back to article Comcast exec says wired broadband customers should pay-as-they-go

US broadband customers should expect to be charged wireless-style fees for their wired internet access in the next few years, an executive from US broadband mega-giant Comcast has revealed. "I would predict that in five years Comcast at least would have a usage-based billing model rolled out across its footprint," Comcast …

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  1. Pete Spicer

    Didn't we move away from this nonsense years ago in the first place?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Go to Europe and see that not.

    2. Daggerchild Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Perversely, I thought metering was sane.

      Many, many moons ago, when I worked on ATM network capacity managment algorithms (before people stopped giving a crap and went UBR), and people first started getting 'unlimited' bandwidth, I couldn't help feeling that decoupling the people who caused the load from the people who felt the load might not end well...

      And now everyone has vast bandwidth spike capabilities they don't actually need, and congestion issues from spike collisions, and bufferbloat wyrdshyt from writhing elastic hosepipes, and DDoS armies of broadband bots that mean any small hosting business is now a blackmail waiting to happen.

      It doesn't matter which way you slice it, Netflix is a mahooosive pachyderms-per-second collossus, and if they somehow *aren't* paying loads of money to people to ship it, and someone else *is*, something's gone badly wrong somewhere.

      Maybe we could resurrect the IP QoS flags, since it looks like the traffic management tortoise is beginning to catch up to the infinite broadband bunny...

      1. An0n C0w4rd

        Re: Perversely, I thought metering was sane.

        @Daggerchild

        Netflix *is* paying for bandwidth. They pay their upstream to carry the data to an IXP, where it is handed off, most likely to the subscribers ISP.

        The subscriber then pays the ISP to carry it to their location.

        I fail to see where the problem is. Despite their claims to the contrary, the ISPs *are* being paid for carrying the traffic. I, as the consumer, pay my ISP to deliver the content I request. It is up to the ISP to charge enough to recover costs and to maintain/upgrade the network.

        What is happening here is anti-competitive behaviour, pure and simple. The big carriers (Comcast, Cox, BT, whomever) figure they can get paid at both ends of the deal - by the content generators and the content consumers. Then they can simply squeeze everyone else out of the market because they don't have the clout to negotiate those deals, so the cost to the consumer will be higher. Most consumers only look at their MRC, so they'll move to the ISPs that are having their cake and eating it too.

        1. cmaurand

          Re: Perversely, I thought metering was sane.

          Actually it's simple. I know quite a few people that have disconnected their cable for netflix and hulu plus. So the cable company is losing revenue (mainly because their prices are too high) and with netflix they don't have to watch commercials. So lot's of advertising revenue is lost, too. To that end the cable companies want to make up the loss of that revenue. They're cutting off their noses to spite their faces.

      2. Tom 13

        Re: Perversely, I thought metering was sane.

        Mostly agree except:

        I'm a Netflix customer. I'd actually prefer I was the one paying the ISP to transit the data. That way only Comcast has to take a profit cut for the data transit rather than Netflix also needing to get a cut. What I really don't want is me paying the ISP and then the ISP charging Netflix again so that I in turn have to pay Netflix more.

        Now, on the technical side I get that it makes a fair bit of sense for Netflix and the ISPs to cooperate with peering arrangements because its more efficient and cost effective to have some specialized piping in place to handle the load. I'm ok with that, just as long as there's no double dipping. At this point I'm satisfied the peering arrangements Netflix have arranged with Comcast and Verizon are business sensible, not gouging.

      3. John Sanders
        Flame

        Re: Perversely, I thought metering was sane.

        In this day an age it is sane if what you want is to pork.

        What? do you want to run servers at home, vpn connections, download large files, or watch streamed content?

        Pay lots!

        1. Ted Treen
          Unhappy

          Re: Perversely, I thought metering was sane.

          If Ben Franklin were alive today:-

          "There are only three things that are certain in life: death, taxes and being screwed by business"

      4. Someone Else Silver badge
        Coat

        @ Daggerchild -- Re: Perversely, I thought metering was sane.

        Dude-

        I've read amanfrommars1.

        I've deciphered amanfrommars1.

        I've argued with amanfrommars1.

        amanfrommars1 is a cohort of mine.

        And you, sir, are no amanfrommars1!

        1. RegGuy1

          Re: @ Daggerchild -- Perversely, I thought metering was sane.

          @ Someone Else

          And you sir must be amanfrommars1.

      5. Al Jones

        Re: Perversely, I thought metering was sane.

        Someone IS paying to ship Netflix's bits - the "eyeballs who are being charged $60 a month by Comcast to connect to their $8 a month Netflix account!

    3. Yes Me Silver badge

      Be careful what you ask for

      Um, it isn't coincidence that this comes after the recent news about network "neutrality" in the US. What else do you expect carriers to do if they aren't allowed to manage traffic rationally? Under capitalism, they will charge for it.

      As always, be careful what you ask for.

      (And I'm still not a shill for any carrier, as somebody suggested recently.)

    4. John Sanders
      Facepalm

      It is not nonsense...

      According to Cohen, the move is all about porking big time. "People who expect a normal use of the internet should pay more and more and people who use less should pay more," he said.

      1. Euripides Pants Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: It is not nonsense...

        "According to Cohen, the move is all about porking big time"

        Yep, you know if they're allowed to do this that they'll come up with rate plans that makes everyone pay more.

    5. Alan Brown Silver badge

      It's a telco mentality. Charge as much as you can, because you can.

  2. ben edwards

    300gb? For real? A long, long time ago, when Australia's Bigpond cable network installed its new plans (from unlimited to quota), the cap was 3gb for the month. That's not a typo. It's been a long time since I moved from Australia to California, so perhaps things have become a bit more reasonable. But I doubt it.

    I don't see something like 300gb coming from Comcast unless a healthy portion of users were actually hitting that close enough to make them pay more. Low-capacity users would have to be healthily below that, too. But given that on my phone alone I can pull down 15gb just via Apple, I have huge doubts.

    1. Richard Boyce
      FAIL

      Case matters

      "3gb for the month. That's not a typo."

      If you meant 3 gigabytes, you should've typed 3GB.

      A lower case b means bit and an upper case B means byte, which is 8 times as large.

      When it comes to prefixes, case matters there too. For example, m means milli and M means mega, which is a billion times as large.

      Sometimes when people make these mistakes, context rescues the situation. Not always.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. ben edwards

        Re: Case matters

        There's stuff all difference between 3GB, 3Gb, 3gb, and 3 gibbi bytes when you're talking about users who can swallow the entire amount (at any scale) within a day just by loading any webpage.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I have a UK Demon (Thus) Business Lite+ 1/16mbps ADSL - which has a 60gb per month cap in prime time. Traffic between about 23:00 and 08:00 is "unlimited". The alternative business plan is "unlimited" at any time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Forgive the cynical translation

        "People who use more should pay more and people who use less should pay less,"

        Translation: People should pay more.

  3. Number6

    Gouging

    If they'd actually spend the money to improve the network then perhaps it wouldn't be so bad. Some evenings it's not even possible to view a YouTube video in the Bay Area, and they charge much more than VirginMedia do in the UK for the same service. I am not that impressed with the Comcast service to date.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Gouging

      OTOH, if they charge for usage, these problems may be alleviated.

      With cable, there simply *are* problems.

      1. An0n C0w4rd

        Re: Gouging

        Cable has problems because the incumbents in the USA built their cable plants to broadcast TV, with high numbers of subscribers per node. As Internet (and other services such as Video On Demand, Set Top Boxes that do more than just decode encrypted broadcast signals, telephones, etc) became more popular this showed a problem - you can go from DOCSIS 1 to DOCSIS 2 to whatever the latest is and push more bits per MHz, but unless you go from 500 subscribers per node to 100 subscribers per node (or less), you're going to run out of bandwidth. Increasing the number of nodes is difficult because you have to run a ton of new fibre, and then rebalance the plant (which is easier said than done - HFC networks are twitchy)

        It's easier to blame Netflix than it is to fix the problem.

        The number of subscribers per node (and therefore are sharing the same spectrum allocation for their upstream and downstream) is always the weak point for cable. You can throw all the bandwidth into the head end or hub site you like, but it won't help. DSL is has an easier time of it because you can more easily increase the backhaul.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Gouging

          DSL is has an easier time of it because you can more easily increase the backhaul.

          DSL has its problems, too: namely switching offices. Even in a city (some would say especially in a city due to issues of existing infrastructure), distances that are just fine for POTS don't cut it for DSL (DSL can only go so far before the signal's too weak, and you can't go as the crow flies). For that, the only solution may just be a new switching office, which raises location and rewiring specters of their own.

          1. AndrueC Silver badge
            Go

            Re: Gouging

            For that, the only solution may just be a new switching office, which raises location and rewiring specters of their own.

            Ahem, FTTC. That's what is being rolled out across the UK at the moment. Admittedly there is a cost associated with it but it's better than building a new exchange as most of the cabling takes place in existing ducting. In the UK it's also being used as the stepping stone to FTTP with some areas (eventually all) being offered FTTPoD (FTTP on Demand - see bottom of that web article). If you're willing to pay BT will extend the fibre to your front door.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Gouging

              Ahem, not all phone companies have the means to switch from copper to fiber. About the only two in the US you hear about are Verizon (FiOS) and AT&T (uVerse). Some of the cable companies also take this approach with fiber to the node, allowing them to divide neighborhoods and such into smaller nodes that provide more bandwidth between them.

              Thing is, sometimes the problem isn't the last mile but rather a different mile: something in the backhaul. That's the kind of problem rural communities have: sorta like trying to connect two four-lane highways with a rickety one-lane bridge. PLUS there's the matter of linking up distant cities since any weak link along the line slows everything along it.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Gouging

              I would pay for fibre to the door, assuming the infrastructure was there to support it... although I would prefer to have synchronous i.e. 50/50 split of upstream/downstream rather than 20Mbs Down/1Mbs up I currently get...

              1. Tom 38 Silver badge

                Re: Gouging

                BT's best FTTP offering is 300Mbit down, 20 Mbit up for £60/month. 20Mbit is better than 1Mbit, but its a farce - there is no technological reason to not offer higher upload speed, BT just don't want you using more upload.

                My ISP, Hyperoptic, only does FTTP (you have to be in a building they cover, usually new build), and they only offer synchronous connections - 20Mbit (£12), 100Mbit (£25) and gigabit (£50), all synchronous. It's even framed as ethernet where it comes in to my property, BT's FTTP still does PPPoE.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Gouging

            You don't need a new switching office and haven't done for over 20 years.

            POTS concentrators are small enough to fit in a street cabinet. So are DSLAMS.

            After that alll you need is a fibre back to the Central office and the liberated copper pairs which used to run the distance can be sold off to help fund it. In some instance this might even be a profit centre.

        2. cmaurand

          Re: Gouging

          Of course, if they'd just deploy fiber to the curb, this wouldn't be an issue.

        3. Tom 13

          @ An0n C0w4rd Re: you have to run a ton of new fibre

          I see your argument. The weak spot is, they've already done that to get the high speed connections. When the cable companies were first running their stuff they were working with the existing copper cables and counting on the asymetrics to carry the day. I'll grant they may still have to install the nodes and rebalance the plant, but the cable is there. Or it should be there if they had the brain cells of even an alcoholic flea.

    2. Nextweek

      Re: Gouging

      Pay as you go fixes that problem for you.

      If people paid by the GB for the service, then it would be in the ISP's best interest to ensure everybody had a 1GB connection. You are more likely to use up bandwidth if you have a 1GB connection than if you have a flaky 16MB connection.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Gouging

        Actually, I've found the opposite. With my gigabit connection, my downloads go at 80+MB/s - thats megabytes, not bits - and as such, its very difficult to be constantly using my connection. 99% of the time these days, my connection is completely idle.

        I would say that yes, possibly I download a little bit more than before - not much though, the majority of my downloads are automated, and haven't changed in quality nor quantity.

        The main difference is that before my connection would have been utilised 20% of the time downloading things, now it is less than 1% of the time.

        Really bad analogy with lots of holes: if you upgrade from a car that can drive to the shops and back in an hour to a car that can drive around the world in an hour then you might drive a little bit more than before, but you're not going to spend your time doing laps of the equator for the lulz.

        You might however start going for coffee in Rome and the beach in Maui (think I've jumped the shark in this analogy now).

      2. Brian

        Re: Gouging

        Not necessarily true.. On pay as you go, it is in the best interest of the ISP to give you a slow congested network. A 1GB download over a congestion free 1GB/s pipe is going to be very efficient. A 1GB download over a slower congested connection is going to result in a lot of retransmits and a 1GB download is going to turn into a larger download quickly due to retransmits. On pay as you go, you're paying for bytes transferred, not speed.

    3. Johnr

      Re: Gouging

      You have that right . The Comcast feed is shared with your neighbors so during peak times 4- 11 pm my "Premium " service slows to a crawl . The sad part is there are no real alternatives if you are outside a major city like I am . The alternative here is Centurylink DSL which tops out at 20mbps

      1. Naughtyhorse

        Re: are no real alternatives

        maybe you could all, i dunno, vote differently?

        (that would fix a whole bunch of other problems too!)

      2. roger stillick
        WTF?

        Re: Gouging = Centurylink DSL, a different horse...

        Centurylink DSL is pretty much fiber to the node in rural areas (aerial fiber)= the cost for them is cheaper than copper cable and bandwidth is not a problem... OC3-150Mbs to OC48-2400Mbs on the Backbone to the Office where Cisco Internet switches take OC-3 inputs and switch to Dual OC-12 redundant Internet Gateway links...

        IMHO= Comcast Cable is nothing like Centurylink, everyone shares the same big pot of Bandwidth, and when lots of folks use it, the pot fills up quickly (they have an insane fast speed and no where to go if others use up the big party line)...RS.

    4. Naughtyhorse

      Re: Gouging

      Then i suggest you brace yourself....

  4. King Jack

    The US, killing the internet 1 bit at a time.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Tom 38 Silver badge
      Joke

      It would be more efficient if they used a larger block size.

  5. Nate Amsden

    aren't they doing this already?

    I thought comcast was doing this for years already - something like a 250GB cap and you pay for usage beyond that. My cable ISP (serves my town only) has by default a 350GB cap and $0.25 per GB beyond that. Which seems really reasonable. AT&T wireless charges me $10/GB to go over my 5GB/mo cap on data that seems reasonable too(which is basically zero penalty for going over the cap the $/GB price doesn't change vs the base plan allocation). With my current cable ISP there does seem to be a ~50% penalty per GB for going over the base plan. But still the cost is fine, they have a couple higher tier options with higher caps too.

    I had comcast a few years ago and had the 250GB cap I don't recall what overage charges were if any at the time I never came close to the limit(I think closest I got was maybe 20-30%)

    1. Ole Juul

      Re: aren't they doing this already?

      Of course they are. We pay for a certain amount of data and are charged more if we go over. Comcast is just trying to screw their customers.

      "And if Netflix doesn't bear its share of those costs to connect to the network then we have no choice but to raise prices for everyone else," Cohen said. "And ... why should two-thirds of the people who never use Netflix pay for the cost for Netflix to attach to our network? It doesn't make any sense."

      This guy is either exceedingly stupid, or thinks that everyone else is. Possibly both.

    2. adear11

      Re: aren't they doing this already?

      Yes they are doing this already.

      Currently, Comcast has a 300GB/month limit. If you go over this they start adding additional 50GB blocks to your account at $10/50GB ($0.20/GB) which doesn't seem like such a bad price. Also, for now, they give you two 50GB blocks per 12 month period for free. They don't charge you for the overage until you go over a third time in 12 months.

  6. Justin Pasher

    So... cheaper for some?

    'According to Cohen, the move is all about fairness. 'People who use more should pay more and people who use less should pay less,' he said.'

    So given your example, people that use less than the 300GB get a discount right? Oh, that's right. The base price would include up to 300GB for everyone at the same price, regardless of what percentage of people are using a lot less than that. Almost sounds like a redistribution of the wealth.

    1. Nate Amsden

      Re: So... cheaper for some?

      it looks like they will have plans with lower caps, or at least will test them out

      http://customer.comcast.com/help-and-support/internet/exp-fdo-data-plan

      The terms are a bit strange but it sounds like they are still messing around.

      My local cable ISP has plans going down to 25GB (@1.5Mbs) for $20/mo. My plan is the basic 350GB (@16Mbps) for $42/mo.

  7. Tsunamijuan

    And the floodgates open

    I think we are spiraling back in time with this current BS. The reason that there are so many US companies and businesses that are built around net services is cause its costly to provide code and servers. While the telecom systems have for a longtime been the backbone of this.

    What it comes down to is they are unhappy that they are taking a second seat to the real profit and are attempting to find anyway possible to get a large cut of the pie. The thing is that these are companies in the first place that are monopolies. They provide a sub par service cause they have pushed their competition out of the game due to political influence. Or because their size is so big to begin with they can just buy out competition to lower the overall standard.

    If this keeps up its going to be similar to what it seems a large portion of EU countries have when it comes too Connectivity. Super high fees and charges and reduced connectivity and use because of that. Which in turn will greatly effect and lower the usage of online services. Which will hurt the entire US based connect IT business model. If you raise your prices like they are. While offering such a low level of service (which in most places outside of big cities they are) . Then People are going to start doing without these services.

  8. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Common Carrier will nip this in the bud.

    Reclassifying the Internet as a Public Utility will then force companies like AT&T, Comcast, & Verizon to actually start being competitive for a change. If the only part of the network they provide is the "Last Mile" (utility pole to home), then the communities can roll out their own high capacity infrastructure, and the ISP has to compete on price/services/quality.

    If Comcast tries to throttle bandwidth to a level we last experienced back in the 80's & 90's, then we can simply call up a different ISP that covers the area, & vote with our wallets. As it is now, my choices are AT&T's "DSL" over POTS copper that was installed in the late 1950's & never upgraded, Comcast cable, or Verizon's cellular. AT&T and Verizon claim "full coverage" in the area, but my friends with AT&T report crappy call quality, and I can personally attest to Verizon being unable to deliver a signal strength of more than 2 out of 5 bars on a *GOOD* day. So my "choice" is Comcast, because the AT&T owned copper is too old to support DSL, which means *nobody else* can provide it either, without paying AT&T to get their heads out of their ass. Wireless internet *might* be acceptable *IF* the coverage gave a high grade, good quality, stable signal to pull from, but as it is, that's not happening. Or I can pay Comcast even MORE money a month to fix their damned cable so it provides the full 3Mbps I'm paying for, instead of barely managing ~400Kbps on a *GREAT* day.

    Fuck Comcast. Make the Internet a Public Utility, reclassify the ISP as Common Carrier, and let the competition begin.

    The only ones it'll hurt are the *opolies that currently strangle us for every fucking penny.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Common Carrier will nip this in the bud.

      You assume the problem is that the carriers are cornering the last mile. For many places, especially in the sticks, communities couldn't give away the last mile because there was still the matter of connecting the last mile with the first mile...which at the time wasn't built, either. Many of the sweetheart deals were the only way to get better-than-dialup to these places at all.

    2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: Common Carrier will nip this in the bud.

      "public utility" and "competitive"??? Sorry, those are mutually exclusive. What we have now with Crudcast and the like is a government-enforced monopoly. IOW: they didn't become a monopoly through market forces (or market manipulation if you're Microsoft) but rather through buying off or bribing commulity governments to grant some particular company an exclusive deal, blocking out competitors. You want to see true competition, you need to open up local cable service to multiple providers; it should have been done 25-30 years ago.

  9. M Gale

    "People who use more should pay more and people who use less should pay less"

    Because there's only so many bits you can suck from the Lakes before they run out, and we might have passed Peak Megabyte a few years ago, so they're having to get into desperate measures such as disk-fracking and exploitation of Alaska's hidden porn reserves?

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      "People who use more should pay more and people who use less should pay less". I can see your point, sort of. But where I live I have no "cap", a router, some four computers and I pay about 25e a month with a decent speed, cnet gave me 8700 kbps, and that is not exactly local, good enough for any damned video. So now, will a ISP actually gain anything by starting to monitor every (damned) customers usage. How many persons do they have to employ just for this silly task. Some use more some less. The amount of steps you are taking on the street are not monitored (perhaps) either, nor are obese people charged more on the tube.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        "The amount of steps you are taking on the street are not monitored (perhaps) either, nor are obese people charged more on the tube."

        The tube doesn't do that because they charge by distance traveled: just another way to meter. And airlines WILL charge you for a second seat if you're too fat to fit in one.

    2. Euripides Pants Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: disk-fracking and exploitation of Alaska's hidden porn reserves

      Wish I could upvote that more than once.

  10. mike acker

    Cohen is right

    Cohen is right on each point.

    it doesn't make sense for average users to foot the bill for every high-volume video enthusiast.

    I would dearly love to see the national cable plant changed to fiber optics with speed in the 100GB range so that we could exchange video like we do jpegs .

    but that's down the road a piece. things will all be different before we get there .

  11. Old Handle

    I don't like it either, but there's no denying that a pay for what you use system is basically fair.

    1. M Gale

      No, it really isn't.

      Not unless you can show me how we're going to run out of Megabytes some time in the 2050s and desperately need to turn to green sources of pornography and lolcats.

      The only limit to the pipes is how many bytes you can cram down them per second. There is no limit to the number of bytes total. Therefore, pay-as-you-go is a monumentally stupid idea.

      Paying per unit of an infinite resource. Really?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No, it really isn't.

        Because some things require a minimum rate for it to be practical. It's rather like trying to inflate a bicycle tire by mouth; you can't emit the required pressure to complete the task.

      2. dan1980

        Re: No, it really isn't.

        @M Gale,

        There is a simple way in which paying for the amount of data you transfer (download/upload) can have an impact on network speeds.

        The way it works, is that if you have no limits, there are no penalties for not downloading all the time. You can have multiple people streaming multiple HD movies while operating a VoIP link and any number of other intensive tasks.

        So what happens if everyone is doing the same?

        What a download cap does is make people more judicious about what they are downloading, effectively reducing the downloads. Once this is averaged out, the end result is that at any given time, there is less simultaneous usage and thus more available bandwidth.

        None of that is to say that this is the right option or that the ISPs haven't brought this upon themselves though lack of investment in the infrastructure, just that the line of reasoning you are using to argue against it is not 100% accurate.

        Personally, as someone who has had to deal with download limits forever (in Australia) I can't help feeling that some of the outrage is a bit over-the-top.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: Once this is averaged out

          It will help, but it's not a magic bullet. (note that above I have supported the concept).

          The problem at least here in the US is that we're turning off the LSM in favor of personalized entertainment. That entertainment is being pushed down the interweb pipes. While you can get some download shifting, you're still going to see loads peaking during certain time periods while it is wide open at others. So some infrastructure improvements are still required.

          What the limits will eliminate or at least majorly reign in are the 2% who as you've noted are downloading everything they can simply because they can and not because they use it.

        2. TechnicalBen Silver badge

          Re: No, it really isn't.

          My ISP actually manages their network bandwidth via having a CAP. They sell their monthly subs with various caps, which let's them know which customers are likely to want constant downloads at higher bandwidth. From this they purchase/rent out the back bones to keep the bandwidth up. When subscriptions reduce or move over to the lower capped products, they reduce the bandwidth they rent (though this is mostly virtual switching).

          So yes, pay as you go can have an effect. It's all a bit of benefits and drawbacks mind.

        3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: No, it really isn't.

          > What a download cap does is make people more judicious about what they are downloading,

          > effectively reducing the downloads. Once this is averaged out, the end result is that

          > at any given time, there is less simultaneous usage and thus more available bandwidth.

          This will only work if you force online gaming companies and operating system makers to STOP depending on those big fat unlimited pipes. If MS or Apple will only provide OS upgrades over the wire, then you'll end up having to chose between installing security fixes *OR* checling your email. When you install your latest MMORPG, you will end up having to wait a month intil you can play it, since you will have used up your data cap just INSTALLING it.

          Certainly, pay for what you use may be fair, but as I said, you are going to have to start smaking the likes of MS and Blizzard up side the head with a lot of large cluebats to make them re-evaluate their distribution method.

      3. Terry Barnes

        Re: No, it really isn't.

        "The only limit to the pipes is how many bytes you can cram down them per second. There is no limit to the number of bytes total. Therefore, pay-as-you-go is a monumentally stupid idea."

        Er, what? Your ISP has to buy kit and bandwidth and the more the network is utilised, the greater the spend required on those things. A greater proportion of that spend is incurred by serving high usage customers than low usage customers.

        "Paying per unit of an infinite resource. Really?"

        It's not infinite, is it? The resource is limited to the amount of bandwidth the ISP has the capacity to handle. Would you make a similar argument that RAM for your computer should be free because there's a theoretically infinite amount of bits in the world?

    2. Hagglefoot
      Thumb Down

      Voices from the Crystal Towers Speaking again...

      If that is the case why is the car industry not doing it already. But that aside, fine, charge pay as you go and then cross charge the advertising as well as an offset, if you wish to use my bandwidth for advertising you can to pay for the privilege. Get back in your bean counting box Cohen as ever your type always look to stripe by involuntary contract people who you believe have some form of dependency.

  12. ashdav
    WTF?

    Corporate Speak

    "variablized "

    Do not trust anyone who makes up words.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I believe Cohen will be unemployed in the near future. So Comcast is trying to make a case for them buying Time Warner Cable and this fool opens his mouth and inserts both feet. His words were all the reason why regulators should tell Comcast no on buying TW.

  14. 404 Silver badge

    Bunch of bastards at Comcast

    I was *just* bitching about them a few hours ago while recording video streams on my laptop, well attempting to anyway, from the office. Hulu and Amazon Prime was shiite while Netflix worked flawlessly... then I remembered the BS Comcast was doing...

    Anyway while I have the largest pipe (giggity) Comcast has to offer for small business (5mb/up 22mb/dn), streaming video is pretty much crap from anyone except Netflix or Comcast themselves, yet at home with an Exede Satellite 15GB/month data cap, I can stream whatever from whomever.

    I don't know where I was going with this. I'm tired, been a long day, and I'm hoping the Dell Precision workstation I was working on this afternoon bursts into flames overnight from stress testing. How about that?

    Ya'll have a great evening.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Bunch of bastards at Comcast

      "Anyway while I have the largest pipe (giggity) Comcast has to offer for small business (5mb/up 22mb/dn), "

      I have 80/20 - and I get that bandwidth. USA users are so hobbled by the lack of effective competition it's not funny. You lot are falling down the world league tables to third world status yet doing nothing about it.

      1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: Bunch of bastards at Comcast

        > You lot are falling down the world league tables to third world status yet doing nothing about it.

        No' we're watching the latest exploits of Snooki and Honey Boo-Boo, along with other similarly intellectual pursuits. Oh, and also (still) buying Justin Blahblah records.

  15. cyke1

    Lets say what this really is about

    Less people paying for tv channels and more going to online options like netflix and this is a way for comcrap to get a piece of that pie.

    1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      Re: Lets say what this really is about

      ^ This.

      TV as we know it is going through a massive upheaval. Netflix was one of the first to disrupt the old guard of broadcast TV.

      In 5-10 years' time, many TV broadcasters will be staggering against the ropes and ready to collapse, while the few who saw the writing on the wall (e.g. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, the BBC*, etc.) will have made the shift to Internet-based distribution.

      * (No, seriously: Look closely at what they've been doing with their 'iPlayer' technology. And their recent announcement about their "BBC 3" channel going online-only is likely to be the first of many over the next few years. The only issue is how it'll all be funded in future, but there are all sorts of options for that too.)

  16. td97402

    Comcast Bites!!

    As usual the corporate mouthpiece at Comcast is full of it. I pay Comcast for access to the internet. I want to watch a show on CBS.COM or some videos on YouTube. Why would I be paying Comcast a dime if it weren't for the content that NetFlix, Your Tube and thousands of other sites provide. Why should Comcast then expect to also charge NetFlix for access to the Comcast network? Because they think they can get away with it. If the big, popular content providers shut down access then Comcast would change their tune in a hurry. Unfortunately people like Google (YouTube) broke ranks a few years ago and started paying for connections/servers within ISPs local networks.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Comcast Bites!!

      Google did that because most of the YouTube content flows through their (completely) private net. The public-private interface is the thing Google negotiates so ISPs only have to worry about the part that flows over their own pipes and not having to worry about backhaul.

  17. Uncle Ron

    Extreme Price Gouging, Extreme Nonsense

    If this is allowed to happen it will be the biggest consumer rip-off in American history. "According to Cohen, the move is all about fairness. "People who use more should pay more and people who use less should pay less," he said."

    This is complete nonsense, a complete lie, and a complete price gouge by a classic monopolist.

    Internet usage is NOT like groceries or gasoline or electricity. Multiple credible studies have shown that the incremental cost of delivering internet service is almost nothing. The basic monthly fee for internet service covers all the cheap commodity hardware and cables and all the rest, so what it -costs- Comcast to deliver a Gigabit above some cap is very relevant. It is less than a penny per Gigabit. Yet the pricing Comcast has published, but "suspended" is at LEAST 250% of that--UNBELIEVABLE--FOR A MONOPOLY!!!

    They feel they can get away with this because the internet is "different" than cable TV was. No cable company EVER charged consumers for "how much" they watched TV, but somehow feel they can get away with this. It will be more profitable than anything these monopolists have -ever- done before.

    If America falls asleep and lets this happen, it is the end of the internet in America.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Extreme Price Gouging, Extreme Nonsense

      They feel they can get away with this because the internet is "different" than cable TV was. No cable company EVER charged consumers for "how much" they watched TV, but somehow feel they can get away with this. It will be more profitable than anything these monopolists have -ever- done before.

      That's because, until now, the content was never personalized. It was broadcast, in the sense that the same streams were sent to everyone, even in the digital age. Right now, television is trying to negotiate the tradeoff point: what streams should be broadcast vs. unicast. Broadcast is more efficient if lots of people are watching it because you only need to send one stream for all of them while unicast works out for less-watched content because it's not always being watched so you can swich the allocation to something else as the need calls for it.

      1. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: Extreme Price Gouging, Extreme Nonsense

        > until now, the content was never personalized.

        ^ This. Though "personalisation" is mostly "destination IP and time of consumption."

        The problem is that everyone is desparately trying to centralise personal services instead of broadcasting and personalising at the consumer end. We can mostly blame the desire for DRM for that.

        There's little technical reason not to have an STB which torrents content off-peak and then streams it locally. But no, they have to stream it directly from their servers, which brings up latency and peak-time bandwidth problems.

        I go the broadcast route - Silicondust tuners with ethernet-out going to MythTV for local streaming. If Oz TV got with the programme and broadcast something other than mpeg2, the content could go straight to tablets as well as laptops. As it is, all the customisation for my TV viewing goes on locally, offloading from the ISP network and the provider. That seems like the proper way to do it.

  18. Levente Szileszky

    Right after we made sure we have REAL COMPETITION...

    ...so we can fight off rotten monopolistic scumbags like you, Comcast.

  19. tempemeaty
    Big Brother

    I'm not buying VP David Cohen's claims

    I believe this is just more American Corporate shenanigans to raise the price to optimum cock-bag levels. I hope Google introduces internet services to all the same cities and takes Comcast's business away from them.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ilMx7k7mso

  20. unitron
    Boffin

    "You keep using that word"

    Last time I checked, bandwidth was an instantaneous measurement, i,e, maximum usable frequency range.

    Does the power company talk about limiting customers to 120 or 240 Volts per month?

    1. Terry Barnes

      Re: "You keep using that word"

      "Does the power company talk about limiting customers to 120 or 240 Volts per month?"

      No, but they might increase your bill if you exceed an agreed KWh envelope.

      Amps and volts are instantaneous measurements, but they can be used to determine the amount of the resource that have been used.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Comcast has problems

    Aside from the fact that Comcast is raking in windfall fortunes from bad service to customers they have a little known anti-spam software program that illegally blocks legitimate international e-mail. State and Federal authorities in the U.S. have begun to investigate the illegal blockage of customer e-mails for both businesses and individuals. Comcast has stated repeatedly that "it is their policy to block legitimate e-mail whenever they feel like it without notice or reason". Thus it looks like massive fines and new legislation will be required to correct Comcast's outrageous customer abuse and violations of law domestically and internationally.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cable Internet is a false economy.

    It cost the cable company 9 USD per month to provide service no matter the speed. The cost of network upgrades are paid for less then 3 years at that rate. Most cable companies don't expand their networks because it is easier to over subscribe and they need to pay their shareholders.

    Cable companies were given options for Netflix to hook directly into their LANs. This would of cost them nothing. The bandwidth is physically property of the network. It doesn't change if it gets used or not. The real issue is Netflix competes with cable TV. Only reason Netflix is being charged for bandwidth.

    The only way to change this is to have local cities/franchise authorities increase competition. Not the fake competition between Baby Bells and Cable TV. Where cable TV only sells phone service to get the the access charge and lets the Baby Bells have the business services.

  23. PAT MCCLUNG

    Charging for traffic use makes sense.

    Charging for bandwidth trafic use makes a lot of sense. You pay for the electricity you use, don't you? Also, this would generate a lot of consumer awareness of and resistance toward all the crap sent to them on the internet that they do not want to receive, and tracking data coming back from their access devices that they do not want sent. Scaling down the bandwidth charges in low volume time periods makes good sense, also. Download content to watch tomorrow while sleeping.

    1. Mikel

      Re: Charging for traffic use makes sense.

      The proposed rates go as high as $1/GB. The margins on that must be astounding.

  24. Florida1920
    Coat

    Here's what Comcast is saying as of 8 April:

    We'll be launching multiple trial approaches, and here is an overview:

    In the Nashville, Tennessee, market, we will increase our data usage allowance for all tiers to 300 GB per month and also offer additional gigabytes in increments/blocks (e.g., $10 per 50 GB).

    In the Tucson, Arizona, market, we will increase our data usage allowance for XFINITY Internet customers subscribing to the Economy tier through the Performance tier from 250 GB to 300 GB. In addition, those customers subscribed to the Blast! tier will receive an increase to 350 GB, those subscribed to Extreme 50 will be increased to 450 GB, and those subscribed to Extreme 105 will be increased to 600 GB (see table below).

    XFINITY Internet Package New Data Usage Allowance

    Economy 300 GB

    Economy Plus 300 GB

    Internet Essentials 300 GB

    Performance Starter 300 GB

    Performance 300 GB

    Blast! 350 GB

    Extreme 50 450 GB

    Extreme 105 600 GB

    In the Fresno, California, market, we will begin trialing a Flexible-Data Option specifically designed for casual or light Internet users who typically use 5 GB of data or less a month. This option will be available only to Economy Plus customers and will provide a $5 credit if a customer’s total monthly data usage is less than or equal to 5 GB per month. However, if a customer that chooses this option uses more than 5 GB of data in any given month, then she will not receive the $5 credit, and will be charged an additional $1 for each gigabyte of data used over the 5 GB included in the Flexible-Data Option.

    In Huntsville and Mobile, AL; Atlanta; Augusta and Savannah, GA; Central Kentucky; Maine; Jackson, MS; Knoxville and Memphis, TN; and Charleston, SC we have begin a trial which will increase our data usage allowance for all XFINITY Internet tiers to 300 GB per month and also offer additional gigabytes in increments/blocks (e.g., $10 per 50 GB). During this trial, XFINITY Internet Economy Plus customers in these markets can choose to enroll in the Flexible-Data Option which will modify their data usage allowance from 300 GB to 5 GB, and provide a $5 credit if their total monthly data usage is less than or equal to 5 GB per month. If customers choose this option and uses more than 5 GB of data in any given month, then they will not receive the $5 credit and will be charged an additional $1 for each gigabyte of data used over the 5 GB included in the Flexible-Data Option.

    We believe that the approach we are taking with our data trials is fair because it means those who use more pay more and those who use less can now pay less.

    https://customer.comcast.com/help-and-support/internet/data-usage-what-are-the-different-plans-launching/

    The one with the cap in the pocket.

    1. Al Jones

      Re: Here's what Comcast is saying as of 8 April:

      So you can save $5 by going from a 300GB cap to a 5GB cap which means that Comcast are only putting a value of 1.7c on those GB, but if you go over 5GB, you'll be charged $1 per GB.

      Nice margins, if you can get them!

      Only a tiny fraction of an end users bill pays for actual bandwidth - a user downloading 250GB a month doesn't cost Comcast $10 more to service than a user downloading 5GB a month. Even if the average user went from say 50GB a month to 150GB a month, Comcast's actual costs wouldn't increase by $10 per user per month.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There are complications.

    Firstly we have "the tragedy of the commons" - a free for all situation inevitably results in some users taking advantage. In 1997 I ditched a web host because performance had ground to a virtual halt. The reason was that they provided an "unlimited" service. One of the sysadmins leaked the information that one of their customers was running a porn site (which included images which would be deemed illegal in UK), demand for which was swamping the resource. The view of many members of the user forum of the hosting service was that they'd rather have a virtually unusable service than countenance a cap. My view was that if visitors couldn't access my web site (it could take several minutes to load a page) then I wasn't getting what I was paying for. I moved to a different host. I'm quite used to the concept of paying for what I use, I can't find an electricity provider that will give me uncapped usage or a supermarket that provides all the food I can use for a flat monthly fee, why should bandwidth be any different? Mobile phone internet bandwidth is commonly charged by usage or is on very expensive contract rates, why should land-line broadband not be treated in a similar manner?

    Secondly we have the issue of broadcast vs broadband. It's reported that about 50% of bandwith in the US is for Netflix & YouTube. That means an end to end connection from the host to to each end-user. Broadcast TV is so much more efficient. The signal is transmitted once and virtually the entire nation can choose to watch. One problem used to be that you had to watch as it was being broadcast but the PVR went a long way to solving that one. Now the main disadvantage of broadcast is the continual interruptions by adverts, in the UK that's not too bad, none on BBC and with commercial services the PVR gives the opportunity to fast forward the ads but I understand the situation in the USA is a lot worse. Even DVD can be a PITA, many include difficult to skip trailers and anti-piracy notices. Broadcasters and DVD producers need to address those issues or die. On the other hand I'm finding the ads on YouTube annoying too (plus the issue of zero quality control over content).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I hate the incorrect piracy warnings on DVD/BlueRay

      they pretty much always quote the US copyright laws, NOT UK ones, and even then they imply that simply copying the video even for your own usage , would get you a jail term (which it will not, because its not a criminal offence!), the arguments against Bootleg DVD's does not hold up against downloading films, torrents do not help fund organised crime...

      If companies want to stop people from downloading without paying, they need to stop with the DRM, cut the prices, and give consumers what they want.

      When the free illegitimate route is the best route, something is wrong with industry.

      Before if you brought a bootleg film, it was often lower quality, and you had to go to somewhere you knew was selling them, and risk committing the offence of receiving counterfeit goods.

      Now you can download perfect quality at home, and unless you make the copy and share widely, in the UK at least, you commit no crime, just a minor civil offence which would likely be thrown out of court.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I hate the incorrect piracy warnings on DVD/BlueRay

        You're dreaming. Illegal use, copy or reproduction of copyright protected material is a crime. Yes in some places you are allowed to make a back-up copy of some materials but you can't use more than one copy at an time and you can't give your copy to someone else to use. Japan has the right approach to piracy with a mandatory 2 year minimum prison sentence and fine.

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: I hate the incorrect piracy warnings on DVD/BlueRay

          Criminal copyright infringement is already criminal. There is such a thing as non-criminal copyright infringement, which, unsurprisingly, is not criminal.

  26. steve 124

    doesn't surprise me a bit

    Comcast, thinking of new ways to gouge me and their other customers? Really? If they implement this it will be the final straw and I'll drop back to DSL. They seem to think we all forgot you can still receive over 30 channels QAM over the air with an antenna plus there's always streaming and DL sites, so if they think this level of double billing will be tolerated they are mistaken.

    Heaven help us if they merge with Time/Warner. Too bad the FCC/FTC isn't doing their job keeping this monster under control.

  27. earl grey Silver badge
    Flame

    comcast always rates as the worst

    Hold up any mergers or changes until

    (1) they get out of the review basement

    (2) they divest themselves of content

    (3) they schedule upgrades to their network

    (4) they drop the idea of limits

    (5) they guarantee to open internet

  28. Mikel

    What he means

    In five years he foresees Comcast grovelling in the street begging people to come back from Google Fiber.

  29. Rick Giles
    Pirate

    The answer is really quite simple...

    [I posted this elsewhere on El Reg, however, it still applies.]

    Everyone needs to cancel their internet service for 3 months. And cancel or put on hold things like Netflix and TiVo's that get there updates over the 'net.

    Go to the theater.

    Go to the library.

    Go to a park.

    Meet people the old fashioned way.

    Build a wireless mesh network.

  30. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Remind me again: who was it paid for the national coms infrastructure in the first place?

    And has Comcast ever availed itself of a tax-break in order to establish its services?

    And has Comcast ever been given taxpayer-funded government assistance to enable it to grow it's business?

  31. Graham 25

    The problem is not Netflix, or an upstream competition issue.

    its the lack of consumer choice for the supplier of the connectivity to the home. If Comcast had real competition by say, five or six effective alternatives like in a lot of the rest of the developed world, then they would STFU and concentrate on being more competitive rather than figuring out how they can screw the customer who has no choice.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2014/04/04/299060527/episode-529-the-last-mile

    America gets what it wants and deserves for that choice.

  32. JimBob01

    Paying for what you use is perfectly fair...

    Delivering what you claim to be selling is also fair.

    How about a PAYG scheme that mirrors domestic energy supply? I don't have to decide how much electricity or gas to buy in advance for a month, I just pay for what I actually used. Capping is just metering arranged to the detriment of the user - who will inevitably over-pay to avoid being 'cut off'.

    A scheme fair for the consumer would be that they pay 95th percentile of actual bandwidth over a month (another way of defining data). Allow the customer to set a bandwidth cap if they want and/or allow the customer to pre-pay (at a small discount) if they so desire. Strangly, this is how we pay for access at our co-location.

    The whole Comcast/Netflix smokescreen is such bollocks. Netflix pays for its bandwidth, customers pay for their bandwidth so the transport cost end-2-end would appear to have been paid. If an ISP over-sells it available bandwidth and then finds people actual want to use what they paid for then the blame lies entirely at the feet of that ISP. Time for a class action?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "why should two-thirds of the people who never use Netflix pay for the cost for Netflix to attach to our network?"

    Yes, because I'm sure the third of traffic which is Netflix is all people who only use Netflix and nothing else. Impossible that the majority of their customers use Netflix a third of the time.

  34. Truth4u

    what to do with my FTTC connection when I'm not home

    I tried running a web crawler but it only saturates the line once in a while then spends a long time hovering in the sub 25mbit region with long periods of 0. It managed 32GB usage in a day but now that it's seen all the 'easy' web pages, I probably won't get 32GB tomorrow. But I can try.

    I have one of the most expensive ISPs they claim not to care how much I use and I am going to test that claim.

  35. Dylan Fahey

    It's always about screwing the customer...

    It's always about screwing the customer, always.

  36. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    No more bloated online games then

    If this starts happening, then all the MMORPGs, etc are going to have to stop requiring users to download the entire game, and will have to start selling DVDs of their games with the bulk of the code installable from those disks. You know, they way games **used** to be distributed before the internet. Look at somehing lke World of Warcraft, which requres a 20GB-plus download just to play it. And you can't even pre-download the install on another machine; you have to DL it for EVERY machine you play it on. Either that or people will just have to STOP playing MMORPGs, and go back to Tetris loaded from a CD.

    The same thing will go for OS fixpacks and upgrades as well; no more expecting everyone to download gigabytes of code on each and every machine; those companies will have to revert to selling DVDs with the updates, or face people no longer updating security fixes or buying new releases.

  37. a420bowlkilla

    The solution is obvious. COMPETITION !!! I'm so glad I live in a city that has at least two ISPs. Some unfortunate souls have no choice. It's COMCRAP for $100+ or no internet.

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