Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, April 8, 2009 9:45 pm

Meter this

Filed under: I want my money back. — Lex @ 9:45 pm
Tags: ,

I’m a little late to this, but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless because it’s the kind of thing that needs wide publicity … so it can be viciously nipped in the bud.

Time Warner Cable, which has no competition in this market, has made Greensboro one of four test markets nationally for metering Internet usage and surcharging accordingly. (The others are Rochester, N.Y., and Austin and San Antonio in Texas. Interestingly, all four are noted for their vibrant online communities.) My Internet account is with Earthlink, but Earthlink uses TWC’s coax to get into my house, so I’d be affected.

$1-dollar-per-gigabyte surcharges would begin accruing at the 5-gigabytes-per-month level. That’s not much if you download movies (particularly high-def ones), as many people do, or do a lot of online gaming. (Additional information here, here.) If you’re curious about your usage and your Internet service provider doesn’t give you a way to monitor it, you can download a free program here to check it. It’s not clear, but I think you’d need to put a copy on every computer on your network and then sum them.

In this thread, commenter Ged makes the case that this plan has less to do with Time Warner’s costs of providing service than it does with driving customers away from Netflix, et al., and toward Time Warner services. Thread host Ed Cone points out that last-mile delivery really is an issue, but it seems a very flimsy excuse for this particular plan.

If you’re in Greensboro and on Facebook, there’s an opposition group here that you can join. A Stop Time Warner site also has been created, although at this writing nothing’s up yet. There doesn’t look like there’s much the city of Greensboro (with which TWC has a franchise agreement) can do, but at least one congresscritter is riled about it, which is good.

We need to stop this. I would grudgingly accept the right metering plan, one that balances the company’s need to make a profit with a realistic understanding of how the Internet is used, but this is far and away the wrong one.

UPDATE: Ben Hwang has more here on why this is such a wrong call and what TWC might actually be up to.


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