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Time Warner Cable Installing Metering Technology, CEO Claims Company Not Sure If It Will Use It

Phillip Dampier June 17, 2011 Data Caps 22 Comments

Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt says the cable company is once again testing technology to allow it to implement the same type of Internet Overcharging system consumers immediately rejected in 2009.

Speaking at the Cable Show in Chicago Thursday, Britt said the company has not yet decided whether it will actually introduce the system, but will have the technology in place to quickly implement it.

Unlike some other cable companies with a fixed bandwidth limit, once again Time Warner is considering a combination cap and tier system with fixed allowances for different levels of service.  In 2009, Time Warner Cable proposed a usage allowance of just 40-60GB per month for their Standard Service customers.  Customers seeking unlimited use service faced broadband bills as high as $150 a month.

Customers overwhelmingly rejected the pricing scheme in test markets in 2009, and political pressure only hastened the shelving of the test.  But Britt remains undeterred, telling Wall Street investors he remains a true believer in usage-based billing

Wall Street analysts told Bloomberg News they didn’t have a problem with it.  Bloomberg also quoted Netflix CFO David Wells as saying he had no objection to Internet providers covering the cost of increasing bandwidth capacity.  But Bloomberg quoted Wells speaking on a June 1 conference call, not in reaction to Britt’s specific announcement yesterday.  Further, Wells clarified his comments were directed towards network optimization and traffic shaping, not broadband usage caps.

Netflix is among the most likely online services that would expose broadband customers to potential overlimit fees, especially if Time Warner Cable brings back the same usage allowances it proposed in 2009.

Currently there are 22 comments on this Article:

  1. Ian says:

    Only a matter of time before they implement it. Watch.

    And this way they can say they aren’t the first ones to charge thanks to AT&T’s own scheme.

    • AT&T’s scheme is closer to Comcast. TWC doesn’t believe in that. It wants the fake metered billing scam with paltry allowances: 40GB cap for some, 60GB for others, and so on, all imposed on tiers whose prices have gone up three times in three years. It’s rationing on a whole different level at confiscatory pricing. You’d be better off with AT&T.

      It’s much easier to fight pricing that guarantees many more customers will blow through the arbitrary limits.

      Rochester, among others, made it quite clear they didn’t want this pricing, no matter how much people used. They knew it was a system that would eventually make everyone pay more, a lot more.

      • Ian says:

        what i meant by referencing AT&T was that they were the ones who introduced paid overages in the US.

        In contrast to Charter/Comcast/Cox who disconnect, AT&T lets it slide if you pay for it, and in a way their caps are the same as what you are suggesting – 150GB + more if you pay for heavy DSL users, and 250GB + more if you pay for it for heavy U-verse users. noting of course that U-Verse is more expensive than their DSL options from what i have seen.

  2. Cheri says:

    I am gone if that happens.

  3. Joe Villanova says:

    This guy and wall street simply don’t get it : their unrivaled greed is clearly showing and when consumer anger reaches through the ceiling they will be the ones paying dearly.

  4. Atif Khalid says:

    As we did previously. We will fight hard and win again .

  5. Chris says:

    Prepare the pitchforks!

    I dropped cable like a bad habit and got Netflix instead. There is no way that this kind of pricing can cause me anything but a headache…and a deflated bank account.

  6. Sunshine1970 says:

    I have no choice, now, if TWC decides to move to caps. AT&T is the only other option in my area. I can easily go through 250GB a month with all the streaming media I and my family do every month.

    • zolar1 says:

      Those who use an excessive amount of bandwidth should be either throttled down or cut off.
      They slow everything down for the rest of use who use the internet.

      Throttling their bandwidth seems like a better option. Make it SLOOOOOOOWWW down to that of the old dial up when they exceed 250gb per month.

      I pay for the bandwidth I use and am not getting it due to the bandwidth hogs sucking it all up watching movies.

      Full speed bandwidth for the first 250gb/month then throttle down with no means up removing or unthrottling the connection. That is no unlimited option and no pay for extra option.

      That way the hogs will have to be more prudent and I can get what I pay for.

      • joe says:

        just because u didnt have the unlimited plan (either your cheap or dumb) dont take it out on us. we pay for unlimited because thats what we want!!! Dont throttle us down its bullsh*t! and dont talk crap about us who use more than 2g per month. i got through that a day!

  7. What really annoys me about all this is that besides banks and credit card companies, cable/telecom is about the only business around where -not- listening to customers is business as usual. They have their business model and you’ll like it or go without. And when communities step up to do their own thing to move beyond that model, the hue and cry goes up over “unfair competition.”

    In our piece linked in the article above, you can listen to Glenn Britt’s very own words telling you the company has raised broadband prices annually for the last three years because consumers love the service so much and won’t cancel it. In other words, we raised the price because we can.

    And even with the additional $5-10 a month from us, while their ongoing costs decline, it’s still not enough.

    Britt sees broadband as a commodity, he doesn’t want to necessarily limit it as much as he wants to earn more money from it thanks to overlimit fees and people bumping their tier up to get more “usage.” That is how you end up with $150 a month for broadband, and the last experiment had that as the maximum price regardless of speed tier. So you could pay $150 a month for 1Mbps service or $150 a month for 50Mbps service, constituted from usage charges.

    There will be a renewed war on this and we’ve assembled years of evidence, and a lot of excellent new material from the fight in Canada. But getting these people to listen will require yet another enormous effort and political involvement. They don’t listen to their customers alone.

  8. Atif Khalid says:


    It may be time to start making a list of all who are activly going to fight this. We have a very vocal community here in Rochester and I really think this had a lot to do with the strong response we were able to have against TW. Last time Me and another physician presented evidence from the point of view from medicine. This highway robbery will affect every facet of our lives. I currently pay $100/Month for their wideband service only. I use Dish Network for TV.

    As physicians we can afford $150/month but thats not the point there are so many average working people and students who have no choice and I’m willing to do everything I can to make sure TWC gets anoth kick in the ass.

  9. Greg says:

    I’m glad to hear Phillip acknowledge that the duopolies don’t listen to their customers alone.

    In our last war (2009) it wasn’t until that congressman (can’t remember his name) got involved on our side that TWC delayed their plans. I’m sure I don’t have to tell Phillip what later happened to that congressman….. And I do think it is entirely possible (not sure how probable) that his stand against TWC could have had something to do with what happened to him later. While I do think it is possible we might get another congressman on our side the probabilities are somewhat doubtful.

    So, assuming a lack of congressmen lining up to be on our side, combined with the fact that duopolies don’t listen to their customers and the fact that most Americans are either too lazy or too stupid to get involved what are our other options to fight this??

  10. Brett says:

    Many of you are very fortunate to have more than one option for your ISP. In my location, I have 1: TWC. This ultimately leads to two choices, RR Res, or RR Biz. While I would certainly prefer the biz class for static IP(s), supposed priority, and service agreements, the RR price for biz class is outrageous. I don’t mean just in comparison to residential service, I mean in comparison to other ISPs offering small business targeted service. $300/month is just not feasible.

    This is quite disappointing for me in particular; the day they announce the upcoming launch of wideband in South Carolina, renewed interest in implementing caps arises. Yes, we still are on ancient D1.1/D2 here. What does this mean? Yes, I can stream netflix, but if it is HD, I am rendering the rest of the house’s internet useless. If too many people on my block are streaming netflix (7pm) my bandwidth is halved or quartered. If I am playing a game (typically FPS) and somebody else decides to upload a few pictures to facebook, my game will turn into a slideshow versus a video. QoS helps, but it is difficult to implement effectively when you only have ~500kbps to allocate to various services. Example, a single line of vonage uses ~90kbps upload. 20% of my bandwidth is shot.

    Obviously the most effective way of fighting the caps is to deny them the right to implement them on me by moving to another ISP. However, for me, this means dialup, wireless with cap (or satellite with cap). If they go to caps, my choice is to be with caps or without broadband.

  11. Scott says:

    No CEO in history has ever staged an profit generating implementation without the intention to launch it. He certainly wouldn’t have mentioned it either if it was just something being evaulated/tested by TW engineers forfeasability and merits of their prior setup. He clearly wanted investors to get a heads up on their intentions going forward.

    It’s only a matter of time when TW decides to flip that switch and most likely it’ll be nationwide and not a test market this time so they don’t have to suffer a another focused campaign against it.

  12. Smith6612 says:

    I’m not the least bit surprised that Time Warner is going to be trying this again. It was bound to happen as we’ve all said from the start. Like everyone else says in my area who cannot get FiOS, or even Satellite service from trees (or should I mentioned DSL due to the aged copper?), rate hike after rate hike. I guess they’ll have to be shown again who the boss is. If they for whatever reason do decide to implement the caps fully, I’m very interested to see what would happen in Buffalo with Verizon being the other major competitor, especially in areas where FiOS (GPON, BPON maybe in Orchard Park) is available. Outside of FiOS areas, DSL doesn’t run faster than 3Mbps in almost all areas due to non-upgraded remotes such as the one I’m on, but if it remains uncapped it could come back and provide some competition to Time Warner. Not in speed, but in data usage. 1Mbps DSL can do a little over 300GB a month in download, so it pretty much caps itself.

    I myself am also interested to see what Frontier would do. They service the more rural areas of the Buffalo/Niagara Falls area such as Sanborn, NY and Pembroke/Darien Lake Theme Park, and of course, Rochester NY. Hopefully they don’t try doing what they tried to do around the same time. I know they have trials going on with data overages, but I haven’t heard much about that in a few months.

    If this is all over protecting their TV service, which we all know is probably the case here, you can only run a business on a certain foundation for so long, especially in the technology sector. TV service is moving on, shifting to the Internet in the near future and traditional TV will start seeing a demise when more popular services come out. It’s the same way Dial-up access went when DSL and Cable become available. You can still get it these days, but there are far less options.

  13. jr says:

    If our usage was too costly, TWC wouldn’t have been able to buy NewWave Communications. The media never links acquisitions and CEO salaries when Britt types lie about “increased operating expenses”

  14. jordan says:

    if they do this i may have to dump these assholes.i live in portland maine and i cannot handle paying out $100 and over just for internet.
    this guy is a complete frakken asshole.

  15. PreventCAPS says:


    Rather than invensting in a billing system that you may or may not use, please invest in upgrading your network to support bandwith that your consumers may or may not use.

  16. Dan says:

    I know one thing, if this actually goes through, I haven’t changed my mind in the past 2 years, I will drop TWC. I feel so sorry for people that don’t have an option but let companies like this bully them with usage fees. Monopolization at it’s finest.

    It’s all nothing but a ploy to protect their own services over third party IP technology. 20GB-40GB A MONTH? I can easily go through that in a day or two. I’ve never been a usage fan of anything even cellphones, all which were prepaid and easy to manage and budget on a monthly basis.

    I don’t care if I have to do without internet in-till another company rises from the dust to offer unlimited internet that is not price gouging, I will do it.

    It’s 2011 TWC, get your head out of 2000. You’ve been so good for these past few years, don’t ruin that relationship with something as petty as this.

  17. Tim says:

    Yea there is no “We are not sure if we ever will use it”. There is only “We are going to use it”. They are not going to spend the money installing the metering equipment if they didn’t expect a return on it, plain and simple. If Time Warner’s cap is really low compared to the others, I guess the only recourse is to get a business class connection with AT&T and pay about the same for unlimited bandwidth, but at a much lower speed than what I have now.

    What about Verizon saying they are going to caps July 7th on their cell service. $30 for 2GB ($15/GB) up to $80 for 10GB ($8/GB). Where in the hell do they get these figures from? $15/GB damn, talking about gouging people already.

  18. ZERG says:

    My rifle now has his name, my rifle now has his face.

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