Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Internet Businesses Government The Almighty Buck United States Technology

FCC Boss Backs Metering the Internet 515

Posted by Soulskill
from the deposit-seven-cents-to-continue-reading dept.
An anonymous reader writes "FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has publicly backed usage-based pricing for wired internet access at the cable industry's annual NCTA Show. He makes the claim that it would drive network efficiency. Currently most internet service providers charge a flat fee and price their packages based on the speed of the service, while wireless providers are reaping record profits by charging based on usage, similar to the way utilities charge for electricity. By switching to this model, the cable companies can increase their profitibility while at the same time blocking consumers from cutting the cord and getting their TV services online."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

FCC Boss Backs Metering the Internet

Comments Filter:
  • Their wet dream (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @05:22AM (#40084855)

    By switching to this model, the cable companies can increase their profitibility while at the same time blocking consumers from cutting the cord and getting their TV services online

    • by rally2xs (1093023)

      That's the way it used to be thru some providers, and the reason for off-line e-mail readers like Eudora. Download everything in a minute, and spend the next half hour reading and replying to your e-mail, then upload in batch, only being connected to the net for brief periods like 1 minute at a time. Maybe we can get back to ten cents a minute - maybe the kids would no longer be so fat, when they were forced by economics to go out and play basketball and baseball for entertainment rather than being glued

      • I may be wrong ... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @05:53AM (#40085029) Journal

        ... but I get this feeling that under the current administration America is actually going backwards on a lot of things

        Ever from the start of the so-called "Information Hiway" the users had fought hard to get the flat-rate package from ISP

        It has been that way for decades and suddenly officials from the Obama administration supporting the metering of Net usage

        It is also under Obama administration that the MAFIAA tried (and fortunately failed) to push their SOPA bill - and if my memory served me right, the Obama administration was supporting the bill, and only after stern objection from millions of Net users that the Obama administration changed their mind

        I am afraid to think what will happen i4 years from now if this administration is to win the upcoming election

        • by letherial (1302031) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @06:36AM (#40085167)

          So Mr Romney is going to do better? you want to see a HUGE sell out, look at him and is multiple stances on every issue depending on who is paying the most

          Seriously, blaming this on one administration, one congress, or one party is utterly ignorant. Fact is, the rich have far to much control and mr rich guy himself taking the mantel of presidency will lead our country back to double down bush era, less taxes and more power for the rich; more hardship for everyone else.

          And if you think the recording industry will have less control with a republican in the white house...well then i will take back my statement that your ignorant, instead ill just call you plain stupid.

          Lets just be clear, i cannot imagine the American people will accept romney as a president, i think he will lose and lose big. If the right wing was serious about anything, they would put up electable candidates...huntsman was a good choice, but retards herd the stupid in that party, in turn, the right wing has gone from a political party to a cult.

          • by Capt. Skinny (969540) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @08:06AM (#40085673)

            I cannot imagine the American people will accept romney as a president

            Don't be so sure. Bush was elected to a second term. Ignorance was a valid claim for the first, but no one can say "gee, I didn't know" about his second term. Never underestimate the stupidity of large groups of people acting together.

            • I'm a Canadian, but spent some of my high school career in the States so I picked up a bit of how the US election system works. Unfortunately I think a lot of Americans don't fully understand their own democratic system. My understanding of Bush's second term was he wasn't even close to having the popular vote, but got in because of the electoral college vote him in. The college is suppose to vote the way the population tells it, but it doesn't have to, and there have been several presidents that were elect
              • by flirno (945854) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @08:56AM (#40086167)

                Some have learned and chose to ignore it.

              • by Urban Garlic (447282) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @09:13AM (#40086385)

                This is slightly off the mark, and worth an OT reply, I think. (I am motivated in part by also having a Canadian background; I am now a naturalized US citizen.)

                The electoral college is made up of "electors", with one elector being in the college for each congressman and senator, plus three additional electors for the District of Columbia (represent!). The electors are nominally free to vote for any eligible presidential candidate, but in practice vote for the candidate who wins a majority of the votes in their state, and have done so in every modern election.

                The reason a president can win the electoral college without winning the popular vote is that the electors in the electoral college are not apportioned according to population. Each state gets two senators, irrespective of population, and various states' congressional districts are different sizes in practice. This means that low-population states are over-represented in the college relative to their proportion of the population, so it's possible to put together a majority of electoral college votes corresponding to a minority of US voters.

                The possibility that a member of the electoral college might vote for a different candidate than the popular vote in their state has a name, it's called the "faithless elector". This does happen, but has never changed the outcome of a US election.

              • by Creepy (93888)

                Electoral colleges were put into the system by design, so that one part of the country that voted heavily couldn't offset another part of the country with low turnout. The number of voters is representative of the size of the state, so each state has a fair representation no matter what the turnout. In days of yore, an electoral college voter would sometimes vote against his or her candidate, but that is pretty much unheard of these days - in fact, many states have laws that require that the electoral colle

              • Close . It is entirely possible to be elected in the US without getting the popular vote without there being any unfaithful electors [wikipedia.org] in the electoral college. In most states whoever gets the highest percentage of votes receives all of the state's electoral college votes. So discounting the various 3rd party candidates (most never get above 1%) if the D or R candidate gets 50%+1 votes they get all of the electors for a state. It is quite easy to win the popular vote but loose in the electoral college if the
            • by Loughla (2531696) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @09:30AM (#40086595)

              You actually just called out major flaw in the US election system. We no longer vote for the best candidate, and they no longer run on the 'I am best platform.' We now vote for the least bad option. When Bush came up for a second term, his competition was Kerry - who may actually be a Cylon.

              So, we voted for the one who was the least bad - Bush.

              Look at campaign adverts now. Sure, they run clean ads for the first few months of the election year, but mostly the ads are, "Look at the fire demon I'm running against. He eats babies and punched orphans. I do not." We are forced to look at the bad of (a) vs the bad of (b), instead of what (a) and (b) really stand for.

              Again, I believe that Bush was re-elected simply because we are no longer voting for a candidate, but against another.

              Want proof? Look at the comments in this or any /. thread about Obama or Romney. No one really has good things to say about either one. Most comments made are that Obama is awful because _____, or Romney is awful because ______. At this point, the vote against Candidate A attitude is so deeply entrenched that we have more of a popularity contest than an actual fucking presidential election.

              For some reason I feel like I did a terrible job of explaining my rant. I hope that all makes sense and doesn't come across as too 'screw the gub'ment'.

              • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @11:25AM (#40088589)

                >>>Sure, they run clean ads for the first few months of the election year, but mostly the ads are, "Look at the fire demon I'm running against. He eats babies and punched orphans. I do not." We are forced to look at the bad of (a) vs the bad of (b), instead of what (a) and (b) really stand for.

                Funny you mention that.
                John Adams ran a similar ad against Thomas Jefferson in 1800. He said if Jefferson were elected, "your daughters would be subject to his fiery desires and become whores in the streets". Vice-versa Jefferson's ad said Adams was a sickly man of ill repute and beady eyes.
                The idea that U.S. elections used to be clean are a falsehood. They have always been dirty.

          • For fucks sake! Four posts down from an actual ontopic TOP, and you're already talking about the administration and the election.

            Can we please get add a "political" tag so I can filter this shit out of stories where it doesn't belong.

          • "So Mr Romney is going to do better? you want to see a HUGE sell out, look at him and is multiple stances on every issue depending on who is paying the most"

            One could say when they have multiple stances on every issue, it is because he understands the complexity of the issues, and realizes it. I spent a little time listening to his "Waffling" he isn't waffling his views are consistent to the complexity of the issue.

            You can be both morally against abortion and still believe to support the existing law to ke

            • by Hatta (162192)

              You can be both morally against abortion and still believe to support the existing law to keep it legal.

              Not coherently. Abortion is either killing babies or it isn't. If it is, and you support its legality, you're a monster. If it isn't there's no reason to be opposed to it whatsoever.

              • by KlomDark (6370)

                Abortion is killing fetusii, not babies.

                And no matter what it is, it's not a primary reason to vote one way or another, with all the far more important issues facing the US today. Get your blinders off.

                I'm not gay, and I'm not in favor of abortions, but am solidly against any laws forbidding either. It's not my choice to dictate, and it's not yours either.

        • users? I say bs-- (Score:5, Insightful)

          by way2trivial (601132) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @07:49AM (#40085515) Homepage Journal

          flat rate pricing didn't come because USERS FOUGHT, corps do not give a rats left testicle- however you think people fought?

          Compuserve got it's ass handed to it by the likes of aol, mindspring and earthlink because of competition.

          when everyone could choose which POP to call the market created it's own efficiency- and found a way to work in a fashion that benefited the consumer, ultimately the pricing war became flat rate service.

          the key to efficiency is choice of provider, followed by fiscal evolution.
          The responsibility of the government, representing the people, is to ensure we have the choices.

          not to write exclusive contracts with sole presence providers.
          not to prop up entities with massive right of ways that don't get offered to others-- and to occasionally DENY a request to merge.

          Anyone notice verizon is very in bed with comcast on a lot of deals? the fact that verizon stopped expanding fios- think it might be tied to the fact that verizon now sells comcast products? Cripes-- verizon had the poles to take on comcast territories without huge legal shenanigans- and instead they got into bed with the big fat fuck that is so efficient with it's operations (and fair with it's pricing) that it bought whole sports teams and NBC?

          WHY the hell does a gov't granted monopoly service provider get to set it's rates so painfully & obviously above it's cost of operation that it can expand so far and fast. they should never have had enough money for those deals. as a gov granted monopoly they should be so bent over the 'justify the expense' audits that when you walk into the local business office customers should need their own pen to fill out a form-- cause they can't afford a box of them.

          I fear every administration- unless you can vote with your dollars- you can't change anything

        • by HiThere (15173)

          A flat rate package is essentially impossible. OTOH, billing by minutes connected is something that will only work in a monopoly environment. Billing by megabytes downloaded is reasonable in concept, but I have my doubts that it would be fairly implemented.

          FWIW, *because* I don't trust the regulators to make things better, I'm opposed to any suggested change. It's not that I don't think that change is needed, it's that I don't trust the monopolies and their "regulators".

          P.S.: This is independent of whic

      • Hey, this might even save the post office...

        The post office business is booming. They might not be delivering many letters, but they're delivering many, many more expensive parcels. If they go bust, it'll be due to their own internal inefficiencies, not because the market vanished.

        • Re:Their wet dream (Score:5, Informative)

          by modmans2ndcoming (929661) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @06:23AM (#40085141)

          it will be due to Congress forcing them to make bad business decisions through legislation.

        • Re:Their wet dream (Score:5, Informative)

          by SlippyToad (240532) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @06:44AM (#40085203)

          If they go bust, it'll be due to their own internal inefficiencies,

          They have been forced by Congress to fully fund their pensions 75 years out. That means pensions for employees who haven't even been born yet.

          It's the GOP's way of killing the USPS so they can drive business to their asshole buddies. SOP.

        • The USPS ran just fine for decades before they started fucking with it. Where else can you mail anything for less than a buck? UPS? FedEx? Nowhere. Which is exactly why they're trying to kill it off...

          Once the USPS is gone, watch how much more it costs us to send things. I'm betting it'll only be a few weeks before UPS, FedEx, DHL, and all the other carriers arbitrarily raise their rates and blame it on the cost of gasoline.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            It is also worth noting that UPS, FedEx, DHL and others do not go everywhere. They actually use the USPS for areas they don't consider safe enough, or too far out of the way to deliver to. So if the USPS goes, so does complete national mail service.

            • Re:Their wet dream (Score:4, Interesting)

              by careysub (976506) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @09:46AM (#40086845)

              ...So if the USPS goes, so does complete national mail service.

              And is should be remembered that this national universal communication service was viewed as so important by the Founding Fathers that is one of the very few agencies written into the United States Constitution: Article I, Section 8, Clause 7, which specifically empowers Congress "To establish Post Offices and post Roads".

              Bizarrely the "Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act" (in keeping with the tradition of Orwellian bill mis-naming) was passed by voice votes with not record kept of how individual legislators voted in either the House or Senate.

      • Re:Their wet dream (Score:4, Informative)

        by realityimpaired (1668397) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @06:32AM (#40085155)

        10 cents a minute would likely cost me... $900 a month. Not to bad, eh? Just go back to reading books and watching the tube for entertainment, and downloading e-mail once a day. Hey, this might even save the post office...

        They're not talking about per-minute billing, they're talking about per-gigabyte billing. Your cell phone is connected 24/7 as well, but they bill you for the amount of data you actually send through the network, rather than the speed tier you're on. All cell phones are on essentially the same speed tier, which is "whatever the maximum your phone will support at the moment".

        It's a ridiculous assumption though, because once the capacity's there, it costs about the same regardless of whether you use it or not.

        • Re:Their wet dream (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @07:20AM (#40085363)
          Based on the evaluation of the effect of ths in the UK, it will mean people divide into two camps:

          Those who pay over the odds to buy a deal for a large amount of data they dont need, to ensure they dont exceed their budget limit.

          Those who are too terrified to use the service at all for fear of "bill shock".

          Over a period, most users end up in camp 2, and the usage collapses, until one or more ISPs revert to the "unmetered" model, and collect all the users.

          • by Alomex (148003)

            But the could structure the deal differently. A basic fee of say $20 a month and then a minor fee of $0.50-$1 per GB. It would take a lot of downloading to reach an exorbitant charge.

          • Re:Their wet dream (Score:5, Insightful)

            by N1AK (864906) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @08:09AM (#40085689) Homepage
            The main difference in the UK is that we actually have a lot of competition in the broadband sector. In the US it is not unusual to have 2 or even just 1 viable option (your local cable company). Metered use is fine in a competitive enviroment (in fact arguably it is better because it stops low use customers subsidising heavu users) but that isn't true in a monopoly.

            Unless the US government can force some competition into the market then it will only be able to keep the market 'fair' by constantly controlling company behaviour.
            • Re:Their wet dream (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Bengie (1121981) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @08:44AM (#40086035)
              Except off-peak data transfers are "free". Nearly of the cost of being an ISP is infrastructure. ISPs have to size their back-haul connections to peak usage which is almost entirely determined by the average user.

              Someone transfer 20Mb/s 12 hours per day but during off-peak is going to cost less than someone transferring 2Mb/s for 1 hour during peak.

              The cost to the ISP isn't determined by volume, but by burst. Volume can influence the burst, but it is only loosely coupled. I could easily time and packet shape my traffic to the point where it's cheaper for the ISP to handle 10TB of data than it is 10GB of data. In other words, I could manage a heavy BitTorrent seed in such a way that it costs less than your mom updating her FB status and watching a few funny cat videos on Youtube.
      • Re:Their wet dream (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @08:00AM (#40085627)

        You know, I honestly don't have a problem with metered billing, with three enormous caveats that I'm sure the ISPs would never in a million years agree to:

        First, I want a new Telecommunications Act that opens up the lines similar to what Clinton did in the 90's with telephone. If you recall, after that passed, a plethora of 10-10-XXX long distance only carriers emerged, offering lower and lower cost per minute. We used to pay something like .25 a minute for long distance through MCI back in the day and within a few short years were down to a nickel using competitors services. This would require Forced-Access [wikipedia.org] provisions, obviously, but the person that owns the lines is entitled to compensation at a fair market rate.

        Secondly, I want the ISPs to be declared utilities once and for all and fall under the purview of the local utilities boards in the areas they service. That allows the public to have input into what is, for all intents and purposes, a monopoly. That way, when Comcast (for instance) decides to roll out some bullshit cap designed solely to kill Netflix and competitor VOD services, there would be hearings where they would have to explain their reasoning. Although, if the first point were to come to pass, the second would likely be unnecessary, as we would be able to go to a competitor.

        Third, no more deep packet inspection, no more throttling, no more "traffic shaping", no more game playing. I pay you by the MB, what I do with those MBs is my own fucking business. Does the electric company give a shit what I'm using my power on? No, because it's none of their fucking business, and they get paid regardless. Ditto with bandwidth.

        Those three things happen, I will be more than glad to pay for my usage. If not, they can take their newest fucking scheme to gouge the fuck out of us and shove it up their ass, because without those caveats, that's all this metering bullshit amounts to.

        • Re:Their wet dream (Score:5, Interesting)

          by nschubach (922175) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @08:56AM (#40086171) Journal

          In some areas, higher than average usage is reported to authorities [postandcourier.com]. So, your power may not be packet inspected... but if you happen to be keeping persistent cloud based backups of your data and using up a TON of bandwidth... you may have your house raided in the middle of the night under suspicion of sharing data with people.

      • Re:Their wet dream (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @08:10AM (#40085699)

        Your argument sounds like a lets go back to the old ways. Because the old ways we didn't have all these problems.
        The issue is we got on the net and we were hooked.
        When I first got online I used metered Internet. I payed by the hour. Then when I got to college I had unlimited High Speed internet. After I got out of college I bought Unlimited High Speed Internet, why because I got use to it, and it solved more problems then it created.

        The real problem is the High Speed internet providers are in a conflict of interests with their products.
        Consumer High speed internet is running off the infrastructure of their biggest competitors Cable and Telephone. So Cable Companies and Telephone companies are the ones offering Internet... And they are the the ones with the most to lose with larger internet adoption, with VoIP and Streaming Media.

        We need to work on a method of getting Internet threw many other companies. A wider selection of wireless Internet services, Internet via power grid, cheaper and faster satellite internet, communities of shared wi-fi signals....

    • by Potor (658520)

      If they go this way, they may lose money on me.

      I have no cable TV subscription, and the only way I watch TV is on Hulu (etc.).

      If they meter me, I'll simply revert to my earlier Web activities, which are largely text-based.

  • Who loses out (Score:5, Interesting)

    by isorox (205688) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @05:28AM (#40084885) Homepage Journal

    If cable companies take more money from their customers, with little extra investment in new technology or staffing, it means another sector of the economy loses out. Pay an extra $20 for internet access, that's 1 less dvd you're buying from a MPAA affiliated company.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      If cable companies take more money from their customers, with little extra investment in new technology or staffing, it means another sector of the economy loses out. Pay an extra $20 for internet access, that's 1 less dvd you're buying from a MPAA affiliated company.

      the beauty is that you'll be buying your internet from a MPAA affiliated company! SWEET!?!?!?!?!? so you'll be paying extra 20 bucks for less service which you can download less and the money goes to the same company who thinks you'll be buying their download services and dvd's more since you're getting less of them from the internet even when paying more..

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      Don't forget that you run the risk of paying for all the junk traffic that exists on the net, all the way from spammers and intrusion attempt to spanning tree data and routing information.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by letherial (1302031)

      I think the metered result from the wireless companys will look back as a failure. When the technology was new they could justify a metered way of doing things, the internet started in similar fashion, you remember 250 hours free from AOL? yes i know, nightmares of AOL, but you do remember that right? it was dropped eventually and the same thing is happening with wireless. Currently i pay 50.00 a month for unlimited text, data, and voice, i can even tether it to my laptop.

      No, i dont think ISP will go to me

    • by sirlark (1676276)
      The most direct losses will be cloud based services. Watch everything move back to the local network very quickly...
  • by yesterdaystomorrow (1766850) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @05:29AM (#40084889)
    The problem with this model is that it's very hard to control your usage. There's no practical way to know in advance how much a particular click will cost. Of course, the providers love it for exactly that reason.
    • by u38cg (607297)
      Yes and no. But regular web-browsing is nothing compared to half an hour of Youtube. Per-megabyte pricing, though, would maybe help to discourage pagebloat and Web 2.0 gimmickry. And discouraging the people who torrent petabytes just because they can would do no harm.
    • The problem with this model is that it's very hard to control your usage. There's no practical way to know in advance how much a particular click will cost. Of course, the providers love it for exactly that reason.

      How many people do you know who understand what watching an hour of TV costs in terms of electricity usage? Sure, if it cost $3/hr they'd figure out sooner or later what was costing them so much, but it's no reason not to meter electricity.

      It's also worth noting that electric companies offer ince

  • by g0tai (625459) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @05:36AM (#40084931)
    So, cable companies failed to innovate, and depsite seeing this coming, didn't change.

    Now their entire world is threatened by the internet, and the FCC are attempting to apply a band-aid to help keep their business model going. This will also be to the detriment of the consumer, and ultimately progress.

    Sorry, but his application of the 'band-aid' is fundamentally wrong. In business, if you fail to innovate and keep ahead, you will eventually be surpassed by someone else/another business whereby they are ahead of the curve or willing to change. This is happening, and frankly, the cable industry has no-one to blame but themselves for failing to innovate.

    They didn't innovate, and now they are realising that they are fast becoming obsolete.
    • by XellDx (737289) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @06:37AM (#40085169)
      *Disclaimer: I've worked in Cable for years*
      They have been innovating. You can only fit so many channel frequencies into a line before you have to upgrade the line your using or find a new way of transmitting over the existing infrastructure. Any innovation that would allow for an exponential addition of channels to the existing infrastructure would be a gold mine. They're trying, and they're all in it together. When was the last time you heard of any one cable company inventing anything? They don't. They have a group dedicated [cablelabs.com] to research which helps all of them.. Anything that the group comes up with is made an industry standard, basically IEEE for cable.

      But going back to the infrastructure: cable companies are obviously bound to this. And it costs a lot to both maintain and upgrade. The first half of the 2000's many companies used cable internet and later cheap phone service to multiple advantages.
      1 was generating more revenue by increasing the amount of services their customers subscribed too. This also lead to increased customer loyalty, since its one thing to cancel just your internet service if a company pisses you off but another all together to consider dropping a company that hosts your TV, Internet, and phone.In upgrading a system of say, 50k subscribers you could double the amount of money it generated, which means
      2 the increased revenue offset the costs of upgrading systems to support the new features. Think back 10 years ago, what was the fastest speed you saw in major cities? 3-5 Mbps if that. Some area's have 50+ Mbps now.
      3 by increasing the capacity when HD came around many systems where already ready for the initial wave of channels. They did innovate, which is why many area's have 50+ HD channels available now if you have an HD converter. Without the investment into rewiring many area's, cable would never be about to touch satellite as far as competition in many area's.

      Upgrading systems costs an insane amount of money. That more than anything is the reason that cable monopolies exist, the cost of entry prohibits competition. To install a new plant in an town of 50k takes something to the tune of 2-3 million dollars, with zero guarantee on how long it will take to recover that cost, if ever. Cable lines have reached their limit unless someone comes up with a new way of multiplexing, and if its that significant a step up you'll see it deployed very rapidly. Some companies are switching to fiber but the cost is insane. And where as if someone cuts a cable line the service could be back up in an hour, if someone cuts a fiber line it could take significantly longer.

      Having said all that, the "Usage Allowance Plan" is a crock of shit. It is exactly what it is being labeled as, a stop gap measure to keep people from dumping the TV service. Because cable companies get charged by the broadcasters based on their install base*, which includes internet only customers in some cases, they're trying to stop the current trend of "Internet for everything" since it inverts #1 & 2: less revenue generated, but now node capacity has to be increased. Does it make it fair for the consumer? Of course not. Are the amounts for the usage plans in use by the larger companies fair? Considering that a large % of the subscribers never come close to the cap, it depends. COULD they offer an 'unlimited' package? Yes. Which is why its a crock of shit, their could be a way to pay more if you use more, but thanks to other industries showing that micro-payments for additional service is a viable model for monopolies that isn't likely to happen. Hence this whole hullabaloo, they're trying to have their cake and squeeze money out of it too.

      *ask anyone who's worked for a Cable call center about NFL network. Just don't do it when they're holding something stabby.
      • by MachineShedFred (621896) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @07:17AM (#40085347) Journal

        Note that I'm coming from a place where I don't know much about how digital cable systems work, but I'm curious:

        What effect would it have on the cable system to convert all available frequencies for use on an IP network, and deliver the channel that you're watching via video-over-IP, rather than having a discrete data "channel" and delivering lots of channels of video simultaneously that you're not watching?

        It seems that for the cost of a bit of channel-changing delay, they could harvest a shedload of bandwidth. Unless they've already done this with digital cable systems, then I guess I'm just catching up.

        • by jquirke (473496)

          The fundamental flaw here is that cable capacity is shared between *all* users from the local node, i.e. everyone in your street, unlike ADSL.

          Therefore, there's not really much improvement to be made. The only possible optimisation with this hypothetical IP system would be to "detect" that everyone is watching Australian Idol (or whatever people watch these days) and then allocate more capacity to that program perhaps to improve video quality. Otherwise, if everyone is watching something different it's no d

          • Many cable companies already implement Switched Digital Video [wikipedia.org] where only the channels that are actually being watched are sent down the wire. This may actually explain the couple second delay that you have experienced when changing channels. This allows the cable companies to offer more channels than their system has the capacity to support.

      • by Jumperalex (185007) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @07:49AM (#40085513)

        My left nut if I could stop paying for sports channels. All of them, gone from my line-up and from my bill!!!

  • He'is quite right, except if he wants to retain customers.

    • Do not worry, destroying competition will fix this for you, they'll retain customers by removing competition, it's more fun to bribe^H^H^H^H^Hinform politicians than to have to interact with pesky tech people and try to understand why giving them money might make you a better provider than the competition...
      Easier to legislate competition out of the picture.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Used bandwidth doesn't consume more stored resources than unused bandwidth. Idle network bandwidth is lost forever and can not be used to improve the network performance at a later time. That's why data volume isn't a good metric for the consumed good - bandwidth used at peak times is. In a functioning market, volume pricing would result in prices that don't reflect the ISPs costs and therefore in uncompetitiveness for the ISP which uses this flawed pricing model.

  • Translation? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by korgitser (1809018) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @05:41AM (#40084973)

    the cable companies can increase their profitibility while at the same time blocking consumers from cutting the cord and getting their TV services online.

    Does this mean that the current motivation behind mr. chairman is cable tv being worried about customers preferring internet video to their subscriptions?

    He makes the claim that it would drive network efficiency.

    This 'efficency' would then mean 'compensation for the loss of profit'?

    • by 2phar (137027)
      LightSquared Fiasco Puts Harsh Spotlight on FCC's Genachowski

      "A friend of President Obama's from Harvard Law School, Genachowski has brought a culture of wheeling and dealing to the FCC, on whose decisions billions of telecom dollars ride."

  • How would they expect to compete against those providers who do offer unlimited internet? People would just abandon them and move to those who offer unlimited internet. Isn't that how unlimited internet started in the first place?

    • by u38cg (607297)
      Depends on the price. If you don't watch online video, you might well be paying less than under a flat rate.

      Then what happens is the unlimited providers get left with the higher usage customers, and they then have to raise their prices. Customers at the bottom end realise they will pay less under usage-based pricing, and leave. Rinse, repeat.

      • Depends on the price. If you don't watch online video, you might well be paying less than under a flat rate.

        Then what happens is the unlimited providers get left with the higher usage customers, and they then have to raise their prices. Customers at the bottom end realise they will pay less under usage-based pricing, and leave. Rinse, repeat.

        Nah. They'll keep the current price, just limit it and charge crazy punitive overage charges. Say it's $50 a month right now for unlimited. In the future it'll be $50 for the first (insert arbitrary but low # of gb) and probably $5 for every gb after that.

        You didn't truly think this was going to save the consumer any money did you?

  • by awjr (1248008) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @05:50AM (#40085023)

    You have a very weird system over there. In the UK, one company, BT had a monopoly on the telephone system. This was recognised and legislation was put in place that the last 'mile' of the connection could be used by any company offering services many years ago allowing me to choose from multiple ISPs as long as there was space in the junction box for the hardware. Now there is concern that BT again may be able to monopolise the next 'evolution' as we move towards fibre to house, so there are calls [guardian.co.uk] to prevent this from happening.

    In the US there seems to be a focus on the government doing what is good for corporate greed and not what is good for society. :(

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @06:14AM (#40085113)

      US is a corporately own and run state, pretty much fascist at this point.

    • In the US there seems to be a focus on the government doing what is good for corporate greed and not what is good for society. :(

      The problem is access. The corps always couch their arguments in "what is good for society" rationalizations and the people running the government don't get to hear from any other viewpoints because everybody else can't afford the lobbyists. Even with the "revolving door" between industry and government, most of the people who take that obviously corrupt path justify it as doing good for themselves while doing good for the public.

      The best we can hope for is that corps with opposing economic interests wil

    • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @07:07AM (#40085301) Homepage

      It's not easy to make good regulation, we in Norway had that too but the result was that Telenor (our version of BT) wouldn't build out junctions for DSL instead cashing in on old ISDN connections with very little competition. You don't want to make it so that BT doesn't want to convert people to fiber either. Here in Norway now I feel there's surprisingly well working competition, we have power companies, phone companies and cable companies all now looking to provide fiber services and I'd say the biggest player (Altibox) also has the best offer. In the US the problem as I understand it is that there's a lot of exclusivity arrangements so most people have one DSL and one cable service to pick from - or just the one. So they have de facto monopolies without the regulation, the worst of both worlds.

  • American idiots (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Here in Sweden and many other parts of the world, we have cheap, fast 100 mbit/s and even 1000 mbit/s Internet connectivity at flat rate.

    How about you American idiots expand and upgrade your Internet infrastructure so everyone can have more bandwidth instead of making people pay for using bandwidth?

    You guys have slow, expensive, censored shitty Internet. Your Internet connectivity is even worse than Eastern block shit countries like Poland.

    • Re:American idiots (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cbope (130292) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @07:56AM (#40085597)

      Hate to reply to an AC, but you have a great point. Too bad you didn't post under your own identity and take credit.

      It's much the same here in Finland, we have a lot of bandwidth and it's cheap. I pay US $12/month for an UNLIMITED 3.5G 21Mbps connection using a mobile hotspot that supports up to 8 devices. No bandwidth caps, no limitations, zilch. I've had 24Mbps ADSL to my home for many years, unlimited. The only reason why I haven't upgraded to 100Mbps at home is my ADSL+ gateway would need to be replaced, and to be honest I have enough bandwidth for what I need anyway.

      I don't want to hear the usual "but the US is too big and sparsely populated" excuse, please. That's a load of BS. Finland has a large landmass for its population size and is only 2% populated by area. The rest of the land is forests. Yet we have dozens of mobile operators and ISP's competing well with low prices, good service and coverage over the whole damn country. The US has put off building infrastructure for so long and raping customers for crappy service, that it's unlikely to be able to catch up to the rest of the world in 10 years. It's falling behind at an alarming pace, and with religious zealots and corporations now firmly in control of the population and government, you are pretty screwed.

      It's equally bad that I say this as an American who left the country more than 10 years ago and has witnessed the country slowly destroying itself from afar. Truly sad.

  • by Walt Sellers (1741378) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @05:52AM (#40085027)

    Over and over we go through this.

    Metering has the eternal problem that ends with a enraged customer calling customer support over the shocking bill at the end of the month. AOL used metered services for years. When they finally went flat-rate, their business exploded with more customers than they could handle. When AT&T shifted from metered and offered flat-rate data for iPhone, they got more customers than they could handle.

    Metered services can be good alternatives or add-ons to a flat-rate service, but they will be filling specific needs. A serious gamer may want low-latency. A serious file sender may want high-bandwidth on-demand. (I need to get this huge file sent to the office NOW.)

    Metered services also have one big sore-spot: the meter itself.
          - when do you get to see the meter? Just once per month at billing time?
          - who verifies the meter is accurate?
          - how are ISPs prevented from abusing the meter? Recall that long ago, laws had to be written to stop phone companies from charging for calls before they were actually answered.
          - how are bytes being counted? Bytes are not counted like phone minutes. Packets are re-transmitted out of necessity. Do they count twice?

    • If it's done correctly, like this:

      - when do you get to see the meter? Just once per month at billing time?

      Whenever you want. Just go to your usage page on the IPS's website and have a look.

      - who verifies the meter is accurate?

      You can have your own usage monitor on your computer or router if you want

      - how are ISPs prevented from abusing the meter? Recall that long ago, laws had to be written to stop phone companies from charging for calls before they were actually answered.

      If the ISPs can't charge the user then the only risk is of the ISP lying about usage. Have fixed monthly fee with a cap which cuts off or throttles access to the Internet beyond your ISP once the cap has been exceeded. Customer can pay to top up, ideally for slightly less than the price/GB of the basic cap. Customers ca

  • Old money vs... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by yoshi_mon (172895) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @06:06AM (#40085079)

    Old content driven, highly scripted, highly time controlled, ads you can't block or skip while live, we drive the narrative money.

    VS

    New internet you go where you want, sandbox type choice for the user, ads are there but can be dialed down at the user end, DIRECTLY sells stuff to people, lets people connect in multiple ways, old we drive the narrative content still there but also many many other points of view.

    Andddddddd, fight!

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @06:11AM (#40085105) Journal

    (I know, I know: lies, damned lies and...)

    Mark Twain aside, if you still wanted to promote laissez-faire economics (not that that's always appropriate), the FCC should ensure that there is enough competition in a given market (far from today's sorry reality in the U.S.), publish GOOD (useful) STATISTICS on speed (indexed by time of day perhaps), latency, uptime, etc. Then let the consumers decide how they want to be billed. Or at least that's how it SHOULD work out, I don't understand how market forces haven't eliminated the insanely complex and restrictive 2-year contracts most people are locked into. Lobbyists perhaps?

    If people are provided accurate information they SHOULD choose the most efficient/best product for the cheapest price (except for "Geffen goods"). That's why ratings agencies are absolutely crucial to a properly functioning market; nothing was "wrong" with sub-prime mortgages, it's just that the ratings agencies were giving them AAA ratings (because they were being paid by the issuers). Those guys should be "castrated and blinded" (another literary reference, this one from "The Visit") or at least made bankrupt and their officers thrown in prison!

  • by l3v1 (787564) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @07:13AM (#40085335)
    "similar to the way utilities charge for electricity. By switching to this model, the cable companies can increase their profitibility"

    This sounds like ignorant idiotism at its peaks. Most of you here will remember (some might still live it...) the modem days, pricing per kilobyte, browsing web pages with ads, images and everything disabled, replying to e-mails offline and sending in batch, no online video, no streaming radios, and sometimes still ridiculously high bills at the end of the month.

    That's where you're headed, and they will call it progress.

    You people recently seem to try to make those people's decisions increasingly easier who consider moving to the US.

    Like, consider regular flat rate dsl prices. There were times when we were looking from central europa with awe towards the cheapness over the pond. Today, a 1.5mbit dsl in PST costs almost exactly what we pay for a 5mbit dsl in CET. And now they're "evolving" you back to usage-based fees. Nice.
  • So let me get this straight, the government is suggesting that government supported monopolies (teleco & cable) change their behavior (in a way negative for the consumer) in one monopoly area in order to help their business in a different monopoly area?

    Maybe it's time that the these monopolies are broken up. There is a reasonably obvious need for local monopolies on who owns and maintains the cable infrastructure. There appears less of a need for a monopoly on content providing over that cable. Since they are obviously leveraging the monopoly status in the first to extend the second, it's time to break 'em up.

  • If this crap becomes widespread will the makers of graphic heavy sites be able to sniff the ISP and deliver a more textual version of the page for persons shackled to the services of such ogres. I'm pretty sure it could be done using the dns, but how reliable it would be is up in the air.
  • by J'raxis (248192) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @07:41AM (#40085473) Homepage

    The government agency that was created to regulate communications and ensure only big corporate players can buy their way into the market, has a suggestion that would make incredible profits for the corporations it exists to serve.

    See, government regulation is all about serving and protecting the public, isn't it...?

  • Wonderous (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lightknight (213164) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @07:52AM (#40085541) Homepage

    So, I take it the US has decided to lock in its technological gains from these last two decades, and will be out of the race for the next 40 years? Because that is what this is saying.

    Remind me how ISPs in other countries offer faster speeds, for less? And this is supposed to be an improvement?

  • by Shavano (2541114) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @09:09AM (#40086329)

    What has stoppped your ISP from metering your usage for the last several years?

    And why would they start?

Never put off till run-time what you can do at compile-time. -- D. Gries

Working...