Time Warner Volume Charging

leaky_pipe.jpg Transparency via memo leak?
Metered Internet access is a fact of life for many broadband users around the world, but has been largely a nonfactor when it comes to wired broadband in the US. That may change, according to a memo leaked to the Broadband Reports forums. If the memo is to be believed, Time Warner Cable will be rolling out what it calls "Consumption Based Billing" on a trial basis in the Beaumont, Texas area.

Under the proposed scheme, new customers will be able to choose from a couple of different plans with varying bandwidth caps. They'll be given online tools to monitor usage and will be able to upgrade to the next higher tier of service to avoid charges for exceeding their monthly bandwidth limit. If the trial works well, Time Warner would then roll out bandwidth caps to current customers: "We will use the results of the trial to evaluate results for possible future nationwide rollouts," reads the memo.

Bandwidth caps have been a sore subject for some users who have found themselves bumping into mysterious, undefined limits. This past fall, a number of Comcast subscribers complained that their service was cut off after having reached Comcast's bandwidth limit.

Leaked memo: Time Warner Cable to trial hard bandwidth caps, By Eric Bangeman, ars technica, January 16, 2008 – 04:12PM CT

If the memo is legitimate, it’s good that Time Warner is going for more transparency. Although if they want transparency, why don’t they just come out and announce what they’re doing?

Also, will there be a truly unlimited tier? As the original report on this memo points out:

It is rumored that Comcast has also conducted such tests, but never implemented the system because they were afraid of consumer backlash. We recently spoke to several ISPs and an industry analyst, all of whom shared those same concerns. ISPs are under pressure from investors to gain more revenue from higher-consumption users, but have had great success marketing the “all you can eat” business model to consumers.

Time Warner Cable Eyeing Overage Charges? Memo says trial will determine national deployment… by Karl, BroadbandReports.com, 03:27PM Wednesday Jan 16 2008

Time Warner may be setting itself up for problems with all-you-can-eat competitors. Oh, except in many localities there are none.