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Will Capped Data Plans Kill the Cloud? 530

Posted by samzenpus
from the that's-enough-for-you dept.
theodp writes "With the introduction of its Chromebook, Google is betting big on the Cloud. As is Apple, with its iCloud initiative. So too are Netflix and Skype. Unfortunately, their very existence is threatened by data-capping carriers, who have set a course to make sure that the network is NOT the computer. 'I don't know what the solution is,' writes David Pogue. 'I don't know if anyone's thinking about this. But there are big changes coming. There are big forces about to shape our lives online. And at the moment, they're on a direct collision course.'"
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Will Capped Data Plans Kill the Cloud?

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  • Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, 2011 @12:12PM (#36491364)

    The solution is taking the networks away from those who don't want to provide the service they promised to provide when they were given monopolies by the government.

    • Re:Simple (Score:5, Interesting)

      by GIL_Dude (850471) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @12:45PM (#36491576) Homepage

      The solution is taking the networks away from those who don't want to provide the service they promised to provide when they were given monopolies by the government.

      Obviously your argument is simplistic. Now, we all know that it doesn't cost much (if anything) more to run a network running at 50% capacity than one running at 10%, so the straight up "utility" model like electricity or water billing doesn't exactly translate. However, it DOES cost more when you have to split out areas that are currently on one cable loop into two or more cable loops (as an example). So there absolutely is a cost to allowing usage to climb with no limit and no increased price. What the real solution has to be is some form of tiered service. Not a "aha! you went over your limit by 2 GB - you owe $100" type of gouging tier. More of a "all use between 0 and 150 GB per month you pay $0.10 per GB, for use between 150 and 300 GB per month you are billed at $0.15 per GB, and for usage over 300 GB per month you are billed at $0.20 per GB" type of deal. There would be a "connection / account maintenance" base fee (like a meter fee for electricity - for an example say $10), and any rental fees (if you rent your modem, etc.). The rest would be simple tiered usage based.

      With my admittedly pulled out of somewhere the sun doesn't shine sample numbers it would look like this:

      Use 80 GB per month: Base fee + 80 * $.10 = $18.
      Use 200 GB per month: Base fee + (150 * $0.10) + (50 * $0.15) = $32.50
      Use 400 GB per month: Base fee + (150 * $0.10) + (150 * $0.15) + (100 * $0.20) = $67.50

      Obviously those are just sample numbers, but they contain a penalty for using "a lot" of bandwidth. People can argue about whether there should be "night time GB" and "weekend GB" and all that - but the basics of pay as you go should really end up being the model for network usage.

      • Re:Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, 2011 @01:01PM (#36491682)

        If this does kill "The Cloud" can we go a whole week without a new story about it?

        Yes you can cluster computers together so that the individual identity/address of any particular node of the cluster is unimportant. Yes you can combine the resources of those nodes to increase computing power and availability. Can we all collectively get over this and end our eyes-glazed fascination with the subject now? It really is and should be a very simple thing to understand.

        Nope, gotta bend over and grab your ankles and say "please marketers, please ruin one more thing, please ravage me hard". So wait, we gotta come up with a term for it. We'll call it, "THE CLOUD" because that sounds mysterious and foggy and like something you can't see through so you wouldn't know what was inside it. That'll keep 'em at the edge of their seats, yeah. Thanks to previous marketing efforts they already think their PCs are magic boxes they could never understand anyway, so this will build on that mystery.

        The final step is crucial. We must obsessively expound this at every opportunity. It must be inserted into every conversation. Sure, you can upload a video to Youtube. But have you uploaded a video TO THE CLOUD (cue dramatic music)?! Yeah, you can set up a web server and serve up web pages, but have you made web pages and uploaded them TO THE CLOUD (dramatic music)?! Sure, Seti@Home and other projects (mostly about breaking encryption) demonstrated that distributed computing can process massive amounts of data... but have you hired Amazon so you could do this WITH THE CLOUD (music)?!

        It's fun to create a solution and then look for a problem to which it applies. And then mentioning it everywhere and inserting it into every conversation, like an evangelical who just discovered Jesus. Next time we do this can we keep it a secret from the marketers? The only way they ever seem to understand technology is to dumb it down.

      • Re:Simple (Score:4, Interesting)

        by postbigbang (761081) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @01:16PM (#36491808)

        It's not that simple. In the old days, data was periodic because it lived in its own time domain. Now, much data is isochronous, so there becomes an aperiodic demand for streams that needed to be timed together so as to allow us to watch videos, listen to music, etc.

        100MB of patches from Apple or Microsoft, while important, don't need to happen all at once, breathlessly. But NetFlix needs the timing.

        You cite aggregate use over time, while ISPs see torrents, and other data that uses their rails. My solution: charge more for isochronous data. Let those wanting entertainment pay a wee bit more for the privilege. If I want an ISO of the latest operating system goo, then my rate is lower than those wanting to watch a flick- recent theatre release or pr0n.

        • Re:Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

          by hedwards (940851) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @02:04PM (#36492094)

          That's a really bad precedent to set. If we start charging more for certain content than for other types of content, what precisely is there to prevent it from spreading to other areas where the ISPs are able to rationalize the decision? A better solution would be for ISPs to start fulfilling their promises rather than using savings to beef up executive compensation.

          • by Rakarra (112805)

            That's a really bad precedent to set. If we start charging more for certain content than for other types of content, what precisely is there to prevent it from spreading to other areas where the ISPs are able to rationalize the decision? A better solution would be for ISPs to start fulfilling their promises rather than using savings to beef up executive compensation.

            The problem is that all these people with unlimited data plans were not paying the price for unlimited data. ISPs are set up with a goal in mind: enough network resources to fulfill the actual use, because purchasing enough network uplink to allow for all users to run at max bandwidth at the same time would be prohibitively expensive. So the people who don't use their connection as much subsidize the people who do. That's fine until a lot more people start to use more and more on a system without the resour

          • Re:Simple (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @07:25PM (#36493990)

            A better solution would be for ISPs to start fulfilling their promises rather than using savings to beef up executive compensation.

            Part of the problem here is a conflict of understanding. When ISPs began offering "unlimited" Internet access, they were referring to time, not bandwidth. At the time, the limits on connection speed and number of total users meant that people were not going to use enough bandwidth to strain the system. Of course, the fact that ISPs oversold their capacity gives the people complaining (incorrectly) about it not being "unlimited the way they said it would be", a legitimate gripe that the ISPs are advertising a product that they cannot deliver. The ISPs banked on a certain usage level, but marketed the possibility of a greater usage level than that and now find their networks overwhelmed by the early adopters who understood the possibilities sooner. The ISPs created the situation and have just realized that their pricing model will not support the network expansion that will be necessary to meet the demand for bandwidth that will come as the average person starts to understand the possibilities that the early adopters are paving the way for.

        • Slippery slope that... the ISPs will be charging customers for different "service packages" and also charging the suppliers for being connected to their customers.

          Personally I'm all for charging per usage with the guarantee that that usage will be available 24x7 -- it's simple and fair.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by postbigbang (761081)

            It's simple, fair, and the wrong answer.

            Make people that want entertainment QoS pay for it. Leave the rest of us alone. QoS places huge demands on infrastructure, and someone has to pay for it. Not me. Yet demand is going to continue to cause telcos to sink capital into infrastructure to support watching episodes of My Three Sons. Fuck that-- it's an entertainment endeavor that wasn't in the design. Simply charging for bandwidth on the hoof isn't going to cut it anymore-- see other arguments in this thread

        • Re:Simple (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @02:55PM (#36492430) Journal

          100MB of patches from Apple or Microsoft

          Here's a list of Apple Patches [apple.com].

          My favorite?

          Canon Printer Drivers v2.5 for Mac OS X v10.6
          This update installs the latest software for your printer or scanner.
          April 13, 2011 - 307.23 MB

          Here's a point upgrade:

          Mac OS X v10.6.7 Update
          The 10.6.7 Update is recommended for all users running Mac OS X Snow Leopard and includes general operating system fixes that enhance the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac.
          March 21, 2011 - 475 MB

          An Xcode update? That'll be 4.25 Gigabytes, please.
          100 Megabytes is peanuts.

          • Yeah, I know. Bloatware has been around for eons now. But consider that utilities download that stuff at whatever rate is available, even the bloat. If you're watching a streamed movie from Hulu, latency becomes a problem quickly. If you store-and-watch rather than do it in realtime, it's easier. But God Forbid that you have copyrighted movies waiting on your machine to watch at a later time. You might PIRATE THEM, you, you torrent user (said as an epithet).

            So all must be watch in a browser in realtime, els

      • by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>More of a "all use between 0 and 150 GB per month you pay $0.10 per GB

        At what rate?

        Also, making people pay for patches and advertisements doesn't seem particularly fair to me (Win7 SP1 is up to 7GB in size), and is likely to cause people to start shutting down all their background data transfers, leading to security problems from unpatched machines.

        It will also (as TFA says) likely kill Steam, iTunes, and the like. I don't want to pay a $2 surcharge every time I download a game on a new computer, or

      • Re:Simple (Score:5, Interesting)

        by CastrTroy (595695) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @02:03PM (#36492082) Homepage
        The thing is, is even with water and electricity, the cost of providing the service doesn't change much from 10% to 50% usage. In my city, they had a huge push to get people to use less water. Well, that made everybody pay so much less for water that they had to double the rates, because they didn't pull in enough money. The cost of operations was basically the same regardless of how much water people actually used. But you are right on one thing. 200 GB or 400 GB is a lot of data in a month. Unless you spend 10 hours a day watching Netflix, or download every new game on Steam, you won't use up that much anyway.
        • The cost of operations was basically the same regardless of how much water people actually used.

          That's not quite right. The cost of operations is dependent on the *max capacity* of the water system. If you use 50GL of water and have capacity for 70GL, then increasing to 60GL or decreasing to 30GL won't effect your costs much. But if consumption goes up to 80GL then it's going to cost a huge amount of money to upgrade everything, followed by increased ongoing costs from that day forwards. For example, the city's current pipes might be too small to increase the water flow going through them, so you have

      • by wchatam (1167565)
        I think this is a good idea, and I don't understand the negativity associated with paying per MB. I'd actually prefer a single per MB rate over the tier, but either would be better than the current system.

        The product that the ISPs are providing is network connectivity and downloads. Under the current system, the business (ISP) attempts to limit the amount of product (downloads) that the customer can purchase. That should be the first indication that the current pricing model is broken.

        Using a straig
      • by ultranova (717540)

        Obviously your argument is simplistic. Now, we all know that it doesn't cost much (if anything) more to run a network running at 50% capacity than one running at 10%, so the straight up "utility" model like electricity or water billing doesn't exactly translate. However, it DOES cost more when you have to split out areas that are currently on one cable loop into two or more cable loops (as an example). So there absolutely is a cost to allowing usage to climb with no limit and no increased price. What the re

  • Answer... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @12:13PM (#36491376)
    "Only in the United States, where caps are popular." But in truth, I'd be more concerned about unbrided capitalism and monopolistic practices killing not just the cloud, but any hope my country has of competing in a global marketplace. We've already hamstrung ourselves on an antiquidated patent and copyright system that is forcing our talent overseas to produce, we have our government busy chasing down music pirates while ignoring the massive amounts of identity theft and fraud perpetuated by malware and botnets, and the list goes on.
    • Re:Answer... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, 2011 @12:24PM (#36491434)

      Now that Microsoft has been approved to acquire Skype, I'd say Microsoft and Google both pressuring for unlimited bandwidth will come to the aid of consumers...at least to a degree. However, I look for them both to lock users into their own clouds, which could be worse than ISP's locking in people.
      I do love the observation that the government is wasting our money chasing down small time music copiers, while letting the big time malware and botnets mostly slide.

      • Re:Answer... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mcgrew (92797) * on Sunday June 19, 2011 @01:48PM (#36492002) Homepage Journal

        I've been reading The Mobs and the Mafia: the Illustrated History of Organized Crime by Hank Messic and Burt Goldblatt (1972, ISBN 0-88365-211-0) and was struck by a passage:

        ... in the three years after the [stock market] crash... those businessmen who didn't kill themselves turned by the thousands to the only men with money and credit -- the gangsters.

        It goes on to describe how legitimate business was in debt to the mob, and how politicians were beholden to businessmen for their campaigns. I think that pretty much explains why government goes after file sharers while ignoring spammers, fraudsters, and identity thieves. Our governments, federal, state, and local, are corrupt to the core. The "MAFIAA" really is the Mafia.

    • Which would be great (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @12:30PM (#36491460)

      If it were the truth, but it isn't. Plenty of other countries have caps. At least in the US the caps are usually not super low, so you can still do a reasonable bit of "cloud" type stuff and not hit them. Talk to the Australians, they have some pretty severe caps, enough they have to limits their regular Internet usage.

      Caps are not a US thing. They are found in various places all around the world. They also aren't universal in the US. You can find non-capped Internet providers. Probably not in all areas, unfortunately, but they exist.

    • Re:Answer... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Glendale2x (210533) <slashdotNO@SPAMninjamonkey.us> on Sunday June 19, 2011 @12:44PM (#36491566) Homepage

      That's a patently false "answer": Australia and Canada are two countries with major providers that have caps.

    • Re:Answer... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Eil (82413) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @01:07PM (#36491734) Homepage Journal

      But in truth, I'd be more concerned about unbrided capitalism and monopolistic practices,

      I guess I don't understand why capitalism is a dirty word around here. Isn't it a good thing that businesses are not run by the state? Does competition not spur innovation? Which economic system would you have in capitalism's place?

      • Re:Answer... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by spinkham (56603) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @01:16PM (#36491806)

        Would for profit roads be better for our economy then our present system? Are you against municipal providing of water and sewer services?

        Government excels at providing these sort of infrastructure projects. If we took a tiny fraction of the military budget and put it to providing fiber to every home in America, we would be investing in important infrastructure just as we did with roads. It would be a boom for our total economy, instead of a small win for a small fraction of the telecom space only.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          We privatised the water/sewage services in the UK. Electricity and gas too. It hasn't worked so well, especially the privatisation of railways. In fact we had to re-nationalise Railtrack (who, obviously, own the tracks but not the trains or stations etc.) because it was such a disaster and people actually died.

          We make the situation worse by allowing giant companies to merge or be bought by foreign companies. In the former case you end up with a lack of competition and in the latter the parent company doesn'

      • Re:Answer... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by causality (777677) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @01:20PM (#36491840)

        But in truth, I'd be more concerned about unbrided capitalism and monopolistic practices,

        I guess I don't understand why capitalism is a dirty word around here. Isn't it a good thing that businesses are not run by the state? Does competition not spur innovation? Which economic system would you have in capitalism's place?

        The problem is that the ISPs were not built on a model of capitalism. They were built on state-funded and state-granted monopolies. Capitalism is not perfect and the model does have weaknesses. One such weakness is when the barrier to entry is astronomically high so that new players cannot independently enter into the market and compete with established players. It was precisely for this reason that the tremendous cost of running lines to each individual home had to be state funded.

        You cannot establish a monopoly with state money, suddenly decide to treat it as a purely capitalistic enterprise, and then expect healthy competition. This is doomed to fail simply because it is inconsistent with the nature of the situation. The reality is, we the taxpayers got these companies and systems off the ground and made their existence possible. We the taxpayers have a reasonable expectation that they behave in our interests. They are rightfully beholden to us and they have the option of changing careers if they don't like that.

        So far the best solution we have created is to let them operate as a private corporation that holds a monopoly with reasonable regulations to prevent them from exploiting the fact that they are a monopoly. This includes requiring them to lease lines in such a way that competitors can enter the market without digging up thousands of miles of land to lay down their own lines. Your other option is to have no competition at all. This system has weaknesses that are easier to overcome because they are political problems, not economic problems. The political problem is to keep the monopolies in check so that their interests don't override ours.

        But to talk about this as though it were a commodity like coffee, where any farmer can independently grow coffee and sell it on the open market and compete with the big boys, well that line of thought is getting us nowhere. It doesn't apply. It's a square peg that you're trying to drive into a round hole. This is a unique situation and the more general rules of capitalism only partially apply.

      • Re:Answer... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by joocemann (1273720) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @01:31PM (#36491878)

        You ignored the two words that you actually quoted, that would have informed you and your question.

        Unbrided....monopolistic.

        Capitalism is best had on markets for wants, not needs, and is only really maintained in the sense that you described when there is enough regulation to keep us safe from the ill efects of greed.

      • by Gordonjcp (186804)

        Capitalism is a dirty word, because what it means is that everything gradually migrates to being run for maximum profit at minimum cost. Look at the American healthcare system, which is geared up to keeping patients just alive enough to sign cheques with the barest minimum of care. Quality of life be damned, if they can pay they *will* pay!

        This is something that the hippy dippy laissez-faire capitalists don't seem to appreciate. "Oh hey, the market will pay whatever price it will bear" - yes, right up un

      • Re:Answer... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @04:25PM (#36493048) Journal

        I guess I don't understand why capitalism is a dirty word around here. Isn't it a good thing that businesses are not run by the state? Does competition not spur innovation?

        I think most people think capitalism is a good thing. The problem with capitalism--which I'm not sure anyone has solved--is what do you when someone wins?

        Capitalism is about competition. I make a widget, you make a widget, and we try to convince a group of people to buy our widget over our competitor's widget. It keeps prices down. It spurs innovation--my widget is more reliable than yours, your widget is cheaper to manufacture than mine, etc. But in any competition, there will eventually be a winner. More and more people will buy your widget over mine and you will eventually buy me out or I will go bankrupt or whatever and then you will be the only person selling widgets. At that point, innovation slows and prices can rise because there is no pressure. You're just out to make as much money as possible.

        So, "unbridled capitalism," as the GP puts it, isn't a good thing because the eventual winner--whoever they might be--will have a monopoly. The question is--and this isn't an easy question--what do you do with the winner? Do you try to prevent a winner? Do you allow a winner and then break them up and start a new game? Are the efficiencies that you get with having one company performing the task worthwhile enough that you create a regulated monopoly?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Capitalism works well when there is a competitive market. So the issue is to keep it competitive.

          Things that might help.

          1. A progressive income tax for corporations. The bigger you get, the more, as a percentage, you pay. Mergers are much less of a win.

          This also has the effect of reducing the taxes on small companies, which favours startups.

          2. Corporate directors are personally financial liable for everything their company does. This liability extends to holdings they have in other companies. This wo

  • There are datacaps, but also, and most of all I'd say : connexion speeds !
    Even when you have a fast download bandwidth, upload is usually shitty, like 10-15% of the download on usual DSL...
    FTTH is another story and could make the cloud worthwhile, but I'm still waiting for that to happen, and I live in Paris...

    • by Idbar (1034346)
      Worse is, that on one side, ISPs want more money for higher caps, more money for higher speeds. On the other one, websites want more money and more revenue out of advertisement, which consumes your bandwidth and caps.

      In consequence, either way the end user is screwed. You pay for a capped service which is discretely consumed by ads.
  • David... it's just that -- just as with everything *else* important over the last 3 decade (SCADA security, anyone), *no one important is listening to us*.

    Good think we like saying atojiso.

  • by drolli (522659)

    Capped data may bring the cloud and the users to reason.

    I like the cloud for some things. But i also like it if a device which has more memory than i need for all my personal documents (including 10000 Photos) is used wise enough not to require 24x7 online access.

    If i use a local imap idle client i seldom exceed 1Gb/month. I can sync my music at home (why wouldnt i do so - i dont buy 100cds on the way to work each day).

    capped data is the expression of a physical reality vs. a marketing tool used to push u

    • Re:No. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mcrbids (148650) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @12:24PM (#36491426) Journal

      I like the cloud for some things. But i also like it if a device which has more memory than i need for all my personal documents (including 10000 Photos) is used wise enough not to require 24x7 online access.

      That's a matter of personal preference.

      capped data is the expression of a physical reality vs. a marketing tool used to push users quickly into freshly build networks without investing in the sw and forcing them to new phones.

      Capped data is a joke. It's a movement towards charging per-unit prices for a service that has no meaningful per-unit cost. Sure, it costs money to build a network, blah blah blah. But there is no fixed cost for moving data around. A Gbit switch costs about as much as a 100 Mbit switch did a few years back, and moves 100x as much data in a unit of time as the 100 Mbit one. It uses about the same amount of electricity, regardless of how much data is being moved.

      Where did that per-unit cost go?

      Because of this, I figure it's only a matter of time before this whole "cap the user" nonsense goes away.

      • by MBGMorden (803437)

        A Gbit switch costs about as much as a 100 Mbit switch did a few years back, and moves 100x as much data in a unit of time as the 100 Mbit one.

        Math fail there. a Gigabit switch moves 10x as much as a 100Mbit switch in a given time, not 100x.

      • Re:No. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Archangel Michael (180766) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @12:41PM (#36491546) Journal

        Its not the per data cost of the lines, it is the cost per port that is expensive. Replacing the 100 MB switch with the GB switch, and then the GB switch with the 10 (100) GB switch in 5 years is what costs. This doesn't include ongoing maintenance and management, and uplink costs. Paying for bandwidth is an easy solution to mitigate against some of that, and makes sense from this standpoint. However, when people like Comcast deliberately choke off data at a single point, in order to charge Netflix and others to bring them into the network (and still restricts this data) that is where I have an issue. If you're overselling/over subscribing your trunks, and aren't upgrading them when they are full, time for class action lawsuit.

        I'm just wondering when someone is going to sue Comcast for not providing the service they are selling. Must be in the TOS contract that they don't have to provide any.

        • by Eil (82413)

          I'm just wondering when someone is going to sue Comcast for not providing the service they are selling. Must be in the TOS contract that they don't have to provide any.

          Most service contracts and agreements quite explicitly state that you, the customer, are expected to pay your bills on time or be subject to debt collection and/or litigation. But they, the provider, have no obligation to provide any service whatsoever.

      • Re:No. (Score:5, Funny)

        by TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @12:42PM (#36491550)

        That's a matter of personal preference.

        There are people who prefer their devices to stop working when the network stops? "I can't access my photos because the net is down. Hooray!"

      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        Other way around. Because there's no added cost, the 'cap the user' is being spread like wildfire. It's easy to justify to the public, they can charge enormous sums for it, and there's dick all you can do about it.

        We've had caps in canada on the big carriers for nearly a decade. When netflix launched in canada they all *lowered* their caps. You poor bastards down south might be catching up to the anti-competitive bullshit that we've had since windows XP launched.

        • if you are in canada go with arcanac, teksavyy or velcom, they all offer no caps deals. Avoid Telus, Bell, Roger and Videotron like the plague they are.

      • You are making the usual mistake of assuming that cost-charged-to-consumer must equate somehow to cost-incurred-by-provider. Just because there isn't a per-unit cost to the provider, doesn't mean that a per-unit cost to you isn't a valid way of billing.

      • by sjbe (173966) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @01:06PM (#36491730)

        But there is no fixed cost for moving data around.

        What you are saying is more or less correct but your terminology is wrong. What you are describing is properly called a variable cost [wikipedia.org] not a fixed cost. The equipment used to build and operate the network is largely comprised of fixed costs. It costs the phone company the same money whether they send one packet or one million packets. The costs associated to a specific packet would be variable costs and as you rightly point out, the direct variable costs are negligible. As equipment is used, the fixed costs get amortized over a large volume of data and in time become negligible on a per packet basis. This doesn't mean they become zero but they start large and become small asymptotically.

        That said there IS a cost that you are not considering. IF there is insufficient bandwidth available to serve all requests, then there is an opportunity cost [wikipedia.org] associated with the data packet. If your data can't get through because someone else is hogging the pipe, you as a customer will get pissed and possible switch services (if possible). Since we know that the telecom providers have a large but finite amount of bandwidth available, opportunity costs matter. Hence data caps. They cannot serve all possible requests until their network has the capacity to do so. If they allow unlimited usage and people actually do use it that way (and some do), the telecom incurs an opportunity cost in the form of being unable to serve some of their customers.

        In THEORY data caps make economic sense. In REALITY, it's probably more greed by the telecoms than a real problem most of the time.

  • by taxman_10m (41083) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @12:19PM (#36491394)

    It's sad to see everyone trying to kill it from different angles.

    Sony Movies Pulled From Netflix Streaming Service Over Starz Contract Issue
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/18/sony-movies-netflix-instant-play-starz_n_879727.html [huffingtonpost.com]

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by taxman_10m (41083)

      Off topic, but damn do I hate the new trend of chiclet keyboards on laptops. Typos up 800%.

      • Then don't buy a $399 laptop. My Current laptop has an Industrial keyboard. I love it. The sub $1000 laptops all have sucky keyboards. If you make your living using a computer, then don't skimp on a good one.

        • by taxman_10m (41083)

          This is a new thing. My previous laptop was the cheapest option available from Dell, an Inspiron B130. It had a great keyboard and a better touchpad than the Inspiron N5510 I just bought. It's ridiculous that I'd need to spend $400 more or so just to get a keyboard that isn't crap.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        Not if they're done right. My new Thinkpad has a chiclet keyboard, and I'm not having any trouble at all with typos, beyond the normal ones associated from learning a slightly different keyboard layout. You don't get as much travel as you would with a traditional keyboard, but I've got plenty of distance in which to change my mind about pressing a key if I want to.

        Overall, it's a really nice piece of hardware, I just need to figure out a suitable way of blocking out the web cam when I'm not using it. I woul

  • a single user isn't going to hit their cap with word and excel documents, even with photos and music its going to be hard, and I doubt that most will have the patience for movies since all US ISP's suck ass at upload... and companies have better internet plans

    • by phulegart (997083)
      "a single user isn't going to hit their cap..."

      -what would that cap be? No... I want you to reply with the exact bandwidth allowance that this user has. Wait. You can't do that, because "their cap" is not a universal amount. Caps vary per individual, and per ISP. You can ASSUME that a single user won't hit their cap... but that's actually a bad assumption. Take for example, people who use Yahoo Mail. Sure, it's a free service that pays through advertising. And... it forces users not only to see st
      • by Osgeld (1900440)

        are you seriously telling me (in a very angry tone) that 1 dude using yahoo is going to nail 150-250 gig a month? what about dialup which although slow has larger caps?

        ok you can take off the tinfoil hat now

    • by hedwards (940851)

      A surprising number of people can hit their cap in a matter of a few days with some of the newer faster speed connections. A 5gb cap isn't so bad for a cell phone if you're only able to connect at EDGE speeds, but with LTE and some of the other more current options, you can hit that cap really quickly.

      For most people 250gb is more than they're likely to ever need. I know that I didn't used to hit that kind of data transfer in the past. However, now that I've switched to crashplan, I do occasionally exceed t

  • by JoeCommodore (567479) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Sunday June 19, 2011 @12:22PM (#36491420) Homepage

    I think it may be worse news for the carriers. If they wont provide suitable bandwidth, eventually someone will develop a more popular alternative that bypasses their speed bump altogether.

    • by TheLink (130905)
      Maybe Google might provide internet sevices. With ads of course :).
    • by adamstew (909658) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @12:57PM (#36491654)

      You would think so. But sadly, we don't exist in a free market, as far as internet access is concerned.

      There have already been several localities (municipal level) that tried to setup their own internet services for their residents, because they were unhappy with what the local cableco and telco were willing to provide. So the cableco and telco have sent lobbyists to the local city councils and state legislative bodies and are having laws written to prevent these forms of competition from even getting off the ground.

      Even if another private entity, outside of the cable/phone companies wanted to try and provide internet access, I imagine they will run in to the same road blocks. Also, you need to get local approval to be able to run your wires on the utility poles.

      I had hoped that Broadband-over-powerlines would allow a 3rd carrier in to most areas to help drive up speeds and drive down prices, but it hasn't been very successful and has run in to a whole slew of technical issues.

      Wireless communication won't be able to keep up, in terms of speed and data caps. Getting in to the wireless business is a huge investment. RF Spectrum is very expensive and you can only physically push so much data through RF.

      Sadly, except in a few small and isolated areas, I think we're going to be stuck with the cableco and telco duopolies for quite a while... The only way that is changing is if there are some pretty serious regulations at the federal and/or state levels to really allow for some good competition.

      The only wildcards, and hope, that I see is Google's fiber initiatives and the corporate muscle flexing of some large companies. Once enough big companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Netflix, etc. want to start pushing their own high-speed services through the limited broadband pipes, they might be willing to spend some money on a state and federal level to lobby for some sanity.

  • Cloud-based services can cut revenue sharing deals with access network operators, which will then exempt certain services from bandwidth limits. This is already happening with IPTV. In the end, this will mean that if you don't use the major cloud-based services, potential users would essentially have to pay their ISPs for using your service.

  • by JamesP (688957) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @12:31PM (#36491482)

    How big are data caps?
    How big is the content you have?

    Netflix should worry, iCloud... not really.

    E.g. I have 20Gb of MP3 files.

    Btw I wonder if it all goes through iCloud or if, for example, I have my Mac and iPhone on the same network it syncs locally.

  • ..these game-changing big forces that will alter our lives forever? ISPs will start only taking bitcoins for payment. Heck, this is another bitcoin slashvertisement isnt it?

  • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @12:37PM (#36491510)
    Canada has some horrendous data caps from it's major ISPs. From the numbers I've heard, Americans have almost 10x the bandwidth allowance that most Canadians have. For online services (cloud, netflix, etc.), this is a major concern. While I'm looking forward to iCloud, I will be closely monitoring my bandwidth for the first little bit to make sure I don't go over and, if I do, I'll be figuring out what service I use needs to get cut and, quite frankly, I'd rather the ISPs just offer better service than forcing me to not use what's available...
    • as I already said if you live in canada go with arcanac, teksavyy or velcom. Don't support the fats corrupted cats that used regulatory capture to castrate the crtc.

  • by Corson (746347) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @12:39PM (#36491530)
    The Internet should be like any other basic utility, with rates being regulated and networks being installed for everybody to have unrestricted accees to. People would pay on a per-use basis but ISPs would not be able to raise the rates as they please.
    • by pangu (322010)

      Yes, my utilities never double rates in a four year period.... Except one just announced they are doing just that. They even announced it was because we were successfully conserving the resource that they had to double rates.

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      I think every semi democratic country in the world has at least one party that wants to privatize utilities, and to push all of these things onto the private sector. Putting the internet as a public utility creates a slew of problems that the government now can, and will be expected to, monitor the content moving over its network.

  • ...but I haven't hit it yet.

  • by tylersoze (789256) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @12:50PM (#36491612)

    Given Apple's cash reserves couldn't it just buy every major carrier in the country? I'm sure it could buy ATT, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, et al, with the loose change in the couches at the Apple campus. :) Given Internet access is pretty much already a local monopoly with no competition what would it matter? At least with Apple in charge they would have an incentive to get rid of the caps.

  • They can cap USA alright. But the Cloud Computing is bigger in emerging markets. Comcast has a lot of work ahead of it.
  • In Canada, you're hard pressed to find an ISP that doesn't have a cap. It makes streaming movies, etc. a pain in the butt.
  • When we have enough storage space on the device, what's to be gained by constantly shuttling data backward and forward? And there's not just the cost to consider - if you lose your connection for whatever reason, the device is more or less a brick.

    This guy [bbc.co.uk] doesn't seem convinced by the new Chromebook, that's for sure.

  • Answer: no (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sprins (717461) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @12:59PM (#36491668)

    Capped data plans won't kill the cloud. Capping will only be a temporary inconvenience (until capping is gone through competition between carriers).

    There are nice-to-have cloud syncs that use a lot of data (music, video, images) and need-to-have cloud syncs (mail, calendar, documents). The urgens syncs usually fit in a data plan. The 'leisure' syncs can be done whilst on wifi.

    The real inconvenience will be data roaming charges (eg abroad) where they charge you an arm and a leg for everything :(

    • In New Zealand we've been waiting about 12 years for competition between carriers to remove caps. Still hasn't happened. Good luck with that.
    • by toriver (11308)

      (until capping is gone through competition between carriers)

      Ah, the naïvety of youth. I guess competing providers will come to your area Any Day Now.

  • by mothlos (832302) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @01:01PM (#36491686)
    Bandwidth capping is NOT the problem. There is a marginal cost curve associated with increased bandwidth use and it is only appropriate that this cost be reflected in the price we pay for our services. Without usage based fees, those who underutilize the service are subsidizing those who overutilize it (which I guess the latter would be highly overrepresented here at /.). The problem is lack of competition and effective regulation perpetuated by political overrepresentation of service providers. Please be willing to give up your internet subsidy and get in touch with your elected officials, friends, and family to let them know that their ISPs are screwed up and we could have faster, cheaper internet if we take back the reins.
  • just some of it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by t2t10 (1909766) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @03:23PM (#36492634)

    It may kill unlimited HD video downloads and put a crimp into companies that use that as their business model.

    Just about everything else is not affected by these "caps" because the data volume is so tiny in comparison to video downloads.

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