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Time Warner Cable is at it again folks:

Here we go again.  Stop the Cap! reader Oscar noticed a tiny message on his most recent bill from Time Warner Cable stating the company had ‘updated’ their Subscriber Agreement.  Oh yes they did:

6. Special Provisions Regarding HSD Service

(ii) I agree that TWC or ISP may change the Maximum Throughput Rate of any tier by amending the price list or Terms of Use. My continued use of the HSD Service following such a change will constitute my acceptance of any new Maximum Throughput Rate. If the level or tier of HSD Service to which I subscribe has a specified limit on the amount of bytes that I can use in a given billing cycle, I also agree that TWC may use technical means, including but not limited to suspending or reducing the speed of my HSD Service, to ensure compliance with these limits, and that TWC or ISP may move me to a higher tier of HSD Service (which may result in higher monthly charges) or impose other charges and fees if my use exceeds these limits.

(iii) I agree that TWC may use Network Management Tools as it determines appropriate and/or that it may use technical means, including but not limited to suspending or reducing the Throughput Rate of my HSD Service, to ensure compliance with its Terms of Use and to ensure that its service operates efficiently. I further agree that TWC and ISP have the right to monitor my bandwidth usage patterns to facilitate the provision of the HSD Service and to ensure my compliance with the Terms of Use and to efficiently manage their networks and their provision of services. TWC or ISP may take such steps as each may determine appropriate in the event my usage of the HSD Service does not comply with the Terms of Use.  I acknowledge that HSD Service does not include other services managed by TWC and delivered over TWC’s shared infrastructure, including Video Service and Digital Phone Service.

Read more about it here, here, and here.

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Also: insults to my intelligence, douchebags:

Time Warner Cable Charts a New Course on Consumption Based Billing

Measurement Tools to be Made Available

(New York, NY) — Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) today announced it would alter plans to test Consumption Based Billing, shelving the trials while the customer education process continues.

Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Officer Glenn Britt said, “It is clear from the public response over the last two weeks that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about our plans to roll out additional tests on consumption based billing. As a result, we will not proceed with implementation of additional tests until further consultation with our customers and other interested parties, ensuring that community needs are being met. While we continue to believe that consumption based billing may be the best pricing plan for consumers, we want to do everything we can to inform our customers of our plans and have the benefit of their views as part of our testing process.”

Time Warner Cable also announced that it is working to make measurement tools available as quickly as possible. These tools will help customers understand how much bandwidth they consume and aid in the dialog going forward.

Britt added, “We look forward to continuing to work with Senator Schumer, our customers and all of the other interested parties as the process moves forward, to ensure that informed decisions are made about the best way to continue to provide our customers with the level of service that they expect and deserve from Time Warner Cable.”

Once again; Fuck you, Time Warner Cable.

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Some good news from the free market:

StoptheCap! has learned that Frontier Communications will officially pull the rug out from under Time Warner and announce it will not be imposing any usage caps or rationing plans in the metropolitan Rochester (area code 585) service area, giving the DSL provider a potential competitive advantage in the area.  The company still reserves the right to revisit the matter should their network be completely overwhelmed, but company officials also stated that they are fully equipped to handle the traffic they are getting now.

http://stopthecap.com/2009/04/05/breaking-news-frontier-officially-abandons-caps-will-go-on-marketing-attack-to-sign-new-customers/

H/t to Morgan for the research.

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So there is good news and bad news today on the subject.

Lets start with the bad:

Time Warner Cable has modified its plan for usage-based Road Runner fees, a company officer announced late last night. The company also said the trial will begin in Rochester and in Greensboro, N.C., in August, and said it plans to launch the super-fast DOCSIS 3.0 service in the trial markets.

“We’ve heard the passionate feedback and we’ve taken action to address our customers’ concerns,” Landel Hobbs, chief operating officer of Time Warner Cable, said in a statement posted on the Web.

The company is adding tiers for the lowest users and a cap for overage fees.

Among the changes:

  • Bandwidth tier sizes in trial markets, including Rochester, will be increased to 10, 20, 40 and 60GB for Road Runner Lite, Basic, Standard and Turbo packages, respectively. Package prices will remain the same, ranging from $29.95 to $54.90 per month. Overage charges will be $1 per GB per month. Previously, the tier sizes were 5, 10, 20 and 40GB.
  • A new 100 GB Road Runner Turbo package for $75 a month will offer speeds of 10 MB/1 MB. Overage charges will be $1 per GB per month.
  • A new 1 gigabyte-per-month tier, offering speeds of 768 kilobytes download/128 kilobytes upload, will cost $15 a month, with overage charges of $2 per GB per month. Hobbs said the company’s usage date shows that about 30 percent of Time Warner customers use less than 1GB a 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,” Hobbs said.

    When the Rochester trial begins in August, Time Warner will not charge immediately for overage. First, it will provide two months of usage data, then it will give a one-month grace period in which overages will be listed on bills but not charged.

    Trials will be expanded to San Antonio and Austin, Texas, in October.

  • Hobbs’ statement also said DOCSIS 3.0 would be launched in the trial markets, but did not give a date. When it is, Time Warner will offer a 50/5 MB speed tier for $99 a month; no overage fee or cap was reported.

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    Update 1: Look at the end of this post.

    Update 2: Colin has some interesting analysis of the number crunching in the Business Week article..and he beat me to posting about this by 2 minutes, but I believe having both posts will be good for the discussion.  Perhaps we can keep mine limited to the discussion of agenda and future of bandwidth with ISP’s and Colin’s can be for data analysis of media providers on the Web these days.

    Update 3: Look below for some interesting commentary from the fine folks over @ stopthecap.com

    Pardon the caps, but it’s warranted.  Trust me:

    In April, Time Warner Cable will begin collecting information on its customers’ Internet use in the Texas cities of Austin and San Antonio and in Rochester, N.Y. Consumption billing will begin in those cities later this summer. In Greensboro, N.C., the billing changes will begin sooner. Spun off from Time Warner (TWX) this month, Time Warner Cable had been testing a plan to meter Internet usage in Beaumont, Tex., since last year.

    By charging a premium to the heaviest broadband users, much the same way cell-phone providers collect fees from subscribers who exceed their allotted minutes, Time Warner would upend a longstanding pricing strategy among Internet service providers. Typically, phone and cable companies charge flat fees for unlimited access to the Web. “We need a viable model to be able to support the infrastructure of the broadband business,” Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt says in an interview. “We made a mistake early on by not defining our business based on the consumption dimension.” Time Warner Cable has 8.4 million broadband customers.

    FOUR PROPOSED BROADBAND TIERS

    Consumer advocates and Web site owners say tiered Web-use pricing limits customer choice and could stifle innovation by crimping demand for high-bandwidth services such as online video and music. Cable and phone companies say they need flexibility in setting prices for use of large, expensive, heavily used broadband networks.

    In the case of Time Warner Cable, customers will be charged from $29.95 to $54.90 a month, based on data consumption and desired connection speed. Customers will be charged $1 for each gigabyte (GB) over their plan’s cap. Time Warner Cable offers four cap levels of 5, 10, 20, and 40 GB. A download of a high-definition movie typically eats up about 8 GB. A recent report from Sanford C. Bernstein suggests that a family on the 40 GB plan that streams 7.25 hours of online video a week (a fraction of the 60 hours Americans spend watching TV in a week) could end up spending $200 per month on broadband usage fees. And that’s just for video viewing, before factoring in such Internet activities as music downloads and photo sharing. “To put it mildly,” says Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett, “the decision to limit data consumption can be expected to have profound implications for [consumer] behavior.”

    But Time Warner says most people are not using that much data. The company’s trial in Beaumont, Tex., lasted several months. Of the 10,000 broadband customers enrolled—about 25% of the company’s total for Beaumont—about 14% exceeded their cap and had to pay additional fees that averaged about $19 a month. Time Warner Cable also discovered that the top 25% of users consumed 100 times more data than the bottom 25% of users, suggesting an enormous gap in usage patterns.

    This is such a crock of fucking shit.  What about my legit uses of bandwidth:

    - YouTube, Hulu, Vimeo, DailyMotion, and every other streaming video site.

    - Netflix Instant queue streaming.

    - iTunes (Podcasts, TV Shows, Movies, etc etc)

    and the one that gets me the most enraged…

    - XBOX Live/PS Network/Wii Online  (Are you going to fucking tell me I have to pay extra now just to fucking download 1 GB demos and/or content for games…or play Halo!?)

    Hell, for all the shit Comcast pulls, at least they give you a 250GB cap.  I mean…that’s LIVEABLE, but 25$ 30$ a month for 5GB?

    ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!

    Let me hear your rage, fellow and/or former Rochesterians.

    Update: Hit the jump for less anger and more rationale.

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    From BusinessWeek:

    Rut Roh Juicers.

    Time Warner cable, starting in April, is beginning to collect usage data from users in Austin, San Antonio, and Rochester. Later in the summer, they will begin charging based on multiple levels of usage per month: 5, 10, 20, and 40 GB. 

    Kind of sucks hard, and feels like a step backwards.

    Just something to add: I planned on writing this post about how I am pretty pissed about the capping, and I am, but I got sidetracked because I think I found a flaw in the article. I think they are wrong in some of their math.

    According to Hulu and RealWorldVideoCompression.com, an average video stream from hulu will be between 480 and 700 kbps. That is an average of 590 kbps, which translates into ~74 KBps, rounding up for audio.

    270 MB for an hour long, low definition video on Hulu. Which sounds about right.

    The article, however, claims

    A recent report from Sanford C. Bernstein suggests that a family on the 40 GB plan that streams 7.25 hours of online video a week (a fraction of the 60 hours Americans spend watching TV in a week) could end up spending $200 per month on broadband usage fees. And that’s just for video viewing, before factoring in such Internet activities as music downloads and photo sharing.

    Really? Lets take our 270 MB for an hour of video. You would need to watch about 148 hours a month @ 270 MB an hour to use 40 GB of data. Thats 37 hours of video a week.

    Lets assume that kb and KB were never properly converted, and that an hour of streaming video was 2,160 MB, or 2.160 GB (which is definitely not true), then a family that watches 7.25 hours of video a week would be using 15.66 GB / week, or 62.64 GB / Month, which … is still off by a factor of ten, according to this guy, who claims that 7.25 hours of streaming video a week is effectively 240 GB of transfer a month.

    Sounds like some stretched numbers to me. What is he assuming, that the average household streams blue ray data to their home?

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