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Responsible Customers -defining a minimum for all!
 
In outlining a minimum service definition and guarantee for Broadband,  I have defined a service which could form the basis of a universal service for all. The framework demands or assumes certain end user behaviour.
 
The term net neutrality has been coined to describe the desire of customers to use their internet connections free of any direct intervention by the service provider to shape or slow their traffic. 
 
That notion is good but in defining a national minimum we cannot avoid the fact that resources are finite and this wonderful resource needs sharing or managing at peak times.  The most difficult bit to define as a user is to state what we are willing to forego when resources are over stretched or contended. So unless we are willing to pay more,  the ISPs peak hour traffic cost is also our problem.
 
Setting the notion of a minimum implies that beyond that minimum I am willing to pay more.  Paying incremental sums for bandwidth and paying more should I need to get higher levels of throughput beyond the minimum provided seems reasonable.   But what minimum and where the pinch point?
 
ISPs have begun to introduce low, medium and high download limits e.g. 2GBytes, 5 GBytes and 20Gbytes to begin to deal with increased demand.  This is odd as it remains unrelated to peak hour usage (7pm-11pm) which is the main cost driver.  ISPs do allocate about 15-25Kbps peak hour bandwidth for each user. Recently our household has begun to consume TV via  BBC iPlayer and 4oD.  Streaming iPlayer at 650Kbps per second at peak time is using 30 times 'my' peak hour allowance.  Unless that Video is streamed to me from the local exchange  I am becoming a serious problem for the ISP.  iPlayer could be changed to support download at times that me and my ISP can afford,  or the BBC pay for hosting the most popular programmes at the local exchange.  Streaming MI High or Dr Who is not life and death,  so the idea that it might add to someones peak hour bandwidth charge is not in the consumers interest.
 
It would be natural therefore for consumers to mark there traffic as real time (essential), assured and Skavenger.  The latter class would mean email and file transfers would arrive more slowly at peak periods if the networks are busy managing a major news event.  The 2Gigabytes monthly limit I am suggesting could be broken down further by setting a 500Mbytes daily limit, or 1 Gbytes weekly limit.  Perhaps a 500Mbytes peak time usage with free overnight downloads could be offered.
 
I do not like the ISP looking at my traffic or making these decisions on my behalf.  Tell me the boundaries, which is no more detail on what it is I have purchased and what resources you have put in place and I will work within those limits.
 
I am happy to mark my traffic into classes of service,  and I am happy to schedule or pre-programme downloads,  if this is what is needed to make a better internet service for all. I do not want to be forced to subscribe to several different types of Broadband services,  when existing  peak bandwidth can be shared more effectively.