How your ISP’s data caps will kill the cloud

“Today is the day that will bring us one step closer to the death of the cloud,” David W. Martin writes for Cult of Mac. “That crucial new part of the internet that is gaining popularity due to the likes of Hulu, Netflix, MobileMe, DropBox, Crashplan, etc. is about to get another blow — AT&T on Monday started restricting the amount of data its millions of broadband customers are able to use in a month. Data is now restricted to as little as 150GB a month.”

“That isn’t good news — users should an uproar over the whole thing,” Martin writes. “It means that a large number of people using broadband in the U.S. will be severely limited in what they can do online. They might risk extra charges or even total loss of their broadband access.”

Martin writes, “This comes as Apple is rumored to be on the verge of introducing a more Cloud-based model of computing for millions of customers… Unfortunately, the sad fact is that as we all look to the cloud for more services, the circumstances are starting to get grim. I predict that many more of us will hit the ceiling, preventing us from using the internet as we would like too. And that my friends, is what will ultimately kill the cloud.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “M Faulkenberry” for the heads up.]

94 Comments

    1. Things aren’t as good here in the ROK as you may think. The Speed is great. But many services like HULU, NETFLIX and PANDORA aren’t available here. Also the net here isn’t very friendly to those who don’t use IE. Various things also blocked or limited here too.

  1. I have concast, the residential has a 250gb limit.

    Do what I did, switch to the business class they offer. It has NO limit. Same cost.

    Twice I went over the limit with them. I was even out of town for 12 days… Only cable modem in house, the cable to the rest of the house was unplugged yet I “used” 13gb of traffic during that time. They couldn’t explain it…

  2. I can’t believe that Apple doesn’t have a plan for this. For a company with the largest crystal balls in the industry, I expect we’ll see something come from left field that sill shatter all preconceived ideas.

        1. Content development is just like app development, best left to the creative mass of independents, while content delivery infrastructure needs a single central plan. Undercutting the greedy telcos and cablecos won’t be a big deal and $60B goes a long way toward ubiquitous fiber-to-the-home. Apple is going to own the electronic world.

      1. They could spend $14.5B to acquire Sprint. That would give them controlling interest in Clearwire, the 4G WiMax company. Between Sprint and Clearwire they would have wireless infrastructure that could reach about 60% of the people on earth.

        Then they spent about $55B for Disney, which would give them ABC, ESPN, Touchstone, and Pixar. There’s your content.

        Can you say “Screw you, Comcast?” I thought you could.

  3. I find all this buzz of The Cloud quite ridiculous. Remote-network, Internet connectivity from any given device will never be ubiquitous enough to displace or outperform local processing and storage – particularly in a mobile device.
    There will always be a need for syncing.

      1. @ Shinolashow:

        Sorry, dude, but Jonathan is right. He didn’t say that remote networks won’t ever be used for some things. He said it will never replace local processing and storage. If you think the days of on-device memory and processing are over, you’re dreaming.

        … and if you want to pay someone else to “manage” your data, then that’s your prerogative. I don’t want to waste my time and money to have someone else do what i already can do efficiently on my own secure hardware & software. No rental fees, no worries.

        1. he said “will never be ubiquitous enough”. Never is a long time. And you can’t say technology will stand still forever. So sorry dude, but he will most likely be wrong at some point in time.

    1. The issue right now is who owns the pipes going to your house. Any ISP is going to have to lease those from AT&T, who could arbitrarily put limits on use. A new company is not going to run new cables to your house.

      1. So they’ll offer some kind of wireless. Yeah it might not download a 1020 movie in 2 minutes but it will do it twice as fast as you can watch it, which is probably fast enough for most.

  4. This is nothing new for Canadians – just wait for usage based billing to be approved (only under a different name) by the new government of Canada.

      1. Or for that matter, in the context of reality? Did you realize even in the middle east, most countries don’t use Sharia law except for family law (marriage, inheritance etc)? In the UK, one is already allowed (but not required) to use it in those areas, buy only if both parties agree. Did you know that in the courts of any US state, both parties can agree to use the law of some other state – or another dispute resolution mechanism, such as arbitration – for most civil disputes, not just family law? So how is the ability of parties to agree to have a marriage or inheritance decided under Sharia law that different? Is it really so threatening? Grow up and quit being so paranoid.

  5. the problem here is that ISPs have been defining bandwidth. Bandwidth doesn’t work in a way that you can express in a monthly cap. Now if they capped it at a certain Mbs… That could make more sense. You can easily download 150 Gb in a day given the Mbs speed I have. If everyone did that on the first of the month it would most likely kill their ill funded infrastructure for the day. So how is their cap useful for anything other than fleecing customers? Unfortunately, like most tech, no one understands this on the consumer/legislative side. Especially something so esoteric as bandwidth which is purchased in Mbs but relegated by how much data you can download. It’s a farce. The faster the Mbs you buy- the faster you hit their caps and have to pay extra. And this cap is hit by doing perfectly legal Internet activities such as Netflix and iTunes.

    Don’t even get me started on other countries. Internet in Australia is fucking retarded.

    1. Uh, Dude….you don’t get it.
      Think of it as water pressure.
      Just because you get more water faster doesn’t mean you get all the water you want.
      You have to pay for the water you get, and yes, bandwidth IS handled in much the same way.

        1. Actually the analogy is quite wrong.

          First, it has nothing to do with pressure. Mbps is flow rate; it really is just flow rate. A four inch water pipe has a flow rate of approximately four times that of a two inch water pipe at the same pressure. That’s why we talk about “bigger pipes” or “fatter pipes” when talking about higher Mbps access.

          Second, water is a poor analogy to bits & bytes. 1. You can’t pour the same water out of your faucet time and time again. You certainly can download the same video, song or data file multiple times — and if you’re truely moving to a “cloud” environment this will certainly happen. Move your song collection to the “cloud” and every time you listen to your songs you’ll be downloading them again — and again — and again.

          2. Water is a finite resource — there is only so much potable water to which you have access. Bits & bytes are information (of one type or another). The amount of information out there is virtually limitless.

          3. Water takes up more volume than anyone can reasonably store given the amount of water you can get from your pipes. Even if you have a couple large swimming pools, you could not store the amount of water you could get from your water pipe in a month. You *could* store all the data you could download in a month even if you had a 50 Mbps connection going at full speed 24×7 for a month — hell, that’s only a little over 16 TB.

          1. Let me explain what an analogy is for-it is to relate an idea with some common features to make it more understandable.

            There is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ analogy, other than a description of what is trying to be explained in the first place.

            You either get the point I am trying to get across, or you ignore it.

            (and if you need a better analogy, think of it in terms of electricity)

      1. actually… You do not get it. Your analogy isn’t totally wrong. But it’s more applicable when you are talking about a leased private line such as a T1, T3 etc. And this is what I mean by people misunderstanding bandwidth… You are a classic case.

        In the context of at&t capping it at an amount of downloaded data… It has nothing to do with filling up the “pipe” as it were down to a customer level… Otherwise I would have to rock a solid data transfer rate 100% of the time. So for example.. I have a line that gives me 1.54 Mbs of bandwidth. Fr you analogy to work… I would have to constantly maintain a data rTe of 1.54 Mbs…. Not that I transferred 150Gb total. In a 30 day month of usage “filling the pipe” aka 1.54Mbs I’d hit the cap in less than a day. My line means I can only get 1.54Mbs… Capping it at a total data usage is disingenuous in saying it alleviates congestion. They should cap the Mbs if their network is taxed… Or if that was their concern. This is bullshit and let’s them charge more for total data transferred.

        1. Fine. If you don’t understand the reality of it, explain it however it makes you feel vindicated.

          I’m just telling you how it is.

          DATA rate is offered at a maximum rate feasible with a certain percent of users online at a given time. If you have a constant stream being used down and up by 5% of the customers, capping them allows bandwidth to be freed up for more ‘light’ users.

          My analogy pertains mostly to landline, but cell systems are implementing them to compete when the rollout of higher bandwidth starts to attract users away from landlines and as more iPhone and iPad users stay connected.

          Also, higher levels of usage will be offered at a tiered price through most ISPs. That way, volume users will still be able to keep their ‘legal’ file loads transferring.

          The days of complete freedom of bandwidth are numbered because of the popularity of the internet, not because of ‘greed’ of ISPs. That is simply a childish view of what is going on. It is like the early days of the automobile, before speed limits, stop signs, and liabilities.

          But if it makes you feel better, think of it as a form of ‘regulation’ due to the need for ‘shared’ bandwidth in which ‘socializing’ it makes it ‘better’ for everyone.

          1. lol… Dude .. . Whatever. Have fun with that…. Kinda feel bad for ya.

            I’ll just say this… Ultimately you have have a small weak point.. But it’s from the perspective of an ISP donkey. If their bandwidth is maxed out on THEIR backbone… It is not their customers fault.

            But you are clueless and are out of your league and are always going to be that way about bandwidth. Shrug.

            1. Again, you don’t understand. You can have all the bandwidth needed on a backbone, but nodes are how it is split up. Even with a low customer to node ratio, it can still be overloaded.

              If what you are proposing is that enough bandwidth be allocated for every house, business and mobile to be running full blast at the same time, then, again, you have no idea of the reality and the cost to do such.

              It is dam near impossible without an unGodly charge passed on to everyone just to have that much bandwidth available for the limited peak times it is needed. That’s like demanding eight-lane roads everywhere just so there is NEVER a single bit of traffic to slow you down.

              And by the way, I am a customer just like most others, with kids, AppleTVs, NetFlix, iTunes, video chats and the likes, so I have a complete understanding of the customer side.

  6. Data caps are inevitable, especially given the poor state of our network infrastructure. This is why Macs need to be able to author and play Blu Ray discs. It’s the only medium that will allow transfer of 1080p video without having to deal with the limits the ISPs impose for now and the immediate future.

    1. You’re right, at least until we consumers demand enough of it that some company thinks it can make more money by getting more customers when offering unlimited data. And that ability will take infrastructure.

      The other option is going to a per use model, much like we already do with our electric, water and gas bills. But I don’t think people would like that, because they have already tasted a flat monthly fee for all they can use (mostly).

      1. A rating system might be the solution. After all if you DL pirated movies all the time your usage will be huge.
        The problem is that those using legitimate services like Netflix will be hammered. I don’t have clue how much data I consume watching Netflix shows but it could be a lot.

        The cost of services is getting ridiculous. I pay $150 a month for 3 iPhones and close to $200 for cable TV, cable phone and cable internet. I want to cheaper solution.

  7. You can bet the farm that Steve Jobs has something planned to deal with the bandwidth issue. Apple isn’t manufacturing all these devices with built-in sync and then building out a massive cloud infrastructure only to have it derailed by ISP’s and their old-world business models. The question is “Will Apple work with, or outflank the satellite, telephone and cable companies?”

    On the one hand, Comcast can’t add video streaming to an iPad App to hold on to HDTV customers and then, on the other hand, charge their Internet customers for excessive bandwidth overages or even threaten to drop them…Or can they?

  8. So instead of expanding their infrastructure, which costs money and reduces the bottom line, the ISP’s will simply restrict access. They might even reduce service and raise prices. What a concept! But if there’s any justice in the universe, Steve Jobs is already figuring out how to do to the ISP’s and what he did to the cell phone companies.

    1. NO! It has to do with MORE people using MORE bandwidth so now the headroom that once existed and cushioned the ISPs from over-users is now disappearing, so MORE headroom has to be bought, paid for and maintained, so the ‘caps’ are designed to slow down the over-users.

      It’s actually simple physics.

      1. There is no such thing as over users. That is a boogeyman.

        What they are saying is they provide a service people pay for.. And when they use it… They as a whole tax the system they should be upgrading. Or stop adding customers. Stop being an ISP apologist.

        1. You have no clue what you are talking about.
          Find someone in the business that you trust and ask him to sit you down and explain it to you, birds and bees style.

          For starters, you can only upgrade a system so much.

          1. oh.. Someone in the industry like… An att employee. Give me a break. You, sir, are the one who doesn’t understand bandwidth, and it’s obvious you will shill for an ISP.

            1. Nice name calling.
              Go ahead and explain it to me.
              Be sure to use ‘greedy’, or I won’t believe you…

              Also, I’m not going to waste my time arguing and explaining to someone who lacks any business understanding, but please, go ahead and give me an in-depth explanation. I’m very interested.

          2. I think the issue here is the framing by the ISPs of considering certain customers as “over users” who have the temerity to actually use the data rate they purchased with little or no idle time. As a result the ISPs have a choice to 1) spend money building infrastructure that actually CAN provide the max/peak data rate their customers have paid for, or 2) remove those customers who nearly always USE their contracted data rate so that in any given billing cycle the ISP enjoys more “cushion” (read $) from those customers who use less capacity than they have paid for.

            Of course the ISP can structure it’s business model however it likes. The rub seems to be the disingenuous way the ISP points blame for bandwidth limitations on a growing number of their own customers who actually use their contracted service, rather than admit their infrastructure can’t handle what they have contracted to deliver. At least not with the same profits. The airline only has a problem making money on the “cushion” of overbooking seats if everyone with a ticket actually shows up. Data wise, lots more people are beginning to show up.

  9. ive been with AT&T cell service for almost 7 years. An iPhone customer since the 3GS. Always liked AT&T and stuck up for them with Verizon customers (mom, brother etc……) but I’m getting sick of them nickel and diming.
    I’m grandfathered in the unlimited data but made the mistake of getting iPad 2 wifi only and and not 3G. Thinking I would only just use around the house, but this thing is made to be took any and everywhere. No way to get the tethered feature unless I lose my unlimited. Im a 2 percenter also. I use Sirius while at work 5days a week. So I come close to 5 gigs a month.
    AT&T. I’m starting to not like your company. Definitely don’t love the service.
    I just hope others don’t follow suit. Bright house etc…

        1. they can’t ban apps from cydia.. The jailbreak app store.

          They can’t look at your traffic. That would be illegal. So if your usage goes up a lot, and you get the txt that says they are on to you- jus call and tell them you don’t tether but use pandora, Netflix.. Wel..that you are normally using our device. They have to prove it, and there is no legal way they can. You can take ita step further and encrypt your traffic with openvpn as well.

          1. http://m.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/03/att-tethering/

            Just one article on it. Mdn also has reported it, it just doesn’t show on the mobile version.

            It’s a violation of the ToS, and they don’t have to do anything more than see HOW your data is used, yes they can tell if it’s tethered use or not.

            Violates ToS, drops your account.
            It doesn’t matter what you think. AT&T has the right to drop you.

          2. what you are telling people to do IS a ToS violation, and telling them they need to LIE to AT&T in order to keep violating the ToS.

            Apps on the app store can detect if you are jailbroken, look it up.
            means Apple can tell if you are jailbroken.
            not a stretch to think AT&T can detect a jailbroken iPhone.

            it’s also been noted that 4.X (4.3.0 i think) brought the ability for AT&T/Verizon to detect tethering…. notice that the whole thing started AFTER an iOs upgrade? wait… one that brought Tethering to AT&T/Verizon?….
            http://modmyi.com/forums/mywi/760577-does-t-know-if-youre-tethering-mywi.html#post5998420
            Note the AT&T calling them to TELL the guy what program he was using…. AT&T can detect it.
            Odds are they are going after heavy users first, targeting the abusers before a general crackdown.

            Bet they have a list of those that are heavy users of the Unlimited plan, and then going through their data to detect why the high use. Which AT&T has the right to determine if a subscriber is abusing the network.
            just cause you pay them $30 a month, does not mean they can’t take a look at why you use 10GB a month… Lets see, hmmm… Packets for World of Warcraft updates… Windowsupdate, using bittorrent/FTP… Yep, all viable traffic from an iPhone. 😉 simple enough to detect. And yes, those are all things i have heard people use that ended up getting them the dreaded message. doesnt matter if you make it look like you are using Mobile Safari, iOS can’t run WoW, or run Windows, or bittorrent.
            I bet anyone with the high usage on the unlimited plan has had their data at least given a quick look to see why. Its not needed to disect and see what you are looking at… just the source it’s coming from, like the ones listed above.
            Until recently, i ALWAYS jailbroke my iPhone… Only one thing i miss now. It’s not worth the effort to jailbreak for me right now.

            it’s their bandwidth that YOU lease from them. you can’t rent a building and use it to create a Meth lab… you pay the bill so they cant ask about the funny smell and people coming in and out all day right?…

            1. oh.. You mean like att telling you you are paying for unlimited usage.. Oh but not. They lie, scheme, and suck at even providing the bandwidth to begin with.

              I’m not concerned about cheating a cheater.sorry you wrote ten books about it… Lol. You wanna be a slave to att and their shitty bait and switch call dropping service… By all means.. Have at it. Would I pay more for tethering.. Mybe grudgingly. Maybe. But.. Why get double taxed AND lose my original unlimited contract terms. Pfft.

            2. and further more… They can’t tell you are tethering. That’s scare tactics. It has been demonstrated they look at usage spikes and assume seeing if they can flush suckers out. Kinda like you.

              For them to really tell.. They would have to sniff your data… Which is completely illegal. And even if they could.. If you encrypt your traffic there is no way to sniff any info out of your data.

            3. @Little bird
              yeah cause T-Mobile’s “unlimited data” plan is 2gb. beyond that it’s throttled. and Verizon’s unlimited plan, wait they cancelled it also..

              AT&T does have unlimited usage, READ your ToS. it’s unlimited usage FROM your iPhone. not THROUGH your iPhone.
              People that do nothing but stream Pandora/Netflix/Etc… AT&T leaves alone. people that break the ToS, get looked at a little closer.

              Funny, AT&T and Verizon charge the same for Tethering, yet you are mad at AT&T only… Switch to Verizon then. Only thing that will make you happy is if AT&T PAYS you to use an iPhone…
              as far as the “They lie, scheme, and suck at even providing the bandwidth to begin with.”
              you do know AT&T has faster data than Verizon right?…

              With WiFi hotspots pretty much EVERYWHERE you look, i just don’t understand the need to tether anymore. Other than the random in the middle of nowhere “oh crap” moment..

            4. Little Bird… YES they can sniff your data… and Legally.
              one of the NN provisions would STOP carriers from being able to do so.
              FILTERING what you get… thats illegal. Sniffing around to see why you just used 10GB this month… thats not. Their bandwidth, you only lease it.

              Even if encrypted, i don’t think that would stop them from seeing the source the data was coming from. Like the Windows update/WoW updates. I have no idea why people do it, but there are those that DO tether and download a WoW update overnight..
              Go read the ModMyi forums, some that got the message were using tethering to patch Wow/WU.

              there is free WiFi everywhere, use that. not hard to find. hell “there’s an app for that” (many actually)

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