Time Warner Cable Experimenting With Overage Charges For Top Users

from the bait-and-switch dept

Broadband Reports notes that internal memos from Time Warner Cable suggest the company is experimenting with overage fees for their highest bandwidth users in Beaumont, Texas. If those overage charges work, the idea, of course, would be to then roll them out nationwide. On the whole, overage charges are a lot more palatable than unpublished traffic shaping rules or “fuzzy caps” where the top users are cut off without any explanation of what line they crossed. The key, of course, is that with both of those latter “solutions,” the subscriber is told they’re getting unlimited service, but the reality is different. Assuming that the overage charges and the rules surrounding them are clearly communicated, such charges are more reasonable. However, there are still questions about how consumers will react to such a change, especially after being sold on an “unlimited” service. The bigger issue is that capping bandwidth usage is a way to slow down internet-based innovation. If there had been overage charges a few years back, services like YouTube might never have caught on, as people would be too worried about how much bandwidth it would suck up. If the cable companies can’t provide enough bandwidth, that’s clearly an issue — but most reports suggest that claims of a bandwidth crunch are overblown. Update: Just saw Adam Thierer’s amusing pre-emptive reply to me on the topic. I’m not as against the idea as he suggests, though I do think, in the long run, it’s not a very good solution.

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Comments on “Time Warner Cable Experimenting With Overage Charges For Top Users”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I have been saying for eons that I don’t have a problem paying for more bandwidth, rather than just being told “you use too much — goodbye!”. However, if you’re going to charge me more, you need to make it absolutely clear what bandwidth limits are and the price for them. And don’t gouge me. I don’t like the sound of “overage charges”.

The problem is, while they’re touting broadband for everything from streaming netflix and other video services, youtube, streaming radio stations, publishing and viewing full videos, video emails and countless other heavy use services, I’m sure they’re going to limit people to the point that only your elderly grandmother who uses the internet for a half dozen emails every month and to check her church newsletter online can avoid going over.

They seem to have an absurd idea of what “high usage” is. Diggnation videos are often about 700mb per episode. That’s 2.8gb a month just for that. Presuming you don’t use bittorrent in which case you’ll be using about 5.6gb of bandwidth (if you’re a nice torrenter and not a leech). That’s just ONE video podcast. Plus, I download a podcast of a radio show I can’t get over the air 1500 miles away from home and that comes out to 2gb/mo. And another one that does about 2gb/mo. And crankygeeks, dl.tv, totally rad show, etc. And I use a VPN/VNC connection to view a remote desktop at the office so I can get things done from home. And since radio out here sucks, I also stream things almost constantly (like KFI in LA out to here in the midwest).

But if Comcast and others had their way, I’d be using this 8mbps connection with 25mbps “burst” speed for emails from grandma and nothing else.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If they have an unlimited plan within reason, I’d take it. They should probably throw in some extra bandwidth as well, since I’d be paying more. However, I don’t want to have to considered everything I do online in the context of cost per megabyte.

also, if someone goes over their limit, I hope they’re not charged ridiculously like on a cell phone. They should just be bumped up to the next pricing tier. i.e. Someone who goes over should not get charged $100 of overage charges when unlimited would have been $20 more a month.

Fuzzydog says:

Re: Bandwidth

Everyone misses the real issue this is ALL about control and NOT that there is a bandwidth crunch.

Talk among cable is if they can limit your connection to 5-10-15GB they can then SELL true unlimited access (that does not come off your quota) to sites like google and youtube.

Even more scary is AT&T with their huge customer bases is debating if they impose a cap/overage then they can offer competing websites to popular services on the net and not include use of their own services in the overage/caps.

It’s a way to throw out net neutrality and be legal by telling congress it treats everyone the same.

Haywood says:

Sell it twice department

I think it is more a matter of over booking the same bandwidth. They planed on you using less of your unlimited bandwidth, when that doesn’t work out, they want to charge for it. Verizon sort of does the same by having the modems reboot several times a day effectively cheating users out of time they paid for, so they can sell it again.

fat Tony says:

Other countries

I can’t speak for most of the world. I can however speak for a small demographic in southern Germany. I am paying 60 EURO ($88+ per google) for a 2000 kbps DSL connection (of which I can get 1531 kbps).

If I go over an unstated limit I get a mild letter stating that professional video downloaders (correctly read: pirate)typically download over 100 GB of movies a month. After asking a representative of TKS (ISP) they proferred a fair use limit of 100 GB. BUT ONLY AFTER ASKING

The quality of the service is comparable but the price is not. In Oklahoma City, OK I paid $60 monthly for an often acheived 10 Mbps connection through COX cable…with more than basic cable tv.

On the whole, if I wasn’t being paid more because of the difference in the dollar fat Tony would not be surfing or playing WoW after work.

Anonymous jerk says:

Just another class-action lawsuit waiting to happe

I want to SEE them charge me overages. If my plan said or says ‘unlimited’, I will use as much as I want, when I want, and I swear on all that is holy that I will make it my purpose in life to gather as many disgruntled users as I can and make TW’s customer service/legal departments wish they had different jobs.

Just my 2 1/2 cents (adjusted for inflation)

Anonymous Coward says:

personally, i don’t see anything wrong with charging people for internet use.

i do see a problem with things like gouging, false advertising, shady tacitcs…etc.

you say i have unlimited internet access at xx Mbps, i’d like to see an average of .8 XX total speed. i’d like to have unlimited access.

if you say typical is .6 XX and you have a cap of yy GB, and if you go over you pay this much… fine. i know what i’m getting at.

If you say theres a limit and you will pay a fee if you go over that, but we’re not telling you what the fee is and what the limit is, i have a problem.

and if i’m in the middle of a contract, i would have a problem if the contract was change (especially if there was a “we can change this…” somewhere hidden and vague and whatnot.

so…it’s an interesting solution, but implementation sounds a bit shady..

amaya says:

Re: Re:

right, it is easy to say “if you go over 10gb a month we will take your first born” and you think, there is no way i will be able to go over that. but does anyone here have the equipment on there home network to tell them monthly throughput? i know i have no way to say i use x bandwidth monthly. and i cant just install a program that monitors a individual computers bandwidth because i have multiple computers on my network and often move huge amounts of data around inside my network.

if the service that i am paying for, and the tos that i signed says one thing, and they try to come in and change it, they will see me in court

Bob says:

Probably not so much about usage

As someone pointed out this is probably more about types of usage than amounts of usage. With the cable companies fully in the Movie Delivery business and as a ISP they can create a monopoly by effectively making netflix and the other movie delivery systems cost more by charging customers who are high traffic users. A very bad decision. I order 5-10 movies a month “on-demand” from digital cable. If this comes to fruition I will get off my lazy butt and go back to the video store…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Shut Up???

I’m in the UK and I think I must be quite lucky.

I pay £18 (~$36) per month for a 24mbit which syncs at just under 17mbit giving me a rock solid, and I really do mean rock solid 1.55MBs download speed. There is a “fuzzy” limit but so far I’ve hit 400GB in a month without getting told off by my ISP.

Enjoy your broadband too ;-p

SamuelB says:

Underage Charges

What about the people that are the bottom of the scale with the lowest bandwidth usage? Do you think that Time Warner is going to give them a discount because they didn’t use what the average user did? Hell no! So, how can they justify charging more to the users that go over the hidden bandwidth limitation? Time Warner, be honest with your customers and you will retain them. Advertise unlimited service and then charge extra when your customers go over, and you will lose them.

Todd says:

Re: Underage Charges

You’re right they won’t give you a discount but they know they have you by the balls because where else are you going to go? Back to dial-up I don’t think so or you can pay outrageous internet charges if you choose satellite & DSL isn’t available everywhere yet!

The cable companies have a true “legal” monopoly here in the US because there is only one cable company contract for each area (By the way, is usually Time Warner).

Other people from around the world explain please how internet pricing & bandwidth works where you live, I’m not really sure how it works in other parts of the world.

To answer the other question before this is what I pay here in Northeast Ohio (just outside of Cleveland) I am paying about $50 (34 Euros) for a 1000 kbps cable connection (of which I can get 800 kbps).

Beaumont Resident / Time Warner Prisoner says:

Re: Underage Charges

Normally I would agree that Time Warner would lose its customers that way, but Time Warner is pretty much the ONLY company in Beaumont that delivers good CABLE internet services (all other ISP’s are DSL). I hate Time Warner and this development doesn’t please me much either, but I hate DSL even more. So, it looks like my cable-internet-spoiled butt is stuck with them…

Also, most people in Beaumont believe that Time Warner is absolutelty the only ISP they can get, so I think their customer base is pretty safe.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:


I actually read Adam’s post over on TechLiberation.
I agree with his commenter’s more to be honest (were only 2 comments when I read (well 3 but one was a double)).

This might make sense to try out in some obscure way. Maybe. Only if they are being 100% clear. And they really need to stop advertising unlimited if it won’t be with what you can get in a month with that speed (ignoring the fact that the speed advertised is never what you get). Again, clarity is best.

Also, this would make more sense if there actually was a market for broadband. Most people are lucky to have more than 1 option. Most people in the cities around me (I live somewhere between Flint and Detroit) have a whopping 1 choice for Cable. Maybe 1 choice for DSL too. Maybe. Pretty much never 2 choices for Cable. And many people don’t even have access to cable unless they do live close to a city / town. Its lame.

And if 5% of users use over 50% of the bandwidth as suggested (didn’t read actual article, number taken from commenter) then I agree, if they lower prices for all those 95% users, I would HATE to see what they charged those 5%.

chris (profile) says:

Re: STFU and run fiber

everytime i hear about bandwidth problems from the telcos or the cable cos, my response is always the same. quit bitching and run fiber already.

everything (phone, TV, whatever) will be delivered over IP at some point. you can stall for time if you want, or you can get a jump on the competition, my suggestion is to get the jump. the sooner the telcos and the cable cos move to fiber, the sooner we can put all of the capping nonsense behind us.

of course they never will. once the copper is replaced by fiber, then cable companies and phone companies will compete head to head, eliminating their respective monopolies.

Swede says:

Fair Access Policies cripple innovation

Unfortunately, my high speed access is via satellite over the Hughesnet network where with the equipment they original sold me, I am at the highest FAP I can have of 485MB per 24 hours… if you go over your connection is reduced to basic dial-up speeds. So if I only surf the web and do E-mails.. I am OK.. but try and bring a new system on-line with the automatic updates for drivers, service packs and the like and you hit the limit. With such a draconian FAP, using the Internet as it is evolving for VOIP (can’t because of 1/2 second round trip delay), podcast, YouTube viewing and the like is out. If the other ISPs start doing the same as the content delivery changes (i.e. more interactive, more video, more consumer choice, the pipe owners will stifle because they will want to squeeze out every last dime out of the existing users of their services… rather than investing to increase the pipes and gain new customers by providing better service.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Adam Thierer

I read that post too and I can understand where he’s coming from. But there is a good reply to his article (I see 5 replies as of now). This will only work if in that test market they have multiple choices for broadband.

Where I live I have four choices for Internet. More than most. I did a price comparison and found that Comcast is the best speed to dollar ratio. I pay $50 per month (I’m rounding up) and get 8M down advertised and 18-24M on the speakeasy speed test. (Just did a test and I’m getting 4 now) Most people here don’t know there are other options besides Verizon and Comcast. For those who want to look the others are Steelcity broadband and Speakeasy.

As far as I can figure there are three ways to respond to this test:

1) Complain, send angry E-Mails, call
2) Switch ISPs
3) Download much less than normal to avoid the charges

I’d bet that the third one is the one more likely to happen. People will complain but they never put effort into sending even an E-Mail. Switching ISPs is just a pain in the but and will cost more. Downloading less is the easy option. How will Time Warner respond to option 3? How will other ISPs respond to Time Warner?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Adam Thierer

This will only work if in that test market they have multiple choices for broadband.

Disagree. I think this is likely to only work in markets where people have limited choice.

Where I live I have four choices for Internet. More than most.

We’re not talking about just any kind of “internet” though. We’re talking about high-speed (cable class) broadband. If you have four choices for that in your area it would be interesting for you to describe them.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Re: Adam Thierer

“Disagree. I think this is likely to only work in markets where people have limited choice.”

I actually meant that this will only be a good test. Not if it will be good for Time Warner.

“If you have four choices for that in your area it would be interesting for you to describe them.”

I believe I did.

Comcast is cable at approx 8M down and 1M up advertised and I presently pay just under $50 (channels 2-21 included $60 Without)

Speakeasy is DSL running at $49.95/month at 1.5M down and 384K up for the lowest up to 6M down to 768K up.

SteelCity is also DSL running at $39.99/ month at 1.5M down and 128k up with one static IP.

Verizon is also DSL (duh) and I just really don’t care about them.

Both SteelCity and Speakeasy are really for businesses but offer residential packages, Dial up, T1s, and T1 alternates. If you want more information you can click the links in my previous post.

Yes we have multiple dial-up services and sat. but I don’t count those as options since they would never work with my VoIP nor VPNs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Adam Thierer

“If you have four choices for that in your area it would be interesting for you to describe them.”

I believe I did.

Check your post. You didn’t say those were actually the ones available in your area. And to tell the truth, I thought we were talking about individual/residential rather than commercial offerings like T1 which are usually not available in residential neighborhoods. Do you live in a commercial neighborhood? Even in your area I bet all of those DSL offerings are coming over just one telco’s lines. I don’t really consider someone that just sells service over someone else’s line to be a competitor to the owner of those lines. They’re more like a partner of the local telco, not a competitor to it.

Lobot says:

ISP's Rob U.S. Citizens

Keep in mind that while most other countries have the same upload and download speeds the United States does not. For years I thought it was this way via. FCC, not true from what information I can find. The FCC regulations were written in such a way it allows the ISP’s to keep us throttled back in this fashion. Aside from the already slow speeds, they tell you upload is slower either because of the data line connections what ever they may be or to keep internet congestion down. First off, if my data connection is good enough for a high speed download it is just as good for an upload of the same speed. As far as congestion, if I must upload my data what ever that may be to a website or server so that 2 people can download it, my data is on the internet 3 times for 2 downloads. Where is the data congestion being reduced here???

Let me offer one good reason they do this. My #1 reason ISP’s throttle back and split upload and download speeds such as 5mbps download and 387kbps up to 1.2mbps upload is ………. wait for it ………. Money!

Why would you pay anyone to have a remote server or webpage if you could serve data up just as fast and with more storage from your own computer than a paid site. Don’t let me leave out the free site for your web page or server. Is it free when it comes complete with unwanted but installed anyway data mining/tracking software and all the pop ups and other advertisement we just can’t live without?

Here is a comparison from a few other countries, keep in mind it does not show upload vs. download speeds. While myself or my co-workers have been to many other countries with simalar speeds, we have noted the U.S. not only has the slowest download, it also has an even slower upload while other countries upload and download are matched.

I like the way ISP’s say 5000 Kbps because it looks bigger and better than (5 mbps).

Rounded up to the nearest dollar:
Fiber $37 – $40 for 100mbps (NTT West and Yahoo BB)
Cable $99 for 30mbps (J-com)
No information on wireless but it is in place.

Washington metro area:
Cable $40 for 5mbps (Verizon)
DSL $30 for 3mbps (Verizon)
Cable $53 for 8mbps (Comcast)
Cable $42 for 5mbps (Cox)

Cable $45 for Upload: 384 Kbps Download: 5 mbps (Time Warner Road Runner)
Technical Support: n/a
Email Accounts: 5 (Use YaHoo or something)
Web Space: 5 MB (Not needed with the correct software or use a free one)

Random_User says:

Re: ISP's Rob U.S. Citizens

The reason you have we have faster download speeds than upload is because of the bandwidth capacity of the line.

The pipe is only capable of carrying so much data. People download more than they upload so the more bandwidth is allocated to downloading.

Use the numbers from your second paragraph. You have 5mbps download and 387kbps to 1.2mbps upload. Round the upload speed to 1mbps so it’s easier to work with. You now have a pipe that is capable of carrying a total 6mbps. The bandwidth has to be allocated so that data can move both directions simultaneously. As a result, 5mbps is allocated for downloads because, that is the bulk of the uasage and, 1mbps is allocated for uploads.

Hope that helps clarify things a little.

Travis says:

who this really effects

The only people that this is geared towards really are people that are using P2P. Since sharing files uses TONS of bandwidth which, with Time Warner, kicks you offline because of using too much bandwidth. Its not going to effect the leigh person who goes on YouTube or what not because even though streaming video’s uses a lot of bandwidth it doesn’t use nearly as much as file sharing. I don’t agree with overage charges but the fact still remains if Time Warner polices the internet and will shut you off if you file share.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: who this really effects

Youtube (and others like it)
Playstation 3
Xbox 360 (300M to 2G demos)
Wii (not as big but still there)
Windows updates (big offender here)
Linux distros (I have one that’s 3.2G)
iTunes (podcasts, movies, music downloads)
Sirius/XM or however many other streaming radio sites
I can go on. You use a lot more bits than you realise.

Limiting your bit usage for P2P is like blocking youtube because of copyright infringement. You may only hear about the illegal activities on P2P (not in reality) but most of what I see on youtube is copyright infringement (I don’t use it that often).

LoBot says:

Re: who this really effects

In all fairness to the legal P2P software and users that are out there.
The P2P software for example may download from anywhere between 2kbps to your ISPs maximum limit more likely under 700kbps from what I have seen personally. Anyway MOST P2P software uploads at a small fraction of your upload speed unless you modify the software or default settings the limit is more like 40kbps. The idea behind P2P is a little bandwidth from many people so neither your bandwidth or your CPU are slowed down.

Aside from the possibilities there may be downloads that DRM (Multi medias way for you to pay for protection – see extortion.) P2P keeps people from paying ISPs money for hard drive space to get the fast downloads. The more people that share (legal files) the closer you get to downloading at the limit the ISPs forced on you without getting near your maximum upload speed.

The only way ISPs can stop people from getting high speed downloads without them getting a storage fee from us is to cap anyone that may be helping people NOT pay them for storage space to facilitate a high speed download by P2P file sharing.

In short I guess P2P is the consumers way of having a high speed web file server without paying the ISPs extra.

Think about it.

Mikey Boy says:

They must be stopped

Just another form of corporate greed. I am not a TW customer but if I were and they did this I would leave and I hope all their customers leave in droves. Thats the way to send the message. We have cablevision up here in the NE and we also have verizon that rolled out FIOS (fiber all the way to your house. What they need is a little competition. TW is also here in NY, where there is much competition. I would love to see them try that here. It will never fly. And Finally, WHO CARES what Europe and other countries do? Why do some here always feel the need to point to Europe and say “well they do it?” WHO CARES what they do. With small exceptions, Europe is all backwards ass anyway.

Todd says:

Re: They must be stopped

You’re the type of American that I hate & wish I didn’t live here. The reason I want to know what Europe and other parts of the world do for internet (and other things). Is for as superior as you think the US is you are WRONG!!! Our cell phones, internet, education, all technology I should say is at least five years (actually more) behind everyone else in the world. While you might think EUROPE IS BACK-ASSWARDS, guess what it is the U.S. who is BACK-ASSWARDS. We are the only country who still uses the British Standard way of measurement because people like YOU are too f’in stupid to learn metric. Even though its a hundred times easier!!

Go back to your shitty hole in NE and enjoy your mediocre lifestyle because I hate being behind in EVERYTHING!!!

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Re: Re: They must be stopped

And you are the kind of American that the founding fathers hate. This country was created with freedom of speech in mind. If Todd doesn’t like something he is perfectly free to say his opinion and maybe something will be done to make the problem better. You, on the other hand, would prefer to just let the problem stay? Just so that you aren’t against the government? Aren’t against Bush?

Remember this is a global market. We must know what other standards are or fall behind. Do you want our great country to fall further behind the UK, China, or Japan?

mjr says:

Probably not an infrastructure issue.

This is probably not an infrastructure issue. Simply look at other fixed infrastructure industries and see how they manage loads. The electric utilities have (or at least had) 3 separate rates due to time, peak, off peak and overnight. Total bandwidth is probably less an issue then peak if it’s anything like electrical utilities. Evening may not see the drop in use that electrical utilities see but overnight probably does. If this was simply an infrastructure issue they would ask the heavy users to time shift to overnight.

Just my 2 cents worth.

Must Remain Anonymous says:

ISP View

I’ve worked on something like this at a US cable company (not TW). Its a fucking nightmare. The technology to actually do this is alpha, at least in my opinion. That’s why everyone but Kamikaze Komkast is going REAL slow. The other thing is that people will accept any charge if they think its fair. If it aint fair, your competitors will be happy to let them know.

The “unlimited” concept is from dial-up days. Remember? You only had a few hours a month to do your business. DSL and Cable promised unlimited time. You can use it 24/7. AFAIK, they NEVER promised unlimited data. If they did they were stupid. My company always had fine print in the contract about reasonable usage. Until now, reasonable = what we feel like. Putting out hard numbers for limits was a lot of trouble. Nobody bothered much. Just send the occasional nasty letter to someone downloading 200GB from Usenet every month.

Then came bittorrent. Talk about your disruptive technologies. Bittorrent turns ANYBODY into a bandwidth black hole. They will collectively suck up all the bandwidth available. They don’t even know it usually. How much did you upload through bittorrent last month? Who pays attention? Me actually. I downloaded 18 GB and uploaded 22 GB. I knew about the 18GB download, but I would have bet money my upload was like 5GB. I think its typical.

Now the sad news. For a cable ISP, bandwidth is not infinite. When a local loop gets too full, we have to split it into two smaller loops. Send out the trucks and lay some fiber. And you are always getting bills from Cisco for $30 million to upgrade all the shit between your local loop and the backbone. Beside this, the cost of shipping the data off to your cousin in DSL land is diddly.

Unfortunately for us, the bean counters on wall street don’t agree with Mike about infinite bandwith either. They want to see that we can rap some knuckles to keep users in line. We should be able to really. Not everyone all the time, but somebody sometime. Oh, but actually doing it is a fucking nightmare, remember? The problem isn’t the kind of people on this web site. The problem is grandma who sends 50 emails a month and gets a couple thousand spams and visits her friends on facebook a few times a week. yeah, grandmas looooove facebook. Anyway, we can’t risk she gets scared that there’s gonna be a $5,000 bill. She doesn’t know the difference between a MB and a GB. So she goes running off to DSL land. This is the nightmare part. 98% of the users will never go over and never get a bill. 90% of them won’t understand that. ALL the marketing bullshit and PR is aimed at them, not at the people here.

The last other thing is profit. There is no profit. We will lose money on this project. Unless you are like Komkast and don’t care who you piss off, you are not going to make any money at this. The only reason to do it is so you can tell the wall st. guys that your users aren’t taking you to the cleaners. They don’t seem to mind that Cisco will take us to the cleaners for the equipment we will need to do it. But thats not my problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: ISP View

I’ve worked on something like this at a US cable company (not TW)

Since you don’t say where, I’ll just assume it’s a typical US market. If it isn’t, then just apply my remarks to a typical US market instead.

If it aint fair, your competitors will be happy to let them know.

What “competitor”? Oh, you mean all those other cable companies that aren’t allowed to do business in your protected area? Those competitors? Or maybe you mean the phone company if they happen to offer high speed DSL at a particular location. Yeah, just 2 companies weakly “competing”. That’s not much competition. I wish I was one of only two people legally allowed to do my job. I think my pay would be significantly higher.

AFAIK, they NEVER promised unlimited data.

Then I suppose you never saw the advertisements (again, referring to the typical cable company). Hence, your “AFAIK” disclaimer.

If they did they were stupid.

That’s being charitable. Many would say say that were being dishonest.

My company always had fine print in the contract about reasonable usage.

Which wasn’t what most of them advertised. Like the marketing dept. at Dilbert’s company says: “It isn’t lying, it’s marketing!”.

And you are always getting bills from Cisco for $30 million to upgrade all the shit between your local loop and the backbone.

Ah, yes. And all that equipment (and software) is covered by numerous patents (and copyrights) designed to created artificial scarcity and keep those prices high.

Beside this, the cost of shipping the data off to your cousin in DSL land is diddly.

Exactly. And that’s what people mean when they say bandwidth is non-scarce. Once the capacity is in place, incremental costs for usage are negligible. It’s kind of like air is non-scarce. But the lungs you use to breathe it definitely are scarce. Lungs represent the capacity to use air, but don’t confuse the lungs with the air itself.

Unfortunately for us, the bean counters on wall street don’t agree with Mike about infinite bandwith either.

That’s their problem. Wall Street types love artificial scarcity. It enables their business model of buying low in one market and then reselling high in another. The Wall Streeters just want to see you enforce their business model to make them the most money. Bandwidth really is almost infinite (and I am a network engineer) even though equipment isn’t. Artificial scarcity keeps it expensive. Lately though, some have been claiming that we’re about to run out of capacity as if though once it’s gone, it’s gone and we can’t make more. That’s not true. We can make as much as we need.

The last other thing is profit. There is no profit. We will lose money on this project.

Then according to capitalist theory, you probably really shouldn’t be doing it.

Dr. Norman P. Johnson (user link) says:

Overage Charges

We have been billing by the byte since we began offering high speed wireless Internet to the Puget Sound region of Washington. It was done for two primary purposes. One was to curtail frivolous use of bandwidth by customers and the other was to make sure that the billing was fair. He who uses it more pays more. We have had a selling job problem but by explaining that wireline providers aggregate at the CO and therefore can take advantage of statistical averages whereas wireless must aggregate at the customer location and therefore must have a mechanism in place to prevent frivolous clogging of the wireless link by unlimited users.
Speed costs money, how fast do you want to go?

Anonymous Coward says:

Bandwidth is not free

Everyone seems to keep thinking the solution is just expand the network and all the problems go away. The truth is that there will be increased costs for somebody somewhere along the way with any solution. Cable companies are spending a ton decreasing node sizes, implementing switched video, and extending fiber closer to the home to make room for more HD, ondemand, internet bandwidth, and interactive programming. But just increasing there network bandwidth does not solve the problem that ISPs have to pay other network providers (for metered pipes). Communications providers do not receive flat rate pricing for their communications. So with the recent evolution of internet services (voice and video), companies like netflix, and new online media companies can offer HD media to their customers cheaply. However if bandwidth usage begins to triple or quadruple for the majority of internet subscribers, that cost for the isps bandwidth must be paid by someone (and there’s no reason any communications provider should just absorb the cost themselves). If you’re a internet user that downloads 200+ GB/month, compare the pricing for a business line that will allow that type of bandwidth to what you get as a residential customer. Business customers have always had metered usage plans because they were typically the ones transferring data files (large and small) constantly. I can guarantee that cable companies will not be the only providers doing this in the forseeable future. It will become the norm for all ISPs. If all the heavy users jumped ship and went all went to a new unlimited/unmanaged isp, they’ll be paying a straight price increase upfront. Customers that download 200+GB/month just are not profitable for any ISP (cable, dsl, fiber, etc.) under the current business model for selling bandwidth.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Bandwidth is not free

Who owns the backbones to the Internet? Who douse Comcast pay for their connection? AT&T. They own most of the back bones and telephone lines on the poles. If they don’t wish to update their system to accommodate a growing Internet community then the ISPs can’t do much about that. Sounds like the ISPs are having the same issues with monopolies as we are.

AT&T spent the money to lay the lines initially. If Comcast or others don’t wish to spend the money to lay their own then they will lose out. You got to spend money to make money. But that also falls under having to make changes instead of just riding on the momentum they already have.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Bandwidth is not free

Communications providers do not receive flat rate pricing for their communications.

I don’t know what you’re on about, but I used to run an ISP and we always got flat rate pricing, not metered. We paid for a certain capacity and were free to use that capacity fully and continuously. Same for every other ISP I knew about.

Pro says:


Hi, I’m confused. I thought this was a free market economy. If bandwidth has a quantifiable value, then why not sell it as such? When I signed up for my 8Mb/s internet connection, I thought I was effectively paying for a 24/7 pipe to the internet for which I can do what I want with. That means I have the right to download 2,592 GB of data per month if I choose to. I’m trying to think up a crazy analogy but I can’t even think of a real world example.

Anyway, if you don’t want people using 2,592 GB/month, then offer tiers of service – and tweak the per second ‘speed’ to match.

ie. offering 8 Mb/s but only 200GB/month is like selling a service that claims performance of 100 somethings per day but only effectively works 101 somethings per week. False advertisement.

Anonymous Coward says:

From Beaumont

I live in the beaumont area, and as far as ISP’s the only “real” option for a large portion of the people here is TWC. For example I live outside of the range of DSL. Wireless providers such as Verizon air cards etc are slow and unstable in this area as most of the cell networks here are not even setup on EVDO yet.

There is no network congestion that I can find in this area, I maintain the same speed at all times of day, all year. This is the same with several friends from all over the area, so their reasoning of “relieving network congestion” has no basis here. It will however cause me to switch providers, or simply use my internet connection at work to get done what needs to be done.

Matt says:

I'm A TimeWarner Customer Too!

TimeWarner North Texas = very poorly organized company (they’re getting better though) + poor quality HD cable picture when they hooked me up (thanks DirecTV you ROCK!).

Nonetheless, they’re the ones offering me cable service. Which is FAST, I mean REALLY fast. And I do transfer a lot of data. And they have never cut me off, or given me an “overlimit charge” or anything like that. And it’s like $35 a month — a price I’m willing to pay for a great service.

I hope they don’t go the ‘overlimit’ way as I would reconsider my service, but judging by the HUGE number of satellite dishes in my part of Texas they know they’re already on thin ice with most people.

Anonymous Coward says:

Metered Usage

I use my internet connection and I think metered usage would be OK if it were priced fairly according to cost. In that case, each customer would be charged a base price based on capacity provided and then an additional charge for usage. Since most of the cost seems to be from creating capacity and little from usage, I don’t think there would wind up being much difference in the end.

The problem is, that’s not the way market economics work (notice that I didn’t call it a “free market” because it isn’t). Things aren’t priced on cost, they’re priced based on what the market will bear. And with the lack of broadband competition that exists in the US, I’m sure the providers would just use metering to gouge consumers with few alternatives.

Anonymous Coward says:

He’s a solution, don’t offer 10/15 mb service if you know your infrastructure can’t handle it.

The cable companies can’t stand the fact that it’s their turn to take a backseat to Telco on bandwidth limits. Now that fiber-optic lines can outdo them, they are the “slower” service that can’t keep up. They used to beat down DSL in their commercials constantly. Now the tables have turned. The cable companies are scrambling to keep up by offering huge bandwidth packages that they know they can’t really offer (unless they upgrade). They do it to keep people thinking that their service is just as fast as Fios.

So now that they offer these speeds, the usual bandwidth hogs and and practical users who are discovering more bandwidth intensive sites are flooding their network. Everything was fine here when they only offered 4-5 mb packages. The shit hit the fan when they started to offer these 15/2 plans and upgraded standard to 10/1. They knew they couldn’t handle it, yet they did it anyways. marketing strategists knew Fios was a danger so they quickly tried to react to curb dissent among their customers. Yet, they haven’t done the necessary upgrades to meet the demands that would be put on their Infrastructure. So now they want to blame their customers for their woes. They trying to use P2P users as a scapegoat for their own mis-management.

TBH, I feel the major reason for this is “plan” is to curb the use of movie download sites like netflixs and Apple. It’s killing them that their Cable Internet service is being used to sabotage their own PPV movie revenue. This is why the numbers being talked about are 30-40 gig a month instead of something like 200 gigs a month. He talks about curbing Torrent users who use terrabytes yet they want to limit users to 1 gig a day? More like he wants to fuck over downloading sites like netflix and Apple so people will have to stick their old crappy PPV options for their media.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Time Warner Cable Experimenting With Overage C

Just change to another provider and get your friends to do the same. Don’t forget to tell them why you are leaving. If enough people do it they ether will drop the idea or sell off that part of the company that actually has a brain.

Or how about this for government problems:
Just move to another country and get your friends to do the same. Don’t forget to tell them why you are leaving. If enough people do it they ether will drop their ideas or separate off that part of the country that actually has a brain.

Yeah, right. I’m sure that strategy will work.

technofear (profile) says:

All Aussie broadband is metered...

In Australia all broadband is metered. There is no such thing here as a true ‘unlimited’ broadband account.

Some companies charge for both up/down, most just down.

When you hit the limit you can be charged (up to $150/Gb) or ‘shaped’, reduced to (usually) 64Kbs.

For Au$40/month I get ADSL2+ [‘up to’ 20Mbs / 1.5Mbs] and 7Gb peak [12noon to 2 am] + 12Gb off peak [2am to 12 noon].

You can halve the price if you want less download / bandwidth.

Seems reasonable that big users of content/bandwidth pay more than small users……

Scared to be Exposed says:

Future of media?

During the whole hd-dvd vs blu-ray “war” many people were quoted stating that they could care less who wins, the future is digital content.

With a cap like this the future is certainly not digital content. If this cable internet company was NOT tied to a cable TV company with on-demand video there would be no reason at all for them to make such a decision. It is clearly an attack at streaming movies and television since those are both in a position to kill television.

As a 26-year old who group up with the Internet and watched little TV I hate cable, and lately i’m begging my wife that we drop it and put the money somewhere useful. There are only a few shows I care about, and every one of them is available online after it’s aired on TV (legally). Once everything is broadcast in HD the only reason (bad reception) I personally care about cable will be gone.

Cable companies are going to hurt the evolution of the internet if we don’t end up splitting them from their ISP counterparts and/or make it unlawful to make a decision so obviously linked to them.

To the post about a 17mbit connection capped at 12GB/month…. what the heck is the point of 17mbit if you’re that limited!

Angry Jim (user link) says:

Time Warner Cable: A-hole Move! ( * )

IF you actually use the internet to do anything other than read e-mail and look up local weather, you ought to be alarmed. Do any of these words ring a bell: Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, WoW, video conferencing, web cams, photo sharing and printing, online training (Lynda.com is one I use), basically anything that makes the net useful, fun, inventive, stimulating, educational, and convenient requires bandwidth. Oh and a few of them compete directly with TWC programming. Coincidence? I think not. Please visit http://aholemoves.wordpress.com/ and leave a comment that I can deliver to TWC!

CO-OP vs For Profit says:

CO-OP vs For Profit

Here’s an example of a successful co-op in south texas providing DSL service in never-never land of south texas for a reasonable price: http://www.vtci.net/ Can’t service me due to not in service area (about 10 miiles away)

I’m .5 miles from verizon & TWC telco service and they refuse to provide service, satellite only option and it really sucks for the price…$89 a mth for max of 1.5 mb down and 75k up…with strict FAP policy to boot…

Krevco (profile) says:

I mentioned it before but it is worth mentioning in this post as well. A pal of mine often uses remote control software to do tech support from his home. A month or two ago his internet bill came and he had a ridiculous charge on it because he went over his monthly allotment. I guess he forgot to take all that bandwidth into account…that was a costly error..It’s a shame he even has to look out for that. My service provider (Verizon) has no limits…thankfully.

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