AT&T has developed a Credits System for the purpose of limiting file-sharing bandwidth as reported by TorrentFreak. The telecom company filed a patent on September 12, 2013 that revealed consumers would be given a number of credits to be used when downloading data. In turn, the data would be checked to see if it is permissible or non-permissible.
Over the years, there’s been talk on and off about a technology called Deep Packet Inspection, but apart from sounding like the title of sysadmin-themed porn, why should you care?
Technically, DPI is what happens when an ISP looks past the headers, or metadata, of the packets that carry information all around the Internet and into the content. On its own, looking doesn’t hamper the Internet, but only that packet header is required by the machines that need to pump the cats through the series of tubes.
Note: This column originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of the magazine.
Why would Big Brother bother watching you if he can get his best buddies to keep tabs on your activities for him? While a recent announcement that eight major ISPs would voluntarily implement measures to combat cybersecurity threats seems relatively benign enough (and probably even downright helpful), those same ISPs will start policing their pipes another way by July 12; by then, most Internet service providers are becoming a copyright rent-a-cops for the RIAA and MPAA. What ever happened to the dumb tubes idea?
Industry trade groups like the RIAA and the MPAA have been beating on Congressional doors for years now in a fruitless attempt to restrict Internet access for rampant file-sharers. Thanks to a tangled web of possible political and legal ramifications, the government's been hesitant to drop the banhammer on everyday pirates. Sick of the foot-dragging, the content associations just went Dirty Harry. No, they didn't take the law into their own hands – they bypassed it completely by forging a deal with the largest ISPs, who will now take a "graduated response" against file-sharers at the copyright owners' command.
Have you heard? Comcast is raking in cash like no one’s business. The internet service provider reported today that their net earnings for the third quarter amounted to $944 million. That is a 22% increase year over year. Some of this comes from cost cutting, but Comcast has seen substantial subscriber increases as well.
Comcast saw a 2.7% decrease in the number of TV subscribers, but that was offset by large increases in internet and phone service. Overall internet subscribers grew 6.4% to 15.6 million, while voice accounts grew a staggering 20% to 7.3 million. Overall, Comcast’s customer base grew 3.4% to 46.8 million.
With these strong numbers, Comcast seems more able than ever to proceed with plans to acquire a stake in NBC. No new announcements have been made, but reports suggest that the ISP wants to move into the media space with a controlling interest in GE-owned NBC-Universal.
It wasn’t long ago that numerous tech news sources (including us) reported on Time Warner’s miniscule bandwidth caps, and it would seem that all this press caught the attention of some higher ups within the ISP.
Landel Hobbs, Time Warner Cable’s Chief Operating Officer, wrote a lengthy reply to those that had reported on the matter. “Some recent press reports about our four consumption based billing trials planned for later this year were premature and did not tell the full story,” he states. “With that said, we realize our communication to customers about these trials has been inadequate and we apologize for any frustration we caused. We’ve heard the passionate feedback and we’ve taken action to address our customers’ concerns.”
The post continues to paint a picture where the ISP is stuck in a situation where the growing demand of the Internet causes them to charge such enormous rates and cap users at such small amounts of bandwidth. The post divulges, “…at Time Warner Cable, consumption among our high-speed Internet subscribers is increasing by about 40% a year.”
Strangely enough, at a later point where Mr. Hobbs is dissecting the reasoning behind a very small, very cheap 1GB capped plan for $15 a month he mentions, “Our usage data show that about 30% of our customers use less than 1 GB per month.” Hm.
Self-contradictions aside, the reasoning behind capping the bandwidth does hold some water, it’s just unfortunate that they should come at such colossal prices. If you’re interested in reading the whole message, be sure to check it out here.