business internet services technology

Bandwidth Caps Are Bad, Speed Caps Are Better

Bandwidth Caps Are Bad, Speed Caps Better - iStudioWeb With the latest craze about Time Warner and AT&T introducing download caps for their subscribers, it doesn’t seem like companies care for anything but the short term profit, if that. Price-conscious consumers won’t buy into this game again, like we did with cell phones and limited minutes. Anyone who ever overused their cell phone plan knows how hard it was to pay off skyrocketed bill. Personally I had that experience only once – I was consulting some really large project over the phone and my phone bill went from regular $120/month to $653. Of course, it was a justified business expense, but still – it would have been just $240 if I had two separate plans. If you ask me today – I would go to any lengths available to keep my costs down these days. But I digress.

What beats me in the whole capped broadband picture is that ISPs are trying to implement a restaurant pricing. While at the same time forgetting that they are anything but. My cable provider claims that he provides speeds up to 15Mbps. My dedicated servers are on 10Mbps lines burstable to 100Mbps and I am yet to see speeds above 1 megabit. Between themselves servers swap stuff at very least at full 10Mbps which makes it painfully obvious that my cable provider lies is something like McDonalds – at best.

What is obvious to me is that download cap pricing structure is a loose-loose situation for everyone. Once consumers will get a feeling of what their limit will give them, most of those who, supposedly, would be a cash cow for ISP will leave for something else. Or keep their usage under strict control. Either way, ISPs will loose money. Or, rather, will earn less than they do now – just because they have caps. Wouldn’t you talk on your phone more if it was unlimited calls? Sure. Are you postponing calls to your friends until it’s “unlimited nights and weekends”? Most likely – yes. See the pattern?

If provider companies are so inclined to slice their services in tiers – why not turn the situation into a win-win? How could they do it? TIER THE SPEEDS, NOT THE DOWNLOADS. Some “old parents” setting wouldn’t need more than occasional e-mail checking, downloading pictures of their grandchildren and maybe a video or two. That would be a slowest and cheapest tier. A mom-pop-kids shop would probably need some more advanced tier – videos, music, iTunes for kids, heavy MySpace/Facebook and YouTube. And geeks, gamers and internet business owners would appreciate the fastest speeds and the lowest pings out there at the premium. Basically, companies would milk the same bunch of people, only do it so much different that it would make everyone happy.

annoyances services

UPS Surprise

UPS Got Better Usually I try to avoid using UPS, but when both hard drives in my laptop died on a same day and I called Lenovo for replacement – there’s little choice to be had. Last night I found a familiar brown-yellow-white note on building’s doors saying that UPS has made a second attempt to deliver the package. It’s not that I was aware of the first attempt, but who’s counting, right?

Well aware of all the issues facing me I called main UPS number and quickly found out that my package is resting peacefully at the station across the town. We’re only New York City’s most populous borough, with 2.5 million residents and the second most populated county in US, so we only get a single UPS station to pick our packages.

However, much to my surprise, the station is open from 8pm to 10:30pm (that’s right, night hours) for package pickup. Nice location (some warehouse neighborhood), friendly parking spots (half the streets around this huge UPS yard are marked “No Parking Any Time”), easy access (I only had to walk one and half block from the parking spot I found to a small entrance in a fence with no lights on) – all makes it a pleasure to visit and pick up the package.

The staff, though, is very friendly – either on the phone or on the location. I didn’t hit any lines (understandable, given the place and the time) so I got my stuff in well under 20 minutes.

Nice to see a movement in a right direction for UPS. Now if only I wouldn’t have to drive 30 minutes from home to UPS yard – it would have worked much better.

cellular internet services technology

Pandora, Windows Mobile and AT&T

Last week wrapped up with Pandora announcing the release of Windows Mobile client. Everybody cheered – but for less than a day. As it turned out, there’s always a fly in the ointment. The cost of fun is $8.99 per month in addition to any data plan you already have. Even if it’s an unlimited one, like mine.

Outraged just like anyone else, I immediately shot off an e-mail to Pandora’s support.

I am a very dedicated Pandora listener. Aside from enjoying Pandora from my desktop I had encouraged a number of people to try Pandora for iPhone – every time with huge success.

Now, I myself is not an iPhone user – for number of reasons I cannot use iPhone for everyday tasks. It doesn’t mean I have extra money in my pocket, it just means that I use devices that benefit me the most.

When I have heard about the discriminatory policy that Windows mobile users must she’ll out extra money for same service everyone else enjoys for free I felt somewhat betrayed. Definitely upset. Outraged.

However, before jumping to any decisions, I’d like to hear from you the reasons behind such discrimination and, if there are any plans to rectify the situation.

Surprisingly, just a few hours later (that is – 3AM Friday night) I got a response.

Thanks for writing us, and thanks for recommending Pandora on the iPhone to your friends! We were very happy Apple allowed us to offer Pandora for free.

Getting a mobile device to support Pandora is, to a very large degree, up to our potential cellular and platform partners.

Currently there are four WinMo devices which, just like the iPhone, support Pandora for free (advertising-supported). Two on Sprint, and two on Verizon.

We’re very happy we were able to work with these partners to reach this agreement.

It’s up to other carriers how to set the pricing and availability of our service on their network and associated devices.

Best wishes,
Pandora Listener Support

If all the above is true it means that AT&T effectively taxing everyone who’s not an iPhone user for using data plan they already paying for. Why this is happening – because AT&T thinks they’ve got it all and can get away with anything they want or because of some other reason – I don’t know. There’s a thread on AT&T’s forums, but no official response has been issued yet.

Pandora’s blog has it this way (in response to comments of disappointed users):

…we share your desire to see Pandora be made available for free on our AT&T implementations. In the mobile world, the carrier has all of the pricing power. If you try to go around their wishes they can, and will, block traffic to your application. Our strong preference is for Pandora to be available ad-supported free everywhere and we’ll continue to work with AT&T in the hopes that they’ll come around to the same view for the Windows Mobile phones on their network.

On the other hand, the Pandora application is available from PPCGeeks forum. I swapped SIM card from AT&T Tilt into Samsung Blackjack and testing the app right now. So far the quality is decent (close to FM radio) (as I am sitting home within stable 3G zone) and delay between songs (while the buffering occurs) is acceptable.

In any case, there remains less and less competition in mobile markets and providers are pulling all sorts of unfair deals knowing that customers will either eat it or not, but there’s really no serious alternative between AT&T and Verizon (Sprint and T-Mobile are really not in the same field).