• AT&T Patents Concept to Detect & Charge More For Certain Traffic

    A patent application by telecoms giant AT&T details a traffic management system set to add a little more heat to the net neutrality debate. Rather than customers using their Internet connections to freely access any kind of data, the telecoms giant envisions a system in which subscribers engaged in "non-permissible" transfers, such as file-sharing and movie downloading, can be sanctioned or marked for increased billing.

    When a consumer subscribes to an Internet package, either at home or on a cellphone, it’s generally accepted that he can use it for whatever applications he likes, whether that’s web browsing, sending or receiving emails, watching video, or listening to music.

    Of course, bandwidth is a finite resource so it is fairly common for service providers to put a cap on data transfers in order to manage their services. For example, a user with a 3GB per month limit on a cellphone contract might use it all in the first couple of weeks watching YouTube, and as a result might need to consider upgrading to a more spacious package.

    Fair enough, but what if a service provider started to dictate what types of data could be accessed each month on a particular package? What if emails and web browsing were acceptable kinds of traffic but others, such as video downloading and file-sharing, resulted in subscribers being subjected to penalties? A new system developed at telecoms giant AT&T appears to envision just that kind of scenario.

    The system is revealed in a patent filed by AT&T Mobility in September 2013 and published this month. Its stated aim is to stop customers from “abusing a telecommunications system” by consuming too much bandwidth.

    Titled “Prevention Of Bandwidth Abuse Of A Communications System”, the patent is likely to get net neutrality advocates hot under the collar as rather than targeting bandwidth consumption overall, it seeks to penalize the transfer of certain kinds of data linked to “excessive” consumption.

    “When a user communicates over a channel, the type of communication is checked to determine if it is of a type that will use an excessive amount of bandwidth,” the patent reads.

    The system works by awarding the subscriber with “credits” and subtracting from those when monitored traffic is deemed to have been consumed in potentially bandwidth-hungry fashion.

    “The user is provided an initial number of credits. As the user consumes the credits, the data being downloaded is checked to determine if it is permissible or non-permissible. Non-permissible data includes file-sharing files and movie downloads if user subscription does not permit such activity,” the patent application reads.

    “If the data is permissible, the user is provided another allotment of credits equal to the initial allotment. If the data is non-permissible, the user is provided an allotment of credits less than the initial allotment,” it continues.

    By marking some traffic type usages as acceptable and others not, the system described by the patent application can develop in a couple of directions. The subscriber can remain in “credit” and continue about his Internet activity as usual, or find that his “credits” are diminishing towards zero. At this point he can be asked to pay more money, be subjected to sanctions that affect his ability to communicate (such as by blocking movie downloading), or be incentivized to maintain preferred consumption habits.

    “Various restriction policies also can be applied, such as levying additional fees and/or terminating the user’s access to the channel. Also, incentives can be provided to entice the user [to] curb the misuse,” the patent filed by AT&T Mobility Ii Llc adds.

    Earlier this month a federal appeals court in Washington struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules. Shortly after AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson offered reassurances that his company was committed to an open Internet.

    Where legitimate traffic management ends and the open Internet begins will become apparent in the months and years to come.

    Source: http://torrentfreak.com/att-develops...dwidth-140129/
    Comments 10 Comments
    1. megabyteme's Avatar
      megabyteme -
      I am beginning to TRULY fucking HATE corporate mentality.
    1. brilman's Avatar
      brilman -
      Never cared for or played with AT&T but I do have to say that it's kind of maybe sort of a new idea Someday things will fall in the right way.
    1. shankit74's Avatar
      shankit74 -
      Only a true mega corp would think of such a thing to increase revenue and drive share prices up without helping the one person who pays their wage "THE CONSUMER"
    1. TheFoX's Avatar
      TheFoX -
      So, if you subscribe to LoveFiLM or NetFlix, you could find yourself paying extra on top of the monthly subscription. I mean, why not just charge us for the fucking air we breath.

      What next? A pregnancy tax, which is chargeable every time you give birth (don't worry OlegL, it is only women who carry babies). And if you cannot afford to pay? Termination?

      So, they want to introduce different tariffs depending on the traffic, even though all data is delivered the same, regardless whether it is email, a web page or a downloaded file (or stream). Net neutrality is on its way out for good, by the sound of it.
    1. duke0102's Avatar
      duke0102 -
      My brain can't understand the logic, if they don't want me to use the 100gb (or whatever) I pay for then why sell me it?
    1. megabyteme's Avatar
      megabyteme -
      Bandwidth is no longer in any form of short supply. In fact, our service prices should be coming down. However, there is little competition when it comes to broadband in most areas. Metered service in Canadia was done to keep people from abandoning local media in favor of Netflix.

      This idea serves corporate interests- protection for The Industries, and finding a way to justify metered services. While normal humans want to use the free (in all senses of the word) internet, corporations see it as nothing but a means for carving it into consumables. ($$$) And LOLCats. Corporate types love LOLCats.
    1. Rart's Avatar
      Rart -
      TheFoX, here's a good article on the recent unsuccessful attempt to impose net neutrality on ISPs: http://www.theverge.com/2014/1/15/53...f-the-internet

      The entire case revolved around the fact that broadband providers are currently not considered "common carriers". Even Judge Tatel, the one that passed the ruling against net neutrality, admits that "broadband providers represent a threat to internet openness and could act in ways that would ultimately inhibit the speed and extent of future broadband deployment."

      The only problem, is again, that ISPs aren't common carriers. Tatel can't do squat until they are classified as such by the FCC. Unfortunately for us, Comcast (NBC), TWC, and the like have way too much sway in the government . Money speaks.
    1. bobbintb's Avatar
      bobbintb -
      It's price fixing plain and simple. All the ISPs have agreements to fix prices and not compete in certain areas. It's in their best financial interest, even if it is detrimental to the consumer and the growth of the nation, so they do it. Christ, they have a 97% profit margin! Of course those greedy assholes would want to do whatever they can to continue to financially rape the entire Internet consuming nation. Hell, they are even lobbying to stop Google Fiber because they don't want to compete.
    1. megabyteme's Avatar
      megabyteme -
      The REAL kicker, bobb, is that it was not Comcast, Time Warners, etc. who "invested" in the infrastructure- it was the taxpayer. We are paying PREMIUM $$$$ for a service that we already own. Nice scam.
    1. cleptomaniac's Avatar
      cleptomaniac -
      It looks like VPN subscriber numbers are about to go up.

      Also, if you are paying for a 30Mbps internet connection why does ATT get all fussy if you sit right at 30Mbps all night? (like you ever actually get what you pay for with internet speeds) If they didn't want you to use it they shouldn't have sold it, right?