Service Provider Contradiction Affliction

Service providers advertize both blazing downloads and advocate rate-limiting

You can't help but notice the volume of mobile provider ads on TV where company A complains about the lack of coverage or speed of company B's wireless network. We haven't seen this type of mudslinging since last year's political elections. Each service provider tries to highlight how their download speeds are faster than the competition. However, they are also secretly or not-so-secretly planning to limit the bandwidth available to their subscribers.

The TV ads have been growing increasingly annoying. The commercials have even spilled over into the U.S. court system when Verizon and AT&T have battled it out using lawyers. However, just the other day Verizon and AT&T dropped their lawsuits against each other. The other day Jared Newman wrote an online article "AT&T's Data Crackdown: I'm Calling a Bluff". It is clear that these providers "want to have their cake and eat it too". They can't continue to pound their chests saying their coverage and speeds are the best if they are also limiting what their subscribers can use. Service providers have a concern over excessive peer-to-peer file sharing and streaming media content used by their subscribers.

These issues aren't confined to the wireless service provider arena. Other broadband access providers also struggle with advertizing faster download speeds while considering moving toward measured service. AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, and Comcast have all broached the subject of metering their subscriber's usage. They have avoided words like rate-limiting and measured service while still advocating net neutrality. Comcast has revealed their trial of the Comcast Usage Meter. The recent NetForecast report can be viewed at this site. I wonder if those usage meters measure IPv6 packets correctly or if they are just counting IPv4 in/out octets. I believe these service providers are just measuring raw bytes rather than performing Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) on the traffic.

It seems that the more advancements in technology occur, the more things stay the same. "Buyer Beware" is alive and well when it comes to subscribers selecting mobile and broadband Internet access service providers. Let's all hope that the deluge of TV ads starts to fade so we can get back to watching more "good" commercials.


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