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We Won! (For Now) Time Warner Killing Usage Caps “In All Markets” – But TW Press Statements Suggest They Are Still Out Of Touch

Phillip Dampier April 16, 2009 Editorial & Site News, Public Policy & Gov't 74 Comments

5:48pm: John Passaniti, our tech guru, has made a change to help improve performance.  I am turning comments back on now to see how we handle the load.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and I stood side by side this afternoon in front of Time Warner headquarters in Rochester to announce that Time Warner has shelved its broadband tiering nightmare.

“In the face of enormous community opposition and at Schumer’s urging, Time Warner will shelve the plan for all of their test markets,” Schumer wrote in a prepared statement.

StoptheCap! confirmed with the senator’s press secretary that this was supposed to end tiered pricing in EVERY Time Warner market. However, I have just heard from one reporter that Time Warner is retaining the cap in Beaumont, Texas.

Here is the statement from Senator Schumer:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that Time Warner Cable will be shelving its plan to implement a tiered broadband plan in the Rochester area. Time Warner’s decision came in response to Schumer’s and others’ call, shortly after Schumer announced his opposition to the plan. Schumer spoke to Time Warner CEO, Glenn Britt, to discuss overwhelming opposition. Schumer will be working with Time Warner Cable going forward to make sure that any future changes in internet pricing are in line with what the community wants and needs. If the pricing scheme was implemented, it would have raised rates for many users. Schumer’s office has been in contact with TWC, expressing to them the Rochester community’s outrage over the proposed change.

“By responding to public outrage and opposition from community and elected officials, Time Warner Cable made the right decision today,” said Schumer. “I will make sure that any changes going forward are in line with what Rochester’s families and small businesses need.”

Time Warner Cable (TWC) recently announced its plan to switch its 8.4 million cable broadband customers to metered internet billing. The plan would essentially cap internet usage and charge users by the gigabyte. Local leaders and politicians have opposed the plan saying usage caps will cost users more and hurt innovation on the net as subscribers begin to scale back on their internet usage to save money.

TWC’s new tiered pricing structure for its internet service would have started at $15 for a plan that allows 1 gigabyte (GB) a month with an overage charge of $2 per GB. A gigabyte is approximately 1,000 megabytes (MB) and equals about three hours of online video, about half of a rented online movie and approximately 250 songs (at 4MB a song).

In the face of enormous community opposition and at Schumer’s urging, TWC will shelve the plan for ALL of their test markets.

Now originally I spent the earlier part of the afternoon thanking everybody for fighting the battle and hoping this nonsense would now be behind us. But Time Warner has released a statement which hardly makes me as optimistic as I was earlier today:

Time Warner Cable Charts a New Course on Consumption Based Billing

Measurement Tools to be Made Available

(New York, NY) — Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) today announced it would alter plans to test Consumption Based Billing, shelving the trials while the customer education process continues.

Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Officer Glenn Britt said, “It is clear from the public response over the last two weeks that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about our plans to roll out additional tests on consumption based billing. As a result, we will not proceed with implementation of additional tests until further consultation with our customers and other interested parties, ensuring that community needs are being met. While we continue to believe that consumption based billing may be the best pricing plan for consumers, we want to do everything we can to inform our customers of our plans and have the benefit of their views as part of our testing process.”

Time Warner Cable also announced that it is working to make measurement tools available as quickly as possible. These tools will help customers understand how much bandwidth they consume and aid in the dialog going forward.

Britt added, “We look forward to continuing to work with Senator Schumer, our customers and all of the other interested parties as the process moves forward, to ensure that informed decisions are made about the best way to continue to provide our customers with the level of service that they expect and deserve from Time Warner Cable.”

Time Warner has been piloting the S.S. Titanic of consumption billing plans when they announced this mess on April 1st, and here comes the official press release which says they are “charting a new course.” That doesn’t mean this is dead and buried.

Indeed, it now turns out that this out of touch company still thinks their consumption billing was the right idea all along, but they didn’t explain it right! With “customer education,” they seem to believe consumers will suddenly sign on to this plan and embrace it. If that is what they honestly think, they are as out of touch with consumers now as they were two weeks ago. The hated “gas gauge” that nobody wants is still on the way, and from the tone of this statement, they’ve already made up their minds that their plan is still the best, but they’ll “consult” with customers first. If that’s been anything like the Twittering Tweets from Time Warner for the past two weeks, consultation equals “you tell us what you want and we give you what we want.”

Senator Schumer may need to get back on the phone.

However, and this point cannot be understated: This is a victory today for all of us, if only a temporary one. More than 35,000 of you have come to this site in the last 15 days, more than 11,000 in the greater Rochester region alone. You have just seen an example of what can happen when people use the Internet, a tool more vital than some might allow you to believe, to become informed, educated, organized, and effective in fighting back and winning a victory. This is the first battle, and we won it. But the war is by no means over. You are not allowed to withdraw, assuming all will now be fine. It will not.

But we have others to thank as well:

Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY), who remains my hero because he was the first one in Congress to step up, and if anyone knows how to fight, he does. And it’s becoming clear to me that we are going to need the congressman to stay engaged on this issue, because I don’t believe for a second we’ve heard the last of this nonsense from Time Warner (not with that press release anyway).

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who personally intervened and made it clear that what happens in some other test market somewhere will not stand in this state.

Sen. Schumer has a very long history of fighting for the little guy, and fiercely representing the interests of the people of this state. You saw a perfect example of that at work today right here in Rochester. And Sen. Schumer wasn’t content with simply securing a victory for Rochester. He successfully also got one for the people of Austin and San Antonio, Texas and the Triad of North Carolina. He deserves our support and thanks.

YOU, whether you fought this battle on StoptheCap!, Facebook, or one of the other protest sites launched to engage in this battle.

I am one person. I have lived and breathed this story for the last two weeks and it has been exhausting, to say the least.

Some have asked me why I do this. I think this comes from my late mom, who I watched fight many battles as I was growing up. She was among a small group of people that helped fight for and found the Brighton Volunteer Ambulance Corps here in my town of Brighton. She battled with a for-profit ambulance company that tried for years to keep a volunteer ambulance from establishing roots in this community, and threatening their revenue. She pounded doors all over this town to get signatures, attend hearings, and fight every step of the way for what she felt was right. I think that’s where my energy and tenaciousness comes from.

In this battle I, among others, am the spark, but you guys are the gasoline. Without the hundreds of calls, nobody would have noticed. Without people lining up to cancel service, nobody would have cared.

So this is our victory today.

But the war is not won. The good people in Beaumont are apparently still under the oppressive cap. And AT&T has their own little plan in store for innocent consumers. And our neighbors to the north are stuck with caps from British Columbia to Newfoundland. Unfounded, unreasonable, profit grabbing usage caps starve innovation, kill jobs, and retard the growth of the Internet. Until we can convince every provider that there are better alternatives to punitive caps and overpriced tiers, and competition from many providers is commonplace across the broadband industry, this fight cannot stop.

One last note to Time Warner employees, especially those on the ground in these communities. I don’t hate you. You are not the problem. Your record of delivering excellent service and a product I’ve remained loyal to for nearly a decade is a testament to the hard work you do for your customers. And I recognize local management must play the cards they are dealt from above, and because of that, none of this is personal. You should not have to bear the burden of corporate decisions, and I continue to urge every reader here to give the local Time Warner employees in your area the respect and courtesy they deserve.

But let this also serve as notice to those management teams who are simply out of touch with what consumers want and demand. We don’t want caps. We will not accept caps and tiers that require us to think twice about every thing we do online. Usage caps are not a solution to the problem of broadband growth. They are a Band-Aid. If you try to impose them on us, education campaign or not, we will cancel our service.

We stand ready to offer new thinking on ways to manage broadband traffic, through win-win solutions that provide the greater speeds that power users seek, and being more than willing to pay a reasonable extra price to obtain them. That’s a better approach than penalizing every user, and will bring new revenue and even more loyalty from your long-standing customers. We will explore these ideas in the days ahead.

And so, until this war is won, the battle will continue.

Currently there are 74 comments on this Article:

  1. DH says:

    Wooo! We can take a breather until October.

    • chris says:

      People in your area who use Time Warner internet are good for now, but there are still companies all over North America that are either thinking of, or have already put caps on the high speed internet. In Atlantic Canada Rogers already has caps. $25.99/mth plus $3.00/mth modem rental or $99.95 modem purchase, you only get 500 Kbps download speed and a 2 GB Monthly Usage Allowance. Then if you go over it charges you $5.00/GB to a maximum of $25.00. Of course the more you pay the higher the cap, but i don’t know that many people who can afford to pay between $40 and $60 a month just for the internet.

      • diana says:

        it’s $50/mo right now in our area for “just the internet” that time warner provides, and that is without the cap/tiered usage plan.

  2. vcheng says:

    Great work Phil and Congratulations!

    However, we MUST get Rep Massa’s legislation through for all of us a country and society to keep things secure for consumers.

    Yes, it is that important.

    • JCROC says:

      I agree, in order to stop this un-necessary burden on everyone, we need to get legislation! I commend Massa for being the first to pipe up and put together a plan. I am sure I speak for everyone when I say, “tell him we all are prepared to fight”

      But as you said Phil… the “tool” they are rushing to get out is supposed to educate us on the benefit of metered internet? I can’t wait to see this! The only educating its going to do is educate us on how bad an idea this is!

      With today’s economic conditions, this plan would basically start costing people to look for jobs…. sad. I think if the caps eventually get implemented, that the counties and towns that charge franchise fees should charge based on the number of consumers and usage, with an unlimited cap on charges. Might make them think again

  3. Brian says:

    Holy awesome! Now to get official word (And potentially an apology for all this stress) from TWC.

  4. Sunflower says:

    Whoah. You rock, Phil. I’m so thrilled this ‘experiment’ has been killed (for now) :)

    Thanks for starting this site & keeping up the pressure!

  5. Jeffrey_Bays says:

    Now that this little problem has been solved, what will I read about every hour?

  6. Michael C says:

    THANKS PHIL!!!!

    I do agree that now we need legislation and FCC broadband regulations in place to preven TWC and anyone else from trying this again when all the ferver dies down.

    Submitt your concerns directly to the FCC as they are now deciding on a more rigid definition of their National Broadband Policy

    http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/Upload?hot_docket=1012001350%7C09-51%7CNational+Broadband+Plan+Notice+of+Inquiry&Send=Continue

  7. Dave Stumme says:

    Not to see the dark side of it, but is there any feeling that TW will simply raise rates instead?

  8. Corrine says:

    Bravo! Thank you, Senator Schumer, Phil and everyone who helped in this effort!

  9. Joe says:

    Congrats Phillip and thank you. Stopthecap.com readers are pretty smart folks. While this is great news I fear it is only a temporary fix. I agree with the commenters here – we need to keep up the fight untill TWC is regulated or destroyed. Otherwise they will just wait till things die down and try again or come up with some other equally crappy method of stealing. They’ve caused Phillip and a lot of other people to invest time, money, and energy – they are now in those people’s debt.

    Should be interesting to see if TWC bothers with any damage control. Judging from most of their business practices I’d guess we will hear nothing from them – after all their customers are beneath them.

  10. James Lang says:

    YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAA no more caps from TWC we as the people was heard and listen to. This is just one battle of a bigger war. We more then now need the government to place safe guards and guide lines for this market. I feel this is a bigger victory then we can imagined. TWC backing down will give us a chance to free people in Canada from capping and making other ISP think twice about doing caps.

  11. cklapka says:

    Phil thanks for the great spearheading effort here. It is great to know that when we galvanize we can accomplish much. Hopefully this is a permanent decision.

    Thanks again!

  12. cdrt says:

    Is the test in beamount tx also being canceled press released said they are canceling the additional test markets ?

  13. cdrt says:

    Is beamount tx included

    • I have since learned Beaumont is still capped. I really wish I heard from more people in Beaumont so we can go to war down there as well. It just seems like there never was much attention in Beaumont on this issue.

      • James Lang says:

        Sadly I fear they believe the lies TWC and AT&T tells them, they do not know about this site, or they just dont know how to fight back. Even worst they dont care……….. I really hope this is not the case.

      • Oscar@SA says:

        Beaumont is not very tech inclined as the rest of the ‘test’ areas are. There are many older people there and they probably had no idea what was going on. I wish they would have dropped the ‘test’ there. This might give TW the idea once they are able to force the cap on a city, they will be able to keep it. Saddens me to see this happen there… :(

  14. rfike says:

    This is a great win in a long war. A lot of work still needs to be done. Time Warner, Frontier, and most other ISP’s want usage caps to be put in place. A let’s face facts. Most large companies like Time Warner have the regulators and politicians on their side because of the huge sums of money they donate to both of those groups.

    I’m not optimistic about the future. If these companies want to operate in the marketplace they need to be regulated. Yes! Regulation! Just look at what happens when you don’t regulate. The recent sub-prime mortgage scandal is an example of what happens without regulation.

  15. Down With TWC says:

    Great job everyone involved especially Phil. While i’m grinning with joy I know this is only one battle. TWC will not stop as long as there is money to be made. We have to keep the pressure on them and do our best to keep the community informed.

  16. Ironheart says:

    Good to hear.

    Even if this information doesn’t affect me personally, usage caps are not something I want to see becoming prevalent amongst ISPs.

    Let this be a lesson to all other providers (hope you’re listening AT&T!), usage caps are not going to be accepted by the tech-savvy users and sites like this will always be around to try and help counter the misinformation that companies like TWC will try to put out.

    Companies trying crap like this are not going to get away with it, and will lose business (and therefore profits) as a result. I’m glad to say that in this case the little guy won and the corporate entity lost.

  17. Mazakman says:

    From what I can tell they are going to try this again. Lets just say that the trials have been suspended for now.

  18. John says:

    Phil,

    All I can say is I’m so glad you gave us this resource to battle Time Warner’s ridiculous Bandwidth caps.

    Reading the TW press release it seems this is not the end of the fight. We still need Eric Massa to get the legislation passed into law to protect us into the future.

    John

  19. Bradley K. says:

    I don’t think this is victory, this is just them shelving it for 2009 so they can try it again in 2010 when attention is diverted elsewhere. They are going to try to pull this again, otherwise what is the need to go ahead with implementing the “gas gauge” if it is never going to be used?

    • Bradley, every day without onerous caps is a victory. The battle today was won, but not the war. But you have to feel the energy of success we achieved today to have faith in your ability to win another battle tomorrow.

  20. Joe says:

    TWC just doesn’t know when to quit insulting their customers do they? TWC’s caps are obvious to the most casual observer and TWC publicly announces that their customers are too stupid to figure it out and therefore need to be “educated”????

  21. Ken says:

    It sounds like they will be giving it another shot at some point. They still don’t get it. If/when they try it again, all of this is just going to happen again. They’ve already drawn attention to themselves and, hopefully, Congressman Massa will continue with his plan to prevent them from ever attempting it again. TWC are comprised of a bunch of real morons! If anyone needs to be “educated”, it’s them!!!

  22. Larry says:

    no it doesn’t seem like they’re going to give up on this, and the “customer education process continues” is insulting.

    • Oscar@SA says:

      We need to educate as many people as possible before TW comes up with some stupid plan to convince people they WILL save money. I have started to spread the word to all in my workplace. We are all in the IT industry but somehow many had no idea what TW was planning on doing. Imagine what the common person will know about this. When the fight starts for round 2, I will make sure and take a more active part here in San Antonio. Thank You all for your hard work.

  23. Susie Foo says:

    We did not win. They’ll try again. Be ready!

  24. Andrew says:

    Massa said at the town hall meeting in Henrietta that he would have legislation ready in 10 days…

    Let’s hope he has it ready when Congress goes back into session. This needs to be stopped permanently.

  25. Patrick Velyk says:

    I have just received an email response from my town supervisor and the text is as follows:

    “Thank you for your e-mail regarding Time-Warner’s tiered pricing proposal. Since this proposal first became public knowledge, I have heard from several constituents strongly opposed to such a change. I know the Town Supervisors in other Towns did as well.

    As a result, as a group the Monroe County Supervisors Association contacted Time-Warner and asked that they meet with us tomorrow at our monthly meeting. I know Time-Warner also had concern expressed by other elected officials as well, both State and Federal.

    We were informed today that Time-Warner has decided not to proceed with this tiered pricing plan.”

    I have allready responded as follows and strongly urge all to respond also,

    “Supervisor XXXXXXX,

    I wish to thank you for your time and consideration in this matter it is a very good feeling to know that you as well as your fellow supervisors are so open to your constituents concerns. I am extremely happy that Time Warner has decided to “Shelve” there plan to bill based on consumption but if you read there press release I am sure you would agree they leave open a great possibility to once again try to institute this proposed billing scheme. I urge you to keep this in mind when having any future meetings or proposals from them, especially in their future franchise renewals.

    Thank You once again for your valuable time,”

    We must continue to make sure that the process we started is followed through or we will be in this same situation all to soon. Please continue to follow up and support the public officials who have heard our call.

    Thanks

  26. James Lang says:

    I think we would all agree that this is bu no means the end but it is big win. More then ever do we need support for everyone else to insure that any bill that prevents caps gets passed. Keep in mind we do not want a bill that archives this but takes away anther right. We need this to be a single bill and not piggy back on something else.

  27. Dave M says:

    Dig your foxholes- this is no time to take a breather. It is only the first battle of a long war, but it does provide time to prepare for the next skirmish.
    – keep the pressure on legislators to pass regulations
    – press for some agency to oversee the cable industry. It appears no one does now.
    – Find out who TWC is contributing political funds to and raise a stink
    – Be prepared to enlist in other TWC battlezones across the US, including Beaumont
    – encourage cable competition in Rochester for TWC
    – hit TWC where it hurts… considering canceling premium channel subscriptions
    that compete with Netflix and others
    – prepare your own consumer education (trend of real cost of providing bandwidth, comparisons to other high tech countries, what other competition is doing, a You Tube video?
    – find out who is on TWC boards… considering boycotting their companies if applicable.
    – money talks and TWC has deep pockets. Set up contributions to fund our own TV/ education campaign. How about a mass Rochester mailing?
    – create a link to capture other ideas!
    Go get ‘em while they are still on the ropes.

    Thanks to all for your efforts.

    • I agree! I reached out to Entercom for information on how cost of advertising on their radio stations, but have not heard back yet. I think we should start a small organization, and collect donations for this campaign – make sure we get it out before TWC does.

  28. Rob says:

    From their own statement, “customer education process continues”. What arrogance! They talk like we are all a bunch of ignorant fools who need to be taught and educated. If Verizon FIOS was available in this area I would switch today!

    • James Lang says:

      You and a lot of people to, me included. For a few dollars more and faster speed who can pass that up.

  29. David says:

    Great stuff, Phillip

    As a resident on the triangle and broke student struggling to make ends meet while going to school this one problem that I don’t have to worry about for the moment.
    As you see the internet is intwined in the daily lives of many Americans, and we really need to educate the people about the internet and its properties and potential, this battle of misinformation versus fact reminds me of what Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens said about the internet. This wide spread misinformation of the internet that has infected some of our politicians needs to be rectified. We need to get businesses, big businesses, that conduct the bulk of their business on the internet to help stand up against the the content/bandwidth providers. We need to get Netflix, Google, Microsoft, Apple, institutions, linux distributors, to really send the message that the internet growth community does not want caps, and as a user of both windows and linux, not only is automatic update a bandwidth hog, but so is trying to find the right linux distro. Also we need to get companies like symantec, and other businesses to help us fight for fair consumer rights. Although getting big business will not be the only way, with the widened awareness of this issues, more and more people need to understand the principle of the fiber that carries their information from one part of the world to another. The fight isn’t over, especially when you take a look at Japan, and South Korea, where they offer high speed internet at low prices due to competition. Anyway this is one minor victory, get ready for more pushes by the content provider that is the cable company, and stress to online businesses, that when these caps due come in to effect, the first thing they will lose is their business from you the consumer due to some other companies meddling.

  30. Brendan says:

    First off I want to say thank you to Phil for the amazing and outstanding effort in this. Secondly I want to say thank you to everyone (Rochester area and the rest of the “test markets”) that took a stand and took action.

    I ran across this site a few days ago as I was investigating alternatives for internet in Rochester due to the cap proposal by TW. I was glad to see such an effort. While I vote in local, state, and federal elections, I often take a sit-on-the-sidelines-and-wait-and-see-how-the-cards-fall approach to many issues. I’m not generally apathetic but many issues don’t rouse me to the degree of ire that this one does. After reading the information on the site, I contacted the offices of Slaughter, Robach, Schumer, etc. and several of my town’s elected officials (I’m in Brighton). I also contacted Congressman Massa’s office to thank him for his initiative, encourage him to press forward, and see if I could offer any help on a local level. The only people I didn’t contact were those at TW because I was ready to drop them completely, no questions asked, and I didn’t feel they deserved an explanation after their “great idea”.

    I have been a TW customer for over 10 years (cable and internet, I won’t get their ridiculously overpriced phone service even though they keep calling me and trying to sell it to me every couple of months). I recently started contacting satellite companies because I will not only drop internet, I will drop cable if this were to happen.

    With that in mind, everyone commenting on this site is correct. It is a temporary victory. Everyone (myself included) must keep pushing elected officials to fight this. Everyone must continue to express their displeasure (sounds politer than abhorrence) to this idea. I’m sure we will be innundated over the next couple of months with the propaganda machine of TW explaining why this is such a “great and fair” plan they have. Many people will buy it.

    Everyone, do not let up! Keep fighting and express your displeasure whenever and however you can.

    Again, thanks Phil for the amazing effort so far.

  31. T.M. says:

    From what I’ve been able to find online the francise agreements that TWC has only jurusdiction overcable television. I can’t confirm that though.

    I would love to see the community create a private/public partnership non-Governmental corporation with the one goal of providing low cost high speed internet service to the Rochester and Greater Rochester area.

    • Mike says:

      I’d also like to see some kind of community bandwidth co-op, but we would need a lot of information if we want to actually make it happen.

      What kind of equipment do you need to to be able to provide broadband? How much does it cost to run fiber to a building? How high are maintenance costs? What kind of regulations/permits/fees are there? How do you prevent the organization from morphing into just another money-hungry megacorp over time?

      I’m sure it’s not as simple as asking everyone to buy a length of fiber and plug one end into the neighbor’s. Or is it?

  32. Brett Glass says:

    I’m an ISP, and the brouhaha over Time Warner’s caps has me worried as to whether I can continue in business. In the long run, I need to have pricing which is attractive, competitive, and fair, and at the same time not run afoul of any regulatory or legislative constraints.

    The problem is that the lobbyists seem to be trying to make this impossible. First, they lobby the FCC to prohibit flat rate pricing with constraints on usage (e.g. throttling, duty cycle constraints, or limits on bandwidth-hogging activities such as P2P). Now, they lobby against variable pricing (caps and overage charges). What’s left? Bandwidth costs money. A LOT of money in rural areas. And we have to cover costs.

    One wonders whether their real goal is to make it impossible to be a for-profit ISP (or even a non-profit ISP which is not taxpayer-subsidized).

    • John says:

      Brett,

      Really you have to be kidding me. TW made 4 Billion dollars in profit from their Broadband internet service last year (a Half a Billion more than 2007. All the while the Cost for their network and their bandwidth decreased from 164 Million in 2007 to 146 in 2008. These numbers are directly for Time Warner 10k filing which was provided to the SEC.

      TW’s Internet mark up is between 600-900 percent over their cost. I only wish my business could generate even 10 percent of the Profit potential of TW’s Broadband service.

      Bandwidth is ridiculously cheap, currently about 10 cents per gigabyte, and it continues to cheaper month by month, and year by year.

      If Time Warner would have followed through with their tiered pricing a household using 100 gigabytes per month (Not an outrageous number) it would have cost an individual household about 114 Bucks, Bandwidth cost to TW would be about 10 bucks. That’s a tidy profit.

      I’m only glad other business don’t charge like this or I wouldn’t be able to heat my home, provide power to my home, or have running water in my home.

      • Brett Glass says:

        I’m an ISP. I deal in the wholesale market for bandwidth. I estimate that Time Warner’s incremental cost per gigabyte is about $1. And mine, I know, is about $5 or $6. They may at one time have been quite profitable, but now increasing bandwidth consumption is eating their lunch.

        • Dan says:

          Brett, you need to be honest with your consumers. You need to first set your prices at a fair level, then figure out how much speed you can provide with your particular income/cost picture. Then say to customers, listen, here is the price. Right now I can provide x amount of speed for that price. If the feedback is negative, perhaps you create two plans, one that lowers the price, but lowers the speed, and the other that raises the price, but raises the speed. But be reasonable. Set aside a certain percentage to invest in growing your infrastructure. The important thing is that you work with your consumers to get the best speed for the best price and keep them in the loop about it. They’ll listen if you’re up front with them. If you don’t pull the nonsense take it or leave it garbage that TWC is pulling, I think you’ll see that consumer loyalty is a powerful ally. I think the most important investments you can make are in infrastructure and customer service. Set aside a good chunk for that. Personally, I feel forever loyal to a company who provides me with consistently good customer service, even if their prices are higher.

        • mfisher says:

          Brett, you have better information to speculate than us. Is there a reason that you could guess that Comcast is able to provide 250GB/mo for a comparable price to what Time Warner proposed offering 60GB/mo?

          Also, your comment about increasing bandwidth consumption eating their lunch doesn’t entirely jibe (to me) with their SEC 10-Q filing, wherein they stated “High-speed data costs decreased for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2008 primarily due to a decrease in per-subscriber connectivity costs, partially offset by subscriber growth.” Am I misinterpreting “connectivity costs” as including bandwidth–could they just mean the costs of the local cable runs?

          Thanks!

      • Adam Lynch says:

        John-

        Bandwidth is NOT ridiculously cheap, especially where Brett is. His bandwidth costs are equivalent to what it was here in Rochester about 7 years ago.

        Based on what he’s said on a mailing list we’ve both been on for many years, I would sign up with Brett’s service even at a cost that is 3x times what I pay with Time Warner. He’s one of a rare breed that believes in open access and transparency.

        I completely see Brett’s argument, and I would very much like to see a subsidy plan put in place for locations such as his, or some other way to level the playing field. The fact of the matter is, rural areas suffer from the fact that they don’t have a SONET ring looping through their towns, large business that act as a foothold for Tier 1 carriers, or sit on huge amounts of dark fiber run underneath a local interstate. This does have a chilling effect on Brett’s business, and others like his.

        -Adam

    • Mike Fisher says:

      Brett,

      Would you be able to share any of your raw data about costs to help us better understand your point of view? Part of the problem that we have in this debate is that we might not be seeing an accurate number for what the bandwidth costs to actually deliver to the end-user.

      If you can’t, would you be able to make any type of guess how many of Lariat’s customers you would lose if you rolled out a varying 10% to 300% price increase across (presumably) 80% of your population?

      At this point, end users have very little to go with for comparison or modeling. Certainly you’re aware of how little consumer gear provides a comprehensive bandwidth use meter out of the box (DD-WRT aside).

      Thanks!

  33. jon bridgman says:

    Phillip,
    i just wanted to say,from myself, and i believe i speak for all of us, i dont think this stopping of the cap woud’ve been possible without your rallying efforts and hard work on this website.
    You are the man!!!!
    thanks
    jon bridgman

  34. Lee says:

    Road Runner is the only TW service to which I subscribe. I don’t have cable-tv or TW telephone. Last winter, as an early sign of TW’s attitude toward customers, TW started charging me $5/mo extra because I wasn’t a good enough customer.

    Clearly a monopolistic attitude.

    • Yeah, same story here. The problem is, none of us started a StopThe5BucksExtraFromTwc.com site and rallied against it. We just “oh well’d” it and went on living.

      I agree with all here, and we absolutely need to keep up the fight, and net let down our guard.

    • diana says:

      yep, there was no “education” on that little change of policy either…so when i canceled my basic cable (ch 2-13), I was told about this for the first time, and that I was mysteriously being “underbilled” for my roadrunner. so canceling my cable ended up costing me more money a month instead of saving. one of the reasons i canceled roadrunner too. i don’t need the net at home all that much. i live without hulu and xbox live. i watch a little network TV, and i read, which is free. i may decide to get internet at home again, just for working from home, but i’m not going back to time warner. i’ll give frontier a try.

  35. DrPhil says:

    We may have won the battle right now, but we still have to fight the war. I heard that Verizon has 4G coming out sometime…. probably a ways down the road (next year maybe?). Very quick too!

    It’s just very concerning when you are forced into a cap with no other options!

    Lets keep the pressure on TW….. this education crap is pathetic. It sounds like they were caught off guard and threw that out there quickly to make everyone arguing against the cap look ill informed which we all know is NOT the case!

    Keep up the great work Phil!

    ~Phil H.

  36. KP says:

    Congrats Phil.

    I’m not familiar with the language of what Rep. Massa is proposing, but now that the immediate pressure is off, I think it would be a tactical mistake to simply say TW-style usage caps are illegal and that’s that. I have an uncomfortable feeling that for ideological reasons such legislation would be watered down enough to be meaningless. Even if it retained some of its teeth, I can see high-priced corporate lawyers going after it for years. Furthermore, there would be nothing to stop a near-monopoly like TW getting around the prohibition of caps by raising its base rate at will.

    What’s needed is legislation that busts cable monopolies as is already the case for phone lines. TW or any other company that owns and maintains the actual cable should be treated as a common carrier and required to open its system to competitors without the power to influence their rates. When the capacity approaches its limit, companies should be free to compete for contracts to install improved infrastructure in any particular jurisdiction or group of jurisdictions. I believe that this would be acceptable on both sides of the political divide.

    In the meantime, I believe that most people would agree that paying more for higher-speed tiers would be OK provided that the choice were left to the customer. If TW wants more money, it should improve its product to standards common overseas (e.g. Japan) and those customers who would benefit most will fall over themselves to subscribe, within reason of course. But it should not treat its customers as unwilling investors before even spending a penny of its own money.

  37. B for Bandwidth says:

    They just need to educate us on how charging more and giving less is good for all of us…it shows that they still don’t get it. They more or less said they will be back with the same plan repackaged.

    Good luck Time Warner, you are in a fight you will not win.

  38. Scot says:

    I LMAO when I read an article describing users who download free movies as “freetards.” Amatively I am a freetard with TWC I download everything videos, games, software, music. It’s there, I know how to get it and I’ve been doing it for years without penalties. I am disabled with fixed income and cant afford to spend money on overpriced media. My only source of entertainment is my computer with broadband. I don’t want to ruin the bandwidth for everyone else but the only reason I purchased broadband was so I could download higher file sizes. I used the original Napster and understood why they took it away, I don’t complain when someone takes a free service away but TWC was proposing to take away a paid service. Even if I were to stop downloading movies the caps on my internet usage would make the it useless.

    I am happy and optimistic for the U.S. evolving internet community to read only very few complainants blamed us “Freetards” as TW tried to focus the blame. Instead most put blame where it should be placed, the penny pinching million dollar corporation who cant meet simple supply and demand. If a large portion of users are demanding more bandwidth then supply it at competitive prices. I only taken Business 101 but it doesn’t take a CEO geniuses to figure out if the corporation cant afford to meet the demand at competitive prices in a free enterprise market they’ll lose to the competition. I’ve been a satisfied customer so far with TWC but this whole tiered pricing scandal that hasn’t effected my bill in California yet already has me contacting Verizon and looking into FIOS.

  39. Arin says:

    YEAH! Score one for the good guys. I’m not in one of the “test areas,” but am currently subscribed to Time Warner (AT&T’s DSL service is buggy, and can’t get FiOs, or we’d probably be on that). I, by no means, download a lot of things, mostly program add-ons, and even full programs, on a fairly regular basis. Hopefully, one more big push would topple TWC, and make this all history.

  40. techzen says:

    I don’t understand what “tool” they are trying to come up with, there are already about a zillion ways to monitor your bandwidth. I mean I can just check my cisco router for that.

    Bottom line is, under their proposed plan I would have to Literally, I mean 100% seriously here, have to pay over 1000 dollars a month for internet if it was purely pay per Gig. That’s highway robbery. Needless to say whatever price-gouging plan they’d come up with I’d have to pay all of it. Well not really, cause I’d instantly cancel the service, but still.

    I’m addicted to netflix and hulu, not to mention downloading game demos(some are almost 10gb alone), linux distros at every update. You know, the usual.

  41. Leon Wolfeson says:

    S’okay, they’ll just another approach. Deep Packet Inspection, most likely. Extensive traffic shaping (and remember, unless “other” is in the lowest catagory, it breaks the entire scheme) where you effectively need ISP permission to use any protocol at a reasonable speed…

    Certainly they were using too low limits, but that isn’t hat the protests were aimed at. And they’ll simply shift the target. TO one which you won’t be able to hit at all.

  42. Dan says:

    As long as they provide me the same maximum speed they advertise at a fixed price, I will be satisfied. Sure, congestion during peak hours will probably still slow speeds down for periods of time, but at some point I should still be able to reach that maximum speed. Our roads become “slower” during peak usage hours, I understand if internet is no different. However, as their customer base should not be getting that much bigger in this area, they should be catching up to the volume of traffic at some point and making things better. But instead of rolling out that new 50mbps speed, let’s make sure you can actually provide 10mbps.

  43. Aaron says:

    It’s unfortunate that such tiered pricing schemes are already prevalent across Canada, and as far as I can tell there was outrage over their implementation. As an American who moved to Canada recently, I was very surprised to discover the passive acceptance of such bandwidth limitations. It is this type of apathy that provides a sense of “legitimacy” to ISPs who emulate such practices elsewhere.

    • Aaron says:

      Correction:
      It’s unfortunate that such tiered pricing schemes are already prevalent across Canada, and as far as I can tell there was NO outrage over their implementation. As an American who moved to Canada recently, I was very surprised to discover the passive acceptance of such bandwidth limitations. It is this type of apathy that provides a sense of “legitimacy” to ISPs who emulate such practices elsewhere.

      • Dan says:

        Haha – I’m starting to suspect that some of my friends and colleagues are secretly Canadian now.

  44. chris says:

    There’s no secret about me, I am Canadian.

  45. Lou says:

    TW’s new tactic: Shutting off service with NO warning:

    http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/04/25/1237215

    The war isn’t over, it’s just moved to a new phase.

  46. Andrea says:

    I mean.. It is pretty much like cell phones. Everyone is moving to you have to pay for GB for data… (FYI surfing the net on your blackberry) Nobody is rioting up for that. I really dont think its a huge deal and at that price point 15 and blabla, It really doesnt seem to expensive. And I would hope they would have an “unlimited” price per month also. Just like cell phones.

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