Phil Karn karn at
Fri Dec 6 00:35:40 UTC 2013

On 12/05/2013 02:00 PM, Owen DeLong wrote:

> If AT&T has capped me, then, I haven’t managed to hit the cap as yet.
> Admittedly, the connection isn’t always as reliable as $CABLECO, but
> when it works, it tends to work at full speed and it does work the
> vast majority of the time.

AT&T threatened to cap U-verse at 250 GB/mo several years ago, but they
never seem to have followed through. It's probably about the only way
that their incompetence is actually in the public interest.

Monthly caps -- and even peak speed limits -- are a very poor idea in
general because they don't take system conditions into account. A
torrent that runs at night penalizes you just as much as one run at
prime time. Actually more, since you probably get greater throughput at
off-peak times and therefore hit your cap faster.

If one *must* charge for usage on a shared network, the right thing is
to base the monthly fee on *guaranteed* bandwidth because that's what
actually drives costs. If more is available because others aren't using
their guarantees, fine, you can have it for free. But it's not
guaranteed. And you don't get a refund for not using your guarantee
because the equipment still had to be allocated for you.

Of course the real solution to nearly every problem with local broadband
access is the same: meaningful competition. About the only way this
could happen is for the municipality to install, own and maintain the
fiber plant and lease it to any and all commercial service providers on
a non-discriminatory and non-exclusive basis.

Naturally this will never happen in the United States because the
incumbents will scream "socialism!" at the top of their lungs and race
to the state houses to outlaw it. Never mind that this is exactly how
we've handled roads for centuries.


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