Time Warner/AOL to charge more for cable bandwidth hogs.
April 10, 2002 2:02 AM   Subscribe

Time Warner/AOL to charge more for cable bandwidth hogs. No idea exactly what the bandwidth limits will be, but, according to this article, a tiered pricing structure is in the works. Grrr...
posted by shecky57 (33 comments total)
Christ. This will give ntl ideas.

I think ntl have finally realised that broadband internet access is the "killer app" for cable. Most people in the UK receive digital pay channels through satellite rather than cable or digital terrestrial television. In all truthfullness, Sky Digital is better than ntl digital for TV alone. There are more channels, the EPG works better, the interactive services actually work. If ntl were to introduce bandwidth charges, I think I'd probably make a quick dash for DSL.
posted by salmacis at 2:44 AM on April 10, 2002

Don't most DSL services in America have tiered pricing and bandwidth limits? I hope this doesn't catch on Japan. ASDL providers here now are 8meg a second with unlimited bandwidth for about US$35 a month.
posted by dydecker at 3:08 AM on April 10, 2002

dydecker: you are correct, dsl is tiered and actually here in Mass/USA some of the cable broadband is as well (Charter)
Currently ATTBI is not, and I hope that doesn't change.
posted by a3matrix at 4:16 AM on April 10, 2002

I love the implication that heavy users are somehow selfish and irresponsible, rather than just making use of a service they've paid for.
posted by Summer at 4:27 AM on April 10, 2002

I love how they mentioned "users transmitting graphics files, as opposed to those using their cable modem connections to check e-mail." If all you did with your cable modem was check e-mail, why are you paying $45 a month?
posted by benjh at 4:46 AM on April 10, 2002

If they change their TOS and charge more $$ for greater use, I'd still likely pay...broadband access is something that I'm not willing to do without anymore. As far as charging more for heavier users, it makes sense. If I use, say, more laundry detergent than my neighbor, or more gasoline, then guess what? I'm going to spend more at the grocery store or the gas station buying Cheer or gasoline.
posted by davidmsc at 4:58 AM on April 10, 2002

Well, time to investigate Earthlink's cable modem service more closely...

Is cable modem service really that expensive for TW? First they raise the price by 12% at the beginning of the year, now they want to charge for "heavy" usage...
posted by andrewraff at 5:08 AM on April 10, 2002

Seems like the old hook, line and sinker. Lure customers in with a relatively cheap and fast connection, as soon as they get used to the convenience raise the prices.

Yes, here in Mass, Charter offers a tiered service, however they also raised the entry level from 39.95 to 44.95 last month. Your bandwidth is capped at 512kb dl/128kb ul for that price.
posted by jeremias at 5:34 AM on April 10, 2002

I recently had a conversation with the local tech support guy for about my cable modem. I asked since DSL is going to be here in town in the next month or so, are there any plans to lower the costs? His responce was that they are thinking of doing a tiered service. Right now I pay 44.95 a month for 128k ul/sec 3Mb/sec dl (Ill never get that download speed). DSL charges for the same pricing 128k/sec up, 768k/sec download.

I would hate it if they charged because of all the transfering of files. They better set the limit to like 5 gig a month or something like that.

I think the real reason they want to do this is because people are using their cable modem as a webserver and that is where the bandwidth issue is comming in.
posted by thebwit at 6:37 AM on April 10, 2002

salamcis, we've got the whole ntl, 'digital lunch' here, sadly I couldn't run to BT if I tried, too far away from that exchange. I personally prefer the NTL Electronic Program Guide and the more flexible way of ordering the channels. But yes the interactive content is a bit sucky and suprisingly slow. I know exactly what speed I can get things down through exactly the same box (the cable modem is builit into the set top box) and it takes *ages* to load even text based sites.

But the ntlworld broadband kicks serious ass.
posted by nedrichards at 6:47 AM on April 10, 2002

I have no problem with them doing this as long as it's to crunch down on people actually abusing the service, as they say it is. I'm not sure about all broadband companies, but mine has strict rules about NOT using it as a webserver or filesharing device.

As thebwit points out, that is where the bandwidth is being spent and abused. If the package deal would accommodate a normal user and weed out those abusing their TOS, that's great.

I have a feeling that's not what's about to happen though. I have a feeling that in the very near future, we'll be paying ridiculous amounts for bandwidth.
posted by lynda at 7:05 AM on April 10, 2002

Ok, it's like this. A T1 to a tier one ISP costs at least $700 per month. You want that bandwidth, you need a way to share or eat the whole cost yourself. On cable modem networks where half the neighborhood comes home in the evening wanting streaming porn, a T1 doesn't go very far. That means that either the cable company has to eat the cost of overcapacity or pass that cost onto the client or cut the level of service. Right now I pay for my bandwidth. I get 1.5M in/385k out for $120/mo plus loop including real IP addresses. You want the speed expect the cost. It's always been that way and you still can't sell a product for less than it costs you and make money.
posted by shagoth at 7:17 AM on April 10, 2002

It's clear the "techies" at TW have no idea what they're doing if they lump people into such broad categories. But it doesn't really matter, since their entire business model is similar to playground drug dealers. All that matters is you get hooked, so you'll continue to pay the steadily increasing price for their "service", abuser or not. "All the cool kids have broadband."
posted by tommasz at 7:21 AM on April 10, 2002

I am on RoadRunner, and I have no idea what constitutes as heavy usage. I hope it's something along the lines of 10 gigs or more, even then I am not sure if I would go over it or not. I hope this is to curb warezing instead of curbing legitimate heavy usage.
posted by riffola at 7:32 AM on April 10, 2002

lynda, thanx for that link...I think. I've just read the article and am now considering trading in my Dell for a used abacus.
posted by alumshubby at 7:35 AM on April 10, 2002

AOL-TW folks are already on record saying that they want the average -- AVERAGE -- customer's monthly bill to be $200 by 2007. That's something to keep in mind.

I have read on slashdot that the fee over the undisclosed cap would be 11 cents a MB, which is absurd. My fear is that they are going to set the cap low so that they can establish a PCSphone style biz model... make people pay for a high level of service that they won't ever use just because they wil be afraid of the massive penalties for going over their limit.

Bah. Speakeasy DSL here I come.
posted by n9 at 7:35 AM on April 10, 2002

What constitutes "illegitimate" or "excessive" bandwidth use in an unmetered system?

How does it even make sense to talk about users who are "abusing" their connection when there are no bandwidth limits in the contract?

This terminology smacks of an attempt to rally Truth and Justice behind what is really just a way for a near-monopoly to take advantage of their position.

posted by Mars Saxman at 7:52 AM on April 10, 2002

no consideration for the college student.. bah.
posted by lotsofno at 7:52 AM on April 10, 2002

can't make any money off poor college students...bah.

posted by gen at 8:01 AM on April 10, 2002

Blarg.... that really steams my dumplings. So if you're doing more than just checking your e-mail then you're "abusing" the system? WTF... if all I wanted to do was e-mail, I'd stay with the $5.95 dial-up plan.
posted by Maxor at 8:05 AM on April 10, 2002

so if TW charges too much then don't use the service. it ain't like there's a right to broadband--the company offers a service, if the cost is too much then go elsewhere or find an alternative......i mean, i'm not all that happy with the way Time Warner has let my cable TV bills grow at a much faster rate than inflation, but if it gets to the point where i truly think it's a ripoff then i'll pull the plug. that's capitalism.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 8:13 AM on April 10, 2002

I think the real reason they want to do this is because people are using their cable modem as a webserver and that is where the bandwidth issue is comming in.

Don't many block port 80? I believe Adelphia does.
posted by adampsyche at 8:15 AM on April 10, 2002

n9 said "AOL-TW folks are already on record saying that they want the average -- AVERAGE -- customer's monthly bill to be $200 by 2007. That's something to keep in mind."

Keep in mind when they said that, that includes everything - cable tv, cable modem, and phone line. Figure they want the average person on digital cable which right now is like $80 a month, plus my cable modem which is $45 a month, and my phone (through ameritech) is $30 a month. So that is $155 a month, so their estimate of $200 isn't all that off.
posted by thebwit at 8:30 AM on April 10, 2002

so if TW charges too much then don't use the service. it ain't like there's a right to broadband

Blah, blah, blah...this argument is so tired and specious...it is perfectly legitimate to discuss and deride bad corporate policy without being shouted at to "vote with your dollar," which is obviously the last resort. The truth is that often companies DO respond to customer/consumer feedback, and therefore it is in our best interest to provide same. LOUDLY.
posted by rushmc at 8:34 AM on April 10, 2002

I am already paying AOLTW $100+ for digital cable and broadband, so I can see how easily that can creep up to $200 by 2007.
posted by riffola at 8:35 AM on April 10, 2002

Keep in mind when they said that, that includes everything - cable tv, cable modem, and phone line

Well, hey. That doesn't sound too bad. I pay $140 a month now in combined cable tv and internet fees. Cable plan is around $80, broadband around $40, taxes and fees for everything imaginable around $20. Not ready to hand over my phone to a new digital system by AT&T, but with everything, $200 would be fine.
posted by lynda at 8:40 AM on April 10, 2002

Doesn't Moore's Law apply to data transfer? I was counting on 100meg/sec running my computer, TV and phone for $15 by 2007.
posted by dydecker at 8:50 AM on April 10, 2002

If one home or business is using its connection to transfer large amounts of data, performance for all other homes or businesses that rely on the same access pipe is affected.

If they are serious about doing this tiered system - the most fair way to do it is to use a 'demand pricing' structure. A guy who sets his computer to download his daily porn requirement from newsgroups at 3AM shouldn't be paying the same amount for service as the guy who downloads it all at 6PM.

If the issue is that heavy users affect performance for others, then the fees damn well better be tied to how your usage affects others - not just some raw bandwidth count.
posted by schlyer at 8:55 AM on April 10, 2002

One thing to keep in mind here with the one person can bring everyone else's connection down debate.

With cable modems, everyone shares a connection to the port on the back bone for their node. (Straight from my cable modem tech guy)

With DSL, one person doesn't affect your speed per-say because you have a dedicated line to the company and then everyone shares that line from the company port to the back bone.

So if you are thinking that DSL is a steady faster, you could be wrong. Just something I found out while reading more about this stuff.
posted by thebwit at 9:10 AM on April 10, 2002

rushmc, i didn't mean to imply that carping about the policy was in any way an illegitimate undertaking. i just personally think that the horrified cries of "ohmigod i can't go back to dial up!" are sort of humorous. TW charges a certain fee for the service, so i feel like people should pony up if they really want it or use the cheaper means if it isn't. it's just a standard economic trade off.....

but you're absolutely right about the complaining being a useful means of providing companies with feedback, so carp all you want. Though i doubt the Time-Warner execs are reading MeFi.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 10:13 AM on April 10, 2002

If I use, say, more laundry detergent than my neighbor, or more gasoline, then guess what? I'm going to spend more at the grocery store or the gas station buying Cheer or gasoline.

Except that if you go to Exxon and try to put $2 of gas in your car, they're not going to refuse to sell it to you by saying, "Sorry Mac, minimum charge is $30 for everyone, no matter how little you take." AOLTW's simply creating a tiered system, that may or may not be fair in the end. We have no idea, because they won't tell us where the cutoff point will be or how much extra the high-end tier will cost. $5/mo? I could live with that, especially if it included the sorts of things you ought to have been allowed in the first place, like running your own web and mail servers (within reason) instead of being treated as a potential "bandiwdth criminal" and being forced to use their substandard, overloaded servers instead. If it's going to be something stupid like $30 extra/mo for daring to go from 4.9GB/mo to 5.1GB, while still being disallowed from even receiving your own email without going through their "approved" servers, then they're going to hear from customers in spades.
posted by aaron at 12:12 PM on April 10, 2002

The problem is that companies like TW/Verison are quickly becoming the only companies that many subscribers can use. They put more permissive providers out of business, more or less and now they are changing the nature of their services. The big question is this: Is this some suit's trick to make 30% more money off of existing infrastructure or is this a reasonable wrangling of rogue users who are actually causing probelms? My segment of the RoadRunner net is actually quite fast -- 200-400 k/sec (kilobyte) and 30k/sec upload. I frequently copy large (read 4GB) audio projects off of a friends DSL connected server. His upload speed is throttled down so I'm not hurting anyone for bandwidth and my downloads take a day or so, but I might end up getting hit with big fees when 20-30 people's pron downloading from 7-10pm might end up being a couple hundred megs each -- they might fuck up the service for me, but I'm an old hand at using a network responsibly.
posted by n9 at 12:39 PM on April 10, 2002

Let's also consider that if you have a shared connection (read LAN , cable modem) sooner or later you're going to suffer traffic jams.

Later rather then soon, because the number of "heavy users" is usually only a fraction of the number of paying users. it is true that they take more resources, but they're also your best customer that will never leave your company unless

1) you give them prices that are not compatible with their
2) another company offers them a better deal

but point 2 is uncommon given that the "heavy user" doesn't trust a new provider as much as the old,reliable one he/she is subscribing to.

So a little rise of price is possible, but it must be negligible otherwise the customer will really start looking around for other business.

Also we should consider that it's already possible to transfer more then a terabyte/second on fiber optics with proper equipment, so there isn't really a scarcity of bandwidth, but there isn't much video on demand (huge bandwidth hog) ongoing or other heavy bandwidth applications that are COMMONLY used.

So while the companies are waiting for content providers to explode, they should sell the excess bandwidth they have , not raise their prices. They can't offer a better service because the only service they offer is a data connection ,whose quality is measured only by average transfer rate and average latency.

Raising prices is a good way to give large carrier companies the opportunity to kick medium carriers butts once and forever ; do they want to stay in business or just want a quick profit, if any, a-la Enron way ?
posted by elpapacito at 5:23 PM on April 10, 2002

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