Is Time Warner Telling Customers No Caps, No Broadband Upgrades?

from the there's-usually-a-word-for-this-sort-of-thing dept

Time Warner Cable last week backed off its plans to implement metered broadband plans in several cities, at least until it could figure out how to pitch the plans without attracting so much bad press. But now an interesting post over at GigaOM says that Time Warner is now also rethinking rolling out network upgrades in the cities where it wanted to install the broadband caps. The implication seems to be that the company is saying it's fine if consumers in those places want to complain about the caps, but then they shouldn't expect TWC to upgrade their broadband networks and offer higher speeds. Time Warner and other ISPs like to trot out the line that the cost of providing broadband is surging alongside traffic growth, but it seems that just the opposite is actually happening. So here's some horse-trading for Time Warner: if you don't want to upgrade your networks, or if you want to implement caps, that's fine. But don't expect your customers to hang around.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Apr 2009 @ 4:43pm

    They are doing it in cities where they basically have a monopoly .. so people are forced to stay around.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Apr 2009 @ 5:36pm


      You are 100%.
      My option is either satellite or Time Warner.
      I call Verizon just about every month or so, and they have finally told me "we have no idea when we'll be in your area". The frustrating part is that 5 minutes away from me they offer services! I was told that every town has to sign a control with a telecom company and because these towns don't want to have wires all over the place they generally stick to one company. That sounds like horsecrap to me - but whatever the reason - it better change!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Apr 2009 @ 4:48pm

    And it's a perfectly reasonable way to behave . . .

    . . . when there's nobody in your market to challenge you.

    These guys have monopolies or duopolies with huge, like-minded companies. Why would they do anything to improve the customer experience? They know that they'll lose a percentage of their customers to the competition, and the competition will lose a percentage to them.

    I speak from my own experience. I left Comcast for AT&T U-Verse partly because of the 250GB cap (which I never come close to) ... and what do I see now but a tiered pricing plan in the works from AT&T.

    My choices are ... AT&T DSL (at 1024/768k, not an option), AT&T U-Verse, or Comcast High-Speed Internet.

    I miss the days of Speakeasy being available as a result of appropriate regulation to encourage competition. I hate government regulation as a solution to problems (because eventually the stakeholders...AT&T, Comcast, TWC...take them over and bend them to their will), but I haven't heard a better idea, yet.

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

    • identicon
      G. Steve Arnold, 22 Apr 2009 @ 9:00pm

      Re: And it's a perfectly reasonable way to behave . . .

      I want to throw an idea out I've been kicking around for about five or six years now. It's radical to the point of maybe even being stupid, but it's crazy enough that it just might work.

      The way I see it, the communications provide markets (ISP, Cable, Voice) are sick because you have to run cable to provide service. It's a fantastically high natural barrier to competition because even if there were enough companies that were well-capitalized enough to do it, no customer wants their front lawn dug up 5 times so 5 different provides can each run their own cable to have a crack at your business. Therefore, unless someone develops a practical wireless alternative, most people will have the phone company and the cable company (the two that existed before the internet exploded) and that's it.

      By argument ad absurdum, let's imagine that every store chain had their own incompatible road systems, so that in order to start shopping at Target instead of Walmart, you would have to sign a multi-year contract, contractors would show up at your house to rip out the old road and "install" the new one that routes you to the new stores. In a sense, that would be the same expensive, exclusive and insane system we now have for communications!

      So, how do we fix it?

      My idea is this: have local municipal government seize control of all local fiber and copper cabling under eminent domain. If they decide they do not want to operate the network infrastructure themselves, they can contract it out to a third party, but the community would retain ownership.

      Then, any provider that wants to get into the market to provide service (voice, video, data) can do so withouth having to duplicate that infrastructure. The provide would pay a usage fee/tax to the city for the use of the network (passed on to the customer in their bill) which would be used for capacity, maintenance and upgrades.

      * True competition with the return of mom & pop ISPs able to provide truly competitive broadband service.
      * The community Network infrastructure is built up where the community wants it, not the telco.
      * Should be cheaper for everyone because the required infrastructure is only built once and then shared.
      * Telco, Cable and big ISP influence is diminished because they are now commodity carriers like everyone else. (Because lets face it, that's what it is - commodity service. Who doesn't get unlimited flat-rate long distance calling in the US anymore?)

      * Your muny government has to be smart, refuse bribes and write any sourcing contracts to make sure they don't duplicate the current situation. That alone will sink the deal in a LOT of places.

      On a tangent, let me add that even though this sounds like socialism, it's no more so than the common water system. This market is broken. If "free-market" conservatives want to gripe about socialism, they need to explain why they are so willing to promote healthy oligopolies instead of healthy markets.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Poster, 22 Apr 2009 @ 4:49pm

    Wow, that's a dick move.

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

  • identicon
    ScaredOfTheMan, 22 Apr 2009 @ 4:50pm

    Local Competition

    Open'er up, and let the competition begin.... let anyone compete, Cities, Counties, Power, Telephone, Wireless, anyone - no more exclusivity. Watch how fast TW tune will change. The current 2 player system (for all intents and purposes) is what allows this sort of abuse.

    "I pay to get big, so i can make money off your lack of choice"

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

  • identicon
    inc, 22 Apr 2009 @ 4:56pm

    the problem is there is no true competition in the market. They mainly stick to anti-competitive practices

    # Collusion
    * Formation of cartels
    * Price fixing
    * Bid rigging
    # Product bundling and tying
    # Refusal to deal
    * Group boycott
    # Exclusive dealing
    # Dividing territories
    # Conscious parallelism
    # Predatory pricing
    # Misuse of patents and copyrights

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

    • identicon
      InanimateOne, 22 Apr 2009 @ 6:22pm

      Re: inc

      Not to mention "packet-shaping" and throttling bandwidth on certain types of services, though those aren't anti-competitive by definition. There is a class action developing against Comcast for these same types of issues. Think I saw it here a few days ago.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2009 @ 5:52am

        Re: Re: inc

        ""packet-shaping" and throttling bandwidth on certain types of services, though those aren't anti-competitive by definition"

        Maybe not at present, but they could easily be crafted into such in the future. For example, the incumbent provider shapes the competing service but not theirs.

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

  • identicon
    InanimateOne, 22 Apr 2009 @ 5:24pm

    Not necessarily Mr. Coward

    They don't have a monopoly here in San Antonio. We have 2 other cable (broadband) high speed data companies and a few DSL companies as well. In fact, you can order Earthlink through TWC and have a Time Warner tech come set up your Earthlink internet connection, with no bandwidth cap by the way. You get a Time Warner modem, Time Warner tech support, but you get an Earthlink IP address and a bill from Earthlink. So we have competition, just not as fast and reliable as Road Runner high speed internet.

    I'm a Road Runner customer but will not be the minute that they envoke these caps. There are other companies I can turn to but will have to trade my 15 Mbps down/ 2 Mbps up speed for somewhere closer to 6 Mbps/512 Kbps. But that my choice and I will gladly do it. I know the real reason behind the caps, they are trying to push customers back to their video and VOIP services. They have lost so many customers to MagicJack and Vonage, and video customers now use Hulu, Netflix, and Gooogle Video. By charging for all that bandwidth it will be cheaper to switch back to TWC's Digital Phone and their cable services. That's what they hope at least. So we have choices, San Antonio is a big place. But more customer will leave all together than will switch back to Time Warner's other services, that is for sure. That is why they shelved the testing, they read these comments and forums and they know we are pissed.


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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Apr 2009 @ 5:54pm

      Re: Not necessarily Mr. Coward

      I don't consider Earthlink as a competition for Time Warner if it's running on Time Warner equipment, but in any case - there IS a lack of competition. I live in NJ, 8 minutes away from NYC. I live in a gated community - 1/2 of the community can get TWC, and the other 1/2 can get Optimum (aka cablevision). It's ridiculous because our community is on the border of Guttenberg & West New York. I wish I could just get Verizon Fios and be done with this.

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

      • identicon
        InanimateOne, 22 Apr 2009 @ 6:15pm

        Re: Re: Not necessarily Mr. Coward

        I'm with you on the FIOS. I'm one of the people willing to pay for that type of service too. That's weird that only half your community is serviced by TWC. Is it a new community and they just haven't ran the lines and set up the nodes yet, or is that the agreement between them and Optimum? Doesn't really matter much. You are right in the respect that the coverage areas do not really overlap. Even here, where we do have a few broadband and DSL companies, you can still be in a place where only one broadband co. services your area, so it's TWC or DSL. I'm sticking to broadband until TWC makes me switch to DSL or FIOS comes to my neighborhood.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Apr 2009 @ 6:34pm

    Thats fine with me. Timewarner has always ruled and I get as much as 2MB/sec downloads in austin. I am happy for now.

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

  • identicon
    Kevin, 22 Apr 2009 @ 7:17pm

    Hurry up guys...

    LTE and 4G wireless can't get here soon enough.

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

  • identicon
    TJ, 22 Apr 2009 @ 8:05pm

    Why would customers need speed upgrades when the proposed caps are so ridiculously low that a subscriber could reach their cap in one day even without the upgrade? I'm not in favor of any hard cap, but at least Comcast's is high enough that only the very heaviest user (currently) would hit it.

    However, all-you-can-eat plans really do seem to help drive innovation, considering how few net innovations come out of countries that tend to have caps, so no caps seems best. These companies keep telling us what a tiny fraction of customers would even ever hit their cap -- well then how is it worth the cost, trouble, and ill will from capping them and making everyone worry about their usage? The more they talk nonsense the more they confirm the true goal is to thwart competition with their own video and VoIP services.

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

  • identicon
    Art, 22 Apr 2009 @ 8:53pm


    In Rochester, we have Frontier (telephone) and Time Warner and TW has the lead in the speed. Not by much, but enough they can talk smack in their adverts.

    Now, you go east to Syracuse, or West to Buffalo and both of those cities have Verizon, and are offer their new FIOS service. Time Warner is having a tough time in those markets. So far, Frontier has been able to keep Verizon out the phone market here, but the minute they get a foothold, TW & Frontier are going to have to do some serious scrambling to keep customers.

    (Frontier is running a program now where they give you a Dell Atom 9" laptop as long as you sign up for them and Dish network - for 2 yrs.)

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

  • identicon
    Ed, 23 Apr 2009 @ 2:35am

    Cap rates.

    Why can't they provided tiers of QOS?

    Give options for min/max upload download rates, min guaranteed and max capped per plan.

    Want to download 3 HD movies at once, you pay more.

    Satisfied with youtube video and small uploads, not so much.

    Nobody likes tracking monthly download amounts, but people may be ok with rate caps. Dialup vs Cable.

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

  • identicon
    Steven Leach, 23 Apr 2009 @ 8:58am

    What are my Options ? NONE !!!

    I live in Grass Valley, CA a 1 hour drive from Sacramento, CA and the only provider of DSL is AT&T, and they haven't increased their coverage, or speed or performed any upgrades except in pricing, for the last 7 years. I am one of the lucky 1/3 that was provided DSL when AT&T was forced to put in a new "box" in this subdivision where I live. It still took me circulating a petition to get AT&T to actually turn on the DSL for this part of this subdivision of Grass Valley. As far as I know the other 2/3 of this subdivision still have no DSL, and in some sections the phone lines are so bad that households can not even maintain a fast POTS line, they are stuck with 26 KBaud!! Even though I can walk to their properties in less than 5 minutes !! Until something is done about competition there will be no incentive for this telcos, cablecos to actually provide a service !!!

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

  • identicon
    marianne, 24 Apr 2009 @ 8:50pm


    Im very dissapopinted in time warner cable tv. Ju Plus there is so much just how many episodes of Murder she wrote does one have to watch?? There have been the same shows on demand free movies since I got the sevice on the 17th of March. Movies on payper view are so expensive I'd rather get them at Block Buster they are cheaper. Pluse there is so much sex and crime garbage on so many of the other channels, I know that there are very good Family movies out there why can you offer them ? The free movies are so old I have them already on 8 track. I'm very dissapointed and probably change my pakage and discontinue my service very soon. Disappointed in Grand Prairie

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

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