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New Product Lets Broadband Providers Notify Customers When They ‘Use Too Much’ Internet

Are you using too much Internet service?  If your service provider thinks you are, it can alert you by barging in on your web-browsing sessions with forced notification messages warning you are about to be the latest victim of Internet Overcharging.

PerfTech, a maker of browser messaging systems has teamed up with Active Broadband Networks to deliver providers a way to notify up to two million subscribers about their broadband usage from just a single rack-based system.

“Feedback from ISPs who have deployed usage-based Internet tiers has confirmed that two factors are key to success: accurate usage measurement and quick, proactive notifications,” PerfTech vice president of sales Jane Christ said in a statement.

Most browser message injection systems are used to warn customers when they are approaching monthly usage limits or excessive use charges.  Some can even redirect web users to a single ISP-administered website to alert them their service has been suspended or request payment for additional usage with a credit card.

So far, only smaller U.S. providers are using PerfTech’s system, including WideOpenWest, BendBroadband in Oregon, and Buckeye Cable in Ohio.

  • WideOpenWest doesn’t appear to limit usage except for newsgroups.  According to their FAQ, users may download up to 5GB per month of newsgroup content;
  • Bend Broadband has a 100GB monthly limit on all but its highest speed Internet plan, which carries a 150GB monthly limit.  The overlimit fee is $1.50 per gigabyte.
  • Buckeye Cable favors “network management” techniques, which can slow down customers deemed to be using too much, at its discretion.  But the company does have a 3GB strict usage cap on newsgroup access.  Exceeding it is very costly.  The overlimit fee is a whopping $45 per gigabyte.
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BendBroadband Introduces New Faster Speeds, But Offensive Usage Caps the Skunk at the Broadband Party

Phillip Dampier September 23, 2009 BendBroadband, Internet Overcharging, Recent Headlines 26 Comments
BendBroadband introduces a new logo and tagline

BendBroadband introduces a new logo and tagline

BendBroadband, a small provider serving central Oregon, breathlessly announced the imminent launch of new higher speed broadband service for its customers after completing an upgrade to DOCSIS 3.  Along with the launch announcement came a new logo of a sprinting dog the company attaches its new tagline to: “We’re the local dog. We better be good.”

What some BendBroadband customers didn’t realize was that dog comes with a leash.

“The new speeds sound great, right until you read the fine print and discover the awful usage allowances they attach to them,” writes Seth, a Stop the Cap! reader.  “That’s Bend (Over) Broadband.”

BendBroadband plans range from 8Mbps service for $36.95 a month ($46.95 broadband-only), 14Mbps service for $44.95 a month ($54.95 broadband-only), and a forthcoming Gold 25Mbps plan for $54.95 a month ($64.95 broadband-only).  The 14Mbps service represents a speed increase for their current Silver plan.  All of these plans have a 100GB usage allowance, with a $1.50/GB overlimit penalty.

100gb

A new Platinum plan will offer 60Mbps service for $89.95 a month ($99.95 broadband-only), yet only incrementally bumps the usage cap up by 50GB, to 150GB per month.

BendBroadband's dog comes with a leash... 100GB Usage Caps

BendBroadband's dog comes with a leash... 100GB Usage Caps

Company officials seemed pleased with themselves.

“Who would of believed ten years ago that we would have these types of speeds available?” said Frank Miller, the company’s Chief Technology Officer. “60Mbps…that’s one fast puppy!”

“That dog (logo) has broadband rabies and needs to be put down,” replies Seth’s wife Angelica, who telecommutes and does most of her work from home.

“Central Oregon can be wowed by the speed, but what good is it if you can’t use it without running into their usage caps and limits,” she asks.

“I’d pay for the premium tiers and get on a waiting list today if they did away with the usage caps.  There is no way I am paying to support a company that sticks usage caps on their customers and makes me waste time doublechecking how much I’ve used this month,” she said.

Seth and Angelica have taken a pass on BendBroadband’s dog show and are sticking with the local phone company’s DSL service until something better comes along.

“The speed isn’t the best, but at least you can use the service and not have to worry about it,” Seth writes.

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