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Cloud Google The Almighty Buck Apple

Will Capped Data Plans Kill the Cloud? 530

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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  • by JoeCommodore ( 567479 ) <> 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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 :(

  • 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: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.


    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.

  • 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.
  • 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 [].

    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.

  • Re:Simple (Score:3, Interesting)

    by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @02:56PM (#36492448)

    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 as to why.

  • Re:Simple (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rtfa-troll ( 1340807 ) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @04:13PM (#36492970)

    Bandwidth is a scarce resource. [...] They should charge a very minimal fee for running a wire, and then charge users for bandwidth at an auction basis.

    This is the horribly misguided wisdom the ISPs are managing to put to us. Connectivity is scarce; putting in cables is expensive. Maintaining them is even more expensive. Once you have the right ones in place however, the difference in cost between installing 500kb/S and 50Mb/S is pretty small. So bandwidth should be pretty close to free once you have the connnection. Why isn't it? Well, bandwidth is a good proxy for technical knowledge. It is also needed to serve content. The ISPs want to use bandwidth charging to stop private people from competing in content creation.

  • Re:Answer... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ResidentSourcerer ( 1011469 ) <> on Monday June 20, 2011 @09:25AM (#36499338) Homepage

    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 would tend to reduce directors having multiple seats, which all too often leads to conflict of interest.

    3. All senior corporate staff and directors and paid on some form of acculated delay. E.g. This year you get 100,000 bucks and the dividends off of 100,000 shares for 20 years. Next year you get 100,000 and the dividends of of 100,000 shares for 20 years. When you retire, you get dividends for 20 more years. So make sure the company is run right for the long haul.

    4. A company cannot own shares in another company. Shares have to be owned by an individual. Obviously the transiition would have to be gradual. The idea here is to bring personal responsibility back into the equation. There may be merit in still allowing a not-for-profit hold shares.

    5. Taxes are no longer calculated on net profit, but on gross income. There are no deductions at all. Needless to say, the rate is much lower. This makes accounting much easier. It penalizes very low margin companies more than high margin companies. Again, there would need to be a transition form to not cause complete chaos.

Civilization, as we know it, will end sometime this evening. See SYSNOTE tomorrow for more information.