[tpm] [u-u] Usage Based Billing - What you should know..
daniel at benoy.name
daniel at benoy.name
Mon Feb 14 14:32:24 PST 2011
> I do take the point that the charges are too high, but that's
> from charging based on usage.
Yep. The two issues are being collapsed into one and that's not fair
to the idea of charging a reasonable rate for bandwidth usage.
Unfortunately there are some complications to the notion of just
charging per gig. For example, someone who downloads 1 gig slowly
causes less network strain than someone who downloads 1 gig as fast as
possible, but gets charged the same amount. Also, someone who downloads
during off-peak hours actually consumes the same amount of network usage
as someone who doesn't download anything at all, because router and link
capacities are built for the times of highest throughput. It's not
uncommon for the peak hours to require 10 times more bandwidth than the
off-peak hours, and if there's a big event like a sports championship or
newsworthy disaster, then it can be 20 times higher, or more. Most of
the time major network links are 50-90% idle depending on the time of
day, and the bandwidth that could have been utilized during that time is
A simple compromise would be for bell to charge wholesalers on a biling
model that takes peak usage into account, like 95th percentile, and let
them work out what model they want to use on their customers to recoup
Sadly, a fair compromise isn't what this is about. UBB was first
introduced in Canada around the time p2p file sharing started to really
pick up, and unsurprisingly, this caused them to have to either upgrade
their network infrastructure, or discourage their customers from using
p2p. Sadly, they seem to have opted for the latter. The overage
charges were punitive measures to dissuade heavy users from using the
internet at all, rather than just charging them a bit extra for their
extra usage. Plenty of users, however, went to competitors to avoid
these charges and kept on being bandwidth abusers, which presented
something of a loophole. The network of the big two is still partially
involved in delivering internet, even when a third party provider is
being used, so they set to work to close that loophole. They put
forward a request to the CRTC to be allowed to charge more money to
third party providers, for the use of their phone and cable lines.
Specifically, they wanted to charge other ISPs 75% of the same bandwidth
usage fees that they charge to their own customers. (Since Bell and
Rogers are forced to provide lines to their competitors, they have to
get approval for every new price change)
Fast-forward five years or so (That's actually fast for the CRTC.) and
it finally got approved and wrestled its way through all the appeals.
However, in the time that passed, now everyone and their grandma is able
to blow past the bandwidth caps just by watching a few movies or playing
some onlive or getting a virus, so the punitive use of bandwidth caps no
longer closes a loophole on file sharing abusers. Now it's just gouging
ordinary users with the obscene rates designed to be a penalty for
The p2p file sharing situation has actually caused another
controversial CRTC decision recently that never got protested. Bell
started filtering traffic to slow down p2p connections on their network,
but they also did it to the third party ISPs at the same time.
Theoretically, if you're a third party ISP, you're paying Bell to
provide you with a link between the customer and your datacenter, and
you provide the link to the internet, and it's completely up to you what
traffic you choose to filter or packet shape. Bell's decision to filter
their competitors was challenged with the CRTC, and they sided with
Bell. Now, if anyone is dissatisfied with Bell's p2p filtering (i.e.
they throttle down your VPN by mistake, thinking it's p2p.. or they
start filtering all your encrypted connections, because they can't tell
whether or not it's p2p) then it's impossible to go to a competitor and
get different filtering, because Bell's same sandvine equipment is
between the CPE and the third party ISP datacenter.
Sorry for the conuter-rant :p
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