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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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RE: Digital Downloads
By PB PM on 1/17/2008 4:42:21 PM , Rating: 2
Good point about the time of usage. If someone is downloading tones of files, but not slowing down other users connections, then what is the big deal? Then again, what are ISP charging its customers for? Usage or access? My guess is a combination of both, more so towards usage would be my guess though.

RE: Digital Downloads
By jackedupandgoodtogo on 1/17/2008 7:16:21 PM , Rating: 2
It has to be for both. If the ISP's pay monthly fees for access, and they're capped at a maximum, their monthly fees should also be capped, which is why they can charge a flat fee. If they hit the max bandwidth, everyone would see their throughput drop. But I think they pay less when less bandwidth is used. So that flat fee suddenly has a larger margin (same income, less expense). I may be wrong about the ISP's cost to get on the Internet, but that's why they want people to not use the bandwidth outside of the ISP's network. More in-house traffic, no big deal. More outside traffic, more fees, less margins.

RE: Digital Downloads
By qwertyz on 1/17/2008 7:31:42 PM , Rating: 1
This is just unreal, so the more bandwidth u need the less they give it to u and the hard they try to make it not work.

The world is just going mad and fucking crazy.

So the days of 56k modems and 4 KB/s speeds seem to return more quickly than u have ever think.

RE: Digital Downloads
By eye smite on 1/17/2008 8:19:56 PM , Rating: 2
The only thing I'll say on this is I have friends in Australia who were billed this way by different isp's there. After getting and losing more customers than you can shake a stick at and the constant complaints and most people going back to dial up, they went to the same billing method we have here now of a flat fee per month and this was 3-4 yrs ago. So the disreputable comcast and narrow visioned TWC will have to learn the hard way it seems.

RE: Digital Downloads
By Frallan on 1/18/2008 7:04:00 AM , Rating: 3
Yupp this isn't a new model was tested in Sweden as well - lets just say that the companies soon realised that if they wanted to stay in business they would have to scrap that model.

Just 1 competitor that gives flat fee is all it takes and you loose a big part of your customers. And it is not only the filesharers that change - basically everyone likes the security of knowing how big the bill will be next month.


RE: Digital Downloads
By jajig on 1/18/2008 12:01:06 PM , Rating: 2
That depends entirely on your plan and ISP. eg you can get 200MB, 400MB or 25GB data plans and be charged $0.15 per MB over that limit, or you can buy 12GB and be shaped to dial-up speed once you go over. Uploads and downloads are counted towards your limit.

You have a choice of a flat fee or a fee with pay as you go.

RE: Digital Downloads
By roadrun777 on 1/19/2008 12:11:59 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think they are getting it though. I currently pay for movie downloads, and music downloads, and I also support linux distrobutions with peer2peer (sharing my bandwidth to help a cause). I also share my bandwidth and processor power for folding and other distributed projects.

So what does this do? It makes me pay for something I have already paid for.
It's just a sad way for them to "terrorize" you into paying more for a piece of crap out dated system.
Just look at the networks in any country besides here, and you will see that they have speeds of 1mbit-100mbit for home subscribers, and not only that, when is FIOS going to happen? My god, the price is going to go up to 300$ a month with a plan like that. Instead of offering more bandwidth and upgrading, they are slowing it all down, trying to say that every packet or blip of information should be taxed, tripled charged, and billed to the limit.
They are trying to kill the internet.
Can you imagine if every road you drove over was a toll road? And if you decided to drive faster than everyone else to get to work early, you would have to pay triple the price?
People forget that these speeds are IMAGINARY, they equipment goes much faster than they let on.
It's just a way to milk more money, by creating imaginary tiers and having retarded marketing execs come onto public sites and say stupid shite like "well grandpa john only downloads 10 megs a day, why should he have to pay more?". That is f*n stupid. The comapanys will make grandpa john pay as much as they can without getting a riot, they just want an excuse to make even more money off all the media.

So think of it as a media tax on you. They want a peice of all that revenue they are (and will) make off of movies and music online.

The morons try to make you believe that the only people that this will effect is pirates who supposedly "download way too much" cough cough.. This is a blatant lie designed to make you think you are safe. You can bet they only see dollar signs in the actions, and it's about cashing in on media sales and advertising.

RE: Digital Downloads
By dreddly on 1/18/2008 1:15:52 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, and the other thing they seem to forget is that people with high-bandwidth usage tend to be the more computer-savvy that also influence a lot of the decisions of other users around them.

Everytime an ISP in Canada tries to do this, I end up encouraging a group of other users to not sign up with that provider. The high bandwidth users tend to influence the decisions of other users, and so even if we trust their 5% numbers, the heavy users put up a stink (in blogs and forums) and discourage others.

RE: Digital Downloads
By frobizzle on 1/18/2008 1:25:48 PM , Rating: 2
While I agree with your overall point, realistically, it won't make a difference.
After getting and losing more customers than you can shake a stick at and the constant complaints

First, unfortunate as it is, most markets have very few options. There is simply not enough competition and hence there are few alternatives. When the choice is TWC's Draconian billing rates or 56k dial-up, most people will just suck it in and pay.

Second, TWC couldn't give a rat's ass about customers whining. When Road Runner was first offered in my area, there was a 10 mbit/sec. cap. A few years later, they lowered the cap to 2 mbit/sec., trying to do it under the radar scope. To me and others, the change was immediately obvious. Three were many complaints but TWC simply ignored them. It was only when the telco started offering an alternative with DSL and competition to Road Runner that TWC finally sat up and took notice. Not so remarkably, when DSL got faster, Road Runner soon followed. It got up to the point where now, they are both about 7 mbit/sec., each loudly claiming that they are the fastest.

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