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Metered Broadband – Just Say No!

Ironheart April 7, 2009 Editorial & Site News 20 Comments

Imagine the following…

You are sitting down to watch your favorite show (if you have good taste perhaps it’s something like Battlestar Galactica or Fringe). Thirty minutes in at the mid-way point of the show a message box pops up on the screen, saying:

“Your monthly allocation of 150 hours of television viewing has almost expired. Additional blocks of 10 hours are available for the low price of $1 / 10 hours which will be reflected on your next bill.”

There are two buttons you can push at the bottom, one to turn off your TV and the other to accept the additional charges and continue watching your show.

For most people the above example would be absurd to the point of idiocy. Any provider trying to enforce such a policy would be laughed out of town and their competitors would be literally falling over themselves to sell you “unlimited TV viewing” at a similar price point.

Now, change your television usage in the above example to your Internet bandwidth usage and you have what is beginning to take shape in today’s broadband Internet market.

Several companies, including AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable are either actively trialling so-called “metered broadband” in test markets or have rolled it out to all of their customers already. So what can you do about it if you are “lucky” enough to be in one of these test markets or instead use an ISP who has already enacted bandwidth caps on their users? Simple – tell them to take a hike.

Accepting smaller caps now in the hope that they will lead to higher caps later is something that the companies want you to do. By doing so you have already bought into their thinking that “caps = good” or, at the very least, “caps = bad”. The only way to ensure that this is a not a victory of degrees is to simply switch to another provider in your area, one that does not have any bandwidth caps. And when you call your original provider to cancel your service, make sure that you tell them that the bandwidth caps on their Internet service are the specific reason you are canceling.

Once enough people start doing this they will begin to get the message. At that point they will have a choice – they can either continue with their policy and have customers leave to go to other providers – OR they can draw a line in the sand, abandon the idea that they need to nickel and dime people and fall back into the good graces of the individuals who pay their wages, their customers.

The years 2008 and 2009 have seen many advances in the area of high-bandwidth HD content. Hulu offers literally hundreds of hours of television available online for free, most of it accessible with HD streams. YouTube is now also beginning to promote HD video on its site, and they are certainly not the only two providers doing this. HD high-bandwidth content is becoming more and more prevalent, but there’s no use in the content being out there if you cannot access it without incurring additional charges from your ISP. And as for digital distribution of software, games and applications purchasable on services like Stardock and Steam, they become much less attractive when you figure out that the $20 game is going to end up costing you closer to $30 by the time you have factored in your overage bandwidth charges for downloading your content.

The future will rest upon your shoulders. If you look the other way and think to yourself, “This isn’t so bad, I will never be close to the caps so it won’t affect me” and then a couple of years down the line find yourself paying overages to your cable or DSL provider then you can have no complaints. Instead, write now to your local municipal councilperson, your state representative or state senator and tell them why caps are a bad idea. Tell your friends and family, and have them tell their friends and their family, and so on.

Remember…

Only you can prevent forest fires, and only you can reject metered broadband.

Just say no!

[Editor’s Note: Ironheart is our first contributing author here on StoptheCap! This project is a joint effort, and we welcome those who would like to contribute their own articles for the site.  Please consider registering for an account and using the contact form to request more information about writing articles here and join the team!]
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Terry
Terry
12 years ago

Just sent this to TW. Can’t wait to hear the response. “My fiancee and I have Road Runner internet with you and we have been very happy customers. I had your service for years when I lived on my own and after moving in with my fiancee we got service at our home. The news of your new pricing plan is very troubling to me. For years I would not even consider going elsewhere for my internet. I can no longer say that. If the new pricing plans are implemented, we will leave TW. Period. We will not accept this… Read more »

Terry
Terry
12 years ago
Reply to  Terry

Got my reply…steaming hot pile of S! “The trial of the proposed bandwidth consumption based billing plan for Road Runner customers will take place over a few months; likely to begin in late spring and continue through the Summer. Specific details regarding the plan are currently not yet available. Please be assured that once those details are available, we will be communicating with our customers through out the trial and we’ll have the proper tools made available to our customers, so that they will know what their monthly usage is and be able to make an informed decision on what… Read more »

Jeffrey_Bays
Jeffrey_Bays
12 years ago
Reply to  Terry

It just goes to show you how disconnected from their customer they are. They are so afraid of actually being honest with their customers that they have layered themselves with so much beaurocracy that the local rep’s and the people responsible for communicating with the customer can’t have a truthful conversation. Perhaps the Austin Man of the Year needs to get on the phone with the customer and tell us what is really going on.

Wes
Wes
12 years ago
Reply to  Terry

“Our goal is to make sure that are customers are well informed….” Wow… TWC can’t even grammar check their own professional letters.

Jeffrey Bays
Jeffrey Bays
12 years ago

I called earthlink to change my service. They didn’t seem like they understood the installation process. I already have TWC. I just want to change who I send money to. They said I need to cancel TWC first, then they can place the order. They will then schedule my install.

I thought that they just absorbed the account.

Even when I try to order it online, they try to schedule an install.

Has anyone done the switch yet? what is the process?

If you want, you can call me. I live in farmington, 845-309-9260 (cell number)

grant
grant
12 years ago
Reply to  Jeffrey Bays

Believe it or not, you can just call TW and have them switch you to Earthlink. That is what I did about a month ago.

vcheng
vcheng
12 years ago

This is what I have done this morning: Emailed all my federal, state and local representatives. Emailed local news reporter. Called the offices of my town supervisor, mayor and county executive. Set up new accounts in gmail and updated my automatic email reminders to point to the new address. I will return my three HD boxes and remotes by this weekend at the latest and downgrade my service to basic cable. After all, it will save me at least 75 bucks per month for at least six months that I can use towards other services. I have done the groundwork… Read more »

Lee Drake
12 years ago

That would be a great analogy except: TWC will not warn you if you go over, they’ll just bill you. Left the TV on overnight accidentally – oh well. Kids turned the TV on when you weren’t looking – oh well no problem, here’s a $200 bill. Television malfunctions and stays on even if you pressed to off button – not their problem. Rely on your TV to allow you to communicate with others as deaf people do – shame on you for being deaf. It’s a ridiculous money grab. That’s all, that’s it, there ain’t no more to it… Read more »

David
David
12 years ago

I just read an interesting article that quotes TW executives supporting the idea of requiring all TV programs on the internet to be only viewable to people that have cable TV service. They are afraid that consumers are going to stop paying for cable since they can get TV programming free online. Despite being free via antenna reception, shows on the major networks like NBC could be only available online to cable subscribers. http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20090402-714285.html We can’t assume that the new pricing tiers for internet access is the only effort of TW and other cable companies to alter how consumers use… Read more »

Phillip Dampier
Admin
12 years ago
Reply to  David

Hi David. You bet I am all over that in an upcoming talking point. It lays things out quite nicely about what’s really going on here with streaming video, doesn’t it?

I also have quotes from executives worried cable TV might go the way of newspapers if everyone is giving away the shows for free online. You can’t get plainer than that. Restricting usage protects their cable TV package.

Jeffrey_Bays
Jeffrey_Bays
12 years ago
Reply to  David

I can somewhat understand why you can’t pick and choose your channels. They buy them in groups (like all the viacom channels) so they have to cover their costs of offering crappy channels that only a handful of people watch. As for paying for what you use. I can see that working if they offered it like this: No tiered packages. You litteraly pay for what you use. say .50 a gig. If you run a peer to peer client giving away their bandwidth, it costs you. this still leaves them room to make money (roughly 600% markup. IF you… Read more »

Phillip Dampier
Admin
12 years ago
Reply to  Jeffrey_Bays

Jeff… .50 a gig is still something like 500% markup or more. That’s way too expensive. If they are really claiming most customers use very little usage, a pure consumption based model would kill them, which is precisely why you don’t hear them offering one. If you sign up for Earthlink, remembering that they may now have caps as well (see our reporting earlier today), they will contact TW and all TW has to do it change a few things in their computer. You keep the same modem and you are still billed by Time Warner. All that changes is… Read more »

Jeffrey_Bays
Jeffrey_Bays
12 years ago

I called earthlink today and they told me i needed to cancel with tw, then call them back, then they would schedule an install date. When I tried ordering it online, you have to schedule an install. there was no option to tell them that you already had an account with the actual provider. I have a feeling that Earthlink will be switching over when time warner tells them to, but I figure, why should TWC get my money. Plus… It gets me a bit closer to ditching TWC for my TV as well. I don’t want to go back… Read more »

Craig
Craig
12 years ago
Reply to  Jeffrey_Bays

@Jeffery Who gets to say what is appropriate bandwidth usage? There is a hue gray area that I don’t even want to get into. Just because some people don’t watch shows on hulu or stream netflix movies doesn’t mean that because I do it its over use. By watching shows on hulu I am not robbing anyone of money, Hulu offers a service i prefer to cable television its basic free market capitalism their service is better so I use them. I refuse to be charged extra because I am tech savvy, and nothing is worth a markup of 500%… Read more »

Jeffrey_Bays
Jeffrey_Bays
12 years ago
Reply to  Craig

I’m with you. I just installed DD-WRT on my router last night. Without even watching hulu, streaming to my roku, or playing online games (on xBox upstairs or downstairs) I ripped through 600megs is 6 hours. (mostly the wife reading news, facebooking, and 1 or 2 youtube videos. I was just saying that if their argument is that the cost to provide people with bandwidth was the real issue, why won’t they charge an appropriate amount for what I use. When I fill up at the gas station, they don’t sell me gas in tiers. It will be 15 dollars… Read more »

David
David
12 years ago
Reply to  Jeffrey_Bays

“They buy them in groups (like all the viacom channels) so they have to cover their costs of offering crappy channels that only a handful of people watch.”

Doesn’t it sound like the people that watch the handful of crappy channels are unfairly abusing cable TV, making people that don’t watch them subsidize their use by paying more, and making TW pay more for content and the infrastructure to support more channels? At least if I follow the same logic TW is using with tiered internet it does 🙂

Jeffrey_Bays
Jeffrey_Bays
12 years ago
Reply to  David

heh.. Those damn cable abusers. We all know what this is. It is a money grab for something we are basicly addicted to. It’s a dick move. If their CEO’s really believe that this is what the people have been craving, than they should have had the guts to try it in markets with actual competition as a test. They are really opening up a can of worms here. They are doing this test with existing customers that are resoundingly against it. With any luck, their actions will put them under scrutiny in front of the Texas or New York… Read more »

Mike
Mike
12 years ago

A small correction to your article:

“And as for digital distribution of software, games and applications purchasable on services like Stardock and Steam,”

I think you meant to say, “Impulse and Steam”. Stardock is a software company, and Impulse is their digital distribution platform.

And speaking of Stardock, there is currently a thread on their forums about this issue: http://forums.galciv2.com/345077

Matt
Matt
12 years ago

First off – TWC – I hope you bastards rot in hell! And F**K you very much for siding with our new communist government in regulating consumers in the Internet area as well as trying to stuff your pockets more! This whole thing is just another ploy to prevent people from obtaining information from the commies that could possibly be used against them. When us REAL Americans take our country back, you’re one of the first to go! WHAT A JOKE this all is! – By the way, I live in Austin, Texas. Why they had to come and pick… Read more »

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