Usage limits around the world
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.