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Usage limits around the world
Tuesday 02 September 2008 18:53:19 by Andrew Ferguson

The Register has published a commentary piece on the implications of the FCC order to Comcast that it cannot use traffic shaping. The initial response from Comcast a US based cable broadband operator is to implement a montly 250GB usage cap on its products.

Usage caps and traffic shaping are nothing new in the UK, and while some providers seem ashamed to admit they use traffic shaping or do not provide any information on what users can expect, the free market means that consumers have a freedom of choice. A major difference in the UK is even most rural areas of the UK have a choice of retail providers with various packages, e.g. PAYG, shaped, metered or some combination of these.

The item on The Register suggests perhaps one side effect of this net neutrality stance, may be that protocols that would benefit from a priority boost such as VoIP will not benefit, and a neutral stance may hold back such emerging applications. What is revealing is that even a fibre provider in Japan (NTT) has adopted an admittedly large cap on the amount of traffic uploaded of 900GB per month. In the US, Time-Warner is experimenting with metered pricing, and Frontier communications has a regime where a GigaByte of data can cost $4.

In the UK we await providers such as BT Total and the Tiscali group publishing more information on their traffic management and fair use policies. They do of course still have three months to comply. Part of the Ofcom voluntary code was for providers to provide clearer information on traffic management and even email users as approaching or crossing a FUP (fair use policy) barrier. BT Total in its previous BT Openworld guise was involved in traffic management techniques back when UK ADSL was a fairly new game. Very little about how BT run their Ellacoya devices which control the traffic is in the public domain, but a similar system of splitting capacity between different types of traffic is believed to be in place to what they had in 2001.

While the voluntary code should make the market and what each provider gets up to a bit clearer, the voluntary nature means we may find some just opting out of certain parts.

Comments

Posted by keith_thfc over 8 years ago
"the free market means that consumers have a freedom of choice." Not if you're tricked into a long term 18 month contract with the promise of a fake "unlimited" service.

"In the UK we await providers such as BT Total and the Tiscali group publishing more information on their traffic management and fair use policies".

The ASA/Ofcom should be ensuring specific details are traffic management are published on the same page as the ads/product pages - problem solved.

And all Fair Use Policies should be banned. You either have a cap or you don't.
Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
Comcast having a 250gig cap but unshaped connection is an improvement over before, 250gig is still a healthy limit, funnily enough I wonder how they would react over there to a sub 50gig cap which isps here tend to have.
I can only agree with keith, ban unspecified limits in FUP's and clearly state what traffic shaping goes on on either the front page or the order page, if someone purely ordering over the phone it should be explained to them or sent in a letter prior to them ordering.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"The initial response from Comcast a US based cable broadband operator is to implement a montly 250GB usage cap on its products."

Just to point out similar to the above this is a genuine 250gig cap, no silly off peak or peak times, no stupid throttles.... Oh and if that isnt enough to say the UK sucks, perhaps i should point out some business products from comcast if you are willing to pay are still UNCAPPED.
Of course even telling this to a whinging yank wont shut them up complaining the cap is too low.
Posted by Aqualung over 8 years ago
personally i think ofcom should provide a template terms and conditions that isp's have to abide by to get an approved rating that would leave only the FUP to wade through as it stands page after page of gooble de gook have to be gone through for each isp leaving most people confused much of it if is clap trap lawyer fodder anyway.
Posted by thomas1303 over 8 years ago
Comcast is my ISP provider, as a customer-I was shocked to hear of Comcast's usage limits. Unfortunately, I think it's just the tip of the iceberg. They only admit to using this tactic in certain markets. But who knows? Here, they offer bundle packages to customers- who often have no other choice. In some US markets, Comcast -due to lack of competition is the only game in town.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"Here, they offer bundle packages to customers- who often have no other choice."

Rubbish, just looking at comcasts web pages reveals you can pick and choose from various internet packages... If you want to pay for the elcheapo bundled TV and internet, dont expect it all to run at the fastest rates or have any restrictions in place.
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