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Comcast May Raise Prices On "Internet Hogs" 578

lunartik writes: "According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Comcast may raise rates on users of their @home service who download a significant amount of audio or video files. Comcast claims that 1 percent of users use 30 percent of capacity. With the flat fee possibly flying out the window for users who utilize the service's speed, one wonders if US broadband is heading the same way as the Aussies." Time Warner has said much the same, and the spiral has probably just begun.
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Comcast May Raise Prices On "Internet Hogs"

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  • Spammers must use loads of bandwidth - this should cut them down.
    • Well, actually it might lead to just more costs for us. As spammers will take up our bandwidth as well as their own. Therefore, each message we receive will cost us more money.

      Thus, I could easily see that a per bandwidth charge will lead to anti-spam legislation, or better blocking by ISPs.

      (IMHO, as always)
    • The abstract says the following.

      Comcast may raise rates on users of their @home service who download a significant amount of audio or video files.

      Spammers typically don't transmit audio or video; it's usually text. However, if Comcast decides to go forward and raise fees for those who transmit a significant amount of data, rather than just audio and video, it could help reduce the amount of spam sent through their system. However, if spam really works, then a small hike in fees is not going to deter the large-scale spammers, anyway.
  • by webword ( 82711 ) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @05:41PM (#3588232) Homepage
    Pareto's Principle: The 80-20 Rule [shu.edu]

    "Pareto's rule states that a small number of causes is responsible for a large percentage of the effect, in a ratio of about 20:80. Expressed in a management context, 20% of a person's effort generates 80% of the person's results. The corollary to this is that 20% of one's results absorb 80% of one's resources or efforts."
  • Disgraceful (Score:4, Funny)

    by drsquare ( 530038 ) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @05:42PM (#3588236)
    How dare they? I mean, why the hell should people who cost them more money have to pay more? Don't they realise that these noble, honourable souls constantly downloading gigabytes upon gigabytes of MP3s and porn deserve a free ride?

    • Don't they realise that these noble, honourable souls constantly downloading gigabytes upon gigabytes of MP3s and porn deserve a free ride?

      No, but I'm already paying by the month [emusic.com] for my MP3s. And Comcast is already gouging me for $55 each month for the cable modem.

      The connection is shitty, with frequent lag spikes. Ever had a Google search page stall while loading? It's pretty sad, and I experience it multiple times every day. $55 is already outrageous for the crap quality of the connection they give me, and now I'll be expected to pay more for those laggy, stalling downloads of MP3s I've already paid for.

      Thanks, but no thanks.

      • The connection is shitty, with frequent lag spikes.

        I wonder why ? Yes, it's because of the bandwidth hogs, ho use ten times what they are paying for. If you need more bandwidth. If not, you're going to be better off if the bandwidth hogs are required to pay more.

        • "Yes, it's because of the bandwidth hogs, ho use ten times what they are paying for"

          They can't use ten times more bandwidth than they are paying for; they are merely efficiently using all the bandwidth they have been allocated.

          This is unless of course you are referring to people hacking their cable modems to increase their alloted bandwidth, in which case, these users can be singled out and cut off.


    • Re:Disgraceful (Score:4, Interesting)

      by zaffir ( 546764 ) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @06:21PM (#3588364)
      This is just comcast covering up bad planning, or making an excuse to rape the customer and cut back their costs.

      When you sign up for their service, you pay for a certain speed for a certain ammount of $/month. Whether or not you use that is your business - you paid for it, its yours to use. If comcast is running out of bandwidth, its their fault - they oversold without proper planning. This will "solve" that problem. If they want to cut back on bandwidth in order to save money, this will help. Their greediness is an excuse to fuck the consumer in the ass.

      Why is comcast doing this for JUST video and music? Did the RI/MPAA threaten them?

      Who cares if i download alot of music and videos? What if i have alot of friends who do their own electronic music? What if every relative i know posts three hour long iMovies of them and their kids to the web, and i want to download that? How is that different from a Linux geek downloading 10 distribution isos? Comcast is acting like they know the answer. What, 200 three-meg MP3s somehow costs them more bandwidth than a 600 meg RedHat iso? Bits are bits. If someone wanted to get around this, just download everything as a .txt and change it to .mp3 (at least for those in the Windows world).

      Of course, later on in the article, they talk about people hosting their own webservers, and that they are the people putting strain on the network. If that's even true, what does that have to do with my movie and music downloads?

      This is one of the most asinine ideas i've ever heard of.
      • Re:Disgraceful (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 )
        When you sign up for their service, you pay for a certain speed for a certain ammount of $/month. Whether or not you use that is your business - you paid for it, its yours to use. If comcast is running out of bandwidth, its their fault - they oversold without proper planning.

        That's not how it works, sorry. If Comcast--or any ISP--assumed the worst, that each user would be transferring some massive amount of data per month--then they just couldn't handle it. And no ISP in existence could either. There isn't enough bandwidth for that.

        Phone companies have done the same thing for years. You *assume* that when you pick up the phone you will have a free line, but if everyone picked up the phone at the same time then many--even the majority--would not get lines. Phone companies plan for phone calls of certain lengths, and they have to worry about exceptions like radio call-in contests and Mother's Day (the day with the most phone traffic).
    • Re:Disgraceful (Score:5, Interesting)

      by reaper20 ( 23396 ) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @06:22PM (#3588371) Homepage
      I don't mind paying for what I use - I think that it IS deceitful that they (and other ISPs) advertise "unlimited internet". Everytime I hear a comcast commercial on the radio, they're advertising on how much stuff you can get with "low cost, unlimited internet!" They're full of shit.

      * Unlimited Use for a Flat Monthly Fee
      (plus applicable franchise fees and taxes)
      * Up to 7 Email Addresses
      * 25 MB of Personal Webspace
      * Exciting, new homepage - all of your favorites: news, weather, stocks, etc. Plus, exclusive broadband content featuring streaming video and high-quality sound
      * "My File Locker" Web storage space for files like MP3s, digital photos and more (NEW feature!)
      * Ability to publish personal web pages
      * Round-the-clock Customer Service - dedicated Internet specialists available online or by phone
      * Member Services - account management, FAQs, and trouble-shooting information are just a click away
      * Additional fees may apply

      If they're trying to be profitable, why do they offer all of this junk?

      I would be that it costs more to maintain this My File Locker, comcast.net "portal", and other garbage than it costs them from 'heavy users'. Why do they feel they need to have streaming video in their portal page? And they're worried about bandwidth costs?

      • Re:Disgraceful (Score:3, Informative)

        by Mike1024 ( 184871 )

        If they're trying to be profitable, why do they offer all of this junk?

        Because it's locally hosted.

        Connecting your youse to the cable modem exchange thingy is easy; they already own the cables, and just have to put data through them. This costs them essentially nothing.

        The cost is the connection from the exchange to the internet. They pay for it by usage, and hence want you to use it as little as possible.

        If they get a reuters newsfeed and some other junk for a home page, they can put it on a server at the exchange, without having to use the expensive internet connection. This saves them money.

        Of course, this relies on people using thier portal site. I know I don't use my ISP's portal. But the majority of users probably do use the home page.

    • Re:Disgraceful (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MoneyT ( 548795 ) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @07:35PM (#3588607) Journal
      Try this, "How dare they advertise unlimited internet usage, and then tell you it's not."

      I pay for unlimmited internet acess. What this means to me is that I will be allowed to use my connection for whatever purposes I want (baring the breaking of laws, but they have to prove it). Now, if they have 100 customers (keeping it small to make the numbers easier) and 100 units of bandwidth. Theoreticaly speaking, each user is alloticated 1 unit of bandwidth. But if 70 of the users are only using 20 bandwidth units collectively, why should the other 30 users not be allowed to take full advantage of their 30 units and the remaining 50.

      There is a certain ammount of bandwidth, if other users are not using it, why can't I? And as another user pointed out, since my modem is capped anyway, how am I using any more than my alloted share anyways?
  • just a ploy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by e aubin ( 121373 ) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @05:44PM (#3588241)
    I'd be all for it if it wasn't just an excuse to raise prices.

    "Comcast, however, has no immediate plans to offer a lower-priced, slower service. David N. Watson, Comcast Cable Communications Inc.'s senior vice president of marketing, sales and customer service, said at a recent conference that it would be "pretty premature" for the company to offer a lower-priced broadband service, given that its current offering is selling well."
    • Yeah, why offer a low cost low speed service when you can peddle your high cost low speed service instead?

      What I'd really like to see is a "power user" or "enthusiast" service with higher caps and the ability to run VPNs (very useful for the work-at-home crowd), or even low bandwidth servers. I'm sure there'd be plenty of people willing to pay to be able to run their own SSH daemon without being in violation of the TOS. I know I would be.
  • I know that I hate the fact that I am going to probably end up paying more for my highspeed connection, but I can see the reasons for charging extra for bandwidth users. A lot of current services we use charge base on usage, why shouldn't the internet? It might lead to a better underlying architecture and better speeds eventually for everyone.

    The big question to ask is whether this extra money they earn is going to be put into improving the system that they currently have, and thus over time improve service for all of their customers.

    (This is all IMHO, meaning no offense to anyone)
  • by dougmc ( 70836 ) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Sunday May 26, 2002 @05:44PM (#3588247) Homepage
    I put this in the previous /. article mentioned in this article -- it still seems relevant, so I'm including it again ...
    An official response to this ... by dougmc on Tuesday April 09, @03:05PM (#3311828) This has been discussed in the Austin, TX `cable' mailing list, and this was added by Peter Gregg, who's a manager of some sort at the local TW office --
    This was something that was mentioned in passing months and months ago. We immediately screamed and didn't hear another word. I would be very surprised if this were accurate. There would need to be a whole new polling infrastructure on the network as well as billing interfaces not to mention all of the legal stuff that would need to be done. I will forward the article to corp and see what kind of response I get. I would guess that as long as another ISP were on our pipe, then they would have to abide by the agreement also. At any rate, I will try to get a better answer for you as soon as I can. Don't freak out until then.....lol.
  • by trenton ( 53581 ) <trentonl.gmail@com> on Sunday May 26, 2002 @05:45PM (#3588248) Homepage
    This is an infant industry (high speed residential access), so they're still tweaking the pricing in order to make money. Remember, you have to make money eventually or you'll go out of business. No one will pay for 0Mbps.

    If you don't like their prices, change providers. If no provider has prices you like, then what you're asking for probably isn't financially viable. (Yes, we all want BMWs for $17,000, but that isn't going to happen.)

    Plus, if they wanted to be a total bastards, they could continue to jack up the rates until those 1% left. If those top 1% left, they could have 30% more capacity at a cost of only 1% of their revenue. Then, they could add 30% more customers with a usage profile like the other 99%. That seems like good business to me. It's also called increasing shareholder value.

    • A better example than a luxury car would be a diamond. We (or at least our girlfriends) all want diamonds for $20 apiece, but it isn't going to happen.

      Of course, there are more diamonds on this planet than necessary to lower the price to $20 per carat, but it will never happen... too much money to be made if they all cost $1500.

      Oh, and those 1% are the most enthusiastic. The web would die if only the 99% AOL crowd was on it. But then, they'd just sit around crying about how the net up and died, for no explainable reason, and "oh well" about it like morons.
    • Umm what happens when some virus blasts me into infinity, or some irc script kiddy DOS's me, do I get to pay for that?

      That IIS worm slammed my DSL connection for *months*. I was getting on the order of 5 or 10 attacks per second. (im not even running a web server, they bounce off the firewall). Once again -- should i have to pay for that ?

    • Except you're forgetting, BMW doesn't advertise
      " Drive away with your brand new BMW for only $17,000"

      Oh that offer is for the first 10 kilometers. After that you owe us $25,000 more. You wanted wheels? Another low fee of $5000.00. Can I interest you in state mandatory airbags?

      -Yo Grark

      "Canadian Bred with American buttering"
    • Plus, if they wanted to be a total bastards, they could continue to jack up the rates until those 1% left.

      If they kept raising their prices then the bottom 99% would be asking why they need this service if they're just going to do light browsing and go back to a dialip. The P2P people need this so they'll probably pay up.

      If those top 1% left, they could have 30% more capacity at a cost of only 1% of their revenue.

      There will always be a top 1% even if the average usage is 50 megs transfer per month. Unlesss you're going to start delivering some hard numbers then you aren't saying much. For instance, today its the guy using 50 gig per month. Next time profits are low it'll be the guy using 5 gigs per month until everyone has a always on 56k connection for $20 a month.Thanks but no thanks.

      Finding a profitable business plan is going to take some time and I doubt transfer limits is the answer especially when web content like ordianry news and entertainment sites are using mega doses of flash and steaming video. Not to mention new-ish applications that are starting to take root like VPN from home to work, videoconferencing, next gen P2P, etc.

      Transfer limits seems like the lazy way out. Intelligent throttling based on demand or lowered speeds (600k down instead of T1 down) will probably win out. Transfer limits ignore that the internet technologies are expanding and user greater bandwidth. No is going to switch to Lynx because their ISP can't handle the ever increasing flash ads, banner ads, video, etc.
  • Do it yourself (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BELG ( 4429 )
    Actually, this is not as big a problem as a lot of people make it out to be.

    Yes, "broadband" is getting more expensive, but more importantly, its getting restricted.

    Its not all that hard to get a T1 and share it with neighbors (for a pretty good price), so if prices go up too much, just do that. Of course, youll want to go visit the teenage "leet"-dude across the street with a baseball bat when hes at it if you dont limit the bandwidth, but thats just the way the ISPs feel now.
  • by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @05:49PM (#3588260) Homepage Journal
    Flat pricing only works in some situations:

    -If there is significant overhead to individually billing. For instance for water some municipalities flat charge because the cost of installing water meters at every house is prohibitive. Alternately there can be a significant overhead administratively for some systems (for instance for gas and electricity a guy has to come around reading meters). None of these apply to internet connections where it's trivial to meter usage, and electronic billing has made exceptional billing very cheap.

    -When you convince people that they will use far more than they actually will, when in reality you know by experience that they won't. I got a "flat fee" membership for the year to Canada's Wonderland (only the cost of going twice!), yet in reality I know that I'll probably go maybe twice all year. Tonnes of memberships rely on this. Gym memberships force you into the "flat fee" because they know that most people will come for two weeks, and then never come again, yet they're tied in for a year.

    -When you're a heavy user and you know that everyone else is subsidizing you. This is the case with (former) @Home's where the bandwidth requirements are overwhelmingly to support a few people, and everyone is ranting and raving about how slow the connection is because Jimmy has a 24/7 gnutella serving running.

    The only ones who'll be frothing about how outrageous this is are the people who are abusing the system (the 1%).
    • The only ones who'll be frothing about how outrageous this is are the people who are abusing the system (the 1%).

      i don't consider myself an "abuser", i dont use p2p applications, and i dont host a games server (though i do play games online). i easily go over the 5 gigs a month that most of these companies seem to be leaning towards.

      the fact is that there are increasingly more and more things on the web that are designed for high-speed users (high quality video streams, games designed for broadband only, internet radio, etc)... and now that they are becoming more commonplace we won't be able to use them in the near future. frankly if i cant use theese features without paying an extra 10 bucks a month per gig over 5 i just wont use them at all (or whatever pricing they decide on). when that happens there is no longer a point to having broadband.

      i would just go back to my dual 56k shotgun setup and forget about it at that point. if all these broadband providers want you to do is websurfing and email there is no point to broadband.

      i don't mind some reasonable limits that inhibit running a mp3 or warez server 24/7, but the 5 gig number i've seen mentioned so often wouldn't cut it in my opinion, and would certainly drive me away
      • Ditto. I easily do 20+GB between radio and TV stations online that I don't get in my area. If they expect to charge that much, I'll probably simply cancel my cable (don't watch much tv other than the above stations) and high speed. Go back to a bunch of monthly magazine subscriptions and dialup for that which I cannot subscribe to.
  • Bell Sympatico (Score:2, Informative)

    by darthBear ( 516970 )
    Up here in Canada Sympatico is doing the same thing. Unfortunetly for me my monthly bill is going to go from $30 CDN to $45 CDN and I will be capped at 5GB of upload and 5GB of download a month. Currently I use about doulbe that. They have a 10GB/10GB service but its $70/month. (although it is 3Mbit/640Kbit *drool*).

    The price is enough to make me look at other options like dsl.ca that is still offering 1Mbit service for a flat rate of $35 although who knows how long it will last.

    I don't disagree that flat rate pricing causes the majority to subsidize the few but I think that 5GB is far to little. I can use that in a month easily and I don't even do any P2P.

    • It was not long ago that they were advertising high speed as always on and unlimited usage. Now we find out it was just to suck in subscribers. The funny thing is that all the telcos went broke building up capacity. Now there are lots of big pipes out there doing nothing and available at fire sale prices just when they decide to hike the prices.
    • I just have a small correction here... I think the price went from $40 CDN (not $30) to $45. The caps you have seem correct, but I have to wonder, how do you consume 5GB/month when your upload is 16KB/s (especially without P2P)? That's a solid 3 hours a day of uploading. I guess if you ran a file server... For more info on the changes to Bell Sympatico, here's a link [nationalpost.com].

      I agree with you that these changes should prompt the users to consider other options. I certainly will be. All those posters complaining that we can't expect flat rate service haven't looked into all the service providers competing for my dollars.
  • The US government claims that 1% of citizens control 75% of the American wealth. As a result, the government will be raising taxes for those that abuse the middle- and lower-class masses.
    • If Comcast was the US Government, they would penalize the average user by restrictive caps and charge them more.

      Only in the good old USA, the warez and pr0n users would get free service!
      • 1 out of 5 people wouldn't pay taxes, another 1 in 5 would call every tax period to complain about the quality of government service and get a credit amounting to 1/3 of their bill just to keep them quiet, with the rest paying regularly not knowing that if they just stopped doing so, there's a 50-50 shot anyone would notice.
    • Or, to keep a government analogy, just for fun:

      Silicon Valley (AP) - Comcast announced they will providing subsidies for "bandwidth achievers", giving an additional 500kbps in bandwidth to those individuals who have managed to transfer large amounts of data. Dell and General Motors employees will be getting an additional 1mbps for downloading approximately 85 gigs of mp3's in the first quarter, despite the fact most of those mp3's are going to be redistributed from the gnutella servers they moved to Mexico last year.

      When asked if this made sense, considering the fact these "bandwidth achievers" could collected such a mass of data because they have many powerful computers sharing the connection, as opposed to smaller customers unable to compete with minimal resources, a Comcast representative said, "We thought that way too, until we saw the potential for kickbacks from these guys when we're up for re-electi..umm...renewal of our car and computer support contracts. God bless America."

    • Why is this ranked "funny"? The US Government *already does this*...!

      Oh, I get it -- funny "sad", not funny "haha"...
  • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @05:50PM (#3588265)

    Damn it! I'm sooo sick of people WHINING here on slashdot. Oh, wait. Slashdot. If you don't like their policies, DON'T USE THEIR SERVICE. If you live in a metro area, go find some high speed hookup, get 10, 20, or 50 guys together in a close area, and set up your own high-speed network. We did this when I was going through university and it worked great. I live in a rural area, and the only way I'll ever see broadband again is if I take it upon myself to fix the situtation. Let's see here - 30 guys paying in $50/mo gives you $1500/mo to buy a pipe from or maintain leases on equipment. Do you have twenty people in networking range? How much bandwidth would that get? Could you get more than 30? Who would pay more? How important is your suckage in the long term? Would getting a fat pipe to someone's house, remotely dling your pr0n^h^h^heducational videos via a slower connection, and doing SneakerNet runs suffice?

    I thought that america was the land of the "can do" attitude, not the bend-over-and-take-it capital of the world. (and whine about it). Look at what the auzzies are doing to combat the horrible internet and communications rates over there - projects like Sydney Wireless [sydneywireless.com] and others in europe have gone so far as to start laying their own cable. Get out and talk to your neighbours, take the initiative.

    It could very well be that the current model doesn't work, because that 1% of users is exceeding the cable companies cost. It could be that you don't even need that much internet connectivity if you establish a well-stocked neighbourhood peer-to-peer net. I know another solution some of the residence dwellers use here is their own 802.11 network that isn't routed onto the campus network, or campus-owned.

    If you don't have time, then accept the services offered at the market rate.

    Man, I'm in a bad mood this morning. No coffee. But if I see another one of these whining threads, I'm going to scream! Might as well post a anti-MPAA diatribe, follow it up with a spiderman-II article.

  • Makes Sense... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NetJunkie ( 56134 ) <jason@nash.gmail@com> on Sunday May 26, 2002 @05:56PM (#3588281)
    Bandiwdth isn't free... I think many Slashdotters will find that REALLY surprising when they get out of college.

    Those who use more should pay more. Bandwidth is finite and getting more to the ISP costs them more, which in turn costs everyone more. I'm not going to pay for other people's downloads and I don't expect others to do it for me.
  • Maybe I'm missing something, but why shouldn't a provider charge more to those who use significantly more? They "cost" more in that capacity must be added sooner that would otherwise be the case for a given subscriber base. That increases capital costs with no corresponding increase in revenue. IOW, it reduces profits.

    The obvious solution is to charge the high use costomers more. That will either offset the cost of increased capacity or discourage the additional use, reducing the need for extra capacity.

    Of course, IMHO the additional charge for high use costomers should be balanced to not overly discourage them, as they are exactly the users who will drive new, more compelling content, which will bring more users to see the Internet as an important resource (whether for entertainment or other uses), driving up the total user base.

    Eventually the threshold for what defines "high use" will be foreced up as the average user requires a consistantly high bandwidth connection. By that time , the current high use customers will have funded (and driven) the development of a system that can supply that bandwidth. There will of course be those who, because of new uses, require more than the current "average" bandwidth, continuing the cycle.

    Again, why exactly is this a bad thing?

  • Easy Solution. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NetJunkie ( 56134 ) <jason@nash.gmail@com> on Sunday May 26, 2002 @05:59PM (#3588288)
    Go buy your own T-1. The ones I have at work cost $1K/month for a full CIR frame T-1 to BellSouth for Internet. Good SLA and great speed. Then, sell it to your neighbors. When your neighbor's teenage son is downloading pr0n like crazy and using 95% of the shared bandwidth be sure and DO NOT complain! Do not raise their rates! Remember, that's why you left your ISP.

    • Re:Easy Solution. (Score:5, Informative)

      by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @07:37PM (#3588616)
      Crappy analogy. First make sure you oversell your service, then make sure you advertise the crap out of the the beauty of always on, fast internet with applications in video and faster gameplay. Now keep overselling until the accountants send a very mean memo.

      This is when you do a 180 and screw your customers because you never had a viable business plan to begin with. Sorry, but the warez kiddie bought your service because of how you offered it to him. May your customers leave for a company with a working business plan and you can have the T1 all to yourself.
    • Re:Easy Solution. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CaptainSuperBoy ( 17170 ) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @11:19PM (#3589356) Homepage Journal
      People act like broadband is such a gift from the heavens, like we already have it too good and we shouldn't complain. But isn't this stuff supposed to get faster and cheaper as time goes by? Cable Internet has been around for about 5 years now, and the price has gone up while speed has gone down. Is this the miraculous gift you are talking about?

      Cable has extraordinary bandwidth.. so this isn't a last mile problem. This is a problem occurring at the backbone level - bandwidth is expensive. It shouldn't be! I don't know the answer, but why is it that long distance and wireless have fallen through the floor while data seems to be getting more expensive? Why are there networks like Internet2, which is AMAZINGLY fast, connecting our universities while we're stuck on capped, metered connections?
  • I'd rather that I was given the chance to use some upgraded service than have them chopping off my bandwidth with caps. As long as the charges are clearly presented in advance and it's not some unexpected bill at the end of the month this sounds good to me. Wonder if they'll start offering multiple static IP's as an upgrade...
  • by Boba001 ( 458898 ) <lance@mcnearney.net> on Sunday May 26, 2002 @06:04PM (#3588304) Homepage
    I've used cable modem services for at least 3 years including mediaone, at&t, time warner and hopefully pretty soon charter. I've always recommended it to friends and family over DSL because you get a much higher download rate (200-300KB/s) compared to the normal consumer dsl (75-100KB/s).

    In general you paid the same for DSL vs Cable but got more with the cable service. Well, that's changing now. Cable companies have noticed that they are basically giving away a T1 worth of bandwidth for $50/month. They see how the phone company can offer high-end business DSL for $250/month and want to cash in... so they are copying the DSL's price scheme.

    Charter Communications is my current cable provider. Their plans are something like this:

    256Kb Down / 64Kb Up - $30
    768Kb Down / 128Kb Up - $40
    1Mb Down / 256Kb Up - $60
    1.5Mb Down / 384Kb up - $100

    These are very similar to verizon/at&t/etc DSL packages. I figure most of the other cable providers will switch to a similar plan soon. They save bandwidth, make more money and the only people to really complain are the 1% who are causing all the bandwidth problems in the first place. That 1% doesn't have any alternative except for DSL, which has the same pricing plans... and we know they won't go back to dial-up.

  • IMHO, there is nothing wrong with charging people according to how much bandwidth they use.

    The problem with cable pricing is that generally, companies have a monopoly on their areas and therefore users don't have any choice beyond paying whatever rate is decreed or accessing the internet by some other (and often inferior) method.

    If the market for cable services were opened, I'd see no problem with companies imposing whatever pricing structure they see fit.
  • My beef (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Plasmoid ( 8367 ) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @06:09PM (#3588325)
    They'll charge the same rate per byte all the time. Information is like electricity. It's cheaper at night.

    So if I'm given 10GB/month in downstream then why should I bother to do any large transfers at night? a byte is a byte and I'd rather just leave my computer off. If, on the other hand, they said that bandwidth was free off-peak(after 11pm before 9am) then I could agree with their plan. I would have an incentive to queue files and download them over night, rather than during the day.

  • by Saeger ( 456549 ) <farrellj AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday May 26, 2002 @06:11PM (#3588334) Homepage
    Instead of penalizing us "Internet Hogs" for using the unlimited connection we paid for (as was and is STILL being advertised), why don't these ISPs simply throttle the "hogs" when bandwidth utilization nears 100% during peak usage hours? Isn't this the fairest solution?

    It's important to note that you can't "save" bandwidth for later (unlike water or electricity), and the ISP pays for its pipe whether it's saturated or not, so wouldn't this kind of usage-based throttling of an instant resource simply make more sense? The more you use, the less you get (but only when it's scarce).

    Is it really so expensive for an ISP to implement this at the headend versus the small difference it takes to account for the number of Gigs you transfer and charging obscene rates for overages, even during offpeak hours?


    • I don't think that you can actually "save electricity" in any meaningful way.

      All you can do is decrease load and then decrease fuel consumption accordingly. I guess in a way this is "saving electrictiy for later" but it is hard for me to think of a pile of coal or a tank of oil as electricty that is being saved for later.

      Maybe in the future power plants will have giant super-conductive rings that can store power, but I promise you that your local coal/gas/oil/nuke/hydro/wind/solar plant doesn't have thirty ton lead-acid batteries so that unused power can be saved.

    • for using the unlimited connection we paid for

      I think that the above line is the critical thing, a service was advertised, some people are using it AS advertised and now the ISP is complaining that their custormers are using it as advertised.

      Surely we arent all going to be expected to accept that people can say one thing and mean another... er ok maybe already do.
    • I know that University of Texas in Austin is doing something similar -- everyone gets a certain amount of "free" bandwidth per week (I think 2 or 3 GB), and once you've exceeded that amount you remain connected, but get classed with the "excessive users" in a lower priority class (using some sort of Quality of Service routing). Thus when the pipe isn't being used anyway you don't notice any difference, but at peak times you get throttled (while the people who don't exceed the limit get fast speeds all the time).
    • by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @08:08PM (#3588700)
      It's obvious that 99% of the people here have no idea how ISPs work.

      At any given point during the day, the ISP has a certain number of customers using bandwidth. Not every customer is using bandwidth at the exact same time. The ratio is roughly 20 to 1. That means at any given second, 1 out of 20 customers is using bandwidth (I work for a DSL provider, that number is accurate for us.. but it'll vary per provider).

      Bandwidth hogs throw off that ratio. They abuse the system. If the ISP had to treat all of it's customers as "potential bandwidth hogs", they would need to account for a ratio of 1:1, instead of 20:1. They would literally have to raise the cost of your service by 2000 percent.

      Capping is the other option, but again, the cable company would have to cut your bandwidth by 95%... because you want to change the ratio from 20:1 to 1:1.

      So which is it? Would you like to pay $1000/mo instead of $50/mo? Or would you like to be capped at 15 kbit/s instead of 300?

      If you don't like it.. tough shit.. go start your own ISP, and see how much you'd have to charge in order to give your users the ability to max out their pipe 24/7.
    • It's important to note that you can't "save" bandwidth for later

      Actually, you can. If you don't need it straight away, you should be able to schedule it for later download. I mean, when computing power is scarse (as it does with big iron), you can run batch jobs overnight.

      The problem is not that bandwidth is not "saveable", but no programs routinely do it, and people are generally impatient to wait.

      Bandwidth traffic can be greatly reduced if greater use of bug-fix cds were made use of. A 100 meg download may cost you and other people more in connection time and storage media, then a $5 mass-printed cdrom. The same could even be done for Linux distros, etc.

  • Imagine what would happen if, say, instead of 1%, it was 3% using their maximum bandwidth. Now 90% of it is gone. Suppose 20% wanted to use maximum bandwidth. Now you ALL lose. If Comcast doesn't do something to cut back excess use no one will be able to use it at all.

    Everyone's always complaining about the imbalance of wealth in this country and demanding that the richest 1% should stop controlling 90% of our finances, but as soon as you're in the 1% that gets 30% of the bandwidth it's you're God-given right to steal as much music as possible. Give me a break.
  • Yes, really bandwidth costs money. The lowest rates I have seen here in Europe at Internet Exchanges are 150 euros/mbit/month, which is about the same in dollars. This is the rate that telco's charge other telco's/ISP's. This allows you to burn up the full 1 mbit continuously. So that amounts to 150Gbyte a month in data. Anybody that sells you anything cheaper than this, is lying, cheating (or in marketing).

    Now I know that the marketing of several of these so called broadband companies has been way off. When they speak of unlimited, they mean that you don't run up a phone bill (in Europe) or that you can always leave it on. Not that you can just burn all that your line can do.

    The price that you're paying for current broadband is based on the simple arithmetic, that people won't always use all their bandwidth. If they do, the prices should be higher, other wise the ISP is going out of business. If you think you've got a right to use the full 2mbit your DSL offers, either pay the full amount it costs; 300 euros + extra's or you have been delusional and have bought into the marketing hype too much. If you've bought the marketing hype, you're not a bright nerd and you should consider it tuition for the school of life.

    Greetings.. off to sleep.

  • by jejones ( 115979 ) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @06:22PM (#3588370) Journal
    ...then people are going to get a lot more perturbed with pop-{up, under, etc.} ads and spam very quickly, because those will be running the meter for things they don't want. (To be sure, the effect is probably minimal compared with the bandwidth I'm eating by listening to Internet radio, but it's having the gratuitous bandwidth usage imposed on you that will be the irritant.)

    Speaking of webcasters, I can't help thinking that RIAA would be very happy if metered billing by ISPs went through. A 30Kbytes/sec. feed would be 1.8 Mbyte/min., so a gigabyte in maybe seven hours of listening. You wouldn't even need the insane royalty and record-keeping requirements CARP wanted to impose to kill webcasting, if all the listeners suddenly decide they can't afford to stay tuned in for very long. Then everyone can go back to being force-fed the latest clone band and obediently buying CDs they way they're supposed to...

  • I am very happy with my cable ISP - it's been fast and reliable, and as such it has made me happy. If my provider were to decide that they needed to change the pricing structure in order to maintain the current level of service and make a fair profit, I would consider it a fair deal. I would much rather see that than attempts to degrade the service in order to save money.

  • by Fweeky ( 41046 ) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @06:31PM (#3588404) Homepage
    According to my bps over the past month according to mrtg:

    RX: 20GB
    TX: 1.5GB

    Now, that sounds like quite a lot, and sure, it's probably a fair bit above average. Except, I doubt more than a couple of those GB's ever made it outside my provider's network, because most if it is from usenet.

    Should I be charged more for using a local news service and my providers internal bandwidth? More importantly, should I be charged the same as some guy who spends those 20G's on Gnutella, 90% of which is jumping off to random nodes around the world and eating the bandwidth they actually pay for?

  • Worms? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Phoenix823 ( 448446 ) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @06:33PM (#3588408)
    What's going to happen when residential customers are hit by a DDoS attack? If I were to launch an attack (a la grc.com) on my "friend" and saturate his 1.5MBps downstream, I could easily put him over any sort of monthly cap. Could you then imagine a worm whose single purpose in life is to charge huge bandwidth bills to those infected with it?

    Such a worm would be a godsend in the sense that after someone is hit with a $100+ cable modem bill, they're going to make sure they're up to date on bugfixes for their OS/mail client. This could lead to less use of Outlook and other vulnerable platforms which could reduce the worm's effectiveness. However, the immediate result would be a public outcry for being charged for bandwidth that they claim they didn't use.

    I saw it suggested earlier in the thread, but in my opinion the most effective way to deal with bandwidth hogs would be to throttle them and the commonly used P2P ports. The content is still available and you still have the speed and "unlimited transfer rate" that makes broadband such a wonderful service.
  • They may act all indignant about a handful using most of their capacity, but they forget that this is the way its always been: a handful of power users are offset by people who are mostly idle. I doubt any dialup ISP ever had enough revenue to support maximum utilization by all their users. Unfortunately, Comcast's service attracts a far higher number of power users than dialup, and the cost gaps between power users and idlers is so much greater. Finding the right mix of hogs and idlers, pricing and cost cutting is something they're just going to have to keep tweaking. I'd hold out hope for some competitor to emerge with a service that gets this balance right to blow them out of the water, but the anticompetitive climate of broadband doesn't leave much room for that to happen.

    If they want to avoid the animosity being thrown at them, then they really need to end the doubletalk, promising all this speed for games, music and video and then calling those who actually use it bandwidth hogs.

    They need look no further than the huge jump in subscribers that came when AOL switched to flat rate pricing, and it doesn't take too much imagination to see where it will go. The growth of Internet accsess in Europe and many other places also says a lot about how essential flat rate pricing can be.
  • If Comcast and other cable modem providers aren't careful about their pricing, they may invite much competition they didn't count on.

    As of now, Comcast in my area (southeastern PA) is offering ISP service that virtually no one else is able to compete with...small ISPs can't match their speed/price and DSL isn't available in many areas.

    However, if Comcast raises prices excessively, telcos may again see a real incentive to upgrade their switches and lines to allow for greater DSL penetration.

    And don't count small ISPs either...as of now, most people needing faster ISP access just call their cable company without even thinking twice about it...but with high prices and limits, more people will shop around first before signing up.

    Some will ask how can the mom and pop ISP compete...sure bandwidth is cheap and plenty is available, but how can they bridge the "last mile"...well, that's been solved...many small ISPs offer high speed service via packet radio from their facility to the customer. Works amazingly well and there's no noticable latency unlike satillite service.

    I never thought I'd ever use a small mom and pop ISP again, but if Comcast isn't careful, I will...here in the Reading, PA area, there are some local ISPs that offer high speed access via radio and other alternative methods...who says cable has a monopoly...they control the cable path, but who says that's the only way...one has many options on how data gets to and from their computer and more people will explore these if their cable isp bills get insane.

    To be fair here, I'm generally happy with Comcast's service and wouldn't mind paying a little more for faster data transfer with a reasonable transfer limit...but if Comcast thinks 5GB/month is enough, they'd better rethink that...even the so-called average user can easily exceed that...something like 30 GB/month would be more reasonable.
  • I suspect it's more than just the increased cost that's behind this. Many of the high-use people are likely running Gnutella and other file sharing programs. It's possible that Time Warner, for some reason, might want to discourage people from doing that.
  • From the article
    • Comcast, however, has no immediate plans to offer a lower-priced, slower service.
    Damn right they don't. When they took over @home in my area, download speed dropped by 75%, uploads dropped by 96% and prices went up by 25%. Comcast is a monopoly in my area, they know it, and they're taking advantage of it.
  • The cable companies are looking for ways to get rid of that 1% that use 30% of the bandwidth. What they all want is consumers who will sip from a firehose. Their ideal customer is someone who checks their e-mail a few times per week and maybe web surfs for an hour or two every few days. In other words, they want customers that have no real need for broadband.

    I have gone to battle with my cable modem company over and over due to their ever more restricted AUP/TOS. When I signed on, they had no problem with, or prohibition against, me running servers for my own use.

    Now they tell me that I must be running a business if I want to do anything other than web surf and use their unreliable mail server. They are trying to pressure me, and other Slashdot-profile users to go to their $250/month business service (price for the same 1.5mbps download pipe and a similar upload speed). Mind you, my usage is not excessive -- much less than the average p2p MP3/Porn/Warez trading kiddie. But I use somewhat more than average. One of their techs told me I was an "active user" but that there were users who moved orders of magnitude more data than I. And I complain loudly when they have their multi-hour (or even multi-day) outages. So they want me gone.

    The best way to fight this is to complain to the local government that signs the contract that allows them to serve your area. If your cable modem provider promised you unlimited usage, then don't sit still when they tell you that you have to pay more than your neighbor because you download Linux ISOs every few months. It was their job to determine pricing and bandwidth allocation before offering the service.
  • If Comcast establishs a policy where you pay depending on what you download, they are demonstrating that monitoring traffic is not an undue burden. This could open them up to liability for actions of their users.

    ISPs have argued [eff.org] that they should not be liable for the actions of their users because, in part, the burden of monitoring users is too great.

    Comcast should not open this Pandora's box by targeting specific content for higher fees. If they want to charge more for excessive bandwidth consumption, fine. But they should not even attempt to demonstrate that content can be monitored. If it can be monitored, it can be censored.
  • Contracts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rossz ( 67331 ) <`ogre' `at' `geekbiker.net'> on Sunday May 26, 2002 @06:58PM (#3588508) Homepage Journal
    When I had @Home, I had to agree to a one year contract if I wanted the installation fee to be waived. If I were still with them (which I'm not because they suck), I would remind them of the contract to provide unlimited access and that they can't raise the rate or implement limits until such contact was concluded. The downside is IANAL so I'm sure there wouldn't be much I could do about it if they disconnected me for refusing to pay extra.

    BTW, I'm now with Pacbell/SBC DSL, wouldn't this same principle apply? I have an 18 month obligation (free installation and DSL modem). Is it legal for them to increase the montly rate on something I'm locked into for a year an a half?
  • Comcast has capped my upload speed to 1/10th its original capicty, and download to 1/3rd. The only reason i haven't switched to DSL is because these two speeds happen to be the exact same speeds i'd get from any DSL provider. Since I would not be getting better service, I haven't seen a reason to switch.

    If comcast is gonna start charging more for me to use more, then they damn well better lift the upload/download caps so that I that I can use it when I want to. . .

    The problem with all this is that it's not going to benefit customers in any possible way. Speeds will not improve for others; the network's capacity is not taxed currently. The upload/download caps make it so that only a faction of the total bandwidth availlable is ever at use at any give time. The caps are there so that comcast can create a new high speed service for buisness that they can charge more for. In other words, they've turned bandwidth into a commodotiy. They are limmitting supply intentionally, so they can drive up the price. Its pathetic and only works because they are a Monopoly. Capitalism strikes again. . .
  • Online video killer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by no_such_user ( 196771 ) <jd-slashdot-20071008@@@dreamallday...com> on Sunday May 26, 2002 @07:23PM (#3588578)
    With bandwidth restrictions like these, ReplayTV's networking feature is pretty much shot for anyone hoping to transfer programs outside the home LAN.

    If restrictions are truly unavoidable (and I doubt they are) I agree with those promoting the idea of AVERAGE bandwidth used, not total volume transfered. As long as I have the ability to transfer large files at off-peak hours without restrictions, I won't be *too* unhappy.

    On the other hand, could this be considered anti-competitive? Though most of us don't currently watch television via IP (well, not legitimately anway), it's likely that studios will eventually find DRM they're happy with and will sell programs online.

    In the case of AOL/TW, assume that they will eventually allow downloading of video content, and that they will likely exclude their own packets from the user's quota. How will anyone else compete with that, when downloading a few decent sized programs will easily cost a few dollars each in excess bandwidth charges alone? How does this compare with "must carry" rules cable companies are currently forced to honor?
  • Does anyone see the bias in the term "Internet Hogs"? It implies somehow that the Internet works like your electricity, and we're all just "consumers". It makes me want to smack them over the head and remind them that the Internet is a peer-to-peer network.

    Screw their corporate mentality, and go get your connectivity from a company [speakeasy.net] that has a correct philosophy of what the Internet is, and encourages you to make the most of it.

  • Several other "lopsided" situations.

    I think we'll find that it is customary for the highest usage customers to recieve discounts, not rate increases.

    Telephone: Residential lines run what? $15-$25/month? But purchase several hunded lines, and you can get them for $5/month.

    air-travel: the most frequent customers get free upgrades, discounts and special incentives.

    Roadways: Most toll roads allow frequent travellers to purchase a dicount pass, or other reduced rate access method. For example, I recall the NJ Parkway used to sell tokens where you got something like 45 tokens for $10, when the tolls were $.25 each.

    The list could go on... so many other goods and services in this economy are discounted for the highest consumers. Why should a service like this that is based on fixed cost be any different?
  • I'm OK with capping "unlimited" cable IF it's a reasonable cap that only the VERY biggest (ab)users will surpass. I want to be able to download a few ISOs a month, plus all my normal web browsing, and not have to worry about passing the cap. 10GB/month seems appropriate. If someone is using more than that, they're doing something funky, if not illegal, and deserve to pay more.

    I don't even download ISOs much personally -- I just want to BE ABLE TO.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Let's go through a list of facts.

    1. Bandwidth costs money.
    2. This money must come from the users of an ISP.
    2. If you use more bandwidth, you cost more money, and your ISP thus has the right to charge you more.


    4. Bandwidth does not cost $0.10 per MB, as many ISPs are planning to charge for overuse. Most of these ISPs get it for between $0.50 and $1.00 per GB.
    5. Because most of the infrastructure required by your ISP is already there, extra bandwidth use does not require an ISP to pay for a large amount of additional equipment, or costs other than that charged for the actual bandwidth itself.

    From this we can conclude that:

    7. A markup on the price of bandwidth of 100 to 200 times is excesive, even with any additional costs an ISP incures.
    8. Legislation on ISP bandwidth pricing schemes is quite likely going to become necessary in the future, if the Internet has any hope of living on in the fashion in which it exists today.
  • The solution is fairly simple. Throttle down the traffic during the peaks in the porn curve at 10:30 PM, 1:30 AM, and 4:00 AM. Throttle the bandwidth back up during normal business hours. Result, fewer bits in the pipe, lower latency, both sides get what they want.

    Of course, we could always unionize, and begin charging Comcast and the @Home mafia for the fact they pass along advertisements into our browsers without prior approval or consent. Doing so might offset such a "metered usage" tax imposed on us.

    Then again, you can always just uncap your cable modem, and get the milk thru the fence. :)

  • by afflatus_com ( 121694 ) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @07:53PM (#3588661) Homepage
    There is one flat rate ISP in Ireland. They charged a fairly expensive flat-rate for users, and signed up alot of users, becoming the largest in the country.

    Then they just kicked off the people that were using it the most. They were allowed to get away with it, but the backlash from the disconnected customers (myself included) was high.

    Here is the coverage on Wired from the incident:
    Wired coverage of Ireland's flat-rate ISP kicking off its frequent users [wired.com]
  • by GuNgA-DiN ( 17556 ) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @08:36PM (#3588802)
    After all, the T1 lines we use at work are metered. UUNet sends us a bill based on how much bandwidth we use. But, along with that comes a SLA (Service Level Agreement). I would be happy to pay my ISP for bandwidth usage as long as they were willing to guarantee me a level of service. Of course, they won't do that (I've already asked) because there service sucks ass. They want the best of both possible worlds -- running a large, mediocre network with lots of downtime and differential billing based on bandwidth usage. If they had to adhere to a 99.995% uptime guarantee I would be getting broadband for free. Once they are willing to offer me a guaranteed level of quality I will pay for the bandwidth I use. Right now I'm just happy their network isn't down again.
  • by kcbrown ( 7426 ) <slashdot@sysexperts.com> on Sunday May 26, 2002 @11:07PM (#3589330)
    Look, a lot of you guys seem to be saying "well, bandwidth costs so people who use more should pay more".

    But bandwidth isn't the same as other things at all.

    For instance, it makes sense to pay more for power if you use more. The reason is that the power you use ultimately translates to fuel expended. Fuel costs money, so the more fuel you use, the more you have to pay to offset the costs.

    But bandwidth? It's not the same at all. Let's look at the costs:

    1. Running lines. This is a fixed cost. It's why there's a lot of "dark fiber" out there right now: if you're going to take the time to run a line, you may as well run a lot of it. Most of the expense is in the labor to run the line, and that's a one-time cost. Yes, there's maintenance as well, but that doesn't change based on the amount of bandwidth the lines represent, either.
    2. Routers. Fixed expense. Yes, the more capable equipment costs more, but let's face it: routers are subject to Moore's law just as all other computing equipment is. So routers should be getting cheaper per unit bandwidth over time, right? In any case, routing equipment probably doesn't even come close to dominating the expense side of the equation.
    3. Labor. This varies, but not by bandwidth usage. Rather, it varies based on the number of subscribers. The more customers you have, the more labor you have to expend in order to service them. This is in the form of technical support, billing, and maintenance.
    4. Property leases. This, too, is independent of bandwidth.
    5. Electricity and other consumable items. This may vary by bandwidth a little, but not much. It probably takes less electricity to run a fiber connection than it does to run a T-1 of the same length.

    I don't think I missed anything important, but if I did, please let me know.

    So what's the point? Simple: bandwidth itself isn't what costs money. What costs money is the labor and equipment used to provide that bandwidth.

    And that is why it doesn't, in general, make sense to charge more for people who use more bandwidth: those people aren't costing the provider any more money at all or, if they are, it's only because the provider was stupid enough to sign peering agreements in which they pay for the bandwidth they use instead of a flat fee. Instead, if the ISP is undercharging for their services (i.e., can't pay the bills based on the money they get from their subscribers), they should either cut their costs or raise their prices. But before doing either one, they'd better have a good handle on where they're spending their money first.

    It's only if a few select subscribers are causing quality of service issues that are, in turn, substantially raising the amount of labor required to keep the operation going that charging those subscribers more may make sense. But I would argue that, in that case, those subscribers are either abusing the service (true only if they're using a substantial amount of bandwidth to initiate DOS attacks against others) and therefore should have their service terminated, or (more likely) that the service itself is oversubscribed. The latter isn't the customers' problem, it's the provider's problem, and charging based on bandwidth used is an entirely inappropriate response, in my opinion.

    • All that is great, if you own the connection from end to end.

      Its pretty simple though, for an ISP, to look at it this:

      1. I buy bandwidth from someone else.

      2. That person buys bandwidth from else.

      3. My provider buys bandwidth by the gigabyte. He sells me my bandwidth by the gigabyte.

      4. I should sell my bandwidth by the megabyte.

      The people who own the bandwidth on the backbone and at the peering points have laid out lots of money to get their networks where they are. They charge most Tier-2's by volume. Tier-2's charge Tier-3's by by volumen.

      It is insanse to believe that Tier-3's ISPs can just go buy bandwidth en masse without limits. Bandwidth limits are usued on levels to *keep users in check* and prevent abuse. Thats the whole idea of bandwidth caps - to ensure that no one user monopolizes bandwidth on the line. Tier-1's use to keep Tier-2'2 in line, Tier-2's use it to keep Tier-3's in line, and Tier-3's use it to keep consumers in line.

      The issue of oversubscribing is valid, but remember, you are not forced into broadband. There are a whole lot of people who want to run massive file sharing, web serving, music serving, enterprises from thier consumer level $40/mo cable/dsl line. Well, its time to pay the piper. Your ISP is losing money on you. And that isn't going to fly *with any business*, ever.

      If you dont like it, get a real connection. A T1 line isn't all that much, and chances are you could split it with some like minded folks in your vacinity. Ohh, and one more thing. If you do share the line, keep an eye on who uses more bandwidth than others - if they are monopolizing the bandwidth they should pay a larger share of the costs.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"