As I’m sure many of you tech blog lovers have heard, Time Warner Cable is starting a test of metered bandwidth this week in Beaumont, Texas. At the low end, users will pay $29.95 per month for service at a speed of 768 kilobits per second, with a 5GB monthly cap. At the high end, users will pay $54.90 per month for service at 15 megabits per second, with a 40GB cap. For every GB used above these limits, the customer will be charged $1. Before I tear this story apart, here are the rest of the details: Time Warner Cable has 90,000 customers in the trial area, but the test pricing structure will affect only new subscribers. The gigabyte surcharges go into effect after the first two months of service.
Now that the very ugly details are out of the way, its time I rant about this idea which is one of the worst ones I have heard since I have been using the internet.
Considering the time of streaming video, VoIP, P2P, podcasts and other bandwidth intensive processes that we are in, there is becoming a strain on some providers to allow these services while still providing a decent experience for all its customers. While I sympathize with this idea to an extent (I know there is a ton of dark fiber out there!), I believe this is the opposite of the ideal solution for this problem.
While I don’t like Comcast’s proposed limit of 250GB/mo, It is a far more reasonable limit than 5GB or 40GB per month. If you are like many people and watch many shows online from services like Hulu or download high definition shows from Xbox Live, it doesn’t take but a matter of minutes to use up a single GB of bandwidth. Depending on the speed of your connection, it is easy to have over a GB of data is less than an hour. If you downloaded large files on a regular basis, this adds up very quickly. I have been known to download over 25GB in a single day! If I was on Time Warner Cable and did this, I would be paying hundreds of dollars a month for my internet connection. This is ridiculous!
While I will admit to being a heavy internet user, setting such a low limit can be very problematic for even the most casual of users. For people that like to send vacation pictures or funny videos over the email, it wont be difficult to bump up against this limit. Any sort of medium to large size files will put people up against this limit very easily. If you download any kinds of podcasts or anything that has large files on a regular basis, this could get very expensive easily. I typically download several GB worth of podcasts a day.
This could be the fastest possible way for Time Warner Cable to lose customers. The service is far too expensive for such a little limit when you compare it to other providers such as Comcast or Verizon. When customers see their bills that will likely end up being hundreds of dollars, they will likely become enraged and have the service disconnected immediately. I know I would! Considering the current state of the economy, the last thing we need is for the cost of one of life’s most essential services to skyrocket.
While for now this only affects new customers, this will change and I guarantee lead to a massive exodus of Time Warner Cable customers to other services such as Comcast or Verizon.
I firmly believe this is the worst possible idea that Time Warner Cable could have come up with and not only could they end up self destructing because of it, but it could potentially cause substantial damage to the already ailing economy.
If Time Warner Cable wishes to shoot themselves in the foot, I wish them all the luck in the world and hope this causes them to bleed to death. There is no room in the internet provider market for such stupidity and I believe that unless they throw this idea out the window, they will cease to exist in the coming years as they will have priced themselves out of business.