sad day in tech when your device OS has to implement an "airplane-esq" mode for metered connections that drops all data-intensive usage and maybe only allows certain notifications through.
> Network bandwidth management: New API provides ability to detect metered networks, including tethering to a mobile hotspot.
Mark the WiFi access points you want to be low data usage and you are good to go. Software that plays nice will use the "isActiveNetworkMetered()" to check if they should download or not.
Let's hope they don't regulate ISPs, we don't want to slow the pace of innovation and incredible value generation here.
If you compare the standard usage of water for bathing and electricity for whatever to the standard usage of the internet, the internet will (according to revelation) be more expensive.
I'd say that, to some degree, you couldn't even claim the paradox of value because the internet is becoming such an integral part of our lives. We use it to pay taxes, work our 9-5 jobs, medical advice, etc.
Kind of like how technically we don't need natural gas or electricity -- we could just use wood-burning fireplaces. But at what point does that become so excessive that we view it like water as opposed to diamonds?
Anyway, I'm getting off track here, but I think revelation's example is pretty decent depending on which angle you take.
The problem with bandwidth caps is that they effective take away the ability for people to use online services like online backup and streaming sites. My kids that stay at home probably watch a few hours of streaming media every day, which would use up most if not all of the 300GB just with that, let alone everything else.
Does anyone here on HN have a startup that relies heavily on data and is worried about these new "plans" and caps?
Also, don't believe that Comcast line that only 2% of customer use more than 300GB. Medium to large families (with teenagers) and many connected devices can easily reach this cap.
I wonder how my day-to-day activities would change if I knew I was constantly eating away at my monthly limit. I'd hate to have to do it, especially because I don't really see the connection between my consumption and "waste" like I do with my energy bill. It would feel like going backwards in time, in a way.
Canada actively fights competition too and won't allow other telcos to invest because they "aren't Canadian". It's this lame thinking from little countries in the stupid idea of pride. Kinda thing you expect from some Bananaland place.
I've been spending the past 2 weeks at my parent's house in Australia, they live an hour from the nearest village and 2 hours from the nearest city. The only internet options are dialup, satellite or 3G. The 3G is surprisingly fast (6 MBps), but it's $60 for 4 GB.
I've been watching my usage, installed Little Snitch to disable all kinds of background activity like auto-updating. Most of my online time has been browsing HN, Reddit, IMing,, Facebook, Twitter, email, a couple Skype calls. Have watched a grand total of 2 YouTube videos.
I've still burned through 5 GB in 2.5 weeks. I don't even know how, aside from things when OS X spent 100 MB attempting to download the certificate revocation list, and Mail.app continually redownloading all my spam from Gmail.
Switch to Optus prepaid. It's $2 per day for 0.5 GB per day. $2 more for 0.5 GB if you run out of you daily 0.5 GB.
That takes me back to my days with dial up with the best plan available being "100 hours of surfing for 100 bucks"
That was before a flat rate was ever available and it beat the other plans where you paid literally by the minute and it came out to much more than 100 bucks for 100 hours of online time.
Oh, how I remember setting an egg timer during the week so I don't surf longer than the time I allowed myself just so I had like 8 hours on Saturdays and Sundays to surf uninterrupted.
It's murky and the cost per bit is indeed very small, but every bit you requests costs electricity. Have you ever read the bits about "The Environmental Cost of Spam"?
And if there are other paths to get the bits there cheaper – wireless (including mesh, free space optical, or new bandwidths) or new wires – these prices motivate the new entrants who can do it.
Comcast maximizing their profits is not the last step, but one move in an iterated, endless game. Comcast's move – if people choose to pay and Comcast makes money – incents the next round of competition.
And these are still better options than my family in the Midwest and New York have available to them. You just can't claim with a straight face that there's competition in this market.
Minneapolis is a beacon of hope, here. $40 for 100 Mbps / 100 Mbps in much of the city, from a local fiber provider.
That's what kills me. Comcast's audacity is just so much more galling when you've actually experienced what happens with competition. And not that competition is a panacea, necessarily. I don't have a say in my water, gas, or electricity providers, but in exchange for that monopoly, they're subject to pretty serious regulation.
That's much better than nationally locking-in a pipes-and-sewers-like regulatory structure that freezes incumbents into a safe but slow-moving regulated approach, for decades.
The decades of Title-II-regulated AT&T telecom monopoly were not good for consumers or innovation. They were safe and slow.
I have 5Mbps DSL in San Francisco. It's plenty for HD Netflix and Hulu, VOIP, and video-calling.
I suspect you also have 3+ wireless options, some of which likely offer 20Mbps+ in bursts. Yes, it costs more. Yes, you'd like to pay less. Everyone would! But your desire for more modern luxury goods (massive HD bandwidth), cheaper, is not a public policy crisis.
Someone has to invest more to give you more, and market-floating prices for the existing paths are exactly what draws in more investment – or sends you a signal that you should 'self-help' to the nearest source of plentiful bandwidth.
I understand he is an exception, but it is not nearly as uncommon as you are implying.
So yes, your father's property is an unfortunate outlier. His main beef should be with the local authorities who granted Comcast a monopoly without a prompt requirement-to-service.
(And in places where Comcast is truly the only provider, local regulation until other options arrive makes sense. Just not nationally, when almost everywhere has 2+ wired options and 3+ wireless options, and could also incrementally add new wires and towers far more easily than outlying/non-urban places.)
PS: And a little idea that might blow your mind, Comcast effectively pays nothing for bandwidth to the internet. Like SMS it's so cheap they would have trouble actually finding out how much it costs them and would need to add up the cost of patch cables in the data-center as a significant 'cost'.
Retail, to a particular fixed location, and for households where bandwidth is a tiny part of their overall budget, is naturally going to be 2-10X more expensive.
AWS wholesale transfer out (not subsidized/forgiven to make their service 'sticky') is still $0.12/GB. Comcast's retail price is less than 2X that. No biggie.
But again, that's bulk wholesale which is often 2-10X cheaper in any industry. Compare like to like.
First 1 GB / month $0.000 per GB
Up to 10 TB / month $0.120 per GB
Next 40 TB / month $0.090 per GB
Next 100 TB / month $0.070 per GB
Next 350 TB / month $0.050 per GB
Any way you slice it AWS charges rediculusly high bandwidth costs and Comcast still charges way more than that.
What you probably meant to say was that wholesale bandwith is usually puchased by the Mbps on a 95th percentile billing, although you can alternatively buy by the TB from some providers.
Fortunately, I have three providers in my neighborhood. Of course, it will take me an hour on hold to cancel Comcast, but at least I won't have to deal with them any more.
I've asked this out in the open before and always got blank stares and crazy looks, but how hard/expensive would it be to start your own neighborhood ISP and peer directly with a backbone? What's the up-front investment required and how many users at what price point would be needed to make it reasonable or profitable?
I guess the main problem is still transport to the premises...
The technical parts are fairly straightforward, what gets hard/expensive is the legal, permiting, construction part.
> What's the up-front investment required and how many users at what price point would be needed to make it reasonable or profitable?
As the old adage goes, if you have to ask then you can't afford it...
> I guess the main problem is still transport to the premises...
Exactly. Rule of thumb is that 90% of network costs are in the last mile and most of those costs are in the last few yards.
If we haven't even realized that human rights are human rights, why would anyone expect us to realize that internet is; especially when there is profit to be made from it?
U.S. internet is bad because government got involved in franchising the running of copper decades ago. It's in a bad state because of the government. We Americans are debating whether we should use more policy to try to resolve the problem or hew to the right principle (minimal regulation) and not enact more policy, suffering the short and medium term consequences (i.e. more power to Comcast).
Leo Rosten in The Joys of Yiddish defines chutzpah as "gall,
brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible 'guts', presumption plus
arrogance such as no other word and no other language can do
justice to". In this sense, chutzpah expresses both strong
disapproval and condemnation.
In the same work, Rosten also defined the term as "that quality
enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father,
throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an
orphan". Chutzpah amounts to a total denial of personal
responsibility, that renders others speechless and incredulous...
one cannot quite believe that another person totally lacks common
human traits like remorse, regret, guilt, sympathy and insight.
The implication is at least some degree of psychopathy in the
subject, as well as the awestruck amazement of the observer at
Then complain here =P
What could they even do except give comcast bad PR?
Unless you are proposing that we return to the days of telecom regulation.
Chattanooga has its own public utility that provides power and Gigabit fiber. See http://www.salon.com/2014/07/18/comcasts_worst_nightmare_how...
It's so nice to have alternatives! I'm glad we live in a world where consumers have so much choice.
I don't like the precedent this is setting and I just hope Google keeps putting pressure on with their Fiber offering to make these other companies compete. In some cases I wish municipalities would step in and stop allowing companies like comcast to be the sole provider in their area.
I foresee comcast marketing their "increasing speeds" in the future. In which you could never actually take full advantage of because of these limits.
I presume that once you're powering the routers, they consume pretty equivalent power at peak and off-peak times, but maybe that's a faulty assumption?
Marginal costs within the design capacity of the network are close to zero. If the traffic happens to be external, to a network Comcast pays transit to (if such exist) and it's in a direction that's billable (transit is paid in the direction that is larger) then the wholesale rate (for that fraction of the traffic) would be billed at about 0.1 cents per GB.
The price tags they put on more data are almost certainly an attempt at "market allocation" rather than the actual cost of the data. In other words, the increased price on bandwidth lowers demand, hopefully to the level Comcast is targeting. Think of electricity companies, and off-peak rates. They charge more during peak load to drive the market to shift more load to off-peak times.
Missed out a step there. It's not zero then suddenly $$$$. It's more a question of gradual, usually low cost, equipment upgrades. All backhaul is via fiber optics, so by switching optics you go from 1G/10G/100G to multiple 1G/10G/100G waves. You might need a new router blade or a bigger chassis at some point.
Only if you really messed up do you need infrastructure upgrades. This might mean splitting nodes, i.e. pulling a bit more fiber to hotspots, but that is why you have spare empty conduits and excess fiber strands in your cables. If you don't then you truly deserve all the misery you brought upon yourself.
My problem is that the ISP I work at had about a 10:1 oversubscription ratio. Comcast wants to fine individual customers who exceed 70:1, so they're probably aiming for a 200:1 overall ratio. That's just highway robbery.
It's bad engineering to run your links hot at 95%. (Here's looking at you, Comcast)
You want to keep link usage at under 50% in order to have adequate margin for growth, be able to fall over to your secondary links without saturating them for maintenance/repairs/emergencies and handle microbursts which don't show up on the 5 minute average timescales monitoring is done at.
xDSL has it easy, they can just turn up more backhaul at the CO, which is often a process that takes no more that days, if not hours.
Sure, but no more than doing VDSL, which is basically the same thing for ADSL as splitting nodes in a HFC network. A FTTC+VDSL upgrade is about $400 per subscriber which is $17 per month on a typical 24 month contract. That's quite doable and typical network life cycles are much longer, which brings the cost further down.
When you build out VDSL, you're expecting to provide service to every customer in range at a fixed oversell ratio, if you need more bandwidth you can turn up additional fibers to the node, at the worst, split the mux down to smaller numbers of subs per, but the aggregation point never changes - it's always at the RSLAM.
With cable, the point of aggregation is at the subscriber prem, just like thinnet - the only way to get more bandwidth to the subscriber is to decrease the size of the broadcast domain by adding another node.
It's basically my contention that like most wireless networks the pinch point is access layer, not in the backhaul, HFC networks are much like wireless networks, they have a fixed amount of RF bandwidth shared with N subscribers over a given area - being that the amount of spectrum a given area can use is fixed (by licensing or by bandwidth limitations in the cable) the only way to handle more subscribers in a given area is to decrease the number of subscribers per network element, in short, add more sites, or nodes.
Is the next question "how long will googlers in the Bay Area put up with such a thing before [finally] rolling out FiOS here or nation-wide?"
Google is not some magic unicorn that's going to save us from old bloated mega corps like comcast. the only reason google rolls fiber to the places it does is cause the local governments are willing to play ball. and the bay area isn't known for it's streamlined government. in fact, you folks are at the bottom of a very long list. (http://pando.com/2014/02/25/having-being-burned-once-before-...)
The only thing that will save the US internet market is competition, google's efforts are great, I'm not convinced it will be enough. I think innovations in Wireless tech, that will allow more reliable and widespread WISP's will help. The old guard of the wireline providers have built the walls quite high and it will take time for even big players like google to wear them down.
We're the only country in the world (mostly) with largely unlimited broadband, many countries seem to have quota - and its not as if an unlimited option doesn't remain, I have Business Class from them, which is and will remain unlimited, but it costs, 120, including 5 statics.
They know that they want to continue to get about $150/mo from every American family. All they are doing is back-plotting how to get there.
First, they start squeezing corporate network participants. But that won't get them all the way there, and there's a regulatory risk there too. They've already signed ad hoc net-neut agreements that limit this approach.
So they will definitely have to squeeze consumers. But they've been selling "Internet at y Mbps" for decades now. They can't just flip to "10 GB / 50 GB / 100 GB / 500 GB Internet." Consumers (i.e. voters) would be outraged, and they would lose the TWC deal, which is key to their 'Don't Be a Dumb Pipe Company' strategy.
But they need to sew the seeds. So what do they do first? A discount for less usage, rather than a surcharge for more usage. Same thing, different words. If it's well tolerated, they'll steepen the gradient.
CMCSA is at a delicate liminal point. They are threading the needle brilliantly.
Who would have thought that the American consumer would shift his media consumption habits with whiplash rapidity away from cable and broadcast TV, but that Comcast would survive in basically the exact same position?
This is like payday loans for internet service, taking advantage of the low income population.
(1) This is still fairly expensive but it is primarily because the majority of traffic is international and must come through fairly limited bandwidth undersea pipes. I would imagine the majority of traffic in the US is local and therefore cheaper.
That is, many people have cut the POTS service, which means ADSL costs extra (have to reactivate unneeded landline service)
Long line lenghts (average loop lenght 3.3km, resulting in sub-10Mbps speeds), no competition due to line sharing regulation being struck down.
1. I tell my wife to stop playing so many movies on netflix.
2. I stopped watching youtube or other video services unless I really, really want to see something.
3. I watch my internet usage and choose when to use it.
4. I cancelled Hulu.
5. I grow suspicious of my neighbors when my usage seems high as there is no breakdown of where usage comes from.
6. I suspect comcast's own services are not counted towards the meter, but can't prove anything.
7. I stopped playing so many games.
8. I now strategize my downloads.
There is no real other choice in my area -- the closest competitor to Comcast offers less than half the speed and only advertises for 1/4 the speed.
In my opinion, as someone affected by this, it's just a way to squeeze the customer more and maintain a monopoly on content.
300mbit/20mbit. I could burn though 300gb in probably 2.26 to 2.5 hours.
125kb/1mbit300mbit/1sec = 125300 = 37,500kb/sec
300gb = 300gb1024mb/1gb = 307,200mb
307.2gb / 37.5mb/sec = 307,200mb 1sec/37.5mb = 8192sec
8921sec / 1min/60sec / 1hr/60min = 2.27hrs
So my whole months worth of bandwidth gone on 10 large video games.
I never thought I would say "I'm happy with my Comcast service", but then I do pay $150/month for just Internet.
There was a LOT of debate on the subject on places like dslreports when this was in front of the CRTC. The general consensus seemed to be that UBB
in principle is a good thing (it allows for more flexibility in third party ISP business models, and roughly aligns costs with income for the incumbent) although the particular tariff prices put forth by the incumbents were inflated and suspect.
As a real-world benchmark, my third party provider (start.ca) offers a 30/5 cable plan with 200GB of usage for $45 CAD (roughly $40 USD) per month. Going to an unlimited plan adds an extra $15 CAD to that, with the risk for overages being borne by the ISP.
Of course, the incumbents' retail offerings are universally terrible (their caps are laughably small, and their prices higher than any third party provider). Because of the lack of separation between their retail and wholesale operations, they're able to offer (presumably loss leader) promotions that third party providers simply can't, and have the benefit of being able to structure their tariff offerings to screw third party providers wherever possible. So that part of the regulatory environment sucks.
Overall though it feels like a decent model (although the actual tariff prices are quite out of line, particularly for interconnect fees). $60 CAD a month for unlimited 30/5 is a fair price in my mind, and if my needs ever change there are enough third party provider with enough diverse business models that I'd likely find something that works for me.
I have RCN service at my house, but most people I know here and in DC still use Comcast. Some of that may be because the smaller providers don't advertise as well, but there must be some people actively choosing Comcast service.
I currently have Comcast as my ISP. They provide 50Mbps service to my residence. The next closest provider maxes out at 7Mbps.
20Mbps is, realistically, my floor for bandwidth. If any other provider offered service at >= 20Mbps I would leave Comcast in a heartbeat.
Comcast, TWC, and AT&T are all doing bit bucket tiered service now.
10 bucks for 50 gigs seems quite reasonable to me, honestly.