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
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.