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FCC Approving Pay-As-You-Go Internet Plans 414

Posted by samzenpus
from the I'm-going-to-need-another-10-minutes-of-internet dept.
An anonymous reader writes "As details emerge about the Federal Communications Commission's controversial proposal for regulating Internet providers, a provision that would allow companies to bill customers for how much they surf the Web is drawing special scrutiny. Analysts say pay-as-you-go Internet access could put the brakes on the burgeoning online video industry, handing a victory to cable and satellite TV providers. Public interest groups say that trend will lead to a widening gap in Internet use in which the wealthiest would have the greatest access."
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FCC Approving Pay-As-You-Go Internet Plans

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  • Bandwidth huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @04:58PM (#34492640) Journal

    TFA = about 20k
    Web 2.0 crap plus ads= 1.6 megs
    or some such

    Lynx Lives Again!

  • A la carte cables (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @05:00PM (#34492676) Journal

    It's funny how cable companies all want us to pay as we go for internet access, yet still insist on pushing bundlings of hundreds of TV channels on us if we want to use cable TV.

    • Ah, but you can only watch one channel at a time!
      • Ah, but you can only watch one channel at a time!

        Untrue. I can watch as many channels as I have TVs.

        • Sometimes more, with picture-in-picture and an analog connection for the low channels.

        • by poetmatt (793785)

          or if you know what you're doing, you can watch probably 4-6 channels per TV.

        • by blair1q (305137)

          But you need a cable tuner for each of them. A box or a card. So they sell you service on a per-TV basis, too.

      • by jd (1658)

        Sensible answer: Since the reciever doesn't send a request for a specific channel, and can record one channel when you watch another, you must logically be getting every channel (including those you can't watch because they're scrambled). A sufficiently powerful digital box could grab all the feeds in parallel.

        Max Headroom answer: If you compressed all the data sufficiently, you might very well be able to watch all the channels simultaneously. The brain's I/O bandwidth is probably greater than Comcast's.

        Sil

        • by vlm (69642)

          Since the reciever doesn't send a request for a specific channel

          Not in the era of SDV switched digital video, where the channels are dynamically remapped based on what yer neighbors are watching.

          Not much different from how movies on demand work, except that with SDV, multiple boxes can watch a stream.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Sensible answer: Since the reciever doesn't send a request for a specific channel, and can record one channel when you watch another, you must logically be getting every channel (including those you can't watch because they're scrambled).

          The cable companies also figured that out and they don't like it. No sir, not one bit. That's why they are rolling out SDV http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switched_video [wikipedia.org]. When that finishes, every time you want to watch a channel you will have to ask them for it and then wait for it to be put on the feed to you.

          If you thought channel-change delays were annoyingly slow as part of the change from analog to digital, wait until you're living with SDV. No more Al Bundy-speed channel changing for you.

    • It would be nice if they weren't trying to force a phone service I don't want down my throat either. When cable + internet + phone is cheaper than cable + internet with the same provider something is very wrong...
      • by Talderas (1212466)

        If that were the case.....

        I'd get the phone line. Then attach a machine to the phone line that responds with annoyingly loud modem noise. I would then not care if my number is published and actively get that number on every telemarketer list possible.

    • by cob666 (656740)
      What is even more interesting about this is that some cable companies are using the internet as their distribution channel and they are converting their phone services to VOIP.

      If the plans offer a reasonable limit on downloads then I don't see a problem with tiered service with an additional cost per GB (as long as the additional costs are reasonable which I highly doubt) then I don't see any problems with this. I know I'm being naive but it would be nice to pay less per month when I'm not using the inter
      • by ArsonSmith (13997)

        Of course it wouldn't be this way, but as it is you pay say $50 for unlimited bandwidth. If you go to a tiered system shouldn't ~$50 be the maximum?

        If I'm downloading 5Tb a month for $50 and someone else is doing 50M a Month for $50 then perhaps I'm not getting it cheap perhaps the other person is just getting ripped off.

        Even if you consider the low use subsidizing the higher use (often refereed to as niche users) then those niche users may be charged $75 instead of $50 and the others charged less.

        Of cours

    • The thing with "hundreds of channels" in broadcast is you have ONE PIPE. Six thousand people are a matter of six thousand runs of cable off the nearest hub. The hub gets one stream to it.

      With unicast IP traffic, however, you have 300 people accessing the same YouTube video. You cache the YouTube video so you don't have to pay your upstream provider. Then you down-link the same video 300 times to the hub, and out once to each user from there. Unless you're a Tier 1 telco, you're leasing the local line

    • It's funny how cable companies all want us to pay as we go for internet access, yet still insist on pushing bundlings of hundreds of TV channels on us if we want to use cable TV.

      I guess my cable company doesn't offer that yet, because they laughed when I asked for 31-bit IP access, not the extended content available on the full 32-bit IP range.

  • I remember when CompuServe charged $12/hour.

    Then GEnie came along and charged $18/hour during business hours and $6/hour at night.

    • Exactly,the consumers want pay as you go internet. How many discussions on slashdot have we had against download caps/restrictions where the only logical conclusion is pay as you go internet. You can't have unlimited throughput, no restrictions, and a low price! It doesn't work, because the peak bandwidth does cost money. The ISP industry needs to either put restrictions on how much you can use per package, or they need pay as you go. We the consumers have pushed them there because of how much we consume, a
      • by pooh666 (624584)
        ok who do you work for?!
      • by Shark (78448)

        It would also promote efficiency. 'unlimited' data leads to a lot of waste in my opinion. When there's some constraint on bandwidth (even relatively mild), it makes people consider cost/benefit of whatever they put/get online.

  • by chemicaldave (1776600) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @05:02PM (#34492708)
    ...if the telecoms also give me pay-as-i-go cable TV plans. Why haven't they caught up with customer demand? Just let me pick which channels I want to watch and pay less for only those channels instead paying a premium for a bunch of channels I wont watch. The options they give are baffling. Pay very little for local channels, or pay a fuckload for 200+
    • ...if the telecoms also give me pay-as-i-go cable TV plans. Why haven't they caught up with customer demand? Just let me pick which channels I want to watch and pay less for only those channels instead paying a premium for a bunch of channels I wont watch.

      The actual marginal cost for the individual channels is small, most of the cost to the cable company is the fixed cost for the connection. So, when you do get either pay-as-you-go (which would be everything is pay-per-view), or a-la-carte (pay per channel

    • by Twintop (579924)

      As much as I agree with you about al a carte cable TV, it would kill the over-the-top selection. It is the major/core channels that supplement the costs for all of the specialty channels that get included in the current packages.

  • Problem (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    They will also want to charge content creators on the same bandwidth so they can profit more on the same bandwidth, but not actually invest into upgrading their infrastructure to handle the traffic and thus negating the need to have tiered or metered plans.

    Captialism, ho.

  • As soon as they provide me at least a 30 mbit connections with a maximum fee of $50 per month. Companies seem to be able to do that just fine outside of the US and Australia.
  • When the commercial Internet started it was all PAYG at least in my corner of the world. You paid fixed price per connection and price per meg. Only large ISPs and their like managed to get fixed rate deals. Joe Casual user and Joe's Company Ltd paid per MB.

    One of the first thing I had to write when I became employee No 6 in what was to become a large ISP in my country was exactly that - the traffic data collection, accounting and billing system.

    The Telcos, Cablecos, etc _REMOVED_ all this when they entered

  • I would say 10 cents a GB would be great. Those could even be per GB at a certain rate, or time of time. So they can sell higher speeds or different usage patterns.

  • How much do ISPs pay for their connectivity? Can they get flat rate access and if yes, how much does something like an un-metered gig/sec connection cost per month/year?
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      This varies a lot, Tier 1 providers just have peering points and own the equipment, they then trade carriage of each others data. Smaller providers rent OC lines and pay huge fees but are allowed to soak the line 24x7, then they oversell that.

    • Teir 1's do not pay anything (but they have to actively manage there business to get the traffic fairly even) this is what makes a tier 1 a tier 1. In the medium market I can get a 1gb connect with a 1gb floor for $1k a month 10gb for 5k and I do not deal with anything over 10gb at a single location (few people do). So while all the cable companies (none of them are tier 1 networks in the US to my knowledge) might pay most of the DSL company's do not since they are mostly Tier 1 networks. Now people gene

  • by BigSlowTarget (325940) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @05:15PM (#34492904) Journal

    >Analysts say pay-as-you-go Internet access could put the brakes on the burgeoning online video industry,

    No, it won't. Like advanced cellphone systems earlier this century the industry will simply move to where it is viable. America will limp on with inferior general service then deny that the service is inferior and proclaim it a world besting triumph of technology.

    • Pretty much this.

      Technology will develop where it can. It will not develop where it cannot. Simple as that.

      There is a very good reason why there are so few high tech companies are in Africa. Why? Because the infrastructure just plain sucks. Unreliable power, hard to get internet, logistics a nightmare... if you want the same, go ahead. Companies, especially those dependent on readily available and cheap internet technology, will go to countries where, well, internet technology is available and cheap. Europe

  • Seriously, why do we have to pay more as improvements in technology drive the costs towards zero?

    I don't much care if we go to a "Pay as you go" as long as the cost of such access continues to drive towards zero the same way everything else with computer systems has done historically. However, if we do not have competition, and we allow the big companies to erect huge barriers to entry against competition, then not only will this cost us as consumers, but will bash our ability to compete in the world, and

    • by blair1q (305137)

      why do we have to pay more as improvements in technology drive the costs towards zero?

      Because that's what the capitalist economic model is all about.

      From each according to his ability to pay, to each according to his ability to avoid paying.

  • We have been the victims of market share building exercises since 1995. The concept of offering service to people at rates that are unsupportable doesn't work long term. Clearly.

    The problem with IPTV is the physical capacity on both cable and DSL doesn't exist. You can't support a star configuration fed from the head end where the combined bandwidth at the "node" is higher than can be served with any reasonable physical connection. The way things have been built today doesn't support IPTV even at fairly

  • War driving time baby!
  • Ad Blocking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by colinnwn (677715) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @05:29PM (#34493126)
    I've never much minded internet advertisements as long as they weren't popups, popovers, or popunders. But if I have to start paying for every bit delivered to me, my hosts file is gonna get big fast, adblock and javascript blocking will become required addons for all my web browsers. Every business that advertises on the web should be screaming bloody murder at internet providers to not implement this. It will decimate the internet revenue model for many companies.
    • Re:Ad Blocking (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Lincolnshire Poacher (1205798) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @05:44PM (#34493400)

      > my hosts file is gonna get big fast, adblock
      > and javascript blocking will become required
      > addons for all my web browsers.

      That is a very accurate assessment. My ISP sells throughput in "units", dimensioned in GB. The cardinality of a "unit" varies by time of day and week, so that usage is shaped to conform to the ISP's costs ( they make it very easy to monitor and estimate usage ).

      Although we don't have much chance of consuming a 125 GB "off-peak unit", an 8GB "peak unit" is much easier to burn-through and Privoxy is therefore laden with rules. There's no point disabling the proxy only for off-peak hours..

      In fact my partner will summon me if she sees any form of online ad; since its appearance is so unexpected she wonders if "something has gone wrong".

    • by vlm (69642)

      Its framed as a war between the content providers and the monopoly last mile providers. But the real economic war will be between the ad networks aka google and the monopoly last mile providers.

  • Got what ya wanted (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @05:30PM (#34493150)

    Here ya go, net-neutrality proponents: a per-byte charge. Did you really expect otherwise?

  • It's going to be a bit humorous when 90% of Americans shit their pants at not being able to watch kitty cat videos on Youtube for less than $50 per month. Or when the cost of their Netflix services suddenly triple. I'll start stocking up on popcorn now.
  • by zentec (204030) * <zentec@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @05:35PM (#34493250)

    There's two reasons for consumption based-billing:

    1. Make Netflix a lot less inexpensive in order to keep the profit line strong on their own video offerings.

    2. Raise prices. Consumption based billing won't be less expensive for people who are light users because broadband service will be $50 for the privilege of having the coax terminate at the house, and *then* you pay what the meter says. And it won't be cheap; I would not rule out several dollars per gigabyte. By doing so, the ISP has a nice fat recurring revenue stream for doing absolutely nothing, and a service pricing structure that encourages you not to use the service.

    I don't have a problem with consumption based billing. I have a problem to the GOTHCA! capitalism of having Wall Street and its corporate minions finding yet another way to fleece the public.

  • Let me get this straight, an ISP could bill you for forwarding your email spam that you didn't want in the first place? Looks like they have zero incentive to do anything to prevent it.

  • Bandwidth isn't like gas. Nobody's mining extra bandwidth or depleting our nation's bandwidth reserves. The cost of data transfer, for a provider, doesn't scale linearly with customer use like a commodity might; up to a certain capacity, it should cost them more or less (not exactly, but close to) the same to operate a network at peak capacity or one at lower than peak capacity. So if I'm transferring 1 MB/hr or 1000 MB/hour, as long as the network isn't being overtaxed and slowed down by my usage it should

  • by jpstanle (1604059) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @05:37PM (#34493282)

    As long as the per-byte rate is in line with current costs, I don't see the problem with it. Moving bits costs money, and moving more bits costs more money. I've always thought broadband providers should behave more like public utilities given their government endorsed monopoly of the infrastructure.

    If we paid by the byte, it would eliminate the need for arbitrary data caps. If I want to pull down a terabyte in a week, I can. I just pay more than my neighbor who only downloaded a few GB in that same week. That seems fair, right?

    The problem though, as it always is with telcos, is that the pricing will NOT be fair. The cable companies in particular are trying desperately to make a grab for the lost revenue in their PPV and other cable TV cash cows as people opt for cheaper alternatives like Netflix.

  • I was just talking to a coworker about this.

    I use an above-average amount of bandwidth. Between Netflix and gaming and youtube and the occasional bittorrent, I feel like, without having any hard numbers at-hand because Comcast's bandwidth meter can't be found on their website (despite their steamroller media blitz that hyped up how proactive it makes people at watching their usage. Way to fail, Comcast,) I fall on the higher end of the usage spectrum but nowhere near the 250gb/month cap; probably 80gb -

  • To the days of the 56k.
  • by jd (1658)

    You pay for a specific pipe already. If the ISPs and core routers enabled fair-service curve, each pipe would get a fair chance at the upstream pipe. Heavy users would then not swamp lighter users and lighter users would not subsidise heavy users. This eliminates all of the (somewhat technologically ignorant) objections raised by ISPs and by some of the posters here. Then you add in ECN, which instructs a machine to throttle back if it is behaving badly on the network (and blocks machines that won't play fa

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