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Thursday Evening News Briefs

Phillip Dampier April 2, 2009 Issues 3 Comments

Here are some headlines on usage cap and Internet rationing issues this Thursday evening:

Seen In San Antonio

Seen In San Antonio - Upset About Metering, Courtesy 'Hixster' on Broadband Reports

Seen In San Antonio - Upset About Metering, Courtesy 'Hixster' on Broadband Reports

Texans On Price Protection Plans Temporarily Exempt from Internet Rationing

The Austin Business Journal reports this evening that Time Warner officials have announced customers in Texas who, as part of their Road Runner service, signed “price protection agreement” or service contracts will be exempted from the Internet rationing plan to be implemented in Austin and San Antonio.  Customers in several Road Runner franchise areas are compelled to agree to a term contract to receive the lowest price for Road Runner broadband service.  Customers in these areas are still permitted to sign these contracts, and we recommend that customers in this region attempt to sign for the longest possible term available.

Greensboro, North Carolina Road Runner Customers Outraged By Internet Ration Plan

Greensboro residents are outraged to discover Time Warner throwing their community into the “test markets” forced to endure heavily rationed Internet access plans from Road Runner.  The Greensboro News-Record reported several negative impressions of Road Runner’s bait-and-switch-like tactics.

“To say other people are subsidizing me is ridiculous,” said Jay Montlo, 23. “They sold me an unlimited plan and I bought it because I watch a lot of online video and I’m an online gamer. Now they’re going back and saying it’s not fair for me to use so much of something that’s unlimited for everyone.”

Company officials continue to defend their cookie cutter Beaumont example as being just fine for Beaumont, and therefore just fine for the rest of the country.  Greensboro is having none of it:

Beaumont, Texas is different from Greensboro. It’s smaller, has an older population, fewer college students and doesn’t have the vibrant online community that once earned this city the nickname “Blogsboro.”

“I don’t have any idea how much bandwidth I use right now,” said Roch Smith, a local web designer and blogger. “I don’t really think of it that way.”

But Smith said making customers more wallet-conscious about the way they use the Internet will stifle creativity and keep them from embracing new video and audio products online.

That could be part of the motivation, several customers suggested, because Time Warner has seen increased online competition for its cable TV and movie-on-demand products.

Smith said whatever the reason, the move will mean less innovation.

“I think it’s just a terrible thing for the city to have our highest speed broadband priced in a way that’s unlike every other city our size,” Smith said. “Making us a ‘test market’ makes people on the cutting edge pay more and discourages people from discovering new things, things that are going to be very important in the future.”

Austin Mayoral Hopeful Blasts Time Warner for Internet Ration Plan

Time Warner’s Internet rationing plan threatens to stifle the economic recovery of Austin.  Those strong words are part of a statement issued Thursday evening by Austin City Council member and mayoral hopeful Lee Leffingwell.

Leffingwell says he's "deeply concerned" about Internet rationing plan from Time Warner

Leffingwell says he's "deeply concerned" about Internet rationing plan from Time Warner

In a strongly worded statement released to the Austin press, Leffingwell blasted the Internet provider for insensitively throwing a usage cap on customers during one of the worst economic crisis in Texas history.

According to news reports today, Time Warner Cable is introducing a new pricing structure for Austin-area Internet users.  Under the new plan, consumers would be placed on a tiered and metered billing system, and charged for the amount of bandwidth they use.

This approach, and Time Warner’s specific plan, should be of grave concern to Austin.  Right now we need to be encouraging, rather than stifling, economic recovery and growth in Austin.  This plan moves us in the wrong direction.  It potentially puts Austin at a disadvantage as we compete against other communities to attract, retain, and grow prosperous businesses.

I’m obviously concerned about the impact this plan would have on individuals and families, who would have to begin to monitor their Internet use. The new pricing system would have a significant impact on anybody who uses the Internet to watch videos, download music, movies, or television shows.

But I’m deeply concerned about the impact of the plan on business owners, especially those working in high-tech and creative industries that require regular access to broadband Internet service.  Introducing an economic disincentive for Austin businesses to use the Internet to communicate, collaborate, innovate, and deliver services is very worrisome at best, and catastrophic at worst.

If Time Warner believes that is has no choice but to introduce usage caps, I would call on them to propose caps that are realistic and reasonable.  The usage caps proposed in their new plan are neither realistic nor reasonable.

For example, if a consumer downloads Season 1 of Friday Night Lights in high definition from iTunes, they will have used 30.86 gigabytes of transfer.  This one purchase would put that consumer over the limit of all but the most expensive tier that Time Warner is proposing under the new plan.  It’s easy to see how the costs associated with the ongoing, high volumes of Internet use that many Austin businesses require be could be astronomical.

Internet access should be expanded, not constrained.  Innovation and creativity should be unleashed by the Internet, not shackled by draconian usage caps.  This is vital to Austin’s economic recovery.  I hope that Time Warner will work with City officials and the community at large to reconsider this bad plan.

Rochester Residents May Not Know Their Alternatives, But Anything is Better Than Time Warner’s Internet Rationing

WHAM-TV Rochester, N.Y.

WHAM-TV Rochester, N.Y.

WHAM-TV logged more than 250 comments in a matter of hours from outraged residents of the Flower City furious about Time Warner’s Internet rationing plan.  Some confused Vonage with Verizon, but it made no difference.  All they wanted were directions to the exit.  Rochester, almost night and day different demographically from Beaumont, Texas where Time Warner conducted their first Internet rationing experiment, is up in arms about what most perceive as a ludicrous rate increase.  One of the most technologically advanced cities in New York, Rochester has been the test bed for advanced technology trials for years, but always with introducing more innovation and better service in mind, not pulling the rug out from area residents suffering from one of the worst economic downturns since the Depression.

Cristie from Hilton says, “In light of this, I will be making the switch to Frontier or Vonage.”

Laurie from Rochester wrote: “Time Warner has made a decision to put further burden on customers.”

Matt Slocum wants to know why this is happening? “My first question is–why? What’s the reason to instigate this policy?”

Matt uses the internet at home to watch TV shows or play movies. He also does some of his work at home, and says usage fees would kill him. “I have a family and have to pinch pennies any way I can,” he said.

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12 years ago

Time Warner the fight is ON! I’m in the process of making a YouTude Video and I have thousands of MySpace friends. I’ll be sure to link them to your site. We also need to start a petition…if there isn’t already one!
F*ck Time Warner!

12 years ago

Actually there is no viable alternative for the RoadRunner Turbo plan (15Mbps down / 1Mbps up). I’ve checked. Here’s the breakdown: – Frontier doesn’t offer those speeds at all and they require you to purchase phone service (even if you don’t need or want it). – Clearwire doesn’t go above 2Mbps, locks you into a 1 or 2 year agreement and the wording of their TOS implies bandwidth caps with a $10/GB overage fee – EarthLink tech support says they will have to impose the same caps as Time Warner and they don’t have anything over 10Mbps either There is… Read more »

L Smith
L Smith
12 years ago

The thing is here Greensboro, NC is not just GSO, but the entire Piedmont-Triad that Greensboro services. It seems they are trying to go back to the days of AOL and some attempt at getting hourly usage rates. One of the things people moved to broadband and RoadRunner to get away from. Other than UNC-G there is also Elon College, the town and the college itself; that this will affect, and I am sure there are a few others including but not limited to Alamance Community College in the area that have little to no choice for any other service.… Read more »

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