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

Phillip Dampier July 25, 2013 Competition, Data Caps, Editorial & Site News, History, Public Policy & Gov't 9 Comments

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.

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SouthPaw
SouthPaw
7 years ago

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.

Smith6612
Smith6612
7 years ago

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

Aaron
Aaron
7 years ago

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… Read more »

Atif
Atif
7 years ago

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.

jr
jr
7 years ago

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

J.D. Gallaway
7 years ago

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… Read more »

Chris
Chris
7 years ago

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… Read more »

Scott
Scott
7 years ago
Reply to  Chris

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… Read more »

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