Path: utzoo!attcan!uunet!mcvax!ukc!stl!dww
From: (David Wright)
Newsgroups: news.admin,,
Subject: News transmission costs (in/to the UK)
Message-ID: <>
Date: 25 Jun 89 20:03:08 GMT
Reply-To: (David Wright)
Organization: STL Harlow, UK
Lines: 138

Following comments earlier in the year, and again recently, on the costs of
providing news feeds in Europe, here are some calculations I made earlier in
the year to try to put costs for various bulk data comms methods - modem
over telephone line, PSS, IPSS, ISDN - into a standard per MByte rate. 

For those who don't want to plow through the detail: for bulk data transfer,
Trailblazer modems are always cheaper than PSS; 2400 is usually cheaper than
PSS, and even 1200 baud is cheaper than PSS on local calls or to the USA.
ISDN will be cheapest of all but leased lines - when it comes. 

This article discusses costs for bulk data transfers, such as a news feed.
For services such as mail, where most messages are both small and urgent,
other considerations apply.  For mail, it is hard to beat the flexibility of
PSS (Packet Switched Service) - rapid setup time and the ability to send the
item *directly* to the destination in many cases outweight the higher cost -
and for small messages the charge for a minimum size PSS call is less than
the minimum charge for a telephone call. 

These rates only apply to UK users of BT - other operator's charges will of
course vary (in the UK, I believe that Mercury offer cheaper trunk calls,
and Hull still has free local calls).  As there seems to be an interest in
what other countries charge for telecoms services, I assume the figures will
be of some interest outside the UK too.   The calculations are for raw data
on the line, and do not allow for protocol overheads.  For Trailblazer PEP
connections, I have assumed an effective rate of 7,000 bits/second: various
people have claimed they get from 5,000 to over 10,000 in practice. 

Perhaps other people would like to post the costs for their countries.

Costs are given in pounds sterling (#):  as of yesterday #1.00 = $1.56,
DM3.04, FF10.3, SF2.61, LIT2200  (back in February #1=$1.76 or LIT2500,
which just goes to show how hard it is to make cost comparisons across
national boundaries). 

The following figures ignore the rental charges, which vary from #56 per
annum for a simple private telephone line up to #10,000 per annum for a
48,000 baud connection into the PSS system.  A more typical 2400 baud PSS
connection costs #2100 per annum.   There are also installation charges,
which are similar but once-only. 

Telephone calls are charged at peak (9.00-13.00), standard and cheap
(night/weekend) rates, for charge bands local, a, b1, b depending on
distance, plus lots of international rates.  I have decided not to calculate
or list every combination!   BT charges 1 'unit' (4.4 pence, #0.044) for e.g.: 

Local - cheap       360   seconds
Local - standard     90   seconds
Local - peak         60   seconds
a     - cheap       100   seconds
a     - standard     34.3 seconds
b1    - standard     30   seconds
b     - standard     24   seconds
Amsterdam -  std     7.2  seconds
Rome  - standard     6.3  seconds
USA   - standard     4.35 seconds

PSS/IPSS (I=International) traffic is charged per kilosegment, plus an
hourly connection rate which is the same as the rate for one kilosegment.
The time charge is thus a small part of the total, unless you have a slow
line.  Dial-up connections, available only at 300 or 1200 baud, have a
higher connect time charge but no kilosegment rate for UK calls.

Example PSS rates are:
UK standard (day)  - #0.30 per kilosegment plus #0.30 per hour connect time
UK cheap (night)   - #0.20 per kilosegment plus #0.20 per hour connect time
UK low (bulk rate) - #0.185 per kilosegment plus #0.185 per hour connect time
Amsterdam,Rome etc - #1.80 per kilosegment plus #1.80 per hour connect time
USA                - #4.50 per kilosegment plus #4.50 per hour connect time

A segment is 64 bytes or part thereof - a typical packet is two segments.
If you put 65 bytes per packet you get charged 2 full segments.  Assuming 
full packets of a multiple of 64 bytes, 1 MByte = 16 kilosegments.

For ISDN over a 2Mbits/sec 30B+D circuit (i.e. 30 channel digital trunk
into your corporate digital PABX), the call charge rates on each channel
will be the normal telephone call rates - and the line rental slightly lower
per channel (but you have to take all 30, and installation is expensive). 
It appears that BT are keen to get digital trunks right through to the
(corporate) customer, though they are taking much longer about offering a
base rate (144kbits/sec) ISDN service to private and small business
customers.  ISDN call rates for 2B+D lines (144k) will presumably be the
same, but rental and installation charges have not been announced yet so far
as I know. They will no doubt be higher than for analogue lines, both to pay
for the new equipment and because they effectively give you 2 telephone
circuits at once. OFTEL (the UK telecomms regulatory body) has decreed that
actual call charges for digital circuits shall be no more than the existing
analogue call rates - this applies whether the call is voice, data, fax or
whatever. This could be a real boon for computer networking!

OK, here's the table of cost per MByte:
              | 1200 modem    | 2400 modem    | Trailblazer   |  PSS* | ISDN  |
Local Cheap   |    0.86       |    0.43       |    0.15       |  3.50 |  0.04 |
Local Peak    |    5.10       |    2.60       |    0.20       |  3.50 |  0.10 |
a     Cheap   |    3.00       |    1.50       |    0.50       |  3.50 |  0.06 |
a     Peak    |   12.00       |    6.00       |    2.10       |  3.50 |  0.22 |
b     Cheap   |    7.00       |    3.50       |    1.20       |  3.50 |  0.13 |
b     Peak    |   17.00       |    8.50       |    3.00       |  3.50 |  0.31 |
              |               |               |               |       |       |
Amsterdam Std |   43.00       |   21.00       |    7.00       | 33.00 |  0.78 |
USA   Cheap   |   60.00       |   30.00       |   10.00       | 83.00 |  2.20 |
USA   Std     |   71.00       |   36.00       |   12.00       | 83.00 |  2.80 |
USA   Bulk    |     -         |     -         |     -         | 50.00 |   -   |
              |               |               |               |       |       |
*PSS assumes that the volume is high enough to get the bulk rate, plus time 
 charges appropriate to 2400 baud access.

The ISDN figure assumes the call charge bands and rates are the same as for
existing analogue calls, and that you have an interface that can really
drive the line at 64kbits/sec - this may not be easy. As 1MByte on a local,
cheap rate call is less than 1 unit, I have shown the price as 4 pence. 

A full feed of technical newsgroups is about 1GByte/annum - say 650MBytes on
the line assuming low protocol overhead plus compression.   A US feed would
thus cost #6500 by Trailblazer, #33K by IPSS, and maybe #1400 by ISDN. Even
a local feed by PSS costs #2300 - a modem feed is #100-#1000 depending on
distance.   STC uses a 'night line' for its news feed, which, for a high
rental, give free calls between midnight and 6am.    Ukc gets busy at night!

In fact, of course, people here don't get a news feed directly from the USA.
By spreading the cost over some 400 sites, ukc (the UK backbone site)
supplies the news feed to the UK at #280 per annum per site, plus a mail
subscription charge for commercial sites, plus of course the comms costs to
pick it up. Their charges for international mail used to be quite high, but
since ukc got a 64k leased line to mcvax (which already has a similar line
to uunet), they now charge #2 per MByte for mail to/from outside the UK -
that's less than we pay to BT in PSS call charges to get the mail from ukc.
As for UK mail, ukc make no charge for mail forwarded over Janet within the UK. 
Proof that even ISDN will not be the cheapest method - heavily used fast
leased lines are cheapest, but of course least flexible too.

Regards,    David Wright       STL, London Road, Harlow, Essex  CM17 9NA, UK <or> ...uunet!mcvax!ukc!stl!dww <or> PSI%234237100122::DWW
Living in a country without a written constitution means having to trust in
the Good Will of the Government and the Generosity of Civil Servants.

Path: utzoo!utgpu!!rutgers!!uunet!mcvax!ukc!stl!dww
From: (David Wright)
Newsgroups: news.admin,,
Subject: Re: News transmission costs (in/to the UK) - ERROR
Summary: I was wrong - correction follows
Keywords: Sorry
Message-ID: <>
Date: 3 Jul 89 21:34:48 GMT
References: <>
Reply-To: "David Wright" <>
Followup-To: news.admin
Organization: STC Technology Limited, London Road, Harlow, Essex, UK
Lines: 27

In article <> I wrote:

[lots of data about BT comms charges] followed by:
#  (ukc's) charges for international mail used to be quite high, but
#since ukc got a 64k leased line to mcvax (which already has a similar line
#to uunet), they now charge #2 per MByte for mail to/from outside the UK 

ERROR!    As has been pointed out to me, I GOT IT WRONG.
Seems I cannot multiply correctly late at night....

The actual figure quoted by ukc is #0.02/Kb (so a small mail message really
is '2 cents worth').     For reasons I cannot understand, I then published
that as #2 per MByte - the figure should really have been #20 per MByte.
Still a big improvement on the old rates of up to #80/Mbyte.  
(#20 is about $32).

Also, the ukc--mcvax leased line runs at 9600 baud not 64k.
The mcvax--uunet line is 64k, (slugged down to 56k to meet US standards).

As far as I can check, all the other data in the original article is correct.

Mea culpa and all that.

Regards,    David Wright       STL, London Road, Harlow, Essex  CM17 9NA, UK <or> ...uunet!mcvax!ukc!stl!dww <or> PSI%234237100122::DWW
Living in a country without a written constitution means having to trust in
the Good Will of the Government and the Generosity of Civil Servants.

			  SCO's Case Against IBM

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