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Australian ISPs Claim Net Neutrality Is an 'American Problem' 363

Posted by Soulskill
from the rabbit-neutality-is-all-you,-though dept.
RATLSNAKE writes "The heads of some of the most popular Australian ISPs were all interviewed over at ZDNet about Net Neutrality. For once, they all seem to agree, and they say it's a problem with the US business model, or the lack thereof. They discuss why they don't think it's an issue in Australia. Simon Hackett, the managing director of Adelaide-based ISP Internode, had this to say: 'The [Net neutrality] problem isn't about running out of capacity. It's a business model that's about to explode due to stress. ... The idea that the entire population can subsidize a minority with an extremely high download quantity actually isn't necessarily the only way to live.' Of course, this also explains why we Australians do not have truly unlimited plans."
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Australian ISPs Claim Net Neutrality Is an 'American Problem'

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  • by urbanriot (924981) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @10:52AM (#25184439)
    The Australians claim it's only a US problem? The CRTC here in Canada would disagree.
    • The idea that the entire population can subsidize a minority with an extremely high download quantity actually isn't necessarily the only way to live.'

      However, they seem perfectly okay using that economic model for their medical care, retirement, welfare, etc.

      • The idea that the entire population can subsidize a minority with an extremely high download quantity actually isn't necessarily the only way to live.'

        However, they seem perfectly okay using that economic model for their medical care, retirement, welfare, etc.

        With medical care, at least, it isn't generally something you choose to need. It's not like I can say "doctors are too expensive, I think I'll just decide to never get sick".

        • by Locklin (1074657)

          It's not like I can say "doctors are too expensive, I think I'll just decide to never get sick".

          That can probably be said for retirement and welfare as well. Sure, there are scammers, but a single mother staying home with her baby rather than paying a 12 year old $5 an hour to sit while she works a checkout at walmart is a good investment in my eyes.

          Also, everyone will have to retire at some point, you just have to live long enough. A society can be judged by how they take care of their elderly and their children.

  • Unlimited plans (Score:5, Informative)

    by Yokaze (70883) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @10:55AM (#25184455)

    > "Their problem is that unlike Australia, they [offer] truly unlimited plans."

    Except that the following countries also provide unlimited plans: Canada, Japan, Korea, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, Singapore ...

    Wait... if I am not mistaken, it is faster to list the (quasi-industrialised) countries, which don't provide unlimited plans: Australia, New Zealand.

    • Re:Unlimited plans (Score:5, Interesting)

      by daemonburrito (1026186) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @11:00AM (#25184491) Journal

      I had the same thoughts.

      I would be much more interested in hearing what the top ten Japanese or Korean ISPs have to say about U.S. broadband.

    • by timmarhy (659436)
      those are all subject to an AUP, the same as australia.
    • by Xugumad (39311)

      > which don't provide unlimited plans: Australia, New Zealand.

      , UK,...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kandresen (712861)

      Canada is in the same situation as US, and there are often bandwidth caps too; Shaw for exampel have these plans:
      High-speed internet Lite (256kbps with max 10GB/month) CAD $22/month (standalone $29.95)
      High-speed (5mbps with max 60GB/month) CAD $32/month (standalone $40.95)
      High-Speed Xtreme-I (10mbps with max 100GB/month) CAD $42/month (standalone $50.95)
      High-Speed Nitro (25mbps with max 150GB/month) CAD $93/month (standalone 101.95)

      Source http://www.shaw.ca/en-ca/ProductsServices/Internet/ [www.shaw.ca] (prices from each

    • The Netherlands

      Almost. Most providers here have a FUP (Fair User Policy). So you have an unlimited plan, but if you belong to the top whatever-percentile and/or there is congestion somewhere on the network, you may get a letter/email asking you to watch and reduce your bandwidth-usuage. In practice, this means you have to be moving serious amounts of bandwidth though, e.g. Terabytes per month.

  • Australians do not have truly unlimited plans

    Unless the definition of unlimited changed neither does anyone else. At best, places get unmetered, and call it unlimited...
    How can it be unlimited if you can want some and not have it?

  • Shock and awe (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Are you saying that if someone builds a maintenance-heavy canal from a perpetually filling freshwater lake, and charge people a fixed fee to draw "unlimited" water from it, then there would be a problem if a few select individuals decided to build fifteen bakeries and twenty-seven car washes next to it?

    I'd even go as far as saying that downloading continuously at max capacity is somewhat immoral in itself, so long as you know that you are using far more than everyone else _and_ that it causes congestion pro

    • Re:Shock and awe (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @11:26AM (#25184679)

      I'd even go as far as saying that downloading continuously at max capacity is somewhat immoral in itself, so long as you know that you are using far more than everyone else _and_ that it causes congestion problems. You are like the person founding a car wash next to the canal and saying that the contract stated unlimited access.

      Some of us are paying for 3Mbps down/ 384kbps up, I see nothing immoral about actually using it. If the business did not anticipate that people would use what they pay a a premium on, then the business needs to change. We're not here to second guess them, if they offer a service, expect us to use it. They absolutely have, and always have had, the ability to regulate our bandwidth to the contracted rate. You won't get a penny more than you pay for.

      It's very easy to caclulate the total "bytes" needed to accomodate this, although it's misleading to do so. Unlike your reservoir model, the actual limitation is the flow rate through the pipe, not the "available bytes". At certain times of the day the flow rate might be maxed out and they start dropping packets. More importantly they already have the models to know what they need to do to meet their capacity demands. No one can drain the reservoir, unless someone is selling a product he can't deliver on. Who wants to start that class action suit? Count me in.

      The real issue is the networks are horribly out of date, since there has never really been a push to give customers better service, only service to more customers. The question they want to get answered is "who is going to fund upgrades?" because in a monopoly, you don't take the cost of upgrades out of your net profits, you make customers pay. On this I can't blame them, why should they suffer just to deliver a product that won't deliver a single extra dollar?

      No, karma doesn't count, that they've been robbing us for half a century has been long forgotten, at least by them.

  • At least partly, they don't get it. They are right that it's a business model that we use. It's called "You get what you pay for." As long as that is the case, AND you realize what it is you are actually paying for, then how exactly is this business model about to 'explode'? In a free market competition defines the minimum quality of the products. The broadband companies need to be more clear I guess. When I sign the contract for broadband I am not getting 100% of my theoretical maximum bandwidth or m

    • by Timothy Brownawell (627747) <tbrownaw@prjek.net> on Sunday September 28, 2008 @11:17AM (#25184617) Homepage Journal

      It's simple: You pay for 'unlimited' usage, and that means you get usage that is as unlimited as the resource permits.

      And since that isn't really unlimited, there's a bit of a problem. You're paying for one thing, and they're providing something else. That's usually called "fraud" or "false advertising", and it tends to annoy people who want to actually know (and get) what they're paying for. That they probably put something like "unlimited doesn't mean what you think it does" in the fine print only matters from a legal "see, you can't sue us, nyah nyah" perspective, not a "this isn't what I paid for, you bastards" perspective.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        People should not confuse 'unlimited' with 'infinite'. Everything humans do is finite.

        According to the context you agree with when you get the broadband account your account really is 'unlimited'. In the context of broadband it only means that the company is not going to single you out and limit what you can do. That's all it means. There is legal precedence to use this word in this context. It's not fraud of false advertising.

        The problem I think is one of defining the value of information. How does o

  • australia is a huge country with less people per mile than most other nations, so the enconomies of scale don't apply.
    • by Locklin (1074657)

      The same thing here in Canada, and when compared with Japan and Europe, the U.S. as well.

      The problem with that argument is that people are not distributed uniformly. The ISP's have no excuse for not providing good service in Sidney, Melbourne, Toronto, Boston, etc. They all have much higher population densities than the European or Japanese "countryside."

  • Australian ISPs Claim Net Neutrality Is an 'American Problem'

    What a bunch of self-serving assholes. They're no better than Comcastoff.

    This is a problem for any nation that wants its citizens to have more than basic email and Web browsing, and doesn't want said citizens to have their services curtailed at the whim of anticompetitive monsters. Apparently, the U.S. doesn't have a monopoly on those, either.

    At some point, more and more nations are going to have to put connectivity in the same class of
  • Of course telus and the government cronies propping them up would say that.

    They have worse business practices than the monopolies which spawned the sherman act!

    They have a 100% monopoly on australian pipes, and they don't allow peering agreements like every sane nation has.

    This means they charge by the bit for every australian ISP.

    This results in internet service which is an utter joke. The statues on easter island get better access, and they are stones!

  • by Xugumad (39311) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @11:36AM (#25184765)

    I'm getting seriously fed up of this. You are not paying even in the same ballpark of the actual cost of supplying your full connection's worth of bandwidth for an entire month. If you want to use that much bandwidth, buy a leased line. If you don't like that you get more kb/s than you can use all the time, move back to a 56kb/s modem.

    Why on earth the US ISPs have tried telling you that you can just use as much bandwidth as you want, for so long, I'll never understand. Comcast's model of "this much, then we write to you, then we cut you off if you do it again" is absurd, doubly so given they don't provide any easy metering, but that doesn't change the reality of what you're paying for vs what you wish your money covered.

    • by ccguy (1116865) *

      I'm getting seriously fed up of this. You are not paying even in the same ballpark of the actual cost of supplying your full connection's worth of bandwidth for an entire month.

      Yet the telcos make shitloads of money every month.

      • by Xugumad (39311)

        > Yet the telcos make shitloads of money every month.

        So, they're overcharging the average person to balance the extreme? My point is that bandwidth is about the most expensive thing in providing the connection, and personally I think having the cost of Internet access more closely resemble the cost of providing it is a good thing...

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ccguy (1116865) *

          So, they're overcharging the average person to balance the extreme?

          I'm sure the telcos prefer to give 'all you can eat' to everyone, and live with the fact that there is a percentage of people that will actually use their bandwidth 24x7, than charge a proportional amount.

          At least in Spain, they charge a minimum (I think it's around 20 euros per month now) just for access, even if you don't use the service at all. And when you have 10 million lines, that's a lot of money. If they decide to switch to a p

    • I'm getting seriously fed up of this. You are not paying even in the same ballpark of the actual cost of supplying your full connection's worth of bandwidth for an entire month.

      I don't care that I can't constantly max out my connection, I do care if the ISP lies about it.

      Why on earth the US ISPs have tried telling you that you can just use as much bandwidth as you want, for so long, I'll never understand.

      I suspect it has to do with how misleading advertising tends to give you more customers in the short term.

      • by Xugumad (39311)

        > I don't care that I can't constantly max out my connection, I do care if the ISP lies about it.

        YES! An attitude I wholeheartedly agree with.

        > I suspect it has to do with how misleading advertising tends to give you more customers in the short term.

        Good answer!

    • I'm getting seriously fed up of this. You are not paying even in the same ballpark of the actual cost of supplying your full connection's worth of bandwidth for an entire month.

      This is a common misconception. Bandwidth is actually very, very cheap; if you use your full connection's worth of bandwidth, it costs only a tiny bit more than if you let it sit idle. In order to provide more bandwidth, you need two things: routers and fibers. Routers are cheap. In fact, thanks to Moore's Law, the price per unit bandwidth for a router falls exponentially over time. On the other hand, running new fiber is expensive, because it involves digging, which is both expensive in itself and requires expensive planning (to make sure you don't damage someone else's infrastructure) and bureaucracy (for the same reason). Fortunately, when you install fiber, you can install as much as you want for little extra cost. The problem that the US cable companies are experiencing is that they need to run new fiber to a lot of places, but they would rather put it off as long as possible. But this is a strictly one-time expense; once they've run the fibers, adding more bandwidth just means buying more cheap routers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by J. T. MacLeod (111094)

        While every fact you list as supporting evidence is true, your conclusion is simply irrelevant for most providers.

        Regardless of the actual potential cost of bandwidth, companies are still leasing lines form other companies to make interconnections. Unless we're discussing backbone providers (who still have to make deals with other providers for interconnection), they're having to buy their bandwidth. That's expensive, no matter the hardware cost per bit.

    • A VERY simple solution is for the ISPs TO STOP OVERSELLING. You make it sound as this is OUR fault for expecting full use of a service that is labeled UNLIMITED.
  • by moxley (895517) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @12:26PM (#25185155)

    I think the whole entire "Net Neutrality" argument is a scam. IMO it's about two things primarily:

    First, I think it's about making a whole lot of money for, and giving corporate welfare/protectionism to large communications companies that have had plenty of the subsidies from the govt and taxpayers in the past - technology is making things they used to charge an arm and a leg for free, or practically free - look at VOIP for one - and every year the web and our networked society seems to progress more.

    Second though, and more importantly, I think it is about control and censorship. The government and these large media conglomerates don't like that people can get any sort of unfiltered information they'd like from around the world in real time. They don't like the fact that people can get news up to the minute from anywhere on any subject that they are interested in that is likely less biased, more accurate, and less full of "agenda setting talking point spin" than they can from TV News* (which has really become absurd, it's Paris/Britney mixed with a health dose of paranoia-behavior-control). They don't like it that instead of having some fascist douche like Bill O'Reilly telling people "what the news means to them," people can either look it up on their own or find their own place full of smart people with diverse views to have conversations with (Slashdot being a perfect example).. They don't like how the net can be used as a tool for orgaqnization and mass communication by practically anybody.

    When one of your main goals is control, and knowledge and information are pwoer - the internet is your enemy.

    *Now everything I have stated as populist advantages to a free internet can also have their downsides, for example - not all news online is accurate, honest, agenda free - but compared to what you see on TV it is, especially if you are even halfway savvy consumer of media you can find it easily. Also, anything that can be used to spread information can also be used to disinform - but I don't think anything comes close to the amount of disinformation/one-sided information and societal control as network television does.

    So these are the real drivers of anti-net neutrality: Money and control. All of this stuff about not having enough capacity, and how strained the internet is - those issues can be solved so many ways properly without creating a digital ghetto for non-corporate/big money websites.

  • by wfstanle (1188751) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @12:32PM (#25185219)

    Recent events indicate that net neutrality isn't the only "problem with the US business model, or the lack thereof". It seems that big business wants the profits privatized (as they should be) but any losses should be socialized.

    There is plenty of blame to go around but the majority of the blame rests on the shoulders of big business. By the way, for the companies not incorporated in the US, there are some of the same problems. They are not quite as extreme as in the US but people not living in the US shouldn't feel smug, it could happen to you if you are not vigilant.

  • I love Australia and New Zealand, but a consequence of pervasively metered internet service means that you must check what an AU/NZ hotel means by "internet access". As one of the bandwidth hogs who (for example) downloads podcasts and uploads pictures, I found that it was startlingly easy to hit some limits. Further, the limits can bite you.

    When checking a hotel in a country like AU or NZ, be sure and ask:

    • Is there an upper limit on how much I can download/upload without an additional fee? Some AU/NZ
  • ... is all about how the various bits of the Internet are privately owned and unregulated. Today, we can use our broadband connections to access any sites we want. But this is based completely on the charity of the owners of those pieces. At any time, they reserve the right to knock any and all traffic off 'their' networks to accomodate their own product.

    Meanwhile, in most of the rest of the world, the network operators contract with their customers to provide bandwidth as a service separate from any conte

  • by Ottair (1270536) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @05:04PM (#25187149)
    Let me ISP's go loose, Bruce
    Let me ISP's go loose
    They're of no further use, Bruce
    So let me ISP's go loose.
  • by The Famous Druid (89404) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @05:30PM (#25187357)
    Finite resource, infinite demand, something's gotta give.

    Until someone finds a technical solution that truly allows everyone to have 'unlimited' internet, you have to find some way to ration it.

    I'd rather be charged for what I use and not have to worry about ISPs sticking their noses into my data stream and killing traffic they don't like.

    Here in oz, I'm on a $A60 plan that gets me 40G/month @ 20 megabits/sec. I don't find that restrictive, I'm not constantly worrying about how much bandwidth I use (as some of the hysterical postings above imply) and I'm not paying for the wankers who download 400G/month of movies they never find time to watch.

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