US Senate floor proposal bans internet service data caps calling them "predatory"

Burty117

Posts: 4,600   +2,901
I'm sorry, but this demonstrates a near-criminal level of ignorance of the telecom industry. It's akin to saying that you should be able to fly anywhere for free, because the airlines are going to be operating the planes on those same routes regardless.
You're confusing bandwidth with data caps, I'm specifically talking about the amount of data, In my example you can download 50GB at 1Mbps or 1Gbps I don't care, my point was, charging someone $10 for 50GB of data is absurd.
Your use of an ISPs bandwidth costs them nothing ... once they've built that capacity. But, if an ISP has 1,000 customers at a 1 gig speeds, they don't have 1,000 gigabits of bandwidth, nor anywhere near that. They dimension their network based on an estimate of what percentage of that bandwidth the customers will use, then overprovision a certain amount. If all their customers attempted to use their maximum data rates 100% of the time, the network would fail.

Now, you can naively say that "they shouldn't build it that way". That ISPs should build networks to all customers to operate at full-speed simultaneously. That sounds nice in theory. In practice, it would mean five or ten times the capacity ... at five or ten times the price.
BT (in the UK) did a study on this during the pandemic since everyone was rinsing their home internet connections and they found they could easily cope with it. Do you know why? Because they built their network to cope with it. They even bragged about it:

All you've done is explain to me what an absolutely terrible ISP would look like who doesn't build out it's network to cope with it's subscriber count and bandwidth requirements.

As someone above mentioned, Virgin Media has managed to provide a Gigabit connection to most it's customers (they're the biggest rival to BT) for years without issue and I didn't hear their network catching fire over the pandemic.

The problem with most the arguments for data caps in this comment section seem to forget we've just gone through a pandemic that forced most people to be at home and it's been proven most people spent most of their time on the internet. No network went down, no ISP went under, all of their networks are built with high network utilisation in mind. Why you'd be an ISP and not build your network properly is beyond me.

Now do I agree with passing a bill to force the removal of data caps? Absolutely not, as I said in my original comment, the answer is to garner in competition and allow new ISP's to compete with the big guys.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,838   +1,909
You're confusing bandwidth with data caps, I'm specifically talking about the amount of data
So am I. Moving data costs money. Moving more data costs more money.

BT (in the UK) did a study on this during the pandemic since everyone was rinsing their home internet connections and they found they could easily cope with it. Do you know why? Because they built their network to cope with it. [link elided]
You've misunderstood your own link. Allow me to quote the relevant portion:

"The UK’s broadband network [is] built (with a lot of ‘headroom’) to support the ‘evening peak’ of network traffic...In contrast, daytime usage, during working hours, generally runs at about 5 Tb/s ... Since [the pandemic began], as people started to work from home more extensively, we’ve seen weekday daytime traffic increase 35-60% compared with similar days on the fixed network, peaking at 7.5Tb/s. This is still only around half the average evening peak...."

Do you understand now?

All you've done is explain to me what an absolutely terrible ISP would look like who doesn't build out it's [sic] network to cope with it's [sic] subscriber count and bandwidth requirements
As already said, no ISP on earth does what you suggest. If they did, your ISP bill would be five or ten times higher.
 

Burty117

Posts: 4,600   +2,901
So am I. Moving data costs money. Moving more data costs more money.
So I'm sat at my computer right now, I open Steam, I hit download on Stray, it's 10GB in size. How much do you think it's cost my ISP (BT)?
You've misunderstood your own link. Allow me to quote the relevant portion:

"The UK’s broadband network [is] built (with a lot of ‘headroom’) to support the ‘evening peak’ of network traffic...In contrast, daytime usage, during working hours, generally runs at about 5 Tb/s ... Since [the pandemic began], as people started to work from home more extensively, we’ve seen weekday daytime traffic increase 35-60% compared with similar days on the fixed network, peaking at 7.5Tb/s. This is still only around half the average evening peak...."

Do you understand now?

As already said, no ISP on earth does what you suggest. If they did, your ISP bill would be five or ten times higher.
No I fully understand no ISP allows for full bandwidth usage on every single subscriber, that is too much and it's the reason dedicated lease lines exist for businesses at a massive premium.

My contention ratio at home (according to BT) is 80:1. So I "share" my bandwidth with 80 other connections. My point is that these ISP networks do not explode into smithereens when someone reaches their data cap, it costs near nothing for ISP's when I download a game from Steam.

I don't think anyone here was arguing about speed (bandwidth) since the article is specifically about data caps. Charging excessively for using 50GB of data is absurd.

Other things I do understand theirs different tiers of ISP's (level 1-3) Whereby ISP's have to pay for bandwidth that goes over a higher tier ISP's network. They're very cagey about those deals, getting any kind of figure on what that costs is tricky.

What I can say is though, my ISP (BT) who also owns Openreach, covers all three tiers, so how much does it cost them if I download a 50GB game from steam?
 

waclark

Posts: 699   +444
You're confusing bandwidth with data caps, I'm specifically talking about the amount of data, In my example you can download 50GB at 1Mbps or 1Gbps I don't care, my point was, charging someone $10 for 50GB of data is absurd.
Well, they aren't really charging for data. You can still download that 50G, just not at full speeds. What level of throttling occurs, I don't know. If you think about it, with Comcast for example, you're paying about $10 per 100G ($100/mo plan with 1TB data cap). So, $10 for 50G once you go over your plan isn't all that unreasonable. I believe it's meant to encourage people to manage their data usage while giving them a way to account for unforeseen usage. It's not unlike my electric bill, I pay more for power during certain periods of the day and if I go over a certain amount of usage I pay more as well.
BT (in the UK) did a study on this during the pandemic since everyone was rinsing their home internet connections and they found they could easily cope with it. Do you know why? Because they built their network to cope with it. They even bragged about it:

All you've done is explain to me what an absolutely terrible ISP would look like who doesn't build out it's network to cope with it's subscriber count and bandwidth requirements.
Well, yes they did build their network to accommodate excess capacity and usage. However, they did not build their network to handle infinite data downloads at infinite speeds. They monitor this stuff and, per a press release from Virgin they saw an average of 18.9GB downloads per day for a household. That's just under 600G per month. So, while they don't have published data caps, if they designed the network for 1TB downloads, then sure, no problem handling the higher usage. Prior to the pandemic daily downloads were closer to 13G per day, well under that 1TB number.

Building a network properly doesn't mean overbuilding it. There's no need to incur cost for equipment that isn't being utilized. I'm sure they've built for expansion, but that doesn't mean all circuits are lit up and active. They can turn that on when they need to.
As someone above mentioned, Virgin Media has managed to provide a Gigabit connection to most it's customers (they're the biggest rival to BT) for years without issue and I didn't hear their network catching fire over the pandemic.
Virgin has about 5.58M subscribers. They claim coverage on 15M residences for 1G which (they say) covers a little more than 50% of the UK. Comcast in the US (largest) has 31M subs and they claim gigabit available to 99% of the subscriber base. Not that they are using it.

I don't think Comcast had any issues with their network either, largely, I suspect, because customers were within their data caps 99% of the time. The question is: Where is the breaking point? I believe that if every customer tried to download 1TB per month, over gig connections, there might be issues. Perhaps local an depending on what is being downloaded.
The problem with most the arguments for data caps in this comment section seem to forget we've just gone through a pandemic that forced most people to be at home and it's been proven most people spent most of their time on the internet. No network went down, no ISP went under, all of their networks are built with high network utilisation in mind. Why you'd be an ISP and not build your network properly is beyond me.
The unknown here is what are the networks designed for and how close did they come to peak performance? Also, did any ISPs turn on temporary bandwidth? In other words, did they take action to handle the new workloads and if so, what?
Now do I agree with passing a bill to force the removal of data caps? Absolutely not, as I said in my original comment, the answer is to garner in competition and allow new ISP's to compete with the big guys.
Agreed.
 

waclark

Posts: 699   +444
SNIP

What I can say is though, my ISP (BT) who also owns Openreach, covers all three tiers, so how much does it cost them if I download a 50GB game from steam?
That's a loaded question. First, it cost a lot. If you were the only subscriber it would cost millions for you to download 50G. You have the connection to your home. The connection from the local presence to the Internet and the necessary firewalls and routers to get you to Steam. Not to mention all the support people to keep everything running.

Now, divide that by millions of users and no, it doesn't cost as much per user. But it still costs a lot to serve millions of users. If you design the network around the expected workload then you won't have any problems and customer's will be happy. If utilization begins to exceed what you're capable of delivering, then you'll lose customers and the cost per customer will go up. If you over build your network you'll be adding cost that no one is using and everyone's bill will be higher. So, charging people when they go outside the expected usage seems reasonable. If you exceed the caps on a regular basis you might need to talk to your ISP about a different plan.
 

Biostud

Posts: 104   +69
From past articles in the site, I remember for example 30$ surcharge for unlimited data, that is not an extravagant amount.
As long as data caps don't affect 95% of the consumer base, they are ok in my book.

In the EU we have heavy regulation that has resulted in a very big mess. For example in my country (Greece) the state gave subsidies to subscribers of FTTH connections in order to improve network availability.
The end result? Those with the best connections actually paid less, on the taxpayer's dime, while others don't have even vdsl access... and end up paying similar amounts for s**ty adsl connections.
The subsidies where supposed to last 2 years - do you know what plenty of folks did? They transferred the connection to their spouse, and applied AGAIN for subsidy. I am pretty sure that there are folks who then transferred the line to their (adult) offspring and ended up with 6 years of subsidies...

That is just one example of a regulated market, heavy regulation damages the market in many ways, it makes it very hard for new players to enter, they have to uphold every stupid rule some bureaucrat thought.

Trust me, you do not want the US market to end up being a heavily regulated mess.
Not the fault of EU, the fault of Greek politicians. No mess found in Denmark, which is also member of EU.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,838   +1,909
So I'm sat at my computer right now, I open Steam, I hit download on Stray, it's 10GB in size. How much do you think it's cost my ISP?
You stand in front of a 747 on the tarmac. It's purchased, fueled, crewed, about to take off. How much you think it'll cost the airline to let you take one of the open seats, after they've done all that? Nearly nothing.

You're outside a 50,000-seat music venue. A promoter has rented it, hired several A-list rock groups to perform, and spent large sums to advertise the event. Since he's already spent all that money, how much you think it'll cost to let you in anyway? Not one penny.

Learn economics. It'll serve you well later in life.
 

GoldenGoat

Posts: 97   +134
I actually linked a report above, unlike those who disagree.


Bad argument. Plenty of cases where water is rationed

For electricity there are tiers in pricing - the more electricity you use, the higher your rate gets

I haven't heard of that before, but if this is true, it is probably due to supply issues. I will not use this comparison again then, but I am still against caps on Internet. I have no problem with paying more for higher speeds though.
 

waclark

Posts: 699   +444
You stand in front of a 747 on the tarmac. It's purchased, fueled, crewed, about to take off. How much you think it'll cost the airline to let you take one of the open seats, after they've done all that? Nearly nothing.

You're outside a 50,000-seat music venue. A promoter has rented it, hired several A-list rock groups to perform, and spent large sums to advertise the event. Since he's already spent all that money, how much you think it'll cost to let you in anyway? Not one penny.

Learn economics. It'll serve you well later in life.
But, that's not what it's all about is it? You are getting a value, that value doesn't really matter what the supplier paid for the product. Only you can decide if the value is worth the expense. Likewise, you assume that the 747 has an empty seat. Maybe it doesn't. Even if it does, it will also cost them in fuel to put you on the plane along with your luggage. I can't tell you what the weight of one person and a bag (under 50lbs) would cost in fuel, but I'm sure the airlines could tell you that. Not to mention drinks, snacks, handling baggage, any supplies needed for the restroom (assuming it's a long enough flight that you use it). So there is cost, maybe more than you realize.

With the music venue, you are costing the promoter the price of one seat. Maybe for one person, it's not a big deal, but where do you draw the line? 5 people, 10, 20, 100? Lost revenue is a "cost". If your profit model is to pay X for a product and sell it to Y people for some amount of money, having someone (or many someones) get the product for free will impact your profit margins in some way.

With so many people calling for living wages, healthcare benefits, paid leave and more businesses are not inclined to give much away.