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The Daily Star (Oneonta, NY): Frontier To Limit Internet Usage

Phillip Dampier August 20, 2008 Frontier 8 Comments

Frontier to limit Internet usage

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p class=”storyheadline”>By Tom Grace
Cooperstown News Bureau
The Daily Star (8/16/08)
 

Beware, downloaders: Frontier Communication Inc. plans to meter your Internet usage.

Company spokeswoman Karen Miller said Friday that the telecommunication firm plans to limit its customers’ free Internet usage to five gigabytes a month in 2009.

If you download more, you’ll pay more.

“As it stands now, five gigabytes will be free and there will be a tiered system for those who use more,” she said.

Miller said the company, which has many customers in Chenango County, is going to charge for usage “to make the heavy users pay their fair share.”

Asked if five gigabytes a month made one a “heavy user,” Miller said, “Our customers, on average, use 1.5 gigabytes a month.”

Those who use the Internet a lot are a source of concern because they force the company to spend money on its infrastructure to expand its capabilities, she said.

Frontier, a communications giant that operates in 24 states, is now notifying its customers of the coming change: Paying by the gigabyte.

One such customer is Elizabeth Ramsey of Treadwell, who has opted to drop Frontier’s DSL service in protest.

“Five gigabytes is ridiculous; it’s really a backdoor way of ending ‘Net Neutrality,”’ said Ramsey, a retired Time Warner employee.

Ramsey, who has no television, likes to use her computer to watch movies downloaded from the Internet.

“With five gigabytes, they’re limiting you to watching four two-hour movies a month,” she said. “And then, they’re going to charge you more, even though you’re already paying $88 a month for phone and Internet?”

Ramsey said she’s decided to downgrade to dial-up service and get her classic movies another way until the company relents and maintains the value of its DSL service.

The issue of limiting free Internet usage by American Internet service providers has led to the formation of consumers’ groups such as Stop The Cap, at www.Stopthecap.com, and international media coverage.

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Currently there are 8 comments on this Article:

  1. Mike says:

    I’m canceling my Frontier DSL service next week after 3+ years. I work from home a lot, and 5GB/mo is just not enough for me to do my job.

    The irony here is that I’ll also be dropping my landline the DSL service comes in on, including Frontier’s Long Distance service. Without the DSL, it will just be cheaper at this point to add additional minutes to my cell plan and get Road Runner. So as of next week, Frontier will have zero business from my household, all because of this completely unreasonable cap.

    Frontier also partners with Dish Network for TV bundles. Dish Network DVRs have an Ethernet port. When you connect that port to your broadband service, you have the option to “rent” movies online through Dish Network — they offer a couple thousand titles — they get downloaded directly to your DVR via the internet — not via the Dish itself… I wonder if they plan to make Dish a “preferred partner” as well and not count that bandwidth against the cap?

    I smell another net neutrality issue here. Why should Dish users get free bandwidth and NetFlix users have to pay? I wonder if my Dish Network usage would count against the cap because I am not in a Frontier bundle? Would Frontier FORCE me into a bundle to get free bandwidth for Dish services?

  2. Stephen says:

    In Rochester, I dropped Frontier after 6 years as of Tuesday. I had Road Runner and Digital Phone installed. Even though the entire change was handled by TWC, I call Frontier to be sure that the contract was cleared, service canceled, and so that ti could tell them why. The response was interesting.

    I called and verified that the phone and DSL were canceled, to which I was assured. I also verified that I would get a final bill from through that date. I also said that I wanted them to tell management that my decision to leave Frontier was primarily due to the fact that their implementation of a 5GB cap. Secondly I was now getting a better price for the same service of Nationwide long distance and broadband. The response was that they are not enforcing the cap right now and that I could have received my previous price if I would have asked. I explained that I had just renewed and was not offered the old price any longer and that I could not get it. I also explained that the usage cap is stated in their legal usage agreement that I have to agree to. The fact that they have other info on their site does not change that. The other data is not a legal binding contract as is the agreement that I must abide by. I also told the rep that it was not right that Frontier had not communicated this to anyone as of now and that we had to find out through online sources. I was told that Frontier had sent letters to everyone about this and that I must have lost it. I said that I am sure that I had not received anything and was still told that I must have overlooked it because it was sent. HA HA! I guess that I am a liar. Has anyone else received a letter? I think not since I have seen no evidence of that on any of the boards or this site. Maybe they are sending them now, but that is a little to late.

    Those that still have them, be careful. I am not sure what is really going on there, but there is definitely something up with them. I actually had really liked their service and support and have never had an issue before. This is really sad and I’m sure that their service will suffer from this decision. For those that only use 1.5GB per month, they won’t know the difference until the pricing plan changes to cover the loss of customer base that they will not be able to bill additionally.

  3. James says:

    I consider myself an average user…

    I play mmo’s, download legal music, email, listen to online radio, browse website, watch youtube and download the occasional ISO. And i’ve used 3.9 Gigabytes so far this month.

    The normal dsl user, uses the internet alot. Thats what it’s for….

    I just shake my head that she made a statement like that. They don’t care or what to expand and grow the companies infrastructure. Whats next going back to two tin cans and a string?

    I for one will be calling it quits with frontier when my one year term is up. I’m voting with my pocket book.

  4. Dave says:

    We have received no letter. I only know about the cap because my DSL speeds have been so bad (as low as 40k, probably average around 500k, seem to be capped at 1.3m) that I went on the website to see what speeds they were advertising and saw it.

    Also, they keep insisting that the 5GB is free:

    “As it stands now, five gigabytes will be free and there will be a tiered system for those who use more,” she said.”

    Why am I paying $49.95 a month if it is free?

  5. rural says:

    ““As it stands now, five gigabytes will be free and there will be a tiered system for those who use more,” she said.”

    So what are the tiers? How long does it take to figure this out? Are they waiting to see how much the vocal minority complains to figure out how much more they are going to charge me, when I already pay much more than I should for what I get just because its a rural area?

  6. Devon says:

    After talking to 5 customer service reps I finally got somewhere with the last one finally speaking to a supervisor. They agreed to waive the cap for us until May 09 when our contract is up. They didn’t give us an option to opt out with out playing 250 dollars. Which is ridiculous and wouldn’t be worth canceling. I am glad we got it waived since every other rep wouldn’t even help me and didn’t even know about a cap.

    They are just getting information about the cap through there emails and one rep said they still need to go to training for the 5GB cap. They also told me they were getting a lot of phone calls on this issue and they didn’t know how people found out about this.

    They did say they will be implementing a cap next year so after May 09 I will be switching to road runner which has no cap for now.

  7. phil says:

    It bemuses me that Frontier reps are apparently still confused about this issue, almost a month after it was announced. The problem remains the ever-changing story on the usage cap matter. Our own reporting has led me to the conclusion that the company simply did not think this usage cap matter through before implementing it, completely unprepared for the justified firestorm over it. Since then, the story, enforcement, and imposition dates have all changed.

    I am more and more convinced everyday that those responsible for greenlighting these decisions lack fundamental knowledge about the broadband industry in this country and just how much damage such a usage cap would have on their broadband division. Make no mistake. In a competitive market, a usage cap like this will kill Frontier’s customer base. Anyone educated about the usage cap issue will flip to a competitor in a second.

    The company’s new marketing language on their website suggests the first “5GB is free,” which might be alluding to our earlier analysis that, if you divide the 5GB limit by the actual monthly price of the service, as high as nearly $50 a month in certain areas, you are effectively paying nearly $11 PER GIGABYTE, if you actually hit your 5GB limit, including the modem rental fee they impose in many of their service areas.

    So marketing might have countered over there by suggesting that the first 5GB are included for free as part of your monthly fee. That’s marketing for you. It really doesn’t change the facts… it just makes them less onerous.

    As to ongoing problems choosing to head elsewhere, it’s been our experience that you have to keep trying different reps and supervisors until they relent. It’s a good thing if they are willing exempt people from any usage cap, but as news reports have indicated, they are not doing you any specific favor because they’ve put the entire cap implementation date on the back burner, so it won’t apply to anyone until at least 2009.

    Some people are simply outraged about how their business was taken for granted and frankly feel abused by the experience, so cap or not they are leaving for another provider, and I can understand and relate to that. My preference would be for Frontier to see what a major mistake this has been, relent on the cap and forget about it, and use the fact they are cap-free to their marketing advantage, particularly if cable comes around and puts caps on customers (and we’ll be all over them here as well if they do).

    Nobody expects an ISP to let someone max out their connection 24/7 for an entire month with some Bit Torrent server running, but the company can cut those people off under their existing terms and conditions without having to impose usage caps.

    And if Frontier suggests that most people will not be impacted by even their 5GB cap, then why impose it on your entire customer base to begin with?

  8. Martin says:

    I am trying to get Frontier DSL because there are no other choices in our area (they haven’t physically hooked it up yet). But considering that even TV is migrating to the web, and that Frontier’s cost per gigabyte is tiny (I read about 12 cents), this is a real ripoff. Whenever there is a choice, I will take it to get away from them (like getting internet by cell phone). AT&T looks much better. They also make you wait 20 or 30 min on the phone for customer service.

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