31 January 2006

Sean Donelan's Post on Cybertel

Sean Donelan posted the following on the CYBERTEL mailing list. I thought you might find it interesting. What is the impact on the so-called "next generation networks" (NGNs)? How about network neutrality?

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RCN's operations director published some data about current traffic mix on the RCN network.


He doesn't show how few customers are using the bulk of the bandwidth.

Of course, there is the usual ranting and flaming going on.


In the short term I suspect providers will try to make do with various traffic shaping attempts. Due to upstream technology differences, traffic shapers tend to be more popular among cable providers. But in the longer term I expect the US will see usage based pricing for high-bandwidth connections at the residential level. Usage based pricing is already becoming more common in other countries on high-bandwidth connections.

ISPs tend to have very simple billing systems. And even usage based billing tends to be very simple. Its similar to reading an electric meter once a month. You have a base allocation (e.g. 2GB, 6GB, 10GB) each month and any usage over the base amount is billed separately. No time of day or distance calculations.


An interesting side-effect of providers moving to usage based pricing is they often have "uncapped" connections and more "open" AUP policies. With usage based pricing, the ISP's incentive is to give the user the fastest line possible. With very high-bandwidth connections the user has to control his or her own usage, such as from servers or p2p applications running on the computer, instead of the inherent throttling of the connection.
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