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[ NNSquad ] Re: Do the Happy Dance people...

I see your point, but I think you're ignoring the larger issue. Broadband carriers have never built their networks to support 24x7 constant traffic from each subscriber. And that's good, because if they had we wouldn't be able to afford broadband at home. Rather, they've built networks with a balance of capacity and cost that enable them to be marketed attractively. They're clearly made the assumption that 24x7 constant traffic wasn't going to be part of the picture.

So the question you're raising is whether that assumption has been communicated adequately to their customers and prospective customers. You argue that this assumption wasn't adequately communicated because it's not there in plain language in the TOS. Instead of saying "we don't allow constant traffic," the Broadband Service Providers have simply banned the most common means of putting constant traffic on their most constrained link, the upstream by banning servers. It's not that big a deal for a BSP how much you download, because it's always trivially easy to manage downstream traffic, it's the upstream that runs out first. So having banned the only practical means of exceeding the network's design assumption, was there any need to say "and we don't like any other program that eats tons of bandwidth that may exist in the future?" Probably not, it would be redundant.

There wasn't any text in the TOS's about P2P until recently, because it wasn't that common until recently. And we know that every restriction that is enumerated in the TOS is met with crticism, much of it rabid, even if it's a common sense restriction. Look at the reaction to the Comcast 250GB cap. For years, Comcast has had a cap on its residential service. They've identified super-heavy users and told them to knock it off. And they've canceled service to the recalcitrant. But they didn't publish a number before they were ordered to do so by the courts. And having published a number, they're no being bashed for having a cap. So they can't win.

What you guys should have learned from your FCC exercise is to be careful what you wish for. You blasted Comcast for P2P traffic-shaping (by a crude but effective means that violates naive "envelope" theories) and as a result you're getting bandwidth caps and metered pricing. Caps and metering are "neutral" so you can't complain about their use. And they're going to be explicit, you so can't complain about disclosure. So you're screwed: the FCC has given you what you demanded and now we're all worse off than we were before.

With friends like these, P2P doesn't need enemies.


Lauren Weinstein wrote:
Richard, I clearly noted that restrictions on servers (though I
should note not always enforced) and "interference" (however
nebulously defined internally) are common. But I've read every
single damn TOS of every Internet service I've ever had or have.
T1s, DSLs, Cable, the whole bunch. None of them ever stated any
limit on transferred data amounts (presumably absent activating
the unspoken "interference" parameters).

No limit == Unlimited

Look it up.


If what you're saying is true, Lauren ( "It's absolutely clear that the generally understood meaning of "unlimited" in the context of residential broadband service -- and earlier promotional statements by both cable and DSL providers made this utterly obvious -- was that you could send or receive as much data as you wished for your monthly fee.") then it should be absolutely easy to find a whole raft of TOSs that say "we don't care how much traffic you put on our network - run servers, an open access point, a home gateway, or a spambot, we don't care! Use as much as you like! Please!

In fact no residential broadband service has ever been sold in America or anywhere else that didn't have significant restrictions on traffic and usage.

*We all know that* and nobody's fooled by claims to the contrary.


Richard Bennett wrote:
The fact remains that "unlimited" in the context of Internet access has generally been understood to mean simply that there are no connection-time charges. At one time, people accessed their ISPs over dial-up connections, which were typically charged on connection time. AT&T phased out connection-time charges when they realized that such charges added to resource congestion. as they encouraged people to disconnect during non-peak periods.

DSL and cable have been free of connection-time charges because they're "always on" services. But it's misleading to say that there haven't always been other limits on these services: go read any TOS for any DSL or Cable Internet service from anyone at any time: you can't run servers, you can't consume excessive resources. you can't spam, etc, etc, etc.

This is reality: residential broadband is inexpensive relative to business broadband because it's a shared service with no guaranteed CIR. That means the service is over-sold by design. Go price non-oversold services, and you'll find your best deal is $400/mo for 1.5 Mb/s symmetrical T1. Compare that to $60/mo for 16/2 Mb/s from Comcast. What's the magic? Low duty cycle sharing. And it's a good thing, because it allows millions of people to get fast service for low prices.

A mailing list that's supposed to be about holding ISPs feet to the fire shouldn't engage in willful ignorance.


  [ This is becoming positively Kafkaesque.  Brett claims that
    "unlimited" simply meant "not limiting the sort of content that
    you send or receive."  Richard says it meant "no metered
    connection time charges" -- though such charges have largely
    been little seen for years.  Spinning like the twister that
    took Dorothy to Oz.

    It's absolutely clear that the generally understood meaning of
    "unlimited" in the context of residential broadband service -- and
    earlier promotional statements by both cable and DSL providers made
    this utterly obvious -- was that you could send or receive as much
    data as you wished for your monthly fee.  Yes, there are often
    arbitrary server restrictions (but the presence of servers does not
    necessarily translate into high traffic volumes), and rules against
    "interfering with other customers" and such.

    But these attempts to retroactively redefine what was clearly
    understood by the public as the meaning of "unlimited" in this
    context are straight from fantasyland.

    -- Lauren Weinstein
       NNSquad Moderator ]

- - -
Robb Topolski wrote:
For everyone's information, I have *never* visited an FCC Commissioner and have I *never* visited or appeared before a legislator. I was a panelist at the April 17th FCC Stanford hearing (as was Brett), and I was there on my own dime (as was Brett). I was not under contract with FP/PK (or either) at that time, nor was such an arrangement under consideration.
Subsequent to the hearings, FP/PK are now my clients. I am their consultant. That does kinda associate us together, but I generally don't speak for them. My particular convictions are my own and they are well aware that it may not mesh with theirs and that I will still express them. As their consultant, they sometimes commission me to contribute something on their behalf -- and I do, and I clearly disclose that I'm doing so on their behalf. Even then, I have not and would not say anything that I didn't actually support as my first, best judgment, position, or opinion.
Brett feels safe to say anything he wants to say, and I have to respond to avoid it being understood as truth. This situation is unacceptable.

Robb Topolski

On Mon, Sep 1, 2008 at 10:48 AM, Brett Glass <brett@lariat.net <mailto:brett@lariat.net>> wrote:

    Robb Topolski is a lobbyist by any definition. "Free" Press has
    trotted him out to appear before, and visit, the FCC Commissioners
    and legislators to favor stifling regulation of Internet providers.
    Very SPECIFIC regulations and legislation.

    --Brett Glass

Robb Topolski (robb@funchords.com <mailto:robb@funchords.com>)
Hillsboro, Oregon USA