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Time Warner Net Cap With 100GB "Super Tier"

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.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • jrnyfan
    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.
    Reply
  • particleman
    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
    Reply
  • esquire468
    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.
    Reply
  • roofus
    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.
    Reply
  • joex444
    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.
    Reply
  • foxyg
    Any cap is bad, there should be no cap. And there should be more than 1 cable provider at 1 area.
    Reply
  • mikeynavy1976
    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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • jshumate
    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.
    Reply
  • jshumate
    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.
    Reply