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Time Warner Pulls Plug On Metered Billing Tests 112

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the scream-loud-enough-and-be-heard dept.
fudreporter is one of many who writes to tell us that Time Warner is not planning to continue their tiered consumption tests at this time. The company is not completely admitting defeat, stating that they "may return to the idea in the future," but for now the test has been shut down. "The plan would have established several tiers based on how much consumers use the Internet. Time Warner Cable had said at the time that it believed that consumers who download the most content need to pay more to cover infrastructure upgrades. The plan was first announced two weeks ago, then modified with higher download caps last week. In a news release yesterday, Glenn Britt, the chief executive of Time Warner Cable, said, 'We will not proceed with implementation of additional tests until further consultation with our customers and other interested parties, ensuring that community needs are being met.'"
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Time Warner Pulls Plug On Metered Billing Tests

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  • Um... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 17, 2009 @04:52PM (#27619787)
  • by Hatta (162192)

    Their mistake was in having tests. If they wanted to push this through, they should have unilaterally instated it like Comcast did. After all, what are you going to do if you don't like it?

    • Evidently their users are less educated than Comcast's. Once TW learn's up their customers, they'll be more accepting of caps.

    • If they wanted to push this through, they should have unilaterally instated it like Comcast did. After all, what are you going to do if you don't like it?

      Push for a free market. I'm one of the lucky ones, if my cable ISP tried to cap downloads/uploads I could switch to DSL, however I'd still let them know I was contacting all of my government representatives and tell them I want them to push to open up the infrastructure and or push for a free market in net access. Just one person doing it wouldn't have m

  • by Devout_IPUite (1284636) on Friday April 17, 2009 @04:52PM (#27619793)

    If they'd just started with a simple price per gig and kept it to the reasonable electric/water model, they'd have been fine. The Cell phone model was a lot of the reason they had backlash I suspect.

    • by Hatta (162192) on Friday April 17, 2009 @04:58PM (#27619885) Journal

      It doesn't make sense to bill transfer like you do water or gas. Water you don't use is still there tomorrow. Transfer you don't use is lost forever.

      Since the cost to run the system is fixed, price per gig is lowest when you're maximally utilizing the system. Since a per gig charge encourages people to use less, it's encouraging less economical behavior.

      As in any other industry, if your customers want too much of your product you should make more. Punishing your customers for using your product is just backwards.

      • by regrepsnefpoh (1442877) on Friday April 17, 2009 @05:28PM (#27620303)
        Wrong. The internet backbone is fundamentally limited and, thanks to bittorent, it's finally being congested. Think about it this way: if everyone maxed out their connections all the time, everyone's connection speed would be a small fraction of what they currently take for granted. As media streaming -- bittorent, netflix, hulu, or whatever -- becomes increasingly popular, connection speeds WILL hit a wall. When people do realize that internet bandwidth is a limited commodity, something is going to have to give. I, for one, am not going to pay the same monthly fee for 1GB/month (to use basic sites like slashdot) that 100GB/month users use to download illegal media. Sure, I'm opposed to RIAA, as is everyone on slashdot. But there comes a point where I'm fed up with these bandwidth leeches.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Erie Ed (1254426)

          Wrong. The internet backbone is fundamentally limited and, thanks to bittorent, it's finally being congested. Think about it this way: if everyone maxed out their connections all the time, everyone's connection speed would be a small fraction of what they currently take for granted. As media streaming -- bittorent, netflix, hulu, or whatever -- becomes increasingly popular, connection speeds WILL hit a wall. When people do realize that internet bandwidth is a limited commodity, something is going to have to give. I, for one, am not going to pay the same monthly fee for 1GB/month (to use basic sites like slashdot) that 100GB/month users use to download illegal media. Sure, I'm opposed to RIAA, as is everyone on slashdot. But there comes a point where I'm fed up with these bandwidth leeches.

          See here's the problem...with unlimited bandwidth TW still made money. As a matter of fact their OPS cost went down and their profit went up. So the argument that more bandwidth cost them more $$$ doesn't hold any water.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Chabo (880571)

          As I said in one of the other TWC threads:

          What should happen is that they should stop overselling their pipes. If Comcast has 100Mbps of bandwidth for the 100 users on my node, then they shouldn't sell me a 6Mbps plan; it should be a 2Mbps plan at most. If I have a download running at 4AM and noone else is online, then there will be more empty bandwidth on the node, and I might get 6Mbps on my download as a "free bonus".

          Then at least if everyone on the node is using the network at once, I'll have 50% of wha

        • As long as those illegal bandwidth leaches are not downloading at the same time as you it's not a problem. Peak capacity is getting to be an issue, discouraging the downloading of big files at peak times and shifting it to the small hours helps keep everybody happy. on the other hand downloading of legal tv shows is going to grow with people barely content to fill the buffer before watching. Maybe the cable and tv companies should be supplying better boxes with a decent quantity of storage space so when peo

        • I'm fed up with these bandwidth leeches.

          Oh, you mean like all those who use that bandwidth to watch cable hdtv?

          Falcon

        • by geekoid (135745)

          No it won't. there is no wall that can't be upgraded past.

        • From what I understand, all ISP's get money from the feds to continuously improve, upgrade, and expand their services.
          Said money comes by way of fees added to all current customers monthly bills.
          So we're already paying for better, faster, and more service, that we aren't getting.

          I for one am sick of seeing that money disappear while the biggest and greediest ISP's cry that they need to raise costs and limit bandwidth.
          They are lying. And Stealing. And Cheating.

          IMHO, They are fired.

      • by erroneus (253617)

        "Since the cost to run the system is fixed, price per gig is lowest when you're maximally utilizing the system. Since a per gig charge encourages people to use less, it's encouraging less economical behavior."

        Cute play on logic. It only goes to show that measuring the byte count is not the way to go. Measuring speed is the way to go.

      • However, if there's no cost to consuming bandwidth it does create shortages. As we've learned in economics 101 if the price is too low for a scarce commodity, you get a shortage. Using the bandwidth to consume it all doesn't make much sense. If TWC puts in meters and finds out that traffic drops in half, they can get a lot more customers online for the same pipes, costing less per customer.

        • I think the issue here is the completely capricious and arbitrary number they used. 60GB for the highest tier? GO TAKE A HIKE! I have 13 months of usage data that puts me close to there on average, but I'd be totally boned for those months that I went way over.

          Give me a 20Mb/s line with a 250GB cap at the price I'm currently paying and I'll be fine.

        • Economics 101 (Score:3, Insightful)

          by falconwolf (725481)

          As we've learned in economics 101 if the price is too low for a scarce commodity, you get a shortage

          Economics 101 also says that if you're short of resources you increase them. Broadband providers were given hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to buildout broadband but all they did with it was pad their bottomline.

          Falcon

        • If TWC puts in meters and finds out that traffic drops in half, they can get a lot more customers online for the same pipes, costing less per customer.

          And at the same time the customers get less internet service. What you're really implying is: if the customers only agree to limit themselves, then TWC can make more profits. ???. Everybody is happy.

      • Um, we have 100Mb to the Internet. That connection is via fiber. We pay based on bandwidth used, and sever that up.

        All ISPs over subscribe their service. That is how the service can be made so affordable. If all users were to use 20% of their bandwidth non-stop, that would fill up most ISPs entire bandwidth.

        They are like pipes in this regard. If everyone turned their water on full blast all the time, there would be trouble. If everyone left their unlimited M2M cell phones on all the time, trouble.

        That

      • by maxume (22995)

        For grandma who wants to download about 2 gigabytes of email (but probably less), it is hilarious to claim that a $50 connection is more economic. The provider wouldn't get to charge her as much, so her connection would be less profitable for them, but it isn't real likely that it would be more expensive for her.

      • by rickb928 (945187) on Friday April 17, 2009 @06:46PM (#27621257) Homepage Journal

        The water analogy is priceless...

        Even where there is potentially plenty of water, drinkable water is NOT an unlimited resource. And it's not 'there' if you don't use it. Water evaporates and leaks. But the reality is that water, like bandwidth, is a finite resource. It costs to find water, transport and store it, make it drinkable, and then dispose of it. If you use more, it gets scarcer.

        Bandwidth is also finite. It costs money to provision for it, actually maintain it, solve problems.

        Some of you may remember when you were responsible for the Internet link at work - when the DDS2 circuit didn't cut it any more, the ISDN line was maxed out (thank God!) and then the T-1 wasn't enough, and 4 T-1s bonded couldn't handle it. With every increase in bandwidth came more costs, for a new or more DSU/CSU, new router, firewall. You used an external mail server to filter the spam, saving 90% of your POP/SMTP traffic. You blocked WebShots, and your CEO drove you c-r-a-z-y with the constantly-updating cnnmoney.com Now it's Flash that eats bandwidth, and you want to block YouTube, Facebook, and Hulu to keep from cranking up another link just to satisfy non-business browsing.

        I understand the cable cos dilemma - Only a few users can hammer bandwidth, and affect everyone. The cost is spread, but not enough.

        But that's the business. If you don't want to be held to account for selling an 'unlimited' service you need to limit, maybe you need to re-think your marketing and product. If I were managing the Internet service at a business, and the boss told me that fast response and reliability were mission-critical, I'd just tell him the cost. It's the reliable-fast-cheap thing again. Any two of the three, sir.

        So Time-Warner, maybe you should reconsider the unlimited thing altogether. When the price gets high enough, someone will come in and compete. Until then, keep looking over your shoulder.

        ps- Former co-workers of mine who are at Time-Warner working in the networking group tell me it's a constant tug of war, keeping the system responsive and costs low. They understand, but of course they have no real power. And then the consultants come in....

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dgatwood (11270)

          I pretty much agree with you, with a couple of caveats. I don't think the water analogy is really all that good for two reasons:

          • Water is cheap to extract up to a point, and then you hit an absolute maximum beyond which the price of extraction jumps up by orders of magnitude (desalinization plants, condensing towers, and so on). For networking infrastructure, by contrast, the cost for adding new trunk lines tends to be fairly linear assuming you divide the cost of each long haul link up among the more loca
      • by master811 (874700)

        Except in the UK (and perhaps elsewhere as well), most people DON'T have water meters they simply pay a fixed rate dependent on the size of their home. So water they don't use still costs them.

    • No, we'd have been fine, but they wouldn't have made as much money.

      See - if they create tiers:

      1) You use less than your cap = higher cost per GB
      2) You use more than your cap = higher cost per GB due to additional chargers

      It's the same system the cellphone companies use, and TWC wants some of that sweet action.
  • translation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pak9rabid (1011935) on Friday April 17, 2009 @04:53PM (#27619819)

    We will not proceed with implementation of additional tests until further consultation with our customers and other interested parties, ensuring that community needs are being met.

    Translation: We like having customers and don't want the government taking away our freedom to implement usage caps quite yet.

  • I think TW just found the missing step...

    1. Announce "test" of potentially controversial policy change.
    2. Wait and see what the response is to your announcement.
    3. Make a decision based on the response - thereby saving the $$$ that actual market research would have cost.
    4. Profit!
  • by explosivejared (1186049) * <hagan DOT jared AT gmail DOT com> on Friday April 17, 2009 @04:59PM (#27619889)
    Some bloggers also speculated that the plan was part of a scheme to discourage people from watching streaming videos online rather than watching Time Warner Cable on television, which Time Warner officials denied.

    I wouldn't actually be all that upset if Time Warner was able to kill video streamed over the Internet. I like the way the Internet is now. Maybe I'm being too conservative, but moving video over from the sunk cost that is the cable network we already have in place is going to be too costly and to me seems dangerous to the Internet as we know it.

    I personally think tiered pricing is a move in the right direction, though. As it stands now, heavy transfer people are being subsidized by those who are light users. This does not exempt communications companies from being held responsible for the universal service funds they most likely squandered, but consumption based billing only makes sense. It always surprises me how this remains a perpetual issue.
    • by Hatta (162192) on Friday April 17, 2009 @05:04PM (#27619951) Journal

      Maybe I'm being too conservative, but moving video over from the sunk cost that is the cable network we already have in place is going to be too costly and to me seems dangerous to the Internet as we know it.

      Moving data across the cable network is free. The cable company owns those lines and doesn't pay for moving data across it any more than you pay for moving data across your lan. It's only the data that goes across the backbone that costs. If anything, cable companies should be hosting local mirrors of things like Hulu, or encouraging greater USENET use.

      • by Binestar (28861) on Friday April 17, 2009 @05:12PM (#27620061) Homepage

        Road Runner recently killed their USENET service. If you want usenet you need to get an outside source.

      • I would agree.

        With regard to your post above, does the fact that bandwidth is oversold not change the economics of it to something that is different from other utilities? Another honest question, is it still today necessary to oversell bandwidth to such ratios as 10:1 or higher?
      • by Toonol (1057698)
        I don't have any intimate network knowledge, but just thinking off the top of my head... would it make sense for the larger networks (Television Networks) to establish some some of 'neighborhood repository' with cached replicas of their programs? That would eliminate congestion except for the 'last mile' connection directly home.

        Or does normal network caching already accomplish this, invisibly?
      • by Renraku (518261)

        Most companies don't provide decent access to USENET anymore. Since most people don't use it (currently), why should ISPs support it?

        I find them to be very useful but understand the decision to remove them.

    • get me a basic cable with video on demand since I work during all of the showtimes for the shows I like, and I'll be fine with the internet not having TV on it. Until then, the internet grabbing the video makes sense and is simple logical progression based on convenience needs. I don't have the equipment to record shows while I'm away from home, so that's not an option.
    • but moving video over from the sunk cost that is the cable network we already have in place is going to be too costly and to me seems dangerous to the Internet as we know it.

      I'm in. Where can I upload my wedding video to the cable tubes?

      Moving video data over the Internet buys us Public Access: anyone with a video on their computer can "speak" to the entire world and have a chance at getting heard.

      A lot of Public Access stuff is crap; another big lot of it is of limited interest. But(!), catering to niche interests is A Good Thing; I'm not in South Korea (so I don't get their TV stations broadcast to me), yet I get to watch Starcraft matches ---> me happy :)

      If you don't wa

  • It's a bad idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drmemnoch (142036) on Friday April 17, 2009 @05:01PM (#27619907)

    I get what TW is trying to do here. With hulu, youtube, netflix, p2p, bittorrent and the plethora of other options for downloading entertaining content users are going to slowly start canceling their cable services. Especially the premium content that TW get's so much revenue from (HBO, Sports packages etc.)

    Now you can pretty much stream any sporting event live, so even that isn't going to keep viewers subscribed.

    But they are missing one critical piece. Most users don't know anything about how the software on their computers work. They automatically assume that their A/V product will protect them from every botnet and worm out there. Is some 66 year-old woman who is infected with a botnet and sending out gigs of SPAM per day really using the bandwidth she would pay for. She has been diligent in trying to protect he computer by installing A/V software, but she is by no means and expert and shouldn't be expected to know that a botnet has infected her computer. The botnet software is designed to hide itself from her knowledge.

    So who is TW going to charge for that bandwidth usage. Because as far as she is concerned all she did was download a few pics of the grandkids, send a few emails, and do some genealogy research. Then she gets hit with a Tier1 usage bill. She won't be able to sufficiently explain the extra usage, and I'm pretty certain the person answering phones at TW won't be able to explain it either.

    • by omnichad (1198475)
      Or worse, she might actually think she's using that much, and try cutting back her meager Internet usage to compensate.
    • You're right, the migration from cable TV to cable internet is at the very heart of this issue. You don't hear DSL providers championing the pay per bit idea, they have all (Verizon, AT&T, etc) moved on to being cell providers and 3G (where they can charge pay per bit without anyone making a fuss because its "new"). These cable companies see the writing on the wall: that cable TV will be all but dead in a decade or so, but they don't have a plan to replace that lost revenue. The real issue is isn't tha
    • by mpcooke3 (306161)

      Best bet for TW would be to throttle the bandwidth after X GB transferred in a month (to still allow email checking etc,). Allow the user to top up or upgrade a tier fairly easily and drop the user an email to let them know as they get close to the throttling cap and when they hit it.

      Next to no support requirements, fairer distribution of available bandwidth, no cut offs and it might throttles worms and bot nets a bit. They could make the cap high and still sell it as unlimited just claim it's automated enf

  • by Xian97 (714198) on Friday April 17, 2009 @05:01PM (#27619911)
    I am assuming that the other interested parties were US Congressmen...

    From arstechnica.com:
    That "misunderstanding" went all the way to the top. Congressman Eric Massa (D-NY) last week announced his plan to introduce a bill placing limits on the ability of companies like TWC to cap its connections, especially in areas where it was a virtual monopoly. But it took a heavier hitterâ"in this case, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)â"to make TWC change its ways.
  • 'We will not proceed with implementation of additional tests until further consultation with our customers and other interested parties, ensuring that community needs are being met.'"

    Meaning, we realized that we could attract some serious legal/legislative visibility by targeting areas where we have a near monopoly with a tiered pricing system.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday April 17, 2009 @05:03PM (#27619945) Homepage

    People don't measure the internet the way machines do. Machines tend to measure byte counts. People can't do that. We can count numbers of pages but even that gets a bit questionable with frames and auto-refreshing pages and the like. We can count how many hours we sit in our chair, but are we really in the chair or did we start something and then walk away?

    If they want to charge based on usage, it had better be presented in a way that makes human sense. People downloading P2P and people streaming video are still all downloading content.

    It all doesn't make any sense. The best solution is to control the speed of the connection and be done with it. How hard could it be? And while we are fixing problems, let's get ISPs regulated like any other utility? You know, like phone, power or water?

    • Machines tend to measure byte counts. People can't do that.

      Yeah, like people naturally measure their water use in gallons, or their electricity use in kilowatt-hours. Wait, people can't do that either. That's what tools are for. Tools like ISP web pages that display how much data you've transferred in the current billing period.

      • by erroneus (253617)

        The cost and usage of people and water are not as mysterious nor as variable as "internet." A person clicks on a link and he cannot know if 10 bytes or 10 megabytes will come down. Sure, there can be meters after the fact, but there is no real connection with content nor real consumption. I suppose something similar could be said with internet usage as well, but with water and electricity, there is an element of predictability with what you will get when you turn things on. With internet, you don't. An

        • by pwfffff (1517213)

          They'll do the same thing as the poor bastards whose pipes burst without their knowledge: see their bill, call their ISP and ask 'What the hell?!?'

          People can gauge how much information they're downloading from a webpage about as well as they can gauge how much electricity their refrigerator is using.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Friday April 17, 2009 @05:08PM (#27620021)
    I've been saying for years that any system wherein you can use as much as you want of a shared resource as you want for a single, fixed price inherently suffers from "The Tragedy of the Commons" problems, and that the internet must inevitably adopt some sort of "pay per byte" business model. I even think the multi-tier model makes more sense than counting every byte. My only objection is that as a consumer I would like to know in advance how much my bill will be every month (makes it a lot easier to stay on budget), and thus the consumer should have the option of choosing either reduced access or getting bumped into a higher cost tier when they exceed a bandwidth limit. Hughes Net satellite internet only gives you the first option, it automatically degrades your connection to less than dial-up bandwidth for 24 hours every time you download too many bytes. Yeah, I'd prefer to know how many bytes the limit is, and get some sort of warning when I'm approaching it, but the truth remains it is a shared resource, which justifies "punishing" those that use more than others.
    • by langelgjm (860756) on Friday April 17, 2009 @05:48PM (#27620551) Journal

      Heh, your nick is funny given the content of your post.

      The problem, though, is that this isn't just a typical shared resource. If we were talking about food, or oil, or water, of course a flat-rate, all-you-can-eat model wouldn't work. All of those are commodities that can be used up.

      Internet access is different. You can't "use up" your connection, in the sense of permanently depleting it, requiring that more be made or acquired. All you can do is saturate it. Obviously if too many people seek to saturate a finite connection at one time, there won't be enough to go around, but there's no permanent depletion. That's not exactly the same as the traditional tragedy of the commons.

      To make an analogy, think of a buffet that serves chicken wings. Let's assume they can serve 1000 wings per hour, and that the wings have a marginal cost of $0.

      So, if we only serve 100 customers at a time and assume that they will eat 10 wings / hr., we should be alright. Now, maybe we decide to oversell our capacity, and serve 200 people at a time, banking that the average customer only eats 5 wings / hr. Sure, they may be a few who gorge themselves and eat 25 wings an hour, but they'll be balanced out.

      Now, we notice that the average person is eating 20 wings an hour. So, we have several options. We could only admit 50 people at a given time. We could serve 2000 wings an hour, and still take 100 people. We could limit everyone to 10 wings an hour. Or, we could ditch the buffet idea, and start changing everyone $1 / wing.

      Notice which one of those doesn't actually solve the capacity problem: charging per wing. Sure, maybe it discourages people from gorging themselves on 100 wings, but if the average consumption is rising, charging by wing doesn't fix the capacity problem.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by maxume (22995)

        Unless of course charging $1 per wing is profitable enough that you are able to continuously expand your buffet.

        As long as prices are sufficient to cover costs and capital upgrades, you don't need to use the pricing model to address capacity problems.

    • "I've been saying for years that any system wherein you can use as much as you want of a shared resource as you want for a single, fixed price inherently suffers from "The Tragedy of the Commons" problems, and that the internet must inevitably adopt some sort of "pay per byte" business model."

      WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.

      TW is doing this one one reason. Because they can. In most markets they have no competition. If you don't like what they do, tough shit, you have no where else to go. It's the same reason they

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Friday April 17, 2009 @05:10PM (#27620041) Homepage

    "may return to the idea in the future"

    So they'll keep that in their back pocket and every time they need to actually put some money into infrastructure improvements, they'll trot this out. Oh, if we could only meter billing for the really big users. Everything that's wrong with telecomm and the internet will hang on this issue. If we could just do this, then everything would be better. They'll pay for PR press hits in industry rags, try to make it look like an inevitable development. They'll wait for the political climate to change, the regulatory environment, like a stubborn infection they'll be ready to strike the moment defenses are weak.

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Friday April 17, 2009 @05:10PM (#27620043)
    Support his bill to "encourage" what Time Warner can do with the $200 billion in infrastructure that was paid for by taxpayers.
    http://blog.wired.com/business/2009/04/congressman [wired.com]
    Write your congressman to support this bill
    https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml [house.gov]
    Get it passed.
  • Meanwhile, here in Canada, Bell is effectively forcing all their competitors [www.cbc.ca] to use the same usage-based-billing scheme they are.

  • by SashaMan (263632) on Friday April 17, 2009 @06:04PM (#27620761)

    Here's why this was a colossally stupid idea on Time Warner's part: they were destined to piss off their savviest users who know the most about how to switch. Even though TWC is the "default" high-bandwidth option in Austin, there are alternatives in most places. While Suzy homemaker reading emails and doing light web surfing probably doesn't know much about those other options, the heavy users do. There was a huge revolt among the tech-savvy in Austin - local tech mailing lists became a TWC bitchfest, with pretty much everyone saying they weren't only going to cancel their own service if this went through, but they were going to actively help their friends and family members quit as well.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by stonewallred (1465497)
      Lol, when this news first hit, I called earthlink, got the scoop they were not going to cap, called my mother and sister and told them they would be changing ISPs. When they asked why, I told them TWC was trying to screw them out of their money. They both told me to come do what I needed to do to switch them. TWC really wants to piss people off. My mom called me today and wants to still switch to earthlink and get satellite TV. Fucking morons at TWC. When 58 year old ladies hate your fucking guts, you know
    • by trawg (308495)

      That'd be in their interests then, according to what they're saying. Losing a handful of high-usage customers and keeping their "core" customer base would be awesome for them.

  • "We will not proceed with implementation of additional tests until further consultation with our customers and other interested parties, ensuring that community needs are being met."

    Here, TWC, consult with this: Place any caps on my account and I will terminate it immediately.
  • Pricing should be based on usage, until you've worked for an ISP you won't realize that 5% of your users use a majority of the resources. People who download all day should pay more than a couple hour rec user after work who reads email and surfs.

    • This would be fine if they didn't promise unlimited bandwidth; which is what I was shopping for when I bought my connection. Now they are essentially saying "those that bought our unlimited internet are using it too much" which is frankly bullshit.
  • An Idea..... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IHC Navistar (967161) on Friday April 17, 2009 @08:34PM (#27622363)

    ""Time Warner Cable had said at the time that it believed that consumers who download the most content need to pay more to cover infrastructure upgrades.""

    -----And by 'Infrastructure Upgrades" they mean 'Advertising Campaigns'. Honestly, does ANYONE out there believe that the extra money would go towards upgrading infrastructure. The idea of throttling is more rooted in the fact that ISPs oversell their bandwidth far in excess of their capacity, and now want to 'upgrade' so they can accommodate traffic they should have accommodated long ago instead of spending those dollars on ad campaigns. I am by no means fooled about the true intentions of the money they hoped to generate. They *will* simply continue to advertise services (which they lack sufficient capacity to offer), recruit new customers, and spend the money internally on executive pay. They have been doing this for YEARS and there is nothing in the forseable future that will stop them.

    A good rule the FCC could lay down would be:

    1. Advertising must stop when the ISP is unable to accomodate the load of 90% of customers on at the same time, and revenue (profit, not gross) generated during that period must be spent increasing capacity, or refunded to the customer base, but cannot be saved for later use, allocated for advertising, or spent on executive pay.

    This would have the effect of making sure they retain customers, and upgrade their capacity, since they would not be allowed to stockpile funds for times when they would be allowed to spend them advertising. No company would want to refund massive amounts of money to their customers.

    • I'm no ultra-free-market wacko, but wouldn't it be easier (not to mention cheaper to the taxpayer) to just cross our arms and blink them out of the zero-competition bottles these ISPs have been living in for so long?

      Barbara Eden, eat your heart out - *I* dream of Schumer...

      • Bingo. The 'municipal monopolies' that providers are allowed to enjoy *definitely* harm the taxpayer in two ways:

        1. They allow providers to charge rates at will. Just enough to generate massive profits without being flagrantly exploitative. They know just how much they can get away with and when taxpayers will start calling them on exploitative practices. Like movie theaters, they know they can charge *a lot* of money for a Coke and popcorn, but know where the point is where people will simply stop buying c

  • People trying to show TWC's thought process as Lobster / Salad meals on the same ticket and splitting the cost isn't fair just don't get it. I've not seen, and I may have just missed it, but all the customers of TWC are paying for Lobster buffet, and some are choosing to eat just the salad. TWC is banking on this. It's PURE profit for them. What they are failing to do, on the scale I feel they are fearing they will need, is increase bandwidth infrastructure .. if it's really needed. Booking profits now,
  • I found myself laughing at the thought that if they did meter, it will only work for Windows users, because they would probably be too lazy to create a Mac or Linux version.
    • I picture some kind of cheap dongle with a digital readout that could be installed between your current cable modem and the cable line itself.

      I don't know if such a device exists, but I can't imagine something that just counts bits with a clock and calendar in it would be much more expensive than a cheap digital watch to mass produce.

  • The premise is flawed. Not only since the advent of spam zombies and botnets can it never be said that average users should be billed

    based on how much consumers use the Internet

    - as the Internet "uses them" (by fair means or foul) while they "use the Internet" and providers must face the fact that short of unplugging the modem, most customers have zero grasp of and control over how much data is sent and received.

    (Even if they did, the idea of volume would make no quantifiable sense in most people's minds -

  • If cable companies want metered internet, then I want metered TV
  • I suspect that TW is backing off because its becoming a political issue here in Austin. The mayoral election is in a couple of weeks and during the recent "debate" it was an issue with all the involved parties coming out against it. Austin has a lot of geeks, and artsy types who are politically active. That combined with the fact that the state legislatures are all in town means there were a lot of constituents showing up at the capital demanding an audience. Pretty much everyone was agreeing that we needed

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