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Pay as You go Internet, is the Internet dieing?

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October 22, 2009 8:28:42 PM

so on toms there is an article about pay as u go internet

i don't know about anybody else but i don't think i have bandwith cap, i get about 15 mbps peak and 6 mbps rush hour time and i am fine with that but some people have a hard time with that


So my question is, how many people have insufficient bandwith?

and why are ISPs making the internet more expensive
October 31, 2009 6:06:45 AM

I didn't catch the, "Pay As You Go Internet" article, but it sounds interesting. Can you post a link to it?

Oh, and my cable internet sounds about the same as your service. I get anywhere from 10Mbps - 25Mbps most of the time, but can dip as low as maybe 7Mbps at peak times. Upload is stable at 1Mbps. We use a T1 that's 1.5Mbps up and down at my job. Despite sounding slow, it runs great and supports video conferencing fine. It's a noticeably longer wait to download larger files, and I sometimes have to wait for an entire HD web video to download before playback, but I don't notice much of a performance difference beyond that.

With that said, and the average download speed in Africa (slowest avg internet speed in the world) being 1.5Mbps, I can't imagine many people really feel like their internet download speeds are insufficient.

Upload is of course a different matter. I get very impatient when performing large FTP server uploads. I sometimes have to upload several GBs of image files to clients around the world and very much feel like my internet upload speed is insufficient.

High performance upload speeds cost a lot more than I'm willing to pay though. Hence my interest in the, "Pay As You Go Internet" article.
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October 31, 2009 7:51:03 PM

Hmmm, it's an interesting article. I can see their point of view, they want to charge like they do for other communication services like cell phones. Some companies, like Verizon, already provide service for both.

This is where we gotta love how our free markets work. It's why AOL got rid of the whole pay-by-the-minute thing back in the '90s. If a couple of companies switch to pay-as-you-go plans, customers needing high bandwidth will switch to companies that don't charge by the megabyte. Some of those companies will then try to charge more and upgrade their networks to better provide high bandwidth service while others will keep prices low to retain customers. Eventually the winners will be companies that offer the best service for the cheapest price and everyone else will need to meet that new market standard to stay in business.

The US communication companies providing cell phone and mobile data services are feeling the same squeeze from too many smart phones and netbooks too. They've been trying to avoid expensive network upgrades for as long as possible, but now everybody is scrambling to upgrade to stay in business. After all, how successful are you gonna be if you can't support the future's demand for data?

I wouldn't be surprised if we see a company or two try the whole pay-as-you-go internet thing for a while. They might do well with users who only check email and movie times, but that demographic is quickly shrinking. It'll just leave the door wide open for someone to come in and steal major market share... and Wall Street investors.
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October 31, 2009 7:54:34 PM

I gotta say though, I would love it if Time Warner gave me the option to upgrade my upload speed temporarily for a fair fee. Perhaps 24 hours of > 10Mbps upload for $10 or something. I would take advantage of such a service once every few weeks or so; I'm sure many others would too.

Time Warner, are you listening!?
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October 31, 2009 8:35:40 PM

Comcast seems to be very lenient with their internet
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November 1, 2009 9:56:22 PM

I think both of you misunderstood the metered plans. It's not that they would charge more or less for the speed you get. They already do that in markets where tiered bandwidth is available. What they've been trying to implement is metering on the total amount of data that you can download/upload. Another name for it is bandwidth caps, like 20GB or 150GB and so on.

What I don't like about the plans is that it is precisely like major cell phone plans. The ones they've tested/proposed, would give you a certain speed and then cap you data at say 100GB. That's not truely pay-by-the-byte. If they had roll-over of the bytes you didn't use it might be worth it, but otherwise you end up wasting your money either to get the speed you want or on lost bytes.

If it was billed more like a utility, I would think it a bit more fair, though techies like us would probably pay through the nose.
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November 1, 2009 10:03:37 PM

wildwell said:
I gotta say though, I would love it if Time Warner gave me the option to upgrade my upload speed temporarily for a fair fee. Perhaps 24 hours of > 10Mbps upload for $10 or something. I would take advantage of such a service once every few weeks or so; I'm sure many others would too.

Time Warner, are you listening!?



I doubt they have the tech to do that at the moment. The internet service you get isn't an on-demand delivery. The reason your speed decreases durning peak times is that you are sharing your connection at the hub with everyone in your neighborhood that has the service. The reason you even know that you can get higher speeds in off hours tells me your neighbors are generally asleep or off the net when you're still surfing away.

Doing some sort on demand high bandwidth allocation would require hardware that could respond dynamically to traffic speed requests. As far as I know no such technology exists at the moment. It would mean rollouts at the various hubs and I doubt there's as much burning desire for it as you think.
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November 1, 2009 10:16:44 PM

wildwell said:
We use a T1 that's 1.5Mbps up and down at my job. Despite sounding slow, it runs great and supports video conferencing fine. It's a noticeably longer wait to download larger files, and I sometimes have to wait for an entire HD web video to download before playback, but I don't notice much of a performance difference beyond that.


T1 services and other business level services are dedicated full bandwidth allocation services with guaranteed speeds. If you have a real T1 you can use 1.54Mbps 24/7 without any degradation in service. The same goes for most business class services, but you pay for it. A T1 generally cost about $400 a month. If you want 5Mbps expect to pay around $1500.

Te funny thing about video conferencing is that while it looks like it should be a bandwidth hog, it really only takes about 300kbps up/down. That's enormous compared to general surfing, but a T1 can handle a stable four-way call just fine.
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November 1, 2009 10:19:06 PM

would fiber optics help widen the bandwidth by alot?
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November 1, 2009 10:36:44 PM

It would certainly make higher speeds available to more people. If fiber were properly deployed in an apartment complex for instance, you could easily give them all gigabit ethernet, at the local level at least. The real problem that has ISP pushing back, is where the "pipes" come together. Everything in one neighborhood comes to a center hub, of sorts. If you went into one you would see lots and lots network switches in racks in an AC cooled room. For Comcast and Time Warner that's where your cable line ends up, after being combined and aggregated along the way into higher and higher capacity "pipes", kind of like this model for cable tv here. The reason they howl is that they have to upgrade every stage of that net in order to give people real high speed. If fact the central parts of that net probably already fiber, these days it's a matter of laying the thousands of last few mile fibers, like replacing the capillaries in your body with arteries. They outnumber the main pipes 100:1 at least.
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November 1, 2009 10:39:54 PM

If you've heard conversations about lighting the miles and miles of dark fiber, it's really a specious argument. All of that "dark" fiber is laid along the longest stretches of the the network we all call the World Wide Web, like from your city to mine perhaps.

The only thing that helps is the overall bandwidth of the web. It does nothing about getting you fiber optic high speed internet.
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November 1, 2009 10:41:38 PM

No, I understand exactly what TimeWarner and AT&T are considering. Read the second sentence in my response after reading the article,
"They want to charge like they do for other communication services like cell phones."

Actually, the article is describing ISP service identical to my cell phone data service. I pay a flat rate per month for a fixed download limit measured in megabytes. Of course, I'm sure my cell phone rate is much higher than what TimeWarner and AT&T would try.

I don't see why an ISP cannot offer flexible speeds to their customers. The top speed you can get downloading is capped at the head end based on how much you pay. The speed you actually experience is of course dependent on a variety of variables, including how much bandwidth my neighbors use and how busy various servers are, but isn't going to exceed your ISP's cap.

For example, let's say you subscribe to a 'basic' download package from your ISP (maybe < 2Mbps). You will probably experiences anywhere from 1Mbps - 3Mbps on average. If everything is set correctly at the ISP's end, you're never going to enjoy 10Mbps, even if your entire neighborhood goes to sleep while you surf. But, depending on your service provider, you can call them during normal business hours and upgrade your subscription to a 'premium' package (say > 10Mbps) and experience the improved speeds within hours. The ISP just changes your speed cap. I could call my cable TV provider (also TimeWarner) and ask for more TV channels. They won't need to come out and install additional hardware. I'll have the extra channels within a few hours after they have the credit card authorization.

I don't know for sure if the ISP has similar control on the uploading side, but I would imagine so. I think it's would be more of a business decision than a technical issue to allow customers to temporarily boost speeds at a higher than subscription rate.

As an interesting side note, I haven't figured out exactly what causes my download speeds to fluctuate so much. It isn't based on time of day. Actually I often experience my fastest download times during the day! It's more like one week I'll be consistently over 20Mbps, regardless of the time. The next week I'll be consistently under 12Mbps, also regardless of the time. On average, weekends are probably slower than weekdays. Any ideas!?
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November 1, 2009 10:46:12 PM

What is, "Dark fiber?"
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November 1, 2009 10:52:09 PM

If you read the original times article, see link in the Tom's article, you can see a chart of exactly what Comcast was/is proposing, and it's more like a mainstream cell phone plan.

I think it takes at least a day for a change like that to happen. It's faster for channels, because they just have to change an allowance for your serial number. All the channels are already being sent to your TV, the system just has to allow you to decode the channel.

You may have an occasional bit torrent file sharer on your local hub. Or someone who downloads allot in week long spurts.
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November 1, 2009 10:53:19 PM

what is optic charging?
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November 1, 2009 10:59:21 PM

wildwell said:
What is, "Dark fiber?"


Several years ago, back in the dotcom bubble, there was a campaign to lay lots and lots of optical fiber to bolster holdings of backbone infrastructure; make it redundant and high capacity. Major infrastucture providers poured money into expanding optical fiber networks so they could corner the market on high speed data. After the bust, a good portion of it has remained unused, i.e. dark, though that's changing quickly because of emerging business uses.
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November 1, 2009 11:00:41 PM

Upendra09 said:
what is optic charging?

I don't know what you mean. Can you clarify?
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November 1, 2009 11:01:03 PM

Ah ha, of course! Bit torrent file sharers can take up heavy amounts of local bandwidth for days at a time. I know a guy who's been trying to get a working, high quality copy of some recently released movies all last week. All day, everyday, for @least 5 days! I must have someone similar on my block.
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November 1, 2009 11:15:10 PM

On another side-note, T-1 was actually invented by Bell Labs in the 1950's and started implementation in the the 1960's. Of course it's original use was as a digital transport for voice communications in large offices so that you wouldn't need dozens of phone lines out of a large office, you could just use one or two T-1s. In fact, my office uses two, though they're called a PRI to distinguish it for Voice only. T-1 wasn't used purely for data anywhere until the mid 90's.
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November 1, 2009 11:21:07 PM

Is E1 exactly the same as T1? Any Europeans here?
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November 1, 2009 11:26:10 PM

No, it's a completely different standard developed in Europe and used around everywhere except the US. It accomplished basically the same thing, but they aren't compatible. There do exist devices that can translate one to the other, though, which is good for international communications I guess.
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November 1, 2009 11:32:02 PM

Oh, and don't mistake T1 and E1 for fiber optic cable. T1 is a high bandwidth communication standard, while fiber optic is a high bandwidth transmission standard. About 50 T1s fit on an older fiber optic standard with room to spare, which can handle 1Gbps of raw data.
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November 1, 2009 11:33:19 PM

Then is T1 unique to the United States?
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November 1, 2009 11:38:45 PM

I'm not 100% familiar with E1, but there's a wiki on the subject
here

It says that T1 is used in the US, Canada, and Japan. E1 also happens to be an improvement on T1, boasting higher bandwidth for one, 2Mbps
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November 2, 2009 1:25:37 AM

Mekugi Ana said:
Oh, and don't mistake T1 and E1 for fiber optic cable. T1 is a high bandwidth communication standard, while fiber optic is a high bandwidth transmission standard. About 50 T1s fit on an older fiber optic standard with room to spare, which can handle 1Gbps of raw data.


by Gbps do u mean

Gigabit or Gigabyte

and by Optic charging i don't know, fazers_on_Stun said it


anyway what about T3? was that also used for communication? is there an E3
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November 2, 2009 2:27:52 AM

Upendra09 said:
by Gbps do u mean

Gigabit or Gigabyte

and by Optic charging i don't know, fazers_on_Stun said it


anyway what about T3? was that also used for communication? is there an E3


gigabit. Most communication speeds are written in bits instead of bytes. It's an old habit no one seems to want to leave behind since it makes the rate look 8 times bigger (8 bits per byte). Better for advertising, see?


If you can point me at the post I might have a better idea what he/she means, but my wild guess, presuming it was about fiber optics is that he/she might have been talking about noise issues in fiber communications caused by electric charge build up in the molecules of the glass fibers. That's just wild speculation though.


T3 like any T# is actually just the bundling of multiple T1 lines. So T3 is 3 T1s mapped together to via equipment to produce what acts like a single pipe with a bandwidth three times that of T1, i.e. 4.62Mbps.

Because of this, and the expense involved, really high bandwidth applications generally come from direct fiber/ethernet connections to an internet backbone node. It's how you can get 100Mbps and 1000Mbps internet offerings. A company buys or acquires an internet backbone connection and then leases it out to businesses. My office for instance leases internet from a provider in the building. It isn't usual, but we have 100Mbps available to us, though we have to stay under 1.2Mbps in average or we pay extra. But the usual way is what we'll be moving to when my company moves in February. At the new building I'll acquire a 5Mbps dedicated ethernet connection, which will be limited at the provider's node. I can use all 5Mbps 24/7 if I need to and it's much less expensive than a T3 or T4 connection, which easily costs in the multiple thousands of dollars per month.
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November 2, 2009 2:35:19 AM

wow the internet is expensive already and now ISPs want to make it more expensive sucks for us consumers
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November 2, 2009 3:06:33 AM

They just want to maximize profits and they know we'll pay for it. They know businesses can't be without certain tools and that's just the way it is. That's why I'm happy with my upload being 1Mbps and have no intentions of upgrading.

What I wanna know is why the cost for upload is so high compared to download speeds.
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November 2, 2009 3:24:29 AM

It's not really. But a practice has grown up in consumer internet to provide asymmetrical bandwidth. In the beginning, when ADSL came out it was so that providers could maximize the channel for download. Similarly, the cable internet spec allocates a smaller segment of the spectrum for upload than for download, limiting the available bandwidth up. That practice continues because most consumers still download way more than they upload.

That you or I are outliers, just means they can charge us more if we're desperate for it. Secondarily, uploaders are the #1 reason providers make efforts to control their users. They've built their infrastructure to be most efficient in one direction only. They don't like it when you act like a server. Some even go to lengths to block traditional web services by blocking ports like 80, 23, or 25, saying that they're protecting us.
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November 2, 2009 3:47:58 AM

The kicker is that none of the major providers pay anyone to provide us with access to the internet. Because all backbone owners have users that access resources of each others networks. providers have have gone into a sort of sharing agreement. It work like this: I'm a major ISP, say Time Warner, and I have thousands of internet hungry consumers on my sections of the www backbone and many of them access sites and resources on your network; you're AT&T btw. And you have thousands of users and your network that want to access resources on my network.
So we sit down in a conference room and talk it over. After a few hours we come out with an agreement to not charge each other a single dime for allowing our new best friend's customers access to our networks, because in the end, the numbers would pretty net to zero.

The end result is that none of the world's internet providers pay for the internet access we buy from them. They only need to keep their network running. (obviously smaller providers lease space from larger ones and pass that cost on to their consumers, but they only prosper in areas where they are the only choice.)
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November 2, 2009 4:56:34 AM

Mekugi Ana said:
Some even go to lengths to block traditional web services by blocking ports like 80, 23, or 25, saying that they're protecting us.


It's interesting to hear you say this as I was just dealing with a blocked port 25 issue.
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/50045-34-laptops-long...
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November 2, 2009 6:24:20 PM

so now they are going to censor the internet
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November 2, 2009 9:50:48 PM

Now you've opened a can of worms! :bounce: 

ISPs have been getting flack for moving in this direction for years now. One ISP in Great Brittan, I forget who, even made plans to use a content shaping service that injects code into the websites you go to. A little JavaScript at the end that either adds more ads to the page or replaces existing ads, whatever the ISP wants. The third-party provider was called Phorm, I think.

And Rogers in Canada has been experimenting with injecting their own ads on web pages as well. Port blocking is the least of my concerns, I can get around that if I have to, but an ISP using man-in-the-middle practices to shape what you get, there's very little you can do to stop it, except consumer and regulatory backlash.
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November 2, 2009 10:21:19 PM

wow so the internet is going to become custonmizable in the nads of your ISP?

this is very good Adspace for a company but hell for the consumer
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November 3, 2009 1:10:51 AM

It sounds like yet another great way to customize the adds the consumer sees.
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November 4, 2009 3:46:32 AM

Well I guess it's a good thing John McCain didn't win the US Presidency.
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November 7, 2009 12:08:56 AM

Why do they want to control our decisiins and choices, and they said Obama was a socialist
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November 7, 2009 5:50:23 PM

$$. By controlling what's available online, companies can put a price tag on what's most important to you. The politicians need the $$ support of big companies to win elections and keep their jobs.
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November 15, 2009 3:17:32 PM

Obama has promised to fight to ensure net neutrality, so fingers crossed.
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!