TWC is Insane (and Anti-competitive)

Dave Zatz —  June 3, 2008

Later this week Time Warner Cable will begin testing a broadband service cap of 40GB/month in Beaumont, Texas. Before I level my anti-competitive claim, let me say upfront that I’m not opposed to tiered pricing. Having some sort of threshold that separates the abusers, power users, and home businesses from “typical” consumer usage is fine with me – makes perfect sense. However, a stingy monthly allowance of 40GB (@ $54.90) leaves me with the impression that TWC realizes they’d lose a Net Non-Neutrality fight and are taking a different tack to encourage customers to stick with their VOD services or get on board with their VoIP services – presumably cap-free.

I couldn’t care less that they’re providing a network abuse-a-meter… I’m not a BitTorrent user, yet I know I’d blow right by that 40GB cap via mundane Mozy backups and a few monthly HD movie rentals (~4GB/each via Vudu, Xbox, Apple TV). You’ll rarely find me in Comcast’s corner, but their proposed 250GB limit is far more reasonable. Until TWC considers a limit of at least 100GB, I’ll continue to assume this isn’t at all about financing a “needed investment in the infrastructure” but rather an anti-competitive VoIP and VOD play.

And if you live in Beaumont, TX I suggest taking your business elsewhere. (Though, TWC is probably too smart to run this trial in a Verizon FiOS neighborhood…)

14 responses to TWC is Insane (and Anti-competitive)

  1. [That would be 'couldn't care less'. As it is written now, it almost reverses your argument.]

    FWIW; I think you’re wrong. Letting bandwith caps in, even for ‘abusers’, is opening the door to the virtual monopolies that cable companies are to make internet as expensive as cable TV.

    Also, a la carte isn’t possible when they’re delivering TV, but they have no problems delivering tiered services for their internet services?

    Can’t wait for Wimax.

  2. What makes you think Wimax will be unlimited? Sprint’s instituting a 5GB cap on 3G cards next month…

  3. My biggest problem with the likely future of broadband providers is the idea that a single company can own significant content properties while also owning the pipes that transmit content. There’s just too much incentive to prioritize their own traffic in some way.

    At the same time, I’m keenly aware of the unintended consequences that a Net Neutrality law could bring about. I’d love to believe that type of regulation would work, but I’m not convinced. (politically liberal, but realistic) The only sensible solution I can come up with is *reasonable* caps. Ones that will satisfy 80%-90% of users, with the top-tier folks understanding they (we) have to pay more to get more.

  4. I recently moved to the Lower 48 from Alaska. For much of the time I lived there, the two providers in my town were capping at a whopping 10GB. This wasn’t po-dunk, it was about an hour from Anchorage. In the smaller communities, the cable company had much smaller caps (2 GB, IIRC). Eventually the cable co uncapped their service in my community and the telco left theirs capped, so I started recommending they go with the cable co.

    The base price was fairly standard, $45 or so per month. If you went over the cap, it was $10/GB, which I found to be obscene! A couple linux distros and some streaming video and you’re paying over a hundred a month!

  5. They’ll institute caps and ratchet it down until eventually something better comes along and forces them to relent. Until that time, I suggest we all download as much content as possible because the nuclear winter is coming…

    Also, how do my slingboxes affect bandwidth since I’m not saving those streams?

  6. Lack of competition is what makes this capping plausible. I fear it would reverse the move towards streaming applications, placeshifting and purchasing media content online.

    I hope if we have to deal with caps they will be very “reasonable” – but I’d rather not have to deal with them at all of course.

  7. Caps are common in the UK. You can pay more for an unlimited provider.

  8. To rent a movie on iTunes now, a TWC subscriber would have to pay $3.99 for the movie plus an additional $1.25 bandwidth overage fee, a 24% tax on the item. Sounds like a solid plan for digital distribution.

  9. Hey…at least they aren’t in Alaska. The price here starts at 39.99 for 1 Mbps/512 Kbps with a monthly limit of 5 GB. 49.99 for 2 Mbps/512 Kbps with a limit of 10 GB, 3 Mbps/756 Kbps for $69.99 with a limit of 20 GB, and 4 Mbps/756 Kbps limit of 25 GB and $99.99. Taking about insane pricing….and stupid limits….I don’t feel any one because we are getting raped up here.

    You can have unlimited access but you have to have it bundled with television and phone. Then the speed is increased to 3 Mbps/512 Kbps, 5 Mbps/512 Kbps, 7 Mbps/756 Kbps and 10 Mbps/1 Mbps.

  10. I’ve written before about my beef with Time Warner’s substandard cable, but I’ve just about had it. I’m currently posting this over a USB connection to my EDGE T-mobile phone, thanks to broken internet service. Ugh…I wish T-Mo would give their EDGE a boost like at&t did around the iPhone launch. This feels like dial-up.

  11. After reading this I have installed a program to track my bandwidth volume for the whole house. I just want to see how much we use with all of the computers and other things that are connected to the internet.
    From 10am to midnight yesterday we used 1.36GB. I am positive I use more then 40 GB monthly. Let’s just hope Comcast doesn’t do this in my area.

  12. What program did you install? And where on your network does it live? I’m curious now, too…

  13. I find it pretty funny that my local Time Warner office recently “bumped up” the speeds from 6gb to 8gb for standard Roadrunner, and 8gb to 10gb for Roadrunner plus, or whatever it is called. In the meantime they are testing out caps. More bandwidth available, but caps to the amount of data you can get? This seems pretty silly to me. Then again, this is not the first time a cable company has done silly things…

    FIOS where are you??

  14. Another set of reasons to bring in your own T1 and disti to the neighborhood for a fee. But then, I don’t watch TV.