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Time-Warner Considers Per-Gigabyte Service Fee, After iTunes 557

Posted by Zonk
from the isn't-this-a-step-in-the-wrong-direction dept.
destinyland writes "Time-Warner is now mulling a plan to charge a per-gigabyte fee for internet service. A leaked memo reveals they're now watching how many gigabytes customers use in a 'consumption-based' pricing experiment in Texas, which we discussed early last month. The announced plan was that they were considering a tier-based approach, as opposed to per-gigabyte fees. 'As few as 5 percent of our customers use 50 percent of the network,' Time-Warner complains, with plans to cap usage at 5-gigabytes, and more expensive pricing plans granting 10-, 20-, and 40-gigabyte quotas. Steven Levy at the Washington post suggests Time-Warner's real aim is to hobble iTunes, raising the cost of a movie download by $10 (or $30 for a high-definition movie). Eyeing Time-Warner's experiment, Comcast cable also says they're evaluating a pay-per-gigabyte model."
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Time-Warner Considers Per-Gigabyte Service Fee, After iTunes

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:26AM (#22306116)
    When the same company provides your cable service (including your cable pay-per-view service), your internet service, AND produces media content themselves; is there any doubt that this will cause a serious conflict of interest that will harm the consumer? Time-Warner has EVERY incentive to keep you from using movie download services instead of their own pay-per-view service and EVERY incentive to stop movie/TV pirate sites (to keep you from pirating Warner movies and TV).

    This is why consolidation in media is such a BAD, BAD, BAD thing for consumers. When one single company (or even small group of companies) owns your newspaper, television stations, internet service, telephone company, cable company, etc. they basically own *YOU*.

    • MOD PARENT UP (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hey! (33014) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:41AM (#22306312) Homepage Journal
      It's not so bad that an ISP charges by bandwidth. It's bad that the pricing decision is tied up with other kinds of products they want to sell, in effect giving them the power to raise the price of other companies' products relative to their own in places where they have a broadband monopoly.

      In this situation, the regulators ought to look at any competitive advantage this gives their content products and require them to price those products high enough that the bandwidth pricing is competition neutral.
      • Re:MOD PARENT UP (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Brian Gordon (987471) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:56AM (#22306486)
        Yes it is bad that an ISP charges by bandwidth. They justify it by saying that 5% use 50% of the network.. but the other 95% of users aren't even using the internet- 95% of americans only use it for checking yahoo webmail once every 2 weeks and automatic windows updates. The 5% of us shouldn't be penalized- we're the reason jacked-up American broadband has to cost $50 a month, and it makes absolutely no sense to penalize us for that when Americans are already paying the premium! They should be exploring new plans to offer broadband at $5/month for that 95% of people and the same old $50/month for high bandwidth users.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          The ISPs pay by bandwidth, it's makes perfect sense for them to pass those charges on to us. As long as they don't advertise "unlimited use"
          • Re:MOD PARENT UP (Score:5, Insightful)

            by sudnshok (136477) * on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @11:22AM (#22306836)
            That's fine as long as people who barely use any bandwidth see their prices REDUCED. Someone using 50MB per month should certainly not pay more than $5/mo.
        • Re:MOD PARENT UP (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mrxak (727974) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @11:11AM (#22306690)
          It's not just that these companies create content, or that they need somebody else to pay for high-bandwidth users, it's that there's no competition in their markets. You have one cable company (usually) that has a cable franchise in the area. You might have one DSL company too (if you can really call that broadband). That's usually it for most people. So if you want speed x, you're forced to use company y, and they have no incentive to lower their prices. A company comes along that wants to lay down their own coax or fiber cables, and the established company can lobby against them getting their own franchise. There's nothing natural about these "natural monopolies", they are monopolies enforced by local government under the influence of the monopolies. There are very few market forces at work, so your cable company can charge whatever they want and then pull moves like this to get even more out of you.
          • Re:MOD PARENT UP (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @11:58AM (#22307350) Homepage
            That's why the last mile should be controlled by the government or by a non-profit public-interest organization.
            • Re:MOD PARENT UP (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Monkeybaister (588525) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @12:37PM (#22307900)

              I don't think many slashdotters are privy to the actual costs of internet connections. I work in the networking department at my work where we had a T3 (45 Mbps). We've moved to leased fiber to a co-loc and now have 250 Mbps for less. It's the same ISP, all we did was take the phone company out and costs went way down.

              The cable and phone companies are able to charge so much because they are the only last mile connection in many places. Having a data connection (phone, TV, internet) that the government (controlled at the town/state level) treats like the roads would be great.

              My model would have the government run single-mode fiber to every house and bring it all together in a building in each town (or maybe larger). It would then be the responsibility of a company to actually give service over the fiber to homes. This would allow people much more flexibility, so if a group of people want to just share 100 Mbps from a big ISP, they have the power to do so.

        • Re:MOD PARENT UP (Score:5, Insightful)

          by arivanov (12034) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @12:51PM (#22308128) Homepage
          Nothing to do with that. 5% will always use 95%. The probability distribution which governs this says so. You remove the offending top 5% and replot the remaining 95%. Guess what, once again there are 5% using 95%. By removing the the top 5% you have changed the numerical parameters of the curve, but its overall shape remains the same.
    • by Retric (704075) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:44AM (#22306340)
      The price per GB in competitive markets is around 6c/GB so their 40g plain should cost 30 *.06 = 1.80$ more than the 10GB plain. If they implemented this FIOS could start advertising 100GB, 200GB, and 400GB plain for the same price. Which would cause most people with the option to quickly switch.

      So I know they want to do this but my guess is they are afraid to do it without:

      A: Losing customers in competitive markets.
      B: Becoming regulated in non competitive markets.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Your stat is a bit off, the cost per GB is only that low (I would have written $0.10, but OK...) is when you get the data in a multi-homed Tier 1 data center sitting on top of an interstate fiber nexus.

        The cost of "edge" bandwidth is much higher as you have local bottlenecks in your Metropolitan Area Network (MAN).

        A fairer comparison might be to the cost of industrial T1, E10, and T3 products which bring bandwidth the "last mile" to industrial facilities. That would give you an edge cost somewhere around $1
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Thirdsin (1046626)
      I could not agree more. However, when we let elected officals pander to these conglomerates it only gets worse... If you don't like it, write a letter to your state's Senators [senate.gov], Representatives [house.gov], and most importantly... VOTE [usa.gov].
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Monopolies are bad! Competition is good!
      News at 11
  • by hbean (144582) * on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:26AM (#22306122)
    ...but its an absolute shot in the foot for their business.

    Right now, I could call up Verizon and get FiOS. In about 6 months I'll be able to call up Verizon and get FiOS TV. Hell, theyre currently installing FiOS in my parents tiny village of about 5000.

    These cable companies are facing the first real competition they've ever had and instead of reacting by making their service better, they're planning out ways to make their service worse.

    And no, this isn't some sort of viral FiOS ad. I'm just a dumbfounded consumer.
    • by hjf (703092)
      Lucky you. Sadly, here in the rest of the world, the local monopoly is very likely to use that as an example of "but other countries are doing it!". 4 years ago they tried to cap us at 4GB, and they supposedly lost thousands of customers. The bad thing is: there is no real alternative. The other major ISP openly filters P2P programs, and the rest is not available outside a small area of Buenos Aires (and I'm 1000km away from Buenos Aires).

      Also, "mysteriously", my BT and eMule downloads totally die (that is
    • Sadly, they do understand that their is competition coming. My neighborhood has both fios and comcast, and comcast has literally been going door to door and cold calling customers that have switched and offering some insane deals. My neighbour (literally) has the comcast triple play, at 30% to 40% off the current going rate locked in for a year. He is the only comcast holdout in the 5 houses on either side of mine heh.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jasonhamilton (673330)
        the only problem with your neighbor choosing to go after the easy deal is that if they manage to shut out the competition, and they quit dealing in his neighborhood, one year from now, he'll be getting the regular priced plan, and that plan might cost more than he used to pay
        • by pthor1231 (885423)
          With the other 5 people close to him NOT taking the "easy deal", somehow I think the competition will have plenty of customers on either side.
    • I've been a happy Verizon broadband customer for a long time (DSL for 5 years, FIOS for 2.5). So far, so good, but Verizon's hardly a benevolent company. What makes you think they won't go to per-GB pricing if everybody else does?
  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:27AM (#22306128) Homepage

    Spending much of the last several years in Eastern Europe, I've admired how ISPs there offer Internet connections for cheap even by local standards and are tolerant of heavy P2P usage. The technique used by one ISP I've used in Romania to reduce bandwidth usage was setting up a DC++ server where people could trade music and films at lightning speed with people from the same city.

    In the U.S., meanwhile, Internet connections are pricey and companies like to poke their nose into what you are doing with it. How ironic that a country which was a major force behind the creation of the Internet is lagging in many respects to poor former-Soviet states.

    • by MonoSynth (323007) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:33AM (#22306216) Homepage
      that has much more to do with the less sophisticated law enforcement in those countries...
      • by muszek (882567) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @11:19AM (#22306796) Homepage
        Yep. In Poland many smaller ISPs used to do the same, but they faced the law. The smaller you are, the easier it is to go below the radar.

        My friend runs a local network in his neighborhood (few apartament blocks, ~200 computers) and they've set up both DC and an FTP server to aid everybody's piracy needs. One of the side effects (besides everybody being able to get pretty much whatever they want in minutes) is that they've been running on something like one 2Gbps/256kbps DSL line (for http, games, ssh and stuff like that) and one 2Gbps/2Gpbs line (something much more expensive, I don't know much about this stuff though) for a few years and owners of ~200 computers are happy with it (partly because it costs peanuts).
    • by hey! (33014)
      If ISPs charge for higher bandwidth usage, then they'll encourage more bandwidth usage and plow some of the new profits back into infrastructure, provided there is competition. In places where the cable companies are in direct competition with Verizon, this would be a good thing, and competition would keep bandwidth differential costs reasonable. It might even allow them to lower the cost of their basic service.

      Of course, they're more likely to do it where they don't have competition and customers are st
      • There is no guarantee that these companies will "plow" profits into improving their infrastructure. I would argue that its highly questionable that they will, as Time Warner is a huge business with ridiculous revenues that could already afford to do some major buildouts on their network, if they were concerned with the quality of their product. Media conglomerates are designed to move profits to shareholders. The primary issue is that in many locations there is little to no competition to speak of. To me,
      • by Misch (158807)
        If ISPs charge for higher bandwidth usage, then they'll encourage more bandwidth usage and plow some of the new profits back into infrastructure, provided there is competition.

        Sorry, higher prices will discourage more bandwidth usage.

        The real question is "what is the elasticity of demand for bandwidth"?
      • by Araxen (561411) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @11:23AM (#22306854)

        then they'll encourage more bandwidth usage and plow some of the new profits back into infrastructure
        I bet you fall for Hillary Clinton crying too.
  • Users Used (Score:5, Insightful)

    by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:27AM (#22306134)

    'As few as 5 percent of our customers use 50 percent of the network,' Time-Warner complains...
    So does that mean only 5 percent of their customers are making good use of what they paid for?
    • And that's why these tiered plans may be a good idea (on paper) because then more than 5% of their customers will be making good use of what they pay for. According to Time Warner, 95% of their customers don't want to utilize their "unlimited" bandwidth, so they'll charge them for the 5 gigs they do use (at a cheaper cost, right?) and when they use 5 gigs, they've actually used what they paid for. I'm personally a heavy bandwidth user so I'm not sure how I feel about all this, but it seems to answer your
    • You confuse quantity with quality ...
    • There's more to it than that.

      While 5% are using 50% of the total bandwidth, no one wants to watch the quotas and worry about going over the limit when they download a streaming video. This change should effect far more than the 5%
  • by Neil Watson (60859) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:28AM (#22306148) Homepage
    Charge me for bandwidth usage or charge me true unlimited bandwidth usage. I think that either method could be accetaple provided there was no throttling, blocking or hidden charges or caps.
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:46AM (#22306374) Journal
      Exactly. Cut the marketing bullshit and give me a plain-English SLA. For a consumer connection, with a cheap price, the SLA might not be that great, but it should be well specified. I want to know:
      • The minimum speed that I am guaranteed to get.
      • The maximum speed I will get under optimal conditions.
      • The percentage of the time I can expect to be within n% of the maximum speed.
      • The maximum amount of downtime allowed before I am compensated.
      • The maximum transfer I am allowed per month and the cost per GB of going over.
      Ideally, each ISP would provide a grid with different levels / prices for each of these categories and I would be able to put together a plan that met my needs. They could even unify their consumer and business pricing structures, so businesses picked from the same grid but, if they were doing anything important with their connection, chose the higher level options.

      As long as there's competition, and the customer is well-informed about the service they are buying, then a free market works. If either of these conditions fails then you might need some regulation.

      • by Thanshin (1188877) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @11:15AM (#22306756)

        The minimum speed that I am guaranteed to get.
        The maximum speed I will get under optimal conditions.
        The percentage of the time I can expect to be within n% of the maximum speed.
        The maximum amount of downtime allowed before I am compensated.
        The maximum transfer I am allowed per month and the cost per GB of going over.
        The problem is they're not competing for you as a customer, but for people who don't really understand what they are buying.

        ISP A:
        - Minimum speed: 1MBs/5MBs.
        - Time over certain speed: 99% time over 5MBs-25MBs. 90% time over 5MBs-50MBs
        - Max non-compensated downtime: 4 hours.
        - Transfer limit: 1GB.
        - Cost for extra transfer: 0.05$/GB.

        ISP B:
        - Minimum speed: 1MBs/5MBs.
        - Time over certain speed: 90% time over 5MBs-25MBs. 5% time over 5MBs-50MBs
        - Max non-compensated downtime: A month.
        - Transfer limit: 1Gb.
        - Cost for extra transfer: 5$/Gb.

        ISP C:
        Supermegaoffer!! 50MB MAX connection!
        Sign up now! Don't put up with the slow ISPs!

        Final customer cover result would probably end up like:
        A: 25%
        B: 15%
        C: 60%
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Albanach (527650)

      Charge me for bandwidth usage or charge me true unlimited bandwidth usage.
      You can have unlimited bandwidth. You just need to be prepared to pay for it.

      Speakeasy will sell you a T1 with 1,5Mbps down, 384k upstream for about $360/month. That's the real cost of unlimited bandwidth.
      • by Albanach (527650)
        I can't type, that should have been 1.5Mbps synchronous for about $360/month with cheaper options down to 384kbps synchronous
  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:29AM (#22306162)

    ...to FUCK OFF AND DIE, because I'll go back to fucking dial-up before I pay their ransom!

  • by beavis88 (25983) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:29AM (#22306164)
    I, beavis88, hereby pledge I will immediately terminate my Time Warner Cable "service" in the event they implement this new scheme without SUBSTANTIALLY reducing the price of the "low tier". I don't even run BT or pirate movies/music, and I probably came close to 5GB downloaded *yesterday* - Vista and Windows 2008 .isos from MSDN, plus watched a movie online from Netflix. Now if they want to make it worth my while to reduce my usage, I might be amenable - but if they want to cap my usage, and keep charging the same insanely high prices, then fuck it, I'll put up with shitty, slow DSL.
    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      I'll put up with shitty, slow DSL.

      Well, if you get that DSL through AT&T, you had better make sure those downloads don't violate any copyight laws [slashdot.org].

    • I, beavis88, hereby pledge I will immediately terminate my Time Warner Cable "service" in the event they implement this new scheme without SUBSTANTIALLY reducing the price of the "low tier". I don't even run BT or pirate movies/music, and I probably came close to 5GB downloaded *yesterday* - Vista and Windows 2008 .isos from MSDN, plus watched a movie online from Netflix.

      I think the point is, if you're watching streaming movies and downloading ISOs, you ain't the low tier.

      Now if they want to make it wo

  • by dj42 (765300) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:29AM (#22306166) Journal
    Keep this shit up. Those "50% who use 5%" of the network will stop advising your idiot clients. When that happens, you'll see the same demise as "AOL" did. How many idiotic AOL dial-up users still exist?

    Get ready for the apocalypse privacy-invading broadband douches.
    • Every two years or so, the majority start using the amount of bandwidth the 5% that used half the capacity were using as they adopt the leading edge technologies made popular by those 5% of early adopters.

      If they were smart, they would use those heavy traffic users to test their expanded capabilities lest they be crushed by the future wave of demand. But they're not, and they will be left in the dust when some faster ISP comes and steals their customers. The joke will be on them too, because whoever that fa
    • by headbulb (534102)
      There are not many aol users anymore.(dialup)
      But that does not mean aol went away. They do own this http://www.atdn.net/ [atdn.net]

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:31AM (#22306182) Homepage
    It will make it really easy for another broadband technology to take hold and utterly destroy them.

    That's the biggest problem, Most cable areas have ZERO competition for broadband. DSL is not available as telcos like to drag their feet upgrading the infrastructure to get DSL working everywhere.

    As soon as there is some real competition out their for broadband forcing time warner and comcast to quit playing their rape the customer games.

    Also, the effect to people with open accesspoints will be chilling. Clueless people in their homes will be slapped with a shutoff or higher bill that month when a bunch of kids discover their accesspoint to download their stuff. It will create a underground "internet stealing" activity as people get their downloads without exceeding their own cap.

    Cable companies dont give a rats ass, as long as they find a way to charge you more for what you already get and not upgrading their equipment, they are incredibly happy.
    • > Cable companies dont give a rats ass, as long as they find a way to charge you more for what you already get and not upgrading their equipment, they are incredibly happy.

      This is largely evident by the fact that cable prices are negotiable. For many of them, it's hard to find an actual stated cost for service, since there are so many "intro offers" and "new customer deals" and so forth.

      Their business model is entirely based on average subscriber fees. And they know darned well that there is little comp
  • by techpawn (969834) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:32AM (#22306186) Journal
    But I really don't when it comes to internet service in my area. DSL just doesn't have what I need and Time Warner is the only solution and I'll be damned if they weren't down this whole weekend with not so much as an explanation or apology. Of course I'm going to be charged for the whole month even after sitting on hold for 20 minutes to be told there's nothing I can do but wait.

    This just frosts me even more, I don't WANT to switch to DSL, but I may have to.
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      I've had both DSL and Cable, and I'll take 3Mbps DSL *ANY* day over cable. My DSL never goes down or slows down.

      Of course, AT&T are proposing some crazy shit [slashdot.org] of their own.

  • what to do... (Score:3, Informative)

    by jwegy (775655) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:33AM (#22306204)
    >> 'As few as 5 percent of our customers use 50 percent of the network,'
    They should lower the fees for the guys aren't using as much bandwidth rather than raise the fees for the guys that are. That will never happen though.
  • Hello Comcast. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:34AM (#22306230) Homepage Journal
    If you implement this I will drop you for Internet and cable TV in a heartbeat.
  • by Alzheimers (467217) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:35AM (#22306232)
    As someone who finds the "Dark Ages" romantic and exciting, I think this is a great idea. With the US so far behind the rest of the world already, it's time to just give up competing all together.

    And some day, when we do decide to make a come back ... well, everyone loved the first Renaissance. I'm sure we'll do it even better the second time around, because this is the US of Fuckin A!

    I'm looking forward to living a 22nd century stone age. Aren't you?
  • by webword (82711) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:36AM (#22306246) Homepage
    Look, are they trying to lose customers? Are they trying to force people to switch to DSL or satellite? (Devil's advocate: Maybe this will spur competition, so it's a good thing?)

    Maybe I'm wrong, but customers using more bandwidth don't add additional cost to the infrastructure, do they? The network is a sunk cost and customers are simply utilizing what's there. (Do I have that right?)

    Here's what's worse. How do "stupid" consumers know what it high and low bandwith? Even many programmers and engineers would have a hard time knowing this, unless a monitoring tool or widget was on your desktop.
  • by BVis (267028) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:37AM (#22306256)
    So of course they'll lower their pricing for the 95% of their users that use the other 50%, right?

    Of course not. Yet Another Money Grab. Oh well, if they do change the terms of the service I'm getting, it means I can get out of that 1 year promotional package I have from Comcast.

    Anyone know if Verizon is going to do this with FiOS? I'm fortunate enough to have a choice of high-speed internet service, so at the very least there's SOME market pressure here.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:40AM (#22306288)
    1) per byte pricing
    2) penalty for excessive latency and delay
    3) detail billing on paper for free
    4) 99.99% uptime
    5) intelligent 24/7 technical/billing support (not the reset this, reset that, I don't know nothing support)
    • To their defense... "reset this, reset that" support is how troubleshooting is done. you go from the simplest, easiest to remedy solution before going on to the more difficult ones. I wouldn't call that know nothing support. everything else, I whole-heartedly agree with.
  • by webword (82711) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:41AM (#22306304) Homepage
    Is it time for broadband over powerlines [eei.org] finally?

    The networking is already in your house:

    "Providing broadband service to these customers would simply require adding equipment to their wires. The feature of BPL that would make it more attractive than DSL or cable modem is that BPL customers would immediately have in-house networks without having to purchase and install additional wiring in their homes."

    Plug in a wireless hub or router and you're ready to roll.

    Although all of this brings up the next problem: You're dealing with *another* monopoly. Bah!

    • I am not an expert but from what I've learned working with folks in the US electrical utilities, broadband over powerlines is extremely difficult due to the poor quality of power lines. They're designed to haul electricity, not data. Raw electricity is very forgiving. Analog signals (e.g., Ethernet) aren't. Very very noisy, poor lines, ancient (50+ years) hardware make high quality data transmissions unlikely.

      If BOP would really work, why do we still have human meter readers? Why doesn't the meter transmit its usage back over the same lines it's pulling power? Meter reading is one of the biggest costs of a utility company so they have big incentives to fix the problem. Lots of companies try to make remote monitoring hardware but don't get very far due to the poor (data) capabilities of the network.

      I'm not discounting the idea completely. Just saying that, in my limited knowledge, it's fraught with practical problems and is unlikely to be a solution anytime soon.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sleepy (4551)
        >If BOP would really work, why do we still have human meter readers? Why doesn't the meter transmit its usage back over the same lines it's pulling power?

        Very good point.

        A lot of electric utilities have recently upgraded electric meters with RFID or radio, so the meter worker can simply drive by the house for a reading. This suggests two things:
        a) they know that powerline transfers are not reliable. (Why 'modernize' to radio if you can simply phone home?)
        b) Stock pumping. All those 'powerline trials' occ
  • Seriously. As one of the 95% who use comparatively little bandwidth, it's nice to see the other 5% finally pay their fair share.

    In reality, though, the bandwidth is only "expensive" to Time Warner if it leaves their network. It seems like Apple could cut a deal where it places an iTunes mirror inside Time Warner's corner of the internet, with all TW users being directed to that server instead of the normal one. Seems like this is one of the problems Akamai was supposed to solve- distributed media delive

  • I have a pile of machines at home. If Microsoft's Patch Tuesday puts me over my limit, who's going to pay for it? Am I even going to allow my boxes to auto-update anymore? Thus the Internet Pollution, all those unpatched boxes, will grow worse.

    Are they going to count all the incoming connections from bots trying to hack my network? Like an incoming cell call, will I still have to pay for unwanted incoming connections?

    If I don't like what they're doing, where the heck am I supposed to go? Back to dial-up? Oh, wait, I'll do my movie downloads at work. Just like health insurance, the burden will start to be placed on the employer. Expect office internet filtering to start to become more draconian.

    The concept of competition and free markets in the US is only important until someone gets enough lobbyists. Sometimes this country really pisses me off.
  • I can see what Time Warner's reasoning is. I just got my bill for AT&T Wireless 3G service (being in the Baltimore/Washington DC area that's blanketed by it). $60/mo unlimited doesn't seem so bad, until I look at the bill.

    For checking email and websurfing about 30-60 mins out of the day, I would use about 128 MEGABYTES of data per month. I'm no-where near the 5GB "invisible signpost" where they start charging me an overage fee of nothing. If I was on 12 hours/day, I'd only get to 1.5 GB per month.
  • People like my mother use about 2GB of bandwidth at the most every month. For someone like her, a deal to charge her say.... $6-$8/month for basic connectivity with only 2GB of downstream bandwidth would be a bargain. As it is, she pays the same rate as her neighbor who is a fairly recent college grad who, if I know anything about his downloading habits today from what he was like in our dorm (college towns can be a scary small world), he's milking that DSL line for all its worth. Guys like him are probably
    • by imsabbel (611519)
      Here in germany, its more or less like that.
      Meaning there is a coexistence between "real" flatrates (meaning NO limit, soft or hard) and volume based offers.

      I pay about 30 Euros for 6Mbit/640k, and even creating 350Gbyte of traffic per month (i learned thats a bad idea even to try mirroring nasas archvies) doesnt care anybody.
      My brother in law used the web only for Email/ect, so he got a DSL with a 1Gbyte limit for 7.50 or something like that. He told me he never really broke thats limit, so those 22.5 more
  • Those "free" sites that consist of 90% adverts and 10% content are suddenly fairly expensive to view. Ain't capitalism great?
  • Maybe I spend too much time on the interwebs, but does anyone else think that 5 GB per month is a miserly small amount for the "standard" tier? Restricting customers to such a tiny limit is like moving the internet back to 1999.
  • by cyberworm (710231) <cyberworm@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @11:06AM (#22306624) Homepage
    Ok, so what I'd like to know about their statistics, is "what times of day are these 5% using 50% of the network?" I'd like to think that tech savvy users do their heaviest work late at night when fewer people are utilizing the network. Myself, I do most of my heavy downloading late late at night (between 11pm and 5am) when most normal people are fast asleep. I'm sure others set up a download and then run off to bed.

    Assuming that this is the case, exactly what impact on performance is this having on web usage to the "average" consumer? In my opinon, I'd say none. A better option to me, if their numbers are right, would be to shape traffic during times of day. Say, throttling non http/smtp/IM traffic increasing the performance during the day for "consumer" level usage that many small businesses use for communication or what have you. Later in the day, increase the speeds on the throttled traffic up a percentage, creating a "prime time" for those people who use other services like itunes/youtube/whatever file sharing they wouldn't normally use during the day. Then once this "prime time" traffic has died down, open the floodgates.

    Granted an option like this doesn't help with them taking more of your money, but it would be an interesting approach to the problem that doesn't really cost them anything either.

  • by ls -la (937805) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @11:08AM (#22306650) Journal
    From tfa:

    one of these gluttons downloaded the equivalent of 1,500 high-definition movies in a month
    18.5 Mbps 24/7? I call bullshit.
  • by WindowLicker916 (704800) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @11:09AM (#22306668)
    I work for Comcast in the bay area and by spec our nodes are not to exced 70% usage. Which we managed just fine. We have tons of fiber not even lit in order to meet demand.

    So these companies complaining makes no sense. In fact they just shared our regional numbers with us and HSI was profitable by some comparable sum equal to video.

    IMO these companies should just become common carriers like AT&T and provide you access. Other companies should provide IPTV which would either be free or subscription based. Thats where I see the industry hopefully going!
  • Did these guys... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by oahazmatt (868057) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @11:16AM (#22306768) Journal
    Did these guys take a business class taught by Darl McBride? Why would any company go so far out of it's way to intentionally anger it's customer base?

    Does the Board of either company actually believe this $/GB model would have anything other than a short-term revenue burst? I refer of course, to the people who will receive their statement once this plan has been put into effect (I'm assuming it will be made retro-active for the billing period when the policy is put in place).

    And leveraging the price of iTunes movie downloads? First of all, if Time Warner is already being paid per GB, then why would they need to do this? To offset profit? I purchased a movie from iTunes, (Wargames, if you must now) and it was not a small file.

    Secondly, a $10 increase? $30 for High-Definition? Why not just send out billing statements that have a 10% Off coupon for any TW-Library title at Best Buy, because I certainly believe the desire here is to push the physical media rather than the digital.

    Finally, does Time Warner actually believe that Apple will roll over and say "okay"? Apple had it's arm twisted once over the price of songs and didn't quit. So why would they suddenly agree to a $10/$30 increase and hamper their own sales just so Time Warner can force their On Demand service to their customers? Apple may just do the opposite and end all dealings with TW once the contractual obligation ends. Add to that, customers won't want to download from the On Demand service if it will cost them per Gig.

    This is an excellent method for alienating an entire customer base in one simple step.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by FlopEJoe (784551)
      "Why would any company go so far out of it's way to intentionally anger it's customer base?"

      I don't think you or others are seeing it right. They are not angering their customer base with this move. They don't want the 5% of the people as customers who use a lot of bandwidth. They want more lower end users. It's like the gyms who love customers that pay every month but rarely use their equipment.

      And they even look good to their true base by playing the envy card. The rest of the 1-5Gig usage people are t

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by servognome (738846)

      Why would any company go so far out of it's way to intentionally anger it's customer base?

      Maybe you should learn a little bit about business. It's fine to anger 5% of your customers if you can squeeze much more money out of the remaining 95%.

      Does the Board of either company actually believe this $/GB model would have anything other than a short-term revenue burst? I refer of course, to the people who will receive their statement once this plan has been put into effect (I'm assuming it will be made retro-a

  • by grolaw (670747) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @11:22AM (#22306846) Journal
    I'm at my office. I use the lowest tier of Time Warner's Business Internet (purportedly 1.5 meg up and down - but usually 600k up according to Speakeasy / DSLReports) for $200/mo. At home, across a state line, I have Time Warner home Internet at ~4.5 down and ~1.3 meg up - at $49.00/mo.

    I routinely use VPN contact with my office computer network and I have downloaded 2-3 gig video depo files. I can easily have evidentiary material scanned into tens of .PDF files all in excess of a gig.

      I routinely use video streaming to take Continuing Legal Education courses and those also involve a massive conference call with all of the participants. If I am already paying $250/mo for Internet and $400 + for a Video streamed CLE and I make use of my VPN connections I'm going to be in the top 5% of bandwidth users and it is all 100% legit. How much of a surcharge are these twits planning? A normal month will be dozens if not hundreds of gigs of data. My primary email is through a web hosting company that I negotiated "unlimited" file size with (effectively that "unlimited email is about 600 meg) and posting unencrypted client data to a private server is a massive ethical violation.

    Anybody want to guess what PGP does with a 4.2 gig .mov file? Besides the year it takes to encrypt it - most of my clients and most other attorneys simply don't use PGP.

    So, what do I do? Buy a ton of Firelite drives and Fedex data? Does this even make sense?

    Hell, if I spend any time researching the law on Westlaw and Lexis (not to mention Thomas) I'll download a few gig. EVERY MONTH.

    I'm a solo practitioner with an active litigation practice (primarily Federal) and I can't think of a better reason than this new scheme to REGULATE the @#$%^&* out of the access providers.
  • by rezalas (1227518) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @12:06PM (#22307458)
    I work for Allegiance Communications in Oklahoma, and we already do this basically. The difference is that we have bandwidth / gig packages without caps, we just charge extra if you go over your limit and most people don't have a problem with that. for example, if you choose our top end package for home use (residential gamer package) you get 5 meg down 1.5 meg up, and usage rate of 50 gigabytes per month. If you go over the 50, you get charged. However most people (even people downloading movies) don't use that up. Those who do are likely hosting servers or doing something else and don't mind if they get charged the extra fee simply because they were told before hand that we do it. Now we are even looking at offering extra usage each month for small fees (an extra 50gigs for $7 more, ect). Usage fees without caps and monitoring can work, it just has to be done ethically. As for the low low bandwith of 1 gig... well, even our basic users occupy that. Anything less than 10gig a month (which is as low as we go) is just ripping off your customers.
  • by jc42 (318812) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @01:57PM (#22309230) Homepage Journal
    It seems that once again, we have a case of a big company with control of a distribution channel and an effective monopoly in a lot of its market areas, who is claiming the lion's share of the sales price of a "work of art". In an earlier story today, we read about the RIAA's latest attempt to give artists even less of the sales price of a CD. The writer's strike comes from the fact that writers mostly get no money at all from even legal network downloads.

    It's perhaps not so unusual that an ISP/cable company would see this as an opportunity. Why should they let those recording companies and movie studios get to claim all the profits without sharing them with the artists? An ISP also has a monopoly in most localities, so they should also be able claim monopoly rents from the studios, right?

    I wonder if the folks involved in the Congressional "net neutrality" discussion are paying attention? Probably, because they'd see an opportunity for big personal profit ("campaign contributions") from the companies involved. To the detriment of both artists and audience, but they're just a bunch of, uh, customers, y'know.

  • Full Circle? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @03:01PM (#22310184) Homepage Journal
    Just like the old days where you got x minutes per month. ( CompuServe anyone? GEnie? )

    Unlimited is what brought the internet out into the open and changed the face of the earth because of it, this will shut it back down.
  • What won't change (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kilodelta (843627) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @03:06PM (#22310258) Homepage
    In essence they're penalizing people for using the net. Sure they may charge you more but will they build out a better network, no they won't.

    It's a money grab, plain and simple. I note that Cox has been noticeably silent on this issue.

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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