Entries Tagged as 'Local'

Anti-NC Affiliate Tax Gaining Support #ncaffiliatetax

Internet marketers everywhere are rallying behind the flag of social media. Just take a look at #ncaffiliatetax and see for yourself. I personally have written to Pricey Harrison (Guilford-D) about this and how it hurts small businesses and how it can not only put people’s jobs at risk but also put more strain on the state since if these jobs fail, there would be likelihood of more unemployment that the state would have to take into account.

Actions speak louder than words, and those that are pushing this through tell me that they don’t understand the Internet at all as a business source and how affiliate marketing and internet retail work. With this move by Amazon of notification of their NC affiliates, entire businesses will fail if NCGA pushes forward with this move. And here you thought that they were looking out for the citizens’ best interest…

Search for the rallies online. There are plenty to choose from. Write and call your representatives and tell them that your business is in eminent danger due to these bills. Either way? We have to protect our livelihoods and get those that we have elected into office to hear our cries for help.

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NCGA Unconstitutionally Taxing Scheme Will Hurt Small Businesses

The North Carolina Legislative Building in Ral...
Image via Wikipedia

I don’t know what the North Carolina Legislation is doing, but I can tell you that they’ll be hurting small businesses.

Crazy? Not at all. In fact, this morning I had to re-read my email twice and make sure that the email didn’t come from some hoax source trying to just get to respond with my email so they could sell me Cialis or Viagra or something.

This morning, I received an email from Amazon that said:

We regret to inform you that the North Carolina state legislature (the General Assembly) appears ready to enact an unconstitutional tax collection scheme that would leave Amazon.com little choice but to end its relationships with North Carolina-based Associates.

Hmm. They’re trying to collect taxes from Internet companies… again?!? Come on. It wasn’t but yesterday, I watched how Hong Kong’s civil servants take a voluntarily pay cut to help ease economics and taxes for this year. Yet, here we are in North Carolina, where we’re looking to throw up more laws on things such as taxes on cigarettes, driving mileage, even a text messaging ban while driving to try to make the economics jive. Meanwhile? We are not even enforcing the laws we do have in place such as the tint laws, covers on license plates, and all sorts of other things that could be bringing in revenue for the state.

This isn’t just Amazon mind you. Amazon is only the beginning of the companies that will refuse to do business in this state. There have been others and unfortunately the people that need it the most, the small businesses, are the ones that suffer from this move. Contact your media and state legislation right away. And if your business has anything to do with the Internet, we cannot let things such as this go through.

In the words of Gandalf the Grey, “You Shall Not Pass!”

UPDATE (10:18AM): News & Record’s Mark Binker covers some more details.

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Restaurant Review: Oriental Cafe

orientalcafe I have to admit that I have yet to try all of the food yet. Only been there twice, and both times I insisted on Japanese since that’s what I usually crave since it’s a bit more difficult to get good Japanese food in the South unless you’re a big fan of hibachi. But I have to admit, I found a new favorite place for my tummy.

And what the tummy wants, the tummy gets. To a degree. In any case, the decor on the inside was fabulous, and well done. Something that you’d never would have known from the outside decor due to the fact that it’s in a strip mall. From a cuisine perspective, you’re probably looking at a decent valued meal unless you go ballistic and order several of the ten dollar rolls. They serve Thai, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine and all of the waitresses are extremely friendly. I actually had a chance to meet the owner at one of my NAAAP meetings and found that we actually knew a mutual friend. In either case, the food was great, the value is good, and you really can’t get anything better than this around the Winston-Salem area. At least not to my knowledge.

There are definitely other reviews out there so don’t take my word for it. But I can tell you that both my wife and I have found a new restaurant that we adore. Oh, and one other thing since the Triad restaurants always have incredible crazy wait times during the Friday and Saturday dinner crowds. You don’t have to wait here. It’s one of those diamonds in the rough that people haven’t discovered yet. Nestled in the shadow of the Hanes Mall across from Allegacy credit union, this place is definitely an asian foodie’s choice.

Dangerous Riding With Tailgating Motorists

Motorcycle Ride 002
Image by Dabe Murphy via Flickr

Sometimes, you just have some plain idiots on the road.

I was behind a motorcyclist this morning and gave him plenty of space since motorcycles have better brakes (I do have my motorcycle endorsement). They also can’t take on a half-ton carbon-fiber body either in a collision.

But of course, as I give them plenty of room, some dolt decided that it was plenty of space for them to edge in and be about a two feet away from the motorcyclist. This type of tailgating might be “okay”, and I say that with a lot of reservation, to do with another automobile but the risk of an accident with a motorcycle it’s absolutely dangerous. Any person that rides would know how much more you have to pay attention than driving when you’re on a two-wheeled vehicle because it’s noisier and commandeering such a vehicle takes a lot more concentration than driving a car.

We won’t even go into the fact that some people that tailgate also do not like to use their turn-signals in switching lanes. As a motorcyclist, it’s scary enough to see a vehicle right behind your rear wheel, but one that suddenly gets there that you were not expecting? Talk about increasing risk of an accident. As a driver, I would say that it’s not something I want on my conscience when it comes to hitting another vehicle. But as a motorcyclist? I don’t want to be hit since the chance of death is surmounting from someone that tailgates.

Scary stuff. And as the summer approaches, please pay attention to how you drive.

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Time Warner and Embarq Try to Ban NC Community Broadband

greenlight Kind of irks you, me, and that guy down the street, when you start reading about the latest Time Warner fiasco. Apparently, they caught wind that there’s this thing called Greenlight and could actually hurt their business of monopolistic practices and so they’re trying to get them banned in NC legislation. Pretty low, if you ask me and definitely not exactly in the best sense considering at least Time Warner is in their “consumer education process” mode.

Guess they got scared eh? I mean, the fact that anyone was actually making the comparison for what the Triad had to do to actually attempt something like Greenlight as a community based competitor would scare the pants off of me too if I was trying to make a greedy play for more cash that cannot be justified by any common sense.

So the Public Affairs Manager for the City of Wilson started a “Save NC Broadband” site and is trying to get people to pick up arms again. Let me tell ya, this is not a good thing if they stifle any sort of competition, especially community driven ones.

I can tell you a couple of the arguments that Time Warner and Embarq are saying to the legislation actually just isn’t true.

Myth: Community Broadband offer the services at cost
I suppose that Greenlight could, but they actually are not. If I’m not mistaken, it’s just another choice of a provider. Let’s not forget that they do have staff and everything else that you need to run a business as such. Now, if they do not mark it up as much as TWC or Embarq does, then that’s their business. Let us also not forget that Greenlight was only founded after the city approached these businesses and asked them to provide the services to which they refused (for faster services). If they make the play that they have no cost, I’d laugh since I’ve actually never known any city service to be sold “at cost”. And Greenlight if I remember correctly is a service provided for by the City of Wilson.

Myth: ISPs take two or three years later to deploy broadband to very rural areas
I can say this with much certainty that having lived here since 2001, and having been up to rural western North Carolina where there was the infrastructure for broadband, but “not turned on” due to it not being profitable was a serious problem for many years. I actually knew of Comcast turning on cable internet, and then turning it off and claiming it didn’t exist in that particular area, and then the same happened with Verizon DSL. It’s very much a profit play and not so much of a deployment issue. In fact, as far as your costs are concerned, the majority of any of the cost really lies within the lines themselves and not the servers and connection equipment since the backhauls are already in place for your current phone and cable television services. The addition of Internet services adds to cost, but nothing like they would like you to believe.

Currently, I really have no clue if the Triad itself is looking to even do community broadband (I know of some early talks, but I’ll let the people involved break the news when they’re ready for it). I do know that this move by Time Warner and Embarq really does prove that people can’t just idly stand aside and let them be though. This type of behavior is outrageous to try to oust those that they have even refused services to at the small likelihood that at some point they might have potential of business in the future. Interestingly enough, that type of behavior reminds one of payment plans and racketeering of the 1920s and 1930s. So write/call/email to your State representatives and let them know that we can’t have this going on. Enough really is enough.

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Time Warner Shelves Tiered Billing For Now

Time Warner Inc.
Image via Wikipedia

It looks like Time Warner is shelving metered billing for now.

Like I’ve said before, while I don’t believe this is the right way of doing things and I’m still miffed at the “customer education process” in their current PR statement, this definitely shows that when you play against the majority of your customers’ common sense, you’re bound to lose a pretty penny. I believe that from my personal perspective, I’ve put together a pretty decent scenario on where everything stands for my own benefit and hopefully for the benefit of others.

What’s actually interesting is that there are plenty of ways to make money through feature sets that Internet Service Providers do not really consider. I never did understand why since there are technical skill sets that you can sell as managed services just as I have done in the past for my employer since it’s a worthwhile service position.

Having been in talks with a few friends, I do know that Time Warner Cable has stirred up a hornet’s nest and even with their backing off of their current shift, they’ve also forsaken this move for other ISPs and put the actual issue on the table. And with it on the forefront, there will be eyes on bringing competition into the Triad and other regions which really hurts Time Warner Cable in the long run.

I still wouldn’t doubt that there could be legislation coming down the pipe to prevent this type of move from happening in the future. But the backing off defuses much of the ire. For now, the people have won out.

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Can the Triad Go the Way of Greenlight?

greenlight Greenlight is a FTTH (basically the same technology as Verizon FiOS) service by the city of Wilson in North Carolina. But the question is that if there was to be the creation of such a service, would we have the infrastructure to support it currently and how far would the reach be? Thus, this discussion is predominantly about that and where we stand currrently.

DOCSIS
My main concern with Time Warner currently is how they’re selling DOCSIS 3.0 as if it’s going to fix the data cap issue. But, don’t forget that DOCSIS 3.0 doesn’t actually require that much effort in technology upgrades. It’s mainly a standards change and binding of channels. This basically means that 3.0 markets could eventually fall under the axe of the data caps. So when I saw that they were toting a $99/month 50Mbp downstream and 5Mbp upstream, it hit me that the consumers would lose yet again here in a tiered system.

So far, there have been no guarantees that going to DOCSIS 3.0 would actually have no data cap. Time Warner will probably not deploy this technology here either until there is serious competition since it doesn’t impact their bottom line here in the Triad due to little to no competition.

Verizon FiOS and AT&T Uverse
I predict that Verizon FiOS will not be here any time soon based purely on the fact that this market is maintained by AT&T (previously BellSouth). This was a distribution by the Baby Bells, and thus Verizon doesn’t have any infrastructure here. AT&T Uverse is a hybrid fiber/copper system that can provide a similar sort of service without going through the full fiber infrastructure ground work. The negative of it is that it doesn’t provide the speeds of FTTH (which is what FiOS is due to it being pure fiber to the homes), but the positive is that it costs less in the fixed costs of initial groundwork and can set up as an intermediate stage to FTTH. Unfortunately, AT&T has shown interest in the data cap type servicing plans which defeats the purpose of “faster” services when you’re limited to how much you can use.

Pricing
From a price structure, most of the speed is really lost when you’re on a data cap. Currently, the pricing below shows the more comparable services and how much they’re supposedly going to cost based on their current quotes. Also remember that as of current, unless you do a lot of simultaneous high bandwidth type downloads, upper limits of speed for downstreams are more or less irrelevant to most of your general consumers currently. Now if you had multiple HD streams going, then it would definitely make a difference but even with your current cable, you already can buffer and watch while it buffers the rest.

TWC DOCSIS 3.0 Verizon FiOS Greenlight
Speed (down/up) 50Mbps/5Mbps 50Mbps/20Mbps 40Mbps/40Mbps
Price (per mo) $99 $144 $99

City Infrastructures
High Point : I’m not really sure if High Point has a fiber ring. They might, or might not but if they do, I don’t know what it’s used for as of current.
Greensboro : They do have a fiber ring but it’s city use currently. Can this be used to create FTTH service to certain neighborhoods? I think so. But the infrastructure would have be upgraded and extended out to service more than just the downtown areas where I assume most of the ring is located. They will also have to begin to look into how to create the jobs similar to Greenlight and how to break city and law enforcement services away on the same ring from servicing the public.
Winston-Salem : Of the three cities, Winston-Salem is probably the best set for a shift to services like Greenlight. This is due to the fact that WinstonNet already services the universities here and they have been working on a wireless initiative in the past to provide wireless to all of Winston-Salem and eventually Forsyth County. Being an Internet 2 POP, the bandwidth is definitely there and they can use that as a base structure to become a provider. I would love to see this happen, but it would depend on how they feel about the entire competitive thing and if they believe it would benefit the citizens on a whole.

Regional Politics
I truly think that regionalism is the best push for this type of project, but seeing how the Heart of the Triad pretty much fell by the wayside, and there’s always talk about regionalism but actually very little action, it’s hard for me to see it happen without turf issues. All in all, smaller cities just can’t compete on a grand scale compared with a larger populace.

Synopsis
I believe that a municipal provided service would actually be the most beneficial to defeating tiered billing. Not only would it be a cheaper service, but the governments on a whole are accountable to its people. The couple of parts that I foresee as an issue would be the fact that municipalities not working well together as a region to create a larger fiber ring that no one else has in the United States. It would also show that when people come together, they can provide for its people and put aside its differences. Great speech stuff, but in reality I wonder if the Triad can actually accomplish this. The other part is that business competition with municipalities is actually a potential legal problem. There would have to be some sort of a nonprofit that would represent the Triad in this matter similar to how Winston-Salem is represented by WinstonNet. Only as such, can they perhaps play the same game that the city of Wilson is playing.

More on Time Warner Cable and Metered Billing

Metered Billing
Image by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com via Flickr

I’ll have to admit that there’s a lot to contemplate and definitely more strategies than one can fathom when it comes to why Time Warner is really chasing down this business strategy. But the below are more opinions and observations of how Time Warner metering service could effect your broadband as of current and how more information is better than buying into just straight sales pitches. If in the end, you still want tiered billing, it’s your right as a consumer to choose.

Infrastructure
Is it truly infrastructure costs that are driving metered billing? I sincerely doubt it but benefit of the doubt should be applied. I mean, heck, in 2006, TWC SVP spoke of the fiber acquisitions into markets they didn’t have and at five hundred million here and there, that adds up. In the same year, they were touting that their fiber backbone was a 10Gbps IP network. Note that this is purely for data and not anything else. While I have spoken to TWC personnel in the past and they should be if conversations did not elude me, be past those limitations these days, especially when they are taking on FiOS markets with DOCSIS 3.0 deployments.

DOCSIS 3.0
What exactly is this? DOCSIS is the standard at which your data is transferred over a cable modem. Currently, you pay for something like a 6Mbp downstream and probably 768kps upstream. The potential of a DOCSIS 2.0 at maximum is 42.88Mbps downstream and 30.72Mbps upstream. Notice the difference? Now, no one really “needs” the maximum potential of DOCSIS 2.0 unless you’re running a business with extraordinary data traffic. Even DOCSIS 3.0 is out in left field for your average consumer since it basically binds 4 or 8 channels together to give you maximums (171Mbps/343Mbps) downstream and 122Mbps upstream. Yes, geeks can start drooling now for no reason.

But if you’re thinking that no one else uses this “supposed” high end technology, think again. The infrastructure stays the same, but the modems have to be changed out. That costs around a hundred USD per household. And if you do some price comparisons internationally, you’ll find that Liberty Global and NTT Communications basically sell DOCSIS 3.0 service at almost similar pricing monthly as what current US consumers pay. Except, we’re getting the data caps too.

Does Anyone Really Bite on Infrastructure Costs?
I doubt it. I’m really not sure why they hold to that story. From a public relations perspective, it doesn’t hold much water and just makes it look bad. Let me put it in another perspective. So far, there have been price comparisons between Roadrunner Lite with the 5Gb plan and basically what you gain is…. (drumroll) more limitations! Introducing a 100Gb plan doesn’t change anything except further the anger of the customers. And no, the fee cap at seventy five dollars doesn’t begin to make it an “unlimited” plan. Basically, the bottom line for potential unlimited is going from fifty dollars a month to one hundred and fifty. That’s a 3 times inflation in a recession. I mean seriously. You’re going to tell me that my upper limit is now 100Gb for seventy five dollars a month that is more than I pay as of current? Please. Don’t insult my intelligence.

Now if they wanted to set an upper data cap like Comcast and be done with it there, then I would almost say that it’s quasi-acceptable since 250Gb is more difficult to reach unless you do some seriously naughty things (or transfer some major linux cd/dvd images). It is actually possible to scrape up 4TB of data in a single month, but if that’s the case those people can also be flagged and throttled. There are plenty of ways to stop abusive consumers without trying to throw out a weak PR push on how it’s about the infrastructure.

More Tiered Levels That Do Nothing
You thought that you’d get insulted by the 100Gb side? Wait one minute. There’s actually MORE. For the so-called light e-mailers, there’s the fifteen dollar a month plan with the data cap at 1Gb. With spam at all time highs and botnets taking over systems left and right, I’m surprised anyone would even think that 1Gb is a “lower” limit. Don’t forget that people will still surf here.

On top of this, they introduce DOCSIS 3.0 pricing at a mere $99 a month with no said cap? Why would you keep insulting your customers. It’s basically a neener-neener, we’re rolling this out in competition with FiOS markets but because you don’t have competition in your market, we want to charge you more because “WE CAN”.

Businesses Will Not Be Effected? Think Again.
Right now, the word from their spokespersons is that businesses will not be effected by this data cap. But do not forget that if this “test” actually does work, that businesses will rightly get charged. Why? Let’s take a quick look at current differences between data plans. Business class service is still bandwidth capped and in fact more strictly than residential. The difference is that the amount of money you pay per month is uptime costs. That means that if this tiered billing system does go somewhere, then businesses will eventually become “equal” with residential with the only difference being different data caps and uptime guarantees.

Corporations WILL Push Back
We haven’t seen it yet, but Time Warner and other internet service providers are playing with fire in this scenario. Much like the Net Neutrality arguments where ISPs lined up on one end and major tech corporations (Google, Microsoft, Amazon, etc) lined up on the other side, we have yet to see push back from these giants. But believe me, they will stand on the side of the consumers. Very simplistic reasoning. If you take away consumers from the content, then it hurts the margins of these giants. And whether you like it or not, these corporations along with content providers such as Hulu, Netflix, and the like combined are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to their legal war chests. Don’t forget that this maneuver would also get those not involved in Net Neutrality such as Sony, Blizzard, and other gaming industry people involved due to the fact that data caps actually do hurt online gaming.

Bottom line? Maybe I’m crazy but stacking the deck against yourself doesn’t help you survive for long. And when you hurt the bottom line of multiple industries and international conglomerates? Unless there’s some sort of huge legal cash reserve that we don’t know about, it’s probably not a good idea to bite off more than you can chew. Incurring the wrath of MS and the big G isn’t a great way to make friends either.

Politics
Outside of the legislation to stop this inane billing behavior, let’s take a look at what else this would deter. The Obama administration has included stimulus money to provide broadband into every household. Now, maybe I’m incorrect in this, but tiered billing should make any internet service operator ineligible for this government funding. Why? Based on current pricing of Roadrunner Lite with the data caps, the justification is obvious. As an infrastructure operator, it’s actually making it more difficult to get service since you’re putting more limitations on service. If I were any Congressperson, I would be investigating if we should even be providing these corporations monies to “build out” when they’re trying to push more cost onto their own customer base in bad economic times.

It’s Not about Internet Content?
Strange. If the technology isn’t going towards IP generated traffic and Time Warner Cable isn’t trying to protect its own primary business then you would think that they wouldn’t be trying to deploy television on these ip networks. But they are. It’s called over-the-top television. Basically, it’s the television shows delivered over the Internet. Now you would think that this is actually cutting off the nose to spite the face, but with some strange logic it actually does make sense. They [TWC] want to decrease their cost of delivery and increase the last-mile end without doing anything. And hoping to pull the wool over the consumers’ eyes in the process.

Just think about it in this fashion. This tiered billing news follows the one where some of the online shows will be going to full-subscription based. So guess what? The consumer gets to pay out potentially three ends. Once for the show, and once for the monthly data cap, and once for overages. All for the same content. So if you’re a television junkie? Here’s a royal screw you from TWC.

Synopsis
What I find absolutely discouraging is that Time Warner is leading this charge and other service providers are meekly doing this in the background thinking that the consumer will stand by and do nothing. Now if TWC had implemented the 250Gb shift, then I think there would be some grumbling but most people would have set it aside even with the comparisons. But data caps set up to make you go over or pay more overall when the majority of infrastructure costs are fixed costs not only adds insult to injury, but it basically gives no reasoning for consumers to have any sort of customer loyalty to their business. In essence? You never tell your customers to pay more for the same service unless there is justification (upgrades, more features, etc).

In the end, this drives two different problems for Time Warner. The first are the first adopters. Those that are driven by Internet business will probably get direct fiber lines to their business which will drive the cost of fiber even lower. They would have to look at T1s or shared/partial T3s as an increased cost but without limitations of which cable providers want to limit themselves in their own businesses. The second would be the younger generation gap. In providing data caps, you not only stifle the adoption of Internet services but younger generations will find other things to do instead of watching either shows online or television. Which in turn will hurt their profit margins instead of help. If you don’t believe that this is how things work, just take a look how text messaging became the next generation of communication for young people in Europe in the last decade. Why? Because the cost of phone service from country to country was too expensive but text messaging was dirt cheap. So eventually, everyone shifted towards texting. In the same fashion, if you alienate your younger generations from their current loves, then they’ll shift their habits to other means. And that’s just not very profitable.

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Insight Into Time Warner Metering

emarketer_chart_10022008 This chart really does tell you something. But let’s hold off on that thought for now. Let’s visit Time Warner’s data cap and what they’re not telling you. First off, regardless of how Time Warner is operating the business, the entire tiered system is a huge failure on the business end. Now there’s talk that the tiered system high end will not only have just the 40GB (previously said by TWC’s spokepeople as the higher limit) but there will also be a 100GB limit. The original limit was very obviously set by someone that hardly uses their Internet or has never actually had to care since they don’t pay for it being a senior management type for Time Warner. So to make a call for the high end at 40Gb when the rest of the world is running at more than that? Definitely a serious “TWC Fail”.

Layman Terminology
Don’t understand the technical terms? No problem. Here’s what Time Warner is currently doing:

Water = bandwidth
garden hose = bandwidth cap
limiting of actual water from source = data cap (new tiered system)

If you view your water out of your garden hose, that’s your bandwidth. The hose itself is your bandwidth cap. So since the beginning of broadband, consumers have only been purchasing the size of hose. Regardless of how much water you use, be it a trickle or full blast, you were always limited by the size of your hose that you “rented” on a monthly basis. What Time Warner’s inconclusive logic is now saying that due to the fact that you use less water, let’s limit the amount of water you can get and let you rent the same hose for the same price. More limitations, more money essentially. Don’t think it’s fair? It probably isn’t. Oh, and let’s not forget that you’re paying for this because “certain users” use more water. Wait, what does that have to do with you when you’re limited by the hose? It doesn’t. Essentially the logic is flawed. And the fact that you’re paying the same amount for essentially the potential of less.

Another analogy would be if you bought a Ferrari. So you buy the Ferrari and you’re paying some price for it. Whether or not you want to drive it at 5mph or 120mph is your call because that’s what you paid for. But now, the dealership (Time Warner) has decided that while you are paying that same price for the Ferrari, you can only drive it at 30mph unless you pay them more money on top. You might not have been driving it fast, but you are sure limited to what you had with what you pay.

Why is Time Warner REALLY Chasing This Issue
Now’s the time to take a look at that graph. If you’ll notice, it’s not really P2P traffic (even though any internet service provider wants you to think that it is). If it was, then you would think that P2P traffic would actually increase over the last few years as the word about Pirate Bay, and other types of services for P2P got out. In fact, studies show that if you trace the increases in traffic and the projected traffic patterns, it seems obvious that the issue lies in content provision by the Internet versus what is provided by Time Warner’s current business…. cable television. Are they deathly afraid of content being managed over the Internet instead of through the likes of cable television? I would think so. And if you manage to have access to a younger generation and ask them what they watch, you’ll realize that this maneuver is really a preemptive strike towards Internet content. If you think it’s a biased study, take a look at the source. It’s Cisco systems, whom pretty much runs the networking for …. well… everything. And believe me, Cisco doesn’t really care if it’s P2P or not.

And to top it off, if you get sucked into the entire pro-business model perspective, then you sort of wonder why Time Warner doesn’t implement a-la-carte pricing for their cable services if they’re trying to do this for their data model. How about your usual fifty to eighty dollars depending on if you pay for premium channels, but if you watch more than 14.84 hours a month, you have to pay one dollar for every hour. Where did I get 14.84 hours? At their maximum residential 6Mbps download speed, you can burn through 40Gbps potentially in that amount of time. Does this raise some eyebrows?

Flawed Mathematics
Okay. It’s not really flawed, but more like potentially faulty advertisement. First let’s take a look at how Time Warner does their mathematics here. Is that data cap a “marketing” gigabyte or an actual technical gigabyte? WE DON’T KNOW. Somehow, I doubt that they do either until they read this. But indeed this makes a big difference. Especially if you take into account that Beaumont, TX individuals have already seen some seriously messed up mathematics because of the failure of communicating the differences. The technical standard of a gigabyte is 1024 Mb (actually has to do with bits to bytes conversion). But in marketing terminology, a gigabyte is equivalent to 1000Mb. And notice that with this failure of communication, there are already reports of people getting miscalculated bills due to the Gb being different on different line items. You can seriously get nickel and dimed here since it’s not termed correctly.

What You’re Paying For In A Tiered Billing System
Less I forget, with a tiered system you would also be paying for “spam” and “advertising”. Yes, those flashy Flash ads and any junk mail you actually download for email? You’re paying for that in a tiered system. Don’t mind the fact that spam constitutes a major portion of Internet traffic. Is your Internet Service Provider helping you stop this? They can’t. Privacy regulations. It’s like if they actually did something about your computer being infected by viruses. And in case you just happen to be a technophobe and don’t know how to update your virus/malware protection and think that just buying Norton or McAfee will cut it? Yes, you too are now paying for your PC being infected. Great stuff.

Next off is their digital phone service. Do you pay Time Warner for digital phone? Think again when this tiered billing goes into place. You’ll be paying twice. Oh yes, you didn’t read that wrong. Why? You pay once for the phone service, but then again as part of your Internet. And as a transport provider, they can’t just commit to a free digital phone service, unless they wish to set themselves up for a potential legal battle not only on providing an unfair advantage in a marketplace, but one that would have the likes of Vonage, Lingo, Packet8, ViaTalk and others breathing down their necks. Don’t believe me? Just wait for it to happen. And if they actually do pull it out, then from a technical perspective, they’re actually traffic shaping by figuring out what packets are for what. That rolls them down a nice slippery slope of privacy issues since it doesn’t take much more to actually determine what exactly you’re surfing, watching, reading, and so on. Believe me, the technology has been there for ages and any computer science student that knows about the transport layer can write a program to do it.

Competition is NOT the Answer
And those of you that are thinking that TWC is the only company that’s out there trialing this, think again. Both Comcast and AT&T have been testing this tiered billing system for quite a while now. So allowing competition isn’t the issue as much as not allowing this type of billing practice.

Will Politicians Please Stand Up
Is this practice legal? No clue. But are there things that are questions arising from it? You betcha. Even Representative Eric Massa (D-NY) is stepping up to draft legislation against this type of data capping. Unsure if those representing North Carolina or even Texas will be actually following suit but it would be interesting to see if legislation would pass in this sense when there are major corporations that pay some serious lobby dollars in Washington.

Synopsis
The math stands. If you’re paying for 6Mbps download then let’s do the math.

Maximum downloadable = bandwidth x seconds x minutes x hours x 30 days.
.006Gbps x 60 seconds x 60 minutes x 24 hours x 30 days = 15552Gb. Or 15.552Tbps / 8 (bit to byte conversion) = 1.94Tb of downloadable stored data.

The actual chance of anyone downloading that much data all at once? Well, never have I heard of it on a 6Mbps line and I’ve known some seriously heavy users in my day. In fact, how many users do you know actually know download half of that, even with P2P traffic? Internet service providers need to realize something in bad economic times. We’re willing to give you our fifty dollars a month because the Internet is a tool in today’s world and without it, things would move a lot slower. Snail mail versus email scenario. But, we won’t stand for you to stand on the backs of consumers when it’s an obvious play against our common sense.

Caveat Emptor.

Bandwidth Monitoring If Time Warner Succeeds

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With the recent news from Time Warner Cable, Greensboro residents are up in arms about being a test site for tiered Internet services. Believe me when I say there’s a movement out there.
Don’t believe me? Take a look. Stop Time Warner Cable is already up garnering in over 1000+ diggs at the time of writing. It seems that the unfair practice has actually been sent in as complaints to the NY Attorney General as harboring anti-competitive means.
But just in case none of the complaints by these irate customers work and you’re one of the few people that just like to be bludgeoned by corporations that don’t care what you have to say? I recommend you implement this in your daily lives immediately.
I personally wouldn’t trust a corporation that tags you with a 40G high limit. Sorry, TWC, but you ruined any hope that you had any inkling of technical knowledge there by implementing something that some finance person probably put into place. And so if they tell you how much bandwidth you’re using, I would corroborate the story with something that runs on your system itself.
PCs:
I recommend using some open source bandwidth monitoring like FreeMeter. This basically sits in your tray and you can monitor how much you use up and down and have something to show for it in case you have to go complain to customer service that their network is tracking something outside of what you use.
Macs:
SurplusMeter is another open source goody that allows you to track your monthly usage by volume and can give you all sorts of useful statistics.
Linux:
Do I really have to go over this, if you run a linux box? There are plenty of bandwidth monitors out there and most of them sit on the desktop along with monitoring your cpu/memory/etc.
In any case, good luck with this if you need to track it. Even with the three month grace period, you know that there will always be some issues that will stem from this tiered internet fiasco that grew from some bean counter’s mind (probably doesn’t use the Internet either to implement the 40G limit).

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