This Week’s Web ‘Space’ Problems, Highlighted By eBay Crashes, Will Likely Get Worse UNLESS We Fix Pricing.



by Anura Guruge

As somebody who made a living, a fairly comfortable one at that, for three decades working on large networks, I have been, for a long time concerned, very concerned, that we will start to run into major bandwidth issues on the Web UNLESS we in someway have the gumption to come up with a USAGE-related pricing scheme. No, this is NOT about ‘Net Neutrality‘ per se. It is more fundamental than that. Internet pricing is not, bar those that have capped wireless plans, usage-based. To make it easier to follow lets take two houses, side by side, where both houses get the same cable-based Internet access for the same price — lets say $35/month. One house might have four teenagers while the other house has no kids, just a middle-aged working couple. Well as you might be able to work out the house with the teenagers probably has considerably more Web usage than the one without kids. The same would probably be true of the electric usage of the two houses: the house with the kids probably uses more electric than the house next door. But here is the kicker — their electric bills will be different, while they still both pay the FLAT, $35/month for Internet usage.

We, as I have talked about a few times before, have two 15Mbps fiber connections to the house because the 15Mbps I could get with a single TDS line, in this rural neck of the world, wasn’t enough. Though we have 30Mbps to the house (and 7+Mbps upload bandwidth) we are, in the scheme of things, not heavy Internet users! We do very little streaming, Voice-over-IP (VoIP) or video downloading. So Internet usage is NOT the same, by any stretch, as the amount of bandwidth you pay for.

That Internet pricing is not equitable has always bothered me. I used to TRY and get ‘kids’, i.e., my students at SNHU, to understand this. They would have degrees in Computer Science and still never have thought about HOW the Internet is funded and whether the ‘funding’ was equitable. So I would always get them to think about it by including a question about it in their exams. See below.

Unless we move towards some kind of usage-related pricing we will start running into bandwidth issues. I am not concerned about storage limitations. Storage is easy to fix. Just a matter of money. Bandwidth is harder to fix. More expensive too — if you are going to do it right. So ‘space’ is more in the network rather than on what is connected to the network. 

Something YOU can do to help. I spent a decade telling this to people in my seminars. When you reply to an e-mail DELETE as much of the original content that was already there as you can. I typically delete all of it. There is NO NEED to just send back what was already in the e-mail unless a bit of it is required to provide context. You are just WASTING precious network bandwidth. Each character transmitted eats up bandwidth! I worry about Internet bandwidth every day.


Click to ENLARGE. A 2004 mid-term exam for a post-graduate class I taught at the Laconia campus. I wanted them to think about the equitability of Internet funding and pricing. This is what going to kill the Web. We have to move to some level of usage-RELATED (doesn’t have to be based) pricing.


Check out GOOD story on this week’s eBay problems in the U.K. “Daily Mail”.


Another good article.