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British ISPs Could 'Charge Per Device' 194

Posted by samzenpus
from the add-it-up dept.
Barence writes "British ISPs could start charging customers depending on which device or which type of data they're using, according to a networks expert. 'The iPad created a very interesting situation for the operators, where the devices themselves generated additional loads for the networks,' said Owen Cole, technical director at F5 Networks. 'The operators said "If we have devices that are generating work for us, this gives us the ability to introduce a different billing model."' 'The operators launched special billing packages for it, which is in direct contravention to net neutrality,' said Owen. 'If things are left to just be driven by market economics, we could end up with people paying for the amount of data that they consume to every device and that would not be a fair way to approach the market.' Owen also foresees a billing system that charges less for non-urgent data, with an email costing less per bit than either Skype or video packets that need immediate delivery."
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British ISPs Could 'Charge Per Device'

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  • OK, not really, but it is really fucking stupid.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      To be fair, I don't really opposed UBB completely. I think if they would have brought the base rate down to $15, and then $5 increments for each additional 40 GB, with a maximum charge of $50 or something like that it would work out quite well. Also you shouldn't have to pay for the extra 40 GB up front, You should only pay the extra $5 increments when you actually do go over. UBB isn't a terrible idea, but the way it was proposed was extremely bad.
      • by greed (112493)

        If it was truly usage-based, there'd be no cap. You'd start with a basic "0 byte" connection for whatever it costs to operate the line, then pay per GB. (Why 40 GB increments? Why not 128MB or something reasonable? I don't buy electricity in 100 kWh blocks; my meter runs to the 1/10th of a kWh. Sure, advertise the rate as $X per 40 GB if you like, but bill fractionally.)

        Thing is, the dominant cost of the network is the static, "0 byte" service. The incremental cost of transfer is very small compared t

        • Thing is, the dominant cost of the network is the static, "0 byte" service. The incremental cost of transfer is very small compared to the cost of bandwidth provisioning in the first place. The billing system alone could cost more than the transfer costs.

          Exactly. This is why I can't understand the people who promote usage based billing. It seems like they think what would happen is that the 90% of light users would get to pay $5/month instead of $40 and the 10% of heavy users would make up the cost to the ISPs by paying $400/month. In reality, if they set up the billing that way, the heavy users would all cut their usage back until they were paying something closer to the original $40/month that they have a budget for (say, $60/month), which only offsets th

          • by CastrTroy (595695)
            To add to this, on the episode of "The Agenda (TVO) [tvo.org]" where they had Bell and others on for a discussion on UBB, the guy from bell specifically said that "50% of the customers who are on the 25 GB plan only use 20% of their allotted amount", which means that there's a whole lot of users out there using less than 5GB a month. So that's a lot of of people who on a pure UBB system would be paying almost nothing. But Bell doesn't want to charge those people less. What a scam.
      • Where are my mod points when I need them!!

        This is my view as well. UBB is a great option as long as the rates are reasonable and the datat caps revisited on a yearly basis.
  • by jhoegl (638955) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @02:15AM (#35513072)
    I would advise against this type of "hypothetical model" unless you want to slow innovation and business growth.
    I would also advise against it because the industry is leading consumers into an "online world", where all data will exist.
    If infrastructure can not handle the load (how much dark fiber do we have in the world?), then it needs to catch up. Living off the 90s infrastructure boon is just not going to cut it.
    • by gl4ss (559668) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @03:00AM (#35513286) Homepage Journal

      the new billing model would need a revamp of the internet protocols. or they could charge per IP, which wouldn't be that strange, but would actually need them to give ip's to people.

      but it's ridiculous that they say that new devices like ipad are generating traffic. well doh. but it's not the device, it's the person they sold the service to that's generating the traffic. but it's amazing how you can actually get people to pay more for an internet connection to an ipad than to a netbook, even though the ipad will generate less traffic as it's much less likely to be used for running a torrent client etc

      anyways, the caravan goes as usual and they can whinebitch all they want but if they still at the same time want to sell secure, usable connections there's not much they can do about it.

    • by pla (258480)
      I would advise against this type of "hypothetical model" unless you want to slow innovation and business growth.

      Slow innovation? My very first thought on reading this amounted to "Cool, time to write a tethering app for the cheapest device they allow on their network".

      When you price based on something over which your customers have direct control, expect your consumers to exploit that to minimize their costs.
  • ...and now our bandwidth too? When will this madness end?

    • by zill (1690130)

      First they wanted us to buy our music repeatedly

      I'm pretty sure "per second playback billing" is next on RIAA's list.

      • imagine per cost billing for ringers...
      • I'm pretty sure "per second playback billing" is next on RIAA's list.

        Pay-per-play for musical recordings has been around since the 1890s. See "Jukebox" on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org].

        • by Golddess (1361003)
          Yeah, but jukebox owners didn't then pay a portion of the income generated by the jukebox back to the RIAA/artists/whoever, did they? I didn't read the entire entry, but a keyword search didn't seem to indicate it.
          • by tepples (727027)

            but jukebox owners didn't then pay a portion of the income generated by the jukebox back to the RIAA/artists/whoever, did they?

            Performance rights for the underlying musical work have been around effectively forever and are currently licensed through JLO [jukeboxlicense.com]. And yes, the major music publishers tend to be co-owned with major record labels. But you are correct that there is a separate right for performing sound recordings through a digital transmission payable to the record label in addition to the long-standing one for performing musical works.

  • Scaremongering? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Fusen (841730)
    "could" "might" "maybe", what a complete non story.
    broadband ISPs COULD charge you per character typed but they don't and probably wont.
    • But they're completely possible and it's not unreasonable (in my opinion) to expect it to happen. We've already seen an instance where Comcast blocked/throttled bittorrent in the US.

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        The catch right there is that most P2P and bittorrent traffic is not time sensitive and could occur in off peak times.

        As for shifting traffic from peak to off peak as they are fantasising, firstly it requires incredibly invasive data monitoring and secondly it forces the users devices to either continually cycle over for hours on end trying to send traffic or the ISP must build in enormous data storage capacity to hold data for hours on end.

        Incumbent telecoms want to keep making huge profits from local

        • by TheLink (130905)
          In theory ISPs could implement something like back in the "dial-up" era.

          Basically, you still have always-on internet, but your traffic is on low priority.

          When you want to do stuff with high priority, you "dial in" or "login", then your packets get "normal priority". Then you can play your FPS or MMORPG.

          Once you're done you log-off and go back to "low priority", you can actually still surf the web, send email etc, but it could be a lot slower depending on how oversubscribed the ISP is.

          But it all depends on t
        • by grahamm (8844)

          Even the PSTN is contended. While each subscriber has their own copper line to the exchange (the same as each DSL subscriber has a dedicated connection to the DSLAM), neither the switching facilities in the exchange (certainly with electromechanical exchanges) nor the number of 'trunk' lines from the exchange could support every subscriber being on a call at the same time. However the PSTN is well enough provisioned such that it is very rare for a call to fail because there are insufficient resources to han

        • it forces the users devices to either continually cycle over for hours on end trying to send traffic

          Is that such a bad thing? If a home user wants to torrent while sleeping, he could buy a cheap little low-power ARM NAS and use it as a home seedbox.

      • by N1AK (864906)
        When companies are adding caps etc it is because they believe it will decrease costs. If there is competition in the market then that saving will, reasonably, quickly make its way through to lower costs to consumers. If there isn't competition, that saving will be kept as pure profit indefinitely. Charging for use isn't inherently evil, even though internet use has a very low variable cost, sharing the fixed costs of infrastructure etc based on level of use is acceptable.

        The thing that I have a massive i
        • When companies are adding caps etc it is because they believe it will decrease costs.

          They didn't add a cap. They completely throttled the bittorrent protocol.

          • I'm not up on all the developments, but I was in the US last month (Feb 2011), staying at a place with Comcast, and I was able to saturate the 12mbps downlink with BitTorrent any time of day or night.
      • by tixxit (1107127)
        Back in the day when cable internet first came out, they tried to get people to pay per computer attached (at least in Canada). They used to specifically try to foil routers by checking their MAC addresses to see if the traffic was coming from a PC NIC or a router; if it was a router, it wouldn't work. Their "solution" was to pay for service for each computer! Needless to say, router's started coming with the ability to clone your PC's MAC address and within a few years the cable company was SELLING the rou
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's the simplest mechanic of leverage. Shift general *perception* by suuggesting something insane, then 'settle' with a half measure.

      It's all about making net neutrality seem like an extreme Communist Terrorist conspiracy instead of reasonable practice. Eventually, you just know they'd charge per device though.

    • My brdbnd ISP DS chg me pr crtcr typd, u insnstv cld.
    • broadband ISPs COULD charge you per character typed but they don't and probably wont.

      You mean, like SMS?

      A charge per 140 characters.

  • Who will get the business?

  • These people seem like simple leeches to me. You just want an internet connection. Your probably connecting to your own router doing your own networking.

    That's one connection

    So you give me the internet and I'll give you the cash. Nobody needs to get screwed.

    Wait... Your company bribed a politician, didn't it.

    • by fredjh (1602699)

      Yeah... billing by device sounds terrible, but then we have this: 'If things are left to just be driven by market economics, we could end up with people paying for the amount of data that they consume to every device and that would not be a fair way to approach the market.'

      This is not net neutrality, in which ISPs charge third parties for data requested by their own customers, who are already paying.

      But if I'm the customer of an ISP, how is paying for the amount of data I transfer over the network not a f

  • Already the case (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2NO@SPAMgdargaud.net> on Thursday March 17, 2011 @02:30AM (#35513142) Homepage
    2 years ago I got an Android phone on my own (not through my Operator). I called them to add 'data' to my plan and they wanted to know if it was an iPhone or an Android as they had 2 different plans. They were the same price so I investigated a bit. It turns out that they block http requests if the referrer field doesn't contain 'Android'. Like that's gonna stop me from using the phone as a 3G hotspot for the rest of the bus, right.
    • by scdeimos (632778)

      It turns out that they block http requests if the referrer field doesn't contain 'Android'

      The Referer header (sic) or the User-Agent header?

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      2 years ago I got an Android phone on my own (not through my Operator). I called them to add 'data' to my plan and they wanted to know if it was an iPhone or an Android as they had 2 different plans. They were the same price so I investigated a bit. It turns out that they block http requests if the referrer field doesn't contain 'Android'. Like that's gonna stop me from using the phone as a 3G hotspot for the rest of the bus, right.

      Not unusual. In North America, providers often provide data plans that vary

  • I means these blokes are in boardrooms licking their proverbial chops, and we are on the pick wheel.

    Its look like the rapacious beginnings of the cable industry all over again, but this time you count amongst you shaledowns fees for your refrigerator's call to the repairman. 'wonder if there will be an opt out for that?

    its looking spooky, people.
  • Tranlsation (Score:4, Funny)

    by Hognoxious (631665) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @03:03AM (#35513308) Homepage Journal

    'The operators said "If we have devices that are generating work for us, this gives us the ability to introduce a different billing model."'

    Translation:

    Some of our customers appear to have more money than sense. We aim to restore the balance.

  • Fair? Hardly (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jandersen (462034) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @03:14AM (#35513348)

    I can see where they are coming from, in a sense: you should pay for how much you use, which is hard to argue against. After all, that's how we pay for other resources we use - I don't use the internet for watching movies or other high-bandwith things, so why should I pay more to support those that do?

    However, what they propose is almost exactly the opposite of paying for what you use; it's like being billed for water by measuring the size of your garden or the number of taps in the home. And just as for water, it is perfectly easy to measure the actual consumption; if they don't know how, I am sure there is a large proportion of /. readers who can help them figure it out.

    • Water bills in the UK were governed by the "rateable value [unitedutilities.com]" of the house. Water meters were introduced about 15-20 years ago and are required for new houses. Older properties can choose to have a meter installed or to remain on the rateable value billing.
    • by rrossman2 (844318)

      Do you pay for how much TV you watch? I'm not talking about channels, but how much time you spend watching it, and on how many TV's you watch it on within your house? (again, I'm not talking about since the switch to digital or the equipment for Satellite, as the comparison there would be if you couldn't use a router on a cable or dsl modem due to the physical nature of how it works.. it would be like needing a cable modem for each computer connected, in wish case you either rent the equipment or buy you ow

      • There is no "load" put on the system by watching tv though. There is a "cost" to transmitting your bits. Maybe its not the water model. Maybe its the airplane model. Once the plane takes off empty seats are wasted. BUT around christmas & other high load holidays, fares do go up because more people want to fly and they could sell every seat and more at the lower rate. Well, now with all the high usage home applications (TV over IP I suspect is the real cause) every day is like christmas for the ISP and t
  • ridiculous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by samantha (68231) * on Thursday March 17, 2011 @03:49AM (#35513480) Homepage

    iPads don't use anymore bandwidth than any other device will that you can watch over the air video on. iPads cannot in principle do anything at all any other computer cannot do. This is pure gouging. Note that it is the cellular carriers themselves that have pushed video on command. The goal is good enough broadband that these and many many other applications can run for everyone everywhere. This is not achieved by nickel and dime-ing us.

  • Why is the iPad costing them more work? The article refers to it as the "traffic hungry iPad". Traffic hungry? A PC downloading Torrents every day is not traffic hungry?
    • Because xPads are being sold primarily as media-consumption devices - handy personal TVs you can pick up when you feel like a quick burst of Hollywood. They make it easier to consume streaming video on impulse and so people who wouldn't sit in front of a PC to watch a movie will sit in bed watching their mobile device - more convenience = more use.

      Real-time streaming also has requirements on network performance (in particular latency) that exceed torrent download. It's not just about the bitcount.

      And, just

    • by bsDaemon (87307)

      Because people with iPads are obviously willing to pay way more than they need to to get what they want, and the ISPs want a slice of the pie like the cell carriers do. Its like the perfect storm of economics and psychology.

  • There's some really garbled understanding of what is going on there.

    What I think is fair is something along the lines of the following:

    1. Pay some fixed cost per unit time in order to have a connection.

    2. Pay per bit sent and received based on QoS.

    It seems like the most fair thing to me. Uncapped is just rediculous and a complete lie. The companies shouldn't even be allowed to claim it since it is blatantly false advertising.

    Part 2 is the most sensible option. People pay a reasonable price for what they use

  • Any reputable engineer who isn't owned by one side or the other in this 'debate' will look at the network infrastructure, then the size of the anticipated customer base (hell, just for Apple's projected sales alone), and the anticipated customer usage patterns. Result is a train-wreck. No other result. It won't work.

    Now I'm an unusual customer with normally unusual demand and, fortunately, all my wireless service provider does after a I blow through twice the max capacity for the month in just a coupl
  • Is it rampant speculation week on Slashdot? First the ridiculous "Apple's handcuffing web apps!" nonsense from the Reg, and now this completely speculative nonsense? /. standards are really slipping. Can we link to some proper journalism please?

    Yes, I must be new here.

  • by igb (28052) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @06:05AM (#35514064)
    The story is complete tosh.

    Firstly, the extra volume created for ISPs by iPads is close to zero: they're being used as extra devices in houses, and aren't capable of running any of the bandwidth-intensive P2P applications that (when they're pimping different things) ISPs and vendors are keen to tell us represent 90% of their volume.

    Secondly, this is a vendor of DPI kit pushing applications for DPI. But it's a doomed endeavour. It would be impossible to split tariffing based on numbers of devices as the market would react with domestic proxies if NAT didn't provide enough aggregation. So the only way it could conceivably be done would be by inspecting packets at close quarters to see which application is being run. At which point the market would respond with encryption.

  • UK ISP's announcement about voluntary commitment to net neutrality?
  • ...finding more ways to charge you more for the same service you've had for years.
    Hey ISPs? I've got a mind blowing idea, how about you ACTUALLY IMPROVE YOUR SERVICE to keep up with today's standards, instead of trying to live by the standards of the 90s.
  • just wait for comcast to do this with ipv6 $5+ per system just like how in some areas they want $8.95 per cable box and $16+ per HD DRV.

  • > Owen also foresees a billing system that charges less for non-urgent data

    That is frigging AWESOME! I can't wait to wire into the mind-reading system that will tell the ISP which data is urgent. Particularly when I'm running data through an encrypted tunnel.

    It's also going to have to make a very good estimate of the difference between my concept of urgent and that of every other user on the same shared channel. That will be an extraordinary advance in real-time psycho-analytics.

    Unless they are talking a

    • by Skapare (16644)
      Urgency will be ranked based on which web sites will pay them more for preferential routing and bandwidth. Your cheap non-urgent data will be as slow as a dialup modem.
  • I mean if everything is run behind a router (though I guess you might need to add your own) how would they know how many devices are being used?

  • ...my wireless router, so bill me for one device.
  • If I understand the idea correctly...

    it would be like the power company charging you separately for EACH device you've plugged into the wall. Moreover, rates would be dependent on WHAT the device was, not how many WATTs it uses. You enjoy your TV more than your 500watt toaster? the TV costs more. 3 ipods drawing 5 watts each will cost more than that 1500watt spaceheater...

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