Owen DeLong owen at
Fri Dec 6 18:59:31 UTC 2013

On Dec 5, 2013, at 16:35 , Phil Karn <karn at> wrote:

> 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.

Meh... U-verse isn't available here anyway. AT&T here is capped at 768kbps
on wired. Wireless, I'm getting LTE 30-50Mbps from them.

> 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.
On this, we agree.

> 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.

Unfortunately, most of the DSLAMs/GPON Concentrators/CMTS systems
don't do a very good job of enabling CIR based provisioning and even if they
did, for some reason, consumers seem to have a very hard time wrapping
their heads around the CIR/Burst concept when money is involved.

> 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.

I couldn't agree more... I've been saying this for years. It's starting to actually
happen in some places with reasonable success.

However, the municipality doesn't necessarily have to install, own, and
maintain it. All that really has to happen is regulations that prohibit those
that own/provide Layer 1 infrastructure from playing in higher layers of the
stack and requiring them to provide service to ALL comers on equal footing.

> 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.

Yes, our roads are a great example of workable socialism, though what you
have proposed is not. What you have proposed is not socialism, since it would
be more like a toll road (toll roads which are 100% self-funding don't qualify
because there is no tax involved, it is a business. The fact that the business
happens to be run by a government agency (in some cases) doesn't really

Nonetheless, you are right that the incumbents will do everything in their
considerable power to hang on tightly to their existing monopolies. Unfortunately,
so long as we preserve problems like the citizens united ruling, it will be
difficult for the people to overcome these problems.


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