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rocca
Start.ca
Premium
join:2008-11-16
London, ON
kudos:23

Unlimited plan policy confusion

There seems to be a lot of confusion around the unlimited policy, perhaps we shared too many of the specific cogs and levers around the technology and the concept has been lost as a result.

The concept behind a fair use policy is pretty simple, ie under a fair use plan if someone is disproportionately causing congestion then they are the ones that should see the effects of it rather than impacting thousands of other customers. To that I've tried to simplify the policy to:

Unlimited usage plans

Our unlimited usage plans are great for customers who don't want to worry about watching a meter to avoid overage fees.

As these plans are not designed to be dedicated connections nor for continuous 24/7 use, in order to keep our network fast and robust at all times we have created an unlimited usage plan policy that ensures fair access to the network for all users. Specifically if a customer on an unlimited plan is disproportionately responsible for causing network congestion then they may have their network priority temporarily reduced to ensure the quality of the network for other customers during peak periods.

By having our unlimited usage policy we take the worry out of overages and still maintain a fast and reliable network


...feedback/suggestion welcome.

Keep in mind the reason we're able to do unlimited for $10/mo is because it has a fair use policy. Without it it would cost hundreds or thousands for an unlimited-full-speed-dedicated-24/7 type of connection. Most ISP's have these types of policies and controls in place, we're just trying to be very transparent about it.


Davesnothere
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said by rocca:

....Our unlimited usage plans are great for customers who don't want to worry about watching a meter to avoid overage fees.

As these plans are not designed to be dedicated connections nor for continuous 24/7 use, in order to keep our network fast and robust at all times we have created an unlimited usage plan policy that ensures fair access to the network for all users. Specifically if a customer on an unlimited plan is disproportionately responsible for causing network congestion then they may have their network priority temporarily reduced to ensure the quality of the network for other customers during peak periods.

By having our unlimited usage policy we take the worry out of overages and still maintain a fast and reliable network

...feedback/suggestion welcome.

Keep in mind the reason we're able to do unlimited for $10/mo is because it has a fair use policy.

Without it it would cost hundreds or thousands for an unlimited-full-speed-dedicated-24/7 type of connection.

Most ISP's have these types of policies and controls in place - we're just trying to be very transparent about it.

 
And many other ISPs/IISPs are rather opaque/cloudy in what they have to say about what they are doing in that regard.

While the unlimited policies/packages are unlikely to affect me, I think that it might be useful to restate what you said in the longer thread about HOW LONG an account's speed is shaped downward and when it would recover, in the event that the account gets too thirsty for GBs of usage over WHAT period of time leading up to the shaping.

Then we would have less to read to find it.

chrisl83

join:2011-06-21
Almonte, ON
reply to rocca
I think the only confusion was/is how slow the connection will be once you pass 10 gigs a day.

I did notice in the worst case scenario it would be basic level speed which is 600k a second I believe. Though I doubt it would ever be that slow. It's all capacity based right? so if the demand is light you might not even see any slow downs over 10 gigs?.


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4 edits
said by chrisl83:

....It's all capacity based right? so if the demand is light you might not even see any slow downs over 10 gigs?

 
I also had that impression.

IOW, if everyone ELSE using START thru that particular incumbent's aggregated link (Rogers, for example) is on their best behaviour during the period that SOME users need/deserve/qualify to be shaped, that overusers thru that network may get away with it unpenalized sometimes, yes ?

That is of course not referring to the charges for GB used above your monthly usage cap (which would still apply if you were NOT on an unlimited plan), but referring instead only to the day-to-day habits of those who ask to be on an unlimited plan.

Now having just said that, are we to understand that folks who DO have a monthly usage capped plan will never be shaped in this manner ?


Davesnothere
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reply to chrisl83
said by chrisl83:

I think the only confusion was/is how slow the connection will be once you pass 10 gigs a day....

 
And the 10 GB per day is only counting downloads, and is not counting those during the OFF-PEAK period of 2AM-8AM ?

chrisl83

join:2011-06-21
Almonte, ON
said by Davesnothere:

said by chrisl83:

I think the only confusion was/is how slow the connection will be once you pass 10 gigs a day....

 
And the 10 GB per day is only counting downloads, and is not counting those during the OFF-PEAK period of 2AM-8AM ?

Yeah pretty sure that's the case for that. Uploads are never tracked, 2-8 am is unlimited no matter what.


rocca
Start.ca
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kudos:23
reply to Davesnothere
said by Davesnothere:

While the unlimited policies/packages are unlikely to affect me, I think that it might be useful to restate what you said in the longer thread about HOW LONG an account's speed is shaped downward and when it would recover, in the event that the account gets too thirsty for GBs of usage over WHAT period of time leading up to the shaping.

They aren't shaped though, they are put at a lower priority.

In an unmanaged network when congestion occurs everyone feels the pain equally. In a managed network with a fair use policy, those responsible for disproportionate peak impact feel the congestion instead of all the other users. That's what makes it a "fair" use policy.

Trying to simplify the technical details, basically if you have the default priority then you have full crack at the capacity. If you have been lowered then you and others like you share the remaining capacity equally. There is no hard numbers on what that means exactly since it changes second by second based on network demands, but if capacity is at its limit then your downloads may slow down a bit to ensure that other people aren't being impacted by your usage, but your connection will still be perfectly usable.

Our unlimited plan is not for dedicated use, people going into it thinking that $10/mo means a dedicated full-speed-connection at all times and are going to run speed tests 10 times a day after downloading 100GB that afternoon are going to be disappointed.

For the other 99% of unlimited users that simply don't want to have to worry about watching what they download and don't expect it to be a dedicated connection, and should occasionally it be slightly slower than normal one evening because they had an unusually busy afternoon, will be quite happy with the plan.

Or if capped plans are your thing (which they have been for almost all our customers over the past year) then nothing changes, you get top speeds all the time as usual and don't have to worry about any unlimited abuse affecting you.

Hope that helps.


Davesnothere
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reply to chrisl83
said by chrisl83:

....Uploads are never tracked, 2-8 am is unlimited no matter what.

 
One exception :

Amy users who are still Grandfathered to older plans where there was no OFF-PEAK freebie, but they still enjoy a larger overall monthly cap instead.

chrisl83

join:2011-06-21
Almonte, ON
said by Davesnothere:

said by chrisl83:

....Uploads are never tracked, 2-8 am is unlimited no matter what.

 
One exception :

Users who are still Grandfathered to older plans where there was no OFF-PEAK freebie, but a larger overall montly cap.

Yeah exactly, can't be grandfathered


rocca
Start.ca
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reply to chrisl83
said by chrisl83:

It's all capacity based right? so if the demand is light you might not even see any slow downs over 10 gigs?.

Exactly.

The 10GB isn't a limit of any kind, it's simply an indicator that you've had more than your fair share of the day and should there be a need for management that you're included in that group.

chrisl83

join:2011-06-21
Almonte, ON
said by rocca:

said by chrisl83:

It's all capacity based right? so if the demand is light you might not even see any slow downs over 10 gigs?.

Exactly.

The 10GB isn't a limit of any kind, it's simply an indicator that you've had more than your fair share of the day and should there be a need for management that you're included in that group.

Thanks, cleared up anything for me.. take my money!


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3 edits
reply to rocca
said by rocca:

said by Davesnothere:

While the unlimited policies/packages are unlikely to affect me, I think that it might be useful to restate what you said in the longer thread about HOW LONG an account's speed is shaped downward and when it would recover, in the event that the account gets too thirsty for GBs of usage over WHAT period of time leading up to the shaping.

They aren't shaped though, they are put at a lower priority. ....

....Or if capped plans are your thing (which they have been for almost all our customers over the past year) then nothing changes, you get top speeds all the time as usual and don't have to worry about any unlimited abuse affecting you.

Hope that helps.

 
Thanks - yes it does.

So I being one of the capped users - It should make no difference to me as long as START's 'black boxes' perform their 'black magic' as expected.

OK, so now you seem to be saying that you would rather not use the expression 'Shaped' ? - which to me COULD mean 're-prioritized'.

It's a new expression, so you could 'OWN' it, unlike 'Throttled' which has become a ruined word, thanks to how BH$ELL and the others implemented THEIR way of doing it.

OK then, so let me put my remaining question THIS way :

"Without stating specific speeds, for how LONG does an unlimited user need to download how MUCH (10GB during one day ?), before they are put into the 'Penalty Box' ('Naughtly Unlimited User Group'), and WHEN does the 'Penalty' begin and expire ?"


d4m1r

join:2011-08-25
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1 edit
reply to rocca
Rocca just to confirm, are you saying the unlimited people are in 1 pool and the regular tier people are in another? Meaning the unlimited people will never effect the regular tier peoples speed/capacity and may only affect each other (if all the unlimited people are bursting their connections at the same time for example).

Because I think that level of isolation between the 2 type of packages is important.
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Davesnothere
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1 edit
said by d4m1r:

Rocca just to confirm, are you saying the unlimited people are in 1 pool and the regular tier people are in another ? ....

 
I agree that it IS important to isolate, but what would happen if all of the CAPPED and then-currently unpenalized Unlimited users were together maxxing out START's Rogers (for example) AGG-POI link during the 'Penalty Period' of the 'Naughtly Unlimited User Group' ?

Would that leave no capacity for the NUUG's ?

Or have I missed something ?


rocca
Start.ca
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join:2008-11-16
London, ON
kudos:23
reply to Davesnothere
said by Davesnothere:

So I being one of the capped users -it should make no difference to me as long as START's 'black boxes' perform their 'black magic' as expected.

Correct.

said by Davesnothere:

OK, so now you you would rather not use the expression 'Shaped' ? - which to me COULD mean 're-prioritized'. It's a new expression, so you could 'OWN' it, unlike 'Throttled' which has become a ruined word, thanks to how BH$ELL and the others implemented it.

Shaped generally refers to set speeds. Ie, we're using shaping to change a 150/10 profile into a 25/10 profile to enable the optional upload speed options. But we are not using shaping to enforce our fair usage policy on unlimited, we're using prioritization.

said by Davesnothere:

Without stating specific speeds, how LONG does an unlimited user need to download how MUCH, before they are put into the 'Penalty Box', and when does the 'Penalty' begin and expire ?

The technical details I think is what threw everyone for a loop, ie the concept of fair use is that people greatly exceeding their share shouldn't get to keep using the express line. The technical enforcement may evolve as needed to prevent abuse, but currently the "penalty box" trigger is 10GB starting at 8am (as a reward for those still scheduling their bulk downloads from 2am to 8am) and reset daily.


TypeS

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1 edit
reply to d4m1r
said by d4m1r:

Rocca just to confirm, are you saying the unlimited people are in 1 pool and the regular tier people are in another? Meaning the unlimited people will never effect the regular tier peoples speed/capacity and may only affect each other (if all the unlimited people are bursting their connections at the same time for example).

Because I think that level of isolation between the 2 type of packages I think is important.

They wouldn't necessarily be isolated, since they'll all be sharing the same physical aggregated links. This is why QoS can make people's heads spin, its maze of theory to understand.

QoS uses the idea of "queues" (think lines for talk to a service rep at some retail location: a bank, fast food restaurant, etc). When rocca says lower priorities, it means traffic from unlimited users that have exceeded a certain amount of usage (10GB per the policy rocca stated) gets put in a queue that gets lower priority to be handled by an interface.

What will happen in this scenario is as an interface handling the QoS reaches capacity (ie. a 10Gbit interface is being utilized at full 10Gbit), packets start being put into queues so stuff goes out in order based on rules and queues created instead of all attempting to squeeze through at once (this is an unmanaged network rocca refers to and worst kind of congestion that can occur).

You can create queues for specific types of traffic, protocols, ports, source/destination IP addresses or MAC addresses, etc, it can get really grainy in terms of how tocontrol traffic. So these users who take advantage of unlimited a bit too much will be put in a queue that has lower priority than other queues (think lines of people waiting for service) like people on capped plans or unlimted (that haven't over used the service), VoIP traffic, RTMP traffic, etc whatever else Start has configured with higher priorities will get to handled by interfaces sooner and more frequently than the unlimited users put into the lower priority queue.

So in the strictest definition of isolation, unlimited and capped users won't be isolated, but over users will see their traffic get lower priority, which lowers the number of packets they see go through at one time, therefore resulting in some speed loss. They wouldn't see their latency change, as this is one goal of QoS.

But if you saw users on all types of packages using a lot of capacity at once, you would see congestion. Though I think Start has planned enough in advance I doubt its customers will experience that (but anything can happen, you never know).

EDIT: Just thought of this but think of HOV and BUS lanes on the the freeways and major streets in some cities like Toronto. Those would represent high priority lanes (queues) of traffic. On a network with proper management and enough capacity, all queues will run smoothly like those HOV/Bus lanes. Start seeing some congestion (or abuse), the abusers (I don't anything negative by that label) start getting shifted to queue/lane so the others don't get affected.


rocca
Start.ca
Premium
join:2008-11-16
London, ON
kudos:23
reply to d4m1r
said by d4m1r:

Rocca just to confirm, are you saying the unlimited people are in 1 pool and the regular tier people are in another? Meaning the unlimited people will never effect the regular tier peoples speed/capacity and may only affect each other (if all the unlimited people are bursting their connections at the same time for example).

Pools implies unshared which isn't the case. Prioritization is really the best way to describe it, since that's what it's doing. It's this prioritization which ensures that extreme unlimited users don't impact other customers.

If you need an analogy the best one I can think of is an all you can eat buffet. You can stay as long as you want and eat as much as you want, but after you've been up for 10 plates of food that day you don't get to take the express line. Depending on the time of day and demand from other people eating more than their fair share, there may or may not be a wait in that other line.


TypeS

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said by rocca:

If you need an analogy the best one I can think of is an all you can eat buffet. You can stay as long as you want and eat as much as you want, but after you've been up for 10 plates of food that day you don't get to take the express line. Depending on the time of day and demand from other people eating more than their fair share, there may or may not be a wait in that other line.

Haha, that's good one. I was trying to think a good bank teller/govt' office/restaurant line analogy but I couldn't so I thought of the HOV/bus lanes on the 401 and the like.

Although I don't know if I have ever seen actual express line at a buffet. o.o


d4m1r

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reply to rocca
Yah, I forgot that they are all ultimately connecting to the same point to Rogers (therefore shared space between the 2 packages types).

None the less, I agree prioritization is a better way to think about/explain it than my 2 pools idea
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Davesnothere
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reply to TypeS
said by TypeS:

....But if you saw users on all types of packages using a lot of capacity at once, you would see congestion.

Though I think Start has planned enough in advance I doubt its customers will experience that (but anything can happen, you never know)....

 
Yeah, Michael Jackson COULD die again, y'know....


rocca
Start.ca
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London, ON
kudos:23
reply to TypeS
said by TypeS:

They wouldn't necessarily be isolated, since they'll all be sharing the same physical aggregated links. This is why QoS can make people's heads spin, its maze of theory to understand.
QoS uses the idea of "queues" (think lines for talk to a service rep ...

+1M for the whole post - thanks.

As mentioned, just letting a network go unmanaged and do what are called 'tail drops' as packets can't fit into a pipe any more cause all sorts of nasty things to happen on a network such as increased latency, real-time protocols such as VoIP and gaming get decimated, and stutter/restart types of symptoms as well as affecting all customers equally. Prioritization simply ensures that in the event of a capacity issue that our network continues to behave nicely and those disproportionately responsible are the ones get a little less queue space than everyone else.


rocca
Start.ca
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reply to TypeS
said by TypeS:

Although I don't know if I have ever seen actual express line at a buffet. o.o

:) Yeah, it's s a stretch. I was thinking of airport security too as an example with the express lanes, but it's probably opposite because if you do fly 10 times a day you'll probably have a Nexus pass. (and a boat load of airmiles).


Davesnothere
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1 edit
reply to rocca
said by rocca:

said by Davesnothere:

So I being one of the capped users - It should make no difference to me as long as START's 'black boxes' perform their 'black magic' as expected.

Correct.

K00L

said by rocca:

said by Davesnothere:

OK, so now you seem to be saying that you would rather not use the expression 'Shaped' ? - which to me COULD mean 're-prioritized'. - It's a new expression, so you could 'OWN' it, unlike 'Throttled', which has become a ruined word, thanks to how BH$ELL and the others implemented THEIR way of doing it.

Shaped generally refers to set speeds - i.e. we're using shaping to change a 150/10 profile into a 25/10 profile to enable the optional upload speed options. - But we are not using shaping to enforce our fair usage policy on unlimited, we're using prioritization.

Ahhhh, NOW I get the way you have assigned and differentiated the two terms.

Mayhaps we should begin a Glossary of Terms thread ?

said by rocca:

said by Davesnothere:

"Without stating specific speeds, for how LONG does an unlimited user need to download how MUCH (10GB during one day ?), before they are put into the 'Penalty Box' ('Naughtly Unlimited User Group'), and WHEN does the 'Penalty' begin and expire ?"

The technical details I think is what threw everyone for a loop, ie the concept of fair use is that people greatly exceeding their share shouldn't get to keep using the express line. The technical enforcement may evolve as needed to prevent abuse, but currently the "penalty box" trigger is 10GB starting at 8am (as a reward for those still scheduling their bulk downloads from 2am to 8am) and reset daily.

STARTing to become more clear to me in that last reply, but let's say that THIS scenario happens :

An unlimited plan user pulls 10GB of downloads between 8AM and 10AM on a given day, and so gets flagged for a 'penalty' of reduced priority.

At what time does their account's priority actually get reduced in the network, and when does their account resume normal priority ?


silvercat

join:2007-11-07
said by Davesnothere:

An unlimited plan user pulls 10GB of downloads between 8AM and 10AM on a given day, and so gets flagged for a 'penalty' of reduced priority.

At what time does their account's priority actually get reduced in the network, and when does their account resume normal priority ?

I think the only time the lower priority would affect the Start user, would be around peak time (around 10 p.m., plus and minus an hour ?). As for when it would reset, probably at the beginning of the unlimited window ? (2 a.m.)

So basically the way i see it, this particular Start user will/may see slower speeds once Start's links to the incumbant approaches 100% capacity.


rocca
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kudos:23
Silvercat is correct, ie your priority is changed until the reset but it's unlikely that reduced priority will do anything at all except for during the peak 10pm'ish period if we're approaching capacity on the interfaces to the incumbents.


Davesnothere
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reply to silvercat
said by silvercat:

....So basically the way i see it, this particular Start user will/may see slower speeds once Start's link to the incumbent approaches 100% capacity.

 
I'm inclined to agree that this makes sense, but Da Boss needs to say sumpting 'bout it.


rocca
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Sumpting.


Davesnothere
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said by rocca:

Sumpting.

 
OK, you might have covered that somewhere in the longer thread, and I have read but may have missed it, however THIS thread's purpose is to de-prioritize the longer thread to 'TL:DR' status, right ?

So, are you saying :

(1) The moment that an unlimited user's account hits 10GB of downloads during regular hours (starting counting at 8AM each day), their account's priority is automatically reduced in the network ?

(2) This reduction may or may not make a difference to them, depending upon how heavily the AGG POI link to the respective incumbent provider gets loaded by all of the capped and the non-penalized unlimited users, between then and the next 2AM ? (or next 8AM ?)

Do I have it now ?


rocca
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Yes.

We will continue to tweak if needed to ensure good speeds and that the spirit of the policy is maintained.


Teddy Boom
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reply to rocca
said by rocca:

said by TypeS:

Although I don't know if I have ever seen actual express line at a buffet. o.o

:) Yeah, it's s a stretch. I was thinking of airport security too as an example with the express lanes, but it's probably opposite because if you do fly 10 times a day you'll probably have a Nexus pass. (and a boat load of airmiles).

You guys have never been to Vegas? VIP/Comp lines are common.
hate the place
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