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Time Warner ToS Changes Could Mean Tiered Pricing, Throttling

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the testing-what-the-market-will-bear dept.

Television 162

Mirell writes "Time Warner Cable has recently changed their Terms of Service, so that they are allowed to charge you at their discretion via consumption-based billing. They were shot down a few months ago after raising the wrath of many subscribers and several politicians. Now they're trying again, but since they make exclusions for their own voice and video not to count against the cap, this could draw the attention of the FCC."

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162 comments

First post (-1, Offtopic)

Celeste R (1002377) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160437)

Not the First disappointment!

Re:First post (-1, Offtopic)

that IT girl (864406) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160541)

Nope, just the first one on this story =/

Re:First post (2, Insightful)

cheftw (996831) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160733)

I was frankly disappointed to see the redundancy in your sig (not to mention bad security practice). Also in an effort not to be offtopic one could liken it to TimeWarner being struck down last time but just ploughing on anyway.

Re:First post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28160705)

In my country, people like you are tied upside-down to a tree with a fork up your ass while nigger tribesmen dance around and blow big wads of holy gay nigger seed into your mouth, then they chop your tiny white wii off in order to fashion an ink pen out of it and sell it to the other white tourists.

Re:First post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28160893)

yup, that's Time Warner!

AT&T's UVerse also excludes their own content (2, Interesting)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160445)

This is not at all strange.

AT&T justifies it by noting that accessing internal content doesn't use up their backhaul bandwidth. I would think the FCC would be somewhat sympathetic to this argument.

What's most important is that for truly equivalent services, the providers should not be able to discriminate.

Re:AT&T's UVerse also excludes their own conte (5, Interesting)

sadler121 (735320) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160475)

If they use that justification, than I want to be able to have torrent(any) traffic that stays inside their network not classified against my cap either.

Re:AT&T's UVerse also excludes their own conte (4, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160591)

That's a good point and technically possible aswell. I wonder if anyone has suggested it to them tho, rather than just bitching about it on forums :)

Re:AT&T's UVerse also excludes their own conte (4, Interesting)

Nivex (20616) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161415)

The cable companies do their throttling at the cable modem. It turns out this cap can be bypassed. There were some guys back in my hometown that got caught doing just this. The cable company threw the book at them.

It would make more technical sense to do this at the headend, since they could keep the control closer to them. It would also allow customers who wanted to exchange data locally to do so at the full loop speed without chewing through upstream bandwidth. Instead, I'm stuck talking to my neighbor two apartment buildings away at 384kbit/sec. Obviously what makes the most technical sense does not necessarily mesh with what makes the most business sense.

Re:AT&T's UVerse also excludes their own conte (3, Informative)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161903)

>I'm stuck talking to my neighbor two apartment buildings away at 384kbit/sec.

The problem is that you dont know where the bottleneck is. Im sure in cable networks the bottlneck in many scenarios is local and in other times its the backhaul. Assuming there's 100mbps of unused bandwidth between the cable node you are on and the node your pal is on may not be correct.

Not to mention, the docsis protocl may not be able to understand who to lift the cap for and who not too. Considering there's no business reason to provide that service, perhaps you and your neighbor should spring for a wifi link.

I think the sad part of this scenario is that there should be a business reason to provide this type of service. I imagine a municipal run ISP would be able to handle this pretty well and it would help the community. It would be nice to have a 50 or 60mbps link to everyone on my local node. Oh well, perhaps someday the municipal government will wise up.

Re:AT&T's UVerse also excludes their own conte (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#28163157)

It makes sense to limit it in both places, actually.

You want to apply your ACLs/bandwidth restrictions as close to the traffic source as possible, that's a best practice in network design, and limiting it on the modems is a good thing.

However, it's also not sufficient -- the cable modem is potentially under the control of an adversary who may wish to use more bandwidth than you permit.

So capping should be done on the modem, to minimize waste of bandwidth and DoS possibilities on the network between modems and head-end.

Minimizing the number of packets that need to be discarded after they've already crossed the cable modem network.

And capping should additionally be done on the head-end, in case an end-user somehow circumvents the bandwidth cap on their modem device.

The cap on the modem itself could also be potentially higher than the cap on the head-end, to allow for better throughput between local users.

But in practice, these type of transfers are rare, and in general, not worth designing the system to optimize.

Re:AT&T's UVerse also excludes their own conte (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 4 years ago | (#28162147)

Well, if 1000 people all on the same provider each downloaded a piece of a torrent, than had their torrent preference set to share those pieces amongst other customers on the same provider, than they are going to be taking a lot of bandwidth off the WAN side of things if you could look at all the customers as one huge LAN. However, that is not the really case as a single Cable company in the US may use 3-4 other backbone providers pipes to route your IP packets about the country; whereas, if you instead had their torrent preference set to use the maximally local geographical/routing location of the peers on a torrent you might have something there.

There are things like Geo IP Tool [geoiptool.com] and its brethren but they sometimes stray quite a bit from the actual mark and have absolutely no standard for their naming conventions. There are enough IpV6 address to assign one to every living thing on the planet bigger than an ant.

Tools like this that rely upon IpV4 are not going to be as useful as when people might be born with an IpV6 address embedded in them along with a bunch of other transhumanistic-inspired tech.

Re:AT&T's UVerse also excludes their own conte (0, Troll)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160713)

As someone who has run large ISP/hosting networks, this is entirely possible to do. Anyone who says otherwise is a liar.

Re:AT&T's UVerse also excludes their own conte (4, Insightful)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160545)

The thing is, the large telco/cablecos' VoIP offerings don't come anywhere close to being an equivalent service. I can't do nearly as much with TWC's VoIP service as I can with my current ala carte provider (Vitelity [vitelity.net]), and it costs many, many, many times more than what I pay now.

Re:AT&T's UVerse also excludes their own conte (2, Informative)

PacketU (1315113) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160691)

I would have to say that these large Cable Companies are probably getting scared of possibility of IP based Television Companies cropping up and taking their client base. Their core product has to change from Cable Television service to IP Connectivity.

Re:AT&T's UVerse also excludes their own conte (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161593)

AT&T justifies it by noting that accessing internal content doesn't use up their backhaul bandwidth. I would think the FCC would be somewhat sympathetic to this argument.

Well, that depends how much difference there is between how much the backhaul bandwidth costs them, and how much they resell it to you for.

In the case of Time Warner's proposed fees, they were planning to charge about 10x the free market rate, which is a bit much when you're a monopoly in many areas.

Could they possibly... (5, Insightful)

acrobg (1175095) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160461)

Could they possibly be any more out of touch with their customer base?

I hope they read the last check I sent in... (5, Funny)

bobstreo (1320787) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160585)

I changed TWC's terms of service first.

It's written on the back of the check in 1 point font.

"Accepting this check indicates the acceptance of the following changes in
service billing:..."

Re:Could they possibly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28160639)

I doubt that they are. Most of their customer base probably just does email, web surfing, and a TV show or two from a major site. Most of them probably don't do much BitTorrent (copyrighted or not), file sharing, etc.

I'm in an area where they don't do business and have to use Comcast. But my occasional download of a Windows 7 build from the Connect site, downloads of Vista SP2, Office 2007 SP2, Ubuntu 9.04, etc. don't seem to put me in any danger of hitting one of Comcast's limits. It seems those limits are set for actual abusers - as I imagine I download a lot more than your average "completely legal" user would.

Now, if you mean could they be out of touch with 5% of thier customer base - sure, they outliers could certainly think that; on both ends. Both the person who only does a small amount of web and email (who may wonder why it costs so much for so little) and the abuser who downloads hundreds of MB a day (who wonders why he has to pay more or get capped) will think it is a bit unfair. But to the normal customer? No, they wouldn't see any problem.

Re:Could they possibly... (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160813)

Ok, if so few people pirate stuff then why does the RIAA think it necessary to sue people to "send a message". Then, if most people only download few things and the network is slightly slower because of the heavy P2P user they won't feel it because they will just assume their computer is a bit slower due to anti-virus, etc.

The average customer isn't going to care if their internet is slightly slower because of a P2P user so if everything is as you say it is there is no need to cap.

Re:Could they possibly... (5, Insightful)

WillyWanker (1502057) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161117)

This is absurd. What in your mind constitutes an "abuser" of a service that is advertised as unlimited? "Completely legal"??? So you assume that people who are download "abusers" are also pirates? Ridiculous. With the popularity of Hulu, YouTube, and any number of proprietary video-on-demand sites (Amazon, Netflix, iTunes, and an assortment of TV sites) it's quite easy to rack up the gigabytes on a monthly basis, all of which are completely LEGAL. Don't forget VoIP, Steam, X-Box/PS3, MMOs, and other assorted on-line gaming resources, all of which also pack on the gigabytes, and again, all LEGAL.

By your rationale, people who watch only a few hours of cable TV a month should pay less than those watching hundreds of hours of cable TV, as they are essentially "abusers" of what is advertised and sold as an unlimited service. Total bullsh*t. Lets cut to the chase -- this has NOTHING to do with saturating bandwidth or degrading performance. Time Warner doesn't want you downloading movies from Netflix, using Skype to make free phone calls, and watching TV on Hulu. They want you to pay outrageous amounts of money for their crappy cable TV service, VoIP telephone service, and PPV movies on-demand service. They know it, we know it, and the feds know it. They're not fooling anyone.

At best it's anti-competitive, at worst it's extortion. The feds need to come in and smack TWC back in line.

Re:Could they possibly... (2, Insightful)

A.Gideon (136581) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161247)

This is absurd. What in your mind constitutes an "abuser" of a service that is advertised as unlimited?

Right. That's what this is all about. Some of the connectivity providers are being caught out, selling more bandwidth than they have. Rather than shifting into an honesty mode, they're trying to classify those that actually make use of what they've bought as "abusers". It's as if a restaurant were to complain of the abuse of those patrons that ate their entire meal.

They lied before because there wasn't enough demand for them to be caught. That's changed, and their dishonest ways have been exposed.

Re:Could they possibly... (5, Insightful)

WillyWanker (1502057) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161355)

And notice how the TOS change only applies to people who exceed the caps. What about those that only move a tiny amount of data every month? Are they going to see their bill automatically reduced to accommodate their usage? Yeah, not holding my breath waiting for that to happen.

So it's okay if you pay for a certain level of service and never come close to using it, but not okay if you take full advantage of what you've paid for. Riiiiiight...

Re:Could they possibly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28161267)

And who, exactly, is advertising service as "unlimited" these days? I don't remember even seeing the word since AOLvertisements advertising unlimited hours in what was clearly a deal for unlimited time (since the word "hours" was right there on the packaging).

I'm willing to believe that at some point the ISPs dropped the word hours from their advertising around the time broadband was picking up, but have you got any contemporary examples - like within the last five years - of an ISP advertising unlimited service?

I mean, contracts do expire, and the companies involved are under no obligation to continue providing service under the terms of an expired contract. In fact the standard mechanism is to change the terms of the contract and allow people to continue under their existing contract until expiration at which time their service ends if they don't agree to the new terms.

Re:Could they possibly... (1)

WillyWanker (1502057) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161505)

I have NEVER, EVER seen broadband services advertised on the basis of data transferred, only speed. You buy your service based upon the speed of your connection, not by the amount of data you transfer.

The only exception to this is cellular broadband, which typically charges by the megabyte. What's worse, some providers actually advertise "unlimited data" plans while putting a cap in the fine print.

This is why they are amending their TOS to include transfer caps, because no such restriction was there previously. Hence, it's an unlimited service. They are certainly allowed to change the TOS, as customers are allowed to cancel their accounts if they do not agree with the changes, but the problem here is that in many places TWC is the only game in town. There is a reason why other local monopolies like phone and utility companies need regulatory approval to raise their rates -- because customers do not have choices and need to be protected from predatory pricing. It's the exact same thing, and the reason why so many states were threatening to pass legislation to protect consumers from this bullsh*t.

Re:Could they possibly... (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161573)

I have NEVER, EVER seen broadband services advertised on the basis of data transferred, only speed. You buy your service based upon the speed of your connection, not by the amount of data you transfer.

It's a new business model. The PHBs at all the ISPs figured out that they could start charging people for the amount of data they transfer. The next step was to figure out how to justify it -- which they did. Now just sit back and watch the latest raping of the consumer by corporations.

Re:Could they possibly... (2, Informative)

cailith1970 (1325195) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161695)

In Australia, we get to choose our plan by both speed AND quota. If you exceed your quota, in most cases you will get shaped to 128kpbs. Some of the bigger players like Telstra charge you excess usage per megabite over the limit. This pricing structure has been in Australia for many years.

Re:Could they possibly... (0, Troll)

Clay Pigeon -TPF-VS- (624050) | more than 4 years ago | (#28162169)

Australia is also inhospitable in other ways. Most of the indigenous creatures are deadly to humans.

Just another reason for civilized people to avoid Botany Bay penal colony.

Re:Could they possibly... (1)

mariushm (1022195) | more than 4 years ago | (#28162263)

That's somewhat justified because almost all the traffic that Australian users do is to and from OUTSIDE Australia...

As you're on an island, all traffic goes through a few ocean cables which have limited capacity, and that capacity costs a lot.
This is not the case in Europe and especially US where the telecommunication companies already received tons of money to invest in infrastructure yet they all screw their customers.

Re:Could they possibly... (1)

cailith1970 (1325195) | more than 4 years ago | (#28162351)

While this is absolutely true, the pricing that we are charged here for poor speed and low quotas is frankly highway robbery and not really justifiable even with this consideration. I know we started life as a penal colony, but do the ISPs have to keep up the tradition? :)

Now, back on topic. Most of the ISPs here do not charge quota for accessing their servers. Telstra run games servers that allow their customers to play without hitting their quota, while my ISP runs a large mirror site that has an impressive array of files that again do not count toward your quota. This appears to be the model that TWC is trying to apply over there.

Re:Could they possibly... (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | more than 4 years ago | (#28162375)

In Australia, we get to choose our plan by both speed AND quota.

Is this actually true?

What I mean is can you pick any speed and any quota from a matrix of choices? Could you get 20Mbps with a monthly cap of 1GB or 1Mbps with a monthly cap of 300GB?

I suspect that in reality, every plan has a cap based on less than 10% usage of the advertised maximum speed.

Re:Could they possibly... (1)

cailith1970 (1325195) | more than 4 years ago | (#28162391)

Without trying to go too far off topic to answer your question, no, you get to choose from a number of plans that are a combination of speed and quota. Generally, the more speed or quota, the higher the price per month.

Re:Could they possibly... (4, Interesting)

stinerman (812158) | more than 4 years ago | (#28162157)

Lets cut to the chase -- this has NOTHING to do with saturating bandwidth or degrading performance. Time Warner doesn't want you downloading movies from Netflix, using Skype to make free phone calls, and watching TV on Hulu.

Correct. This is a consequence of the owners of the infrastructure also selling services over that infrastructure. That is the key. The infrastructure needs to be owned by the public (just like with our roads and airwaves) to ensure there is no conflict of interest.

Not really (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160741)

If they and the other major providers form a cartel and manipulate the government to implement this across the board, and kill off competition, then we are all baked, baked, and baked.

Re:Not really (2, Funny)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161777)

No, the textile lobbies have already formed a cartel and manipulated the government specifically so that you aren't baked. ;-)

Re:Not really (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161879)

Actually they don't even need the government-they just do what they did here. i am at the edge of a rural area, and three times in the last five years a small startup has come along and tried to offer broadband to those that have gotten the finger from the local duopoly. The latest is Wifi, and it looks like they'll go under by summer. the pattern they use is always the same. They let the startup come in, sell them backbone access at a decent price, and then when their dialup customers begin dropping their crazy priced dialup services they just jack the backbone access until they can't stay in business. So basically they have decided that the rural customers can "suck this dialup and like it!"

I learned this is their SOP by a buddy of mine who had his own mini-ISP trying to serve the same area nearly a decade ago. His business was out of their "service area" and when he saw plenty of other businesses and homes that were in the same shitty boat that he was in, he just did what any capitalist American should be able to do and tried to solve the problem. He paid a good chunk of money out of his own pocket for a T-1 and leased space off of it to his neighbors. He set up a little server with a freeware repository and Windows updating from there, and according to him after having "10k on a good day" dialup he and his customers were quite happy.

Then the teleco got wind when the neighbors stopped paying for their crappy dialup and changed the TOS to "number of attached nodes" or some BS and raised his rates 4000%. They made it real clear "don't like it? Sue us". When he talked to his lawyer the lawyer said "Yeah you can sue them. For about half a million and a decade or so out of your life. Of course by then you will be completely bankrupt and won't be able to afford the appeals. If you are that crazy good luck, but I can't take the case. It would be economic suicide." So now the line sits rotting in a field, the business is empty because he moved away rather than go back to trying to run his business on 10k dialup, and the people there are screwed. Just as the WISP will be out of business by summer because the backbone charges are forcing them to charge $150 for 756k and of course at that price they can't keep enough customers in a rural area to stay afloat.

So IMHO the only way we are going to get real competition is to go eminent domain on them. They have used our public right of way to run their cables, we paid them billions of dollars in tax breaks for nationwide high speed and got nothing but the finger, it is time to take it back. Take it back and force companies to compete for the lines while we use part of the money we make from the lease to run nationwide fiber. To those companies that want a monopoly? We say "See those rural customers? The ones we paid you to serve once before? You will get a monopoly for x number of years for running fiber to them. The farther and fewer there are, the more time you'll get. Have at it." The maybe those like my mom who was 2 blocks from the cable when she and dad built their house 29 years ago will actually be able to get broadband instead of STILL being two blocks away after 29 fricking years even though nearly 2 dozen houses have sprung up on the lousy quarter mile straight line from the junction box!

Re:Could they possibly... (5, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160853)

No, they not the least bit stupid and are totally "in touch". They just know they are a borderline monopoly so they really don't care what their customers want.

Re:Could they possibly... (1)

gringofrijolero (1489395) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160957)

First I would have to ask, what's their real customer base. It doesn't sound to me that it would be "Joe the Subscriber".

Why not.... (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160463)

Why not mandate that if Time Warner uses any public property for their lines that they must be high capacity and they must not throttle/charge based on bandwidth. While I despise regulation of any free market the fact remains that a lot of Time Warner's lines run through public property so they should answer to the people.

Re:Why not.... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28160621)

While I despise regulation of any free market

What is this mythical thing you speak of? The only free market is one where the "haves" are permitted to collude to strip the "have nots" of their money however they wish.

The oft quoted, always misunderstood supply & demand curve only applies when there are no barriers to market entry -- hardly the case where any infrstructure at all is needed. Prostitution is about the only profession that meets this criterion.

Re:Why not.... (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160683)

Well, currently there isn't any economy that is free enough, you only need to look at the internet as a whole to see where little to no taxes, minimal government regulation, and close to universal participation gets you, and that is a ton of content made cheaply that anyone can access. Take away the government regulation (with content), abolish all internet taxes and with increased broadband adoption the internet will continue to grow and flourish. Its only with government regulation that any stagnation occurs.

Re:Why not.... (-1, Troll)

cheftw (996831) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160817)

Well Mr. Economics Troll, you've certainly convinced me.

Best all the world's governments give up now eh? Thanks to you we won't need their destructive meddling any more.

Re:Why not.... (2, Informative)

f16c (13581) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161171)

This is not about regulation so much as the fact that this monopoly (all Telco ISP entities are monopolies) wants to add charges at a rate greater than that of anything approaching reason while at the same time strangling anything close to competition by anyone other than themselves. These are the same phone companies that have been gouging us for years - first for phone service, then for government mandated "fees" they were allowed to keep and now broadband.

I realize this was an intentional troll but I am waiting for Verizon to play the same game in a few years regardless of the fact that they have bandwidth to burn. Comcast and TimeWarner are a lot worse but there is likely to come a day when they will take a look and decide it's free money. For the moment Verizon is the company that is busy taking the others lunch and when they have enough of the competitors customers they will decide it's their turn.

Re:Why not.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28160807)

How do you strip value from a homeless and broke person. Your idiotic statement only takes into account the extremely short run where prices can go up and consumers still have money. Once they run out of money they can't fork any more over.

Sure there are differences in wealth but not everyone is equal. Those that head big businesses have a huge responsibility to keep he company running smoothly or thousands could be out of jobs. Do you really want to pay the person in charge of thousands of peoples futures the same amount as the janitor sweeping the halls? Do you want the janitor and the CEO to trade jobs if you worked for that company?

You have twisted the fact that a large infrastructure is required to deliver these services into "barrier to entry" while the company views this as "risk". If they assumed the risk of building it shouldn't you have to pay to use it OR build your own?

You would have to be an idiot to think differences in wealth are there for no reason. If there was no reward to starting a business and running it well then no one would do it and we would still be 'apes' living in the forest eating roots. So please say thanks to the free market instead of making it out to be the root of all evil.

So the only poor are the broke AND homeless? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28161107)

Strange. I thought that there were many other people who, despite being poor, had a rental on a flat and were not, therefore, homeless. And you have to ask how you got to be broke. Someone took your money. So hardly a way to refute the parent post, is it.

And this is one very simple way the rich can steal from the poor legally:

1: Poor person cannot afford a house in direct funds and needs a loan
2: Rich person can afford a house and needs no loan
3: Poor person pays more for their home than the rich person, even though they have the same home
4: The extra money is a ROI from the rich person's savings.

Rich person gets richer from the poor person.

Re:Why not.... (1)

dcollins117 (1267462) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161157)

Do you really want to pay the person in charge of thousands of peoples futures the same amount as the janitor sweeping the halls?

No. I don't think it's worth paying CEOs 10,000 to 100,000 times as much as an entry level worker either. Although I'm sure there are plenty of CEOs that disagree with me.

Re:Why not.... (4, Insightful)

WillyWanker (1502057) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161245)

Wow, how American of you. Idiot. If you look to the east you'll find dozens of countries in Europe that have amazing infrastructures, not to mention extremely cheap and very fast broadband. And their poverty to wealth ratio is a fraction of what it is here. How DO they do it???

The problem with a "free market" is that greed trumps all. This is fine when you're dealing with yachts, luxury homes, and bling, but not so much when it comes to basic and ubiquitous goods and services like homes, automobiles, healthcare, and yes, Internet.

There was once a time in this country when making a buck was not the end-all-be-all of running a business. Unfortunately that time has long passed. Instead we have corporations with no moral compass, no compassion, no sense of right and wrong, only the financial bottom line. And we excuse this behavior on the grounds that they are businesses who are beholden to shareholders, blah blah blah blah blah.

When a company lays off 500 people yet continues to pay their top executives $20+ million a year, how can anyone with half a brain think this is right? Axe one of those execs and you now have enough money to hire back those 500 people. Or cut their pay by 10% each (like they're really going to notice). But when was the last time that happened?

I'm tired of the all the excuses. A business can be profitable AND be socially conscious. They are not mutually exclusive. Until the people of this country stop buying corporate America's excuses as to why they can't do this we will continue to see the working Joes get beaten down while the wealthiest of wealthy keep getting richer and richer.

So yeah, explain to me how great the "free market" is again...

Re:Why not.... (3, Insightful)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161937)

Don't blame corporate america - blame every single person who has bought into the stock market bubble (including everyone who has a 401K or IRA).

At one time people bought stocks based on their dividend yield. These people held on to the stocks for a long time and did not want the company to sacrifice the long term for the short term.

Now the market is dominated by speculators that want instant profits now. Stocks are no longer priced by the actual condition of the company and its long term outlook but by the "greater fool" theory.

The companies are just responding to what their owners are telling them.

Re:Why not.... (1)

WillyWanker (1502057) | more than 4 years ago | (#28162187)

Good point, as they are also part of the problem being the shareholders that corporate America uses as an excuse. But still the primary motivation is greed, plain and simple.

Re:Why not.... (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 4 years ago | (#28162941)

The biggest enablers are those that fork over money to these corporations in the first place. Without them, none of it would be possible.

Re:Why not.... (0)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161187)

I don't quite understand the total abhorrence of transfer capping around here. The way it's done now is certainly an issue, with the level of the caps, the prices and (worst of all) the blatantly untrue attempts to label a capped connection as 'unlimited' all being major problems, but that doesn't mean the idea itself is inherently flawed. Since I'm feeling lazy, here's what I said last time it came up:

There is a logical, non-evil argument for transfer capping.

Bandwidth is oversold, and there's not an inherent problem with that: for the couple of hours per day (at most) that a connection is actually saturated, there are many more when it is idle or nearly so. Obviously we want to be able to use a lot of bandwidth in short bursts (waiting for an iPlayer video to download, for example) but for most usage patterns it would be wasteful to have that amount of backbone bandwidth sitting 'reserved' with my name on it all day. By overselling, the costs for high-bandwidth connections are kept sensible and bandwidth capacity 'waste' is minimised.

Marketing an oversold connection as unlimited, however, is rather dishonest and becomes more so as the extent of the overselling increases. If a connection is marked as unlimited then it should not be oversold, it should be bandwidth limited such that there will be enough backbone capacity to support 100% usage 24/7.

As mentioned above, however, that true unlimited connection is overkill for many people. Provision of that level of service would have us all being lied to and sold 'unlimited' connections that are anything but unlimited (sound familiar?) or paying through the nose for a few Mbps.

The imposition of a cap on data transfer allows the oversold bandwidth to be allocated more sensibly: take a hypothetical 100Mbps connection, oversold by a ratio of 50:1. If my calculations are accurate, 100Mbps is equivalent to approximately 30.9TB (note the capital B) per month. This means that for the same infrastructure cost as giving one person a truly unlimited 100Mbps connection, you can give 50 people a connection that can deliver burst speeds of up to 100Mbps and allow each one of them about 600GB/month of data transfer. Assuming you want the cheaper, oversold connection rather than the truly unlimited one, I don't see why being upfront about that overselling and giving everyone a 'portion' of the total capacity is problematic. It's the same as having an unlimited 2Mbps connection, except it can deliver burst rates of 50 times that when you need them.

As I said in another post, the problems come because caps are made for reasons of profiteering not network management, and that leads to all kinds of consumer-unfriendly behaviour.

Someone did mention that it doesn't alleviate the issue of peak-time overuse, which is true, but I see that as a different problem. Congestion at peak times can only be alleviated with increased resources; once the resources are at an adequate level, the bandwidth caps then keep the average overall usage fairly split between users.

Re:Why not.... (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161511)

I don't quite understand the total abhorrence of transfer capping around here.

It's not abhorred. It's deceptive implementation is abhorred. That's it.

The whole "slashdot/FOSS/etc hates commerce" thing is such a total red herring. Somehow 'not believing your bullshit' became a sign of communist sympathy.

Re:Why not.... (2, Insightful)

WillyWanker (1502057) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161701)

You answered your own question. I don't think many would argue the merit of caps if they were set high enough and priced accordingly. But this is not the case. Hence all the bitching and moaning.

We are also questioning the motivation. As you've pointed out, transfer caps have very little to do with bandwidth saturation. So while TWC is using this as their rationale, we who know better are calling bullsh*t.

And seriously, did you actually read the new TOS? Does anyone think it's okay to sign up for a service for an agreed upon price of $40 a month (based on connection speed, not transfer amount) only to get a bill for $150 because you went over some transfer cap? Where they don't actually disclose where that cap is nor give you tools to monitor your usage???

This would be like a getting a car lease, knowing you had a mileage limit but never being told what that limit is. Oh, and having your odometer removed. Or like a cell phone plan that you knew had a monthly minute restriction, but no idea what that restriction is or any way to find out how many minutes you've used.

If TWC wants to eliminate pricing by speed and switch to a transfer tiered system I don't have a problem with that. But the prices of the new tiers needs to be comparable to current offerings (not 3x what it is now like their proposed change), with full disclosure of the limits, and easy to use tools to monitor usage.

Re:Why not.... (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161413)

Why not mandate that if Time Warner uses any public property for their lines that they must be high capacity and they must not throttle/charge based on bandwidth.

Because just about every company uses public property in some way and this doesn't give government the right to dictate their pricing strategy. Those people who own and work for that company are also members of the public so it's their property too (don't get me started on the evils of "public" property). In principle, this is the same thing as government mandating that a railroad is only allowed to charge based on the weight of the cargo and not allowed to charge based on the contents of the cargo. Why shouldn't railroad be allowed to set their pricing any way it wants? If you think we should stop tiered pricing (and I do) do it on the basis of the monopoly these telecoms enjoy in many areas, not because they use public property. That's a very slippery slope for someone who despises regulation of the free market.

Re:Why not.... (1)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161721)

Actually, the government has already made mandates about railroad pricing schemes.

Re:Why not.... (1)

IvyKing (732111) | more than 4 years ago | (#28162217)

Actually, the government has already made mandates about railroad pricing schemes.

I was going to make that point as well, and will add a bit to it. In the US, there are substantial advantages to be a common carrier as opposed to an industrial railroad, number being that a lot of state and local laws are pre-empted for the common carriers. In addition, eminent domain is a lot easier to secure for a comon carrier than an industrial RR.

Stick em, FCC. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28160489)

Make them pay the tiered pricing for their own content, directly into a class-action trust to repay bilked customers.

They see dollar signs with tiered caps, but they stand to lose significant numbers from their subscriber base.

Predict: Comcast or somebody big eats you inside 2 years time. You don't belong in business anymore.

Re:Stick em, FCC. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28160841)

That is nice, but most people have four choices for Internet service:

Cable
DSL
3G
Dialup

For a lot of people, choice #2 or #3 isn't an option due to coverage areas, choice #3 and #4 are too slow to be useful for a lot of things.

So, essentially Cable is a monopoly. This is why they are trying the usual garbage.

Its ironic that while the rest of the world gets faster links like 4G, US bandwidth actually suffers and gets more expensive as time goes on.

I'm also pretty sure that it is only a matter of time before a company like NebuAd or Phorm makes a deal with a cable company to insert ads into people's web pages.

Oh no, no, no (3, Interesting)

that IT girl (864406) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160513)

Okay, you lost me at:

they are allowed to charge you at their discretion

When selling most goods and services, it's "here is our price per [measurement], take it or leave it". They do not look into why you are buying the item, and what you are using it for, and charge you based on that. And you are informed of the rate before you decide to purchase the goods or service.

For some reason I'm having trouble putting my thoughts into words just now, but when they're deciding what to charge me for bandwidth based on what they think about my use of it... I don't think so.

Re:Oh no, no, no (2, Insightful)

tthomas48 (180798) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160739)

Yes, and we are allowed to bitch and moan and create massive campaigns about what poor service we're getting for the price that they want to increase.

The only problem is that many of us don't have real choices (choosing between powerful corporations known for colluding isn't much choice). We're doing exactly what we should be doing in a free market. We're shouting at the vendor that they're overpriced and looking at legislation to keep them from changing prices (which is appropriate in this case since the carriers like to get legislation passed to block competition).

It's the loud, messy sorta-free market in action.

Re:Oh no, no, no (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161889)

Time Warner just wants to lock people into yearly contracts where they can charge whatever they want and if you want out of the contract, you will have to pay a penalty.

New Name of The Game is Content Value (5, Insightful)

salesgeek (263995) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160583)

Here's what's going on. Big content providers are primarily in the business of distributing movies, music, tv shows. Distribution used to be expensive because of exclusive licenses for limited radio spectrum or having cable pay for your content. Along comes this damn inconvenient packet switched broadband and basically reduces distribution costs to a ridiculously low number. So, some people who aren't as smart as you, or for that matter a poblano pepper decided that:

* By raising the cost for residential broadband, it would make it cost you more to download Heroes vs. just watching it on their cable/on demand network.
* Because you can get your shows for less through the cable company, then they can sell all the commercials and make more money.
* Big content benefits because they can wrap everything up in a nice DRM wrapper on the DVR box you rent and then they get to sell you Cloverfield eight times over the next four years.

There's just a couple of small holes in the plan:

* It's probably illegal. If it's not it's so anticonsumer the FCC will have a lot of fun with these jokers.
* The internet is not exclusively used for infringing on big media copyrights. Last I looked there were at least a few more things to do online than movies and music.
* There are emerging technologies that are going to absolutely screw any business plan counting on a last mile monopoly (google meraki just for fun). Just for the hell of it, I'm going to start a mesh in the apartment complex I live in ($20/month/2.5MBPS).
* Getting tiered pricing requires everyone to do it at the same time, and last I looked, the internet only ISP isn't gone yet... and won't be gone for some time.

Re:New Name of The Game is Content Value (1, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160633)

Getting tiered pricing requires everyone to do it at the same time, and last I looked, the internet only ISP isn't gone yet... and won't be gone for some time.

But most people really only have access to either Comcast, Time Warner or AT&T other then the occasional local ISP (which usually has slow connection speeds because of the lack of infrastructure) or dial up (unusable to download anything really) there are many people who can't switch even if they wanted to.

Re:New Name of The Game is Content Value (4, Funny)

nausea_malvarma (1544887) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160643)

* The internet is not exclusively used for infringing on big media copyrights. Last I looked there were at least a few more things to do online than movies and music.

Porn?

Re:New Name of The Game is Content Value (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28161585)

Itâ(TM)s probably illegal. If itâ(TM)s not itâ(TM)s so anticonsumer the FCC will have a lot of fun with these jokers.

HAHAHahahahahahahah

Oh, you weren't kidding. uh ... wow

Ok, lemme spell it out for you. The FCC is full of industry cronies. They will look the other way. If of any of them causes any trouble, the media companies will step in by using one of the politicians that they own (oh hey look, that's all of them, whaddaya know?) and replace the troublemakers within the FCC with good little puppets that will blather about how these caps and anticompetitive measures are actually good for the consumer and all.

You are correct about the reasons why the media companies want to impose these caps, but that's really captain obvious stuff. The simple fact is these media companies have the political clout to see to it that internet does not replace TV. They simply will not let it happen. They have the power to ensure their local monopolies in many markets and keep regulation out of their hair. They will do it. They will get away with it. You are already watching it happen. Kiss your fat pipe goodbye.

Re:New Name of The Game is Content Value (3, Interesting)

WillyWanker (1502057) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161853)

I disagree. When TWC announced their proposed changes many states, NY in particular, made it very clear they would fight such obvious predatory pricing by passing new laws to restrict or outright ban it. And TWC backed down.

While I generally don't trust politicians to do the right thing, on this they do seem to be looking out for the consumer. So I'm at least optimistic. If push does come to shove we very well might see things on a state-by-state basis, where TWC will be permitted to change their pricing in some states, while others make it illegal for them.

Of course the new FCC chief *could* step in and take care of the problem in one fell swoop. Who knows, stranger things have happened.

Re:New Name of The Game is Content Value (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28162041)

I keep hearing this argument. I do not buy it.

I think this is just a 100% money grab. Nothing as well thought out as 'internet is cannibalizing our other business'. Remember that the internet segment of their business is a growing segment. Their video is a declining one. The reason it is declining is due to competition from directtv/dish/att/others...

Now they are also pretty much a monopoly/duopoly in most areas. This means without any sort of competition/regulation they will place their prices where they make maximum revenue. That means at nearly 1 dollar per GB this is where marginal rev is equal to marginal cost for them. In a more competitive market this is usually where the demand curve crosses the supply curve. With monopoly they can pick the spot that gives them max profit. The price they set will have very little relation to the real cost of the produce (which is where it happens to be right now if not a bit high). The reason your cable tv is not 'high' was due to early regulation. Now it is more due to competition.

One business cannibalizing another is not what a monopoly/duopoly cares about. All they care about is MAXIMUM profit. They will say whatever (including the very cannibalization argument you are using) to justify it. But it is what they care about.

There are only 3 things that can be done 1 more competition, 2 regulation, 3 let them do it. The first involves building more network or taking away their network and selling it to others. Or 2 regulation meaning they are regulated in some way either by policy and/or price control. 3 lets them gouge the very customers they have. Eventually with 3 you get others entering the market to make more money.

Now TW and ATT in North carolina (and other states) are trying to basically get laws passed to make it even harder for people to get together and make their own networks. Making their networks the 'only' ones you can use.

Wireless has some possibilities but becomes rather limited in the long term.

The only one that seems viable long term is fiber to the premises with wireless tied to it in some way. The real problem is who 'owns' the network. It is the same ones selling the service on those lines. So you get price gouging from one service to another with no incentive to improve the network in any way. It will probably come down to the whole wired network being unprivatized here in the US. Oh boy that will be a storm....

Re:New Name of The Game is Content Value (3, Insightful)

salesgeek (263995) | more than 4 years ago | (#28162579)

I think this is just a 100% money grab. Nothing as well thought out as 'internet is cannibalizing our other business'. Remember that the internet segment of their business is a growing segment. Their video is a declining one. The reason it is declining is due to competition from directtv/dish/att/others...

This is a money grab, no doubt. At the same time, this is also a lame attempt to save the content distribution business and avoid simply becoming a pipe. This is why net neutrality and a "genuine internet" initiative are so important. TW wants to charge less for their content than everything else you get online. This is all about owning the bridge, then being allowed to put up a toll bridge to make more money.

Terms of Service = Contract? (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160601)

Is it legal to change the terms? Do they count as a contract in the legal sense?

I guess if you're paying month by month, changing them and, ideally, notifying your customers that you did and that's just the way the cookie crumbles, they can continue to purchase their services or not. But what if you got locked into one of those deals? You know, three months at such and such price but then you have to stay on for nine more months at full price or whatever?

Re:Terms of Service = Contract? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28160689)

I would be fine with my provider changing their contracts as they see fit if there was real competition in the market. Right now I don't have much of a choice.

Re:Terms of Service = Contract? (1)

Archfeld (6757) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160737)

If you read the ultra fine print you will probably find a clause that allows them to change the terms of the contract at their discretion, and that posting a update on their web site is sufficient notice, it's usually right before the clause that allows them to have any disputes settled by their cousin Harrold in a kangaroo court of their choosing....

Re:Terms of Service = Contract? (1)

vivaelamor (1418031) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161097)

At which point (in the UK at least), you would tell them to take it through the small claims court if they want their money back and cite OFT guidance [oft.gov.uk] (page 52) in your defense of the claim.

I'd be surprised if you couldn't pull something similar in the US as two of the basic concepts of contract law are consideration [wikipedia.org] and estoppel [wikipedia.org]. I guess you would be probably relying on previous case law for this, unless the US has any guidance similar to that given in the UK.

Re:Terms of Service = Contract? (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160827)

Is it legal to change the terms? Do they count as a contract in the legal sense?

It might make it not a contract, but the only relief you'd be able to get out of that is you could quit their service without paying a penalty fee.

Re:Terms of Service = Contract? (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161791)

Just because somebody sends you a bill doesn't mean that you're contractually obligated to pay it. If they do something like arbitrarily changing the contract, and you want to exit it, there's nothing they can do (other than ding your credit score).

A change is gonna come... (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160719)

Looks like I may have to switch off of TWCable... sad. It was good service for a long time.

Re:A change is gonna come... (1)

sadler121 (735320) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160735)

What are you going to switch to? AT&T and Verizon are doing, or will be doing the same thing.

Re:A change is gonna come... (4, Interesting)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160839)

FWIW I just switched from TWC to Earthlink cable.

The funny thing is, TWC is still the cable provider, but Earthlink is the ISP. I still have the same cable modem TWC installed, etc. After I called Earthlink and signed up for their service ($20 a month cheaper than TWC for 6 months, then $10/mon cheaper than TWC forever...no contract) I had to call my local TWC office and they toggled something in software that made me get an Earthlink IP.

I don't know if TWC will be able to start making Earthlink charge more, but when I talked to the people at Earthlink they specifically told me there were no bandwidth caps, no tiers, and no plans for such.

Re:A change is gonna come... (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161279)

TWC controls all of Earthlink's billing. The rate I am charged, the speed of my connection, my eligibility for promotions are all determined by TWC, and have almost no relation to what Earthlink advertises. My bill for Earthlink is higher because I don't have TWC TV, so TWC would certainly feel free to incorporate usage billing too. It is implausible that TWC would watch 80% of their subscribers leave for Earthlink when tiers are implemented, and watch these same subscribers continue to "overuse" their own network.

Re:A change is gonna come... (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161333)

There is no "overuse." They see a means by which they can milk additional profit "...in these difficult times." They can certainly manage the loads they have everywere if they wanted to. They don't want to manage the load. They want more money... no, they need more money. Their top executives lost a lot of money when the markets fell and they have to make up for the loss somehow, somewhere.

I see the Earthlink option as an interesting one and worth looking into. TXU Electric provides the power in my area, yet other "electric providers" exist here and will charge less money yet it is the same TXU cables wires and repair service. And while plenty of people have switched off of TXU, they are doing just fine.

TWC may be making a mistake in doing this, but they will never admit to it.

Re:A change is gonna come... (1)

kp5b68802 (930546) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161533)

When you talk to any business and ask about increased pricing and they say "no we are not going to charge more and we have no plans for such". What they mean is "Thanks for the heads-up and you can expect increases as soon as I pass this idea along."

Voice and Video isn't on same channel as Data (1)

George_Ou (849225) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160749)

Voice and Video isn't on same channel as Data. Gigaom is just reading controversy where there is none. Video and telephony infrastructure operate on private channels on private infrastructure.

Re:Voice and Video isn't on same channel as Data (2, Insightful)

sadler121 (735320) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160809)

Isn't that the point? If they where forced to use those channels for data, wouldn't that mean they would have even more capacity?

Re:Voice and Video isn't on same channel as Data (2, Insightful)

WillyWanker (1502057) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161301)

Yes, and this is where the anti-competitive regulation come into play. Because TWC would essentially penalize you for using competitor's services instead of their own. And that's a big no-no.

Adding unfair competition doesn't make it better (1)

bombastinator (812664) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160755)

I wonder what corporate genius thought this would make it more acceptable instead of less acceptable. This is like the Simpson's "can we have a pool dad" chant.

Re:Adding unfair competition doesn't make it bette (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#28162141)

I wonder what corporate genius thought this would make it more acceptable instead of less acceptable. This is like the Simpson's "can we have a pool dad" chant.

I have watched my 5 year old newphews do it to my aunt, and it goes through, so im guessing its the 5 year old on the board there or the ones as smart as a five year old say that they need more money, and milking "dumb" public worked before/elsewhere so do it again

Sad but true... (1)

FragInc (931710) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160803)

In a country that has so many advantages and advances yet so constricted, it is no wonder we fail dismally in the world of technology; both, people and machines. Where is that light at the end of the tunnel?!

Its inevitable anyway (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#28160831)

Wince the ISP's are tied ( or are actually one in the same... ) to the content producers, it is only a matter of time before we end up in a situation where you are punished for using competitors.

Oh, and punished as a customer in general, like comcast does now.

Competitiveness, or lack thereof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28160845)

Instead of investing in infrastructures thereby ensure continued and steady growth in revenue like "other countries," US companies devise new ways to extract more revenues out of their existing customers with ZERO investment into additional infrastructure while hurting the overall competitiveness of the country internationally, with blessing from the elected officials.

Just Municipalize the Telcos Already. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28160975)

Our tax dollars, land grants, and subsidies practically built them anyway. If they're not going to play fair, they don't deserve to play at all. For as much as we taxpayers have already given them and continue to give them, it's a goddamn crime that we don't get telecommunication services for free!

I don't mind. (4, Interesting)

Charcharodon (611187) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161341)

I'm all for tiered pricing, as long as the tiering applies to them as well.

No more of this "up to X mps for $50 a month". If they promise X but can only deliver 1/5X then they only get to bill me $10 a month instead of $50.

Just send them a blank check... (3, Funny)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 4 years ago | (#28161821)

So basically Time Warner is saying "we can charge you whatever we want based on whatever we feel like and you must agree to this or fuck off"

Time Warner really gets it

Looking ahead (1)

Dega704 (1454673) | more than 4 years ago | (#28163019)

Bandwidth caps and metered billing might sound agreeable to some people now, but you have to consider it will halt online video in it's tracks, just like the cable companies want. I'm always reading about how formats like dvd and blu-ray are supposed to be ultimately doomed because everything will be streamed or downloaded online, Adobe is bringing flash to TVs, etc. How can any of this happen with bandwidth caps and tiered pricing? Especially HD video? Cable companies feed us the online video internet apocalypse baloney, but it's all about protecting their core TV business and maximizing their bottom line. Oh well. Refusing to change with the times went really well for the recording industry.........
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