North American Network Operators Group

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Re: Why do some ISP's have bandwidth quotas?

  • From: Joe Greco
  • Date: Sat Oct 06 22:05:20 2007

> The competition regulator has recently imposed an order on them to 
> drop their price of access to the raw copper;  The incumbent's response
> has been to initiate a national political debate during the present
> federal election campaign campaign over the merits of a nation-wide
> Fiber-To-The-Node network which, just coincidentally, requires the
> exclusion of competition to make the numbers in the business case add
> up.

Sounds much like the sort of shenanigans that happened here in the US.
Problem is, by many accounts, we already paid for a carrier neutral 
fiber network and the telcos took the money and ran.

The reality is that if you allow them to make up the numbers for the
business case, it always appears to be bad business.

> So I wouldn't be holding my breath about that one.

Yet it's fairly obvious that there is a solution.  Just not necessarily
the one that the carrier prefers.

>  > > Like I said a few messages ago, as much as your marketplace derides 
>  > > caps and quotas, I'm pretty sure that most of you would prefer to do 
>  > > business with my constraints than with yours.
>  > 
>  > That's nice from *your* point of view, as an ISP, but from the end-user's
>  > point of view, it discourages the development and deployment of the next
>  > killer app, which is the point that I've been making.
> Generalizing:
> We're living in an environment where European service providers use
> DPI boxes to shape just about everyone to about 40 Gbytes per month,

HUH?  What in the world are you talking about?  I see stats of numerous
European customers where they're pulling TERABYTES per month on a resi
connection, some more terabytes than you can count on a hand, from a
wide variety of providers.  Now, if you're extending "European" to
include Israel and Egypt, or possibly eastern Europe, I guess maybe
it could be happening SOMEWHERE, but not as a general rule.... 

Otherwise, the only major EU thing I can think of is:

Virgin in the UK, having introduced their "fair use" policy, which seems 
to be intertwined with what appears to be an unpublicized problem with 
US-facing capacity where they're pegging it during peak times, and 
appear to have "solved" this with shaping during peak hours, but this 
only affects peak hours.  Actual reality may be different, I'm talking 
about observed data, posted policy, and extrapolation.

> and where US service providers have enough congestion in their 
> reticulation networks that the phrase "unlimited access" carries ironic

There are a few Canadian providers which seem to have some congestion
from the US into Canada during peak times.

There are some problems with one very specific US cable provider and
backbone capacity that I'm aware of.  There are probably lesser problems
with a whole bunch of networks, providers and backbone, where they run
their network at a capacity percentage that might lead to some
discomfort.  There are reports of Road Runner implementing some sort of
fair use policy as well.  However, from what I can tell, it is
statistically extremely unusual to find a US broadband customer on a
sufficient circuit who cannot get a constant 1Mbps of download capacity,
and that's been improving fairly steadily.

> overtones, and where Australian and New Zealand service providers give 
> uncongested access at unconstrained ADSL2+ rates for as much capacity
> as an end user is prepared to pay for,

The ideal situation, from a service provider's viewpoint.

> and Asian ISPs where in-country
> is cheap but international is slow and expensive (but nobody cares
> because they don't speak English and don't need international content
> anyway), and most of the rest of the world is so expensive that hardly
> anyone uses it anyway.
> If there's another killer app on the way, there are enough global
> constraints on its development that I reckon Australian ISPs' business
> cases probably aren't the be-all and end-all of its developmental
> merits.

No, it'll be developed in Europe, most likely, where >20Mbit access is
pretty common, and growing.  The problem, from my point of view, is that
I'd rather see new killer apps being designed here in the US, and driven
by customer demand here in the US.

> Five years ago the typical .au quota was 3Gbytes per month.  Now it's
> more like 30 - 50 Gbytes per month.  If there's a killer app there'll
> no doubt be commercial pressure on ISPs to bump it again.  But until
> said app comes along?  Well, it isn't an ISPs job to subsidize the 
> R&D overheads of application developers, is it?

No, but then again, that's not the problem I'm pointing at, is it (and it
isn't even a real problem, regardless, unless maybe you're some kid writing
the next Napster, but I'm willing to pretend even that doesn't happen).

The real problem is the ability of users to adopt new killer apps.  This
eventually breaks down to issues of "how long is it reasonable for users
to fund that shiny telco network at $50/line/month" and things like that,
because rather than solving the problems, it appears that AU ISP's are
simply passing on costs, minimizing the services offered in order to keep
service prices as low as possible, and then sitting around justifying it.

At a certain point, the deployment cost of your telco network is covered,
and it is no longer reasonable to be paying $50/line/month for mere access
to the copper.

> The point here is that you guys in the US have a particular market
> dynamic that's shaped your perspective of what "reasonable" is.  

Actually, we're more of a content network, delivering content globally,
and we deal with regional issues around the globe.  I probably have a
pretty good idea about a wide variety of strategies.  Your view appears to
be somewhat more provincial, defending a status quo that doesn't honestly
make sense.  My perspective of what "reasonable" is certainly isn't shaped
by the US market, which is quite nearly as broken as the major
communications companies have been able to get away with.

> It's
> completely delusional of you to insist that the rest of the world
> follow the same definition of "reaosnable",

Interestingly enough, you're now putting words in my mouth, because there
is no way in hell that I would suggest that AU follow the US model.  I
would not wish that on anybody.  I might suggest that AU follow the model
proposed back in the mid '90's - which would be a good idea, in fact.

> *ESPECIALLY* when the rest
> of the world is subsidizing your domestic Internet by paying for all
> the international transit.

Interesting thing about how the market works, isn't it.  It seems that
there's substantially more value to be had in AU connecting to the US 
than there is the other way around, and costs are shifted accordingly.

It isn't fair, but it's the way it works.  Historically, AU has always
had connectivity issues.  There was a time when a machine I ran was 
burning up a measurable fraction of the total connectivity to AU 
sending USENET to you guys (anybody remember in the early '90's, when 
AARNet only had 1-2Mbps to the US?  Remember the fiasco?)

... JG
Joe Greco - Network Services - Milwaukee, WI -
"We call it the 'one bite at the apple' rule. Give me one chance [and] then I
won't contact you again." - Direct Marketing Ass'n position on e-mail spam(CNN)
With 24 million small businesses in the US alone, that's way too many apples.