ISPs Threaten Metered Broadband As Net Neutrality Looms

Remember when you called up your ISP and, after an unholy modem screech, were billed for every minute you spent online? (Actually, it occurs to me that many Consumerist readers probably don’t remember this.) If ISPs’ current efforts pay off, we may all soon be paying for every little byte of Internet that we use.

ISPs have experimented with the metered broadband concept, and consumers (and consumer advocates) have kicked and screamed, but the looming specter of Net Neutrality has forced ISPs in turn to threaten consumers with tiered or metered broadband.

Some broadband providers argue that a pay-as-you-go Internet is unavoidable. “A flat-rate, infinitely expandable service is unachievable,”Dick Lynch, chief technology officer of Verizon Communications Inc., said at a recent industry conference, referring to the industry in general. “We’re going to have to consider pricing structures that allow us to sell packages of bytes.”

Advocates say unlimited monthly Internet service has been critical to the Internet’s growth and the formation of online start-ups. Paying by the amount of Internet traffic used could damp usage and the sort of tinkering that can lead to breakthroughs, they warn.

Well, streaming video, it was nice knowing you.

Carriers Eye Pay-As-You-Go Internet [Wall Street Journal] (Thanks, Joanne!)

(Photo: TheTruthAbout…)

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  1. Skaperen says:

    Whether we have pay-as-you-go or not should be decided by the market … which can only happen if there is sufficient competition. Two providers (one running coax and the other running twisted pair or fiber) just doesn’t qualify as competition.

    • Wargazm says:

      @Skaperen: EXACTLY.

      Internet service started as pay-as-you-go, with dialup. But the phone lines were just dumb tubes, so you could have a shit-ton of ISPs competing for your dollar. So they lowered rates. And eventually they introduced unlimited plans.

      The network needs to be dumb again. Like the man said, it’s a series of tubes. Make those tubes a utility, like any other, and let real competition hit the marketplace.

      • bohemian says:

        @Wargazm: Step 1. Buy t-1 from telco. Step 2. resell wifi connection to neighbors to cover extra costs. Step 3. Tell ISP to piss up a rope.

        • AustinTXProgrammer says:

          @bohemian: I’m sorry, but T1 is painfully slow, I can’t stream a single HD stream on it.

          My Time Warner connection before I moved out of their area was 15mbps down and 2mbps up, with the download burstable to 22mbps.

          Comparisons with other countries aside, I thought $60/mo was quite reasonable. Bandwidth such as that for commercial use would have been thousands. Unfortunately people think that unlimited means milk the line for every bit, and now we are headed into the abyss. Typical tragedy of the commons.

          • bohemian says:

            @AustinTXProgrammer: We ran a T1 and for about a month one cable broadband connection in a building of about 75 graphic designers, video staff and programmers. The T1 was faster. My point being that you can buy larger bandwidth basic connections (T1,T3 etc) from the telcos. Technically your not completely stuck with using an ISP when you can basically become one if your willing to pay the cost for these larger lines.

            • bhr says:

              @bohemian: T1 lines are 1.54mb connections. T3 are 48mb-ish but cost a few thousand dollars. You standard broadband coax/fiber/combo connection is 6mb to 22mb for a third of the cost of the basic T1.

              And start sharing that T3 with enough neighbors to make it cost effective and you are back to low bandwidth again.

              • subsider34 says:

                @bhr: You’re failing to take into account that most people don’t get anywhere near those numbers for cable or DSL. Since T1 predates those technologies, does it deliver more of it’s potential bandwidth?

                • NeverLetMeDown says:

                  @subsider34:

                  A T-1 is a Service Level Agreement connection – you get 1.5Mbps, guaranteed. Of course, if 4 people are using it simultaneously, nobody’s getting more than 350kbps or so.

                  A typical cable network shares 38Mbps among about 150-200 customers, so the actual bandwidth per customer “allocation” is about 200-250kbps. To get the same allocation, you’d have to share that T-1 among at most 8 people, and you wouldn’t get comparable average speeds, since the law of averages works better with a larger pipe and larger pool of customers (think about laundry rooms – one washer for 10 people is more likely to be busy than not finding a single available washer in a room with 10 machines serving 100 people).

        • searonson says:

          @bohemian:
          I have wondered why more people don’t do this. It seems like the rational thing to do, and I have considered it myself. However, then I would have to interact with my neighbors. That frightens me.

        • quail says:

          @bohemian: In the late 90’s one of my neighbors suggested that exact thing. The issue was coming up with roughly $20K to get started, then who’d manage it, and what if peopled moved, etc.

        • rekoil says:

          @bohemian: You probably mean a T3. A T1 is slower than most DSL lines and almost all cable interenet offerings nowadays.

        • Naame says:

          @bohemian: You missed an initial step. In order to start your own ISP you do need to get formal permission from the government. See below:

          “47 C.F.R. § 1.763 Construction, extension, acquisition or operation of lines

          (a) Applications under section 214 of the Communications Act for authority to construct a new line, extend any line, acquire or operate any line or extension thereof, or to engage in transmission over or by means of such additional or extended line, to furnish temporary or emergency service, or to supplement existing facilities shall be made in the form and manner, with the number of copies and accompanied by the fees specified in Part 63 of this chapter.

          (b) In cases under this section requiring a certificate, notice is given to and a copy of the application is filed with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State (with respect to such applications involving service to foreign points), and the Governor of each State involved. Hearing is held if any of these persons desires to be heard or if the Commission determines that a hearing should be held. Copies of applications for certificates are filed with the regulatory agencies of the States involved.”

      • karmaghost says:

        @Wargazm: To return to those days, you’d have to have the gov’t require and subsidize cable or fiber to every home and/or neighborhood like they did back in the introduction of telephone lines.

    • Shadowfire says:

      @Skaperen: One could argue that this would be a constitutional violation, as well. Commerce clause ahoy!

    • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

      @Skaperen: Agreed! I have the choice of cable internet from Charter, or DSL from AT&T or TDS (Verizon claims Fios in my area but I don’t know a soul who has it). For cable television I can choose Charter or one of the Dish Networks. Since only Charter offers a bundled service of cable and internet in our market, guess who gets the majority market share. Additionally, those companies have pushed to eliminate cable access channels in our market.

    • QuantumRiff says:

      @Skaperen: I’ve always wondered what happens if a town refuses to extend a cable companies “franchise”?

    • sinfuly Delicious says:

      @Skaperen: You do realize that every almost every broadband is actaully Fiber Optic connections. The main difference is whether or not the fiber ends at your house, or a block from you.

      Look up Fiber to the curb.

  2. moore850 says:

    broadband already is capped. Whatever they cap your transfer rate at per second times how many seconds in a month is the max you could get in a month. If they decide to throttle that down, I better be paying less or there’ll be some ‘splaining to do.

    • Jeff-er-ee says:

      @moore850: That’s a good point. The real costs associated with operating an ISP or backbone aren’t really associated with total volume over a specific period of time (bear with me), but actually with total volume at any specific moment in time. It’s really a bandwidth issue, not monthly throughput, and the ISPs are already regulating that for the most part. If they’re going to charge by the byte then I’d suggest that consumers demand lightning Internet speeds to balance the equation.

      • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

        @Jeff-er-ee: Excellent point! We do already pay for a bandwidth allowance at any given moment. If they don’t have enough bandwidth to meet the demands of their customers, yet are charging as though they do, they’re stealing from us via inadequate networks.

    • karmaghost says:

      @moore850: I’m assuming you don’t have Comcast, then?

  3. thinkliberty says:

    Remember hulu, netflix and youtube? Those websites used to be awesome.

    • karmaghost says:

      @thinkliberty: I tried using Netflix streaming to watch a movie once during a free trial. I have Comcast, so 30 to 45 minutes in, the movie stopped, adjusted its quality to sub-telecine/shaky-cam quality and continued. Unwatchable. And sadly, this is exactly what Comcast wants.

    • Riff Raff says:

      @thinkliberty:

      Hulu: Depends on the day/time. I’ve seen nearly flawless transfer speeds on the standard def (my connection was too slow before to adequately evaluate the “hi-def”), but on most days, the video is choppy. That’s what happens when the site is owned by the media overlords.

      Netflix: I don’t understand what all of the previous commenters are complaining about. Netflix online streaming has always been flawless for me, and I have the lowest tier for unlimited online streaming. The video buffers quite sufficiently. In fact, last year when it still kept buffering way past your playing point, most videos would finish downloading before I was halfway through. Even though Netflix no longer does this (it only buffers a certain amount past your current play-point), I still have not seen an issue. Any problems sound more geographically or ISP related.

      YouTube: Again, I have never had a problem with YouTube, aside from the occasional video-still-exists-but-it-won’t-play error.

  4. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    If I didn’t use so much internet, I could get behind a pay-as-you-go service if it was cheaper then what I’m paying now and made fiscal sense, but pay-as-you-go ALL the time? Not with all the torrents I do!! No way!

    I wish they offered pay-as-you-go cable service. There’s about 3 channels I want in the “premium” channels and don’t want to have to pay $100 for them.

    • edesignway says:

      @Oranges w/ Cheese wants it to be winter already: I have to agree. Most internet providers are now tv providers. They should make that a two way street and do the same for tv pricing. I counted it up the other night, I look at seven channels and if nothing is on those turn off the tv. What I would lose in per byte billing I would gain in a la carte tv.

    • tbax929 says:

      @Oranges w/ Cheese wants it to be winter already:
      Pay as you go for cable TV would be awesome. My cable bill would only be about $5-$10, since I only watch a couple of the channels I receive.

      • Michael Belisle says:

        @@edesignway, Oranges w/ Cheese wants it to be winter already, tbax929 is just plain tbax929: You all seem to be operating under the assumption that a la carte would mean that you would pay a representative fraction of what you pay for your current service. That assumption is likely wrong.

        Right now, Oranges w/ cheese is essentially paying $100/month right now for 3 channels, having evidently decided that it’s worth $100 a month for those 3 channels. Oranges w/ cheese probably wouldn’t pay $33/month/channel for each channel a la carte, but would certainly pay more than $3/channel for them. So the market price per channel would be set higher than that floor, probably closer to where premium channels are today.

        Or, they might require minimum orders, like 50 channels or something, or upsell you to bundles by making a la carte more expensive on average.

        Regardless of how they do it, they’re not going to just throw $90 of revenue out the window.

        • Spider Jerusalem says:

          @Michael Belisle: As shitty as even my favorite channels have gotten recently, I would be willing to pay $15/month for just Cartoon Network. I am quite good at saying “no” to packages and upselling.

          Minimum orders would get shot down in court. Really really quickly, actually. And I think a lot of states would step in as well.

          • Michael Belisle says:

            @Spider Jerusalem: Minimum orders would get shot down in court. Really really quickly, actually. And I think a lot of states would step in as well.

            You’re telling me that a nonexistent business model (e.g. the lowest a la carte tier is “pick any 25 channels”) on top of a pipe dream (a la carte cable itself) would get shot down in court? On what basis?

            Can you also clear up for me whether or not poaching unicorns is legal?

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        @tbax929 is just plain tbax929: yeah, food network, DIY, travel and discovery… can i get those for a buck each a la carte?

    • bohemian says:

      @Oranges w/ Cheese wants it to be winter already: This could be used as a tit for tat on metering broadband.

      They want to meter broadband and charge for useage.
      Write a law that forces them to do alacarte TV channels on a real price basis. This so they can’t charge you $100 a month for Comedy Central and $1 to get the Home Shopping Channel.

      There is always a way to counter a threat made.

      If the cable companies started doing this we would kill our TV subscription and get some form of dumb internet connection. Then get TV over the internet, antenna and from an old style big dish.

      • EricLecarde says:

        @bohemian: The problem is, a lot of carriers are contractually bound to carry channels in packages, whether you realize it or not. From whats been explained to me, Channel Provider X tells Big Time Cable that they can carry Channel X, but only if they carry Channels S, R, V, and U all in the same line up. If Big Time Cable wants to carry that Channel X, then they also carry S, R, V, and U in the same line up. And while sometimes its beneficial to customers, other times its not.

        In my company (who will go unnamed), Disney says that if we want ESPN, we’ll carry ESPN 2, ESPN U, Disney, and a few other channels. If we want to carry Comedy Central, then Viacom says you have to carry MTV, SyFy, MTV2, USA, blah blah blah, and for most customers, it works great, but for others, it doesn’t always benefit them.

        Take the issue with the NFL Network. My company wants to carry the channel, but we want to carry it in a package so customers who want it will pay for it. NFL Network wants us to be on a main tier where all customers get it regardless of whether they want it or not. This in turn passes the costs from those who want it to everyone.

        Ala Carte would be great in theory, however, until we get rid of this,”You have to carry our channels in packages” problem, its not going to happen.

        • EricLecarde says:

          @EricLecarde: One other thing, if we did go to an ‘a la carte’ system, it would mean all customers would have to get a cable settop box in order to regulate the channels the customer recieves. A lot of customers have problems with the box as is.. either malfunctioning or just not sure how to work it. Imagining forcing every customer a settop? Lots of unhappy campers.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @Oranges w/ Cheese wants it to be winter already: Funny how the metered plans that consumers might actually want are the ones the monopolies don’t offer, huh?

    • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

      @Oranges w/ Cheese wants it to be winter already: But then they couldn’t afford to sell all those dozens of sports channels to the rest of the customers!

      • drjayphd says:

        @Persistence-Quick, post while the boss isn’t looking!: You mean “but then they couldn’t afford to sell all those dozens of religious/shopping/whatever I don’t want to watch channels to the rest of the customers!” Sports of all kinds are kind of left out in the cold when it comes to, say, streaming legitimately, so I’d kind of have to pay up to get the channels I want.

        Now, whether or not the channels want to play nice is a whole different question (a-HEM, Big Ten Network…)

        • NeverLetMeDown says:

          @drjayphd:

          Religious channels cost the operator (and you) nothing. Shopping channels actually PAY the operator. The big content dollars are for the “must have” channels: ESPN (close to $4/sub/month), USA, TNT, Comedy Central, Fox News (look at the ratings), CNN, etc. etc.

    • Rhyss says:

      @Oranges w/ Cheese wants it to be winter already:
      I haven’t had cable in about 5 years – I have a converter box – and I have found, especially in the last two years, that just about any cable show I want to watch is on the internet. Are the cable/internet monopolies just wanting to double dip?

      • AlexDitto says:

        @Rhyss: And yet, for me, the cost of getting both internet service and television is cheaper than if I were to get just internet service.

        The world of Internet/TV sales is like Bizarro world, seriously. Honestly, it’s complete crap and I can’t believe it’s gone on for so long.

  5. KTK1990 says:

    As a person who uses about 2 gigs a day download, sometimes way more, I hope this doesnt happen. I like my plan now, pay X a month and get a certain speed to upload and download as much as I want.

    Alot of my classes make me use a ton of bandwidth sometimes. This semester I have probably downloaded 13GB of data, and uploaded 500-700MB of data for 1 class.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @KTK1990: I’d guess that you’re a statistical outlier though, most consumers wouldn’t be using so much bandwidth, so the companies feel they can ignore your needs to cater to the grandma’s who check their email once a week.

    • Michael Belisle says:

      @KTK1990: If you use more of a service than others, why shouldn’t you pay more for the service?

      • drizzt380 says:

        @Michael Belisle:
        Or the reverse.

        If I use less of a service than others why shouldn’t I pay less. Oh, because all our plans are unlimited and your paying for the speed. Either we get to pay 5 bucks for a 100mb a month plan or we get to pay 50 bucks for a certain speed no matter what we use.

        Its a two way street.

      • ktjamm says:

        @Michael Belisle: Because people who use it, already are paying more for their uses. I pay for 6 Mbps instead of the standard T1. I use it. Network hardware is kind of like roads. The relative cost of maintaining the hardware doesn’t change regardless of how much it is utilized. Metered pricing is double dipping. It’s building a road on Tax dollars, and then putting toll booths on it to generate more revenue.

        Metered pricing doesn’t “fix” any problems, other then “I want more profit”

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      @KTK1990: Question because I’m a software geek and not a networking geek: what’s an easy way to measure how much bandwidth I consume per day? I know I’m not filling my hard drives every day, but between program updates, Tivo schedule downloading, Google apps, gaming, misc. browsing… I have no idea how much pipe I’m using. If they’re going to be metering me I’m getting slightly sober to the idea that I need to know what I’m pulling to see how much lube I need to apply against the ISPs.

    • StevePJobs says:

      @KTK1990: Whoa, only 2GB? I have three computers, and there are generally at least two running at any given time. Between streaming video (lots, who needs TV?), OS and other software updates, podcast downloads, RSS aggregagators, Twitter clients, FTP and SSH activity, etc., there’s absolutely no way I use a measly 2GB.

      And that’s with 768k-1mb DSL service.

      • KTK1990 says:

        I was meaning 2 gigs on my main pc. (Probably 3-4 gigs if you include all the pc’s on my network. More on microsoft/Apple update days)

        -Applekid – I use an August 08 iMac running 10.6.1 (Snow Leopard). Using iStat Pro dashboard widgit ([www.islayer.com]). Also, 1 app I use (Steam, use Unreal Tourniment 3 editor for school) has a bandwidth monitor in it, and it says that the item your downloading is Xgigs in size (UT3 editor and game, needed for my class were 9 gigs).

  6. dp05 says:

    “Advocates say unlimited monthly Internet service has been critical to the Internet’s growth and the formation of online start-ups. Paying by the amount of Internet traffic used could damp usage and the sort of tinkering that can lead to breakthroughs, they warn.”

    Nailed it. If ISPs get to cap the number of bytes, R&D basically goes out the window. There won’t be any need to find ways to speed up service or to look into innovation. They just figure we suckers will keep paying while they roll in their piles of money. Sad part is, we won’t have much choice but to.

    • Michael Belisle says:

      @dp05 – now with less…fizzle…: Of course there’s a reason to make things faster. If you sell per byte, and you make things faster, then the customer will burn through the bytes faster. Mr. Torrenty Torrent will download three torrents at once, instead of two, for example.

      • karmaghost says:

        @Michael Belisle: But think of the “average” internet user. Let’s say they don’t use Bittorrent. Speeding up their internet will not necessarily cause them to use more bandwidth overall. In other words, the number of websites they visit a day isn’t limited to a certain number because they don’t load fast enough. The number of videos? Maybe, but even then we’re not talking 500 MB of video vs. 2 GB of video.

        What I’m trying to say is that speeding the connection to the internet up does not necessarily mean that users will reach their bandwidth caps faster, or that they will inherently use more bandwidth overall.

        • Michael Belisle says:

          @karmaghost: Sure the “average” user will use more bandwidth if things are faster. They’ll download more HD movies on iTunes. YouTube will upgrade from “super blocky” to “kind of blocky”. Hulu will increase from 480p to 720p. If you build it, they will come.*

          You seem to be positing that there is excess bandwidth out there already, and that adding more won’t result in more utilization. That’s bullshit, unless you define (as you appear to have done) the “average” user as great-grandma checking her email and reading The Times, while catching her shows on the rabbit ears instead of Hulu.

          ____
          * Where “it” is the bandwidth and “they” are bandwidth-hungry services.

    • bohemian says:

      @dp05 – now with less…fizzle…: Meanwhile other countries have cheap and unmetered internet and cheap cell phone plans.

    • Cant_stop_the_rock says:

      @dp05 – now with less…fizzle…:

      You misinterpreted what he said. He was referring to companies like Youtube and Hulu that consume a lot of bandwidth, not telecomm companies. Metered Internet will not affect telcomm R&D.

    • alstein says:

      @dp05 – now with less…fizzle…:

      The cable companies tried capping the internet last year in some markets, Congress got them to stop.

      If you’re in Rochester – re-elect Eric Massa, he’s the guy who largely got this stopped.

      I’m a Republican and he’s got a lot of support for me from this despite being a Democrat.

  7. Radi0logy says:

    This is all Google’s fault for not being subject to the same rules as the ISPs under net neutrality law.

  8. BeyondtheTech says:

    I really don’t care about metered mobile broadband internet. I paid $20 for the original iPhone data plan, and I hit a max of about 1.5GB per month. Now with my 3GS, I’m paying $30 a month, but I’m doing at most about 1GB a month.

    So, if I’m (A) supposedly getting their 5GB “unlimited” data plan, (B) paying more for it (and nowhere hitting that limit monthly), and (C) now they’re looking to go metered, they better have a base plan of about $5 a month and put it at $2-5 for every GB thereafter.

    We’re getting ripped as it is with text and multimedia messaging that they better do right with a metered plan, or they’ll be hell to pay.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @BeyondtheTech: I think you’re confused. The 5gb limit is on the data cards. There isn’t a limit for iphones.

      I do, however, understand your frustration with the lack of heavy usage. I don’t have an iphone, but I was just as angry about paying $20 for unlimited data on my phone when all I use is about 500mb.

    • frank64 says:

      @BeyondtheTech: Your right to bring up texting costs. They don’t cost them anything, but to us are real expensive. If I really thought the internet rates were going to have anything to do with actual cost, I might be OK with it, but they have proven that it won’t be the case.

      • tbax929 says:

        @frank64:
        Texting is expensive if you insist on using AT&T as your carrier. Try a better carrier with better rates.

        • frank64 says:

          @tbax929 is just plain tbax929: Sprint is .10 I think, I had them shut it off. I have a SERO cheap plan, so I am happy.

          It was more about the point of the charge being extremly high as compared to the costs, basically no relationship. I am thinking the internet providers will do the same thing, with no basis in costs. Pure profits for them, and no Hulu for me.

        • drizzt380 says:

          @tbax929 is just plain tbax929:
          Well, at this point its AT&T insisting that he use his hardware(iphone) with them.

        • karmaghost says:

          @tbax929 is just plain tbax929: Without a texting plan, text messages cost about the same regardless of your carrier, i.e. too much.

          • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

            @karmaghost: yep, i have the prepaid unlimited text plan with virgin mobile – adds unlimited [true unlimited] text/picture/email to my phone for $10 a month. and i text a LOT. i stopped counting a long time ago but i can go over 100 in a day, easy.
            i send myself a lot of reminder notes to my email, tweet, and upload cameraphone pics to flickr with it.
            paying per item on those would bankrupt me

  9. Scuba Steve says:

    I’d be ok, till the occasional Demo comes in at around a GIG a day, and then there’s HULU, and 500mb patches for games..

    Not to mention the unmentionables! I shall not stand for this!

    • Sanspants says:

      @Scuba Steve: This is probably a really dumb question, but that would mean online play would cost an obscene amount of money, right?

      • Copper says:

        @Sanspants: That is correct.

      • Burzmali says:

        @Sanspants: That depends on what you’re playing on. Xbox 360 games have support online play at 64 kbps (just over dial-up speeds). So that’s close to the max bandwidth that a 360 game’s online component should use. If the 360 is the lead platform for a game, then any ports to the Wii or PS3 of the same game would use similar bandwidth.

  10. TheFlamingoKing says:

    “A flat-rate, infinitely expandable service is unachievable…”

    That sounds like a challenge to me. If one company were able to do it, they could funnel so much business away from Verizon/AT&T/etc. that the other companies would have to follow suit or risk bankruptcy.

    I read this to say “We don’t want to compete in a market with flat-rate, infinitely expandable service. It’s much easier for us to lobby Congress to get our way then it is for us to innovate in the open market.”

    • Michael Belisle says:

      @TheFlamingoKing: Right now, ISPs are free to implement pay-as-you-go or not. The only congressional proposal mentioned in the article is one that would take that option away from them. Are you saying that the ISPs are wrong to lobby congress to prevent laws that limit their ability to run their business?

      Or are you insinuating that they would lobby Congress to ban flat-rate service? Nobody has proposed that because it’s preposterous. They’re already in a market with flat-rate service. Just as it would not be to their advantage to have a law banning metered service, it wouldn’t be to their advantage to have a law banning flat-rate service.

      • TheFlamingoKing says:

        @Michael Belisle: I’m saying that the fact they can lobby Congress to get benefits rather than earn the benefits through selling the best products to customers is the problem.

        Let Verizon offer whatever products it wants. If the only thing it wants to sell is 500kbps with a 1GB cap at $1000 a month, so what? As long as I can move to a competitor that offers another product closer to what I need, Verizon is free to price themselves out of business. The key is the “openness” of the market – how easy is it for a competitor to come into business to compete with Verizon or whoever.

        • Michael Belisle says:

          @TheFlamingoKing: Then you’ll have to blame the Constitution, which gave Congress the authority to “regulate Commerce… among the several states.”

          • raygun21 says:

            @Michael Belisle: Or ya know…the people that voted those particular members of Congress into power. But hey, it’s always easier to blame a lifeless piece of parchment.

            Or those members of Congress that listen to said lobbyists. But nice try on the “anti-Constitution” slant.

    • bohemian says:

      @TheFlamingoKing: Hmm. Maybe there is room for the small local ISP to come back into play. Just offer a no frills unlimited broadband plan. Small ISPs were using some bare DSL requirement to gain a broadband connection via the local telco and then routing the traffic on to the various locations on the net.

    • karmaghost says:

      @TheFlamingoKing:

      I read this to say “We don’t want to compete in a market with flat-rate, infinitely expandable service.

      Actually, the way I read this is that ISPs are basically threatening that, if they don’t get their way and Net Neutrality remains, they’re going to have to move towards metered billing. Basically, they want to charge someone for using more bandwidth, whether it be the websites that people visit, or their users that visit the websites.

      Actually, I’m sure they’d love metered billing for both, but baby steps people, baby steps…

    • QuantumRiff says:

      @TheFlamingoKing: That is especially funny since telephones themselves are moving to “flat rate, infinitely expandable service”. Seriously.. how many people pay per minute for long distance?

      • NeverLetMeDown says:

        @QuantumRiff:

        That’s mainly the case because backbone capacity is extremely cheap, and people’s usage doesn’t really change all that much. If someone goes from paying $0.10/minute for long distance to unlimited, they’re not really going to spend that much time on the phone. Maybe, in an extreme case, they double it. iPhone users are using 20x the bandwidth of regular smartphone users.

    • Im Just Saying says:

      I thought the free market was supposed to be the solution to all of our problems. Why would the ISP’s need to collude and lobby against a law that enforces the free market?

      Why is regulation good when it benefits you but the harbringer of doom when it benefits me?

  11. Saboth says:

    ISPs act as if broadband is going to be growing to an Nth degree for the foreseeable future. With all of them refusing to expand coverage and upgrade their networks, despite subsidies by the government and ever-increasing prices, I’d like to know where all these new customers will come from. I believe it is a pretty mature market. The only thing that can change is the content being downloaded…netflix HD vs youtube standard quality, and I doubt that will increase that much either.

    • TheFlamingoKing says:

      @Saboth: It’s not new customers. It’s current customers increasing their bandwidth usage through more “always-on” web services and more sophisticated use. Think YouTube style video streaming and Pandora/Last.fm style music streaming – years ago no one was using those services, now they have millions of customers using them. We’re using the net for more social purposes as well, which involve way more connections and data transfer per day then old, more passive systems.

      I just saw an article recently that showed exponential growth in the use of AT&T’s network over the last few years. I would say it will increase more than you suspect.

  12. milrtime83 says:

    I’m not entirely against metered broadband, but it’s the implementation that will almost definitely be wrong. I can see them using it as a way to simply raise prices so people who use little will be paying about the same they are now and everyone else ends up paying more.

  13. Sheogorath says:

    Don’t worry, people! Surely the free market will save us!

    • TheFlamingoKing says:

      @Sheogorath: Maybe, as soon as we get one. A free market would mean that any company with capital could start a competing business against Verizon/ATT/etc. But we have this federal organization called the FCC that prevents open access to this market.

      So, since the government creates a non-free market, we must rely on the government to fix it, unless they want to deregulate and become a free market again (not very likely).

      Please, don’t call this “the free market”.

      • Esquire99 says:

        @TheFlamingoKing:
        The FCC doesn’t directly prevent open access to the market, particularly for Broadband. In fact, as it stands, the FCC doesn’t really regulate the internet. They have taken a very hands-off approach, per a directive by President Clinton. In fact, the FCC can really only regulate internet service offered over “common carrier facilities,” basically the phone lines. Cable internet is essentially entirely unregulated at the moment. The FCC can get at DSL if they want to, but the present stance is to be as hands-off as possible. Clearly that may change, but I’m not sure how they can get at Cable Internet under the current regulatory structure. It would require some fairly significant overhaul in order form them to claim any jurisdiction over Cable Internet, given past rulings and decisions by the Commission.

      • karmaghost says:

        @TheFlamingoKing: I’m not exactly sure I’d actually want a true “free market.”

        • Xerloq says:

          @karmaghost: Yes you would. A true free market is very much an idyllic thing which does result in the lowest possible costs and maximum utility for all. Free markets will always exist (or strive to) so long as people can exercise free will.

          @iron_chef: What you describe is not a free market.

          • jstonemo says:

            @Xerloq says Can I has Friday?: You are right. Too many people don’t even know what a free market is because they haven’t seen one in use. I am being too general in my comments, because there are free markets everyday, they just don’t realize it.

      • iron_chef says:

        @TheFlamingoKing: it’s an oligopoly courtesy of the cost and nature of utility infrastructures.

        Free market will never save you. Going “free market” means the oligopolies will charge WHATEVER THEY FEEL LIKE because the ability to string up utility lines in one’s neighborhood for broadband is cost prohibitive.

        It’s the same with health care. They charge anything they want because government can’t clamp down on the prices or abusive market behavior.

  14. SamtheGeek says:

    Metered broadband is not a necessity. Go to Sweden, Japan, Finland, or any other wired country. Their UNLIMITED broadband starts at around 75Mb/s. Ours tops out at around 50. And they pay less. It’s not a technical requirement, it’s a GIVE US ALL YOUR MONEY requirement.

    • Michael Belisle says:

      @SamtheGeek: Nearly any other wired country is A) smaller and therefore easier to wire and B) had huge government subsidies that laid the fiber that allows them to have such nice connections for so cheap.

      So yes, here and there, there is a business sustainability requirement. If the government wants to foot the bill for billions in unprofitable infrastructure improvements, the broadband will indeed improve as it has in your example countries. Otherwise, we can’t expect AT&T to make investments that are going to lose money just because people have a “right” to fast broadband.

      • wgrune says:

        @Michael Belisle:

        Thank you. I think I get into this argument every time someone starts complaining about why we all don’t have fiber running to our houses.

        Japan has a population density of over 800 people per square mile; the U.S.’s is 80. More hookups in the same relative space help spread the cost.

        • FLConsumer says:

          @wgrune: So… why don’t we have euro-like broadband speeds/prices in Manhattan and other high-density cities? Simple — the telecoms in the USA are completely focused on quarterly reports and not long-term success.

      • bohemian says:

        @Michael Belisle: I would be OK with the government footing the bill for the infrastructure as long a some other things happen with it. Small companies can then jump into the ISP game so we have actual competition. This should include small community coops. The government should also be allowed to regulate pricing and force providers to prove what they are charging is in line with their direct costs (marketing and lavish CEO pay excluded). We are paying either way. Only the current system we pay alot and get very little in return.

      • ktjamm says:

        @Michael Belisle: You can expect me to avoid such pure profit measures like the plague. Content providers pay for fixed bandwidth, consumers pay for “variable bandwidth” up to a max amount. The US government already IS footing the bill (in subsidies) to expand infrastructure, and ISP’s are failing to do that.

        Metered Internet is simply billing us double for the same service. I will continue to support any ISP that doesn’t meter their bandwidth

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      @SamtheGeek:

      Any speed over about 30Mbps is pure marketing – in Japan, if you look at actual bandwidth used, people with 100Mbps service use only marginally more than those with 30Mbps service.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      @SamtheGeek:

      Japan’s broadband isn’t THAT cheap.

      For cable: 1Mbps service is ~$34, 24Mbps service is $58/month, and the 160Mbps service is $70/month.

      [www.jcom.co.jp]

      For telco: 100Mbps service is $74/month.

      [506506.ntt.com]

  15. flyingember says:

    I remember AOL in 1991. It was metered.

  16. yagisencho says:

    I thought ISPs already had the ability to charge for (or cut off) any bandwidth over the account’s secret ‘unlimited’ monthly limit. This smells like a money-grab, pure and simple.

    I’m also still waiting for a la carte cable/satellite service. My family watches precisely one channel, yet we’re required to sign up for a minimum of 80 channels to access it. =/

    • bohemian says:

      @yagisencho: It is a blatant threat directed at consumers. If you pass net neutrality we will punish you all by jacking prices in a public service that we have a barely regulated monopoly on.

  17. ianmac47 says:

    This will shoot cable operators in the foot. If the choice is between more bytes or more cable television, its bye, bye cable television.

    • FLConsumer says:

      @ianmac47: I’ve been tempted several times in the past few years to cancel cable TV outright. Not that the cable co is inherently evil, but more due to the lack of content on the channels vs. cost of cable. Why should BASIC cable be more than my electric bill? Not a good value in my book. Netflix + buying episodes off iTunes sounds better and better each day.

  18. axiomatic says:

    Yeah good luck getting this done ISP’s. You’re not making any friends with this.

    • karmaghost says:

      @axiomatic: Luckily for them, they are in the money making business and not the friend-making business.

      The issue here isn’t that they can’t currently charge per byte, but that they want to make sure that official Net Neutrality doesn’t become a reality, so they’re kinda using metered billing as a “threat” of sorts.

  19. rorschachex says:

    Hmm… and why is this happening? First off, let’s all remember the amazing job we did breaking up Ma Bell in 1984.

    Second, we deregulated the phone industry in the 1990s based on agreements to have fiber rolled out during that time (think FiOS, etc). [www.niemanwatchdog.org]

    Hmm… so deregulated industries have absolutely no incentive to provide services which they aren’t legally bound to. (BIG mistake on our part).

    Oh, and then those companies merged creating mini-monopolies, thus avoiding that pesky c-word (competition) and charging us whole body parts for basic services.

    So here we are in 2009. The country that created the internet and the boom to make it a cash-cow and a symbol of American freedom and liberty, is stuck with an infrastructure from the ’80s; barely into the standard of service we thought we would have at the end of the ’90s. So what happens when people want to use the internet the way they should in the 2000s with 1990s technology? No bandwidth!!

    So now we have to pay an ass-load to the ISPs (Ma Bell essentially (AT&T, Verizon)) to get to where we should have been 13 years ago. I fucking love this country.

    • TheFlamingoKing says:

      @rorschachex: “Hmm… so deregulated industries have absolutely no incentive to provide services which they aren’t legally bound to. (BIG mistake on our part).”

      Where’d you come up with this nonsense? In the absence of regulation, the incentive is the money that you and I provide. Companies offer services that people choose willingly to utilize. If another company creates better value, the customer leaves for the new company or chooses to pay a higher price for a lower quality product. The question is: how hard is it to create a new company to compete?

      It’s like everyone has no clue how to use their own dollars to get better service, and instead just expect corporations to screw them at every turn so they get screwed at every turn.

      • rorschachex says:

        @TheFlamingoKing: If you read the article I linked, or just look around you, you’d know that the reason we pay a lot for inferior service is that there is no competition, or very little to create big shifts in the playing field. When the phone companies were still regulated, there were thousands of ISPs, which were creating a hurt for the phone companies. However, the backbone in the country (where all internet eventually goes through, as well as home connections) were/are still owned by the phone companies. When they were deregulated, they bought these start-up ISPs and closed the competitive gap. When they were just competing amongst themselves, there was no incentive to offer to the consumer the better product being developed/offered in foreign countries. The only competition to the phone companies is the cable industry, and they are very much opposed to rolling out high bandwidth connections b/c it would directly compete with their cable TV services.

      • rorschachex says:

        @TheFlamingoKing: I guess I should just spell out the point I’ve been trying to (and failing at) making. We already paid/pay for high bandwidth internet/backbone in the USA. This whole metering thing is ridiculous b/c now we’re going to pay even more for something we’ve been paying for since the mid-1990s that was never delivered.

        I don’t mean to come across as a conspiracy nut-job, but this issue really gets me going and I’m very surprised that most people don’t know that we’ve been paying for this roll-out forever and that this issue is directly related. Also, I’m very tired from work.

  20. dbshaw says:

    Yes, if they can’t charge content providers for head of the line privileges (cause of net neutrality) then they’ll gouge their customers for it with metered rates.

    Problem is, if I recollect reading somewhere (probably here) if they change to metered, doesn’t it change their basic structure from being a service, to being a utility, which would force them to have to JUSTIFY the cost per whatever under some regulatory watchdog?

  21. AnthonyC says:

    #1: The ISPs know the capacity of their networks.

    #2: The ISPs set their advertised speeds.

    #3: The ISPs know how many seconds are in a month.

    #4: The ISPs know how many customers they have.

    Where is the problem? How does net neutrality have anything to do with it? I would much prefer a system where my download speed is capped, but I always receive that speed (unless there is a bottleneck on the servers of the sites I access), rather than the current “Pay what we ask, and you’ll take what you get and like it,” billing system.

    Even for upload speeds (from sites to me)- sites already have to pay to host content; Google pays for more bandwidth and servers than, say, my local Chinese restaurant’s web site.

    The only role net neutrality would play here is whether it matters what kind of data is being sent. And why should an ISP care if I use my purchased bandwidth to send video, text, voice, or anything else?

    Also, the only cap on my usage should be the speed I’m paying for * the length of a billing cycle. If it isn’t, then it must mean that the ISP can’t provide all their customers with the speeds their paying for. If that doesn’t count as fraudulent, we need to redefine fraud.

    • ktjamm says:

      @acvicari: They care because if you actually *gasp* try to use the bandwidth you paid for, they can fit less customers on that circuit. If they can prioritize packets, then they can fit make Hulu, Google, etc slower, while fitting more customers on a circuit

  22. tinmanx says:

    Get rid of HD video streaming and downloading on the web. There problem solved. :)

    Seriously, some of the HD videos I’ve downloaded plays larger than my 22″ screen and my computer has trouble keeping up (a dual core AMD with 3gb ram). I’m fine with LQ and HQ, we don’t need HD on a computer. But then again, I’m just not a picky guy.

  23. theblackdog says:

    As someone who watches a lot of Netflix streaming, I hope this does not happen at all.

  24. markrubi says:

    OBAMA will save us from this!! No worries…

    • markrubi says:

      @markrubi: Maybe he’ll give us an ISP bail out package so we can pay the overage fees.

    • Im Just Saying says:

      @markrubi: Has Obama done anything on this other than wanting verbally supporting Net Neutrality? I’d like some links please.

      I know Fox News would have you believe otherwise, but bailout isn’t Obama’s answer to every problem/issue.

  25. SacraBos says:

    The problem with this “metered” service is that this isn’t just a consumer issue. There are two ends to any transfer of bytes – content users (you) and content providers (Google, Hulu, Consumerist, etc).

    The content providers pay for the amount they output (it’s kindof “metered”, but in huge chunks), and you already pay in terms of the bandwidth you have (128K, 780K, T-1, FIOS, etc). This already places what amounts to governors to the bandwidth, which means it’s not “infinitely” expandable. Stating this is a lie.

    The only thing that has changed is that people are tending to use closer to their connection speed – but that upper limit is STILL the same per customer/connection – not “inifinite”.

  26. iron_chef says:

    they know the consumer has no power over this.

  27. Esquire99 says:

    It amazes me that so many people feel they have a “right” to unlimited (in every way) broadband Internet. Why shouldn’t you have to pay for what you use? Further, why shouldn’t the providers be allowed to throttle certain ttypea of content that cause a particular strain on the network (especially during peak hours). The mobile carriers on particular should be able to block certain apps that they believe will unduly burden network resources.

    • Esquire99 says:

      @Esquire99:
      *certain types of content…damn iPhone.

    • drizzt380 says:

      @Esquire99:
      I don’t feel I have the ‘right’ to unlimited broadband. I fell that ISP’s will try to screw me over, charging horrendously marked up fees for each 100Mbs over or something like that.

      I also think they will continue to screw over people who don’t use the internet much at all. A expensive internet with a cap of 100Gbs. Well, some people don’t use anywhere near that. Should there not be a cheaper lower capped internet?

      I think they will charge unnecessary fees to those who do go over caps but will not in turn reduce fees for those that are far under caps.

      • Esquire99 says:

        @drizzt380
        What about a tiered system. 0-10gb is $x per month. 10-50 is $x and so on and so forth. I suspect this is what the ISPs envision. Some will offer an “internet light” that is <1gb, but most won’t.

    • alstein says:

      @Esquire99: Let’s put it this

      cost to ISP per Gig is under 1 cent

      cost they wanna charge is $2.

      That’s why.

      • NeverLetMeDown says:

        @arstal:

        That’s kind of like saying that a plane ticket cross country should be $10-15, since that’s the cost of the incremental fuel required to carry you there vs. having your seat sit empty.

    • ktjamm says:

      @Esquire99: People feel they should have a “right” to chose. People who use more bandwidth do pay for it. The internet is not a consumable resource, it’s a road. the costs are negligible if one person drives on it, or 50. when a road gets too congested, you should enlarge it, or build another road. You shouldn’t charge people if they drive on it more than 20 hours/week, especially if they have already paid to use the 6 lane highway.

  28. MrsWhiskerson says:

    This reminds me of nothing so much as Disneyland. Remember back in “the day” when they used to do the whole ticket per ride thing (A tickets, E tickets)? Me neither! But I have it on good authority that they did. And what do they do now? Hopper passes, etc.

    And what is the net but a big theme park for us to waste our money and time on? I’ll take 2 “E” tickets and a “C”, thanks.

    Now, for the gold, the providers just have to figure out how to offer “princess” net.

  29. Batwaffel says:

    I see in the future of these ISPs, new competition as more localized ISPs pop up that are town run like the one in N.C. that got sick of Time Warner.

    [consumerist.com]

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @Batwaffel: i keep hoping that will catch on about 50 miles away from there. it’s higher than i pay now but i wouldn’t have to wait 10 minutes to buffer all videos before watching.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @Batwaffel: oh, by the way, wilson nc now says that town provided service has already paid for the installation costs of the infrastructure. and the profits are going to town improvements

    • alstein says:

      @Batwaffel: Big broadband will try to make the Wilson thing illegal like they did in NC.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        @arstal: actually wilson is in NC and the legislature closed session this year before making a decision. so TWC is flapping in the breeze waiting for an answer

  30. SnoopyFish says:

    I now have a 200GB cap since I moved to a new place last month. I was kind of freaked out at first but calmed down when I realized that gave me at least 6.5GB a day to work with. Definitely more than enough for what I need. And installing Netlimiter2 on all 4 computers in the apartment really helps monitor my status =)

  31. PlumeNoir - Thank you? No problem! says:

    I had something interesting happen on Monday with my Comcast connection. For the past week or two, our speeds were horribly slow, no matter the time of day or night. Pinging various websites would drop at least one of every four. Netflix became unwatchable. I did all the basic troubleshooting, short of replacing the modem, but no luck.

    Decided to call tech support on Monday. While on hold, I did a few speed tests so I could have some numbers to tell the tech. I was getting an average speed of 0.07 mbs down and 0.12 mbs up. I explained this to the tech when they got on the phone. She was really nice and patient; when I told her what I do for a living (I work in I.T.), she bypassed the basic troubleshooting stuff so I did have to waste my time or hers. (May not seem like a big deal, and I didn’t pull the “I know what I’m doing!” attitude, but I was calling to see what they could see on their side, not to re-do everything I have tried already.)

    She looked up my account and the speeds I should be getting and after that, she said she’d check things out. She said my modem pinged fine, under 30ms. While she was checking, I checked my speeds…and they suddenly shot up to normal. She asked if I wanted to have a tech come out, but I declined, saying I’d keep an eye on it. (Kinda like one’s fever breaking while in the Doctor’s lobby.)

    Been keeping an eye on things ever since, and even wireless, I’m at 13.2 down and 2.6 up. Everything has been running fine the past two days (whereas even Google would time out for nearly two weeks). I joked that she must have flipped the “customer complaint” switch. I just have a hard time believing in such a coincidence.

    I told that story (other than it being recent) to drive home my point: if the ISPs try to go metered (heaven forbid they don’t), then we, as customers, better see better speeds, or something to balance it. Comcast has already admitted a monthly usage cap and I don’t see any way they’d have a metered pricing structure that’d be fair to the customer, let alone close to prices we’re paying now. Outages are one thing when they can’t be avoided, but I don’t see the electric company allowing x amount of electricity into my home one day and y amount the next.

    When I see Compuware becoming a player again, then I’ll be really worried…

  32. linoth says:

    Scare tactics, pure and simple. Along with their “increase costs to the consumer.” It wouldn’t increase costs at all, it’s just them posturing and threatening to raise rates and anger the populous if the FCC doesn’t see things their way. For one, I hope the ISPs get a straight-up slap across the face for their behavior. Maybe the FCC should counter by sort of implying that perhaps the government shouldn’t invest so much money in companies that don’t have the best interests of a free country in mind.

    As for unlimited use data networks being impossible… you mean cable television networks can’t work? That unlimited use, packet based network isn’t really something you can impliment in the real world? I mean… jeez, who’d have thought that it wasn’t viable after 60+ years of use…

    • alstein says:

      @linoth: Customer outrage would solve this.

      When they tried to cap Greensboro, they had protests, and massive complaints to Eric Massa. Greensboro’s Congresspeople are do-nothing idiots.

      Howard Coble could club 1000 baby seals on ABC and still get re-elected. Good person, but horrible Congressman.

  33. Blow a fuse? I can fix that... says:

    Unlimited data is $30/mo now? Yikes! I moved to Europe 5 years ago, and I now pay $6/mo for unlimited data on my $10/mo calling plan (which includes enough minutes and messages that I rarely go over).

    The 100mbps wired Internet + basic cable + phone line (+ heat + garage) is included in the $500/mo rent for my 2br/1ba apartment.

    Seeing as how I paid $1000/mo for a 2br/2ba excluding all those amenities in Philly before the move, that was one expensive bathroom!

  34. Ratty says:

    ISPs need to disclose these things. I signed up for AT&T Internet and asked repeatedly with reps and read through T&Cs to see what the bandwidth cap may have been at. nada. AFTER signing up and buying my own modem, I get a letter in the mail telling me what the cap was at–80 GB/month.

    I typically use 40-65 a month but I have had to be sure to really throttle my use down toward the end of the calendar month as a just-in-case. A lazy day watching various Hulu/fancast videos adds up. Win 7 RC downloads added up. Re-patching WoW added up.

    It’s really not great to have the cap, but for the love of pete, make it transparent before selling a product. Someone needs to regulate THAT. If there were unlimited cable packages where you later found out you could only watch 10 shows a week I guarantee there’d be much more vocal outcry as well as immediate government intervention.

    • rickn99 says:

      @Ratty: How do you know how much you use?

      I’m with AT&T also: DSL for several years and now Uverse. Nowhere on my bill does it show me usage info, a vital piece of info if metering or capping is coming to me.

      • Ratty says:

        @rickn99: They provided me with a link to a login pafge to monitor usage. problem is that the reported usage has a 5-day delay. If i remember I’ll give you a link when I have access to it.

  35. ohenry says:

    I know this is totally immature, but did anyone else laugh at the guys’ name, “Dick Lynch”?

    Anybody?

    *goes back to second grade*

    Anyhow…

    I really don’t understand where the causation here is. I’m not overly well read on net neutrality, but my understanding is that basically ISPs want to be able to control, or to an extent, censor what data a person using that particular ISP can view or download, right? So, how does their lack of ability to do this make them have to turn to metered internet? I just don’t understand the causation inference here.

  36. Quatre707 says:

    Unachievable my ass. That statement is total bullshit. I could go on for 50 pages explaining how and why, but instead I’ll make it brief.

    The technology exists to handle the increasing demand on Internet data traffic from the average consumer. It is widely available and cheaper to purchase than ever. The problem is the Internet service providers are not upgrading their infrastructure, plain and simple.

  37. jstonemo says:

    Once high speed over power lines is implemented, how will this affect bandwidth issues? Everyone has power lines to their house, not everyone has cable. I see more competition except that the power lines are under control of the utility companies.

  38. Paladin_11 says:

    I call bullshit. The minute the big ISPs do this they will create a market for some lower cost upstart to eat their lunch. It’s not like the old days where you had to dig up streets and disrupt an entire city to install broadband. Nowadays you can do it over the airwaves.

    I’ll be happy to give my business to a future Clearwire-type company if my current providers get any greedier than they already are.

    • Esquire99 says:

      @Paladin_11:
      I would agree, but there hasn’t been a very successful, large scale, high-speed wireless roll-out yet.

    • Paladin_11 says:

      @Paladin_11: Yet being the operative word. All it will take is enough interest to fund an expansion of wireless services. Greedy providers who drive their existing customers away will provide that. Although I would hope that regulators would see this sort of behavior as a reason to revoke the monopolies many providers have been granted.

      I swear, these large ISPs must think this is the Matrix. But instead of using their customers as distracted living batteries they’re using us as captive cash providers. It’s time for us to swallow the red pill.

    • alstein says:

      @Paladin_11: Clearwire is worse about capping.

  39. sinfuly Delicious says:

    Why is it that I can now get unlimited everything on a cell phone for like 60$ now which is half of what it was a year ago. but not internet?

  40. FiorellaMajumdar says:

    Every other industrialized nation manages to ensure their population has access to faster, less expensive internet service than we do here in the good old US of A. The cost to upgrade service is pennies per customer, yet they’ve been charging us up the wazoo for everything as it is. And, yes, I’m old enough to remember the modem screech and when people used to think that AOL *WAS* the internet. This is a scare tactic because, after all the content invested in by the biggies like Comcast and Cablevision and Time Warner, etc., I doubt they’ll be so eager to let that investment just sit dormant. Case in point: See how fast they’ll modify their prices the minute you claim you’re leaving. Don’t be sheeple people.

  41. savdavid says:

    Never will happen..people will stop using it and/or find another source. They are just beating their ape chests.

  42. terminationshok says:

    I will never pay for any service that doesn’t follow net neutrality regardless of whether or not the government forces them to. Comcast was shaping my connection, and now I don’t have them anymore.
    I suppose that the provider’s cost for bandwidth has increased considerably since video streaming gained popularity. Can’t they just raise prices for the unlimited plan and add a metered plan for people who use bandwidth sparingly. If my service provider stops offering an unlimited usage plan, I will take my business elsewhere.

  43. StanTheManDean says:

    Why is this bad?

    Ma and Pa use a spoonfull of interweb bandwidth per month.

    Little Suzi uses a bucket full of interweb bandwidth per month downloading 3 movies per day, every day, 365 days per year.

    Little Bobbie runs a worm crushing p-rn site and uses a swimming pool full of interweb bandwidth per month.

    Why should Ma and Pa pay for Little Suzi’s movie fix, much less for Little Bobbie’s fetish?

    Yea, yea, I know, Little Bobbie is entitled to free swimming pools full of interweb bandwith every month because he is a perv.

  44. nstonep says:

    It’s a balancing act really…as computer processors get faster so does the transmission of data over the internet (ie fiber optic). But excessive use of bandwith is not really an excuse to meter usage as the speed of download is limited to the network itself not the processing speed of the computer.

    Then again…I’m still on DSL and it’s fine. I’ve had better service but if you’re only going to use it for surfing (I do it mainly script-less though) it’s not a problem at all. I play gears of war 2 on dsl and there’s no lag at all. Hell, at least it isn’t dial up. Downloading porn on dial up was always such a chore! ;)

    I still feel that since the government likes to think it owns the internet (ie icann) then they should own (and pay for) the actual transmission lines; possibly deleting service providers in the process and making the internet free. Communication should ALWAYS be free.

  45. Papa Midnight says:

    Well, I do know at least ONE AG who has the stones to stand up to this…

  46. Evdor says:

    Meaningless posturing. These companies like making a profit, and a model like this will scare away customers in droves. They’re testing the waters and trying to slippery-slope net neutrality.

    They’re doing everything they can to throw up roadblocks, and it’s a load of garbage. But hey, let them try. Somebody else can come along and take these monopolistic bastards down a peg.

  47. teebot says:

    They do this currently in South Africa. If you have 3G/HSPDA modem, you buy the modem and pay for data packages that charge you per Megabyte (Up & Download). You can have monthly plans, but if you go over your package amount (50Mb, 100Mb, 500Mb, 1Gb, etc.) you pay a premium rate. I personally go with their pay-as-you-go plans due to my high usage and only wanting to pay for what I use as I use it (keeps costs down).
    If I had a land line I would have to pay for:
    1) Basic Line Connectivity Fee to Telcom
    2) Bandwidth (1Mbps, 2Mbps, 4Mbps, etc.) from Telcom
    3) Basic ISP Fee
    4) Data Plan from ISP (with same caps and premium rates as above)

    This makes the internet extremely expensive down here.

    • alstein says:

      @teebot: That’s also due to the fact Africa’s internet is ten years behind even the crappy US internet. As bandwidth improves things should get better.

  48. alstein says:

    Seriously, you guys forget they tried this earlier this year, and the outrage was sufficient to scare them.

    If Massa loses in 2010, they’ll try again. If he wins, they won’t.

  49. Mecharine says:

    They need to bring back line sharing. This is the United States of America, not the United States of Corporate America. These companies need us more than we need them.

  50. Naame says:

    The fact of the matter is that the net neutrality rules have nothing to do with “forcing” ISPs to switch back to metered plans. I don’t doubt that some might try to do this, but remember folks…they wanted to go this route before net neutrality was brought into the mix. This is just a threat to try and raise public support against net neutrality.

    The problem, as it has been since around 2001-2002, is the lack of competition. If there was sufficient competition then this threat would be completely unachievable and I am not sure it is even possible for them to do it now.

    What I do know is that if they continue to walk down this path of heavy abuse and anti-competitive business practices then all that it really means is that they are just walking closer to becoming a utility. It is not us who should feel threatened. They are threatening themselves.

    • rickn99 says:

      How much more competition do I need?

      In my county, a suburb of Atlanta, I have multiple dialup options, DSL, satellite, cell phone wireless, Uverse, cable — I can choose from over a dozen plans. Yet, I too, am being threatened with metering.

      Would having 20 choices make them not meter? How about 30?

  51. pot_roast says:

    Want to save bandwidth? Block annoying Flash ads. When I go to a website, I sure as hell don’t need a Flash *video advertisement* loading. Gah.

  52. HogwartsAlum says:

    The AT&T man came out yesterday to fix my spotty sickly DSL. After working on all my wiring (which sucked) and getting it back up (yay!), he told me that they were getting ready to do UVerse here. I said big deal, I can barely afford the DSL right now, $35 a month is too much as it is.

    I don’t know if it’s worthwhile to switch; I don’t know anything about UVerse. I don’t know if this metered crap would make what I have now downgrade or what. I sometimes watch video, but mostly stream music. If they mess up my music and chat, I will get seriously mad!

    Also, please don’t cut off WHAT I look at. I have to look at some weird stuff for books; I’m probably already on a list somewhere.

  53. rellog321 says:

    Time to make internet a city or state issue… Like water of electricity, it needs to be highly regulated. Either that or make it a local issue and have the cities bring in their own cable and internet…

  54. AngryK9 says:

    Sure, they’ll do it with the net, and then do it even harder than they already to with television service.

    I can hear the pitchmen now.
    “Call now to upgrade your service to our premium tier! You will get an unbeatable 15 minutes of actual show per hour and you’ll hardly notice the 45 minutes of advertisements! All yours for an unbelievably low $175 a month! This plan is way better than the five minutes of show and 55 minutes of advertisements on the $100 per month tier you’re on now. You can’t beat this deal! Call now and we’ll reduce your contract term to 3 years instead of 4! If you’re not satisfied in the first 42 months of service you can cancel and only pay a tiny little ETF of $450! But you have to act now for this incredible offer”

  55. u1itn0w2day says:

    The only reason we have the availability of the internet especially land based internet was/is because of one big government sanctioned monopoly .

    When the cry baby bells ruled the roost their government sanctioned monopoly recieved rights of way and/or easements because they were considered a utility . Because of the rights of way they were able to place poles , manholes , underground conduit then cable that not only are the cry baby bells using to this very day but the competitors are as well. The competitors who never had to fully build their very own networks are using/benefiting from those very same rights of way because they can rent infrastructure .

    The ISP/telco plant on/in those rights of way on private and public property should be to BENEFIT the public and owners . The public benefits when the costs are controlled .

    The lack of true competition does not help ISPs who chose to place and operate their network on/in mostly regulated paths to the customer . But until these ISPs/telcos are completely independent and detached from using the public federally regulated rights of ways AND airwaves I don’t think they should be allowed to operate like a Walmart or any other private sector enterprise .

    And Dick from the cry baby bell – have a nice day …

  56. ninjatoddler says:

    If they go pay-as-you-go, won’t be long before consumer advocates will lobby Congress to bring out a public internet access and charge us through taxes.

    The private price gouging ISPs lose.
    The consumer loses.
    The government gains.

    I seriously want them to try that shit around here if they dare. It’s going to bite them in the ass some way or the other.

  57. abecedarianly says:

    “…but the looming specter of Net Neutrality has forced ISPs in turn to threaten consumers with tiered or metered broadband.”

    So lets explore the logic here: The FCC is finally in a position with a reasonable chairman to make a rule (Net Neutrality) that benefits and protects consumer rights. And not only does Net Neutrality protect consumers rights to explore freely on the internet, it will also help keep ISPs from negatively affecting innovation by allowing new start-ups to disseminate their products/services freely. Yet, the ISPs take this as a threat to their precious service and now will PUNISH consumers because we essentially got our way, i.e. got what should be allowed anyway. The moral of the story, then, is that if we the consumers influence service providers in ways that benefit us we get punished with the possibility of increased fees. WHAT!!!???

    So if ISPs decide to charge us by ‘chunks’ of usage, which will most likely lead to higher costs, I say we tell them to shove it and not pay our bills if they make this change. Of course this sounds idealistic, but if the market is supposed to be the cure for all problems, and WE THE CONSUMERS ARE THE MARKET, then the easiest way to influence a provider is to not pay our bills. It seems like that would get the point across. And besides, if we can’t protest an increase in price by us marching over to AT&T, for instance, why not piss them off by not paying them. Otherwise, we as horribly addicted internet users, will continue paying more money for our “drug” of choice, while our “dealers” make an absurd amount of money off of our addiction.

    Just a thought.