Verizon CTO Endorses Metered Broadband, Which Should Allay Net Neutrality Concerns

by on September 29, 2009 · 10 comments

Stacey Higginbotham at GigaOm conducted a great interview with Verizon CTO Dick Lynch, in which he endorsed broadband metering:

We believe that you have to be allowed to have a level of service that is not on a public Internet. What you’re suggesting is different kind of IP service that’s not delivered over the public Internet and that needs to be part of the option set in the argument.

Such metering, if allowed by Washington, might lessen the need for some of the network management practices that so incense net neutrality fanatics.  So I’d really like to see Verizon and other ISPs explore using a “Ramsey two-part tariff,” as Adam has suggested again and again:

A two-part tariff (or price) would involve a flat fee for service up to a certain level and then a per-unit / metered fee over a certain level.

I don’t know where the demarcation should be in terms of where the flat rate ends and the metering begins; that’s for market experimentation to sort out. But the clear advantage of this solution is that it preserves flat-rate, all-you-can-eat pricing for casual to moderate bandwidth users and only resorts to less popular metering pricing strategies when the usage is “excessive,” however that is defined.

ISPs would have an incentive to set the demarcation to a point where, roughly, the vast majority of users would never have to worry about their usage, but the small percentage of bandwidth hogs would have a real disincentive to cut back on bandwidth use—thus avoiding the “Tragedy of the Commons,” which is really the “Tragedy of the Unmetered Commons,” as I noted a year ago.

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  • MikeRT

    $20/month for 10GB is plenty for the average person. If they would set up a $10/5GB plan, then I think we'd see the end of dialup altogether.

  • http://www.schnarff.com/blog/ Alex Kirk

    If only they would, while they're at it, set up a “geek-level” service that allowed home users to run servers on a static IP address, with perhaps a hair more bandwidth, at a price between the standard home user price and business-level service. I don't need a 24×7 SLA, I just want inbound port 80 opened up.

    I guess this is one of the reasons I distrust the free market in the realm of ISPs, at least to an extent. There's a clear market for this type of service, and I've spoken to customer service people at multiple companies who say they've heard thousands of people asking for it, and yet this sort of option has never once sprung up. While I'm certainly not advocating for direct enough intervention by the government to force this particular service to appear, I guess it just seems symptomatic of the larger problem – that the very small number of ISPs out there, who are quasi-monopolistic by virtue of their size and geographic coverage, don't listen to their customers. If they're not listening to people willing to pay them more money, what makes me think they'll listen to people asking to *not* pay more money later on down the road?

  • dm

    It was Verizon's lack of such service that caused me to seek out another ISP — even though Verizon delivers the wires to my house, some of those icky, nasty regulations so abhorred here require the local telephone company to lease the wires to other ISPs essentially at cost, a tremendous boon to customers (except when something goes wrong, then there can be an annoying amount of finger-pointing).

  • dm

    For those following the net neutrality debate, there's a great editorial on it at Ars Technica today: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/09

    It directly addresses a pair of articles praised here at TLF — the recent Washington Post and Wall Street Journal OP-ed pieces.

  • http://felter.org/ Wes Felter

    Did you look at Speakeasy? They have been very geek-friendly.

  • pulo

    what does he mean by: “level of service that is not on a public Internet”? specifically, which part is not public internet? does he mean a different level of service only for Verizon content?

  • pulo

    what does he mean by: “level of service that is not on a public Internet”? specifically, which part is not public internet? does he mean a different level of service only for Verizon content?

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