In February, Time Warner Cable began offering lower-cost, capped Internet access to customers in some parts of Texas. Apparently this was a success, as the company plans to expand the option to other markets around the country.
TWC’s Essentials plan gives customers a $5/month discount if they are willing to accept a 5GB/month cap on their Internet usage. Overages are charged at $1/GB with a max of $25/month. There’s no announcement yet on which markets the plan will be offered in.
TWC tried — and failed miserably — to force tiered broadband on some customers back in 2009. This return to the metered well has been positioned as a way for thrifty customers to save money.
But is it a good deal? While it’s nice to offer a plan for people whose Internet use is minimal, a $5 discount strikes us as insufficient.
Say you’re an Internet-only customer and your bill is $60/month for “unlimited” service. Is it worth giving up all that access to only pay $55/month (assuming you don’t go over)? And when your friend cat sits for the weekend and streams a ton of movies and baseball games on their laptop, you could end up paying more than unlimited customers while still using significantly fewer gigabytes.
Beyond that, DSL Reports’ Karl Bode sees “voluntary” tiered broadband plans as the thin edge of the wedge:
While Time Warner Cable may keep their unlimited option, they’ll obviously make it less and less attractive as an option by making it prohibitively expensive. As we’ve seen in Canada, those monthly cap ceilings also have a way of magically rising as time goes on.
Thanks to David for the tip!