Hey Time Warner Cable … fuck you.
Web users, the meter is running. In a strategy that’s likely to rankle consumers but be copied by competitors, Time Warner Cable (TWC) is pressing ahead with a plan to charge Internet customers based on how much Web data they consume. Starting next month, the company will introduce tiered pricing in several markets.
In the case of Time Warner Cable, customers will be charged from $29.95 to $54.90 a month, based on data consumption and desired connection speed. Customers will be charged $1 for each gigabyte (GB) over their plan’s cap. Time Warner Cable offers four cap levels of 5, 10, 20, and 40 GB.
40GB as the top tier? Assuming I want to watch my Netflix and grab my typical monthly email load, I’ll be over 40GB in the first month. And that’s not even talking about any torrent joy, which of course I would never do, particularly with full DVD rips at 8.4GB each.
Those are some bullshit tiers, with ridiculously low data limits. If your infrastructure is that loaded, buy some new switches, but 40GB? You are seriously abusing your near monopoly control over broadband access. In theory, I have no problem with tiering for high usage users in a realm of areas, but (assuming arguendo that it applies here, which it does not), you can’t set the range from retirees checking their email accounts to retirees who know what a computer is checking their email and expect that to fly. (Note: I’m assuming there are provisions for libraries and other public places which will be exempted or otherwise not gouged. Home offices and nonprofits are fucked though.)
The problem is that the internet doesn’t get clogged by people sucking from the pipe too much – that’s a meatspace analogy that does not hold up in this realm (caveat: I’m greatly simplifying here). Instead all of the costs for providing bandwidth are done up front with the purchase of the routers, switches, and the like. After that, it does not matter if a billion bits or no bits are coming through – the cost to the business is the same. Now, the only time a cap is relevant is if you are constantly maxing out your equipment. In the real world, too much demand is a good thing – you’re popular, you have more people signing on, you buy more retail space to accommodate your customer base. TWC apparently thinks high capacity = a problem of too many customers. Are we sure the GM folk did not just transition over?
Long story much shorter: I think this is a bald play by TWC to try and effectively get around the Net Neutrality issue via pricing rather than packet filtering. Now instead of locking their users into walled gardens technologically (want to see your hidef Hulu? Sign up with AOL!), they’ll do it with a pricing tier (want to see your hidef Hulu? Sign up with our fancy broadband tier!). I don’t think their plan will accomplish what they think it will and will instead have significant regressive effects and/or opting for other broadband options.
So… say hello to (the reportedly bad) AT&T UVerse, possibly Direct TV … no on Clearwire in Austin … jesus, this country’s broadband infrastructure is pathetic. Just pathetic. We pay more for less than anywhere else. Just like healthcare. Fuck you, TWC.
Have I mentioned that tiered usage is an obsolete business model that has no place in the 21st century internet, where people are downloading the Daily Show while podcasting their analysis of the simulcast highdef All the Single Ladies danceoffs? I did? Oh.
Update: Oh hells, yes. Suck it, Time Warner! You surrendicans!
Time Warner Cable has shelved plans to test consumption-based billing until it can improve its “customer education process,” the company announced Thursday.
“It is clear from the public response over the last two weeks that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about our plans to roll out additional tests on consumption based billing,” Time Warner CEO Glen Britt said in a statement. “As a result, we will not proceed with implementation of additional tests until further consultation with our customers and other interested parties, ensuring that community needs are being met.”