back to article American ISP flashes phantom bandwidth cap

Yet another American ISP is toying with the idea of a ridiculously low bandwidth cap. Last month, Frontier Online - a regional carrier serving 24 US states - quietly slipped new language into its terms of service that appeared to cap its roughly half a million broadband customers at a measly 5GB a month. That includes both …


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  1. kain preacher


    I read it as stop the crap

  2. Vaughan Trevor Jones

    5 Gigs not enough

    Ha you should see our telecommunications in South Africa. With good old Telkom, on average the packages are between 2 and 3 gigs. Then after wards international traffic is down but local is uninterrupted. (at a fee of course)

  3. James O'Brien
    Paris Hilton


    I guess this will piss off all the *inx, WoWtards, File sharers and pretty much grandma as well since 5GB could be reached just by pissing in the wind. What a stupid cap level, are these people idiots?

    /PH because shes pretty sure vids of her are larger then that.

  4. Chris iverson

    Voting with my feet

    If Time Warner starts rolling out the cap it will be time for a business connection or time for my money to go elsewhere. I think I have few options in my area including fibre.

    tsk tsk

  5. Jodo Kast

    Lies and the lying liars that tell them

    I LOL every time I hear a company contradicting themselves.

    Reminds me of politicians

    (title stolen from Al Franken)

  6. Mike Hocker


    Frontier provides fairly good service, but they are hardly cheap -- and that is before any greedy bandwidth fee grubbing.

    I use 3-5GB/month and that is WITHOUT any video like UTube, or bandwidth hogging BitTorrent apps, streaming music, RSS... just work, and gobs of spam ads splattered on every web page visited. [having a head end IP address blocking capability would save 1/2 of the bandwidth by killing ads before they used the link. Oh, that is probably illegal somehow...]

    The whole thing reminds me of Prodigy's (remember them?) ill fated idiot attempt to restrict the use of email-- by restricting people to a ridiculously low email limit per month. They went titsup eventually, partly due to failed attitudes like the one with email.

    The bandwidth use should be limited to something like 3 sigma out from the median, so that 99%+ of the users are unaffected, but the outliers that stream CCTV security monitor video while running filesharing and downloading movies all on a 30Mbs link hit a ceiling.

    Either that, or simply sell tiered customer end QOS and throttle the hoi polloi server path, so that those that pay for higher QOS get through with minimal latency, and the hogs have to just grunt and bear it while their packets crawl through the soda straw bottleneck in the server...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I've had 8GB download this month already. And I haven't finished yet.

    But BT has no cap (on their top package), and as long as you don't take the piss, and you keep your heavy downloads to off peak then it's fine.

    I use T-mobile for the net on my phone, and my cap is 3GB / month.

    Including 50 min talk time, and HSDPA access my bill is £17 a month

  8. Chris Miller

    5GB is plenty for me

    I consider myself a heavy Internet user (browsing, email and software downloads), but I don't download movies (though I do watch iPlayer occasionally)or (much) music, so my monthly usage is well under 5GB. If I want a higher cap, I can pay more money (ain't capitalism wonderful), but why should 'granny' have to subsidise 'grandson' who wants to shift gigabytes of torrents every day?

    I don't like misleading advertising, so surely it's better to offer a bronze/silver/gold service with caps of 5/25/100GB (say) than an 'unlimited' service which isn't??

  9. Scott Herter

    This is great!

    Just think, all those botnets out there would only work until 5 minutes after midnight on the first day of the month!

  10. Bryce Prewitt

    I'm not sure if bandwidth caps ARE reasonable...

    ...when many companies are going to always-on ultra-fast fiber connections that rival the speeds of most corporate and university links from the 90s and early 2000s.

    Expecting me to use only 5gb, 25gb or even 50gb a month when they're selling a plan with 20/20Mbps is ridiculous. A couple of hours a night playing WoW, watching youtube videos, streaming content from Netflix, buying heavily from iTunes or hulu, or any other sort of bandwidth-intense application can EASILY surpass the cap.

    Caps are a red herring. Fuck 'em. Let me use the bandwidth I pay for how I want. Hosting companies which *don't* oversell their services still offer up one or two hundred gigabytes of bandwidth a month for less than $20. Charging me $40-60/mnth and then capping my "high speed internet" for using it exactly how advertised is shit and everyone knows it.

  11. RW

    "the company's fast talking marketers"

    Fast talking?

    Since when has El Reg felt that innuendo and euphemism was an acceptable substitute for blunt language?

    ITYM "lying", not "fast talking"

    Yours for less euphemistic language. And if anybody's offended (oh, dear, gasps Aunt Nanny-State), just too [*] bad for them.

    [*] Insert pejorative language to taste.

  12. Stuart Oram
    Thumb Down

    By no means is my usage heavy, but ...


    6d 09:53

    kBytes Tx/Rx

    760444 / 5834717

    ....And at times when I'm really using the net and not out most of the day, I can use that and more in a day....

  13. Anonymous Coward

    This as to stop

    all those ISP for sudenly have have limit on their unlimited package whousl be fined for the total of their profit since they implemented they illegal cap and FORCED to give what consumers have paid for. 5 GB is ridiculous. it got more then that on my celphone.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    5 GB!!! WTF!!

    I can use 15gb just listening to internet radio!!!

    Poor Yanks, All those years bragging about how everything there is bigger than over here......

  15. Ed
    Thumb Down


    I'm a fairly heavy user. I download a fair amount of TV, watch iPlayer perhaps 8-10 hours a month, play games etc. My ISP (Nildram) has a cap of 50GB (with unused data rolling over from the previous month) which has been pretty good for me. Last month I managed to go to 70GB (somehow) and Nildram seemed not to notice.

    In theory they reduce your speed to 64kbps once you hit the limit...

    So, 5GB is ridiculous - I can use that in one heavy day of downloading.

  16. EdWeb

    What about Xbox, PS3


    Come on!

    I'm not a heavy user, but I do like the odd Xbox or PS3 session. Downloading demo games will use up your 5Gb in a day, not a month. And it's all legal, legit, above board, on the infinitum.

    I abhor the ISPs that claim "unlimited" and then cry and slap you with a wet capitalist fish when you use more than your "fair share"

    From the Oxford English dictionary:


    • adjective: not limited or restricted; infinite.

    Now, since when did lawyers get to re-write the English language? Bollocks to the lot of them!

    ISPs: Grow up, show some balls, and understand where the World, including the Internet, is going. And that direction is high bandwidth, low cost. Bite your lips and tell your shareholders that they'll be walking away with a few pounds less in their wallets this year, as you have to install a few more bits of kit to deal with the bandwidth. Okay, put prices up by a pound or so a month; but don't screw the customer and try and hoodwink them. They're not stupid, and they'll end up voting with their feet.

    As someone who designs and builds these systems, I know it is possible to deliver a good, fast service, AND make a profit, if only you don't get too greedy. Smart thinking, smart design, smart management, and you're there. And no, I'm not simplifying things. It's been done!

    The day will come when someone with some money realises that it's possible, comes up with a viable model, and blows the big players out of the water, just like the air travel industry; and it's not far off.

    I, for one, cannot wait!


  17. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    @Lies and the lying liars that tell them

    If a liar is lying are they telling the truth?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Always remember

    If its in the terms and conditions it can be used,its a contract.

    If an isp changes one word of a contract you must re-sign for that contract they cant just take the fact that you are still using the service as being an agreement.

    I would suggest to anyone if wording is changed they leave ......their current contract period should be seen as null and void unless they state in writing that they will honour your old agreement for the rest of your current contract.

    If you have equipment from them at a reduced price over the term of the contract you would either have to pay the balance for it or they can collect it from you.

    Dont let the barstewards get away with it where you can they seem to think they are above the law and re write it to suit themselves.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It costs money for an ISP to supply bandwith, I know over here ISP's make razor thin profit margins due to having to pay BT, not sure about in the US but unless you can use your connection 24/7 and cap your speed without it costing them a penny more than someone who only uses 5gb/month, don't you think its fair that the people who only use 5gb/month are not subsidising your internet usage?

    Sure, 5GB may be low, but after "unlimited" 100GB would seem low, a TB would seem low, any cap would seem pretty low. The 56k argument is not really a fair comparison though is it? Dial up is a different system to DSL/cable so the costs associated with dial up should be different, so whilst dial up may be able to use 36gb/month, does that 36gb cost more or less than 36gb on dsl?

  20. Dave Hilling


    I downloaded 2 just getting an update for my GPS unit and 500MB for SP3 and Im half way there.... anything less than 15 shouldnt even be considered but if im paying 60 a month for slow ass service i should at least have no download service

  21. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    5GB ridiculous

    That works out around 170MB per day over 30 days. That's not that many web pages with flash and whatnot and especially when they show advertising videos. That's before you even start using your PC for 'serious stuff'. A single legitimate CD-R ISO download eats up near 20% of allocation.

    Mine's the one with the Wi-Fi adapter configured for next door's network in the pocket.

  22. JeffyPooh

    40+GB/month through a fricken mobile

    Yep. 41GB last month. 45GB the month before that. And this via an EV-DO mobile (cellphone) network using a dedicated USB gadget (application: house-in-the-forest).

    Yes, we do have other hobbies.

    PS: People on mobile data plans charging like $0.03 per kilobyte need to realize that this would cost more than $1.2 MILLION per month. Imagine getting that bill in the mail. The 40GB usage per month is perfectly normal. It's the $0.03 per kilobyte (kilobyte, LOL) that is criminally insane.

  23. Anonymous Coward


    Beaumont probably way undershoots the cap, as the folks are too busy watching NASCAR, and can't figger out why the computer shuts down ever time they hit the START button.

    However, if you start puttin' out HOT SHEEP PR0N, the caps will disappear in the rearview mirror.

    It's the fleece jacket, thanks...

  24. spam
    Thumb Down

    56Kb modem cannot do 32GB per month

    A quick calculation shows only 18GB in a fantasy land scenario of 100% throughput. Realistically I bet you get about 9 GB if you had a dialup connection going 24/7.

    Bandwidth caps are fine, just don't market it as unlimited. full stop

  25. David Wilkinson
    Thumb Down

    They want to cap their service and advertise it as unlimited at the same time.

    I hate my phone company/ISP. I am month to month and when they change their rates, they don't tell me about it in advance. I double checked, no advanced warning and I wasn't being billed for future service.

    Also they randomly change the billing dates and I end up billed for 20 to 60 day periods. When I divide the amount by the number of days I always discover I am being overbilled by $5-10.

    This happens 2-3 times a year.

    And when I had them for long distance. They would raise the rate on my long distance plan. But there would be a new plan that is 100% identical to the old plan, but with a different name.

    They did that about once a year. Yet another way to rip people off for a few dollars every month.

    Its not the small amount of money they steal, its the lack of respect. :(

    My ISP occasionally tests bandwith caps in some city, but I guess they lost customers because they never rolled it out nationwide.

    I am hoping that eventually big business builds up enough resentment that some seriously pro-consumer laws get passed.

  26. Belxjander Serechai
    IT Angle

    New Zealand already has this style of DataCapping...

    and the experience of the end user there was 5GB covers *mobile* only...

    if you want fixed line or unbundled internet of any form...

    the ISPs have "5GB then speed limit the rest" and quite a few ISPs see the first 5GB gone in the first *hour* of Internet usage by a few people...

    Ive seen a single person who would normally use *20* GB a month...

    and that is using Internet TV as well, without any form of illegal or other traffic,

    I would be surprised if any Internet telco actually came clean and released accurate

    figures, but I know the data-caps are going one direction in NZ... upwards...

    as the userbase vote with their feet and the ISPs know it...

    Telecom NZ accepted "unbundling" and just dropped traffic management to prove

    unbundling was the wrong thing to do... its altered the landscape there,

    but data-caps have only changed in the same direction...

    even at 64kbps downrate limit on DSL... 40GB or more is *easy* to do...

    just leave the connection on and the machine flatlining the connection for 28-31 days and the ISP is only providing the service paid for...

    but thats the point... ISPs *oversell* the service they can provide as not everyone

    uses 24/7 internet...

    Ive since left NZ completely... I'll stay with better Internet here in Japan now...

    especially since Im making a family with my GF...

    European and American ISPs might want to take a look outside the immediate rosegarden at the real world beyond the "white picket fence"...

    every rose has thorns and some thorns are just the weeds...

    Have fun, I know I will

  27. Nexox Enigma

    Chris Miller

    """If I want a higher cap, I can pay more money (ain't capitalism wonderful), but why should 'granny' have to subsidise 'grandson' who wants to shift gigabytes of torrents every day?"""

    This isn't a case of getting to pay less to use less data - this is a full price plan that gives you 5GB / month. There isn't more you can buy. Maybe later they'll release something more expensive so that they could continue selling you what they used to sell you for much less, which is blatant douch-baggery.

    Honestly my mom uses more than 5gb a month, and I can't imagine anyone with an internet connection using much less. And then there are those times like last week when I moved her entire 2+gb inbox from one imap server to another, which would nearly hit this rediculous monthly cap.

  28. Rog69

    @ Alan Re-oops

    I have it on good authority that the BT top "Unlimited" package is actually limited to 80 gig. They only enforce it if people go over on a regular basis though.

    Thankfully BT have have helped me out by ensuring that I can never go over the limit or even feel the effects of any traffic throttling by giving me such a slow connection speed in the first place.

  29. Filippo


    That. But you don't need to go on consoles: the Age of Conan client is something like six gigs.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE:56Kb modem cannot do 32GB per month


    nope it cant do 32GB per month down, but it can do 28GB up and down a month (18GB down, 10GB up).

  31. Peyton

    When a limit is not a limit

    My parents live in a rural area, so satellite internet is their only solution for "broadband". They have a 5 GB cap, and if they exceed this limit, they are not cut off, their connection is simply throttled down to a slower speed. With satellite links being pricey, and satellite internet not being heavily subscribed, it's not too unreasonable, and their provider actually spells out their policy very, very clearly. With squid, they manage to survive ;)

    However, I will add that I, personally, could never survive on a meager 5GB, and I can only hope that these poor souls have some alternative provider to switch too.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    What bullshit

    "Frontier claims its average user consumes just 1.5GB a month...." The AVERAGE user probably DOES use only 1.5GB per month. Which doesn't mean squat. They should be using a measurement which actually MEANS something. The fact that 8M people have internet service and use it only two minutes a month doesn't mean that those of us who actually DO use the service should be unfairly limited by reference to such a specious - and irrelevant - so-called "average."

    Let's find out what the real usage level is of those who actually use the service and come up with a reasonable level.

    Unconcerned? Well this'll be in YOUR back yard tomorrow. Just like seat belt laws, 55 MPH laws, bicyclist helmet laws, <strike>prohibition</strike>.08 BAC laws (as opposed to .10), and all the other paternal crap that comes around courtesy of the local news, the local lawmakers, and the big insurance companies.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    El Reg - stop pandering to the ISPs anti-consumer policies

    "The Reg sees no problem with bandwidth caps - as long as they're reasonable."

    The Register really needs to change this attitude. Bandwidth caps are anti-consumer, and should not be accepted by anyone with common sense. As an IT industry publication I can understand why El Reg might support the ISP's businesses, but you can be critical of them and still take their advertising money (I assume there are ads on El Reg for ISPs - I have blocked ads totally for years.... ironcially to save bandwidth).

    The inevitable next step from bandwidth caps is metered connections by the byte, and then this country will be back in the dark ages, like 10 years ago with dial up and everyone was having to pay the phone line provider by the second.

    The ISPs have brought their "bandwidth shortages" on themselves by selling faster and faster connections. The data transfer limit should be the line speed multiplied by the amount of time per billing period, as that is what the sales blurb implied for many many years. Now it's "up-to mega fast broadband (asterisk)", with a list of BS at the bottom of the blurb.

    Are there any towns in the UK where the locals are doing unbundled internet through a co-operative? I think that at this point this is the only way we can make progress in the UK.... Be broadband look like the best ISP on the market at the moment, but remember how Pipex were the best ISP for a while? It wasn't long before the moneytards started circling, bought Pipex up and wrecked it. I feel Be will go the same way, especially as the corporate overlords are O2.... many people within that organisation might be BT old guard, who know the profitability to be had by choking the customer.

  34. Sureo

    Blasted Telcos

    I had an "unlimited" internet with the big telco here (Bell) and they kept raising the rate. The last time I switched to a cheaper plan with a cap and ended up paying more. Then I left the telco for an independent ISP (who provides service through the telco's infrastructure), lost the cap and am paying significantly less. Also the telco throttled my connection to 1500 kbps, and the new provider gives me over 4000 kbps. I would say that a reasonable cap is around 100GB, anything less and it's goodbye again.

  35. Vendicar Decarian

    Yanks living under corporate=fascist rule

    "Poor Yanks, All those years bragging about how everything there is bigger than over here......" - Whomever

    Have you ever been to America? It's a pipsqueek nation with pipsqueek attractions. Like the U.S. gallon and the average (falling) U.S. IQ , everything in America is smaller than advertised. Except the waist lines, the murder rate, the U.S. Debt, and the childishly demented American Paranoia.

    America is now a Corporatist (Fascist) state where corporations rule the government and rule the people.

    This single quote from an article appearing in USA Today should tell you how Stupid Americans have become the slaves of the Corporatist state.

    Among the examples: Questcor Pharmaceuticals last August raised the

    wholesale price on Acthar, which treats spasms in babies, from about

    $1,650 a vial to more than $23,000. Ovation raised the cost of Cosmegen,

    which treats a type of tumor, from $16.79 to $593.75 in January 2006.

    So long my little American Suckers....

  36. Perry Winkle
    Thumb Down

    On par with NZ

    Thats about on par with what i'm paying for internet.

    $35 a month for a 7gig cap at 10Mb per second.

    Not to mention the university i study at charges 3.5cents a meg, outrageous prices.

    It really sucks when companies do that, one of the ISP's here offered unlimited internet for a brief time, and was utterly gobsmacked at the number of people who wanted to join it - so surprised they put in a 20gb "fair use" cap.

    Just goes to show what a band of highway men these companies are.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    Absurdity rules OK

    "As ISP tilter Robb Topolski points out, you could consume a full 32GB a month with a 56Kbps modem."

    Yup, been there, done that, got kicked off two UK ISPs for over-use of dialup access sold to me and advertised as "unlimited" without any fair use poilcy clauses in the contract (Freeserve & Madasafish can both suck my nuts), downloading well over 5GB in a month on it.

    So 5GB on 'broadband' for up AND down data transfer is several stages beyond absurdity. Especially when there's a Japanese ISP whose users have no download caps but upload caps of 900GB/month...!

  38. Chris Miller

    "Bandwidth caps are anti-consumer"

    For the benefit of the hard of understanding, such as me, could someone spell out what the drawbacks are 'to the consumer'? I completely agree that it's wrong to advertise a service as "unlimited" and then impose arbitrary limits, but if services are offered with explicit limits, then those that don't want or need 100GB a month can pay less and stop subsidising those that do.

    If you want to pass a law stating that all ISPs must only sell services that have no bandwidth caps, then be prepared to see a very substantial increase in monthly line rentals and a decrease in effective line speed as everyone else on your 50:1 contention line starts to spend all day downloading (or are you going to insist that all lines offer 1:1 contention ratios as well?)

  39. Wade Burchette Silver badge


    With a streaming movie service like Netflix offers, legal music downloads, YouTube, and VoIP, you'll reach that 5GB cap in days, possibly hours. 5GB is not "reasonable". The internet is changing the way we live. It won't be long before some company offers streaming HD movies. One streaming HD movie will exceed the 5GB cap. Download a game on Steam, there is half your cap right there. No, 5GB is not reasonable. Neither is 5TB. Nor 5 exabytes. The only reasonable solution is no cap.

    Adapt or die. Only the ISP's with no cap will survive the upcoming internet. People are not going to understand caps, they just want it to work. And they will be furious if they are unable to stream a movie because they exceeded some arbitrarily low cap.

    The only reason the ISP puts such a low cap is to raise prices without saying they raised prices. Just like the government raised my car tax by making my car worth more in 2007 than in 2006.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "Bandwidth caps are anti-consumer"

    Long term the bandwidth caps are not good for the customer. The amount of data users get through is constantly increasing with time, as more websites have active content and users learn about other applications on the internet. There is the proliferation of on line console gaming and other home appliances, VOIP and of course video. iPlayer have recently increased the size of their videos, as an example of how these requirements will continue to grow. None of these caps ever mention they will grow with time.

    Bandwidth limits can hinder perfectly legal uses of P2P.... say your lad and his band make a record, and they want to share high quality FLAC versions of it via P2P. If it's popular, you could find your home's internet cap reached quickly. The cap directly interferes with modern distribution methods, which bypass the middle men traditionally needed for distribution. Funny how a BPI member company has ties to a major UK ISP.

    What if you or your family acquire an interest in free software or start using on line education, and as a consequence are downloading more? The cap interferes with the ability for you to expand your own knowledge, unless you want to pay more. The difference between free broadband from sky (horribly capped, no doubt throttled) and a genuinely unrestricted account from a decent ISP is a lot of money for large sections of society.

    Up until only a few years ago pretty much all ISPs were uncapped, but as the services have gained mass market appeal and the ISPs have been in speed wars with each other the restrictions (caps, throttling) have appeared. I object to now facing a market that is gaining more and more arbitrary limits on services, that has developed as a consequence of the ISPs own actions.

    To me it looks like the decision to have 50:1 ratio on consumer broadband is starting to have consequences. As the ISPs were selling the faster and faster services maybe they should have pressured BT into upgrading kit, or aiming to lower the ratio. BT certainly wouldn't have wanted to do that, and so maybe OFCOM need to take responsibility for not making the gate keeper open the gate a bt more (heh, I'm gonna leave that typo).

    I realise there would be ridiculous economic consequences for making the ISPs provide what people thought they were getting, but at some point the necessary upgrades will have to be made and paid for, or we will get left behind. I don't know who will pay, the ISPs won't put their hands in their pockets for it..... that's why I'm ranting on the internet and am not the chancellor of the exchequer, or something ;)

    As time goes on, high speed data lines into people's homes should become like running water and electricity are these days: the norm in a first world country. I feel it is wrong to let ISPs get away, hell, cash in, on holding back progress.

  41. Nexox Enigma

    @Chris Miller

    """For the benefit of the hard of understanding, such as me, could someone spell out what the drawbacks are 'to the consumer'? I completely agree that it's wrong to advertise a service as "unlimited" and then impose arbitrary limits, but if services are offered with explicit limits, then those that don't want or need 100GB a month can pay less and stop subsidising those that do."""

    I think that most of the outrage is at hidden or obscure bandwidth caps which are buried in the terms of service, if they are disclosed at all. I believe a lot of people confuse hidden caps with regular open caps, since the nicely documented ones are so rare that most probably assume they don't exist at all.

    In any case 5 GB / month sounds restrictive for a mobile device, let alone a landline. I can't imagine many people wanting a 5gb plan unless they have some odd usage habits (Say for a cabin that they visit for a few days a month) and it's quit cheap. But as it stands the 5gb service costs just as much as many alternatives, so I'm not seeing much marketing sense involved.

  42. Goat Jam

    Welcome to Net V2

    While the server and software vendors are all champing at the bit to get ipTV, movies on demand, and cloud computing(tm) into the mainstream the ISPs are all falling over themselves to restrict the number of packets they pass. It doesn't take a genius to realise that somethings gotta give. Maybe google will use all that dark fibre they own to use by rolling out their own version of msn, and really throw the cat amongst the isp's?

    We can but hope, as long as we don't mind letting google even further into our net lives.

  43. Chris Miller

    @Goat Jam

    I don't think Google can fix this problem. It may be true that they own a lot of dark fibre, but my guess is that it's linking major cities, eg Atlanta and Chicago. This isn't where the problem that we're discussing lies - it's in the link between your local exchange (wherever your DSL or cable link terminates) and the nearest major city with a Tier 1 POP.

    If you happen to live in a major city, then it may not be a big deal to offer a service with very high cap - take a look at for an example: 30GB daily *upload* limits on a 100Mb connexion, for just over £20/$40 a month, but only if you live in Tokyo! But if you live in a more remote location, delivering genuinely (almost) unlimited service is likely to involve someone laying extra fibre, and that costs money, which someone is going to have to pay for.

  44. Kurt Faasse
    Black Helicopters

    But no one OWNS the internet, do they?

    I thought the internet was all the networked computers connected together, and it worked completely automatically, and that any attempt at censorship is viewed as damage and is routed out of the way. Everyone seems to think they own the internet, and in truth the internet will still be there working after we have exterminated ourselved in the next world war. All this profiteering is just silly.

  45. Matthew

    thats normal in new zealand..

    5gb is usually about the 2nd highest plan you can get here...

    200mb is the standard on telecom! so you guys have it lucky

  46. Charles Manning

    I believe their 1.5G number average.

    Just member folks: we're talking America where a huge % of the population are more than happy with their current dial up.

    50MB per day gives you a lot of email, www, pron, youtube and MP3 downloading.

    Unless you're doing a lot of P2P etc you're unlikely to sustain more than 50MB of data usage.

    I live rurally and have a 2Mbit/10Gper month plan and that does more than I need with software dev telecommuting, running 7 or so computers and a family of four with a healthy bandwidth appetite.

  47. Alex

    And there are still some that believe...

    ...that we'll be all having fibre to our homes (both in the US and the EU) by next year with unlimited bandwidth for terrabytes of HD content movies.... oh really...

    I CAN believe this being done by ISPs, but am VERY surprised it's turned up in the US! Honestly thought the US had the green light for unlimited bandwidth... 5Gb is just FAR too little (see Xbox and PS3 argument above)... And as someone above has already said: "Vote with your feet". Indeed you should!!

    FFS... Bloody ISPs..

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Bandwidth caps being inherently bad for the consumer

    I am not sure I agree to be honest.

    I agree that ISPs should only be allowed to advertise what they intend to provide and that any small print should in fact be big print and quite unambiguous, but that is not the same as bandwidth caps being inherently bad.

    The simple facts of the matter are that there are far more users using far more bandwidth than anyone planned for. This is not likely to improve any time soon.

    Market forces will shape the options provided, but you will pay an amount based on some formula of speed and usage. A similar thing has happened with mobile phones, you pay different amounts based on how much talking or texting you need, and you can change plans if your needs change.

    Although there are legitimate uses for P2P such as downloading linux disties and making your amateur band's music available we all know that a major cause of the bandwidth provision problems are those people who fire up their P2P app, grab everything they can and leave their computer downloading 24 hours a day.

  49. samcoupe

    5 Gig not so bad

    I will put in my 2 pence worth.

    i think that in the uk broadband prices are too cheap realistically bundeled packages where the broad band part costs about 7 pounds will not allow for improvement of the Telecom infrastructure.

    i think that

    512k/128k unlimited should be about 18 /month

    2meg/256 unlimited 25/month

    10meg/512 40/month

    50 meg /2meg 80/month

    Of course this would be for a short period while the network would be upgraded

    i am paying about £58 inc vat for my 20meg / 1meg connection

    and 5 meg for a lot of people is ok tesco has a basic plan for 3 gig and i know lots of people using that with no problem including teenagers

  50. michael

    it is not the caps

    my isp caps me to 50gb per mounth

    but they tell me in advance my contract is eve called Max SoHo 50 it is when it is advertied as unlimited*

    *subject to fair** use polices

    ** fair use is not eccesivicley*** using your connection over a 30 day period

    *** eccesivicley is defined ad not exciding a maxium**** limite of data in clumitive uploads and downloads

    **** defined as we feel like it

    each line getting smaller

  51. green_giant

    Streaming radio

    One guy in my office listens to streaming radio all day everyday. According to our firewall hes using 700meg daily on his own. imagine him on that kind of limit at home.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Capping the caps

    Caps on usage has been around for a little while in Canada already. Quebec based Videotron has had caps for over 5 years already. Various levels control your upload/download. The higher you go the more you can download [and upload!] as well as speed.

    Others such as Rogers and Bell/Sympatico have had some caps but have never reinforced them. [Meanwhile they want to throttle speed during peak hours and have been getting roasted for that.]

  53. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Ah the old statistic

    'Frontier claims its average user consumes just 1.5GB a month'

    Is that 'average' as in mean, mode or median?

  54. Anonymous Coward

    Behind the cap, a desire to deter video via net?

    The only sane reason for laying out a cap like this with no option to buy overruns is to drive out the customers who actually use some of the bandwidth they contracted for. Now who are those people? Primarily the people who download purchased or rented video content.

    Surprise surprise, Frontier is in the business of selling delivery of video content as a service separate from whatever an uncapped DSL customer might elect to stream or download.

    Ah, well. Begins to make sense, the ridiculously small cap. They get rid of the high bandwidth users, and retain the emailing crowd who wouldn't notice if their spam is delivered at 78Kb or 1.5Mb. So what's not to like about that. All Frontier has to do for them is more or less maintain the infrastructure at status quo, and focus serious investment resources on the business contracts and the other component, the VIDEO DELIVERY.

    I filed a trouble ticket awhile back because my download speed dropped to something in the neighborhood of 270K. Had I been just reading a pile of email, you think I would have noticed?

    I think about my own DSL use, which includes movie rental / purchase from iTunes plus purchase of the occasional entire season of old TV shows, and I grant you that it's erratic and sometimes substantial (22 CSI Miami episodes = 9.81GB in one day) but sometimes inconsequential, say a few hundred MB of surfing for news and weather before heading out for a weekend.

    I would be willing to stay inside a cap, if it were a reasonable cap for the internet of 2008, not the internet that Frontier fantasizes about. Their internet is an imaginary one, one that excludes delivery of video content: look at their explanation of how much of what kind of data fits into 5GB, in their explanatory link from their new Acceptable Use Policy, and you will see that video content is not mentioned. At all. Hmm.... Isnt.That.Odd.

    And so I think this (while on hold to cancel my DSL contract and start paying for a phone-only arrangement, month to month basis): you know what? I can get all that video content from Amazon or Netflix, and my other usage of the internet is pretty much news surf and mail, so it seems like my old 56k dialup setup would suffice. I will miss the richer internet for awhile, but not the damned flash ads and auto-play ad videos on the front pages of news sites and market-watching sites.

    What I genuinely regret is that by cancelling my participation in this internet of 2008, the rich one, the innovative one, the one making demands on content providers, carriers and users alike, I will be contributing to the backwards progress of the internet. But please don't forget that it was Frontier Communications who invited me to that party.

  55. David Gillies

    If you try to buck the market...

    ...the market will buck you.

    Saturating my relatively thin cable connection works out to about 2/3 TB per month. That's unrealistic, but I usually run through a tenth of that at least, or 60Gb/month. Someone has to pay for that infrastructure, and that investment has to return at a rate that makes it viable. This is really quite simple: no-one in their right mind is going to invest umpty-squillion simoleons in something if it exceeds the present value of the revenue stream they rationally expect to derive from it. It's all very well crying about the fat cats capping your bandwidth, but the money has to come from somewhere. Trunk bandwidth is relatively easy to scale, but deploying fibre-to-the-kerb is very, very expensive (i.e. on the order of $100 per metre to dig the road up, lay cable, and reconstitute the surface). Switching hardware is not cheap either, and it's a constant battle of Moore's Law lowering of hardware costs vs. Parkinson's Law of ever-increasing bandwidth demand. There isn't a magic bandwidth fairy that pays for all this. Either it's paid for through government subsidy (taxes) or directly via the consumer (higher bandwidth costs) or the bandwidth you're quoted is not available (caps/contention). I fully agree that the terms of service should be as explicit as possible in detailing what the customer will receive. Having said that, the dominant driver in lower price-per-gigabyte is a strongly (and truly) competitive telecoms market, and that is one area where the US is well and truly shafted. You really want cheap broadband? Abolish the FCC.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We have caps here in Oz

    They are not too bad so long as you only get shaped if you exceed the cap... the plans that charge a per/Mb or per/Gb penalty are pants.

    Speaking of which, I just got a notice from my ISP (Internode) saying they are (almost) doubling my cap without increasing my monthly access fee (from 25Gb to 40Gb) and reducing the cost for those who already had the larger cap. I'm well pleased.

    Getting back to Frontier.. the wording of the Ts & Cs also allows them to apply additional charges in the event of the cap being exceeded. I'd be more worried about how big the excess usage charges are going to be than the likelihood of my account being terminated. We actually had the Consumer Watchdog here in Australia issue a warning about the potential for excess usage charges to blow out to hundreds if not thousands of dollars extra in a single month (ok so the warning was specifically targeted at users of the new 3G iPhones with all the telcos levying excess usage charges on caps that are between 200Mb and 5Gb - but it is just as applicable to any ISP that levies excess usage charges).

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    banwidth caps and market size

    most companies are primarily considering caps for small markets only, consider the cost for maintaing a Fiber MAN (Metro Area Network), even in small markets expanding bandwith can reach into the high 100's of millions to low billion/yr.

    In a small market you dont have the customer base to drive the profit to a point where that amount is an acceptable portion of your profit, ie writing it off as cost of doing buisness. so companies are considering tiered systems for those markets to compensate for the portionally larger cost of upgrading and mainting the network to provide high bandwidth connections.

    Larger markets it really isnt needed as the subscriber rate generates enough of a profit to off set the costs and most companies wont be rolling out caps to larger markets.

    undoubtably some companies will try to roll it out to all divisions, but will learn quickly afetr the backlash and retract it.

    small markets well your just SOL, tis inevtable giving the basic math.

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