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

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.