Time Warner Cable Testing The Waters Of Metered Broadband Again

It’s been nearly three years since Time Warner Cable dropped its much-derided plans to roll out metered broadband. Now the company thinks the time might be right to give it another go, but this time it would be an option for customers looking to save a few bucks.

TWC announced yesterday that it will be testing the new “Essentials Broadband” program in parts of Texas (San Antonio, Laredo, Corpus Christi, the Rio Grande Valley).

“Yes, we did try this before, a few years ago,” writes the company’s director of digital communications. “And yes, pretty much everyone agrees that it didn’t go so well. So we listened to customer complaints. A lot.”

So this time, rather than forcing customers into usage-based pricing, the company says that people will offer a $5/month discount for those willing to accept a 5GB/month limit on data. Overages will be charged at $1/GB with a maximum of $25/month.

Customers would have access to a “meter” to track usage.

“Ultimately, we want to give our customers that maybe use less data a price break,” writes TWC. “Heavy data users are a smaller portion of our customer base.”

Launching An Optional Usage-Based Broadband Pricing Plan In Southern Texas [TWCableUntangled via Houston Chronicle]

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  1. yurei avalon says:

    5GB a month? That’s hilarious. What are the other tiers I wonder… I didn’t see them in the linked article. I think we come close to exceeding Comcrap’s 250 GB cap most months. 5 GB my butt.

    • who? says:

      5GB or unlimited. Unlimited stays the same price, but 5GB is $5 less than unlimited. Not so hard to read the article at all.

    • longdvsn says:

      At least it looks like they’re leaving the unlimited option (for now). A 5GB cap should have a much bigger discount than just $5 off though.

      I’d go through 5GB in less than 5 days just based on watching good ole porn – not including movie streaming, online gaming, and others.

  2. Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

    5 GB a month?
    That’s one game download on steam, which would take me less than an hour.

    So… no. I’m just glad it’s not a forced cap or meter.

    Seriously, does anyone actually use less than 5gb a month on their home computer?

    • MutantMonkey says:

      I’m sure there are a lot of people that do. Not everyone is using Steam and/or Netflix.

    • dpeters11 says:

      I hear you, Skyrim was about 5-6 gig. But there are a lot of people that don’t use that much data so a cheaper limited plan can make sense.

      But, $5 a month discount is not nearly enough to make sense. But, at least its opt in. Most users likely won’t switch, even if they do use less data.

      Or, this is how it starts, then moves to all new customers go on this plan etc.

    • smartmuffin says:

      Old people who do nothing but send e-mails and read the occasional news story. Maybe farmville every once in awhile.

    • smartmuffin says:

      Old people who do nothing but send e-mails and read the occasional news story. Maybe farmville every once in awhile.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        i was going to say this. i have a lot of elderly customers who tell me they turn the pc on to check their email on saturdays and that’s about it. i guess if they got a lot of emailed pictures of the grandkids they could go over the limit

    • farcedude2 says:

      I did, when I was limited to that much on a satellite connection (it was the only thing besides dialup that was available). But it sucked, and I wouldn’t do it willingly.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      Median user consumes about 8GB/month, so yes, lots of people use 5GB or less.

    • McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

      Wow. I think I pull a gig a day.

      Also, $5 discount is pretty shitty off of road runner’s base price.

  3. scoutermac says:

    The scary thing is NewAdvance owns Comcast, Timewarner, and Brighthouse. If one starts this the other will surly follow.

    • The Brad says:

      I think you need to go back and cite your scources. Comcast and Time Warner are completely seperate companies and Brighthouse has a carriage aggreement with TW. In no way are the 3 companies owned by a single bigger company.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      Nope, wrong, sorry. First off, there’s no company called NewAdvance. Maybe you mean Advance Newhouse? They own Brighthouse cable.

      Secondly, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and Advance Newhouse are entirely separate companies. Time Warner Cable and Advance Newhouse used to have a joint venture, but they dissolved it at least 5 years ago (Time Warner took some of the systems and Brighthouse the rest).

  4. weezedog says:

    They are out of their minds again. Going from unlimited to 5GB for only a $5 discount. A 5GB/month plan should only COST $5, not give a $5 discount to a $40+ plan. People already pay $35-$40 a month for 5GB, its called a cell phone plan, except you can access that anywhere not just from home. And even then cell phone plans are STILL overpriced.

    • weezedog says:

      Oh and I also was in one of Time Warner’s test markets (the old Western Ohio division before it was done away with) and almost 10 years ago they sent out a letter trying to cap us at 40GB/month and it back fired hugely. That was 40GB a month TEN years ago and it didn’t work. And they think 5GB cap is going to work now…..OUT OF THEIR MINDS…..

  5. dolemite says:

    Don’t fall for it. It starts with “discount” pricing, then they eliminate unlimited completely, and next thing you know, you are paying $80 a month for 25 GB and $2 per GB above that (oh, and speeds stay the same).

    5 GB? Have they been talking to cell phone companies? That’s like 1 HD movie. Hell, one video game download these days is 10-20 GB.

  6. Foot_Note says:

    *Squeal* Consumer

  7. sirwired says:

    Calm down folks. Yes, the discount is small enough that not many users will “bite”, but for a web-surfing, facebooking, and e-mailing user, 5GB is not that restrictive of a limit. Yes, heavy media or gaming users would slam up against that in no time, but that doesn’t mean the program is completely worthless.

    • dolemite says:

      True, but any savvy person has seen this time and again. They simply get their foot in the door with some kind of “tiered” pricing model, then work their way up. Their mistake the first time was attacking it head-on, with tiered for everyone, and caps. That didn’t go over well, and they realized their mistake. This way, they open the door a crack, with a ridiculous $5 off for 5 GB limit for the lower end people, then after 6 months or a year, maybe bump it up to X amount for 10 GB, and next thing you know, in order to “better serve our customers’ needs, we are completely restructuring our pricing platform to be *consistent*. Now we have 5 GB tier, 15 GB, 25 GB and for $90 a month you can get 50 GB! What a bargain!”

    • bhurt544 says:

      Yes, but around a 10% discount for surrendering greater than 90% of the product ? What Time Warner is trying to do is establish a much higher price point for data down the road. They apparently are jealous of Verizon and trying to bring home internet in line with mobile internet, which is about what this plan is. Every day, other countries continue to try to expand Internet access and speed because they know it is the future while our corporate overlords try to buggy whip us back to the dark ages. And you can’t see why some of us would be upset ?

      • who? says:

        If it’s the 90% of the product that someone doesn’t use, then why wouldn’t they switch? My mom doesn’t come anywhere near 5GB/month. She’d be perfectly happy to take the $5 discount.

        Several years ago, I switched from cable to directv to save $15/month. The retentions person for the cable company tried to tell me that cable was worth an extra $15, because the directv package I was signing up for had fewer channels than the cable package I was dropping. However, all of the “extra” channels were channels I never watched. So from my perspective, I was paying $15 less for the same basic product. This is the same thing.

        • bhurt544 says:

          The problem is that a change in magnitude of this size is worth a whole lot more than $5. It would also be more in line with limiting the number of hours you can watch TV than the number of channels. You can accept what you want, but would you go but a dozen eggs and then give up 10 for a 10% discount because you knew you wouldn’t use them ? The problem really lies with that if enough do this, eventually that becomes the new price, which is exactly what Time Warner is hoping for. See dolemite’s post below.

    • RiverStyX says:

      You dont see the catch 22 here. Why would you need a cable internet line if that’s all you’re doing? Dialup could do all of the jobs you just described.

      • sirwired says:

        Come on… dial-up? Dial-up is painfully slow for everything except e-mail. You cannot websurf over dialup. At all.

  8. Rocket says:

    “And yes, pretty much everyone agrees that it didn’t go so well. So we listened to customer complaints. A lot.”

    This has got to be the funniest thing I’ve read this week so far. We listened to complaints, we didn’t do anything to fix those issues, but we sure as hell listened.

  9. ClemsonEE says:

    I HATE MEDIA PROVIDERS!!! They continue to rape us and there’s nothing we can do about it.

    Seriously, 5GB?! Please tell me that’s a typo and they mean at least 50GB (which is still a significantly small number for home broadband).

    • bfwc07 says:

      I remember back in the day when AOL had started their unlimited internet plan, but did not have enough capacity to handle the load, so people would often not be able to log on at busy times of the day. So some official at AOL said that people should be courteous to others and during busy times only check their e-mail quickly then log off to give someone else a chance.

    • who? says:

      You’re comparing a metered data plan with a violent physical sexual assault. Get a grip.

  10. alstein says:

    I’m super wary on this one.

    The problem is, given NC’s stupid anti-community broadband law, paid for by TW dollars (probably with a helping of Koch Bros money)- soon to be heading to GA, and lack of competition locally, there isn’t anything that can be done about it.

    Argh.

  11. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    My provider (Suddenlink) has caps in some markets and a clearly stated goal of expanding them across the board. Working from home with Skype running from 9-6 M-F is puts me over the 250GB limit they will be allocating.

    Sadly my other choice is AT&T.

    • elangomatt says:

      I bet they would probably tell you that you should get a business line instead of consumer. Oh, and if you did go with a business line, then they would probably have trouble giving you the QoS that you should expect out of the business line.

  12. Grogey says:

    What happens if there computer is compromised and becomes a bot on someones network? Is the customer responsible for the associated bandwidth costs caused by the compromised machine?

  13. Hoss says:

    Let’s see if I understand this. They say “there is an ever-growing segment of the American population that has to make some hard choices about which bills to pay and which services to cut.” That tells me more people are cutting cable and the smart way for TWC to maintain revenue is to charge for watching content via streaming. Optional? That will change the second competitors try to maintain revenue the same way.

  14. maxamus2 says:

    Why do several of you talk about “old people”? Most people actually have LIVES and don’t need to play silly games to entertain themselves. And if you have Netflix there is no need to download movies.

    • dolemite says:

      As just about every human on the planet has hobbies, I’d love to know the appropriate ones that would not be considered silly or a waste of time. Judging by people at work, 99% of people spend 90% of their free time watching inane, banal, predictable dramas, reality shows and game shows.

  15. Sunflower1970 says:

    That’s going to go over like a lead balloon. These companies just don’t learn, do they?

  16. gedster314 says:

    You know how that is going to work. It will start and 6 months later everyone gets a notice that basic internet is $35/month for 10GB and $75 for 100GB.

    Providing data is dirt cheap for cable companies. For many people there is no choice for TV and broadband providers. The government allowed these little monopolies so the cable companies could get make back the cost of initial installation. Its long past time to let other companies provide services on the fiber/coax running in to homes.

    • Invader Zim says:

      When it does that more people will slice the cable right off and only pay for internet. They will force many people to choose. Im not real sure if in the end they will win or lose that one.

  17. vastrightwing says:

    Wrong! “Ultimately, we want our customers to think they won’t use 5GB/month and then raise our ROI quite a bit by hitting these suckers… I mean customers who under estinate their usage with huge surcharges.” I’ts legal if we offer people “choice”, right? Of course we’ll adjust our prices to encourage more and more of our customers to go with metered plans. Then after critical mass, we’ll turn off the unmetered plans and then we can really bolster our bottom line.

    Am I off base here?

  18. gqcarrick says:

    What a joke. Bandwidth is dirt cheap, and when I worked for Adelphia, the profit margin on high speed internet was over 90%. If this goes through there really needs to be an end of cable exclusivity areas and make the cable companies fight it out for every subscriber. Obviously they don’t care about the customers so why should we care about them?

  19. Tacojelly says:

    Seriously this needs to stop. So many companies are offering more and more online service and the content providers want to just not keep up with times?

    My wife and I clear 350 EVERY month. No illegal downloading, just taking advantage of the new services provided to use through companies like netflix, valve, amazon, skype, webex, microsoft, apple, etc.

    Now I know we aren’t the norm, but I also know my parents (some of the most technologically challenged people) use at least 50 gb a month these days, so obviously the “8-10″ or “less than 5″ lines about the majority of their customers is a little outdated.

    Hell, assuming you have at least two different phones in your household, a video game console, two PCs, a netflix subscription, and say each individual subscribes to 3 podcasts each (around 60 MB each per week)… including firmware/software/app udpates and downloads and just casual browsing and file sharing, that could very easily come close to 250 GB; and IMHO, if you pay for the internet, you should not have to keep checking up on your usage like we’re in a bandwith drought.

    • dolemite says:

      Yup…it will boil down to ISPs (a rather stagnant market) wanting to try and move to a more profitable tiered model which rips people off (like cell phone models), vs hurting some of the fastest growing businesses, which are internet startups. Kind of like how we just about ruined the web with SOPA simply because a few companies lose some $ due to piracy.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      250GB is 2 hrs a day of HD Netflix streaming. That’s vastly more than all buy a tiny proportion of users consume. Median’s about 8GB a month, mean about 20GB.

  20. Brian Cooks says:

    really? a whole $5 off their monthly bill. Sign me up!

  21. RiverStyX says:

    I did the math..On my 10mbit line at $35 a month, I can download 4gb per hour..If my connection was maxed out 24/7, That adds up to 96Gb per day, 672Gb per week, 2668Gb per month..That means for saving $5 – the price of a cup of coffee served up with a side of smugness – you’re getting 533% less of what you’re entitled to by simply paying the extra 500 pennies..or 100 nickles, or 50 dimes, or half a roll of quarters.

    That $35 takes me roughly 2 hours of work to pay for, these companies are just completely brain-dead for being internet service providers. Besides the ISP Sonic, Is there a single voice of reason left that doesn’t have their heads shoved so far up their asses? Even google sucks when it comes to providing internet to the masses, and I ain’t exactly thrilled that Time Warner is a SOPA supporter, either. Other countries across the pond have it so much better, what is it with these neanderthals in charge of providing internet in america? The idea is to evolve and provide faster internet for a lower price, all I’ve heard in the last odd number of years is the exact opposite, and this is no exception. Fuckin’ nickle and diming hosebags!

    tl;dr – People buy cable internet for cable internet. If they wanted a cheap restricted dsl line by some assholes like AT&T, they would do that instead. You can’t nickle and dime people into a “better” offer, it does not work in the real world.

    • Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

      Between this, SOPA, the no-trial if you’re a suspected terrorist, Romney/Santorum, political oppression of Occupy, warrantless wiretapping, strip searches for jaywalking, vets going without medical care, Supreme Court probably blocking the health care law, Bush 2, free speech zones, and a society that thinks Jersey Shore is good fun…I’m seriously considering a move to Norway or some other country where freedom and sensibility are more highly prized.

  22. Stickdude says:

    So. It has come to this.

  23. BigDragon says:

    Doesn’t Time Warner already have a bandwidth cap? I really think it needs to be law for them to refund customers who don’t use all of their allotted bandwidth in a given month. If you pay $50 for 100GB and only use 50GB of that, then it should be law for Time Warner to have to refund you $25 since you only used half your allotment. Charging people $45 for 5GB instead of $50 for 100GB is pure ridiculousness. Let’s call their new bandwidth plan what it is — a ridiculous profit-generating scheme that hampers internet commerce, innovation, and usability.

    I’ve used 40 GB over the past week buying stuff from Steam for my new comp. I’ve pulled down a GB or two in updates too. 5GB is downright laughable. Time Warner appears to want to make land line internet just as ridiculous as cell phone internet. They only want usage-based billing so they can charge overages and avoid having to spend money on their infrastructure to increase money going to profits. As a taxpayer forced to subsidize many of their efforts I’m outraged, and all of you should be too.

    Forcing ISPs to refund customers for underages when these companies charge for overages should be law.

  24. Outrun1986 says:

    What about people who upload to the cloud…

    Even without any illegal downloading you can still pull tons of bandwidth, heck the average household with a mom, dad and 2.5 kids has a couple iPhones, iPod touch’s, xbox’s and playstation’s not to mention other cell phones and laptops and computers that all pull data.

  25. esc27 says:

    Why all the complications? Why not just give me a $5 credit every month I use less than 5 GB? Why is the overage charge capped at $25 instead of the $5 difference between this and unlimited? Why not just bump people who go over to unlimited for the month and charge the x+$5 rate? Unless the goal is to take advantage of all those who sign up for $5 less and then go over the limit like the much derided debit card overdraft protection offered by banks…

  26. dush says:

    If these caps cut off your service and you never had to worry about overages that would be fine if someone wanted to pay for that plan.
    The problem is they hope to keep charging you more by getting you to go over the cap.

  27. icerabbit says:

    It is absolutely outrageous to even suggest that you will get a measly $5 off your $35-45 internet bill (bundled or single) if you restrict yourself from “unlimited” to 5GB/mo.

    What a fake proposal to save consumers some money.

    That brain haired idea is just another one right up the alley of TWC millionaire executives. Screwing their owns customers one year at a time with less service and higher prices. Their tiered price structure has gotten totally out of hand. Then they cut analog cable. Now they’re pushing for encrypted basic cable … goodbye cable without paying for a box … Anyway … I digress.

    If TWC wants to see reduced use and wants to do the right thing by offering a cheaper solution to seniors, people on a more limited budget, etc they should carry essential account and charge per GB.

    Since they allow several GB of use per day on a regular account, then a 5GB limited home broadband account should possibly carry a $5 account fee and a $1/GB price tag. That way someone using just a few GB would come out at $10 … which would be a very welcome reprieve for seniors who are now forced to pay full price.

    But no … we’ll take your $40 for 5GB of usage per month from now on …

    Flipping !!!!!

    Speaking of telcos … what ever happened to VZW DSL LITE that costs $20/mo???
    I am aware of two instances where VZW ” mandates ” FIOS and prohibits any DSL from any provider. And, there is no FIOS Lite for people with limited data needs. Seniors can’t use dial-up and can’t get basic DSL service. The only two offerings are $50 FIOS and BrightHouse. …

  28. Levk says:

    5 gigs? well i guess they plan to make money somehow I can waste 5gigs pretty easy and odds are the people that will go to this plan have no idea what so ever how much they waste, so they will always go over and tho it says 1$ per gig i bet you there will be other charges as well.

  29. Chrisnif says:

    This is a great idea for those on the ultra light cable internet. I think it’s like 768/128k or 1.5/256 or some garbage. I might have trouble using 5 gb per month if that was my speed. Thank god for 50/5, and I want more I tell you.

  30. FrugalFreak says:

    Even with caps, I WILL NOT pay for expanded TV! You will NOT get my money, I don’t want the crap You are selling on the cable side. When will we as a country learn to not let companies take control? I saw this coming because so many people in this country has too much instant wanting rather than hold out for what will serve them better?

    My first recommendation is to pry broadband from the hands of cable TV ISPs or come up with an alternate technology to stream broadband wirelessly that is seperate from any entity that sells or serves entertainment.

  31. CrazyEyed says:

    Who are they kidding. Unless you are a senior citizen utilizing the internet to browse news sites, check online banking, and watch a few viral videos, the average user would exceed 5 GB in a week to two weeks, especially if the household has more than one computer/laptop, smartphones and other connected devises. Forget online gaming or streaming netflix then if you want this plan.

  32. VashTS says:

    This is disturbing. Listening to their customers…..more like we do what we want customers be damned.

  33. Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

    Between this, SOPA, the no-trial if you’re a suspected terrorist, Romney/Santorum, political oppression of Occupy, warrantless wiretapping, strip searches for jaywalking, vets going without medical care, Supreme Court probably blocking the health care law, Bush 2, free speech zones, and a society that thinks Jersey Shore is good fun…I’m seriously considering a move to Norway or some other country where freedom and sensibility are more highly prized.