Home media servers, AUPs, and upstream bandwidth utilization.

Thomas Leavitt thomas at thomasleavitt.org
Tue Dec 26 02:49:08 UTC 2006

Interesting suite of services and features at a price that makes our 
domestic wireless broadband look sick... however, look at their AUP:


* Mobile access to Orb or Slingbox does not include using your mobile as 
a modem. <-- so this isn't true wireless broadband

* When using the internet, you can’t use some websites (including adult 
websites) and some websites aren’t compatible with all mobiles. <-- so 
big brother company gets to decide what you can and cannot view

* Fair Use Limit: 1 GB each month <-- it says this right under 
"Unlimited Data" ... and they'll cut off your access to data till the 
following month if you don't voluntarily do so yourself, once that's 
been exceeded

* for some screwy reason (maybe just so they don't have to figure out 
who is a spammer and not) they limit you to 10,000 Windows Live 
Messenger messages (like these are going to suck bandwidth), which 
amounts to 300 a day... reasonable, unless you're a heavy user: that's a 
message a minute for five hours

* 5,000 minutes of Skype to Skype calls

* Slingbox and Orb usage is limited to 80 hours a month...

... all of these are listed under "Unlimited" usage headers. All of them 
are subject to being cut off for the month if you exceed them. Did 
someone change the definition of "Unlimited" in the dictionary?

I'm not saying these are unreasonable limits, but it is rather deceptive 
to advertise services as "Unlimited" while applying limits that a 
reasonable person, using them in the fashion intended, could easily 
exceed (my kids, mobile television, more than eighty hours if I let 
them, no sweat... yap on IM from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. 7 days a week? you 

These limitations, applied to services here in the U.S., make wireless 
broadband access very unattractive to me... even at $60/mo., it'd be 
doable, except for the restrictions... I spend well over $200/mo. 
between my company cell, landline/DSL, and the supplementary services 
associated with each. I'd be totally willing to go out on the bleeding 
edge, kill my wireline Internet access and my cell services, and go with 
a pure wireless data/VOIP solution... but not with the restrictions 
typically placed on them. I want to be able to have my wireless data 
connection backended to my office and home networks... I want to be able 
to download ISOs for Linux distributions, and upload AVIs and WMVs to my 
in house server... I want to be able to run the home media server of my 
own choice and access it from anywhere. Etc.

I wish someone in the marketplace would emerge to serve folks like me.


Alexander Harrowell wrote:
> UK UMTS operator 3 (a Hutchison division) is advertising its so-called 
> X-Series service, which provides "unlimited" data service (plus 
> various lumps of steam telephony) for £25 rising to £40 a month. Skype 
> is being bundled with the devices involved, and here's the kicker - 3 
> is offering Slingboxen thrown in for £99 extra.
> 3 has just begun HSDPA Class 5 upgrades in metro areas (claimed 
> maximum 3.6 Mbits/s) and plans to launch HSUPA in the uplink next 
> spring, with a claimed max of 1.4Mbits/s.
> On 12/25/06, *Thomas Leavitt* <thomas at thomasleavitt.org 
> <mailto:thomas at thomasleavitt.org>> wrote:
>     Check the AUP and TOS for that EVDO connection - my guess is that by
>     viewing stuff from your Slingbox, you're risking termination of
>     service.
>     I don't have an EVDO connection myself (still toodling along with my
>     Sidekick's GPRS), and part of the reason why is that they have a
>     lot of
>     what I think are unreasonable restrictions on how these services
>     can be
>     used -- this is based on what I've read on the various mailing
>     lists I'm
>     on (Dave Farber's IP, Declan McCullagh's Politech, and Dewayne
>     Hendrick's Dewayne-Net).
>     I don't know how significant restrictions like this are from a
>     competitive perspective, but my broadband ISP also has a very liberal
>     TOS... and that's one of the reasons I use them. I suspect that as
>     items
>     like the Slingbox become more common, folks will start paying more
>     attention to what they're permitted to do with their upstream
>     bandwidth.
>     Thomas
>     Roland Dobbins wrote:
>     >
>     >
>     > I recently purchased a Slingbox Pro, and have set it up so that
>     I can
>     > remotely access/control my home HDTV DVR and stream video remotely.
>     > My broadband access SP specifically allow home users to run
>     servers,
>     > as long as said servers don't cause a problem for the SP
>     > infrastructure nor for other users or doing anything illegal; as
>     long
>     > as I'm not breaking the law or making problems for others, they
>     don't
>     > care.
>     >
>     > The Slingbox is pretty cool; when I access it, both the video and
>     > audio quality are more than acceptable. It even works well when I
>     > access it via EVDO; on average, I'm pulling down about 450kb/sec
>     up to
>     > about 580kb/sec over TCP (my home upstream link is a theoretical
>     > 768kb/sec, minus overhead; I generally get something pretty close to
>     > that).
>     >
>     > What I'm wondering is, do broadband SPs believe that this kind of
>     > system will become common enough to make a signficant difference in
>     > traffic paterns, and if so, how do they believe it will affect their
>     > access infrastructures in terms of capacity, given the typical
>     > asymmetries seen in upstream vs. downstream capacity in many
>     broadband
>     > access networks? If a user isn't doing something like breaking the
>     > law by illegally redistributing copyrighted content, is this
>     sort of
>     > activity permitted by your AUPs? If so, would you change your
>     AUPs if
>     > you saw a significant shift towards non-infringing upstream content
>     > streaming by your broadband access customers? If not, would you
>     > consider changing your AUPs in order to allow this sort of upstream
>     > content streaming of non-infringing content, with the caveat that
>     > users can't caused problems for your infrastructure or for other
>     > users, and perhaps with a bandwidth cap?
>     >
>     > Would you police down this traffic if you could readily classify it,
>     > as many SPs do with P2P applications? Would the fact that this type
>     > of traffic doesn't appear to be illegal or infringing in any way
>     lead
>     > you to treat it differently than P2P traffic (even though there are
>     > many legitimate uses for P2P file-sharing systems, the presumption
>     > always seems to be that the majority of P2P traffic is in
>     > illegally-redistributed copyrighted content, and thus P2P
>     technologies
>     > seem to've acquired a taint of distaste from many quarters,
>     rightly or
>     > wrongly).
>     >
>     > Also, have you considered running a service like this
>     yourselves, a la
>     > VoIP/IPTV?
>     >
>     > Vidoeconferencing is somewhat analogous, but in most cases,
>     > videoconference calls (things like iChat, Skype videoconferencing,
>     > etc.) generally seem to use a less bandwidth than the Slingox,
>     and it
>     > seems to me that they will in most cases be of shorter duration
>     than,
>     > say, a business traveler who wants to keep up with Lost or 24 and so
>     > sits down to stream video from his home A/V system for 45
>     minutes to
>     > an hour at a stretch.
>     >
>     > Sorry to ramble, this neat little toy just sparked a few questions,
>     > and I figured that some of you are dealing with these kinds of
>     issues
>     > already, or are anticipating doing so in the not-so-distant future.
>     > Any insight or informed speculation greatly appreciated!
>     >
>     >
>     >
>     -----------------------------------------------------------------------
>     > Roland Dobbins < rdobbins at cisco.com <mailto:rdobbins at cisco.com>>
>     // 408.527.6376 voice
>     >
>     > All battles are perpetual.
>     >
>     > -- Milton Friedman
>     >
>     >
>     >
>     --
>     Thomas Leavitt - thomas at thomasleavitt.org
>     <mailto:thomas at thomasleavitt.org> - 831-295-3917 (cell)
>     *** Independent Systems and Network Consultant, Santa Cruz, CA ***

Thomas Leavitt - thomas at thomasleavitt.org - 831-295-3917 (cell)

*** Independent Systems and Network Consultant, Santa Cruz, CA ***

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