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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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By jackedupandgoodtogo on 1/17/2008 4:49:10 PM , Rating: 2
When something is advertised as "unlimited use", how is that abuse? If it's advertised as "reasonably large use", at what point is it abuse? I see no correlation between paying an ISP for net service and welfare because a welfare recipient isn't paying anything. For someone with a net connection, we're all paying the same amount. Just because one person uses only 10 MB in a month, am I abusing their right because I use 100 MB in a month? That must be a 1000% overage compared to the 10 MB user! I must be a bandwidth hog because the 1000% differential proves it!

And unlike a natural resource, bandwidth isn't a limited resource. It's a constrained resource at any given moment in time. The net effect is simply that someone will not achieve the maximum bandwidth potential. But quite frankly, if only 5% is using the maximum throughput they're paying for (8 Mbps), how is that abusing anyone else's rights if the 95% do NOT choose or need that full throughput? If 95% of users only surf the web or read their email, they wouldn't even notice a degraded service. Heck, I'm sure they'd be just as happy with a 512 Kbps DSL connection!


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