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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 saiga6360 on 1/17/2008 8:57:52 PM , Rating: 2
The part of me that is somewhat of a conspiracy nutjob sees this as one TW decision furthering its Blu-Ray exclusivity decision. I think it makes sense for them to make it cost-prohibitive to use digital HD downloads/streaming from legal internet services. Yep, it is crazy but stranger things have happened.

It would be nice if TW can prove their claims for justifying this move but it is probably not going to happen or even matter. I would probably be a proponent of this move if it means the money will be spent improving the infrastructure but that's wishful thinking. In the end, it is my money and it will be my decision. It is unfortunate that many of use do not have other options, like those folks at Beaumont, Texas I would assume.

RE: Digital Downloads
By jconan on 1/17/2008 10:44:27 PM , Rating: 2
IMHO TWC should provide options for fees similar to telephone companies that provide a flat fee and cost per transaction fee with lower monthly service fee. Then that would be fair. But a single type of pricing scheme isn't fair because it is still relatively expensive compared to DSL.

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