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Breaking News: The Shock & Stupidity of Time Warner: Profiteering Gone Wild

Phillip Dampier April 1, 2009 Editorial & Site News 21 Comments

I’m still getting over the shock of learning this morning that once again, Rochester NY is going to be ground zero over a major broadband usage cap nightmare. After spending a large part of last summer battling Frontier’s ludicrous 5GB usage cap, which they have suspended implementing, at least temporarily, I get the news that Time Warner is about to devastate this, and three other communities, with the same kind of outrageous bandwidth capping they’ve dropped onto the good people of Beaumont, Texas.

Coming later this summer, according to an article in Business Week magazine, Time Warner will introduce usage caps similar to what is in place in Beaumont. For the average Time Warner customer in Rochester, Greensboro, North Carolina, and Austin and San Antonio, Texas, this means standard service customers paying $40 a month will be limited to 20GB per month, those paying $54.95 a month are limited to 40GB per month. Exceed that at your financial peril – overage fees are $1 per gigabyte.

You don’t need this, and I sure don’t need this. If you review this site, you’ll read the whole sordid history of just how outrageous of a gouge on customers this represents. It’s rank profiteering, not “cost sharing” as their marketing people like to put it. For my western New York city and hometown of Rochester, this is absolutely devastating to our competitiveness and image as a high tech city in the ever-struggling western half of this state.

While upstate and downstate cities from Buffalo to the suburbs of Long Island will escape cap free (for now) because of the aggressive development of Verizon’s FIOS network, Rochester is stuck with the dreary and uninspired Frontier Communications with a DSL product that can never come close to hoping to compete on an even keel with Road Runner, yet had the nerve to try cell-phone like usage caps on their customers last year.

With competitors like that, Time Warner can do whatever they please in Rochester. Frontier again has an opening for marketing gold to drop the idea of usage caps and run an ad blitz telling Road Runner customers they’ll never have to worry whether they can watch Hulu, or play someone else online, or download something from iTunes, because they are not going to throw a draconian cap in your face. The stampede exiting Time Warner would be a sight to see. Frontier can bring themselves a massive new customer base. Alas, I have little confidence Frontier is that inspired. Perhaps they can prove me wrong.

Barring that, Frontier will foolishly bring back their own crazy cap and stick Rochester in the broadband doghouse for years and years. When Penn Yan has unlimited FIOS and Pittsford has a father yelling at his son his five minutes of Internet time is up because of the cap and the cost for exceeding it, we’ll all be down the rabbit hole.

One thing is certain, I cannot fight this battle alone. I am going to need article writers, folks to help organize people not only in Rochester but in the other affected cities, as well as outside help from those who may not have the cap today, but soon might tomorrow.

Broadband policy in this country cannot be allowed to deteriorate into de facto duopolies which ration access at ridiculous prices. Consumption based Internet access only works and is justified when the mark-up is nowhere close to the prices Time Warner and other companies want to charge. A better policy recognizes that no cable company or telephone company has gone broke with their current pricing model. To the contrary. Investments bring profits. Enhancing your existing service with add-ons like Road Runner Turbo is a quick and easy way to bring an extra $10 a month and make everyone happy. Heck, I’d suggest a whole lot of moderate users of Road Runner would rather see an across the board $5 rate increase than these kinds of caps. Or at least the potential of a rationally priced unlimited plan offering, which is simply not available with these kinds of usage caps.

Today’s announcement from Time Warner is a broadband game changer akin to a category five hurricane for many online users. It’s literally the end of things like Apple TV, Slingbox, Netflix’s set top box, and even frequent viewings from Hulu and other future video providers. The bandwidth allowances just make using those products and services untenable. And it only gets worse if you’ve got a family with computers around the house. Those are just more chances you’ll exceed the cap.

The Pearl Harbor moment from this company today brings a day of shock, surprise, and contemplating your options, if any. Tomorrow it brings anger, conviction, and organization to make a difference and send a message that no company can be allowed to get away with this sort of thing. I hope you’ll join the fight.

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Chris
Chris
12 years ago

I say we look in a new direction. Let’s instead focus our attention on showing verizon that they have tens of thousands of interested consumers in our town. I imagine that would humble our two local utilities. It would seem to be the easiest way to “stop the cap” In truth, regardless of which service you use, this affects you. We need to bring a third party into this madness. We’ve needed it for a long time…

Brion
Editor
12 years ago

In some senses I agree with the first commenter — Chris — that we need more competition, but I don’t think one competitor in the cable market alone will do it, we need at least three to keep them honest (or in a federally-recognized conspiracy). Moreover I see this as a blatant act of ignorance (or malice) on the part of TWC by trying to hold back the tide of “new millennium” users who are more connected and Internet-bound than ever before. They are trying to price heavy Internet use out of reach instead of upgrading their hardware with government… Read more »

Josh
Josh
12 years ago

When I heard the news report this morning announcing the policy from TWC, I seriously thought it was an April fools joke. Then I checked, and realized it was not a joke… but instead, a nightmare. Sounds like TWC has been taking tips from the US government. This ISP version of a cap-and-trade tax will be yet another stupid policy that limits America’s technological movement. You know the saying “My enemies enemy is my friend.” Might be a good idea to reach out and talk with ISV/SaaS companies (i.e. Hulu, YouTube, Netflix) and inform them of the restrictive policies from… Read more »

Ryan
Ryan
12 years ago

I just heard about this and I’m scared and angry and not sure what to do.

Matt
Matt
12 years ago

Just switch to Earthlink, which uses the same pipes but has different contracts. I just spoke with an Earthlink rep and he verified that they do not have any plans to institute caps. Right now their rates for Rochester are:

Up to 768Kbps – $29.95/mo.

Up to 7.0Mbps – $29.95/mo. (First 6 Months*; $41.95/mo. thereafter)

Up to 10.0Mbps – $72.95/mo.

So… there’s still a glimmer of hope.

Drew Saur
12 years ago

I agree that this is just awful. First we had the elimination of Usenet service (two which I say: how often does an attorney general come along and demand you reduce service in a way that saves you scads of money, but allows you to keep your rates the same?). And now, this. What I don’t understand is how TWC is going to ensure that the “garbage” traffic that constantly flows into my router from all over the Internet (people trying to gain access to my computer – although thankfully never getting past my router) is going to be distinguished… Read more »

Matt
Matt
12 years ago

Good point Drew. If they want to institute caps, they had better provide detailed analytics to each customer on their bandwidth usage. I want to know which device on my network downloaded every kb, and at exactly what time.

Uncle Ken
Uncle Ken
12 years ago

I to am now worried how this will effect me. I have a very limited budget. As I get a little older and sicker each day my needs are small but the net is all I have. Im almost a shut-in. Case in point just had the car inspected used 300 miles last year. I do not go far. I use the net to read news sites CBS ABC NBC BBC many news and technical web sites. My videos are the small clips from the news sites and im a big fan of NASA streaming TV. I really do not… Read more »

Deral Fenderson
Deral Fenderson
12 years ago

I feel for you folk. I’m a netizen and I do a lot of stuff online. But truthfully? I don’t have tv…. at all. Rabbit ears can’t pick up a damn thing anymore, and the switch to digital? Well, my formally crappy signal went dark. Got my box, but nothing. Oh well. Spring is here. Can’t wait to get out in the garden. Keep up the “fight,” but its hardly the end of the world. Its just another big corporation telling you to bend over and take it. When are we going to see that its not Time Warner…. Its… Read more »

Scott Wee
Scott Wee
12 years ago

One question: who pays for all of the ads I get on my webpages?

Maybe we might need to involve the ad brokers in this discussion as well.

pdk
pdk
12 years ago

The government regulatory body for filing a complaint is New York State Public Service Commission. Rate changes/increases by utilities with limited competition need to be approved by the PSC.
FIRST: Call Time Warner and tell them the Cap is unfair and does not seek to cover their costs, but to stifle competition with movie and TV providers in favor of Pay-Per-View. Request that they do not institute the cap. Record the day date time of call and with whom you spoke.
SECOND: register a complaint with
http://www3.dps.state.ny.us/ocs/itgate.nsf/webDPS_Complaint?OpenForm
and fill in the information from above.

Ken
Ken
12 years ago

Sorry but as much as we would all like to see FIOS come to Rochester and compete with Time Warner. That will never happen as long as Frontier is the ILEC in this area. The reason that Buffalo and Syracuse have FIOS is because Verizon is the ILEC in those areas. If Verizon were to aquier Frontier then we would be talkin FIOS!!!

Dan
Dan
12 years ago

So what options do we have at this point? I have been with Time Warner for a very long time now, and this is it. I quit. Not only that, i will quit with a vengence. I am switching to dish for my TV, easy answer there. But internet? I run a small business out of my home, and admittedly use a lot of bandwidth doing so. I transfer video files back and forth for editing usually 2 times a day. Plus using Netflix, Itunes, and Hulu for movies 40gb per month is the most absurd insane cap limit. Stupid,… Read more »

Dan
Dan
12 years ago

I have checked the list. Thank you for organizing that. It is very helpful. The only issue I have in particular is the lack of services that actually compete in speed and reliability.
Check out Windstream. Got a flyer from them last week. They advertise 12mb speeds, and all sounds great, but I can’t seem to find a single positive review of the reliability. Most of them are dated reviews, and I think my neighbor just switched, so I will talk to him and get back to you guys with my findings. Thanks again for your hard work here.

Tracy
Tracy
12 years ago

I feel like trying to get everyone to boycot Time Warner for a month or so and watch them come crawling back to us begging us to user the service they provide. As a matter of fact I think I will start with posting this website on my facebook page just to show Time Warner that there are people like me willing to stand up to the things I believe in. This idea of capping is so rediculous, it almost reminds me of when we used to have to keep track of every second we used on our cellular phones.… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff
12 years ago

This cap thing is B.S. you are better off getting a wireless card if you have a laptop(even thought they already have a cap), but at least you’ll have internet service anywhere. And anything to stick it to Time warner and their never ending rising prices for long time customers and cheaper rates for someone who has no history with them. I’m all for the boycott Tracy.

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