Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Time Warner Test Metered Internet Usage

On Thursday, Time Warner Cable will begin testing metered billing, which is a major throwback to the early days of the Internet when you paid for the amount of data you sent or received rather than the simple flat rate virtually all internet users currently enjoy.

Internet subscribers in Beaumont, Texas, will have monthly allowances for the amount of data they send and receive. Those who go over their allotted amounts will be charged $1 per gigabyte, a Time Warner Cable executive told the Associated Press.

Time Warner see's metered billing is an attempt to deal fairly with Internet usage, which is very uneven among Time Warner Cable's subscribers, said Kevin Leddy, Time Warner Cable's executive vice president of advanced technology. Just 5 percent of the company's subscribers take up half of the capacity on local cable lines, Leddy said. Other cable Internet service providers report a similar distribution.

Time Warner Cable had said in January that it was planning to conduct the trial in Beaumont, but did not give any details. On Monday, Leddy said its tiers will range from $29.95 a month for is slowest service at 768 kilobits per second, which most of us know is almost unbearable, with a a 5-gigabyte monthly cap to $54.90 per month for fast downloads at 15 megabits per second and a 40-gigabyte cap.

One of the biggest hurdles faced by Time Warner Cable and it's subscribers will be that most users today don't track their current internet usage and won't know how much traffic makes up a gigabyte. Even as an advanced user I couldn't tell you how much actually bandwidth I use per month! However users will be able to check out their data consumption on a "gas gauge" (bandwidth meter) on the company's Web page.

The best analogy would be comparing it to your cell phone, you'll be stuck checking your mins and watching the clock to make sure you don't get overage charges!

The company said they won't apply the overage fees for the first two months. Giving users a chance to watch their consumption and get use to the new program. They have 90,000 customers in the trial area, however the program won't affect the majority of those users. Instead it will be limited to new subscribers only.

If Time Warner is successful in slipping this plan past its subscribers and other cable providers follow suit, this could be a serious blow to many online services. Streaming video rentals, MP3 providers and just about any type of large file transfer would be hit hard. Users would find themselves gobbling up those MB's quickly if they wanted to watch a few movies or download a few MP3's!

Lets hope we don't return to this archaic form of billing. Metered service has been tried, test and rejected. Its not going to be good for anyone except possibly the Cable companies.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:01 AM

    I would like to point out the fact that Cost for the plans doesn't change at all. People jump ship if they throw this your way. Go somewhere else and let them know it sucks. Dont be a Lamb being lead to the slaughter.


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