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Time Warner Expanding Internet Transfer Caps To New Markets 394

Posted by Soulskill
from the sharing-the-love dept.
Akido37 writes "Time Warner Cable is expanding its transfer capping program to new markets in Rochester, NY, Austin, TX, San Antonio, TX, and Greensboro, NC. It seems they have been testing plans with 5, 10, 20, or 40GB of data transfer per month, with prices ranging from $30 to $55 a month. BusinessWeek quotes Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt saying, 'We need a viable model to be able to support the infrastructure of the broadband business ... We made a mistake early on by not defining our business based on the consumption dimension.' Ars Technica adds, 'The BusinessWeek article notes that only 14 percent of users in TWC's trial city of Beaumont, Texas even exceeded their caps at all. My own recent conversations with other major ISPs suggest that the average broadband user only pulls down 2-6GB of data per month as it is. One the one hand, this suggests that caps don't really bother most people; on the other, it indicates that low cap levels aren't needed to keep traffic 'reasonable' since it's actually quite low to begin with.'"
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Time Warner Expanding Internet Transfer Caps To New Markets

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  • Only 40Gb/month? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by makomk (752139) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @12:55PM (#27432595) Journal
    Only 40Gb/month on the top plan? Here in the UK, TalkTalk's "free with any reasonably expensive phone package" ADSL is 40Gb/month... though it's not really enough these days, thanks to stuff like iPlayer.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I think my "basic" plan has a cap around 60GB/month for $35 CDN. There are still several residential plans above mine where the caps are over 100GB.
    • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @01:10PM (#27432883)

      Maybe this is redundant but I think it needs to be said.

      If you're on Time Warner, call and complain. Tell them that as a result of this new policy you are researching alternatives and as soon as you find one you will be canceling service. Let them know that you will be telling you family and friends who are less technically minded to start looking for alternatives too. Remind them that even if their profits on heavy users are slimmer, it is those same users who the rest of their customers go to for advice.

      Then follow through, and make sure that everyone you get to switch tells the operator that "A friend who is very knowledgeable recently canceled your service because... and recommended I do the same."

      • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @01:20PM (#27433049) Homepage

        This is the correct answer if you are in one of their markets and are presently affected. If you are not presently affected, there is no sense in drawing attention to yourself. Presently, I am a Time-Warner internet user and prior to that, AT&T and Comcast... been bought and sold a lot. During this time, the market for ADSL has expanded greatly to the point that my download speeds are very very good as there are far fewer cable internet users in my area than DSL. I get over 1MB/sec downloads on my torrents quite often. I have no need to complain at this time.

        But your suggestions for argument are exactly what is needed as feedback to the company. Eventually, they will listen... they will have to. If they brought it to my market, I would absolutely insist on using ADSL as leverage against their actions.

        Many users have no effective way to measure their own usage and have no way to keep tally of their downloads either. This is especially true as P2P technologies are increasingly being used in Netflix and other such legitimate services.

        • Re:Only 40Gb/month? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by bhtooefr (649901) <<gro.rfeoothb> <ta> <rfeoothb>> on Thursday April 02, 2009 @01:27PM (#27433189) Homepage Journal

          Myself, my options are:

          Time Warner (I'm paying $44.95/mo for Earthlink via TW, but I'm not in a capped area)
          A ripoff artist phone company that claims $14.95/mo for ADSL, but they have about $50-70 in hidden charges on the phone bill, resulting in over $100/mo for basic ADSL and home phone
          Dial-up for about $40 for the basic home phone and $10-20 for the dial-up
          EvDO with a 5 GiB cap, and I don't have good cell reception here anyway
          Stealing wifi from a neighbor that has the same options

          • by erroneus (253617)

            Sounds like you have done your shopping already. The ADSL rip-off sounds pretty typical... Just went over my mobile phone bill and while "the plan" sounds attractive, I end up paying a lot more after other things are included.

          • Re:Only 40Gb/month? (Score:4, Informative)

            by andymadigan (792996) <amadigan@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday April 02, 2009 @01:55PM (#27433687)
            Earthlink isn't the same as RoadRunner, it just uses the cable network, but not they have their own internet peering, and they're not bound by RoadRunner's stupidity. I've already with Earthlink and they confirmed there are no caps nor any plans for them. I'll be switching to them once TW announces a timetable for this (I live in Rochester, NY).
      • by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @02:23PM (#27434119) Journal
        The problem with this is that only people who hit the cap are going to be negatively affected enough to switch to a different ISP.

        Guess what? Time Warner wants those people to switch, since they are the ones breaking their overselling calculations. The quicker TW can unload the high-volume users, the better it is for TW. That is, of course, unless high-volume users pay additional charges for their excess volume over the cap. Then, those users are profitable again for TW.

        Personally, I think tiered pricing by volume is a good idea, since it more fairly distributes the cost of providing service.

        Plus, I was able to download some 8 TB of porn before there were caps, so I'm good for a while.
        • by Nevyn (5505) * on Thursday April 02, 2009 @02:29PM (#27434221) Homepage Journal

          Plus, I was able to download some 8 TB of porn before there were caps, so I'm good for a while.

          But what about next week?

      • Re:Only 40Gb/month? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by 0xDEAD (970695) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @02:42PM (#27434447)
        Done, done and done. I let TWC know when I turned in my 3 DVR boxes and shut down my Cable/Phone/Internet service which I had for 10 years that this was one of the major reasons I was switching to FIOS. I have not regretted the switch at all either, FIOS quality and service have been excellent (and I had my doubts as I hated my Verizon land line service!)
      • by The Famous Druid (89404) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @02:47PM (#27434529)
        > If you're on Time Warner, call and complain. Tell them that as a result of this new policy you are researching alternatives and as soon as you find one you will be canceling service.

        I hate to tell you this, but it won't work.

        Aussie users made a similar threat when one of our biggest ISP's introduced download caps.

        A spokesdroid for the ISP said (paraphrased) "50% of our bandwidth is consumed by 5% of our customers. If they take their business to one of our competitors, we'd be delighted"
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dgatwood (11270)

          And those 5% of customers recommend service to the other 95%. Smart companies have long since learned that you do NOT piss off your "pro customers". It eventually comes back to bite you in the backside with such regularity that it almost goes without saying in most industries. The telecoms have near monopoly status, so they can afford to not care. For now. This, too will change.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by the_womble (580291)

        So you are want to get people who would never hit the cap to switch in order to protest that they are no longer cross-subsidising you?

        It is perfectly reasonable to charge heavy users more.

        It is a lot better than Comcasts approach of a high cap and cutting off those who breach it twice.

    • Re:Only 40Gb/month? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @01:11PM (#27432891) Journal

      40Gb, as in gigabits??? I suppose they'll generously up that to 40GB as in gigabytes.

      Now if they made it 400GB, we'd probably stay below the cap most months. There have been a few months when we've been above 500GB, but have never broken the 1TB level. Our service is capped at 100Mb per second, every second of the month. If we saturated it, we'd reach 1TB in about a day.

      And in answer to the inevitable question: no we're not sharing movies or music. Having a high bandwidth means you access more stuff, and don't worry how many MB anything is.

    • by Yaur (1069446) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @01:13PM (#27432941)
      "stuff like iPlayer" is exactly what they are afraid of. This isn't so much about bandwidth costs, though that is somewhat important, as it is about protecting their legacy video model.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)

        40GB is enough for 90 hours of iPlayer video, or about three hours a day, which is a lot more than I'd want to watch. It's enough to listen to my favourite Internet radio stream for 16 hours a day. It's not an excessive amount, but it's probably more than most average users need; I'd be surprised if my mother used more than a fraction of that, and I know a couple of people who use HSPA broadband with 10GB/month caps for their home Internet connection.

        By the way, 40GB is only enough to refresh this page

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ckaminski (82854)
        Which is the REAL Clinton/Bush legacy. Letting the entertainment networks buy the communication infrastructure. :-/
    • Re:Only 40Gb/month? (Score:5, Informative)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @01:25PM (#27433163) Journal

      'We need a viable model to be able to support the infrastructure of the broadband business... We made a mistake early on by not defining our business based on the consumption dimension.'

      Lol what? Does he think we're fucking stupid?
      Time Warner (aka Road Runner) started experimenting with cable modems in 1995, but didn't go big until 1997ish.
      Is CEO Glenn Britt really saying that their business model hasn't been viable for over a decade?

      More likely they've been overpromising for over a decade and it's only been recently that demand has caught up with the promises.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Here in civilized Northern Europe, I don't even know anyone who has a transfer cap. Somehow the ISPs seem to stay in business.
    • by DigitAl56K (805623) * on Thursday April 02, 2009 @02:57PM (#27434697)

      Here in San Diego, I have one of their RoadRunner packages. I get up to 8Mbps (and often the full 8Mbps), but I see it's also common to have up to 50Mbps. On a 5Mbps line you can download about 50GB in 24 hours. On an 8Mbps line just over 80GB. TW reps have announced a 100GB "super-tier" via Twitter. Even so, you can exhaust that in under 2 days at only 5Mbps.

      Sounds like a lot of bandwidth? 720p H.264 will run 5-6Mbps for decent quality (my opinion). If you watch 24 hours of it you'll blow through their 40GB plan in around 19 hours of viewing (based on 5Mbps avg for the video). 1080p? Let's call it 8Mbps average for the video bitrate (favorable for the ISP in my opinion) and you'll exceed your $55 plan (according to the summary) after watching only 12 hours worth of content.

      Tier based pricing such as this will kill innovative new services. If this becomes commonplace I doubt you'll see some of the video sites emerging today serving a lot of HD. We're even less likely to see online music stores adopting lossless formats. Because end users will only be able to download a limited amount per month there will be less pressure to lower bandwidth prices for backbone/CDN - "demand" (and I use that term loosely in this context) will outstrip supply.

      I see it like this: Thanks to things like YouTube HD, Hulu, Netflix online, Veoh, and so forth, we're *all* downloading more, no matter what the ISPs try to tell us "the majority of their customers" use. Their margins will be getting squeezed. You aren't benefiting from this new tiered model because "you aren't subsidizing high use users" - you're going to be paying about the same, if not more, and your plan will give you less downloads and greater risk (if you exceed it).

      I also cannot help but wonder for ISPs that are linked to media giants whether there is some line of thinking that says "We're bleeding due to piracy, people are dropping their cable packages, motions against BitTorrent haven't worked, let's find another way to stem the bleeding". If this were a factor it would be putting self protectionism against national infrastructure interests.

      Anyway - the main thing to keep in mind is that this is not just an issue for your net access and wallet today, it will limit the kind of services and media that are developed tomorrow.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dgatwood (11270)

        I also cannot help but wonder for ISPs that are linked to media giants whether there is some line of thinking that says "We're bleeding due to piracy, people are dropping their cable packages, motions against BitTorrent haven't worked, let's find another way to stem the bleeding". If this were a factor it would be putting self protectionism against national infrastructure interests.

        We're talking about Time Warner Cable here. They're a cable company. They make almost all of their money by selling pay-per-v

  • by 77Punker (673758) <spencr04 AT highpoint DOT edu> on Thursday April 02, 2009 @12:58PM (#27432643)

    According to 77Punker,

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 02, 2009 @12:59PM (#27432659)

    Time Warner has an interest in keeping media businesses under control, therefore it cannot allow streaming services to gain traction. Video streaming in HDTV quality will easily reach these limits, but almost no other internet usage will.

    • by syncrotic (828809) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @02:08PM (#27433907)

      I can't emphasize how important a point you've just made.

      The cable and telecom providers have collectively decided to create in peoples minds the idea that a "reasonable" cap is a few dozen GB, give or take: a level set so as to discourage the small but growing number of users who download much of their video and don't bother spending $1000/year on broadcast cable / satellite. From the cableco's perspective, the worst of it is that the users downloading video are exactly the technically literate sort that want, and under other circumstances might be willing to pay for, high-end cable packages with HD channels.

      Bandwidth is just not that expensive, nor is it anywhere near as scarce as the cable companies are suggesting. This issue is being framed in terms of cost and scarcity to hide the fact that this is just protecting an old business model and its rather generous revenue stream.

      • by NormalVisual (565491) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @03:13PM (#27434959)
        Bandwidth is just not that expensive, nor is it anywhere near as scarce as the cable companies are suggesting.

        This is exactly right. How is it that it's prohibitively expensive for the average Joe to get decent connectivity, yet I can maintain a colocated server in a very nice data center at a constant 70 degrees F, with a UPS system that will keep my server up for two weeks after the mains goes away, with a terabyte of data transfer each month on a dedicated 100 megabit switch port (and I've yet to see my transfer rate drop below 10Mb/sec), and a /27 netblock, *and* a SLA, all for $100/month? Also, when I submit a service ticket, they respond in less than two minutes and can discuss the issue intelligently without stepping through an inane script. And, in the unlikely event I overrun my bandwidth allocation for the month, they'll just charge me a reasonable fee for the overage and never utter a word about cancelling my account.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TooMuchToDo (882796)
          Because colo providers have much lower capital expenditure costs than cable/DSL ISPs who have to roll out coax/fiber to everyone.
          • by NormalVisual (565491) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @04:14PM (#27435889)
            For the most part that's true, but those costs are also spread across a *much* smaller number of customers for the colos, and ISPs also have their costs sharply reduced by the generous rights-of-way, franchise guarantees, and other subsidies they receive from the local government.

            ISPs have it within their means to offer vastly better service at the prices they currently charge while still making a substantial profit. They simply choose not to do so.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      "but almost no other internet usage will."
      1. Open source developers or enthusiasts pulling ISOs
      2. Artists who share their work with others
      3. Employees remotely accessing systems at their job using VNC
      4. Work-at-home investors who pull a lot of market data

      And there are many others.

  • by qoncept (599709) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @12:59PM (#27432661) Homepage
    I don't even know what you could do with 5gb a month. I have dd-wrt running on my router and UPLOAD more than 5gb a month using email and AIM to chat.
    • by Jherico (39763) * <bdavis@sai[ ]ndreas.org ['nta' in gap]> on Thursday April 02, 2009 @01:04PM (#27432753) Homepage
      No you don't. Unless you're attaching huge files to the emails or transferring huge files over AIM, you would wear your fingers to bloody stumps before you could approach generating 1GB of data over a text channel carrying natural language.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Or he's a software developer and attaches lots and lots of patches/binaries/tarballs/images/powerpoint presentations/pdfs to emails and various bugzilla installs. Which is not hard to believe; I'm a (very part-time atm) software developer and on a good month I can do 900MB in email traffic alone (totalling up and down). If I were a full-time developer again I could easily see 10GB in traffic.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MoonBuggy (611105)

        Just to add backing to that: by my calculations 5GB of text data in a month would require typing at over 20,000 words per minute, 24 hours a day. I'd be very impressed to meet someone who types at almost 350 words per second without the requirement for food or sleep.

        Seriously, though, while a 5GB cap is pretty crappy (even leaving last.fm running on one machine would push that, let alone video streaming) it's just making ones own argument look invalid to claim you're going to exceed it with email and IM.

        • Don't forget protocol overhead. I don't know about AIM, but with Jabber a lot of people use rich text and if they have a horrible client like Adium/Pidgin which generates appallingly-bad XHTML-IM then this can result in sending well over 200 bytes to say 'hi'. You're still looking at 1,000 words per minute, but it goes from being an insignificant amount of your total usage to being a small part.
        • But that's only 0.00025 of a Library of Congress [wikipedia.org]!
    • by rotide (1015173)
      5 Gig in Email and IM alone, and just for outbound?

      You're not a normal user, at all.

      Even if you're sending Pictures, that's a crapload. If that's just text, I don't even want to know how many hours you spend typing to hit 5gig.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by WTF Chuck (1369665)
        It doesn't take that long to hit 5Gig when the cat lays on the keyboardddddddddddddddddddddddddd
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rycross (836649)

      Even 40 gb/month is ridiculous. Back at my old job, I could eat that up in a week using my MSDN subscription to set up a development workstation. Nowadays, I could churn through that in a month easily just playing around with FOSS, Hulu, YouTube, Skype, XBox Live/PSN downloads.

      I really hope this doesn't become a trend. If all my ISP options switch to a cap, then my internet usage is going to take a dramatic hit. Of course, I'm sure that's what they want -- they'd rather me buy their cable TV and phone p

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I agree. Obviously those 86% probably don't even need a broadband Internet connection at all.

      My cable line is capped at 40 GB/mo and I hate that damn thing. At 10 Mbps you can blow out the cap in less than half a day. And you're suppose to use it for the whole month?!

      Other countries don't seem to have a problem wiring up nearly their whole population with 100 Mbps connections and such. The problem in the US just that companies are just plain stupid and wasteful (bad designs, poorly managed, wasting mone

    • by afidel (530433)
      What about the fact that the price is WAY too high for that 5GB, I pay $36/month for non-capped 10/1 cable.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I don't even know what you could do with 5gb a month. I have dd-wrt running on my router and UPLOAD more than 5gb a month using email and AIM to chat.

      No, that's all the worms that you have on your system sending spam.

  • This is amazing... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Darundal (891860) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @01:01PM (#27432701) Journal
    ...there is going to be a broadband ISP worse than Comcast. I only wonder why they are expanding the test to larger markets where they don't have significant competition from other ISPs
    • by Akido37 (1473009) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @01:06PM (#27432797)

      I only wonder why they are expanding the test to larger markets where they don't have significant competition from other ISPs

      That's the whole point. Here in Rochester, NY, we have no other option but DSL. In Buffalo, NY (about an hour away), they have Verizon FiOS.

      We are getting screwed, they are not. We have no other option for broadband, and they do.

      • by Binestar (28861)

        The Road Runner here in Rochester is great where I live. Downloading games from Steam I get 1MB/s, so I'm maxing out my connection when I need to do that.

        That said, I will have a very hard time staying under the 40GB limit, I work from home, have a Gentoo machine that I sync each night. I stream a couple of Netflix each week, along with other browsing. That doesn't even count the outside connections that get dropped by my Firewall from things like Blaster, etc that are still going strong.

        Competition is D

  • Hmmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by krou (1027572) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @01:02PM (#27432721)

    According to Ars Technica,

    What, did Soulskill hit his cap or something? DAMN YOU TIME WARNER CABLE FOR KEEPING ME IN SUSPENSE!

  • Caps are... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @01:03PM (#27432733)

    Caps are to stop the heaviest users, not the lightest ones. That 14% (which is a lot, not a little) that exceeded their caps are the ones they are targeting. That 14% ties up the majority of the bandwidth and light users get poorer service because of it.

    For the record, I have always been one of the top users of every ISP I've ever been with. I was '#1 abuser' for the smalltown ISP I had back 12-15 years ago. I haven't ever let up. (Yes, that's what the ISP called me to my face.)

    Overall, their customers are going to be a LOT happier without caps... Caps make customers worried about extra charges on their bill. Most customers will pick a slightly higher priced 'unlimited' plan over one with a cap, even if they would never hit the cap even on crazy months.

    Time Warner will figure this out again soon when their competitors get a good hold on their market.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Time Warner will figure this out again soon when their competitors get a good hold on their market.

      Competitors? In the United States? That's a laugh.

    • by afidel (530433)
      Light users get poor service because they refuse to buy more transport or to segment heavily oversubscribed nodes. You could argue that the heavy users are using too much for what they are paying, but I think you will find that's laughable since 40GB of transport costs maybe $4 at wholesale. Comcasts plan is MUCH better than TW's for just about everyone.
  • 14% is a lot (Score:2, Interesting)

    by averner (1341263)
    14% of users going over the proposed limit is a lot. This means one out of seven. In contrast, Comcast has a cap of 250 GB, and cites figures of around 1%. As web-based video services continue to grow in popularity, I can only imagine the amount of people having issues with their cap. Maybe this will be just the thing to spark some competition!
  • by the_rajah (749499) * on Thursday April 02, 2009 @01:05PM (#27432765) Homepage
    As people start to get movies and TV shows via the Internet, they're moving away from cable TV content. Cable wants to maintain their monopoly. It's time to get the Justice Department looking at this.
  • 5GB/ MONTH? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Taibhsear (1286214) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @01:05PM (#27432769)

    FUCK. THAT. Thankfully I don't have Time Warner. Unfortunately I do have Concast. I already got warned once for being over my 250GB limit. Since they want to charge me $7/mo more for an HD converter box (that I can't buy anywhere, only rent from them) that my tv does natively (and at a higher resolution over the air than what they send compressed) and I actually pay for. The basic subscription I pay for includes HD channels but I can't watch them unless I pay for the converter box or plug the cable straight into my tv and lose the ability to watch On Demand programs. So I download the programs I do want to watch in high def.

    Want a good comparison? Take the amount of time the average customer spends per month watching tv. Calculate the relative bitrate for a tv program (including commercials) adjusting for resolution, multiply it by the average viewing time, and I guarantee you it will be greater than the any of the current bandwidth caps. Bandwidth caps are bullshit. They're just another way to milk more money out of the consumer. The system can handle it. If they need more bandwidth for the whole network, light up the dark fiber and/or upgrade the infrastructure we already paid for years ago.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MozeeToby (1163751)

      While I agree with the general tone of your comment, your comparison is not really valid. TV signals are broadcast, all users get the same thing. Furthermore, the TV signals aren't sent over the big pipes of the Internet, they are received at your local cable companies offices and sent through the companies cable lines from there. The Internet is different data for each individual, and ISPs do pay a per gigabyte fee to send data across the big pipes that make up the backbone of the Internet.

      In all honest

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ivan256 (17499)

        While I agree with the general tone of your comment, your comparison is not really valid. TV signals are broadcast, all users get the same thing.

        Not anymore. Read up on Switched Digital Video. It's not fun when you try to watch something in the evening or on the weekend, and you get a "try again later" error 'cause too many people on your segment are watching unique content.

        Thankfully, FiOS came to my area and I sent Comcast packing.

    • by compro01 (777531)

      For another comparison, good dialup (44.6k) "caps" (maximum possible transfer) at a little over 14GB/month. Almost 25GB if you count both upload and download.

  • by AvitarX (172628)

    Comcast allows 250 GB, this makes them look fantastic.

    I don't really object to a super low plan for less, but 40 GB is a low max. I've done that with legal content plenty of times. I can imagine getting there binging on youtube and hulu even.

    This looks more like an attack on their competition (internet eating away at TV viewing), than a need to meet customer demands.

  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @01:06PM (#27432793)

    They're attempting to force "heavy users" to pony up for bandwidth that already exists in abundance in their network.

    My own ISP started bandwidth capping in the last year and a half and cut me down to 60GB without notice and I was pissed. Personally I wouldn't be surprised if the *IAA's of the world are influencing these decisions.

  • So what about those who play games online through PC or X-Box 360? For example: if someone played WOW 6 hours each day for an entire month, what would it's monthly data transfer be?

  • Bait & Switch (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @01:07PM (#27432809)
    This is so clearly Bait & Switch that TW should be proscuted within an inch of their corporate lives. Their top officers should be in jail, to wit:

    1: Promise unrealistic, unlimited downloads and speeds that discourage all competition.
    2: Once you have the monopoly and the consumer has nowhere else to go, bring in onerous download caps that actually reflect the basic capabilities of your pitiful system.
    3: Buy off Washington so that you won't be punished for #1 and #2.
    4: PROFIT!

    The really Big Lie in all of this is that the argument for caps is that the system only has a very limited capability. Yet WITHOUT CHANGING OUT A SINGLE PIECE OF HARDWARE you can get a much higher cap simply by paying a much higher amount of money. Where did all that extra bandwidth come from? Clearly cable companies lie like rugs, and the public and regulatory agencies continue to buy into those lies as we're all being screwed over!
    • Re:Bait & Switch (Score:4, Informative)

      by Inglix the Mad (576601) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @01:23PM (#27433107)
      This is so clearly Bait & Switch that TW should be proscuted within an inch of their corporate lives. Their top officers should be in jail, to wit:

      1: Promise unrealistic, unlimited downloads and speeds that discourage all competition.

      2: Once you have the monopoly and the consumer has nowhere else to go, bring in onerous download caps that actually reflect the basic capabilities of your pitiful system.

      3: Buy off Washington so that you won't be punished for #1 and #2.

      4: PROFIT!

      The really Big Lie in all of this is that the argument for caps is that the system only has a very limited capability. Yet WITHOUT CHANGING OUT A SINGLE PIECE OF HARDWARE you can get a much higher cap simply by paying a much higher amount of money. Where did all that extra bandwidth come from? Clearly cable companies lie like rugs, and the public and regulatory agencies continue to buy into those lies as we're all being screwed over!


      1) All ISP's do this. Most oversell bandwidth at a more ridiculous rate than they used to oversell modem ports.

      2) Actually, they've done pretty good keeping prices low. If it were still only the bells running things we'd be lucky to have DSL.

      3) Standard. All companies do this.

      4) Not in the network division.



      One of my friends works in TW Data. They've done checks and most people (read: over 95%) never break 15gb. Sucks to be high bandwidth users I guess, but if you're part of the minority, you're going to get charged more. As far as bait & switch, if you read your service agreement, they can change prices (et al.) at any time with notice. Now if you have a contract price, that will have to be honored through the end of the contract.

      Mind you I'm not defending them 100% because I think the 5gb cap is low. 10gb would be far more reasonable for a mixed family (though I guess grandma and grandpa probably have a hard time breaking 2gb) situation. Gamers (especially consoles) and those downloading videos (incl. P2P) are the ones that are going to be hurt by this. I'd worry but my work pays for me to have a business line. Those are not being affected by this.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by slyborg (524607)

        One of my friends works in TW Data. They've done checks and most people (read: over 95%) never break 15gb.

        There's a solid, unbiased, and verifiable piece of data for us all. As noted by a number of other posters, this means jack anyway since we are just on the cusp of real on-demand, Internet-delivered video, and usage will only go up in the future.

        I'd worry but my work pays for me to have a business line. Those are not being affected by this.

        And you don't have the faintest idea what the pain level would be, since you apparently do your personal Internet use on your company's dime. Never ceases to amaze me how people will defend giant corporations engaging in anti-consumer behavior based primarily on the

    • Yet WITHOUT CHANGING OUT A SINGLE PIECE OF HARDWARE you can get a much higher cap simply by paying a much higher amount of money. Where did all that extra bandwidth come from

      Wow, really? That's amazing! I also found out I can buy more minutes from my cell phone company without changing my phone either! You'd almost think that there's a fixed amount of bandwidth at each node/tower and that if everyone used it to the higher cap, the node wouldn't be able to keep up and they'd have to spend money upgrading.

      The "extra" bandwidth came from the fact that if everyone saturates their 20/2 Mbit cable connection 24/7, we're all going to have 500 ms pings and never be able to browse YouTu

  • Cox cable (Hampton Roads) has download/upload bandwidth caps [cox.com] based on what level of service you have.

    At my current service level, it is 40Gb down, 15 up per month. Speeds of 10/2, which is quite consistent.
    The strange thing is, I know I exceed this regularly. And have never gotten any notice about it, or seen a throttling of speed.

    oops, I did it now.
  • We should use this as an opportunity to convince as many TimeWarner customers as possible to install ad-blocking software, on the argument that if they don't they are more likely to exceed their cap. Perhaps we could develope a modified OpenWRT or similar type router that blocked as much of that as possible, and convince people to install it.

  • by nick_davison (217681) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @01:14PM (#27432959)

    My own recent conversations with other major ISPs suggest that the average broadband user only pulls down 2-6GB of data per month as it is.

    And, in the days of 56.6kbps modems, just about no one pulled down 100MB of data per month. Why don't we cap it there?

    Oh yeah... because we actually like society advancing not staying stagnant.

    Just because most users don't, currently, constantly bang up against capacity limits, that's no reason to cap them at it to ensure they will as their usage patterns grow. Well, OK, it is if you're terrified their usage patterns are going to include cancelling your hugely profitable cable TV service and watching their content online. Which, let's face it, is the real reason these caps are getting introduced almost exclusively by organizations who don't want you able to circumvent their other business model.

  • The summary says:

    My own recent conversations with other major ISPs suggest that the average broadband user only pulls down 2-6GB of data per month as it is. One the one hand, this suggests that caps don't really bother most people; on the other, it indicates that low cap levels aren't needed to keep traffic "reasonable" since it's actually quite low to begin with.

    That doesn't follow at all. Low level caps are needed so that the very few don't abuse the network. Data that the average broadband user doesn'

    • by Rakishi (759894)

      Bittorrent? I pulled 40+gb last month by watching hulu, netflix and other online content (it's like 1-2gb/hour or so). Granted, another 30gb came from perfectly legal bittorrents for videos I didn't feel like streaming at the time.

      This is basically time warner deciding that they want to force you to buy their cable tv package.

    • by Rycross (836649)

      How about "cue the Steam users?" Or the Hulu users? Or the PSN/Live users? Or the MSDN users? Or the FOSS users? In case you hadn't noticed, there are a plethora of perfectly legal ways to bust a 40 GB cap in a month. The problem is that a lot of these legal uses compete with the companies' other entertainment options. So they'll cap it so that the legit users can't get their entertainment from the 'tubes, then turn around and tell you that you shouldn't care because all those other guys were filthy

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        How about "cue the Steam users?" Or the Hulu users? Or the PSN/Live users? Or the MSDN users? Or the FOSS users? In case you hadn't noticed, there are a plethora of perfectly legal ways to bust a 40 GB cap in a month. The problem is that a lot of these legal uses compete with the companies' other entertainment options. So they'll cap it so that the legit users can't get their entertainment from the 'tubes, then turn around and tell you that you shouldn't care because all those other guys were filthy pirates
  • Heh. (Score:4, Funny)

    by faloi (738831) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @01:22PM (#27433087)
    It's neither here nor there, but I recently switched away from Time Warner in Austin. My cancellation call included the sales speech that they didn't cap usage like some other plans. I resisted the urge to tell her that Time Warner would be soon, because they're following the trends.
  • IMO they want to milk their existing network rather than upgrade to todays standards of data transfer (illegal or not) and a cap does that with the guise of "piracy is an issue" in addition it wouldn't surprise me a bit if the RIAA and MPAA had a hand in this as it benefits them as well.

    We need regulation on broadband ownership and split these corps up to foster some competition, other wise we will all be using 3G and 6 MB cable well into the future.

    Just my opinion.

  • I am sick of slow cable modem service in the evening when everyone gets on at the same time. Time Warner is a shared service, but DSL is a per user service.
  • That's 1 in 7 people using their service, hardly an "only" that can be ignored.

    Hell, I use over 5GB/mo on my friggin iPhone and I'm not even tethering!

  • We need a viable model to be able to support the bureaucracy of the communication business

          Fix'd.

          Because everyone knows how unprofitable the communications industry is. Poor things. Even breaking up Ma Bell resulted in several companies swelling each to many times Ma Bell's original size in under 30 years. Yep, a very unprofitable business. I almost feel like donating something to them via paypal, poor fools.

  • ... offering an affordable, open (as in some way to get the recordings off) DVR service? The standard DVR isn't bad, but when you run into the space limitation, you have to get rid of something. If they offered something that would allow you to either copy the shows to another system, or burn them to DVD, that could be a step in the right direction.

    At least, if the number of people I hear about downloading huge torrents of movies and TV shows are any indication.
  • I'm capped at 200GB. I probably would use 250~300 or so were I not capped atm i hit 185~198(close call). Honestly with just 1 or 2 users without running a big server it is more than enough (at the moment). It is enough for unlimited chat/browsing. You can get every new movie that comes out lets say 15 a month. In addition you can get a few thousand songs and maybe 10 seasons of tv. Maintain an even upload ratio. And still have a bit left over. Unfortunately they are offering 1/40th of that making them total
  • [the fact that most people don't exceed the caps] indicates that low cap levels aren't needed to keep traffic "reasonable" since it's actually quite low to begin with.

    If the few who are exceeding the caps are putting out five times as much traffic as the rest of the crowd, then no, traffic is not low to begin with.

    I believe as strongly as anybody that the telcos and cable companies are out to screw the little guy at every opportunity (see the nonsense fees and charges added to every bill, instead of them being honest and including those in the advertised price), but paying for what you use is not a bad concept. In the long run, it will make internet access cheaper as

  • by OpenGLFan (56206) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @01:33PM (#27433289) Homepage

    Let's fight this, Austinites. My gf and I are engineers, and we VNC into work on weekends and for late nights, and we use more than 2GB/month just on that.

    Here's the letter I'm sending to my senators and representatives. I need to figure out who to send it to at Time Warner and the Statesman. (The big newspaper, for out-of-towners.) I'm looking for advice and critique and sources for some of the arguments I've heard here. (Look for the [brackets])

    Dear ________,

    I am an electrical engineer with *company*, and like many engineers in the emerging high-tech center of Austin, I rely on high-speed Internet connections to my home. In these times of economic hardship, it is more important than ever for working professionals to be able to access work computers and other information quickly and economically.

    Time Warner Cable has announced that they are implementing tight limits on the amount of information that they will provide to users of their cable modem services. While Austin's workers attempt to reach a compromise between work and family life by accessing critical business operations over the Internet, Time Warner plans to restrict their networks for these heavy users. They are instituting these caps in spite of the fact that a vast capacity of their fiber-optic lines remain unused, and in [year], Congress gave [millions] of dollars to cable companies to improve our nation's digital infrastructure.

    For Time Warner to pocket this investment and make no improvements, then attempt to extort outrageous fees that infrastructure from Austin area workers, is outrageous. Only the fact that there is no significant competition for broadband access allows cable companies to unilaterally impose these restrictions on those of us who depend on the Internet for our livelihood. As Congress has given heavily to cable companies and has seen no improvements, I would urge you to closely examine the stranglehold this company has upon Austin's digital infrastructure and the abuse of monopoly power that this upcoming cap represents.

    I look forward to your quick action in this matter, [and I anticipate supporting you in [your next election] (for elected officials) ].

    *OpenGLFan*

  • Every time this comes up, I think that I really should find a way to accurately measure how much bandwidth I'm using. We have three computers in my household. (Well, four, but the fourth is never used.) A desktop computer upstairs used as a file/print server and to downloading log files. My wife's laptop which she uses most of the day. And finally, my work laptop which I bring home with me at the end of the day. Unfortunately, my router is older and doesn't support log files. (It claims to, but then

  • I've used capped Net access for most of my life (having lived in countries that don't have the misadvertising of "unlimited"), and all of them had higher caps for lower prices. Currently, here in British Columbia, I get a 60Gb cap for $30 (Canadian, obviously) a year. In Moscow, I paid $50 for real unlimited (or at least never hit the cap, even with heavy downloading - so it must have been in excess of 100Gb - and I do not know anyone else who hit the cap and was asked to stop).

  • I opened my mailbox yesterday to some junk mail that actually caught my eye. Embarq is now offering DSL service to people who don't have or want a home phone line. Suddenly there's competition that makes sense, so if TWC wants to apply a bandwidth cap that my household exceeds then I'm changing providers.
  • Most of the arguments for the cap is that granny is paying a little more than she uses and grandson pays a bit less. Now you could ask granny: hey, your bastard grandson is using modern technology more than you and the cost is shared because of un-transparent pricing of telcos.

    I don't know how it is in mighty USA, but in my place granny would kick you in the nuts just for the question an say it is fine as it is.

    Actually, there were plenty of capped and flatrate packages around here some time ago. Nobod
  • The whole point of a good snare is to put it in place without being noticed or felt. I'd like to think Time Warner will be very reasonable and rational about placing the limits. Put them where only 1, or 2, or 10% of the customers ever exceed them. 3+ standard deviations above the mean, etc. Something easily rationalized to a technically minded consumer.

    But then the bean counters and MBAs will roll in. No matter where the limits are placed, they will try to find a way to squeeze out more profit and pro

  • I always hear about a small percentage of people with high usage spoiling it for the rest, but 14% running up against the caps during their trial is 1 out of 7 people, not a small percentage. If that many are hitting the ceiling already, I would say that the cap is set too low. In my household, with multiple computers, ipods, game consoles, and other devices all consuming data, I would be up against it in no time.
  • Caps don't bother people? It bothered me enough to switch to an ISP that didn't have bandwidth caps.
  • by boyko.at.netqos (1024767) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @02:00PM (#27433771)

    I interviewed Alex Dudley, VP of PR for Time Warner Cable [networkper...edaily.com] at Network Performance Daily on this. I tried to be impartial, but as I mention in the intro [networkper...edaily.com], this would raise my bill 500%, and would be a 1000% markup from Time Warnerâ(TM)s wholesale rate [nytimes.com], and as TW is a monopoly in my apartment complex, the net effect is that Iâ(TM)m getting kicked out of my home when the billing goes live, so the interview gets heated at points. FTA:

    NPD: I was wondering if you ever considered this⦠tracking the high-end users, and⦠only when the line is congested⦠throttling back their service using QoS priorities. Giving them--

    Dudley: Thatâ(TM)s exactly what Comcast did about a year ago, and it caused a complete outrage and the FCC hauled them before the committee [networkper...edaily.com] and told them they had to stop doing it.

    NPD: Actually, I covered that. That's actually the result that Comcast applied after the FCC asked them to choose a different system [networkper...edaily.com] . You're talking about the Sandvine stuff that was sending forged RST packets [dslreports.com] and the issue there was that the RST packets looked like they had come from the sender itself, which was essentially kind of a classic " Man In The Middle" attack [wikipedia.org] . A kind of a fraudulent thing.

    -------------

    Dudley: â¦because of consumers that are using amounts like this, what we're seeing is a need for network expansion. â¦We figure⦠the top 25% of users use 100 times more network bandwidth than the bottom 25%.

    NPD: Well that's just standard bell curves.

    Dudley: Iâ(TM)m sorry?

    NPD: Well, when you put any system on a graph like that⦠because of the 80/20 rule or the Pareto Principle [wikipedia.org] or whatever it's called, when you put something on the bell curve, of course the top 25 are going to use the most bandwidth because they're the top 25â¦.

    Previously, I wrote on how bandwidth caps have a chilling effect on Internet participatory culture [networkper...edaily.com].

  • by PJ1216 (1063738) * on Thursday April 02, 2009 @02:17PM (#27434029)
    I just installed an internet backup service. My initial backup is about 250gb. If there was a 5gb a month limit, it would take me over 2 years to backup my system. And after that, my internet traffic is essentially doubled for anything I download that I'd want backed up (me downloading it and then me uploading it again for backup). Unless others follow suit, TW will have problems from the telcos who aren't as reliant on the cable revenue or spreading a lot higher bandwidth out there (like Verizon FiOS). TW is just trying to see how much longer they can try and force people to use the old infrastructure. Why give people a better experience if you can force them to use what they already have or force them to use even less?

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