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[Discuss] data caps

Matt Shields wrote:
> While I would love to punish the companies that abuse datacaps in
> favor of profit.  Some people do not have much of a choice when it
> comes to what service is available.

That was the point of my question...what are the alternatives?

> either need to go with whose service stinks (they
> don't have a cap but they throttle)...

Right...4G wireless isn't quite practical yet, and the companies
offering that are just as much into data caps.

I read Clear is being fought over by Sprint and Dish, and neither buyers
seem all that enthused about acquiring it, they just don't want the
other to have it.

Anyone tried out FreedomPop ( which uses
Clear and Sprint's network?

Their model is that you get 500 MB/month free (the page for their home
router says 1 GB/month), and then you pay to go over that. There is also
some scheme where you can earn extra capacity. Their site doesn't seem
to offer any details (at least not without filling in forms), and the
Wikipedia page feels like it is outdated on the plan specifics.

Based on people reporting poor service with Clear, it doesn't seem like
a good option for a primary connection, but their free offering sounds
like a perfect solution for a backup provider.

> a traditional T circuit which is really expensive.

Right. Plus, it's old tech.

Anyone know why pressure from competing technologies hasn't pushed the
price on T circuits down substantially? I know in the 90's they were
priced in the thousands, and T1 dove below $1000, but they seem to have
leveled off. Perhaps if you shop around you can find a T1 for $200/mo,
comparable to a 1.5 Mbps symmetric DSL link?

There must still be a perceived advantage to them. It can't all be in
the Service Level Agreement (guaranteed uptime) as the SDSL links have
similar SLAs.

I brought this up a while back, but has anyone tried carrier Ethernet:

See also:

Megapath (formerly Covad), best known for DSL, and Comcast are both
offering it, if not pushing it as the preferred solution.

There's very little explanation from these vendors of how they
physically deliver the service. I'm guessing - particularly in the case
of Megapath  - that it is Very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line (VDSL):

  Second-generation systems (VDSL2; ITU-T G.993.2 approved in February
  2006) use frequencies of up to 30 MHz to provide data rates exceeding
  100 Mbit/s simultaneously in both the upstream and downstream
  directions. The maximum available bit rate is achieved at a range of
  about 300 meters; performance degrades as the loop attenuation

So as with ADSL, if you don't live close to the CO (or have a
neighborhood concentrator), you'll only see a tiny fraction of those speeds.

Apparently AT&T's U-Verse service, which runs fiber to a neighborhood
concentrator (FTTN), uses VDSL over coper to homes. As far as I know
U-Verse is not offered around here (Wikipedia confirms that).

Matthew Gillen wrote:
> It's also the case that outside of Boston/Cambridge, it's usually
> impossible to even get business-class service in a residential
> neighborhood (I've tried w/ Comcast and Vz).

I was not aware of that. It's generally in the provider's best interest
to offer business class service, as they charge more for it. Usually
they're happy to push you towards business service.

I've always bought business-class service, even for home use, and
haven't had any problems in Newton getting the usual suspects to offer
it. Newton probably approaches Cambridge in terms of residential to
business ratio. I do remember back in the late 90's when Comcast was
first rolling out their business offering that they took forever before
offering it in this area at all.

> The ability to get DSL supposes your copper hasn't already been cut...Vz
> is trying very hard to obsolete the old POTS infrastructure because
> there's so much regulation (specifically, forcing them to share their
> infrastructure with re-sellers) on it versus FIOS.

Sure, we've discussed that a bunch of times on the list.

Even if you still have copper lines, you'd still be hard pressed to
achieve what the FCC classifies as broadband speeds - 4 Mbps down. The
lines are deteriorated, and no one is spending the money on them. People
on DSL Reports complain that their data rates have decreased from what
they used to be.

I remember in the mid 90's GTE (if I remember correctly) was investing
heavily (or making it sounds as if they were) in installing neighborhood
concentrators around here. What ever came of those? No doubt they fled
from that technology, because just like DSL from the CO, they were
required to share it.

The other problem with DSL is the providers. There has been a lot of
consolidation. Covad turned into MegaPath and absorbed Speakeasy and a
bunch of other providers. They've apparently also outsourced much of
their network:
  ...they heavily rely on a company called Global Capacity in over 90%
  of their serviced areas since they pretty much gutted the
  COVAD/Speakeasy networks. GC is basically a wholesale company they
  place orders through and are again, resold to companies such as
  Qwest(CentLink), AT&T, and about 100+ other companies.

  The old network is pretty much gone. Now its resold and using various
  partners that is just backhauled to the MP data center in DFW. The old
  Speakeasy and COVAD days are long gone as those networks are gone.
  Very little of them are still around. This is even the network ELink
  was using for ADSL2+ and New Edge Networks, all gone.

> Honestly, I think if you really want to start ramming some common sense
> into our broadband infrastructure, the one thing that really needs to
> happen is a hard separation between the "pipe owners" and the "content
> providers".  Until the that happens, our 'pipes' will be artificially
> constrained according to the desires of "content owners"...
> Until you have companies whose sole interest is to provide good
> broadband service, and not to protect revenue models of existing
> "content owner" mega-companies, then nothing will change.


Matt Shields wrote:
> Quincy happened to strike a good deal with Comcast and they do not
> want to renegotiate with them to allow competitors because their
> percentage per household in the city will go down and thereby cutting
> some of the revenue for the town.

Yes, towns are being short sighted.

I had a conversation a few years ago with the head of public access TV
in Newton about making their programming available online. His response
was that doing so would hurt their benefactor, the cable companies, that
fund the majority of their budget (which of course comes out of our
cable bills). He just didn't get that his real mandate was to make the
programming as accessible as possible to the residents.

Broken incentive systems are at the heart of many problems we run across
in this area.


Tom Metro
Venture Logic, Newton, MA, USA
"Enterprise solutions through open source."
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