TWC defends tiered pricing, while one DSL provider is happy to pick up fleeing customers

TWC defends tiered pricing, while one DSL provider is happy to pick up fleeing customers

Summary: Frontier Comms in Rochester: 'We have gotten hundreds of calls from Time Warner customers into our call centers. I guess it's been a public relations crisis for Time Warner.'


Last week, Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) promised to introduce the Broadband Internet Fairness Act to "prevent job killing broadband internet downloading caps."

The legislation is directly targeted at Time Warner's rollout of usage-based pricing. TWC would offer plans from 5 to 100 GB of data transfer for prices of up to $75 a month. Now, if you had free choice you could choose Comcast's 250GB limit.

But of course cable franchises are monopolies, and while it might or might not - in a competitive environment - make sense to "define (y)our business based on the consumption dimension", it definitely does in a monopoly.

TWC does have competition in the form of DSL, so strictly speaking it operates in a duopoly. And at least in Rochester, NY, DSL provider Frontier Communications is happy to pick up disgrunteld TWC customers, AP reports.

"We have gotten hundreds of calls from Time Warner customers into our call centers," said Ann Burr, the head of Frontier's Rochester unit, in an interview with The Associated Press. "I guess it's been a public relations crisis for Time Warner."

Enough of a crisis for COO Landel Hobbs to offer a reasonable-sounding explanation:

If we don’t act, consumers’ Internet experience will suffer. Sitting still is not an option. That’s why we’re beginning the consumption based billing trials. It’s important to stress that they are trials. The feedback we’ve received from our customers has been very helpful.

Hobbs goes on to reveal a 1GB/$15 option for low-volume users, with overage at $2/gig and a 100GB/$75 option at the high-end. There's a $75 cap on overage charges, so "for $150 per month customers could have virtually unlimited usage at Turbo speeds."

If there were no P2P restraints. But, Ars Technica reports that in a comments documents, TWC told the FCC it has no business to specify net neutrality obligations.

Now is not the time, nor is this the appropriate proceeding, to engage in a debate about the need for net neutrality obligations. . . . Debates in this proceeding about new net neutrality regulations would only divert attention from these important goals, delaying the distribution of funds while generating considerable contention when the Commission should instead be fostering a spirit of collaboration.

Hmmm, actually the days of FCC "collaborating" with the industry may be drawing to a close.

Topics: Telcos, Broadband, Networking

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  • These caps in bandwidth usage are

    going to be a royal pain. And really I don't know why the online gaming community are not screaming about this yet. I am an avid gamer, and I would be absolutly pissed if my telecommunications company told me that I would have to pay $150 per month to make sure that I won't go over the limit.

    In regards to the story the people going to frontier are going to be getting a surprise. Frontier has a 5GB cap, although they are not currently enforcing it. So while TWC is getting flak for it now, Frontier may not be very far behind.
    • Gaming is not really going to be affected.

      Online gaming is speed operation, not a bandwidth operation. With gaming the large files reside on the platform and only the player action/response is loaded onto the net. While the datapacks are not that large what is critical is the speed they are delivered to the server. So while downloading movies is bandwidth intensive, the gamer's is actually more interested in speed over bandwidth.
      • Sure about that?

        Last World of Warcraft patch was 768MB - and thats about the blizzard standard PER patch. So now, IF I was to do a total reload of WoW - thats a lot of downloads.

        Granted I own all 3 (the core disc plus 2 expansions) on CD/DVD - so some of those large patches become irrelevant, but with the way blizzard sends out content patches every so often (over the next 2 years probably), we are looking at anywhere from id say 3+ GB of downloads.

        SO yes, gaming CAN be bandwith intensive, especially on reinstalls and having your customer save a perfect "image" of their system or even the files downloaded is a pipe-dream and unsatisfactory for a residential product.
        • and that is a

          very good point. as well, and one that I had thought of, but did not put into post.

          But also think if you reinstall your OS. Those Updates are going to suck up a ton of bandwidth, and if like me, I reinstall my OS about every 6 to 9 months, so if I reinstall my os, I could potentially suck up my bandwidth usage just getting it back up to date.

          Also I like to play with VM's and try different distro's of linux, and ISO's are anywhere from 700MB to 4GB or larger.
        • That's Patching, not gameplay

          Thats patching not gameplay. If you're paying $40 a month for a 75gig monthly cap you would have to get huge patches every day to come close. You could probably do a clean reainstall of WoW with all patches every month and still not hit 75gig. The guys this is really aimed at are the ones downloading 20 movies a month.
          • Its all under one umbrella..

            and thats Online Gaming. I am a pretty heavy user and I am not part of that crew "downloading 20 movies a month" - but VoIP, streaming audio (128k), downloading patches, streaming video (netflix), gaming, web browsing, etc. all add up. My typical bandwith hovers between 100-125GB a month, depending on what I choose to do, and its all legal.
      • I think that for a few games

        out there that I know of, it will, like Guild Wars, in which the entire game gets downloaded from the web, and several others, like metin2 etc.

        But you do bring up an valid point that many tech people are saying that Blueray will not be the standard to be looking at rather streamed HD content like that from netflix. Now with Comcast who is offering 250GB as being their standard package, this should be no big deal, but companies like TWC and Frontier who's plans begin at 5GB or less, users are going to have to pay through the nose, and could hurt companies like netflix that stream video. Thoughts?
        • Fair Use

          Well as much as I hate to admit it, Comcast at least did SOMETHING right by the consumer by putting the "limit" at 250GB cap (but also you have to be in the top 1% of the user base for that CMTS to be issued a warning). This, for now, is reasonable to allow people to stream movies from Netflix, download patches (for everything), and experiment with differnt ISO's without much fear.

          TWC and the likes that keep the bandwith limits low should be fined by the FCC.
  • I LIKE faster speeds but I NEED fixed pricing.

    I have sent 2 emails to the letting them know that if I get hit with usage charges, I switch over to DSL and drop my TWC bundle.

    I LIKE faster speeds but I NEED fixed pricing.
  • I guess its cheaper to do damage control..

    than it is to ACTUALLY provide decent service to your customers and invest in the network. Comcast came up with their arbitrary 250GB cap - then the verbage that they can (and will) modify [b]MY[/b] CPE (Customer Provided Equipment) modem? No thanks. I said good-bye to Comcast residential and picked up their Business Class service. Albiet its nothing more than a TOS change for me, Comcast is providing a modem, the ability to host servers, 24/7 Business Class support (w/ 4hour onsite response), no bandwith limitation, and no throtting for the EXACT same price (read regular price, not promo) - for a slightly slower speed (6Mbps vs 12Mbps, but I'll be upgraded free to 12Mbps soon).

    Everyone should just flip the bird to these companies making insane (and arbitrary decisions) for their residential service - maybe they will get the message once they start losing demand. Granted, moving to Comcast Business Services wasnt the ideal choice - but I have no other option (other than being without a HSI provider). :(
    • I think that consumers

      need to demand that congress forces the companies to expand and have competition, and eliminate these monopolies. Making an open market.
      • Sounds good in theory...

        except the company owns the wire they laid down. Unless congress mandates that they share the wire - that ultimately hurts everyone because the "main" ISP if you will, will just charge the "competition" a "network usage" fee to make up for the lost revenue and force a same if not more cost scenario. Look at what happend with long distance companies.
        • Phone companies have been

          leasing wire and fiber from each other for years, even in local service area. I know that when I had ATT at home service they were leasing the wire from the local company.
          • What about T1?

            And T1s are one of these resold services over telecom copper, and they are not nearly as competitive with broadband. That might not work either.
  • RE: TWC defends tiered pricing, while one DSL provider is happy to pick up fleeing customers

    I think it will be really bad for people who watch TV or movies via the internet. Netflix, Hulu, Joost and others will suffer losses when a standard movie stream can run from 2 - 10 gigs. I think the real reason that Comcast and Viacom are trying this is because of the ability of customers to watch shows for which they would normally have to pay a cable bill. DSL providers are not going down this road which adds to the evidence that this is just a ploy by cable companies to drive TV and movie watchers back to their TVs.
    • Frontier in their contract and TOS state

      that they impose a 5GB limit, and that at this time they will not charge, but it is out there.
      Now Frontier is a phone company and has cited a lower cap than that of comcast. How is this a cable company drive?

      High Speed Internet Access Service

      <i>"Frontier may suspend, terminate or apply additional charges to the Service if such usage exceeds a reasonable amount of usage. A reasonable amount of usage is defined as 5GB combined upload and download consumption during the course of a 30-day billing period. The Company has made no decision about potential charges for monthly usage in excess of 5GB."</i>

  • RE: TWC defends tiered pricing, while one DSL provider is happy to pick up fleeing customers

    Yes, Bandwidth caps, yes whatever the providers want to charge.

    But in return force at least one competitor per community. And a declaration that the fiber and cable that the present providers strung was done as a result of monopoly powers and therefore is the property of the community who has te right to say who gets to put signals on it to our home. That will avoid the stupiditty ten years ago when Congress voted to let competitors into the Bell Central Offices in return for the Bells getting back into the Long Distance business -- the Bells did Long Distance and simply ignored Congress on the competitors -- now that's power.

    So yeah, charge us anything you want -- as long as the cable and phone guys no longer have a monopoly.
    • My thoughts exactly.

    • Who makes sure the wires still work?

      You also need more than two or they can fix fees without ever talking to each other.
  • RE: TWC defends tiered pricing, while one DSL provider is happy to pick up fleeing customers

    A lot of our remote users were asking about this since I work in one of the trial areas. I really hope everyone gets up and complains about their price gauging or switches to a different internet provider. I'm considering switching myself. Its just ridiculous the prices they are charging.
    Loverock Davidson