Feeds

Comcast exec says wired broadband customers should pay-as-they-go

'Usage-based billing' could arrive in next 5 years

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

US broadband customers should expect to be charged wireless-style fees for their wired internet access in the next few years, an executive from US broadband mega-giant Comcast has revealed.

"I would predict that in five years Comcast at least would have a usage-based billing model rolled out across its footprint," Comcast executive VP David Cohen said at an investor event in New York City on Tuesday.

Under such a model, Cohen said, Comcast customers would be allotted a specific amount of bandwidth that's included in their monthly charge – say, 300GB – and they would pay in increments for anything after that.

According to Cohen, the move is all about fairness. "People who use more should pay more and people who use less should pay less," he said.

Comcast has long monitored its customers' internet usage, but in the past it was always with a mind to cut off access for the most bandwidth-hungry users.

With a growing number of Americans using streaming-media services like Netflix and YouTube, however – which already eat up nearly half of all US internet capacity during peak hours – Comcast and other broadband providers are now realizing that it may be more profitable to charge more for heavy usage, rather than lowering the boom.

Indeed, Netflix has complained that Comcast is already "double dipping" by forcing streaming content providers to pay extra fees for unfettered access to its network, while simultaneously charging its own broadband customers for the same service.

But Cohen dismissed that complaint, saying that Netflix owner Reed Hastings just wants "free transit" on Comcast's network, even though its traffic occasionally accounts for as much as one-third of all of the available bandwidth.

"And if Netflix doesn't bear its share of those costs to connect to the network then we have no choice but to raise prices for everyone else," Cohen said. "And ... why should two-thirds of the people who never use Netflix pay for the cost for Netflix to attach to our network? It doesn't make any sense."

Cohen added that Comcast's current bandwidth caps only ever affect around 2 per cent of its customers, and that the ceiling for usage-based billing would be similarly large, so that most of Comcast's customers would never find themselves buying extra bandwidth.

"I don't think we will want to be in a model where it is fully variablized and 80 per cent of our customers are implicated by usage-based billing and are all buying different packets of usage. I don't think that's the model that we are heading toward," he said. He added, "But five years ago I don't know that I would have heard of something called an iPad, so it's very difficult to make predictions." ®

Reducing security risks from open source software

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins
We don't need no steenkin' TCP/IP retransmission and the congestion it causes
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
BlackBerry: Toss the server, mate... BES is in the CLOUD now
BlackBerry Enterprise Services takes aim at SMEs - but there's a catch
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.