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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: A different way of charging may be needed???
By grampaw on 1/17/2008 5:13:07 PM , Rating: 2
Ideally, ISPs should have pricing structure as follows:

Customer Charge - fixed monthly charge to cover billing, customer support, etc.

Demand Charge - fixed monthly charge to cover your 5mbps or 8mps or whatever your max demand is.

Time of Use Usage charge - variable throughput charge on a $/GB basis differentiated by at least peak and off-peak daily periods.

Currently ISP pricing is simply a flat monthly charge, exactly how utilities (electric, gas, water) used to charge for service way back around 1900. If you want to see where internet pricing is going, just read up on the history of utility pricing and see how that pricing has progressed from simple flat monthly charges to the absurdly complicated tariffs you pay now.


By johnbuk on 1/17/2008 5:27:24 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like you're suggesting a pricing structure similar to cell phones...good idea...if there was competition.
However, there currently isn't competition in much of the U.S. and I see that as a step backwards- to when dial up was your only option and most dial up services either charged by the hour or else included a certain number of hours and then extra once you exceeded those hours. However, even then there quickly became a number of options for dial up service whereas broadband options are still extremely limited.


By roadrun777 on 1/19/2008 1:31:53 PM , Rating: 2
Couldn't you make it even more complex?

Like add in "mood" charges, because they have had a bad day?
Demand charge? OH! Like if I call them up and demand a doughnut!?
So lets see by your analogy a doughnut company should work as follows:
Customer pays to enter parking lot of doughnut shop, then customer steps out and pays to walk on the cement (a walking fee), then the customer pays to open the door (a opening of the door fee to support door repair people), and then the customer pays a fee to speak to the cashier and pays for each word spoken until the order is complete. Then the customer pays for the order and then pays for the privilege of being able to order (after all doughnuts are a luxury item). Then the customer must pay to get back out of the door and a re-walking fee, and an exiting fee.

YES YES! Your model makes so much sense now!


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