back to article Everything Everywhere ponders discrimination by packet

Everything Everywhere has rather upset Which? by mooting the idea of tariffs based on services, rather than raw quantities of data. The premise is that a tariff might come bundled with a limited amount of data, but as much YouTube as you like, or only count data used visiting web sites outside a prescribed list. Such …


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  1. There's a bee in my bot net

    So we will all end up using VPN then?

    I hate to say it but I have been paying plusnet a small premium for years so they don't fuck with my traffic (or as they call it 'prioritise') based on the type of traffic and time of day.

    I never know what I will be using my connection for and I don't want to a) have to remember what traffic is crippled or b) spend time trying to figure out that some traffic is crippled.

    It was only a matter of time for the mobile networks who all seem to be taking a backward step, offering less and less as time goes on.

    1. Anton Ivanov

      It has never started

      Check your T&Cs. Last time I looked non-business T&Cs from most mobile operators had it prohibited anyway. Most, but not all have never bothered to enforce it because of technical limitations.

      In any case, Which should read the 3GPP standards. The entire idea of LTE and late 3G is to return on investment around service orientation by making all revenue generating services use IMS and using IMS for billing.

      That is what the mobile operators went to build. It will be surprising if they do not try to actually make money out of it. In fact, if they do not they probably will have negative ROI on LTE and 3G data because for most of them the investment is calculated based on projected revenues from this.

      If which dislikes it, it should champion building something else which can ROI without service-orientation from the operator instead.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Vodafone do it already

        Skype, IM, VPN, SMS-replacements, etc are all not included in data bundles. They don't make this particularly clear anywhere and, when pushed, will admit that they can't tell what traffic is what anyway.

        So go right ahead and use VOIP or whatever on VF's network, at least for now.

        1. Anton Ivanov
          Thumb Down

          They tried

          They tried to determine Skype through DPI instead of statistic analysis which is a guaranteed failure. They also tried to bill (at least me) per-MB price when they detect what they think is Skype.

          I had a conversation with their billing department 2 years back regarding this after which they dropped it at least on my account. As Skype (and any other VOIP) can now be determined for billing purposes with nearly 100% certainty via statistical analysis I would not be surprised if they will come around and try that again.

  2. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    @"Such models are inevitable"

    No its not inevitable. If more people move to encryption, the more ISPs will be prevented from being able to know what data they are carrying.

    If the post office opened every letter, there would be a storm of protest, yet that is what ISPs are aiming to do with our data. (The problem is the general public isn't technically minded enough to release that this is exactly what the corporations (and the governments) seek to do with our data).

    Also the corporations (and the governments) are trying to re-educate us into believing we have no privacy, which is really because they want to spy on us for their gain, yet look at how these hypocrites react if we get to spy on them to find out what they are really doing.

    1. gringle

      Bad analogy ...

      The post office already charges different tariffs for different items. They already inspect your packet to see if it's a large packet/small packet and where it's going. Then they charge you a different price dependent on the size of the packet.

      They also charge you differently if you want it to arrive more quickly, if you need guaranteed delivery or if it's going to a destination that's not a popular postage destination (e.g. small African countries).

      There are more parallels between the post office and the proposed pricing in this article than there are with unlimited pricing and neutrality.

      The post office would be the same if it charged everyone a flat fee per month no matter how many letters/parcels they sent without any regard for destination ...

    2. Anonymous Coward

      So they can just drop or cripple encrypted traffic!

      I mean, if you are a "normal" (i.e. profitable) customer then why are you encrypting your traffic, you must be up to no good so we will be within our rights (it'll be buried in the small print somewhere, don't you worry)

      I had a hell of a time when I moved to sky just to connect to the works VPN because according to Sky's world view VPN = Business and you are on a domestic tariff so you are not allowed to use VPN's.

      Luckily Sky's world view also includes "This port number = VPN so disallow but the next port number up or down is just fine"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "why are you encrypting your traffic"

        Because it's my bank accounting / trading system / tax form / doctor's record / any site with personal information on it, of course.

        "https" ring a bell?

      2. MinionZero

        I do not want to pay more for different data and they need to be stopped

        @gringle, the Post Office is only a bad analogy when you seek to represent it in terms of boxes. I was referring to letters, as in reading the letters, which it most definitely doesn’t do because if it did read everyone's letters then people would react with extreme anger.

        @AC: You are playing the "if you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to hide" game. Which has already been shown so many times to be a pack of lies. If almost everyone is using encryption then the ISP has no choice, they carry the data or they go out of business.

        I have no problem with paying them to carry bytes of data. I have every problem with them choosing which bytes they are going to charge me more for, simply because they think they have a way to screw me out of more money for different collections of bytes of data! … then on top of that they have a way to spy on us and data mine us 24/7 for yet more exploitation of us.

        They carry bytes of data. If they can carry more bytes faster, then great I will pay for that, but I won't allow them to screw me over!

  3. Pypes
    Thumb Down

    "Capitalism" at work

    Isn't the free market meant to push us ever closer to commodity data tariffs, with healthy competition driving prices downward until they are a mere fraction more than the cost of providing the service? Id have said that both the UK mobile and fixed line data markets are pretty dam healthy and yet we keep moving further away from the "dumb pipe" commodity data of yesteryear and ever towards complex bundles and traffic shaping under the guise of consumer choice and responsible network management.

    I wouldn't be surprised if ISP's started thinking that "you get 10 gig a month data allowance, but unlimited access to anyone who happens to have co-located with us" looked like a hell of an easy idea to market, and all of a sudden unrestricted internet access becomes a premium service.

  4. Matt Do

    Which! what who?

    Offering access to some stuff for free is bad how exactly? Because it implies that some things might not be free? I thought which? was supposed to be the champion of empirical common sense, not some kind of idealist manifesto.

    The sooner we get data tariffs which offer customers real choice about what they are buying the better. Most customers who are paying for unlimited are using almost nothing - does that mean they are being ripped off because they are subsidising the extremists who overload the network?

    And while which? is shooting from the idealist hip, why not aim at Sky, who should OBVIOUSLY be made to give all their premium channels for nothing too.

    Makes me want to puke.


    1. Anton Ivanov

      You are missing the point

      The original design of 3G post release 5 and all of LTE is based around the paradigm that _NO_ _SERVICE_ _IS_ _FREE_, period.

      It is a network on which the applications have to ask nicely to access a resource via IMS, be considered for it by the policy function, allowed if deemed worthy and resource is deemed available and _BILLED_ after that to customer, service provider or both. The data you, me and everyone else presently enjoys is a _MERE_ _CONDUIT_ for this. The economic model and ROI for the network and supplementary investment like spectrum depend on this.

      In fact the sole reason you and me have the data is because it was sitting _EMPTY_ and services as per this model have failed to materialise and produce revenue. So operators tried to get at least some ROI. That however is not enough. There is no way in hell on earth or otherwise the investment into 3G data or LTE will ROI unless value added services happen.

      Here comes the real problem here. Instead of realising _WHY_ they failed to happen and fixing it, the intention is now to force their adoption by other means.

      The services failed to happen because the whole next gen value added service model in modern mobile network fails the "suitability for early adoption" test. The early adopter wants his service or device or both nice and shiny. It has to push the limit or otherwise you get into "Build It and They Will Yawn" territory. So instead of that, all services are bound to a "guaranteed" service paradigm where instead of pushing the limit they are made to be suitable for everyone including Joe Average. The whole strategy, design and 100s of billions of investment worldwide are based on a concept of service adoption that is a guaranteed failure because it fails to pass the "early adopter" hurdle. That is why it has _FAILED_. That is why it will _FAIL_. That is what needs to be _FIXED_.

      Trying to fix it by making the utterly terminally dull Joe Average oriented universal services the only choice does not make this any better. This is besides the fact that the cheap data horse is now out of the stable so it is too late to bolt the door after it.

  5. Martin Owens


    And it's still not right, a tariff connection to the internet assumes that everyone is in the lovely and comfortable middle classes and can pay for this wacky access to this obviously premium and luxury service called the interwebs and the only thing that stops them paying is because they don't have to.

    I'm unhappy because once again the poor are told they aren't worthy to have access to education, culture or social services because of their inability to access large amounts of reoccurring and secure funding. After all giving fair access would just be prejudicial to their standing and make them insolent to their betters.

    Only the well off are calling for prejudicial fees after all.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pay per MB or let the content-providers pay too

    Nothing is free of course and those "unlimited" data plans got us to the point that the mobile networks are saturated several hours every evening. I'd favour going back to the transparent pay-per-MB days but another alternative is the network operators charging their favourite content owners to subsidise consumer's access to their content (a bit like the mobile operators subsidise the price of their favourite phone handsets in the UK), creating a “net new” revenue stream of a cut of the content owners' value chain.

    Why not bring back an off-peak discount and try to move some of the load from 9pm to 1am?

  7. mafoo

    Transatlantic data

    At university, they capped the transatlantic data after their bill jumped up by millions after napster came out.

  8. Dekken

    Some people are more stupid(er) than others.

    ISPs are already performing some dubious activities, throttling torrents of copyrighted material or otherwise. Put them in the hands of a public body and be done with it, so that no one has more privelege than someone else. Anything else will stifle creativity and competition as no one will be able to afford to play with the big dogs.

  9. M Gale

    Oh joy.

    I don't use Facebook, I'm not stupid enough to attempt Youtube over a 3G connection, and I really, really don't want whatever crap is on the provider's network.

    Seems like we're going back to the Compuserve/AOL days of having "Online Service Providers" and not "Internet Service Providers". Fine, just so long as they don't try to sell it to me as Internet access, otherwise I might just have to mention something about trading standards to them.

    As so many people here have already said: BE. DUMB. PIPES. Really not interested in whatever else you have to offer...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    No no no!

    Just charge us what it costs, rather then trying to extract cash from third parties. Stop doing things which skew the market! How is the next fb contender going to compete if fb has preferential treatment on all the networks?

    As for porn blocking, you should see what goes through the mms channels...

    Paris *does* know!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course it would be telcos.

    You're already paying differently whether your voice call goes to a landline or a mobile. Or whether you're calling this country or another. The billing is coupled to the setting up of a circuit. Though they're nowadays entirely virtual and probably carried on top of IP to boot. So if it makes sense to bill based on outdated and almost entirely fictious notions of "circuits", then why wouldn't it make sense to bill based on packet destination, hm?

    For one because of how internet peering works, which is a bit different from how telcos do their thing. You could merge them. I for me find myself less and less willing to pay outrageous sums for something that I *know* costs the operator a very small fraction indeed of what I'm paying them. So I won't shed a tear if the operator finds itself reduced to a mere shipper of data.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    More walled garden carp, the cheeky b'stards; it won't work!

    Bandwidth is only an issue because the backbone is obviously inadequate and should have been upgraded decades ago, it maybe greed too; fibre already shows just how absurd the current speed limits are.

    Having a go at heavy users is a bit rich, given many video site users are implicitly heavy users too, especially HD video!

    This is about underinvestment in the backbone and complacency, given the only way that wall sites can be supported is by caching or some other form of localised hosting, however that already fails, due to the heavy use of AJAX on many sites now.

    EE are talking carp, this will not cut providers costs much, so the backbone has to be upgraded, so that throttling is not necessary, and BT have to price their big pipe costs at sensible prices!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Ye cannae beat the laws of Physics, cap'n

      "Bandwidth is only an issue because the backbone is obviosly inadequate"

      The problem here is not the backbone, it's the air interface, which is more limited and does have capacity constraints.

  13. illiad

    "There's a bee in my bot net" has it right...

    If you want a good service, you pay for it, by getting a great contract from your company...

    I think what many companies are doing, is protecting abuse of the system by the "something for nothing" brigade... to say nothing about the 'crazy downloaders' - the kind of misguided person who spends the *whole day* downloading a big bluray movie, when he could actually spend less by just going to the shop and buying it for £5!!!

    And then there are those think downloading a 300Mb distro using your mobile phone is ok... <shock horror> it only takes a few days, continuously... :P

  14. BioTube

    It's not that bad, people

    The article's about exempting certain kinds of traffic from datacaps, not about crippling anything. This is just a nice bonus for the people who don't shell out for unlimited plans. The asbestos one, please.

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