Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Could Charlotte be getting ready for higher high-speed internet?

Time-Warner cable subscribers, your internet bill could be going up soon.

The company is doing research that could soon lead to the company charging Internet customers based on usage. Under such a plan, customers would see tiered pricing based on usage. Media reports have prices from $29.95 to $54.90 monthly. If you go over your plans usage cap, you would get charged $1 per gigabyte.

Time Warner said it was making these moves to continue to upgrade and maintain its network, saying consumption among high-speed subscribers is increasing by 40 percent per year.

The company also announced it would offer a 100 GB Road Runner Turbo package for $75 per month with faster speeds. It also said overage charges would be capped at $75 per month. "That means that," said Time Warner cable COO Landel Hobbs, "for $150 per month customers could have virtually unlimited usage at Turbo speeds."

TWC, which has more than eight million broadband customers, will begin collecting information on internet usage in Austin, Texas, San Antonio, Texas and Rochester, N.Y., sometime later this year. Introduction of tiered billing could follow quickly. Greensboro will also likely see the tiered plan. Other companies are making similar moves.

Greensboro mayor Yvonne Johnson told the Greensboro News & Record that she thought the move was a bad idea.

“I think that having the best, cheapest Internet options we can is what’s best for the city, and I think the majority of the council will agree and want to get involved,” she told the Greensboro paper.

AT&T is doing a price tier trial in Beaumont, Texas, and Comcast, the nation's biggest cable comapny, caps bandwidth at 250 GB per month. If you go past that, you get a warning call. If you continue to exceed the limit, your subscription can get canceled.

Considering a download of a high-definition movie can be up to 10 GB, it wouldn't be hard to go way over most plans' caps -- and that's not even getting to your kids playing PlayStation online until the wee hours on the weekends or using your Internet phone service. Locally, some broadband cable bills could easily hit triple digits if Time Warner makes the change to tiered billing here.

I understand the company's need to try to recoup some costs. Cell phone companies have different pricing plans and not everyone is a heavy user. But if we have to have tiers, I'd like to see a reasonably pricing unlimited usage option. In this economy, I don't think charging more makes sense -- unless you want to drive customerss to other alternatives, like DSL.

62 comments:

Anonymous said...

Strange time to be raising rates, as AT&T is busily installing UVerse around town...

Anonymous said...

It's only a matter of time before TWC will implement that policy in Charlotte. As soon as that happens, I'll drop their service for any other ISPs.

Rob said...

C'mon Duke. Get broadband over power lines already. Put these turds out of business.

Donavon said...

Unfortunately in Concord the only alternative we have to TWC is Windstream for Internet access. As soon as TWC announces the caps here in the Charlotte area I'll be calling Windstream. 8-) TWC will likely be losing my television business as well as I'll just switch to an HD only option from a satellite provider. Home of free HD, LOL, they make you pay for it one way or another. 8-)

Anonymous said...

This is the most absurd idea I have ever heard! The more I think of it the angrier I get. TWC already charges way too much for their spotty less than stellar service. Seriously, if they do this, I will switch to any other service. It is just not worth it.

Anonymous said...

I will leave Time Warner so fast, my head will spin.

Anonymous said...

So we already have ridiculously high rates for TV with the 2 rate increases over the last 6 months, now they're going to do this? Hello AT&T!

Anonymous said...

I have been with TWC for years. The only reason I haven't left so far is because I don't want to go through the hassle of changing the email addresses. They do this, see how fast I change... That is ridiculous, especially in this economy. Then they will let all of us come back for next to nothing, with guaranteed pricing for at least a year.

molly pierucci said...

that's just not right. if they actually do this, i will cancel my service asap and go with a cheaper company- not like there arent plenty of them- i think they will see a lot of very good customers dissapear..

Anonymous said...

This is kind of a Chicken Little story. Their site http://www.timewarnercable.com/corporate/announcements/cbb.html says "Trials will begin in Rochester, N.Y., and Greensboro, N.C., in August. We will apply what we learn from these two markets when we launch trials in San Antonio and Austin, Texas, in October". So they're just going to start TRIALS in August and October. We won't see it in CLT until sometime next year.

Anonymous said...

I have DSL and love it. I had RR and hated it. No support, very spotty connection, priced too high.

Anonymous said...

Great article/"scoop", Langston. You remain up-to-date and on your game! I will be one of the ones going "Beep-Beep" down the road to the land of DSL...

Anonymous said...

Langston, thanks for this note. Great you're following this. I have now bookmarked your blog, even though the post about Boston winning the Stanley Cup is laughable

.....As for Time Warner, raising these rates to triple the current value is crazy and they are already overpriced. For their COO to say in straight face that you can have unlimited turbo for 150 per month, I say I'll go back to dial up first. I'm canceling my high speed and my cable and my internet phone, which would help drive up my bill and make my "bundle" not so great.

I'm going to UVerse or AT&T or Windstream. I'm gone from TWC forever. Hello DISh and Direct TV

Anonymous said...

We will leave TWC as well if they do this! Fees are already ridiculous to begin with...

Anonymous said...

Chicken Little? I'd say no. I think Langston is right that this is coming sooner than later. Excuse the length but let me quote the COO's press release:



Statement from Landel Hobbs, Chief Operating Officer, Time Warner Cable RE: Consumption based billing trials
4-9-09

Some recent press reports about our four consumption based billing trials planned for later this year were premature and did not tell the full story. With that said, we realize our communication to customers about these trials has been inadequate and we apologize for any frustration we caused. We’ve heard the passionate feedback and we’ve taken action to address our customers’ concerns.

With the ever-increasing flood of content on the Internet, bandwidth consumption is growing exponentially. That’s a good thing; however, there are costs associated with this increased Internet usage. Here at Time Warner Cable, consumption among our high-speed Internet subscribers is increasing by about 40% a year. As a facilities based provider, we’ve built a network that must be maintained and upgraded. We have increasing variable costs and we have to continue to invest in the network itself.

This is a common problem that all network providers are experiencing and must address. Several other providers have instituted consumption based billing, including all major network providers in Canada and others in the U.K., New Zealand and elsewhere. In the U.S., AT&T has begun two consumption based billing trials and other providers including Comcast, Charter and Cox are using varying methods of monitoring and managing bandwidth consumption.

For good reason. Internet demand is rising at a rate that could outpace capacity within a few years. According to industry analysts, the infrastructure may not be able to accommodate the explosion of online content by 2012. This could result in Internet brownouts. It will take a lot of money to fix the problem. Rather than raising prices on all customers or limiting usage, we think the fairest approach is to move to a tiered model in which users pay more if they use more.

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. We’ve made changes to the terms in our current and upcoming trial markets as follows:

• To accommodate lighter Internet users and those who need a lower priced option, we are introducing a 1 GB per month tier offering speeds of 768 KB/128 KB for $15 per month. Overage charges will be $2 per GB per month. Our usage data show that about 30% of our customers use less than 1 GB per month.

• We are increasing the bandwidth tier sizes included in all existing packages in the trial markets to 10, 20, 40 and 60 GB for Road Runner Lite, Basic, Standard and Turbo packages, respectively. Package prices will remain the same. Overage charges will be $1 per GB per month.

• We will introduce a 100 GB Road Runner Turbo package for $75 per month (offering speeds of 10 MB/1 MB). Overage charges will be $1 per GB per month.

• Overage charges will be capped at $75 per month. That means that for $150 per month customers could have virtually unlimited usage at Turbo speeds.

• Once we implement this trial, we will not immediately start billing customers for overage. Rather, we will first provide two months of usage data. Then we will provide a one-month grace period in which overages will be noted on customers’ bills, but they will not be charged. So, customers will have an opportunity to assess their usage and right-size their service packages before usage charges are applied.

• Trials will begin in Rochester, N.Y., and Greensboro, N.C., in August. We will apply what we learn from these two markets when we launch trials in San Antonio and Austin, Texas, in October, but we will guarantee at least the same level of usage capacity in these trials.

• As we launch DOCSIS 3.0 in the trial markets, we plan to offer a 50/5 MB speed tier for $99 per month.

Again, the Internet is dynamic and continually evolves, so our plans will evolve as well and aren’t set in stone. We appreciate the feedback we’ve received. We’ll look forward to more dialogue as we progress in these trials. You can send your comments and feedback to us at realideas@twcable.com.

Landel Hobbs
COO
Time Warner Cable

For questions, etc:

Jeff Simmermon
Director, Digital Communications
Time Warner Cable

Find us on Twitter at: @jeffTWC, @MsmarTWC, @MelissaTWC_TX

Lothar Waltrip said...

What's funny is that, across the board, in EVERY market they've threatened to do this, the reaction has been almost 100% negative.

But they're gonna do it anyway.

Screw Time-Warner.

Anonymous said...

This might seem like a really stupid question, but is there a way to currently determine one's current usage. The article compares this to cell phone usage, so using the same analogy, it's very easy to determine how many minutes one uses on a phone. Is there an equivalent function on one's internet service?

tarhoosier said...

I too would like to know what my current usage is to determine if a change is in the offing. How is this done? I put the question in at TWC.com and there is no answer to those words in the search.

Ken said...

I wonder if there will be a way to "read our own meter" to see how much data we've used; or will we just have to trust TW's honesty?

Anonymous said...

They are "straight-up" crooks! I will be going to AT&T or DirectTV this summer.

Donavon said...

There is currently no way to monitor your usage overall from Time Warner, but you can do it on your own. If you just have one computer using Internet in your household you can just install a usage tracker on that computer, but if you have multiple computers things get more complicated.

There is third-party firmware you can use (i.e. Tomato, DD-WRT, etc.) that will track usage for you on your router (i.e. Linksys WRT54G) or you can setup SNMP to log usage to a usage application on a computer (the computer would need to be on 24/7 though).

Comcast offers a usage tracker on their site for customers and I assume TWC will offer the same when it's rolled out. BTW, Comcast has their cap at 250GB, that's a LOT higher than what TWC is proposing (60GB at the high end).

The day TWC announces they're doing this in the Charlotte market, I'm calling Windstream and DirecTV and I'm not looking back. Does TWC really think this is worth it?

For those interested, 40GB (which TWC is proposing for their currently standard plan) is roughly 9 hours of HD content. So if you enjoy watching Lost on ABC.com, 9 hours of it a month and you'll be over your cap. That's without doing anything else on the Internet.

Anonymous said...

Add me to the list of customers that will leave as soon as the tiered rates are in effect. I hope someone at TWC is reading these comments. In the article, the argument is made that cellphone companies are charging for usage. Well, the recent trend has been to offer more and more unlimited cellphone plans that are not that much more expensive than those with limited minutes.

Anonymous said...

How is it we're paying more for one of the slowest broadband network in the world? Our download is capped at 10 Mbps(turbo) for $60 a month. It's absolutely garbage.

"In Japan, its 160 Mbps service costs 6,000 yen ($60) per month. That’s only $5 a month more than the price of its basic 30 Mbps service. In the Netherlands, meanwhile, it charges 80 euros ($107) for 120 Mbps service and 60 euros ($81) for 60 Mbps."

-http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/03/the-cost-to-offer-the-worlds-fastest-broadband-20-per-home/

Anonymous said...

"The only reason I haven't left so far is because I don't want to go through the hassle of changing the email addresses. "

That's what ISPs depend on. You're better off using a webmail address such as GMail or Yahoo Mail. You can get several for different purposes (business, personal, etc.). Then, you're not "held hostage" over your email address and can take it with you. It's not as hard as you think to change.

As far as TWC, ISPs have been looking for reasons to do this for a long time. We should not let them get away with it. First they said it was a revenue issue, but a recent WIRED blog dismissed this:

http://blog.wired.com/business/2009/04/time-warner-cab.html

ISPs and TELCOs have been getting taxpayer subsidies for years, but always keep looking for a way to charge more for their services. I currently use TWC (no TV service, just ISP) and the day they put this plan into effect will be the day I go to DSL.

Anonymous said...

I left Time Warner last month because of very bad service, rate increases and constant outages. My new at@t 6.0 dsl service is a bit faster in the upload speed, I tested it while I still had my connection with TW. The bundle package with directtv was great also. The gave me $220 cash back to change over. The only reason that I waited to change over was because that I was told DSL was slow compared to cable modem. This is wrong, false advertising. The adds on TV are comparing the slowest dsl speed to the fastest cable modem speed. I am happy with better, faster service and $220 in my pocket.

Anonymous said...

I'll drop them as well if they raise my rates. I already have Directv for my entertainment... I'll just find another provider for my high speed.

TWC Sucks! said...

How ridiculous! I'll be out like sweatpants! To bad you can't get everyone to leave to put these leaches out of business!

Anonymous said...

It seems that my regular cable bill goes up every month and now this! It is time for a dish!

Anonymous said...

It is going to happen, they hope to have it rolled out in Charlotte by next year. I know someone who works for their corporate and they gave me the heads up.....they even think its a stupid idea and the whole reason they are doing it is people are opting out of cable to watch their shows over the internet and this was the only way to cash in on it. Thankfully I dropped their service a while back and have been happy with AT&T for awhile.

Anonymous said...

Bye Bye Time Warner! I've been looking for another reason to leave you... and I just found it.

Anonymous said...

Someone posting as "Anonymous" says his name is Jeff Simmermon, a Director at TWC. If he is truly who he says he is, is he entitled to make corporate statements on behalf of TWC? I hope so, because he just did. If "Jeff" is really a TWC employee, then this is news and I hope that Langston can get an official confirmation from TWC.

Anonymous said...

For years, ISP and TELCOs have refused to update their infrastructure to accommodate internet traffic. Instead, they poured money into CEO salaries and their cash cow services such as TV and Cellular services.

They had the chance to install fiber which would have taken care of future needs, but doing so would've meant they couldn't go back to users and ask for more money because you can't "meter" fiber. That's why there is so much dark fiber out there. As long as they can continue to make the user pay for old, paid-for copper or coax, they will do so.

Anonymous said...

I was waiting until later this summer to subscribe to both TW cable + roadrunner because I'll need it for school. Unfortunately, it looks like the only way to get the CPCC and UNCC programming is through TWC. Does anyone know different? I really don't want to deal with them due to bad cable service experiences many years ago - but it looks like I may not have a choice.

Anonymous said...

Time for the cities to start offering citywide WiFi access for free. Knock TWC and the other internet gouger out of the ISP business. The internet was bought and paid for in large part by the taxpayers and so far the telco's and the cable carriers are getting filthy rich off the backs of taxpayers. The internet should be free and entirely accessible to anyone anywhere.

Karl said...

I've got AT&T Uverse. I've never had Time Warner and never will. It's stupid crap like this that keeps me from ever considering them.

I like the "virtually unlimited" comment in the one section after it mentions the $75 overage cap. The word "unlimited" is an absolute - either it's unlimited, or its limited. "Virtually unlimited" is still limited, you TWC morons. Apparently they feel their customers are too stupid to know the difference.

Anonymous said...

http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/163115/time_warner_and_atandt_cant_hide_from_the_future.html

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I have MI-Connection now rather than time warner. A lot of people complained when the town governments took over the local cable service. Where are those whiners now?

Anonymous said...

I changed from Time Warner to DirecTV and AT&T DSL months ago. I got fed up with the frequent outages and the inability to get through to a human to tell them the D@@@@@ cable is out again.

I have only had to call AT&T once with a setup problem right after we installed it. Tech support answered the phone (human being) on the third ring and fixed my problem in minutes.

Anonymous said...

This is something that TWC has been testing in Texas for some time now. New customers had to agree to sign up for the new package. Existing customers weren't put into this program.

Check out Broadbandreports dot com. They've been tracking this issue *VERY* closely.

Mr. Mojo Risin said...

what you all don't know is that "TimeWarner" stands for "sky net" in the language the aliens use, the aliens that overlook every single detail of your life over the binary
code that is transmitted over your cable lines to feed your surfing/ online banking habits. Problem is the alien in charge took a liking to octo-moms funky lips got drunk and jumped off the BOA building when he heard there was to be a reality show based on her abuse of the American Tax Payer, so now they have to rise rates to pay for his funeral costs

Anonymous said...

Also stopthecap.com has been following this.

Anonymous said...

TWC just continues to dig their own grave.

SteelerGrrl said...

I pulled the plug on TWC a month ago. Best move ever. I knew this was coming, and when the rep asked why I was canceling, I told her it was because of this. She said, "OK. Is there anything else I can help you with?" In other words, whatever.

Cable TV is totally unnecessary. All the good shows, and movies, plus a lot of stuff you won't find on TV are online anytime, just hook a laptop up to a big-screen and you're set.

TWC knows this, cable TV is a dying medium and they're trying to squeeze more and more out of fewer customers. Just vote with your wallet.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing. People are losing their jobs, the economy is going south, the Federal government has required the digital network, now TW and other cable companies want to raise their rates. You know, there was a time when there wasn't cable, so can it be again. I may go to Direct TV or Dish, forget about the internet all together.

Winstream in the Concord area is not good for internet and VPN connectivity, so I guess I will have to do without.

Anonymous said...

You can blame the government Local, state and federal for such a rediculous pricing. All 3 tax everyone and every company so high that companies have to raise their rates. Just look at the gas pump and see what tax is being paid. NC is one of the worst in the South East.

We need a Fair Tax...

Anonymous said...

Time Warner sucks! It's time we stuff it to pseudo-monopolies like this. We need more competition.

DJ BRIAN AUSTIN said...

before this even goes into effect, hackers will write programs and code to go around it somehow

Mike said...

I run a Linksys router with DD-WRT firmware. The router firmware records bandwidth data over the last 6 months.

I use vonage phone service, and Direct TV Video on demand. My average monthly bandwidth is 45GB down and 20GB up. I have had two peak months at 65B down and 28GB up.

I will obviously look at DSL when TW puts this new plan into place

Anonymous said...

So they can charge more for usage on the internet - but don't let you pick the channels you want on television. So we pay them more for what we use, but they dont' charge us less for what we don't use? Will they give a rebate to the cable subscribers who don't ever watch some of the channels they are forced to buy as part of a "package"? I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the article! I was getting ready to bundle EVERYTHING with Time Warner! What a fool I would have been!

Now I can start looking for a company that realizes that the country is in a RECESSION and that we CAN'T pay MORE!

Time Warner - SHAME ON YOU!

Jeanna Marie said...

This is asinine, especially if you have cable. I would leave TWC so fast and go elsewhere in a heartbeat, and you would have SO many pissed off customers.

Anonymous said...

If they do so long. I mean really. I already pay 45.0 a month. There comes a time when it is just not worth it.If they go to a plan like this where my kids can't go on whenever they want it is of no use to me.

Anonymous said...

If they do this, I would shut off my TV cable and my wireless immediately. I would get 2 wireless cards for my laptop and my husband and either switch to dish network or just start watching the last few things I watch on TV on the Internet!

Anonymous said...

I used to be a believer in cable speeds. Then I got stuck with MI Connection when Adelphia bailed. Garbage service, hourly service loss. I switched to DSL. Couldn't be happier, never lost service, got a nice ATT bundle with Dish Network, highly recommend this alternative.

Anonymous said...

let's see, 5 years ago, I paid $29 a month for unlimited High Speed Inet, and now it's going to more than double... seems like lesson's learned from the oil producing nations, Enron and other failed corners on the market are going unheaded here by ISP's. I turned off cable when I noticed one day that my flat panel picked up a pretty darn nice signal without paying for it.. $84 dollars a month now going back into savings account, and haven't missed cable TV since. This is clearly a straw that makes me think, I really don't need internet email, needless websurfing, media downloads anymore. Think I'll just buy books and a newspaper and enjoy sitting on the back patio, for free. PS - 30 years of Inet service at these prices = $27,000... without inflation is it really worth that. Have fun watching youtube suckers!

Anonymous said...

Considering the miserable service that we have been experiencing, at the present rates, I doubt seriously that I am going to pay a higher rate for TW internet! Direct TV...Ah, heck! Windstream...send me your brochure!

Anonymous said...

I can definitely understand their reasoning behind this, but I think Europe, Asia, and Australia have had caps for years. It just sucks that TWC's caps are less than AT&T's and Comcast's.

Anyway, a protest has been organized in Rochester, NY against TWC's cap up there. I can imagine there would be one here in Charlotte when the time comes.

http://rochester.craigslist.org/sys/1119961408.html

Anonymous said...

I keep reading about switching to AT&T. I have seen articles where they are also looking at a usage based billing system too. I would bet that they will follow once TWC moves forward. Don't forget it is hard to imagine companies that have robbed us more then the Bell companies. Just look at the local/long distance high costs they have been robbing from their customers for so many years. It is a monopoly situation where both sides are free to rob the public almost at will. It is time to make the internet like public airwaves.

Anonymous said...

tHIS IS THE DUMBING SHIT EVER!!! twc ARE LOSING THEIR MINDS

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that no one really got to the business part of this decision. It doesn't have a thing to do with "customer satisfaction." It has to do with meeting sales projections. The COO and his felons... ahh... "management team" looked at the fact that saturation (number of people getting HIGH SPEED INTERNET has slowed to a snail's pace. So, TW can't depend on adding new customers to make a LOT more money. SO, go back to the old tiered price system as dial-up, mock high speed, and true high speed, except this time, we'll look at USUAGE not the SYSTEM. So, they are going to squeeze out more money from those already using the service by creating false levels. Thereby creating the sales increases over the previous year that they want / need. I pray that other companies USE this idiocy from TW and DROP their initial prices. To hell with Tea Parties...we need some T-Warner parties. Let's do it! Vinnie Belmont

Anonymous said...

OK, Time-Warner, fine. Charge me for the bandwidth I use.

I can live with that on one condition: Do the same with your cable TV. The tier I receive has countless channels that I don't ever watch and I don't want. SO DON'T MAKE ME PAY FOR THEM!!!! Gimme the locals, ESPN, CNN, & USA, and take away the rest and refund me for not using them.

Hey, it's only fair.

Anonymous said...

Time Warner postponed these plans.

http://preview.tinyurl.com/cvrw43