[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 
> separate
> 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 
 that cost.

 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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