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Why Internet Metering is a positive step, but doesn't go far enough

Updated on July 13, 2008
Get ready to have your broadband usage metered!
Get ready to have your broadband usage metered!

The biggest single Internet Service Provider in the United States has recently announced that Internet Metering is eventually inevitable: AT&T seems to comprehend that a plan similar to the ones that Time Warner Cable and Comcast have recently imposed on their users is most definitely the wave of the future.

Both Comcast and Time Warner are implementing several methods of data throttling and data capping online metering due to the fact that a minority of Internet users are taking up far more than their fair share of bandwidth. Naturally this news has set off a firestorm of online protest with numerous vociferous download addicts claiming everything from violation of individual rights to conspiracy theories involving the RIAA, MPAA and Neo-Fascist Pleiadian Spies.

Internet metering is in all our futures and we should all embrace it. Bandwidth is limited like any other resource and users must share the cost of the infrastructure which provides it. What is happening at the current time is that a small minority of torrent junkies are sucking up an inordinate amount of bandwidth sometimes well exceeding 300 GB per month and paying exactly the same as the majority of users who rarely venture over 10 GB in the same time span. Is it reasonable to expect for Client A to pay the same for the bandwidth they use in a day when Client B uses that bandwidth in a month? How fair would it be to scooter riders waiting in line behind the Hummers and SUVs if Exxon announced that for $100 a month you could have all the fuel that would fit in your tank? Why would anyone expect that bandwidth would be any different?

Metering may be a good first step but it truly doesn't go far enough. If we wanted to rid the internet of these bandwidth sucking vampires once and for all, the best way is to truly put the A into ADSL. Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Lines are just what the title states. They are asymmetric, which means that the download speeds are much higher than the upload speeds. In the vast majority of websurfing and other "normal" online activities, the amount of upload bandwidth required is very minimal. The bulk of the traffic is downloading. If upload speeds provided to private individuals were to be maintained at a maximum of 64 Kbps, most of the illegal and overwhelming torrent downloading would come to a screeching halt. Why? For every downloader there has to be an uploader and if the velocity at which the uploader can provide their content to the internet is squelched, the downloads become much longer and troublesome. Official sites such as the TV nets operate their own server farms thus would be free to continue to provide high speed uploads. Individual torrent "seeders" who now represent the vast majority of all bandwidth clogging content would be stuck with woefully inadequate up-pipes, while "normal" individual users would likely never notice the change at all, as they would likely never require more than 64 Kbps upload speed.

Universal metering, charging for extra GBs over a legitimate monthly limit of somewhere around 50 GB, and upload bandwidth squelching are not only ideas whose time has come, but they represent a much delayed imposition of fairness and equanimity for the majority of broadband users.


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    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto

      I have to disagree. 64Kbps will allow you to upload a 10 minute home movie at reasonable resolution in well under an hour. If you are uploading a two hour high def video, then it most likely is not a home movie at all but a Hollywood feature that you have no copyright to, therefore you shouldn't be uploading it in the first place. The cost of ISP transmission averages around six cents per GB, thus a TB costs anywhere between $50 and $70, although there are many determining factors that can skew this price up or down. Therefore, that's around $60 for each TB that non-downloaders are subsidizing downloaders by. I have a "friend" who has six 1TB drives full of downloaded content. That's just under $400 of ISP cost for transmitting. What makes this exceptionally infuriating is that he filled up those six HDs in three months, paying $40 a month. Therefore, the shortfall of almost $300 was borne by me and all the other people who are charged by ISPs to subsidize his activities.

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      Rufus 8 years ago

      "If upload speeds provided to private individuals were to be maintained at a maximum of 64 Kbps,"

      ...then people wouldn't be able to work from home productively, upload their home movies, etc., etc.

      " Why would anyone expect that bandwidth would be any different?"

      The same reason we expect to pay a monthly fee for a gym membership. Gas is expensive to acquire, process, transport, and distribute. Bandwidth less so.

      Not much of value in this article. I'd like to see some reliable numbers on how much it costs an ISP to transport a Terabyte of data.