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Communications The Almighty Buck The Internet

Time Warner Cable Tries Metering Internet Use 589

Posted by kdawson
from the been-there-done-that-gave-it-up dept.
As rumored a couple of months back, Time Warner is starting a trial of metered Internet access. "On Thursday, new Time Warner Cable Internet subscribers in Beaumont, Texas, will have monthly allowances for the amount of data they upload and download. Those who go over will be charged $1 per gigabyte... [T]iers will range from $29.95 a month for... 768 kilobits per second and a 5-gigabyte monthly cap to $54.90 per month for... 15 megabits per second and a 40-gigabyte cap. Those prices cover the Internet portion of subscription bundles that include video or phone services. Both downloads and uploads will count toward the monthly cap."
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Time Warner Cable Tries Metering Internet Use

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  • by BiggerIsBetter (682164) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:07AM (#23636445)
    Many many ISPs in many many countries operate this way. It's not as nice as "flat rate" in some folks eyes, but at least you get what you pay for (assuming no BT throttling, etc shenanigans).
    • Many many ISPs in many many countries operate this way. It's not as nice as "flat rate" in some folks eyes, but at least you get what you pay for (assuming no BT throttling, etc shenanigans).

      Exactly. That is how every industry works. The rich have nicer cars, better food, and now better internet access. You could argue that the beauty of the internet is that everyone gets an equal share of the information online. I argue that all that knowledge will fit into a 5 GB/month plan. It is the entertainment that will not fit into those plans. I also download the occasional Linux distro, and a Fedora or Windows update can be over 200 MB. At 5 GB/month thatâ(TM)s 4% of oneâ(TM)s pipe. A large

      • by mrbluze (1034940) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:18AM (#23636543) Journal

        I also download the occasional Linux distro, and a Fedora or Windows update can be over 200 MB

        In Australia the plans are usually for bandwidth/month, so you pay according to line speed, GB/month etc, but it's fairly uncommon (except for wireless broadband) to be charged for excess usage (they just drop the speed to something painful like 64kbps).

        Many of the ISP's have unmetered content, such as local mirrors for major linux distro's, file repositories and some entertainment related stuff. So, for example, all the Ubuntu updates for our computers are not metered - in some circumstances that's VERY useful (eg: an office with 10 computers).

        But Australia's internet is a horrible state of affairs generally - just putting in our experience here FWIW.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by OneSeven (680232)
          Some Australian ISP's used to let users elect to have either the painful throttling you describe, or to be charged extra for excess usage. These days most (all?) just do the throttling - most likely to try to get users to upgrade to more expensive plans. I'm currently on 64k thanks to exceeding my allowance for the month, and 'painful' barely describes it. I'd happily pay $10 extra for another few more GB this month, but certainly don't want to lock myself into a higher plan, as most months I won't be using
          • > wouldn't it be worth setting up an internal mirror / patch distribution
            > server so you only need to pull the data down your internet pipe once?

            To mirror the entire Ubuntu update repository would probably be pretty wasteful unless his office is quite extraordinary. And just mirroring the files needed by one computer will not necessarily be OK for all the other ones, unless he's very careful to install packages only on an office-wide basis. I think a better solution for him would be to use a proxy (li
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          Uh, yeah. Except that Time Warner isn't likely to do things like host local mirrors for major Linux distros. As it stands now, if you run Linux, you are. officially at least, unsupported as they only officially support Windows and Macintosh. And they only added official Macintosh support in like 2001 or 2002 -- before that it was just Windows.
          • Uh, yeah. Except that Time Warner isn't likely to do things like host local mirrors for major Linux distros. As it stands now, if you run Linux, you are. officially at least, unsupported as they only officially support Windows and Macintosh. And they only added official Macintosh support in like 2001 or 2002 -- before that it was just Windows.

            Have you written to them and complained? What's the address? I'll write to them, I make a point of writing to a different company asking for Linux support once a week.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by mrbluze (1034940)

            As it stands now, if you run Linux, you are. officially at least, unsupported as they only officially support Windows and Macintosh.

            But honestly, who cares about that. Nowadays the support of the ISP effectively ends at the router, if they supplied it (or it's a model they support). I know AOL had stupid software you had to install etc., but that's not the case in the vast majority.

            Back in the days of dial-up internet where you had to set up your modem, your winsock application, proxies, etc...etc.. they had experts who knew how to do things for a specific OS (too bad if you had mac in those days - go to a apple-specific ISP!), but n

        • by deniable (76198)
          And I bet there are still some bigpond accounts around charging excess of 15c per MB. That used to be the big killer here. Shaped accounts were seen as great because you didn't get hit for excess charges.
      • everyone gets an equal share of the information online
        I don't buy the equality line in this case. Wealthier people can afford better access. It's not like the less wealthy people are being denied access. Even in the poorest school districts, schools have around a 95% access rate to the Internet, which is on par with wealthier schools. The equality issue here is just a petty complaint. I want to drive a Porsche, but I'm stuck driving a Mazda (required car analogy).
    • sponsorship (Score:2, Interesting)

      by alxtoth (914920)
      I use the web for browsing and VoIP. Rarely I need to download some source code, or distro, or security update for OS. I always pay the lowest ADSL subscription (unlimited). By under-utilizing my net connection, does it mean that I sponsor the bandwidth of others who do..?
      • Of course it does... well no, not anymore.

        Now, if you under utilize your connection, you're just giving the cable companies free money, since they're charging people who go over.

        Also... rogers has been doing this in canada for several months.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      But sadly, there WILL be BT throttling and other shenanigans going on and everyone in America knows it. Instead of investing in technology here, the big Telcos (and ROT IN HELL for this Billy Tauzin, et al) have a stranglehold on the market and can dictate everything. Therefore we're stuck in the bleeding Dark Ages while everyone else on the planet is sporting >=10Mbps at HOME.

      Bastards, every single one of them.
      • by JPLemme (106723) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:36AM (#23636673)
        Actually, the reason there will BT throttling and other restrictions on using the PC as a media device is because almost NO ONE in America knows it. Try discussing these issues with anyone who's not a regular on /. and watch the glassy stares they give back to you.

        If everyone in America knew what was happening there would be a hue and a cry to do something about it, just like with health care or gas prices.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          what health care? and your gas prices are lower than almost anywhere else in the world...
        • by mattkime (8466)
          >>If everyone in America knew what was happening there would be a hue and a cry to do something about it, just like with health care or gas prices. ...and by that you mean that we'd be told it was for our own good and nothing would change?
        • by JMZero (449047) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:28AM (#23638967) Homepage
          When you're identifying a bird, you might say that it matches the "hue and cry" of a certain species. Hue means color, and naturally cry refers to the noise the bird makes. That's where this term came from - and usually it's used in the same situations where you might say "Well, if it walks like a duck..."

          It doesn't make sense for there to be a "hue and cry" as a reaction to something. Unless, perhaps, you imagine people are going to change color in anger.

          But I'm guessing your interpretation is as though both words are verbs, like people are "hew"ing and crying in anger or something.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by lysse (516445)
            But people's faces do change colour when they're angry; they tend to flush pink.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      I'm on Rogers in Ottawa, Canada and that's exactly how they handle it. They offer rates as low as $25 per month for 256 kbps/2GB cap all the way up to $100 a month for 18 mbps/90 GB cap. It's really a better way to do it. Personally, I have the 1 mbit/60 GB cap myself, for under $35. It's fast enough for most stuff on the web, and even movies can be downloaded in 5-6 hours if I'm maxing out my connection. Linux distros take a day or two, but I only download those twice a year. I like the idea that you
    • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:36AM (#23636675)
      ...assuming no BT throttling, etc shenanigans.

      That's a bold assumption to make...
    • Well, they still have to prove that the traffic you were sending is traffic you wanted to send. They can't charge you for zombie traffic when your machine got infected from other machines on their own network, so I think that may be a loophole many users can exploit to not have to pay full price for a ton of bandwidth ("your network made me send that much traffic, etc")
      • by Rogerborg (306625)

        They can't charge you for zombie traffic when your machine got infected from other machines on their own network

        We may have different definitions of what "can't" means. Have you read your Terms Of Service recently? You probably should.

      • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:55AM (#23636829)
        Well, they still have to prove that the traffic you were sending is traffic you wanted to send. They can't charge you for zombie traffic when your machine got infected from other machines on their own network

        No, they don't have to prove anything of the sort. All they have to do is point to their TOS and the clause that is likely already there today stating that YOU are responsible for all data coming from your computer, legitimate or otherwise.
        • by uncqual (836337) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:59AM (#23637623)
          But what about unsolicited traffic directed towards my setup?

          I can't stop someone from sending me UDP traffic - sure, my router will just drop it into the bit bucket, but from my ISP's standpoint it would still count as "download" bytes for the purposes of determining if I've exceeded my cap and cost me money.

          Not sure how one would profit from screwing me this way... Perhaps just the same human trait that motivates random vandalism would be sufficient. Perhaps the fact that I followed the "hate Hillary" link in a troll post but didn't follow the "hate Obama" link in the same post would be sufficient.
      • by BVis (267028) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:06AM (#23636957)
        They can and SHOULD charge you for zombie traffic. Matter of fact, they should charge you double for it once they notify you of said traffic coming from your setup.

        Actually, a better solution would be to redirect all your web requests to a 'this is how to fix it' page until the traffic isn't coming from your setup any more. I'm sure someone is about to complain about how their grandma can't understand what that means and she just wants to see pictures of her grandkids.. cry me a river. Zombified systems are a threat to everyone on the network.
        • by raddan (519638) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:34AM (#23639071)
          I attended a presentation once where one of the admins (Bob Beck) at UAlberta [ualberta.ca] showed off his pf [openbsd.org]-based system to yank DHCP leases from machines that met their criteria for zombie traffic (typically a sudden blast of SMTP traffic). Actually, I think it was a little more complicated than that, but the end result is that desktops are redirected to a "You are zombied, contact the IT department" webpage. Pretty cool.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by DieNadel (550271)
          OTOH, if you are being DDoS'ed (agreed, not what the GP meant), you should at least have some way of not being charged for that.

          Suppose you have to pay for any traffic that goes to your IP. What happens and 50k computers start flood-pinging you? Sometimes it's not your fault...
      • by mckorr (1274964) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:32AM (#23637225) Homepage
        I live in Texas and use Time-Warner. They don't charge you for zombie traffic, they disconnect you.

        My WinXP (kept for gaming only, Linux for everything else) got infected with a spambot (hazards of having children), and I came home one day to find my service shut off. Several hours of calling around to various departments later they informed me that I would have to get my computer "professionally cleaned" before they would reconnect me. Like the "professionals" wouldn't do exactly the same things I did to fix the problem. A bit of social engineering, and accusing them of scanning my system without permission (they didn't, they were monitoring the quantity of outgoing emails) and I convinced them to turn it back on.

        That being said, the US is horribly backwards in telcom because they corps know the average citizen has no idea how much they are being screwed. Paying for cell minutes and long distance, when it costs the company no more to route my call across the country than it does to the house next door? And now extra for bandwidth, when only 5% of their customers are using anywhere near the max? [quote from the radio on the way to work this morning]

        If Time-Warner tries to implement this in my area, I'm finding another provider. I really don't feel like explaining to my son that he can't play Xbox Live because we "went over our minutes".

        It's time Americans woke up and insisted that we stop being ripped off. Flat rates for phone service, flat rates for internet, and at reasonable prices. Either that, or stop claiming we are "more technologically advanced" than the rest of the world, because nonsense like this is proving on a daily basis that we are being left behind.

    • by treuf (99331) <treuf.users@sourceforge@net> on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:44AM (#23636723) Homepage
      Seen from the country I live in, all this is just unbelieveable.
      We have ADSL lines with speed up to 28Mb DL (remove ATM overhead) for prices starting at 18â per month.
      No cap, no bullshit, nothing.
      Usually for a higher price (starting at 29â), you get unlimited phone calls to many countries (japan, us, europe, etc...) and video over IP (TV, video on demand, other funky services)
      All this without even talking about fiber which is being deployed, and cable.

      I cannot understand how the country where the internet was born is going this way ...
      Looks like there is either no competition, or no incentive to upgrade the network.
      • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:01AM (#23636891) Homepage

        Bear in mind that the USA is run by and for big business, not the 'consumers'. Politicians rely on "campaign contributions" to fund their business-class lifestyles, and when they've blown through that money, there are plenty of "lobbyists" ready to pay for access to them. The mind blowing costs of running a political campaign practically assures that most victorious politicians are corrupt.

        While the breaking up of the old AT&T was a pretense that a telco monopoly wouldn't be tolerated, it just resulted in regional monopolies instead, and the eventual result was that the "Baby Bells" just re-merged into three companies that now form an effective cartel.

      • by notabaggins (1099403) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:18AM (#23637063)

        I cannot understand how the country where the internet was born is going this way ...
        Looks like there is either no competition, or no incentive to upgrade the network.
        Competition is so 20th century. In the Bush era, we've learned that the purpose of government is to give corporations whatever they want.

        This has boosted us to the dizzying heights of... 16th in broadband penetration in the industrialized world.

        And falling.

        Back in the 90s, the telecom companies swore up and down if we just deregulated them and gave them all kinds of tax incentives, they'd wire the country like crazy. Actually promised us--get this--45 meg symmetric, not just download, to 80% of US households by (wait for it)...

        2006

        Of course, the deal was meant to be enforced by the FCC which under Bush said, "Whatever you want, we're taking a nap."

        So we end up with situations like the one I'm in. I live in a small town outside the capitol of Texas where folks fleeing the city have been moving for some years so they could have an actual tree in their yard but it's not too long a commute into the city.

        Fastest growing county in the entire state. Tons of people from the city with jobs and money. What's AT&T (or whatever they're calling themselves this week) done about DSL?

        Nothing. Flat out nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada. Not a single upgrade to the CO in years, no build out, nothing.

        It doesn't even make good business sense. But, there it is.

        They do, however, spend tons on advertising. My landline is with them so every couple of months, I get marketed at about DSL. It's great! It's wonderful! It's fast! Get it! Get it now!

        I always say, "Sure! Sign me up!"

        The marketeer happily tippy taps his keyboard then slows down and finally says, "Um... you can't get DSL."

        "No, really? Gee, maybe you ought to freaking think about building out in the, you know, fastest growing county in the entire blasted state BEFORE you call me again."

        (slam phone)

        Yeah, it's petty. But it makes me feel better.

        • by BBandCMKRNL (1061768) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:52AM (#23637503)
          Ah yes, AT&T. I'll keep this short :-)
          I've been waiting for AT&T Uverse to become available in my neighborhood to provide some competition to Time/Warner. I got a flyer in the mail saying that Uverse was was now available to me. I logged onto the web site and tried to order it. It took me several tries to actually place an order because I followed the instructions that said that my driver's license expiration date had to be entered in mmyyyy format. The day before the install date, I had to reschedule due to a sick family member. No problem, the new installation date was verbally confirmed with me by the CSR on the phone. On the day of the install, I waited and waited. 30 minutes after the close of the 2 hour installation window, I called and was informed that I was scheduled for installation the NEXT day. The next day the install tech comes out and asks to look in my back yard. No problem. I've got both the cable and phone boxes in my yard for about 6 houses in my neighborhood. While the tech is standing there looking somewhat confused, I say, "If your looking for the network interface, there insn't one. We've never had a landline at this address." The tech then tells me that a different tech has to install the network interface and run the drop to it and asks if they could reschedule the install for Monday. I say that's fine, but Monday is a holiday, and asked if they really did installations on holidays. The tech said yes and told me that someone would be by after 19:00 that day to install the network interface and run the drop.

          No tech shows up that day to install the network interface and run the drop, so the first thing Monday morning, I call AT&T and tell them that it wasn't installed and asked if it would be installed prior to the tech arriving to do the install. I was informed that they didn't do installs on holidays and they rescheduled my install for the next day and assured me that both the install tech would be there and the person to do the network interface installation and run the drop.

          The next day, the install tech showed up and I asked him where the other tech was who was going to do the network interface installation and run the drop. He got a funny look on his face and went outside to make a phone call. He returned and said that the other tech was on the way. While we waited for the other tech, I showed im the 2 TVs that needed set top boxes and where I wanted their router installed to connect into my network wiring. The other tech arrived and they started working. About 15 minutes later, they had the network interface installed and the drop run and then things got REAL quiet for about 15 minutes and suddenly a third AT&T person showed up. It turns out that Uverse has a max length of 3,000 feet from their box in the subdivision to the house and we were 3,400 feet away.

          Our subdivision is less than 5 years old, so I asked who decided to lay out their cable in such a manner that almost everyone on my street would be unable to have Uverse service and they admitted it was one of their engineers.

          So, the end result is that most of the people on my street in the subdivision can't have Uverse service and AT&T spent who knows how much money figuring it out. Oh, and I'm still getting solicitations for Uverse. Maybe I should order it again. Maybe I should order it every time I get a solicitation until they stop sending me solicitations.
  • didn't those subscribers sign up for unlimited usage?

    someone's getting sued.

    Someone has to challenge the legality of the "terms subject to change without notice" clause. This essentially is not a contract if its terms can change.
    • by risinganger (586395) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:14AM (#23636501)
      No it isn't (yet). You obviously didn't read the short article as it states this trial is only running with new subscribers and not existing ones.
    • by bconway (63464)
      No. ISPs in the US stopped referring to unlimited bandwidth or usage 5+ years ago, and it was certainly never written into any contract. Occasionally you might see a reference to unlimited access, but that's just that, access.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by emmjayell (780191)

      didn't those subscribers sign up for unlimited usage? someone's getting sued. ...

      For service contracts with the 'terms may change clause' when the terms change, you are typically free to leave the service without penalty.

      As far as being sued goes - If I were an ISP, I would think this makes sense. It's easier to defend limits that are the same for everyone, vs. arbitrarily notifying subscribers who happen to piss off a network admin for interfering with their bittorrent download.

  • About time too (Score:5, Insightful)

    by samael (12612) * <Andrew@Ducker.org.uk> on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:09AM (#23636457) Homepage
    Let's have some honesty here. If we're going to have limits then let them be clear and open ones, where customers can make decisions about which limits they want, and how much they're prepared to pay for them.

    Far better this approach than one which says "Eat what you like, so long as you're reasonable."
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by risinganger (586395)
      I'd have to agree. Of course agreement comes with the caveat that if you're now paying for the amount you use then it should not be tampered with in any way. No throttling or use of forged reset packets etc. The sceptical part in me wonders if they'll do so.
  • Well, thankfully (for now) FIOS is unmetered and most certainly will be hyped by Verizon. The cable companies may rake in money for a year or two, but their greed will get the best of them and they won't know when to stop. By that time, Verizon's FIOS infrastructure will be pretty much complete in most markets and everyone will be switching.

    The only reason that TW is even testing this in a limited market is probably because there is 0 competition there. I'm pretty positive in a market where there is actual
    • by Shivetya (243324) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:21AM (#23636559) Homepage Journal
      because one problem I have is the trend towards FLV ads. If I am getting metered internet I want any ad server filtered out from the charge or I should have the option of having it filterd out at the ISP.

      • by tgd (2822)
        Good question, why doesn't Comcast add up all the time in the commercials I watch and subtract that percentage of time from my bill as well?
      • by tepples (727027)

        If I am getting metered internet I want any ad server filtered out from the charge
        Then you'll have no way of getting the cryptographic token from the ad server that certifies that your computer has downloaded the entire advertisement, and thus no way of providing that token to the server that holds the video that you wanted to see.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MollyB (162595) *
          Ah, so this is the downside of using No-Script? I block all scripts from ad servers (yeah, I google each one I don't recognize) and many videos don't play at all. I guess the question becomes, if I allow ad scripts, will AdBlock Plus let me watch the video and not suffer the ads?

          Call me a content-thief; I don't care. I try never to purchase anything advertised on TV or the web.

      • It's your choice to watch adverts - block them in the browser if you don't want to see them.

        If you choose not to do that, why shouldn't your ISP charge you for the traffic? They still have the cost of carrying it, and on third-party sites don't get any cash directly from the advertisers.
  • Cool (Score:4, Interesting)

    by arivanov (12034) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:12AM (#23636481) Homepage
    This is much better than the current large telco pactice of throwing people off the network or throttling them. Make people pay for the capacity they use and let economics sort it out.
    As a matter of fact most small ISPs around EU have been running this as a standard practice for ages with a considerable degree of success The approach is either a tiered system like this or a system where if you exceed your monthly quota your traffic gets the lowest possible priority on the network. There are also various variations on this using daily peak periods and so on. In any case, while introducing them at first has always caused a few grumbles on the overall, the users like them. As a result the network is not hogged by 5% who pay the same as the remaining 95% while using 99% of the capacity.
  • by bogidu (300637) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:12AM (#23636483)
    I could have swore we already fought this battle. As I recall, my first internet provider in 92 had caps and limits and due to popular demand eventually even the mighty AOL dropped them. Do the people that run these large corporations not understand Internet history??
  • by should_be_linear (779431) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:15AM (#23636509)
    Providers of pay-per-GB-transferred internet exists since forever, at least here in Europe and especially for mobile access. It was never popular among users and never will be, because people don't like to think about amount of data transferred all the time. Plus, there are programs like Skype and Windows malware that transfer data all the time when computer is on. However, 40GB cap sounds much more reasonable then anything I saw here ...
    • by arivanov (12034)
      I moved to my company broadband offer to "eat my dogfood" recently.
      Prior to that I was with 2 independent ISPs for nearly 7 years. In both cases I had 50G caps with off-peak periods and free upload. I used on average 3-5G a month at most even while running off-site backups for several friends. If we take the off-site backup out my usage (unless it was a Debian release month) was under 1G. So 40G is not particularly bad.
  • by Saffaya (702234) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:18AM (#23636529)
    Having capped internet access in any developped country in 2008 is a shame.
  • by shadowcabbit (466253) <<ten.enoyrrufeht> <ta> <xc>> on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:18AM (#23636539) Journal
    Time-Warner Sued By A Bazillion Customers Over Bandwidth Charges

    $slashdot_user writes: "Time-Warner today was served with a class-action lawsuit from nearly every single subscriber to its metered internet service, launched in June. The suit claims that Time-Warner willingly and complicitly installed spyware onto its subscribers' computers to run up bandwidth charges. The program, which affected primarily Windows-based computers, repeatedly downloaded and uploaded a 1.5 MB file of random, uncompressable data up to a thousand times per hour each way, causing subscribers' caps of 5 GB to be reached within hours. Further GB of bandwidth was charged at $1 each, with some subscribers receiving 'overage' bills stretching upwards of $700. Representatives for Time-Warner were unavailable for comment." .....seriously, I don't think TWC would be stupid enough to deliberately install spyware on its subscribers' computers, but this will fail as soon as hundreds of thousands of clueless Windows users running zombie botnet boxes start cancelling their service en masse "because they jacked up the price". This is not the way to either fix broadband usage policy nor to stop botnets.
  • comparative prices (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    how much is their unlimited plan?

    b/c its like 49.99 or 54.99 (+/-) for unlimited 5mb through-put on charter and comcast

    if the ISP companies want to role out metered bandwidth, and make it attractive then they are going to have to make it cheaper.

    i switched from 3mb cable $54.99 to 1.5mb naked DSL for $42.00, when i called the cable company that i was dropping service (after they charged me $54.99 for a month (b/c my one year deal had lapsed)) they said they could give me 5mb for $29.99 for 6 months. i said
  • by Anonymous Coward
    What exactly is the technical network congestion that the cable companies are looking at? The article implies DSL doesn't face the same problem so it sounds like it's last mile congestion.

    If that was the case though I would think they'd gain far more by seeking to give incentives for heavy users to download during off hours or some such.
  • I think this is one of the first plans where they've mentioned being able to tier your usage. I personally would have no problem if they set up the system like they do cell phones, you pay x amount for y minutes/GB, with overages being relatively expensive. If they could also add in something similar to cell phones where if you "call in plan" it doesn't count against your total, where the in plan refers to getting the data from a source close enough to you that it is less costly for the ISP, we would see ma
  • My ISP (Newfoundland, Canada) Rogers Cable just started metering this month too. I now pay $55.95CDN for 95GB of transfer (up and down) per month.
  • Here it comes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by troll -1 (956834) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:25AM (#23636597)
    I guess we got lucky with the Internet in a way. It was designed and developed in large part, not by private companies, but by scientists and engineers in a peer-reviewed academic environment who were mostly employed by the government. Profit was not their goal.

    What Time-Warner is doing probably has less to do with consumption and more to do with figuring out a way to nickel and dime you for every trivial service they can think of. First it'll be quotas, then they'll be a BitTorrent surcharge, then there'll be a 'speed-up' charge for port X. Before you know it your ISP bill will look like your phone bill.

  • by WarwickRyan (780794) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:25AM (#23636603)
    With those low caps it can be nothing else. Make the internet so expensive that no-one can complete with your multimedia sales (cable, dvd, music).

    With the added 'benefit' of them being able to effectively gouge movie downloaders.
  • So does anybody know of good tools to measure the total upload/download usage on the three platforms (Mac/PC/Linux)?

    There is only two providers here, AT&T and Cox. Everybody knows that AT&T is already disrupting Bit Torrents and metering is coming next. I would like to get an idea on my usage. My guess is about around 300k a day on podcasts and the web but it is only a guess.

    Any tools you know of would help me get a handle on it, thanks.
    • by Paralizer (792155)
      You'd have to put it on some device in between your modem and your network, otherwise you are only counting usage per machine and not per connection. Maybe some application on your router? Cisco has one called NetFlow; it would be nice to have something like that but for cheaper LinkSys devices, maybe some 3rd party firmware? DD-WRT has a nice looking moving usage graph, but afaik it doesn't do any history or per-port/per-mac address stats so you wouldn't be able to tell where on your network the rouge b
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      300 K? That seems pretty low. This slashdot commenting page, when saved to disk, with all it's content, takes up about 500 KB. You probably meant 300 MB. Which I personally find a bit large. But it still only comes in around 9GB. I'm surprise that it's not a feature in more routers to tell you how much bandwidth is being used by each MAC address that connects to the network. I think it would be a really nice feature.
  • Cancel (Score:5, Insightful)

    by snarfies (115214) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:27AM (#23636625) Homepage
    Cancel your service immediately. Please. Its the only way to let them know that you don't accept their new terms. Stop the experiment in Beaumont.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by antdude (79039)
      Or back to dial-up (3 KB/sec at most for me with compressed files). I have no other affordable broadband options in my area. DSL is too far (20K ft. from CO). Forget satellite Internet services (slow, capped, and expensive). No local WISP services. IDSL/ISDN is too slow and expensive (100+ bucks a month??!?!) :(

      Would you like to pay for a T1 connection for me? I think not.
  • My ISP (Rogers) did. Like any good economically rational consumer, I used it to grab while the grabbing was good. Last month I downloaded "Video Store 1.0 (beta)" and the bill they sent indicated I'd have been charged $1,000 in overages.
  • by indy_Muad'Dib (869913) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:41AM (#23636703) Homepage
    hell i use 40 gig in less than a day.

    time to start looking for another ISP
  • Even Tmobile's Blackberry plan is more competitive than this Time-Warner piece of crap that they are putting out there.
    Tmobiles = 30$/month unlimited edege.

    In the meantime, why did some random town in Texas get chosen to test this?

    Why didn't they try somewhere that there are enough people who will voice their opinions that the idea is garbage and just a money extraction?
    • by theM_xl (760570)

      Why didn't they try somewhere that there are enough people who will voice their opinions that the idea is garbage and just a money extraction?
      You've just answered your own question. Because it's a money extraction. "Why no sir, I don't see why you're complaining, nobody in our testing area did."
  • by kiehlster (844523) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:47AM (#23636747) Homepage
    I'm paying $90/month for a dedicated server, 24/7 amazing tech support and 1.2TB bandwidth per month. How is $60/month for no dedicated server, crappy tech support and 40GB/month (0.04TB) any where near a reasonable offer?
  • by goodmanj (234846) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:47AM (#23636755)
    I've got no problem with heavy users paying more, light users paying less. But $1/gigabyte is so far in excess of the "going rate" for bandwidth that it's not even funny.

    For instance, my current web hosting provider [dreamhost.com] offers me 5 TERAbytes of transfer for six bucks a month. Now, it's possible they'd try to change the terms of the deal if I actually approached that level of usage, but still, it shows the cable company in TFA is charging more by roughly a factor of 1000.

    I'm guessing that Dreamhost probably serves up roughly as many bytes as a cable company does in a large town or small city. Now, I totally agree that providing internet access to a bunch of houses spread out over square miles is going to cost more than providing it to a couple rows of rackmounted servers. But that's a *fixed* cost to provide access, regardless of bandwidth usage.

    I'm okay with charging more for using more, but this is so out of proportion it's simply highway robbery.
    • Also note that the base charges are on par with what you pay for unmetered access at similar data rates on various consumer-level ISPs.
  • Holding out on us (Score:5, Informative)

    by stewbacca (1033764) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:53AM (#23636817)
    I talked to a TimeWarner rep when I lived in San Antonio last summer and he told me that they've had the infrastructure for 15mbps connections in place for a year or two, but cap the speeds between 5-10 on purpose. The "purpose", I see now, is that they want to try and milk every penny out of us for something that wouldn't cost them any more to deliver. I imagine it actually costs them money to cap our bandwidth anyway, so this is pretty dumb...especially now that I live in a market with another major provider (AT&T) for competition.
  • by anerki (169995) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:54AM (#23636825)
    The same situation has been present in Belgium ever since cable and *DSL made the market. There is simply no choice to get an ISP that doesn't limit your monthly bandwidth usage.

    Recently however, a new company surfaced offering low prices (30 euros / month) for a 100 Gb / month limit and a normal price (50 euros / month) for an unlimited connection. This new ISP is limited to a very small region in Belgium though, the services they offer outside their home city is similar to the other ISP's (more max download/upload, less speed).

    There is however no throttling, an almost 100% uptime (varying on location of course, but if you live anywhere near a city you can expect uptime of 100% ... Me I've never had my internet go down, and when I do play a game I tend to get a ping between 20-25 so it's all about what's important to you I guess.

    Most ISP's offer a nighttime discount too. Everything you download/upload between midnight and 10 AM only goes half towards the download limit.

    Also, the default option if you cross your limit is not to make you pay extra per Gb, but to put you on "smallband" which is (if I remember correctly) 64Kbit Up/Down. In other words: hell compared to the 20Mbit / 2Mbit (Down/Up) we usually get. You can change that default option to paying extra for Gbs of course ...

    Also I'd like to point out that Belgium is the only country in Europe where there is no viable option to choose for an ISP without transfer limit.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:00AM (#23636875) Homepage
    Oh, misery. Been there, done that, got the phone bill. Let's hope this trial balloon blows up like the Hindenburg before anyone else gets any ideas.

    I remember the bad old days of Compu$erve Information $ervices when the clock was ticking at, if I recall correctly, $6.00 an hour... and much more than that if you entered some of their "premium" services.

    Plus, if you lived in Roysburg, Winnemac, their list of dialup telephone numbers might helpfully list one under "Roysburg" while not bothering to mention that the actual physical location of their modem was in the city of Zenith, fifteen miles and a local toll call away. So you were also racking up a hefty phone bill at the same time.

    People may hate AOL now, but when they came charging in with a flat monthly rate they looked like knights in shining armor.

    And at least with CI$ the clock was ticking at a steady rate. With the Time Warner plan, in a million households little Genevieve will run across some funny and age-appropriate penguin cartoon website and watch it for weeks, and neither her nor her folks will have any idea it cost them $82.19 until the bill comes in at the end of the month.

    The funny thing is that the trend is toward flat pricing everywhere else. It seems odd to read that the genius at Time Warner are moving away from flat-rate pricing at exactly the same time as the cell phone companies are moving toward it?

  • by tonyray (215820) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:01AM (#23636889)
    I did a little math:

    1 megabit-month = 3600 sec per hr * 24 hrs * 30 days / 8 bits per byte = 324 gigabytes

    I pay $20 per megabit-month on an OC-3., so that is a 1600% markup! Well, if the drug companies can do it, why not ISP's :P Actually, networks don't run at full capacity 100% of the time and accounting/billing would become more expensive, so 1600% is an obvious exaggeration.

    Senate Bill 215 (Obama is a sponser) would prevent ISP's from interfering with content upload or download except in times of network congestion. This could lead to a 50% reduction in revenues since ISP's charge for uploading content such as webpages. The bill will also force them to buy ever increasing amounts of bandwidth at the same time, raising their expenses at the same time their revenue is decreasing. The bill will likely pass if it emerges from commitee. So IMHO, Time-Warner and other ISP's are testing the most likely economic model left to them should SB 215 pass.

    If someone were to break this off as a separate topic, it would be interesting to see if /.ers have a better idea than Time-Warner and other ISP's as to how they should charge to pay the cost of Net Neutrality.

  • Biting the hand (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Alzheimers (467217) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:33AM (#23637231)
    The whole point of broadband is to give everyone access to content on the internet quickly and cheaply. If you strictly meter the service, you basically eliminate the purpose of broadband in the first place.

    Multimedia distributers such as Youtube, Netflix and iTunes and media rich social networking sites like LJ and Facebook are the reasons why demand for Broadband service is so strong to begin with. Tell people they can only use these services a little bit before being charged out the wazoo, and you've killed the whole point of the internet.

    This might hurt the technophile and the hardcore online junky, but for Ma & Pa who only check their email once a week and occasionally watch videos of their grandkids learning to walk, PeoplePC is only $9.99 a month.
  • "Unused minutes"? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:40AM (#23637323)
    I wonder if they'd to "rollover" bandwidth?

    Afterall, if they want to get snobbish about counting, it should work both ways. If I'm paying for 40GB and I only use 15GB one month, I still want my other 25GB rolled into a reservoir that I can use the next month.

    Truthfully though, this is a stupid idea. Part of the beauty of the Internet is flat rate. If one starts having a limited pool (which is totally an artificial limitation), then everything starts becoming an "is it worth it to download" scenario. Should I give this new Ubuntu Linux distro a try? I dunno. That's almost a gig of my quota and Slackware works fine. Should I use Gentoo? I dunno source code downloads are going to be larger than binaries. Should I even bother patching my Windows machine. I dunno that's 500MB of quota and it'll probably be fine if I install a firewall. Should I run TOR? No I don't know how much traffic would be routed through my machine.

    Essentially this throws in giant anvil in front of the train that was the Internet. Instead of it becoming more ubiquitous, and more seamlessly integrated into our lives as a way for everything to talk to everything else, it's further segregating the internet into something that you "visit" and limit your usage of, rather than something that you simply participate in.
  • 5gb is a joke. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:13AM (#23638727)
    You could hit that very easily just with WOW or EQ updates. Even single picture attachments can run 5mb these days.

    That service would be worth about $10 a month to me.

    This idea is about as dumb as my companies limit of 100mb for email (as compared to 5gb to unlimited for each of all my free email accounts.) Someone sends me just about anything and I get a notice that my mailbox quota is exceeded.
  • by richardtallent (309050) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @01:36PM (#23641683) Homepage
    I live in Beaumont, and I'm a RR customer.

    Every time we're told that increased costs go to "infrastructure," we get the same crappy 6Mbps download speeds, downtime every Sunday night, no-show service calls, and human-unfriendly telephone support.

    As a former owner of a dialup ISP, I completely understand the "5%" rule.

    However, a 15-40GB limit is clearly not intended to curtail those users.

    The "problem" users are up in the 200GB/mo region, not a measly 3-7 DVD ISOs.

    This is nothing short of a preemptive attack against companies like NetFlix, Apple, Packet8, Vonage, etc. who offer DVD/HD downloads, VOIP, videoconferencing, and other services that compete with the incumbent's own services.

    Note that the new bandwidth cap does NOT include the VOD or VOIP services you buy from TWC.

    Again, I'm ok with fair and non-putative metering. I pay a larger water bill because my swimming pool has a leak. I pay a larger electric bill because I have an old house and I like it cool.

    But my water company simply charges me based on usage. There are no caps and no punitive pricing brackets. And they aren't trying to sell me pool maintenance services that come with "free" pool re-fills.
  • End of VOIP (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @02:13PM (#23642243) Homepage Journal
    For starters. No more Itunes, netflix, casual shopping...

    I would be canceling my service if i got that sort of garbage.

I have never seen anything fill up a vacuum so fast and still suck. -- Rob Pike, on X.

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