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Time Warner Cables hopes to weed out excess usage with new billing system

When it comes to high-speed Internet, most people take for granted that their flat monthly fee will provide all the bandwidth needed for endless downloading.

Time Warner Cable (TWC), on the other hand, doesn't quite see things that way. Just as Best Buy labeled its bargain-minded customers as "Devil Customers," TWC has its own subset of customers that take the "all you can eat" approach to Internet access.

In order to discourage bandwidth gorging, TWC will trial a new billing system patterned after regular household utilities that we all have become familiar with. Like gas, water and electric bills, TWC will charge customers based on their usage instead of a flat fee.

The move should help TWC weed out the five percent of its customers which it says horde over fifty percent of total network bandwidth.

TWC warns that the network congestions problems will only get worse as more media content is made available online. People today are taking advantage of their high-speed Internet connections to download movies and television shows -- and we can't forget users who often frequent P2P and torrent sites to share/download content.

"Largely, people won't notice the difference," said a spokesman for TWC. "We don't want customers to feel they're getting less for more."

TWC will first roll out a trial of the new billing system in Beaumont, Texas later this year. If the tests are successful, TWC may apply the new billing scheme to all of its 7.4 million residential subscribers around the country.

Time Warner Cable isn't the first company that has attempted to curtail a small minority of its customers from hogging network bandwidth using P2P services like BitTorrent. Comcast chose the unsavory route of throttling bandwidth for greedy customers using P2P software. Unfortunately, Comcast's actions also hampered legitimate users of software like Lotus Notes.

Comcast's actions resulted in class-action lawsuit from customers and an official investigation by the FCC.

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What do you expect from a CABLE company
By jackedupandgoodtogo on 1/17/2008 4:24:44 PM , Rating: 5
It's obvious they're trying to circumvent the idea of net neutrality by calling it "usage billing". By doing this, it allows them to not be bound by net neutrality, which just promotes equal bandwidth rights. But by billing based on usage, they can offer their own IPTV at a flat rate, regardless of bandwidth use, since it's on their network, or continue to stifle any IP based programming in favor of their cable TV services. The act of billing based on usage is equivalent to prioritizing their services and data over others, except it's not controlling the type of data and its priority, but rather how much it costs to get certain types of data, the heart of net neutrality.

Anyone who thinks the market alone will continue to implement net neutrality is kidding themselves if TW's actions is any indication of other internet provider's intentions.

RE: What do you expect from a CABLE company
By Christopher1 on 1/17/08, Rating: -1
RE: What do you expect from a CABLE company
By Ringold on 1/17/2008 9:22:26 PM , Rating: 2
Do you have a job?

Are you vested in to a defined benefit plan, or contributing to a defined contribution plan?

If yes to any part of the second question, then it's quite likely, unless you're 100% in to a government bond portfolio, that you too may well own a piece of the telecom action. With many mutual funds, you have no idea what on gods green Earth your manager may own inbetween quarters.

Instead of making it a concept or political football, I've waited to hear technical reasons why network neutrality is anything to be concerned about. I've heard no such convincing argument why the consumer experience would differ suddenly. In fact, as soon as things got to a stage where such discussion could take place more in the media, the story completely died. I take that to mean it was nothing but a philosophical issue raised by some old-school geeks, and not worthy of public discourse. Might just mean it was too technical, but if it were consequential it wouldn't of died so completely.

I apologize on behalf of "conservative people" if paying for what a user consumes is somehow offensive in principle.

By roadrun777 on 1/19/2008 1:36:38 PM , Rating: 2
Paying for consumption only applies when what is being consumed is PHYSICAL. So apology is NOT ACCEPTED!!!

Here is my boot, now I will help you out the door by using it to gently nudge in the rear.

By kextyn on 1/18/2008 10:09:30 AM , Rating: 1
Actually, they ARE the neutral people. If you have stock in the company then you are not neutral.

RE: What do you expect from a CABLE company
By nbachman on 1/17/2008 6:09:33 PM , Rating: 2
I have agreed with everything you have said. I would bet nobody is going to pay less if they use less, that is just not how the cable companies work.

Also, I think Time Warner, Comcast, and Charter Cable are all the same company. Just go to each webpage and note the ridiculous similarity.

By roadrun777 on 1/19/2008 1:25:08 PM , Rating: 2
YES! You see! someone out there actually has a brain!
A company that is incorporated, by law, can not make any decision that will make it loose money.
Lets look at this shall we?
If by their estimates, only 5% of people create all the traffic (which is a lie), then do you really think that they will earn more money by somehow shifting to a bit by bit price scheme? OK! lets go further shall we? Let's say that 50,000 customers pay 45$ per month, and 2500 customers also pay 45$ a month but use much more imaginary bandwidth.
Ok so do you see any reason to take 95% of the profit out of this model? Because there is no way you could milk those 2500 customers to make up for the looses incurred by loosing 80% of your profits by going to a bit by bit scheme.
So stop already.
What they will do, is charge you even more, say 45$ + 10$ just because they can, and squeeze those 2500 customers with an extra 300$ per customer to make a killing.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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