Need for Speed vs. Need for Order

Sept. 4, 2013
Are the days of "all-you-can-eat" Internet bandwidth truly drawing to a close? A few years back, a small number of subscribers were overusers. Now, even the average customer is using much more. Increasing numbers of CPE devices sit behind each modem, often al...
Are the days of "all-you-can-eat" Internet bandwidth truly drawing to a close?A few years back, a small number of subscribers were overusers. Now, even the average customer is using much more. Increasing numbers of CPE devices sit behind each modem, often along with more than one feed from Amazon or Netflix, streaming simultaneously, said Neil Grillot, VP of operations for ZCorum.DOCSIS 3.0 is allowing operators to provide unprecedented speeds, and subscribers are growing accustomed to paying more for faster service. Challenges arise, however, from the fact that the Internet is a shared environment, Grillot said. If certain customers are egregiously overusing during peak times, service slows down for everyone."Calls (come in) from subscribers saying, 'My Internet is slow, but I bought so many gigabits per second." That is like saying, 'The speed limit is 65 miles an hour, but there is bumper-to-bumper traffic. Why can't I go 65 miles per hour?'" Grillot said. "Operators are focus(ing) on creating a high degree of customer service, but (trying) to manage the bandwidth they have in a net neutral way."In other words, the suggestion is not to manage what the subscriber is using the bandwidth for, but to look at how each subscriber's usage is aggregating toward the total. This makes it possible to offer bandwidth allotments based not only on monthly but also on daily usage, as well as time-of-day considerations.For example, if a person subscribes to a package that provides 150 Gigabits per month, that could be thought of as approximately 5 Gigabits per day. If that person exceeds the daily amount, their speed could be moderated or slowed down if they are using it during peak time, Grillot said."(The goal) is to create a satisfied customer based on the services they are buying," Grillot said. "If a subscriber is overutilizing 10 times what their allotment is, it could lead to a dissatisfied customer base overall."Doing this comes down to operator access to the proper data. In the past, they could only tell how much bandwidth the subscriber base was using on a monthly basis, whereas now it is possible to track usage patterns based on time-of-the-month or time-of-day. "Many operators are in the analysis stage. (But,) we do have providers setting up to begin to offer (these) packages," Grillot said.In the end, it likely will take a large operator to open the floodgates for this type of packaging. "No one wants to be the first one before the big guys," Grillot said.Monta Monaco Hernon is a free-lance writer. She can be reached at [email protected].

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