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Time-Warner Considers Per-Gigabyte Service Fee, After iTunes

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the isn't-this-a-step-in-the-wrong-direction dept.

The Internet 557

destinyland writes "Time-Warner is now mulling a plan to charge a per-gigabyte fee for internet service. A leaked memo reveals they're now watching how many gigabytes customers use in a 'consumption-based' pricing experiment in Texas, which we discussed early last month. The announced plan was that they were considering a tier-based approach, as opposed to per-gigabyte fees. 'As few as 5 percent of our customers use 50 percent of the network,' Time-Warner complains, with plans to cap usage at 5-gigabytes, and more expensive pricing plans granting 10-, 20-, and 40-gigabyte quotas. Steven Levy at the Washington post suggests Time-Warner's real aim is to hobble iTunes, raising the cost of a movie download by $10 (or $30 for a high-definition movie). Eyeing Time-Warner's experiment, Comcast cable also says they're evaluating a pay-per-gigabyte model."

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The problem with consolidated multimedia (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306116)

When the same company provides your cable service (including your cable pay-per-view service), your internet service, AND produces media content themselves; is there any doubt that this will cause a serious conflict of interest that will harm the consumer? Time-Warner has EVERY incentive to keep you from using movie download services instead of their own pay-per-view service and EVERY incentive to stop movie/TV pirate sites (to keep you from pirating Warner movies and TV).

This is why consolidation in media is such a BAD, BAD, BAD thing for consumers. When one single company (or even small group of companies) owns your newspaper, television stations, internet service, telephone company, cable company, etc. they basically own *YOU*.

MOD PARENT UP (4, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306312)

It's not so bad that an ISP charges by bandwidth. It's bad that the pricing decision is tied up with other kinds of products they want to sell, in effect giving them the power to raise the price of other companies' products relative to their own in places where they have a broadband monopoly.

In this situation, the regulators ought to look at any competitive advantage this gives their content products and require them to price those products high enough that the bandwidth pricing is competition neutral.

Re:MOD PARENT UP (4, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306486)

Yes it is bad that an ISP charges by bandwidth. They justify it by saying that 5% use 50% of the network.. but the other 95% of users aren't even using the internet- 95% of americans only use it for checking yahoo webmail once every 2 weeks and automatic windows updates. The 5% of us shouldn't be penalized- we're the reason jacked-up American broadband has to cost $50 a month, and it makes absolutely no sense to penalize us for that when Americans are already paying the premium! They should be exploring new plans to offer broadband at $5/month for that 95% of people and the same old $50/month for high bandwidth users.

Re:MOD PARENT UP (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22306620)

The ISPs pay by bandwidth, it's makes perfect sense for them to pass those charges on to us. As long as they don't advertise "unlimited use"

Re:The problem with consolidated multimedia (4, Insightful)

Retric (704075) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306340)

The price per GB in competitive markets is around 6c/GB so their 40g plain should cost 30 *.06 = 1.80$ more than the 10GB plain. If they implemented this FIOS could start advertising 100GB, 200GB, and 400GB plain for the same price. Which would cause most people with the option to quickly switch.

So I know they want to do this but my guess is they are afraid to do it without:

A: Losing customers in competitive markets.
B: Becoming regulated in non competitive markets.

Re:The problem with consolidated multimedia (2, Insightful)

Thirdsin (1046626) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306400)

I could not agree more. However, when we let elected officals pander to these conglomerates it only gets worse... If you don't like it, write a letter to your state's Senators [senate.gov] , Representatives [house.gov] , and most importantly... VOTE [usa.gov] .

Re:The problem with consolidated multimedia (3, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306550)

But should I vote for Tweedle Dum, or Tweedle Dee?

Re:The problem with consolidated multimedia (1)

FlatLine84 (1084689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306442)

Exactly, if they can't get you to use their service, they still want to get that money out of you. I'm not gonna pay an extra $10 to watch the movie on their ppv, but I just paid them an extra $10 anyways cause I used more bandwidth using a 3rd party service. Correct me if I'm wrong, but something doesn't seem right with that.....

Re:The problem with consolidated multimedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22306484)

I would have some sympathy if this really was about stopping abuse and not about
controlling their monopoly on media.

I suspect I would be over the limit.
I download no movies or music.
Currently I pay about $180 to Time Warner per month.
If they do this I will pull cable, phone and internet.

Then I'll write a lot of letters to those that should be regulating them.

Me and Charter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22306506)

Perky Charter chick: "We have this great new VOIP telephone service! Would you like to sign up?"

Me: "Why? Your Internet service sucks and you can't even get TV right. What makes me think you're not going to turn my phone service into a third cluster fuck?"

Charter: "Because it's new!"

(click)

Re:The problem with consolidated multimedia (1)

emagery (914122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306644)

I completely agree with all that you just said... but I am confronted with a certain quandry here... for all that these baddies may be using this data as an excuse to rewire the system to their benefit... and could almost certainly be considered anti-trust behavior as, in general, I've never really lived anywhere where I had any real option about who I could sign up with... but if it is true that 5% of people are using up 50% of the bandwidth, it's still fair to find SOME WAY to distribute the burden of the cost accordingly... I mean... what if everyone in your town was paying the same electric bill... y'er gonna get the joker who encases his entirely property in christmas lights, and leaves 'em up all year while yer barely sipping at the electric leftovers... why should you and he pay the same amount?

While I most certainly don't wanna see these media giants exploit the scenario, I can see some fairness in a closely regulated bandwidth meter... not, perhaps, with limits, but some kind of pay-as-you-go, just like your electric meter... and if that were to happen, they would have to start charging the bit-sippers a lot less than they do now...

anyhow, that's my gut reaction

Not only is it a step in the wrong direction... (5, Interesting)

hbean (144582) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306122)

...but its an absolute shot in the foot for their business.

Right now, I could call up Verizon and get FiOS. In about 6 months I'll be able to call up Verizon and get FiOS TV. Hell, theyre currently installing FiOS in my parents tiny village of about 5000.

These cable companies are facing the first real competition they've ever had and instead of reacting by making their service better, they're planning out ways to make their service worse.

And no, this isn't some sort of viral FiOS ad. I'm just a dumbfounded consumer.

Re:Not only is it a step in the wrong direction... (1)

hjf (703092) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306208)

Lucky you. Sadly, here in the rest of the world, the local monopoly is very likely to use that as an example of "but other countries are doing it!". 4 years ago they tried to cap us at 4GB, and they supposedly lost thousands of customers. The bad thing is: there is no real alternative. The other major ISP openly filters P2P programs, and the rest is not available outside a small area of Buenos Aires (and I'm 1000km away from Buenos Aires).

Also, "mysteriously", my BT and eMule downloads totally die (that is 0.00Kbps) at 5:30 AM and they jump back to my full 2.5M at 1:00AM again :(

Re:Not only is it a step in the wrong direction... (1)

hbean (144582) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306234)

Chest puffing wasn't my point, the point was that these cable companies are still acting like they're the only game in town, and in increasing areas (of the US at least), they aren't, and their competition has service that puts them to shame.

Re:Not only is it a step in the wrong direction... (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306264)

Sadly, they do understand that their is competition coming. My neighborhood has both fios and comcast, and comcast has literally been going door to door and cold calling customers that have switched and offering some insane deals. My neighbour (literally) has the comcast triple play, at 30% to 40% off the current going rate locked in for a year. He is the only comcast holdout in the 5 houses on either side of mine heh.

Re:Not only is it a step in the wrong direction... (1)

hbean (144582) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306322)

I would have switched myself but I'm getting about 1.6 Mbps down from Timewarner atm, but if this happens I'm switching immediately, and will probably switch if it doesnt when FiOS TV becomes available because TW has absolutely no plans to add to our paltry selection of 15 HD channels.

Re:Not only is it a step in the wrong direction... (2, Insightful)

jasonhamilton (673330) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306466)

the only problem with your neighbor choosing to go after the easy deal is that if they manage to shut out the competition, and they quit dealing in his neighborhood, one year from now, he'll be getting the regular priced plan, and that plan might cost more than he used to pay

5GB?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22306126)

It's not a bad idea, but 5GB?

I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again: I love my ISP.

teksavvy FTW!

Re:5GB?! (4, Informative)

DuncanE (35734) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306206)

We have had tiered pricing like this for a many years in Australia.

And its not about iTunes downloads.

My ISP (iinet.net.au) charges me $XX dollars for XX GB of usage per month on a 24Mbps ADSL2 connection. This is very common in Australia. My XX's are $49 for 10GB of usage but other higher and lower plans are available. After that I am "shaped" to a 64kbs connection.

Sounds bad right? But...

If I get me email off their POP server that doesnt count towards usage.

And they have some kind of agreement with Apple (mirror maybe?) that itunes downloads dont count. (NOTE: This partnership with Apple is highly visible and advertised on their website)

They also have a mirror for just about every linux distro (they are an official Ubuntu mirror) and for almost all game demos and patches. Not only does this not count towards my usage, but it means I can get these at the maximum speed of my connection as the download is only one short hop away (think linux iso in 3 to 4 minutes).

About the only thing that really counts towards your usage is web browsing - which even in a month of heavy use doesnt come close to the limit at about 2 to 3 GB - and BitTorrent/P2P which I have to admit I do use sometimes.

I hate to say it but if we all downloaded legal video content the ISPs wouldnt have to look at this. They would just setup legal local mirrors for large files.

Re:5GB?! (1)

podperson (592944) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306346)

I experienced this when I lived in Australia and it sucked royally. Just regularly playing an online game could blow you over the bandwidth cap (of course in EverQuest you had to stay logged on to keep your merchants in the bazaar active), and there's no way to locally cache that.

If nothing else, this will be enormously unpleasant for teleworkers.

5GB/month is roughly 14kbps.

Re:5GB?! (4, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306362)

Listening to the web radio cuts into it.
Automatic Updating software (Windows/AV and all others) cuts into it.
Skype cuts into it.
Playing games cuts into it.

Your 2-3gb is gone very quickly without ever opening a webpage.

Re:5GB?! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22306652)

"Listening to the web radio cuts into it.
Automatic Updating software (Windows/AV and all others) cuts into it.
Skype cuts into it.
Playing games cuts into it."

Nope, sorry chump, but you're wrong on all counts.

Next time maybe look it up before you make a totally incorrect post so you don't look like an idiot.

Re:5GB?! (1)

Elbart (1233584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306458)

What if I want to use a different video-service? Exactly.

Re:5GB?! (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306662)

Chances are they'd cache anything that was mildly popular, if only to save their own bandwidth bill. Local (temporary!) storage is a hell of a lot cheaper than bandwidth. It wouldn't take many subscribers using a service before caching paid off.

5GB?!-Breaking the honesty barrier. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22306478)

"I hate to say it but if we all downloaded legal video content the ISPs wouldnt have to look at this. They would just setup legal local mirrors for large files."

Why should you hate to say the truth? The people who pirate brought this whole mess upon themselves and they don't have the balls to take responsability for it. Leaving the honest to suffer and clean-up after them. Phoeey! They're no friends of ours.

Re:5GB?! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22306524)

Podcasts? Youtube? Even if you don't use BitTorrent etc., it's easy to go over 10 GB/month.

I mean, seriously, that's *2 DVDs*. Not exactly a lot of data, is it? At your connection speed, it'd take you less than an hour to transfer (download) that amount of data.

Of course, if your ISP is upfront about this and doesn't claim to be selling you anything they're not (such as an "unlimited plan", a "flatrate" or so), then there's nothing inherently wrong with it; after all, if you don't like it, you can switch to another ISP. If none offer better deals, that's a failure of the marketplace, obviously, but it's still not necessarily unethical behaviour, even if is unfortunate for you.

But that doesn't mean you have to be happy with it; I know I wouldn't be, and any ISP who tries to squeeze the most money out of me and give me the shittiest service possible that they can still (barely) get away with would do well to remember that this does not exactly breed customer loyalty.

There are some business I *like* to deal with; with others, I really despise having to. I still will do so if all corporations in a certain market are like that, but as soon as a better deal comes along, I'll throw them out like yesterday's chicken necks. Any company that thinks maximising short-term profit or shareholder value at the expense of long-term development should keep in mind that they're playing with fire.

Re:5GB?! (3, Interesting)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306536)

You're assuming that these tiered prices are actually neccessary because of a high load on the network. I'd speculate that TW's network is fine and they're just seeing a nice opportunity to earn money. Note that this could be different in AU because of the rather expensive and long submarine cables.

Repeat (1)

DuncanE (35734) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306566)

I just want to repeat... I get 10 GB of downloads a month. Other plans are available (30, 40, 50, 100 GB etc).

Personally I have never gone over 10GB accept for P2P downloads of questionably legal stuff.

Not internet radio, not games, not skype... The legal stuff just doesnt use the bandwidth (as a CS major I hate using the word bandwidth in the wrong sense, but its the generally accepted way).

Im not going to cite the recent studies that say P2P and bittorrent is 60%+ of internet traffic as I know we can all find ways to attack it.. I will just appeal to your own internal judgment and say "you know its probably true".

Re:5GB?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22306612)

We Australians have had to put up with this because international transit is so expensive (still over AUD$200/Mbps), and because of Telstra's insane backhaul fees.

US ISPs copying our usage tiering system is just wrong.

Re:5GB?! (1)

S.O.B. (136083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306310)

I'm on teksavvy as well, great service. $30CDN/month for 200GB transfer. Unlimited transfer for $40CDN/month.

U.S. falling behind (4, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306128)

Spending much of the last several years in Eastern Europe, I've admired how ISPs there offer Internet connections for cheap even by local standards and are tolerant of heavy P2P usage. The technique used by one ISP I've used in Romania to reduce bandwidth usage was setting up a DC++ server where people could trade music and films at lightning speed with people from the same city.

In the U.S., meanwhile, Internet connections are pricey and companies like to poke their nose into what you are doing with it. How ironic that a country which was a major force behind the creation of the Internet is lagging in many respects to poor former-Soviet states.

Re:U.S. falling behind (5, Insightful)

MonoSynth (323007) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306216)

that has much more to do with the less sophisticated law enforcement in those countries...

Re:U.S. falling behind (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306356)

If ISPs charge for higher bandwidth usage, then they'll encourage more bandwidth usage and plow some of the new profits back into infrastructure, provided there is competition. In places where the cable companies are in direct competition with Verizon, this would be a good thing, and competition would keep bandwidth differential costs reasonable. It might even allow them to lower the cost of their basic service.

Of course, they're more likely to do it where they don't have competition and customers are stuck unless the regulators step in.

According to whom? (1)

keirre23hu (638913) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306500)

There is no guarantee that these companies will "plow" profits into improving their infrastructure. I would argue that its highly questionable that they will, as Time Warner is a huge business with ridiculous revenues that could already afford to do some major buildouts on their network, if they were concerned with the quality of their product. Media conglomerates are designed to move profits to shareholders. The primary issue is that in many locations there is little to no competition to speak of. To me, it seems as though the Internet is going backwards, in terms of usability and freedom. There is a desire to charge end users for every single thing (tm) while not providing particularly great service. I am a Speakeasy customer, because for the most part, you pay them for your DSL connection and they leave you alone, provided you do not do anything illegal or nefarious to their network. They dont limit my bandwidth, filter my ports, throttle my connection, and I can run almost anything I'd want to on my network. It costs more than Verizon DSL / Comcast / T/W etc, but its worth it.

A nit to pick on what you said... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306648)

Media conglomerates are designed to move profits to executives and sharesellers .


There... Corrected that for you. ;-)

Re:U.S. falling behind (1)

Misch (158807) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306634)

If ISPs charge for higher bandwidth usage, then they'll encourage more bandwidth usage and plow some of the new profits back into infrastructure, provided there is competition.

Sorry, higher prices will discourage more bandwidth usage.

The real question is "what is the elasticity of demand for bandwidth"?

Users Used (5, Insightful)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306134)

'As few as 5 percent of our customers use 50 percent of the network,' Time-Warner complains...
So does that mean only 5 percent of their customers are making good use of what they paid for?

Re:Users Used (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306184)

That 5 percent doesn't use technical support or many of the services that are included. A lot of the 95% are gamers, who don't use a lot of bandwidth but do use it for long periods and need connections good for fast bursts. "Making good use" depends on what you actually want the network for.

Re:Users Used (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306284)

And that's why these tiered plans may be a good idea (on paper) because then more than 5% of their customers will be making good use of what they pay for. According to Time Warner, 95% of their customers don't want to utilize their "unlimited" bandwidth, so they'll charge them for the 5 gigs they do use (at a cheaper cost, right?) and when they use 5 gigs, they've actually used what they paid for. I'm personally a heavy bandwidth user so I'm not sure how I feel about all this, but it seems to answer your question.

Re:Users Used (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306332)

You confuse quantity with quality ...

Re:Users Used (1)

jasonhamilton (673330) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306496)

There's more to it than that.

While 5% are using 50% of the total bandwidth, no one wants to watch the quotas and worry about going over the limit when they download a streaming video. This change should effect far more than the 5%

Charge or don't charge but don't hide it (5, Insightful)

Neil Watson (60859) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306148)

Charge me for bandwidth usage or charge me true unlimited bandwidth usage. I think that either method could be accetaple provided there was no throttling, blocking or hidden charges or caps.

Re:Charge or don't charge but don't hide it (5, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306374)

Exactly. Cut the marketing bullshit and give me a plain-English SLA. For a consumer connection, with a cheap price, the SLA might not be that great, but it should be well specified. I want to know:
  • The minimum speed that I am guaranteed to get.
  • The maximum speed I will get under optimal conditions.
  • The percentage of the time I can expect to be within n% of the maximum speed.
  • The maximum amount of downtime allowed before I am compensated.
  • The maximum transfer I am allowed per month and the cost per GB of going over.
Ideally, each ISP would provide a grid with different levels / prices for each of these categories and I would be able to put together a plan that met my needs. They could even unify their consumer and business pricing structures, so businesses picked from the same grid but, if they were doing anything important with their connection, chose the higher level options.

As long as there's competition, and the customer is well-informed about the service they are buying, then a free market works. If either of these conditions fails then you might need some regulation.

Re:Charge or don't charge but don't hide it (2, Interesting)

Albanach (527650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306660)

Charge me for bandwidth usage or charge me true unlimited bandwidth usage.
You can have unlimited bandwidth. You just need to be prepared to pay for it.

Speakeasy will sell you a T1 with 1,5Mbps down, 384k upstream for about $360/month. That's the real cost of unlimited bandwidth.

Time Warner and Comcast are cordiallly invited... (5, Funny)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306162)

...to FUCK OFF AND DIE, because I'll go back to fucking dial-up before I pay their ransom!

No you won't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22306268)

You say that, but you won't. Will you.

Good luck with that guys (5, Interesting)

beavis88 (25983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306164)

I, beavis88, hereby pledge I will immediately terminate my Time Warner Cable "service" in the event they implement this new scheme without SUBSTANTIALLY reducing the price of the "low tier". I don't even run BT or pirate movies/music, and I probably came close to 5GB downloaded *yesterday* - Vista and Windows 2008 .isos from MSDN, plus watched a movie online from Netflix. Now if they want to make it worth my while to reduce my usage, I might be amenable - but if they want to cap my usage, and keep charging the same insanely high prices, then fuck it, I'll put up with shitty, slow DSL.

Re:Good luck with that guys (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306474)

I'll put up with shitty, slow DSL.

Well, if you get that DSL through AT&T, you had better make sure those downloads don't violate any copyight laws [slashdot.org] .

Re:Good luck with that guys (1)

beavis88 (25983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306564)

They don't, but fortunately, AT&T doesn't serve my local area anyway. Yet. :|

Re:Good luck with that guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22306596)

I, Agreeing Dude, agree.

Pay for what you use (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306632)

I, beavis88, hereby pledge I will immediately terminate my Time Warner Cable "service" in the event they implement this new scheme without SUBSTANTIALLY reducing the price of the "low tier". I don't even run BT or pirate movies/music, and I probably came close to 5GB downloaded *yesterday* - Vista and Windows 2008 .isos from MSDN, plus watched a movie online from Netflix.

I think the point is, if you're watching streaming movies and downloading ISOs, you ain't the low tier.

Now if they want to make it worth my while to reduce my usage, I might be amenable

I think the general idea is to give consumers a range of options to avoid charging light web users the same price as bandwidth hogs. So you would be given the option to decide which group you fall into.

but if they want to cap my usage, and keep charging the same insanely high prices

I think that's their very motivation behind the tiered approach, to avoid doing just that. To remain profitable while offering a flat price to everyone, they'd have to either A) cap bandwidth usage with sneaky fine print like they're doing now, or increase everyone's prices to the point that they drive cost-conscious consumers to DSL. The first is bad PR for them, the second loses customers.

I think the general idea is to give you a DSL-like price for DSL-like aggregate bandwidth usage, with the advantage being that when you *do* use it, it's faster than DSL. Alternately, if you really are using a ton of bandwidth, you'll have to pay for it. Which is fair, because I don't feel like subsidizing anybody's internet connection.

I have absolutely no problem with this if they don't screw it up (which they may, but we don't know that yet). I think the only people who are really screaming bloody murder are the bandwidth hogs who are getting more than they're paying for now. The majority of consumers *should* get a bit of a price break for giving up the ability to frequently use bandwidth hogging services like streaming video, P2P, huge downloads, etc.

I don't know how this is so intuitive for cell phone plans but not internet usage. Your cell company charges you for the minutes you use, and no one complains. Your internet company wants to do basically the same thing, which should benefit the majority of their customers. What's the problem?

Time Warner and Comcast need a reality check (3, Interesting)

dj42 (765300) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306166)

Keep this shit up. Those "50% who use 5%" of the network will stop advising your idiot clients. When that happens, you'll see the same demise as "AOL" did. How many idiotic AOL dial-up users still exist?

Get ready for the apocalypse privacy-invading broadband douches.

5% use 50%, but with growth... (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306334)

Every two years or so, the majority start using the amount of bandwidth the 5% that used half the capacity were using as they adopt the leading edge technologies made popular by those 5% of early adopters.

If they were smart, they would use those heavy traffic users to test their expanded capabilities lest they be crushed by the future wave of demand. But they're not, and they will be left in the dust when some faster ISP comes and steals their customers. The joke will be on them too, because whoever that faster ISP is that brings fiber to their areas is also going to steal their phone and video customers too.

Cable modems were fun while they lasted, but these types of decisions are a direct result of their inferior shared topology. It's time for these guys to upgrade or die. (In comcast's case, I vote die)

I really hope they do this. (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306182)

It will make it really easy for another broadband technology to take hold and utterly destroy them.

That's the biggest problem, Most cable areas have ZERO competition for broadband. DSL is not available as telcos like to drag their feet upgrading the infrastructure to get DSL working everywhere.

As soon as there is some real competition out their for broadband forcing time warner and comcast to quit playing their rape the customer games.

Also, the effect to people with open accesspoints will be chilling. Clueless people in their homes will be slapped with a shutoff or higher bill that month when a bunch of kids discover their accesspoint to download their stuff. It will create a underground "internet stealing" activity as people get their downloads without exceeding their own cap.

Cable companies dont give a rats ass, as long as they find a way to charge you more for what you already get and not upgrading their equipment, they are incredibly happy.

I really hope they do this-Build me a dream. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22306590)

"It will make it really easy for another broadband technology to take hold and utterly destroy them."

Nice. A broadband technology that violates the laws of physics and is completely powered and financed by wishful thinking. I have a better idea sunshine. Why don't all the wishful thinkers get together and build this supposed "unlimited"* network?

*And let's remember unlimited means that I can do whatever I want even if it negatively affects other. After all you all wouldn't want to violate anyone's "rights", right?

Re:I really hope they do this. (1)

Gadgetfreak (97865) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306656)

> Cable companies dont give a rats ass, as long as they find a way to charge you more for what you already get and not upgrading their equipment, they are incredibly happy.

This is largely evident by the fact that cable prices are negotiable. For many of them, it's hard to find an actual stated cost for service, since there are so many "intro offers" and "new customer deals" and so forth.

Their business model is entirely based on average subscriber fees. And they know darned well that there is little competition elsewhere, and that most people will just eventually roll over and pay more money rather than haggle every single month to negotiate a cheaper rate.

Part of the issue is that cable companies are partially regulated as a Utility. So while it's not quite a free market for competition, it still allows them to charge whatever they feel like for all ther add-ons.

I wish I had another choice (2, Interesting)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306186)

But I really don't when it comes to internet service in my area. DSL just doesn't have what I need and Time Warner is the only solution and I'll be damned if they weren't down this whole weekend with not so much as an explanation or apology. Of course I'm going to be charged for the whole month even after sitting on hold for 20 minutes to be told there's nothing I can do but wait.

This just frosts me even more, I don't WANT to switch to DSL, but I may have to.

Re:I wish I had another choice (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306534)

I've had both DSL and Cable, and I'll take 3Mbps DSL *ANY* day over cable. My DSL never goes down or slows down.

Of course, AT&T are proposing some crazy shit [slashdot.org] of their own.

Oh please (1)

Trivial_Zeros (1058508) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306202)

I didn't realize anyone was forcing you to buy it. If you don't like it, don't pay up. You vote for how corporations are run with your dollars, and as long as you keep shelling over, they'll keep pounding you up the arse as deep as they can.

Re:Oh please (1)

hbean (144582) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306430)

except for the fact that these cable companies and their government sanctioned monopolies, in many areas, are the only choice for broadband access, and they know it.

Re:Oh please (1)

Trivial_Zeros (1058508) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306544)

There are almost always choices Dail-up FioS DSL Local library / starbucks / free wifi Direct line / start-up your own ISP

what to do... (3, Informative)

jwegy (775655) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306204)

>> 'As few as 5 percent of our customers use 50 percent of the network,'
They should lower the fees for the guys aren't using as much bandwidth rather than raise the fees for the guys that are. That will never happen though.

I'm evaluating a new ISP (2)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306224)

Bye bye, cable.

5%/50%, you whiners and your bullshit excuses.

What I hear, is it's DAMN LUCKY FOR YOU that only 5% of your customers actually use their service. If everyone downloaded the music and movies YOU ADVERTISE IN YOUR COMMERCIALS FOR THE SERVICE, then the network would not function at all.

It's not my fault you don't have the capacity to give your customers what they've been paying for.

In this age of streaming media and online marketplaces only a fucking dinosaur like the cable industry would propose a 5 gigabyte cap.

Too bad for Comcast, I'd rather rent a movie from XBox marketplace than watch it on your laggy, low quality On Demand service. Their answer is to make sure that wont be cost effective.

Goddammit FCC, where are you?

I'm calling for FIOS tonight, at least the telcos still have some regulation.

Godspeed, hurry up and ruin the internet for anything but pop-under ads, I can't wait for the new underground.

Re:I'm evaluating a new ISP (1)

Ron_Fitzgerald (1101005) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306324)

Who the F modded this post down to -1?

Hello Comcast. (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306230)

If you implement this I will drop you for Internet and cable TV in a heartbeat.

Re:Hello Comcast. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22306300)

do you have cable Tv at work?

buy a replay TV, hook it up there and then use the tools to extract the recordings off the replay to take home.

you get your TV, you dont pay the fuckers for the shitty service. it's a Win-win situation.

This is a great idea (3, Funny)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306232)

As someone who finds the "Dark Ages" romantic and exciting, I think this is a great idea. With the US so far behind the rest of the world already, it's time to just give up competing all together.

And some day, when we do decide to make a come back ... well, everyone loved the first Renaissance. I'm sure we'll do it even better the second time around, because this is the US of Fuckin A!

I'm looking forward to living a 22nd century stone age. Aren't you?

I'm glad I switched from Roadruner to FiOS (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22306236)

Not only is my FiOS 10x the speed of the archaic cable service from Time Warner (currently getting 50mbps), but there are no caps (yet). I watch tons of video online (mostly documentaries on google video) and I know it's about 40 gigs a month no doubt. That and streaming internet radio all the time as well as d/ling Linux and Solaris DVD .iso images I am getting what I pay for ($90).

I don't think a cap is the way to go. Perhaps price per gigabyte/terabyte??? Sort of like the electric company when they charge you for kilowatt hours. That's the way to go, none of this capping nonsense.

Also if you're getting charged by the gigabyte/terabyte, better MAKE SURE that you're getting 100mbps speeds or higher. So you have crappy service and now you have to pay more? Yep, sounds like the Cable companies to me. LOL!

What About "Dumb" Consumers? (2, Insightful)

webword (82711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306246)

Look, are they trying to lose customers? Are they trying to force people to switch to DSL or satellite? (Devil's advocate: Maybe this will spur competition, so it's a good thing?)

Maybe I'm wrong, but customers using more bandwidth don't add additional cost to the infrastructure, do they? The network is a sunk cost and customers are simply utilizing what's there. (Do I have that right?)

Here's what's worse. How do "stupid" consumers know what it high and low bandwith? Even many programmers and engineers would have a hard time knowing this, unless a monitoring tool or widget was on your desktop.

Better have accurate metering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22306250)

If they are charging for traffic, they had better have pretty accurate metering.

The few times I have watched my cable modem it is constantly being flooded with arp requests and other crap that are not originating from my machine. I know these are small, but it adds up quickly (penny rounding schemes anyone?).

I don't trust them to have a fair and accurate bill for consumption.

That's fine, as long as the pricing remains fair (3, Insightful)

BVis (267028) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306256)

So of course they'll lower their pricing for the 95% of their users that use the other 50%, right?

Of course not. Yet Another Money Grab. Oh well, if they do change the terms of the service I'm getting, it means I can get out of that 1 year promotional package I have from Comcast.

Anyone know if Verizon is going to do this with FiOS? I'm fortunate enough to have a choice of high-speed internet service, so at the very least there's SOME market pressure here.

NO! (1)

bzudo (1151979) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306262)

I wish they would just leave us alone. Everything is fine the way it is. Quit trying to make money out of nothing. They should ask the other 95% if they even notice the other 5%. I'm sick of being tiered to death. For just a little bit more, for a small amount more, for a tiny bit more. Enough! Just give everyone uber fast internet for a fair price. Don't worry your pretty little head about who uses it and how much they use of it. As long as it doesn't affect the other customers. Ok, I feel a little better now.

Neighbor-fi would go away too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22306266)

I think this is also an attempt to get people to secure their wifi routers so their neighbors can't get on-line for free.

I know my neighbor would be wondering how they downloaded 25 GB (LotR HD) last month...

It would be time for a new non-centralized wireless internet that didn't require ISPs to be created at that point. Create a mesh network kind of like bit torrent, but all hardware based and plug-n-play ease.
http://www.engadget.com/2008/02/04/researchers-tout-co-op-system-for-ubiquitous-wifi [engadget.com]

This concerns me (1)

Genocaust (1031046) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306286)

As both living in Texas AND being stuck with TW, this has me a bit worried. I haven't had any issues with their service yet, but if I'm stuck with only 5gb/mo for the same price I'm paying now -- or something not incredibly lower -- I'll have to go with ClearWire or Embarq. Neither offer near the speed and service, but I'm not going to pay for a cap as part of a "test market". If enough people back away from it hopefully TW will take the hint and not roll it out on a wider basis.

NP, but I also want (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22306288)

1) per byte pricing
2) penalty for excessive latency and delay
3) detail billing on paper for free
4) 99.99% uptime
5) intelligent 24/7 technical/billing support (not the reset this, reset that, I don't know nothing support)

Re:NP, but I also want (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306402)

To their defense... "reset this, reset that" support is how troubleshooting is done. you go from the simplest, easiest to remedy solution before going on to the more difficult ones. I wouldn't call that know nothing support. everything else, I whole-heartedly agree with.

Now we know what web 3.0 is... (1)

Alexpkeaton1010 (1101915) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306296)

Web 3.0 = internet circa 1994.

Time for the Electric Company to Jump in for Real (5, Informative)

webword (82711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306304)

Is it time for broadband over powerlines [eei.org] finally?

The networking is already in your house:

"Providing broadband service to these customers would simply require adding equipment to their wires. The feature of BPL that would make it more attractive than DSL or cable modem is that BPL customers would immediately have in-house networks without having to purchase and install additional wiring in their homes."

Plug in a wireless hub or router and you're ready to roll.

Although all of this brings up the next problem: You're dealing with *another* monopoly. Bah!

Re:Time for the Electric Company to Jump in for Re (3, Informative)

iguana (8083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306580)

I am not an expert but from what I've learned working with folks in the US electrical utilities, broadband over powerlines is extremely difficult due to the poor quality of power lines. They're designed to haul electricity, not data. Raw electricity is very forgiving. Analog signals (e.g., Ethernet) aren't. Very very noisy, poor lines, ancient (50+ years) hardware make high quality data transmissions unlikely.

If BOP would really work, why do we still have human meter readers? Why doesn't the meter transmit its usage back over the same lines it's pulling power? Meter reading is one of the biggest costs of a utility company so they have big incentives to fix the problem. Lots of companies try to make remote monitoring hardware but don't get very far due to the poor (data) capabilities of the network.

I'm not discounting the idea completely. Just saying that, in my limited knowledge, it's fraught with practical problems and is unlikely to be a solution anytime soon.

good for them. (1)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306314)

Seriously. As one of the 95% who use comparatively little bandwidth, it's nice to see the other 5% finally pay their fair share.

In reality, though, the bandwidth is only "expensive" to Time Warner if it leaves their network. It seems like Apple could cut a deal where it places an iTunes mirror inside Time Warner's corner of the internet, with all TW users being directed to that server instead of the normal one. Seems like this is one of the problems Akamai was supposed to solve- distributed media delivery.

This is what they have in germany. (1)

ntw1103 (1208178) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306318)

They have this in Germany and it is horrible. I think it is one of the worst things they can do to the internet. If they do end up switching to this method, I hope that some other providers will pop up. Hey maybe they will even use ipv6. I just hope they don't switch to this method.

Re:This is what they have in germany. (1)

Loibisch (964797) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306462)

Actually it will probably take a while of searching to find pay-per-GB plans these days. Also it's not a problem because here you really have a choice. There's plenty of (good and reliable) DSL providers to choose from, plus local cable services are on the uptake. It's easily possible to get a 10Mbit/1Mbit cable connection with an unlimited data limit for about 30 Euros (less than $50)...this includes a telephone line with nation-wide free calls as well.

So what I'm trying to say is: yes, you can choose a data-limited plan here in Germany if you wish so. But it's your decision and if you do then you'll actually pay a lot less...some people really do fare better with such a model.

Excellent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22306330)

Way to go TW! Brilliant! On the cusp of a new era where truly high-speed wireless is set to overtake your high-overhead land-line empire and you, oh Brigadier of the bandwidth, come up with a pricing plan reminiscent of yesteryear. AND, I'm sure the FTC won't put two and two together on this with regard to unfair competetive practices, iTunes, and such. Smooooooooth...very smooth. Don't give the customers what THEY THINK they want, give them what YOU KNOW they NEED. *wink/wink*

This will stiffle innovation and some jobs. (1, Insightful)

jskline (301574) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306358)

There are almost a whole cottage community of people who work from home and tele-commute via VPN into their offices. This; if allowed to proceed, would chase everyone over to DSL which to date does not have this intention, and for those that do not have access to DSL, they would be forced out of capability to work at home.

Most likely, Comcrap and their friends Roadrunning, Timewardoff and the like will ultimately say that if you are using a VPN, you must purchase a business account at most likely $200 per month or more not including cable TV. This will place internet out of the reach of many who cannot afford the costs associated with a price per gig system.

Lets remember people that the cable conglomerates are in this to make serious money at any expense.

Can I bill Microsoft/Apple/RedHat/etc for patches? (2, Insightful)

iguana (8083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306396)

I have a pile of machines at home. If Microsoft's Patch Tuesday puts me over my limit, who's going to pay for it? Am I even going to allow my boxes to auto-update anymore? Thus the Internet Pollution, all those unpatched boxes, will grow worse.

Are they going to count all the incoming connections from bots trying to hack my network? Like an incoming cell call, will I still have to pay for unwanted incoming connections?

If I don't like what they're doing, where the heck am I supposed to go? Back to dial-up? Oh, wait, I'll do my movie downloads at work. Just like health insurance, the burden will start to be placed on the employer. Expect office internet filtering to start to become more draconian.

The concept of competition and free markets in the US is only important until someone gets enough lobbyists. Sometimes this country really pisses me off.

Ahem, "How would you like to..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22306398)

As if I really needed another reason to get rid of comcast... 4GB??? Are you kidding me? ONE DVD is 4.37 GB So I buy one downloadable movie and I can no longer use my internet for the rest of the month? Two words: Suck 'em.

Hey Time-Warner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22306408)

Suck one!

Sincerely,

Jackie Moon

This makes my switch to FIOS... (1)

KesslerB (1233576) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306410)

...seem even better and forward-thinking than before. If Time Warner wants to lose market share that badly, they're certainly welcome to it....

Look at it this way (1)

EDinWestLA (453682) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306438)

Maybe they want to get rid of as many of the 5% as possible as they weren't making money off them anyway, and get the money out of the not clued in types who don't use much bandwidth but were bedazzled by their marketing campaign.

A small plus, and a BIG minus, for TimeWarner (1)

strredwolf (532) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306448)

I can see what Time Warner's reasoning is. I just got my bill for AT&T Wireless 3G service (being in the Baltimore/Washington DC area that's blanketed by it). $60/mo unlimited doesn't seem so bad, until I look at the bill.

For checking email and websurfing about 30-60 mins out of the day, I would use about 128 MEGABYTES of data per month. I'm no-where near the 5GB "invisible signpost" where they start charging me an overage fee of nothing. If I was on 12 hours/day, I'd only get to 1.5 GB per month. 5 GB will easily cover it... ...for my grandparents.

The 3G service I use when I'm mobile w/o a free hotspot. At home, it's a different story. I'm pulling podcasts to a Mac Mini each day, to an average tune of 256 MB each day because Systm and Tekzilla are huge for good quality Quicktime files (500-700 megs). That's 7.5 GB/mo already, from non-iTunes servers! I also do some graphics perusal on Deviant Art and the like (mmmm pr0n), and that's probably taking a fair chunk of bandwidth. Add on some brain-dead decisions by the BBC in not letting us American yanks pay to play Top Gear... ...and I'm glad I'm on Verizon FIOS.

DSL (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306476)

I' just got rid of Comcast internet for ADSL thru my local phone company. The price is lower, the service is great, the speed is great (albiet a tad bit slower than Comcast when it was running right), the latency is low & I don't have to deal with the leeches on my cable node anymore.

Fuck Comcast & Time-Warner.

And the FCC for letting it come to this.

Gotta Love it (1, Flamebait)

rally2xs (1093023) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306480)

Hey, maybe this will throttle the illegal downloading of movies over the internet. Would that it could be applied also to illegally downloaded music files. $10 a pop for illegally downloaded movies or songs would be a great thing.

STEALING is acquiring something that doesn't belong to you without the owner's permission. I actually fear for the future of the country because so many people do not know right from wrong any more.

Per-GB can make sense (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306494)

People like my mother use about 2GB of bandwidth at the most every month. For someone like her, a deal to charge her say.... $6-$8/month for basic connectivity with only 2GB of downstream bandwidth would be a bargain. As it is, she pays the same rate as her neighbor who is a fairly recent college grad who, if I know anything about his downloading habits today from what he was like in our dorm (college towns can be a scary small world), he's milking that DSL line for all its worth. Guys like him are probably sucking down the full amount that they are theoretically able to get from the service, for probably the better part of the day.

He's not a freeloader because he actually pays for his service. The problem is, he is being subsidized under Verizon's business plan by users like my mother. She only uses the equivalent of a few dollars worth of bandwidth. Now no one would go for this sort of business plan with water or electricity if they could avoid it. It is just a matter of Verizon continually adding infrastructure in order for them to provide full 3 or more Mbps to each user, but who pays for that much extra backbone connecting each home?

That's the catch. Per-GB isn't inherently odious. If basic cable internet access were $15/month for 5GB of bandwidth, and each additional GB was sold for $0.05-$0.10/GB, you'd barely notice. For many people, it'd actually be cheaper than paying a big fee for what they get now.

With the larger issue here of network neutrality and preferential routing of packets from specific sites and such, I'll admit that as a libertarian I find it to be a hard issue. On the one hand, these are private companies, and on the other hand, their very existence is due to government intervention to let them build infrastructure. In my opinion, companies built with strong government influence or that are owned by the government should be subject to sanctions in the marketplace in order to protect true private businesses.

Suddenly "free" content is expensive (1)

drdanny_orig (585847) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306510)

Those "free" sites that consist of 90% adverts and 10% content are suddenly fairly expensive to view. Ain't capitalism great?

In principle this is a good idea, devil in details (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306572)

In principle usage-based pricing is a good idea. We do it with electricity. Some cities do it with water. Heavier users should pay more. Lighter users should pay less. Grandma who just does email and reads the online newspaper every day and occasionally video-conferences with her grandchildren should pay a lot less than a guy who watches a two movies a week, and that guy should pay a lot less than a guy running a 24/7 broadcast studio out of his house.

In practice the devil is in the details.

Because Time-Warner can use its Internet-pricing and Internet-traffic-shaping power to steer people away from IP-delivery of movies and telephone service towards its own offerings, and/or use that power to coerce IP-telcos and IP-movie-delivery companies to "ante up," it runs a grave risk of engaging in anti-competitive behavior.

If Time-Warner were a standalone IP provider and they did not provide cable television, telephones, or have any direct or indirect financial interest in those companies or in movie theaters the devil would have a lot less room to play. Not only is TW a telco and a cable provider, but it creates content that it sells to television stations and movie theaters and it sells its content on DVD. If they choose to use their Internet pricing in an evil way, they could steer people away from ITunes and the like.

By the way, if the effective cost is $10 for 1 movie, that indicates that either:
* IP delivery of video is a lot less cost-effective than we though when the true costs are measured
or
* $10 is outrageous and it's well above the true cost of delivering that amount of traffic.

Anyone care to place their bets?

greed (1)

bpotato (1159933) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306592)

You know, they haven't yet explored the brave new world of cable television! There are greedy, greedy people who watch tv ALL DAY! Maybe they should pay extra also. You could have a "3-hour plan" and a "5-hour plan", etc. When did the consumer become the enemy? RIAA and MPAA clearly think that is the case. As does Apple, it seems. And obviously Comcast and Time Warner. I want a company that says "thank you for your business." I know they need to make profit, that's fine. Price accordingly. If you really don't like consumers and think they're all out to rob you, it's time to go out of business (like SCO!!)

how much bandwidth? (1)

PhiloBeddoe (1191205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306594)

How much bandwidth does about 1 minute of pr0n per day use? I'm guessing I've got nothing to worry about except going blind!

5 GB is not nearly enough (1)

QCompson (675963) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306608)

Maybe I spend too much time on the interwebs, but does anyone else think that 5 GB per month is a miserly small amount for the "standard" tier? Restricting customers to such a tiny limit is like moving the internet back to 1999.

throttling at different times? (2, Insightful)

cyberworm (710231) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306624)

Ok, so what I'd like to know about their statistics, is "what times of day are these 5% using 50% of the network?" I'd like to think that tech savvy users do their heaviest work late at night when fewer people are utilizing the network. Myself, I do most of my heavy downloading late late at night (between 11pm and 5am) when most normal people are fast asleep. I'm sure others set up a download and then run off to bed.

Assuming that this is the case, exactly what impact on performance is this having on web usage to the "average" consumer? In my opinon, I'd say none. A better option to me, if their numbers are right, would be to shape traffic during times of day. Say, throttling non http/smtp/IM traffic increasing the performance during the day for "consumer" level usage that many small businesses use for communication or what have you. Later in the day, increase the speeds on the throttled traffic up a percentage, creating a "prime time" for those people who use other services like itunes/youtube/whatever file sharing they wouldn't normally use during the day. Then once this "prime time" traffic has died down, open the floodgates.

Granted an option like this doesn't help with them taking more of your money, but it would be an interesting approach to the problem that doesn't really cost them anything either.

1500 HD movies a month? (4, Interesting)

ls -la (937805) | more than 6 years ago | (#22306650)

From tfa:

one of these gluttons downloaded the equivalent of 1,500 high-definition movies in a month
18.5 Mbps 24/7? I call bullshit.
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