Time Warner Backs Off Metered Billing... Until It Can Figure Out A Way To Not Look So Stupid Presenting It

from the we're-sorry-for-the-misunderstanding dept

After a few weeks of getting hit back and forth by pretty much everyone concerning its plans to expand metered broadband with incredibly low caps and ridiculously high profits (even as its own costs were dropping, and the growth rate of broadband was slowing), Time Warner Cable has now agreed to back off from implementing the plan... for now. From the wording, it's quite clear that the company isn't backing off because it realized that it was a bad idea, but it's retreating because it wants to rethink how it pitches the caps:
It is clear from the public response over the last two weeks that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about our plans to roll out additional tests on consumption based billing. As a result, 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: because you crazy consumers were being so loud, we need to make it look like we're listening to feedback, and hopefully we'll get to roll this out at a later date when you're more focused on other stuff, maybe by calling it something that sounds more innocuous.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    DJ, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 6:18pm

    time warner is awesome!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    kirillian (profile), Apr 16th, 2009 @ 6:22pm

    Appreciation

    I think we should swamp their call lines with our genuine expressions of thanks for their avoidance of stupidity.

     

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  3.  
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    DJ, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 6:27pm

    Re: time warner is awesome!

    ...and I'm apparently computer illiterate, but that's another story....

    **WARNING: SARCASM CONTENT**
    I love how they can't figure out when the networks are airing their programs; sometimes it takes a nasty-gram to remind them of the wonderful job they do.
    Here's a great idea: let's have about 1K channels, and make the program guide only searchable by scrolling up or down through the channels -- or by program name (but only or that day).
    And their new plan to charge by consumption just takes the cake! The marketing department is really in-touch with consumers! Oh and don't even get me started on the ingenuity of cable companies everywhere to oust all local competition and somehow become legal monopolies!

     

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  4.  
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    Slackr, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 6:48pm

    Are they crazy?

    I maybe missed the point on this but here in NZ we don't have an option to have uncapped plans, everything already has a capped limit or is pay-as-you-go. I can understand the desire to try and cap the plans but good luck. I can understand the public outcry because if I had uncapped access there is no way in hell I'd want to go back to a capped plan (particularly because they're always so stingy with their caps).

     

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  5.  
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    ToySouljah, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 7:00pm

    Hmm

    I wonder if they kind of got a wake up call as well when AT&T had their fiber optic lines cut in CA as a sort of protest statement lol. You want to cap our connections? Fine...we'll cap them for you....after we switch services :)

     

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  6.  
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    TheStupidOne, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 7:10pm

    Reasonable Caps

    I'm fine with caps so long as they are reasonable and clearly advertised.

    For example: at my college I had a cap of 2GB in 1 day and 5GB in 3 days. (and yes i hit that a few times) I felt that was pretty reasonable, especially since they just slowed down your connection once you went over and didn't try to charge us anything

     

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  7.  
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    OldGeek, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 7:17pm

    Stuck

    Here in San Antonio, Texas our choices are: 1 - Time Warner Cable, 2 - Time Warner Cable, 3 - Time Warner Cable. That's right, they have contracts with the city stopping any competition. If you look at the areas that their capping they all have the same deal, we have no other choice!! We can't even get DSL in our area of town, most of the city is this way. Time Warner and Southwestern Bell got contracts back in the 80's from the city that barred any digging to lay new lines. And even after all these years and several new City Councils and mayors nothing has changed, so it looks like the profit is being shared. It sucks rocks but when the local News and Newspaper are owned by the political players its almost impossible to word out about whats happening. But that's the ways things have been since we had a governor named Bush. It's been all about good ole' boys takin' care of good ole' boys ever since.

     

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  8.  
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    Known Coward, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 7:46pm

    Time Warner Caps

    The day Time Warner introduces caps is the day I switch to the telco's dsl or Clearwire. Time Warner can kiss my butt if they start capping here.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 7:51pm

    Half good, half bad

    I'll admit, im an employee with TWC, however, I am in no way a decision maker.

    Alot of us who are not in that "decision making" position do not agree with what our "decision making overlords" have decided on the caps.

    Caps in a way are a good thing, but they have to be reasonable, there are, in fact, on average, about 2-4% of users who abuse bandwidth, and literally kill the available network for all other users. I am one such victim, a neighbor of mine kills it for me nightly. (i wont say how i know this, but i know how to look for him).

    but as i said, caps have to be resonable. the limits and tiers that my overlords were 'testing' were $h!t.


    the limits my overlords were testing, would have increased prices for 90% of our customers, but the C level idiots here don't know that. and us poor folk at the bottom have no way of informing our overlords of the facts of life.

    and if we did, we'd get fired for insubordination

     

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  10.  
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    Slackr, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 8:23pm

    Re: Reasonable Caps

    Yowsers!
    "TheStupidOne: For example: at my college I had a cap of 2GB in 1 day and 5GB in 3 days."

    This is about entry level cap for NZ for...a month not a few days.

     

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  11.  
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    icepick314, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 9:45pm

    Re: Reasonable Caps

    gee...and Japan's NTT OCN network has 60GB upload per day cap...no cap on download, though...

    p.s. not bits...bytes...

     

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  12.  
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    bob, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 9:50pm

    Fight and Switch

    In the city of Rochester NY the local DSL provider decided to scrap it's caps plan and offer unlimited service to it's customers.
    Some people switched to them, and it was written up in the local dead tree media here in western New York.

     

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  13.  
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    JP, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 11:00pm

    Cap Road Runner?

    If they do that, after I've been a loyal customer for so many years... I'm going to have to call it quits and go with another company that doesn't have any caps. These greedy mofos already make so much money off cable, phone and internet... now they want more! F* 'em, I say. I can guarantee you that they'll lose business by doing this.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 11:02pm

    Misnomer

    I really wish people would stop calling this "capped and overage" billing "metered billing". Metered service is where you pay based on consumtion, similar to the way electricity usually is billed. With true metered service, you don't pay for what you don't use either.

    But this "capped and overage" crap where the cable company is basically trying to play a game of "gotcha" is completely different. This is more like the stuff the cell phone companies do in their various "plans" where they hit you with outrageous fees for going over your cap. That's just a game designed to screw the customer.

    Yes, I know they use a meter of sorts to trigger the cap, but that doesn't make it "metered service" any more than the fact that they also use electrical power makes it "electrical power service". The term "metered service" was in use long before this "capped" stuff came along and has been hijacked to refer to capped service because it doesn't sound as bad. After all, how could anyone rationally argue against "metered" internet service without also being against metered electrical and water service? Or at least that's the PR theory. But the fact is, it isn't really "metered service" at all but "capped service". Please don't confuse the two.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 11:07pm

    Re: Cap Road Runner?

    You mean you have a choice where you live? Man, you're lucky.

     

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  16.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2009 @ 11:10pm

    Re: Re: Reasonable Caps

    Countries like NZ and South Africa are unique broadband markets. I won't try to defend the high rates you pay there, but I can certainly give some reasons why your rates would be higher:

    - A massive proportion of your Internet traffic is routed overseas. Unlike the US, where the vast majority of the traffic is domestic, your data travels further, and that costs more. With IP Internet data, we love to say "distance is irrelevant" -- but when an entire country's packets, on average, travel thousands of miles further...distance becomes relevant again.

    - You need to rely on much more scarce undersea cables, and also on scarce satellite bandwidth. These types of oversease jumps are constrained and expensive. Your ISPs must, therefore, pay big fees themselves to upstream data transport providers, passing the costs to you.

    - You have less competition on those undersea cables and satellites, and also in your smaller domestic markets. And, yeah, you're probably getting hosed by Telecom and Telkom respectively.

    ...but there are some reasonable causes.

     

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  17.  
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    Chargone (profile), Apr 17th, 2009 @ 12:29am

    should be noted that, at least so far as i can tell, the situation in NZ is improving. slowly. mostly in terms of what you get for your buck going up, rather than costs going down, admittedly, if what I've experienced is any indication, but improving none the less.
    hopefully the new fiber optic cables the government's getting involved in installing will improve things further.

    i wouldn't be so sure we're getting hosed by telecom, as such. well, not as much as we were/might have been, anyway. they seem to be one of the few utility provider types who actually get stepped on when they get out of line :D

    but, i haven't been following the news so much lately, so i may be wrong there.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 4:00am

    Re: Stuck

    Actually there are other choices in San Antonio, depending on your location. ATT U-Verse, Grande and GVTC are all available in parts of San Antonio. GVTC, available on the north side offers fiber optic (uncapped). I also noticed that Grande Communications is touting new advertising: 'At Grande, we DO NOT charge for caps on bandwidth!' and 'You shouldn't have to PAY MORE because of how much bandwidth you use!'

    But generally speaking, yes Time Warner still holds a huge amount of San Antonio that is simply free of competition thanks to archaic cable laws that only exist due to the infancy of the medium in the 80s.

     

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  19.  
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    Vincent Clement, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 4:34am

    Re: Misnomer

    Yes, I know they use a meter of sorts to trigger the cap

    Um, when they track your usage, I'm certain that they are using a meter. Period.

    But the fact is, it isn't really "metered service" at all but "capped service". Please don't confuse the two.

    It's both. It's "capped service" when you are under the cap. It's "metered service" when you exceed the cap.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Just Some Random Guy, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 8:21am

    Re: Re: Misnomer

    No it's not.

    you can't have half metered. "Metered" is a term where you pay what you consume. You consume 200MB, you pay for 200MB.

    Capped, you consume 200MB, you pay for 40GB.

    Anyway, the whole system is retarded. The real reason they say heavy users are slowing the system is because they're too GD cheap to upgrade it, despite their record profits. It's not how much some1 uses, it's how many people are using it at once. People are buying the speed of the connection, it's the ISP's job to make sure the consumer gets that speed (by upgrading when they have more customers than the network can support). It's not the customer's job to get pilfered because the ISP's don't want their profits drop a little for a quarter while upgrading.

    We all know what this is REALLY about. They don't want to compete w/ online video. This comes at a time where primetime network TV is advertising "Now Watch FREE online 24 hours a day at NBC.Com, CBS.Com, ABC.Com, FOX.Com, etc...) Even showtime is experimenting w/ offering their TV online. Oh, and a little company called Netflix, Hulu..
    And most importantly, new media. Video podcasts, shows which they have no control over which threaten to replace cable TV viewing.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 9:46am

    Re: Re: Misnomer

    Um, when they track your usage, I'm certain that they are using a meter. Period.

    Um, I'm certain that they're using electric power too. Period. Therefore, it's "electric power service" too, eh?

    It's both. It's "capped service" when you are under the cap. It's "metered service" when you exceed the cap.


    No, no, no. It's all three, capped, metered, and electric power!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    Rekrul, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 5:38pm

    Re: Half good, half bad

    Caps in a way are a good thing, but they have to be reasonable, there are, in fact, on average, about 2-4% of users who abuse bandwidth, and literally kill the available network for all other users. I am one such victim, a neighbor of mine kills it for me nightly. (i wont say how i know this, but i know how to look for him).

    If the ISPs would upgrade their networks, things like that wouldn't be a problem.

    ISPs will tell you that upgrading the network doesn't work because people will still hog the bandwidth. That's crap. No user can use more bandwidth than the ISP provides to them. If they get sold 'X' amount of bandwidth, there's no way they can magically use 'Y' amount. Unfortunately what happens is that the ISP sells accounts that allow people to use up to 'X' amount, when their network can only handle 'T' amount.

    Every time they upgrade their network to handle the current volume of usage, they increase the service tiers that they offer (and which the network can't support). In effect, they're selling more bandwidth than they have the capacity to handle, but they refuse to upgrade their network to actually handle that much capacity.

    Imagine a restuarant that has seating for 100 people, but which only buys enough food for 50. When it starts running out of food, it blame the "food hogs" rather than the fact that it oversold. Eventually, the restaurant actually buys enough food for 100 people and then immediately increases its seating to 200. Again they run out of food because they only have enough for half the people. A while later, they start buying enough food for 200 people and the manager wastes no time in adding another 200 chairs for a total of 400. And the cycle just keeps repeating. This is how ISPs are run. They're continually selling bandwidth that they don't have and complaining when people try to use it.

    It's like going to a buffet that promises "All you can eat for $20!" and then being told to leave after your second helping.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 8:41pm

    Re: Re: Half good, half bad

    yes Rekrul, i know this, but as i said, im not in any sort of decision making position within the company.

    TWC will eventually upgrade to Docsis 3.0, which will on MANY levels resolve all bandwidth issues,

    In fact, my personal opinion, if TWC wouldn't have wasted money and 2 years of development on Motorola Crap CMTS equipment, and stuck with reliable Cisco equipment, TWC would have been ready for Docsis 3 long ago.

    but like i said, i don't make decisions, so my opinions on how F'd up everything is being run get overlooked.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 9:38pm

    Re: Re: Stuck

    Actually there are other choices in San Antonio, depending on your location.

    And what's more, you can easily become a multimillionaire in San Antonio, depending on your luck with the state lottery.

    See how easy it is to play that game?

    "Depending on your location" is a pretty big qualifier. In reality, those providers aren't available to most people in San Antonio.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 9:46pm

    Re: Half good, half bad

    I am one such victim, a neighbor of mine kills it for me nightly. (i wont say how i know this, but i know how to look for him).

    If your area has so little bandwidth that one subscriber can completely saturate it then you guys are seriously oversubscribing. That is just ridiculous and I'd be ashamed to admit that I worked for them if I were you. There's really not much excuse for that kind of incompetence.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 5:48am

    Re: Re: Half good, half bad

    its a paycheck....

    didn't say i owned stock in the company

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 4:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Half good, half bad

    Well, I guess I can understand that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    Rekrul, Apr 20th, 2009 @ 11:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Half good, half bad

    yes Rekrul, i know this, but as i said, im not in any sort of decision making position within the company.

    In my round-about way I was trying to show why caps aren't a good thing and that they aren't necessary if the ISPs would do things properly.

    TWC will eventually upgrade to Docsis 3.0, which will on MANY levels resolve all bandwidth issues,

    It may solve the bandwidth issues in a technical sense, but I have trouble believing that it will solve them in practical application until ISPs change their way of doing business.

    Let's say that it greatly increases the bandwidth to the point where every user could be downloading at 100Mb 24/7. TWC will just turn around and announce a 200Mb service tier and be right back where they started from. Until they create a network that can realistically handle the levels of service that they offer, or they lower their service tiers to what the network can actually handle, nothing will change.

    I'm also having a hard time understanding how what they're doing isn't illegal. I can't think of any other industry where a company is allowed to sell you service that it can't actually deliver.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 22nd, 2009 @ 8:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Half good, half bad

    Quote:
    I'm also having a hard time understanding how what they're doing isn't illegal. I can't think of any other industry where a company is allowed to sell you service that it can't actually deliver.
    :

    from a legal point of view, it not Illegal. it can never be. The only company to face a legal battle with that was AT&T many years ago, because they "forgot" to put in their fine print "Best Effort Service"

    "best Effort service" is all you will ever find any any 'residential' based service provider, Legal plots placed by our lovely and trusted government are thanked for that. The Feds, or FCC rather put that in place, the only service that can be a guaranteed service level is a business related connection, each ISP has their own way of 'branding" it.

    IF you ever see an ISP with an ad of something like "UP TO x mb/s..." then its a best Effort service, and then not illegal if it cant be provided because of some idiot down the road torrenting the latest porn movies and/or latest cracked DRM free movie that was recorded on somebody's webcam in a theater

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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