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Networking The Internet News

Time Warner Shutting Off Austin Accounts For Heavy Usage 591

mariushm writes "After deciding to shelve metered broadband plans, it looks like Time Warner is cutting off, with no warning, the accounts of customers whom they deem to have used too much bandwidth. 'Austin Stop The Cap reader Ryan Howard reports that his Road Runner service was cut off yesterday without warning. According to Ryan, it took four calls to technical support, two visits to the cable store to try two new cable modems (all to no avail), before someone at Time Warner finally told him to call the company's "Security and Abuse" center. "I called the number and had to leave a voice mail, and about an hour later a Time Warner technician called me back and lectured me for using 44 gigabytes in one week," Howard wrote. Howard was then "educated" about his usage. "According to her, that is more than most people use in a year," Howard said.'"
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Time Warner Shutting Off Austin Accounts For Heavy Usage

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  • Re:She was right (Score:5, Informative)

    by downix ( 84795 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:28AM (#27712567) Homepage

    A single hulu show is roughly a gigabyte if you have the bandwidth. 44 hours a week is not unusual for television watching in some circles.

  • Re:Not surprised (Score:3, Informative)

    by snowraver1 ( 1052510 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:30AM (#27712591)
    For an example, please reference this comment [].
  • Re:Not surprised (Score:2, Informative)

    by downix ( 84795 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:32AM (#27712599) Homepage

    Actually, yes it is. If you subscribe to online streaming media such as Hulu, Netflix, Youtube, at 1GB/hr for high-quality, yes, it is not only doable, it is easily doable.

  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:36AM (#27712637)

    All this cutting off, severe capping etc. has been common practice by UK ISPs in the UK for about 2 or 3 years now such that pretty much all of them do it.

    If you're lucky you'll start paying about 50 times above cost for extra bandwidth per-GB on top of your "unlimited" subscription next.

    The problem is, I think the internet rush has finished, that is, pretty much everyone that was ever going to be a potential internet customer is already one nowadays, so ISPs are struggling to figure out how to further increase profits. Pretty much all businesses wont ever be happy with a fixed profit margin, they'll always want to increase it and this is what's happening both here in the UK and now seemingly in the US - they're doing away with users who actually use what they're paying for, they're cutting the amount of bandwidth available to everyone else, and then charging more with a massive markup if you want more.

    I'm not really sure how else ISPs can increase their profit margins though to be fair, content is the obvious one, ISPs in the UK like BT are going for Phorm, but that's most certainly not the answer. Content seems to have failed so far because it's generally meant working with the music and movie industry who are still clueless about the internet and hence impose unrealistic licensing and DRM restrictions on the content. I think ISPs would need to become content producers if they want to get anywhere, but I guess that requires thought, effort and investment and apparently they feel it's better to simply screw your users for more profit instead. Time Warner though should at least have less trouble moving into the content bundling business than most but again, it would require more effort than simply screwing the users.

    I understand that bandwidth isn't an infinite resource and some heavy users are a problem in that respect, but I do think that excuse is severely over-used, I'm not convinced there is as much of a bandwidth shortage as ISPs would have us believe, it's just an easy and convenient way to justify fucking the user over for more money.

  • And then imagine (Score:5, Informative)

    by transporter_ii ( 986545 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:41AM (#27712689) Homepage

    Every house on every block doing it.

    And wait until boxee, netflix, tivio, etc., finally have that killer set-top box and everyone wants one.

    There was just an article a week or so ago that everyone using bandwidth at the same time didn't cost comcast a dime more than if nobody was using it.

    But there are parts of the Backbone that are oversold, and it would be physically impossible for every customer to use 100% of the bandwidth at one time and get the speed they were advertised.

    I know that may not be true for some large ISPs, but if it is a smaller ISP, they oversell bandwidth. And they HAVE to in order to survive and make a profit. You could not sell 3 meg down for 29.95 a month and built out an infrastructure that would deliver 3 meg to every customer at the same time...or maybe you could, but it would take a hell of a long time to pay it off. Might be different in socialized countries, but that is the reality here.


  • Re:WTF ? (Score:5, Informative)

    by SirLurksAlot ( 1169039 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:43AM (#27712715)

    Read the article, they were paying for it. The customer in question had the premium "turbo" service.

  • by nweaver ( 113078 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:44AM (#27712717) Homepage

    Comcast may cap, but at >250GB. 250GB is not a problem.

    50GB however, is grossly anticompetitive, because someone who's a heavy user of video-over-the-net instead of video-over-cable will hit that cap in easily.

  • Re:Not surprised (Score:2, Informative)

    by Computershack ( 1143409 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:44AM (#27712721)
    That was just over a 1/4 of the something better?
  • 44 GB... (Score:2, Informative)

    by denzacar ( 181829 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:09AM (#27712941) Journal

    Is about 100-120 MB each day.

    Considering that all those wonderful flash advertisements out there will gobble up about 10-20 MB each day (unless you block them) claiming that most people don't use that much in a year is ridiculous and uninformed.

  • Hey, I might be moving soon, so I might actually have a choice. Is there anyone decent out there?

    If you really don't want to deal with that crap, find a company that does BUSINESS DSL. I've been with One Communications [onecomm.comm] for years. Their service has been really good. 99% of the problems I've had were the direct result of Verizon borking my DSL line. I had my modem die at 1am, and they had me a new mode by 5am and I was back up and running.

  • Re:The rise of Hulu (Score:2, Informative)

    by Sentax ( 1125511 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:17AM (#27713005)
    I myself was curious of what I was transferring per month, I started metering on the 13th of April and today the 25th I have already transferred 26.4GB since then. There was a couple days of downloading MSDN stuff that was in the GB range that put me up there but I tend to do that a lot, I'm afraid I'll reach the 24GB in one week no problem if I have to do a lot of transfers, that I need to for my home business!

    Good thing is I have FIOS to fall back on if they start giving me shit.

    Time Warner, why do you have to give yourself such bad publicity right now, you know you're under the magnify glass!
  • Re:The rise of Hulu (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:47AM (#27713275)
    In my experience, Tomato [] is a better router package, and isn't offered by a guy that likes to play fast and loose [] with the GPL and rebrand other peoples' work as his own.
  • Re:And then imagine (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:57AM (#27713359)

    The telecoms did get billions of dollars to provide just this from congress. Thy took the money but never delivered the goods.

  • Re:Two words (Score:5, Informative)

    by Columcille ( 88542 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:58AM (#27713365) Homepage
    Probably not. Terms of Service would generally allow a company to do whatever they please. I imagine somewhere in there it says they reserve the right to terminate any customer account at any time for any reason.
  • Re:44 GB... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 25, 2009 @12:20PM (#27713533)

    Is about 100-120 MB each day.

    [Citation Needed]

    You were modded interesting, but apparently nobody felt it necessary to also mod you WRONG.

    44GB / 30 days = 1.5 GB per day

    1.5GB * 1024 MB/GB = 1536MB each day.

    *Disclaimer: Figures in my post are rounded, and are only accurate within 5%. However, anyone who thought your post +4 interesting should think mine is +1000 Accurate.

  • Re:The problem is (Score:3, Informative)

    by NormalVisual ( 565491 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @12:29PM (#27713605)
    I've thought about opening up a few complaints with the BBB and maybe even the state PUC for this kind of crap.

    Forget the BBB - they're a paper tiger with no teeth. The PUC could likely put some screws to them though, and get in touch with your state AG as well. If you're being charged late fees that you didn't legitimately incur, the AG in particular might be interested in that. When they're told that you'll be getting the state involved in the problem, you will likely find that Cricket's reps magically gain the power to fix your bill.
  • Re:Two words (Score:4, Informative)

    by DavidTC ( 10147 ) <<moc.xobreven> ... .vidavsxd54sals>> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @12:52PM (#27713835) Homepage

    Agreed. Even under the laxest consumer protection laws, companies do not have the ability to disconnect you and then not inform you, and certainly don't have the ability to not tell you when you call in trying to fix the problem, which is what happened to this guy...they didn't bother to inform their own technical support.

    So their tech support jerked him around for hours trying to fix the problem, including multiple trips to the stores. It probably wasn't tech support's fault...if the tech support drones knew he'd been disconnected, they'd happily tell him and make him someone else's problem over in customer service.

    He has, at minimum, a lawsuit for his time, his gas, and his lost productivity of not having an internet connection (Because he could have spent that time getting another ISP.) they wasted with that nonsense. Sadly, he's probably already returned the cable modems, or he could stick them with that bill too.

  • Re:And then imagine (Score:3, Informative)

    by badasscat ( 563442 ) <basscadet75@y a h o o . com> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @12:55PM (#27713873)

    Korea, and Japan are highly competitive markets when it comes to telecommunications.

    Not when it comes to infrastructure. All infrastructure projects in Japan are heavily funded public works programs, including their internet backbone. The competitive market comes in as a result of that, not a cause. Their markets are as competitive as they are because the government invested the money to make them that way.

    It's not that nobody in the US government realizes this - that's why Obama included high speed internet in his stimulus plan. But we haven't had a government like this for eight years, so things aren't going to change overnight.

  • Re:Not surprised (Score:2, Informative)

    by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @01:07PM (#27713957) Homepage Journal

    There's no way someone can use 44GB in a week on legal content.

    You are either, 1. Mistaken, 2. Misinformed, 3. Lying or 4. Trolling.

    Hulu, Youtube, iTunes, Netflix, MusicMatch and a plethora of other services are high bandwidth and completely legal.


  • Re:Three Letters (Score:4, Informative)

    by Barny ( 103770 ) <> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @01:07PM (#27713961) Journal

    I have ADSL2+ on here (in Australia), syncs at 13Mb/s down and 800Kb/s up.

    I am on a plan which says I can download upto 80GB a month, this means there is no fucked up phone calls, not dicking around about "omg are they going to call me". If I download 40G in one week, it means I have 40G left for the rest of the month, they wouldn't give a fuck if I downloaded at 13Mb/s constant till I hit cap, thats the advantage of a limited account from a good provider, theres no bullshit invisible limits, just you getting what you pay for.

  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @02:25PM (#27714743)

    'Turbo' simply takes advantage of unused time slices on the cable network to give a user more bandwidth than the standard amount that can be shared by all users at any given time.

    On a given network segment assume (these are completely BS numbers to make it easy):
    100 users
    100 'time slices' per period of time (for example 1 second)
    100MB/s of bandwidth is available per time slice, or 10GB/s total
    100MB/s of bandwidth per user on that segment to the termination point (CMTS units that terminate your cable modem service and hook it into the rest of the network)

    Each cable modem gets 1 time slice per time unit to send data, and that gives them 100MB/s average speed.

    The 'Turbo' part has the CMTS and the cable modem working together to say:
    Hey, only 40 modems are using their time slices, we have 60 spare. Your cable modem is using ALL of its time slice and would like more. So the CMTS and the cable modem agree that they will use 2 time slices for a period of time while the network is under utilized, now you've got 200MB/s and no one else notices a difference in their performance.

    When the network becomes more saturated and those other timeslices are needed by other cable modems so your extra time slices are revoked and you go back to your single time slice so others on your segment get what they've paid for.

    Time Warner actually limits the amount of time you get those extra time slices as well, which is fine since they are still (in theory) giving you what you actually paid for, the 100MB/s. The rest is just extra. A partial problem occurs however as their advertising will slowly shift to just telling you how fast you CAN get when no one else is using the network, which they already do to some extent by telling you a speed that you can get if their backbones weren't so ridiculously oversold.

    Now, in reality it isnt' based on time slices at all, its based on unused frequencies and harmonics and all that stuff.

    Really however, this isn't anything new. Pretty much every shared networking system on the planet works this way. Most shared networks aren't nearly as well behaved as a cable modem network. Ethernet for example does this exact thing, but there isn't anything built into the protocol to make sure everyone gets their fair share, whoever happens to do the best at collision avoidance and retransmitting can monopolize a Ethernet based network. Token ring on the other hand would be a perfect example of how 'turbo' can be fairly implemented at layer 2 as each node in the ring gets its fair shot as a talker, the more nodes that give up their token, the more other nodes can use that token without the possibility of it being monopolized by one loud mouth.

  • Re:Two words (Score:2, Informative)

    by JackieBrown ( 987087 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @09:54PM (#27717833)

    As a call center employee, let me take a moment to tell you how much we love people like you. Calls like this make an already miserable job that much more wonderful.

    Most call centers require the rep spend some amount of time trying to handle a call despite the caller asking to speak to a supervisor. They can lose their jobs if they don't - although I realize elitists like you could care less about other people's jobs.

    You just keep calling us morons and and enjoy the knowledge that this is one of the few times you will have power over someone.

    Also realize that as clever and unique as you think you are, callers like you are the norm and managers or people in positions to make changes can care less how you treat a call center employee.

    They see us the same way you obviously do: just a moron doing a job so beneath them that no respect or even common decency is needed.

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