Remember Unlimited Internet Use? That's Old Hat

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News Posted: Tue, Jun 3 2008 7:45 AM

I never use up my cell-phone plan minutes, do you? The cheapest plan gives you more than I'll ever need. But it's still always in the back of your mind when you're talking on the phone: Don't go over. Time Warner Cable wants to put "don't go over" in the back of your mind, too, when you're uploading or downloading stuff on your cable Internet connection with them. They're introducing monthly allowances on bandwith use, and will levy fees for going over your limit.

Metered usage is common overseas, and other U.S. cable providers are looking at ways to rein in heavy users. Most have download caps, but some keep the caps secret so as not to alarm the majority of users, who come nowhere close to the limits. Time Warner Cable appears to be the first major ISP to charge for going over the limit: Other companies warn, then suspend, those who go over.

Phone companies are less concerned about congestion and are unlikely to impose metered usage on DSL customers, because their networks are structured differently.

Time Warner Cable had said in January that it was planning to conduct the trial in Beaumont, but did not give any details. On Monday,
[Time Warner Cable executive vice president] Leddy said its tiers will range from $29.95 a month for relatively slow service at 768 kilobits per second and a 5-gigabyte monthly cap to $54.90 per month for fast downloads at 15 megabits per second and a 40-gigabyte cap. Those prices cover the Internet portion of subscription bundles that include video or phone services. Both downloads and uploads will count toward the monthly cap.

According to Leddy, 5 percent of their customers use half the bandwith. We all know who he's talking about here. A downloaded Hi-def movie might account for up to 8 gigabytes. $50 for 5 gigabytes isn't a very good deal if you're into downloading. Other companies have intimated they might cap usage at 100 to 250 gigabytes. The average person surfing the net,  opening e-mails and looking at the attached Lolcats pictures would never come near those ceilings, but would the "free" movies on P2P sites seem so attractive if you had to pay $10 for the extra bandwith to grab them? Excuse me, I've got to go dust off my VCR.



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Ugh, that's terrible. 5GB is absolutely nothing. 40GB would also be in danger of being eclipsed by me. I'm glad I have a local DSL ISP who doesn't cap what I can download, or turn me into the authorities. ;-)

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I've always thought that 100GB was on the low side for a $50 plan but 5GB for $30 is insane. It's not even a fast connection. I understand that there are lots of people who would prefer a slightly slow, low bandwidth cap plan because all they do is email and surf, but for $30, I'm sure you can dig up a unlimited plan for that much. I'd pay $10/month for a 5GB cap, max. I think I use up around 10GB a month for just surfing alone, not even including flash (youtube).

Right now I'm paying $53/month total, after taxes, for 5mb unlimited dry DSL. Getting downgraded to 768kb and 5GB cap while only saving $23 a month is rediculous. I bet $30 isn't even the final cost. It probably baloons up, closer to $40 after some service fees and taxes.

Also, what's the point of having 15mb/s when you only get 40GB a month? That's only really going to help you with P2P or multiple simultaneous downloads since it's very unlikely you'll find a single server that will upload faster than 1mb/s per connection, these days. But with 40gb, you'll be at the cap so fast... It certainly won't help you with games since that has nothing to do with bandwidth.

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FSeven replied on Wed, Jun 4 2008 8:07 AM
If providers are going this route, there needs to be more of an open market in terms of selection.

It sucks that at my current location, my only choice is Comcast. Verizon FiOS is supposed to coming but who knows. Meanwhile, the next town over has Optimum Online which is one of the highest rated providers in the country.

I hate when politicians make the choice for me. Let consumers choose who they want to get their broadband from.

At any rate, I'm hoping Obama becomes President because he has some great policies in regards to technology. One of which is completely redefining the term 'broadband'. The Federal Communications Commission today defines “broadband” as an astonishingly low 200 kbps. This distorts federal policy and hamstrings efforts to broaden broadband access. Obama will define “broadband” for purposes of national policy at speeds demanded by 21st century business and communications.

You can see Obama's technology plan here: http://www.barackobama.com/issues/technology/

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