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Time Warner Cable Introduces New 30GB Usage-Capped Billing Plan in Rochester, N.Y.

twc logoIn addition to an August broadband rate increase for western New York’s Time Warner Cable customers, those in Rochester will also be among the first to experience a new 30GB usage-capped billing option for broadband service.

The subject of usage-based billing is a major sore spot for customers in the Flower City, who joined forces with customers in Greensboro, N.C., and San Antonio and Austin, Tex. to force the cable company to shelve a mandatory usage billing scheme announced in 2009. Stop the Cap! was in the middle of that fight, although this group was founded after Frontier Communications proposed a 5GB usage cap the summer before.

Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt personally promised Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y) that the cable company would yank its planned experiment with usage caps and consumption-based billing after it became clear Rochester and other cities were being singled out where Verizon FiOS would never offer competition, making it seem Time Warner was taking advantage of a lack of broadband competition to charge dramatically higher prices.

In 2009, Time Warner Cable planned to implement mandatory usage pricing starting in Rochester, N.Y., Greensboro, N.C., and San Antonio and Austin, Tex.

In 2009, Time Warner Cable planned mandatory broadband usage pricing starting in Rochester, N.Y., Greensboro, N.C., and San Antonio and Austin, Tex.

But Britt has never stopped believing in usage pricing, and Time Warner has since switched to a more gradual introduction of the pricing scheme, this time offering discounts to customers that agree to limit their Internet usage.

Time Warner’s current usage billing plan offers a meager $5 discount to those who limit consumption to less than 5GB per month. That plan was originally introduced in Texas and Time Warner Cable employees confidentially tell Stop the Cap! it has attracted almost no interest from customers.

Now Time Warner Cable plans to introduce a second usage limited plan, with a yet to be disclosed discount for subscribers who keep Internet usage under 30GB a month.

“Those who use the Internet for e-mail or to surf the web need not pay the same rates as those who download games and the like,” said company spokesperson Joli Plucknette-Farmen.

As far as we can tell, the 30GB capped plan is new for Time Warner Cable and Rochester will be among the first communities to experience it. Unless the company chooses to more aggressively discount both the 5GB and 30GB plans, we expect few customers will take Time Warner Cable up on their offer.

For now, Time Warner says the usage capped plans are optional and that flat rate Internet service will continue. But company executives have not said for how long or what the company might choose to eventually charge for unlimited broadband usage.

Britt has stressed repeatedly he wants customers to get re-educated to accept “a usage component as part of broadband pricing.” But customers may not accept that, particularly considering the cable company already enjoys a 95% gross margin on flat rate broadband service.

Currently there are 9 comments on this Article:

  1. SouthPaw says:

    Doesn’t Britt understand that the customers impacted most by the broadband caps are the ones most likely to leave, support a muni broadband or private fiber.

  2. Smith6612 says:

    30GB? Here I using 10GB on a mobile phone just for streaming music in a car! I suppose you know what to do, Phil :)

  3. Aaron says:

    I know I’m repeating ideas here, but the Greater Rochester Area is in some serious need for competition in the telecommunications market, particularly in regards to broadband which is quickly becoming the most important telecom utility for many households (people would drop phone and cable TV before they drop broadband internet, for the most part).

    I’m surprised Greenlight Networks does not get mentioned more often as a potential alternative. I mean, a fiber connection that offers 100M/20M up for just $50 per month sounds pretty damn good to me compared to what Time Warner has to offer. Greenlight Networks recently began offering service in Pittsford, NY, and they offer speeds like 1G/100M as well.

    They are a new company, so they do not offer service to many areas right now, but perhaps if more people were to show interest they would be willing to spread out faster. Also, perhaps if we put some pressure on our local politicians to give Greenlight Networks some incentive to offer a viable competitor to the poor offerings from Time Warner or even worse Frontier, we might see some improvements for everyone.

    Anyone have any thoughts/comments about Greenlight Networks and their service offerings?

    • I am going to sit down with their CEO for a future piece on them. I have been aware of GreenLight for about six months, but until very recently, they only had wired up one multiple dwelling unit and were not doing residential single family homes. That is going to change, but they appear to only be targeting limited neighborhoods at this time.

      I’d obviously sign up in a heartbeat, if only for the improved upload speed, which I need often.

  4. Atif says:

    Phil

    I’m looking forward to your piece on Greenlight. I have about 25 interested families in my neighborhood here in Pittsford. We have fiber already to the street in front of our neighborhood. I’d like to know how Greenlight is planning to roll out and what their time frame is. Not much info on GreenLight out there.

  5. jr says:

    Metered broadband, rental fees for cable boxes and modems, more corporate “liberty”

  6. Funny. I moved from Western New York to central PA a few yeards back, going from 56.6k dialup to my school district’s servers to Comcast high-speed broadband service. Granted i pay 70+ taxes & fees a month, but my limits don’t go into effect until I hit 250gigs. Now before you think thats way too much, I DONT game, I don’t share videos or music.

    I stream from pandora for 2-3hours a day, 4-5 days a week.
    I listen to Jazz90.1’s radio stream for 2 hours a week to listen to SoundBytes on Saturday.
    I watch approximately 5-6hours of video from the TechTV replacement: http://www.TWiT.tv a week
    I do my constant system updates from Microsoft and Avast antivirus.

    In our house we have my 6-core desktop; my wife’s 4-core desktop; my APU-based laptop; my android tablet; my wife’s iphone and the kids’ ipad.

    This month I used just over 70gigs, while the last two months extended to the low to mid 100gigs of data. 30 gigs? 40 gigs? Holy crap. If I was google, I would begin plans to target EVERY city where broadband chooses to imploy caps. After all, Google, Amazon, Pandora, Netflix, PlayStation, Xbox, and World of Warcraft all stand to MASSIVELY lose business with caps. Further, imploying caps will actually DAMAGE the internet.

    If customers have a cap and have to chose between using the bandwidth for virus files & system updates or for fun, which do you think will happen? Did you know there are still thousands of systems out there broadcasting MSBlaster and Code Red virus/worms because the systems never got updated?

    Caps not only damage customer morale and loyalty, they also represent a defined attack on the very health of the internet itself! (They should at least be high enough to not make people chose between one movie a night from netflix each day of the month OR all their security updates. Caps are inherently evil. However, because there are those who abuse the system, there isn’t any reason that reasonable caps for throttling at the 150-200 level can’t be fair for all.)

  7. Chris says:

    Why not just get an uncapped T3? Oh yeah, it costs $3000 / month. :)

    Like it or not, consumer internet connections are sold based on certain assumptions about line usage. Most consumer conections are busy less than 1% of the time whereas medium to large businesses will keep a T3 busy over 50% of the time. 50% usage on a T3 connection (only 45Mbps) would use over 7500 GB / month.

    Having said that, I did a quick calculation and the T3 is still a better deal, if you can get enough use out of it. Assuming a price of $3000 / 7500GB / month, an equivlently priced 20 GB / month service would be only $8 / month instead of the $50 / month from Time Warner.

    • Scott says:

      The ironic thing is the companies still need to sell their business lines uncapped, so most the times and in my case I’ll just order the business connection for the same price as the residential connection at just a lower speed such as 7mbit vs 25mbit, however you get full use of the line with no worries about bill shock once you run over the metered ‘allowance’.

      There’s no real value in the higher speed plans when they’re capped, and just makes it easier for them to get you to run over your plans limit and pay $1-5 per Gig after. In most the cases even if you did pay a little extra with a ‘business’ line it would pay for itself if you had just run over your metered limit one time in a year.







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