Thursday, August 14, 2008
ISP Blocking or Metering: A False Choice?
An interesting report from Free Press on the value (actually the lack of value) of bandwidth caps for ISPs—presumably published as a follow on to the FCC’s decision a couple weeks ago about Comcast slowing traffic to Bit Torrent users.
The first thing they try and put to rest is the misnomer “metering” which is the euphemism of choice for bandwidth caps. No ISP is considering charging by the byte but rather charging more if a user goes beyond a cap.
The ISPs claim web congestion demands such a model, but the paper claims that recent FCC study disputes those findings. It also states that the ISPs have not provided documentation of congestion.
The report also outlines the “limitation throttling model” used by Cable One, a Washington Post owned ISP. The way they work it is to offer unlimited downloads Midnight to 8AM, and somewhat limited downloads during the rest of the day. Note: those limitations are EVENLY applied, not just to Bit Torrent users, so they would not violate the PCC’s principles of neutrality. What better works about this model is the idea of eliminating congestion by time shifting band width heavy usage to slow hours.
This paper also disputes the doom meister prediction of “exaflood”, an explosion of internet usage that will bring down the net. The paper states that such “The Sky is Falling” claims are not new and that increased bandwidth needs are actually rather predictable – 50-60% a year is typical.
The final argument of the paper is that limitations will ultimately hurt the ISPs that use them because we have two competing high speed internet access systems in use, and limitations would hamper their efforts to develop low cost bundles of telecom services for set prices. I am not sure I agree with that – I could certainly foresee a lead ISP like Comcast imposing such a scheme and all the other ISPs magically going along with it. I am not suggesting conclusion but rather leader-driven price advances.
Anyway, it’s an interesting paper whether you agree with the info or not.
Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to write.
Posted by Jim Nichols