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Time Warner Net Cap With 100GB "Super Tier"

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 86 comments

Time Warner Cable is planning to roll out new internet service trials that would limit monthly usage to 40 GB, a restriction that has many customers livid.

Time Warner Cable is planning to roll out new internet service trials that would limit monthly usage to 40 GB, a restriction that has many customers livid.

Time Warner Cable, which owns the Road Runner internet service, will this month begin monitoring the activity of its customers in select cities in Texas, North Carolina and New York in preparation of a rollout of new monthly plans with bandwidths limit starting at 5 GB for the entry level $29.95 fee all the way to 40 GB for $54.90.

The proposed plans have customers lighting torches and reaching for pitch forks, but TWC’s COO Landel Hobbs is now responding to the crowd in an open letter.

“Some accounts have even characterized our plans as punitive. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Hobbs wrote. “With regard to consumption-based billing, we have determined that as broadband usage and penetration grow, there are increasing differences in the amount of bandwidth our customers consume.”

Current Time Warner Cable internet service charges customers the same rate whether one uses it just for email or full blown movie watching. Hobbs says that this is unfair and not the way most users want to pay for goods that they consume.

Hobbs posed, “When you go to lunch with a friend, do you split the bill in half if he gets the steak and you have a salad?”

For that reason, Time Warner Cable plans to different pricing tiers with bandwidth caps at 5, 10, 20 and 40 GB, and overflow charged at $1 per GB. The company plans to roll out a monitoring tool so that customers may track their usage.

Due to the customer backlash, Hobbs revealed that the company is now developing a “super tier” (with appropriately super pricing).

“We have heard customer feedback, and understand that a 40 GB tier seems low to heavy Internet users,” Hobbs said. “We are developing a ‘super - tier’ now that allows for up to 100 GB of broadband usage per month in all of our test markets. We haven't confirmed pricing details as of this moment, but you have my word as Chief Operating Officer of Time Warner Cable that we will make this tier available to our customers.”

While a 100 GB cap sounds much more reasonable and usable than 40 GB, those who have the option of Comcast will see that company’s 250 GB cap even more reasonable and usable.

Hobbs does say that the Time Warner Cable plans aren’t set in stone and that there could be changes made to accommodate different types of usage. “I am convening a series of meetings this week to develop plans that will allow customers to choose among tiers that provide tradeoffs between speed and consumption,” he revealed. “If one family prefers to have lower download speeds but a higher data tier, or vice-versa, we want them to be able to make that choice.”

Hobbs adds that he believes that such plans are not only fair to the consumer, but will encourage more use of broadband overall. We’re not quite sure how setting limits on a service can encourage use, but Time Warner Cable is eager to hear what you have to think at realideas@twcable.com.

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  • 18 Hide
    esquire468 , April 8, 2009 3:10 PM
    Quote:
    Hobbs posed, “When you go to lunch with a friend, do you split the bill in half if he gets the steak and you have a salad?”


    Bad analogy. A more appropriate analogy would be for an "all you can eat buffet". If I am fixed at $40 per month for my internet, I am stuck at that price regardless of whether I order the salad (say 5 GB of usage) or the steak (100 GB of usage). Same goes for a buffet. I pay the same price regarless of how much I eat. The only difference is now TW wants to not only fix the price but also limit the number of return trips to the buffet line.
  • 11 Hide
    joex444 , April 8, 2009 3:12 PM
    Consider for a moment that current TWC customers have been enjoying unlimited bandwidth consumption privileges (apparently its not a right, even when no metering is explicity mentioned in the contract) for quite some time.

    Did TWC get complaints from the light users (who probably belong on DSL) that they felt it was unfair they are being charged so much for their low usage while others can use all they want (which is also the light users privilege at the time)?

    The way TWC should act, IF they have the best interest of their users in mind, is to create metered tiers and leave their current scheme in place.

    What I'm talking about here is keeping an unlimited $45/mo plan with the same speeds. Then you add in a 40GB/mo plan for $25/mo, with the same speeds to draw customers away from DSL (more customers = more revenue no matter how you look at it). And finally offer a "Super-Tier" with double the speeds for $65/mo.

    If there is ANYTHING at all we should be learning from this and the Comcast cap is that we need to destroy the ARTIFICIAL monopolies given to the cable companies by our government. It's absurd that we can't have competition. And they have shown time and time again that they do not care about their customers interests and instead are simply greedy corporations with the honesty to rival a shady car dealer or a credit card scammer.
  • 10 Hide
    foxyg , April 8, 2009 3:15 PM
    Any cap is bad, there should be no cap. And there should be more than 1 cable provider at 1 area.
Other Comments
  • 9 Hide
    jrnyfan , April 8, 2009 2:54 PM
    I never thought I would be saying this and forgive such blasphemy but...I'm glad I have Comcast over this stupidity from Time Warner. They have been screwing their customers since the days of dial-up AOL and I feel bad for the people caught in their web of lies because that is the only internet access they can have at a bearable cost or at all.
  • -6 Hide
    particleman , April 8, 2009 3:10 PM
    The only way I could see this as good......is make a plan that has a per GB charge. So if one month I use alot less internet......I save money. Personally I use alot of internet...so a flat rate to me works better.....but a pay as you go internet would work for my parents....and save them the $45 a month charge for just surfing the net and emails.

    Cheers,

    -ParticleMan
  • 18 Hide
    esquire468 , April 8, 2009 3:10 PM
    Quote:
    Hobbs posed, “When you go to lunch with a friend, do you split the bill in half if he gets the steak and you have a salad?”


    Bad analogy. A more appropriate analogy would be for an "all you can eat buffet". If I am fixed at $40 per month for my internet, I am stuck at that price regardless of whether I order the salad (say 5 GB of usage) or the steak (100 GB of usage). Same goes for a buffet. I pay the same price regarless of how much I eat. The only difference is now TW wants to not only fix the price but also limit the number of return trips to the buffet line.
  • 6 Hide
    roofus , April 8, 2009 3:11 PM
    Dont be too glad. Comcast will be doing the same thing. They are quietly watching and see how it goes. They certainly do not care about a bad image per say but will be watching to see if TWC customer base shrinks to see how they proceed.
  • 11 Hide
    joex444 , April 8, 2009 3:12 PM
    Consider for a moment that current TWC customers have been enjoying unlimited bandwidth consumption privileges (apparently its not a right, even when no metering is explicity mentioned in the contract) for quite some time.

    Did TWC get complaints from the light users (who probably belong on DSL) that they felt it was unfair they are being charged so much for their low usage while others can use all they want (which is also the light users privilege at the time)?

    The way TWC should act, IF they have the best interest of their users in mind, is to create metered tiers and leave their current scheme in place.

    What I'm talking about here is keeping an unlimited $45/mo plan with the same speeds. Then you add in a 40GB/mo plan for $25/mo, with the same speeds to draw customers away from DSL (more customers = more revenue no matter how you look at it). And finally offer a "Super-Tier" with double the speeds for $65/mo.

    If there is ANYTHING at all we should be learning from this and the Comcast cap is that we need to destroy the ARTIFICIAL monopolies given to the cable companies by our government. It's absurd that we can't have competition. And they have shown time and time again that they do not care about their customers interests and instead are simply greedy corporations with the honesty to rival a shady car dealer or a credit card scammer.
  • 10 Hide
    foxyg , April 8, 2009 3:15 PM
    Any cap is bad, there should be no cap. And there should be more than 1 cable provider at 1 area.
  • 4 Hide
    mikeynavy1976 , April 8, 2009 3:21 PM
    I currently have Time Warner but am moving in a few months. Can someone please tell me if there's a web site that I can punch in an address or zip code and see what cable provider services it? I'll definitely be looking for a place that either has a non-TWC provider, has Verizon FIOS or ATT U-verse, or allows for satellite dishes.
  • 7 Hide
    Anonymous , April 8, 2009 3:28 PM
    No matter how you spin it, the customers see this as a way to nickel and dime us even more as we are turning to other services available online rather than paying for your cable subscription.



    If Time Warner implements consumption-based billing, I will be forced to cancel service and urge everyone I come in contact with to do the same.



    My options for an ISP are limited, which Time Warner is aware of. I will switch to AT&T, and if they implement a similar system, I’ll forego Internet access altogether rather than be restricted by consumption of bandwidth.



    I urge you to think about the long-term profit loss you’ll incur with this system. I believe you’re going to lose a lot more customers than you are anticipating.
  • 9 Hide
    jshumate , April 8, 2009 3:39 PM
    The sole reason for the cap is to preserve the cable companie's market share in direct to home entertainment. More and more streaming content is becoming available from netflix, hulu, tv network websites, etc. and is being delivered right through cable's pipelines. Obviously they don't want consumers to have an alternative to cable tv service. So they just slap some cost barriers on that content under the guise of fair usage policy.
  • 0 Hide
    jshumate , April 8, 2009 3:39 PM
    The sole reason for the cap is to preserve the cable companie's market share in direct to home entertainment. More and more streaming content is becoming available from netflix, hulu, tv network websites, etc. and is being delivered right through cable's pipelines. Obviously they don't want consumers to have an alternative to cable tv service. So they just slap some cost barriers on that content under the guise of fair usage policy.
  • 4 Hide
    duckmanx88 , April 8, 2009 3:40 PM
    damn esquire has it down perfectly. this cap is so ridiculously lame.i mean 5GB is nothing. heck if you reformat your computer and download updates and necessary programs you may have already gone through 1GB. just one hd movie on itunes is 3.5 GB.

    im sending them an email thats for sure.
  • 1 Hide
    truehighroller , April 8, 2009 3:44 PM
    I again say I have their turbo service and if they continue down this road, I will drop them like a bad habit on New Years. I work at home once a week and use a soft phone and that uses some bandwidth alone I am sure. Plus I like watching videos through hulu you tube and what not. I will not be paying them more money to use their service period. Time Warner's excuse (spin) = FAIL!
  • 3 Hide
    tayb , April 8, 2009 3:49 PM
    Fuck off Time Warner. I already canceled my service and moved to Fios. Never again will I use your company.

    Oh by the way at least two dozen of my friends and co-workers in the Austin area have switched to Fios as well. I wonder how many scenarios like this have played out across the nation.

    TV (HD, DVR) + Phone + 2nd tier Internet = $140 a month. $140 *24 (ish) = $3,360 * 24 months = $80,640. Just walked out of your revenue charts for the next two years.

    Voting with your wallets is a great thing. Anyone I know who has Time Warner will be heavily persuaded to drop them.
  • 7 Hide
    Hatecrime69 , April 8, 2009 3:49 PM
    Well at least somebody can make comcast look good :p 
  • 9 Hide
    tayb , April 8, 2009 4:03 PM
    That is a great story there WyomingKnott but what you fail to realize is that these companies have been refusing, for years, to upgrade their services to accommodate more people and more usage. Over in Japan I can get an internet service 10 times faster than anything Time Warner offers consumers for half of the "premium" service Time Warner offers.

    Had they spent money upgrading their lines and speeding up service overall they wouldn't have to be handing out bandwidth caps. The bandwidth caps themselves are just another excuse for Time Warner to be a lazy company and do absolutely nothing in terms of upgrades. More people want more speed so instead of giving them that speed they are introducing bandwidth caps so they can continue to add more customers without significant infrastructure upgrades.

    Time Warner is just a shitty company.
  • 7 Hide
    timswar , April 8, 2009 4:04 PM
    If this comes to Raleigh I will switch services immediately. My biggest use is Netflix streaming, and I have a feeling I'd break that 5gig limit pretty quickly. I'm currently paying 30 a month and have zero desire to pay double (for the slightly more reasonable 40gig) for lesser service. If I have to downgrade to DSL or some other setup I'd rather do that than put up with capping.
  • -4 Hide
    antilycus , April 8, 2009 4:14 PM
    im curious as to how TW is going to handle the OVERAGES. If I go 6GB and lose my internet service, you better not cut me off, you better let me know via email and let me konw that I will be moved up teirs for that month and will go back down to my default tier next month.
  • -7 Hide
    antilycus , April 8, 2009 4:21 PM
    and if you dont like it QUIT YOUR SERVICE. THATS THE ONLY WAY THINGS WILL STAY THE SAME, IS IF TW STARTS LOOSING A BUNCH OF CUSTOMERS/MONEY. But lets face it you arent really willing to take the time to xfer internet and email accounts, so TW will totally get away with this.
  • 2 Hide
    mustwarnothers , April 8, 2009 4:28 PM
    Just another example of the greasy corporate swine sucking every cookie and crumb they can from their consumers.

    My girlfriend and I just moved into an Apartment with a 1 year lease, so we opted for Time Warners "TV Phone Internet" package, which was 29.95 for each, for 1 year.

    If they institute anything like this nearby, I'll be more than happy to take advantage of Verizon's 100 dollar package with all three services.

    I have the option of Time Warner, Verizon Fios (just recently), Optimum and the very minimum.

    Try and fuck me and you lose my business, it's quite simple.
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