The Meter Is Running

[b]"We need a viable model to be able to support the infrastructure of the broadband business. We made a mistake early on by not defining our business based on the consumption dimension."
--Time Warner CEO Glenn Britt, to Business Week
[/b]

Ready to pay for your internet by the banner ad? Time Warner thinks you are.

Last week, Time Warner Cable announced Phase 2 of its new broadband pricing model, a tiered billing system that would charge internet users based on their monthly consumption. The company will soon begin metered pricing in four cities: Greensboro, NC; Austin and San Antonio, TX; and my current hometown, Rochester, NY.

Understandably, the news has sent the internet into a tizzy, which is why I thought it might be a good idea to break down the facts and put things into perspective.

But make no mistake: As gamers—many of us with families—we're the ones most affected by Time Warner's new pricing structure. This is a direct warning shot across our controllers and keyboards: a sign to wake up and smell the profiteering.

Crunching the Numbers

Here's how Time Warner's new pricing model works. Each household chooses one of five cap levels, ranging from 5 GB/month to 100 GB/month. Pricing resembles that of cell phone plans: Those who use the most broadband pay the highest amount and those who exceed their allotment are charged a fee—in this case, $1 for every excess GB.

The prices break down as follows:

5 GB: $29.99/month
10 GB: $39.99/month
20 GB: $49.99/month
40 GB: $54.90/ month
100 GB: No information yet
Source: Democrat & Chronicle

Of course, most customers have little context with which to judge this new pricing structure, since many of us have no idea how much bandwidth we use in a month. So let's crunch some numbers. I'll use my husband and I as an example.

Although we are young, childless and live in a two-gamer household, neither my husband nor I are overwhelmingly extravagant with our Internet usage. We're not even what you might consider "hardcore" gamers. Between the two of us, we buy on average one new game a month, and maybe one or two classic or casual games as well. Occasionally, we also download a few demos. But our Xbox gets most of its use on Friday nights, when I kick back with a beer and instantly stream an HD movie from Netflix.

Let's say we spring for the 40 GB plan (I choose this one because neither pricing nor availability for the 100 GB plan has yet been announced for Rochester). Would this be enough to satisfy our monthly Internet habits?

Last month, my husband bought The Witcher: Enhanced Edition off of Stardock, which was about a 13 GB download. Since I'm a sucker for Psychonauts, I bought it (again) from GameTap, at 3.78 GB. I also couldn't resist the siren call of competitive Peggle, so I picked that up too for the Xbox (0.1 GB). Together, we downloaded demos for World in Conflict, Empire: Total War (1.2 GB and 2.2 GB from Steam, respectively), and the Xbox demo for Resident Evil 5 (0.47 GB). Finally, since streaming an HD movie eats up an average of 8 GB a pop (Source: Business Week), altogether my Friday movie nights on the Xbox add another 32 GB.

So in just one month, we've downloaded about 52.75 GB on our various gaming devices. If we were on the 40 GB/month plan, we'd be paying about $67 for our broadband service. (Currently, we pay $39.99.) [Edit 4/9/09: Turns out these numbers may be off-base. See comments below for the correction.]

And that rough calculation ignores all the other multitudes of ways the two of us use the Internet: I work from home; he buys digital tunes off Amazon; I watch Battlestar Galactica episodes on Hulu; and so on. Perhaps one of us might be able to get our gaming fix on the 40 GB plan—but only if the other rarely used the Internet at all.

"To put it mildly," Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett told Business Week, "the decision to limit data consumption can be expected to have profound implications for [consumer] behavior."

Justifying the Cap

Perhaps that's the point. Time Warner justifies its new pricing model by directing blame at its heaviest users, claiming that a few terabyte-hogging party poopers with an unquenchable thirst for LOLCat clips have slowed down the network for the rest of us. Tiered billing would speed up the network, says Time Warner, by forcing these heavy users to cut back, or at least pay a premium that the company claims it would re-invest in network upgrades.

But by painting upgrades as so expensive and Herculean a task that the only way to manage them is through steep caps and punitive fees, it's obvious Time Warner is counting on consumer ignorance.

Relatively speaking, cable networks are downright cheap to upgrade; in many cases, improving speed is just a matter of upgrading the existing DOCSIS delivery platform. Consider that J:Com, Japan's largest cable company, managed to install the world's fastest consumer broadband service—160 MB/second—for less than $100 per home (Source: NY Times). Compare that to Verizon, which must spend an average of $1,500 per home to wire neighborhoods for its FIOS network (Source: NY Times). On price alone, maintaining a cable network beats the alternative every time.

So why is Time Warner so reluctant to upgrade? Well, it hasn't had any reason to. Unlike Japan or European countries, ISP competition is woefully lacking in most U.S. markets. In some areas like Rochester, Time Warner is the only reasonable choice in town.

Rochester is the only city in all of Upstate and Western New York without access to Verizon's FIOS network. Instead, we're left with Frontier Communications, an independent telephone company whose DSL line can't even come close to matching the speeds Time Warner's Road Runner service can offer.

What's more, last summer Frontier already tried its own all-inclusive 5 GB cap (yes, you read that right). Although that venture failed, it surely factored into Time Warner's decision to choose Rochester as a test city.

Likewise with the other three cities in the pilot program. Basically, Time Warner only selected test markets where it possesses a captive customer base, where the competition offers much slower service and may have even already implemented their own broadband caps.

Internet Killed the TV Star?

The whole premise of Time Warner's argument is that most subscribers don't use much bandwidth; indeed, in a previous trial in Beaumont, Texas, only 14% of subscribers exceeded their caps. But as Nate Anderson at Ars Technica asks, if most people use little bandwidth, doesn't that suggest that caps are unnecessary to keep traffic within "reasonable" limits—because the bulk of traffic is so low to start with?

After all, there will always be pirates, people running illegal file-sharing servers, and morons who can't bother to secure their Wi-Fi. But under the existing terms of service, ISPs like Time Warner already have the right to warn, discipline and ban these bandwidth hogs as they see fit. Isn't that enough?

I understand that it costs money to manage and maintain a digital infrastructure, and I certainly don't feel entitled to Internet access, much less the unlimited kind. But I can't help feeling that this new pricing scheme isn't about broadband networks at all.

Time Warner is first and foremost a cable TV company, and over the past few years, it has spent millions of marketing dollars to promote its various TV services, from HD programming to video-on-demand to DVR.

But if Time Warner's customers start streaming their TV and movies from Netflix, Hulu, iTunes and other online services, then they're not using the cable company's own offerings. Perhaps Time Warner hopes an Internet cap may change that, and push customers back to TV where no caps or fees exist.

If that's the case, then their efforts are doomed to fail. If there's one thing the last decade of technological advance has proven, it's that the revolution will be downloaded, blogged, streamed, even Twittered. Trying to prevent consumers from accessing the Internet makes them want it all the more. Savvy broadband providers will recognize this, and capitalize on the rabid customer loyalty uncapped service would undoubtedly unleash.

And when the time comes for me to choose, I plan to vote not with my computer, but with my wallet.

If you'd like more information about Time Warner's tiered billing system, or you'd just like to share your thoughts with the powers that be, email [email protected]. Or send a Twitter message to Jeff Simmermon, Time Warner's Director of Digital Communications, at @JeffTWC, or Alex Dudley, the VP of Public Relations, at @AlexTWC. Rochester residents can also call Time Warner Rochester Customer Service at (585) 756-5000, or snail-mail the local Time Warner Cable office at 71 Mt. Hope Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620. (Thanks to Stop The Cap for collating this contact info!)

Comments

Being a South African I know about the Internet void that is South Africa. I was utterly amazed when I moved to the UK and 'rediscovered' the joys of the internet.

When I left 1Mb download was the highest possible connection for home usage with various cap limits in place costing far too much. If you went over the cap limit, you get cut off from any site which is not a .co.za site i.e. The entire Internet! The only way to get connected again for the remainder of the month was to pay the monthly fee as an additional payment.

Just had a quick look at current pricing structure on the main SA communications provider
and for the fastest possible connection 4 GB TelkomInternet-AllAccess Premium Unshaped it costs R519.00. the speeds on this equate to a min sync rate of 640kbps and a max sync rate of 4096kbps - not exactly fast.

By the way 519 South African Rand = 56.65923 U.S. dollars - that's a lot of biltong

So having been used to this the cap limit pricing model adapted in the UK is a godsend

I have also read other articles that put most of the blame of clogged bandwidth lines is mostly just peoples bit torrenting specifically the uploading. Seems to me they could just put a cap on uploading and solve the problem really simply. Your typical online gamer or movie streamer would never be effected by it since none of those things uploads much data at all.

However, this would screw the Blizzard patch torrent. Cue 10M angry WoW users...

Verizon did have a high cost putting in FIOS, but that's because they ate the costs of running fiber to each house and upgrading their local and central offices to handle that. It's fully switched, non-shared bandwidth that supports phone, Internet and TV. $1500 per customer? Great. That's 10 months of the unified service. Payoff in under a year is fantastic in business terms. I mean, they fronted over a billion dollars before they took in any revenue.

Verizon put their money where no one else would and they are reaping the benefits of it. And further, they put in a *fantastic* support system. The automated diagnostics actually work, and people call you up the next day to make sure they did. I spoke with one service rep last Fall (I haven't talked to them more than once or twice a year) and he said they love their job because people *thank them* for the service. Can't beat that with a stick.

They don't have bandwidth caps because they built a modern, realistically sized network. And Fios is full of win. Occasionally, I have to go out back and mop up the excess win from my deck.

Robear wrote:

Cue 10M angry WoW users...

Well, it's not all of them, but the massive numbers of dissatisfied Comcast WoW players hasn't stopped Comcast from screwing with them constantly.

Currently looking into TekSavvy. I declined to get a home phone line installed by Bell or Rogers because I hate them, which is somewhat hampering my ability to switch internet (can't do an automated availability test without a phone line to test...). I sent their sales team an email entitled "Help me stomp Rogers into tele-pudding".

Also: way to win the Internets, Kat!

Clemenstation wrote:

Currently looking into TekSavvy. I declined to get a home phone line installed by Bell or Rogers because I hate them, which is somewhat hampering my ability to switch internet (can't do an automated availability test without a phone line to test...). I sent their sales team an email entitled "Help me stomp Rogers into tele-pudding".

Also: way to win the Internets, Kat!

TekSavvy does offer Home Phone as well. It is actually just rebadged Bell so like when you get DSL through them, some money still goes to Bell (unavoidable unfortunately) but a lot less than if you dealt with them directly.

However, this would screw the Blizzard patch torrent. Cue 10M angry WoW users...

Never thought of that but typically when I watch my patch downloading its 90% from blizzards main servers and I barely end up uploading much at all. But that does bring up the point that having an upload cap would cripple the legitimate uses of bit torrenting as well.

Are the Aussies saying capped internet is great and having a cap doesn't effect how they use the internet in ANY way? OR is this simply a case of I'm being raped by the internet company, so I'm glad that other people are starting to be raped too? (misery loves company, especially on the internet)

I don't see how any honest consumer can see internet usage caps as being a good thing, and want the practice to spreed. Either the cap is low enough to effect your use, and thus be a bad thing, or the cap is large enough to not be needed, and thus be pointless for the company to enact. This isn't a "have your cake and eat it it too" situation.

I understand the need for ISPs to charge something for bandwidth. That is what we pay for now. How fat our pipe is. I even understand needing to make sure that not every household saturates that pipe all the time. All these systems are built on an 'over subscription' model. That is to say, they know not everyone uses all the bandwidth all the time. So the pipes upstream of your connection are not 1:1 ratios to all the downstream traffic. If you have 100 users with 10Meg each, the pipe that feeds those 100x10Meg pipes is not 1000Meg (1GB). It is probably closer to 100Meg.

The cable companies and other ISPs (but not all) are still not what is referred to as Tier 1 providers. People do not look to them to ride their super fast and widespread backbones. Things are evolving where MSO (Multiple System Operators) will have backbones that rival current Tier 1 providers. Once they have the peering agreements in place with other Tier 1 providers, they won't have to pay a Tier 1 provider. What I am trying to say is that an MSO (Cable Company) has to pay a Tier 1 provider for any traffic that is served by that provider. They have to pay a fee for how much data they move. They need to be able to recoup that cost.

Now they already do that by charging a flat rate for EVERYONE. The folks who us very little bandwidth subsidize the cost for the higher capacity users. It is my thought that they can continue this model if they police the abusers; if those abusers are not abiding by the terms of service anyway.

The idea that the cable companies are using this method to steer consumers away from IP based television sources rather than their own media is an interesting one; one that seems to make a lot of sense. I know that the Cable companies are experimenting with their own IP based delivery systems for their content. However with all the work that the cable companies are doing in expanding its IP based services, using its existing HFC (Hybrid Fiber Coax) plant would lead me to believe that they are planning for that transition now. Eventually they will delivery all their services over IP based networks. At least that is the plan. In the short term this may be a method to stem the viewership exodus to other media sources, but I think the real issue is infrastructure. They don't want to pay the money to upgrade routers and lay more fiber or coax (cable uses both). It is still capital expenditures. Why take money from profits to extend the capacity beyond the current planned upgrades when they can possibly charge the customer more and not have to spend any more money? As long as they can make the model work, it is more money in, for not any more money out.

That is my perspective anyway.

I am by no means an expert on the industry but have worked for two of the largest cable companies in the United States. I could certainly be way off in my conclusions - just my thoughts.

Switchbreak wrote:

Are those bandwidth caps for computers or for cell phones? Those have to be some of the most ridiculous numbers I've ever seen.

Also, what's with the 5, 10 and 20 GB bandwidth cap prices? They charge $1/GB for every GB you go over, yet the 10 GB cap is $10 more than the 5 GB cap? It would be cheaper to go with the lower one and pay the fee! The only plan level that is cheaper than going with the 5GB and paying the overage fees is the 40 GB one. I'd like to meet the geniuses at Time Warner that put this one together.

It is genius. People who can do math will likely purchase the higher cost option even if they don't use it. People who cannot do math will purchase the lower options and pay overages anyway. Sounds like pure genius to me.

WizKid wrote:

Are the Aussies saying capped internet is great and having a cap doesn't effect how they use the internet in ANY way? OR is this simply a case of I'm being raped by the internet company, so I'm glad that other people are starting to be raped too? (misery loves company, especially on the internet)

I don't see how any honest consumer can see internet usage caps as being a good thing, and want the practice to spreed. Either the cap is low enough to effect your use, and thus be a bad thing, or the cap is large enough to not be needed, and thus be pointless for the company to enact. This isn't a "have your cake and eat it it too" situation.

Yeah, I find the commentary from our overseas brethren a little confusing. It basically reads "Hey, you get to be screwed just like us!"

WizKid wrote:

I don't see how any honest consumer can see internet usage caps as being a good thing, and want the practice to spreed.

I don't like usage caps, but I can see why ISPs use them. Bandwidth is a limited resource and there aren't many utilities that provide unlimited access for a flat fee. Average usage is only going to increase in the future and ISPs have to pay for that somehow. There's a huge range in how much people use the internet per month and reflecting that in the price seems fair to me.

The caps and prices TW are charging do look pretty crappy, but that doesn't affect the idea of usage caps in general.

Botswana wrote:
WizKid wrote:

Are the Aussies saying capped internet is great and having a cap doesn't effect how they use the internet in ANY way? OR is this simply a case of I'm being raped by the internet company, so I'm glad that other people are starting to be raped too? (misery loves company, especially on the internet)

I don't see how any honest consumer can see internet usage caps as being a good thing, and want the practice to spreed. Either the cap is low enough to effect your use, and thus be a bad thing, or the cap is large enough to not be needed, and thus be pointless for the company to enact. This isn't a "have your cake and eat it it too" situation.

Yeah, I find the commentary from our overseas brethren a little confusing. It basically reads "Hey, you get to be screwed just like us!"

Here's what I have to say to them:

Enjoy your free *ahem* healthcare while we pay through the nose to greedy doctors because our insurers don't cover what they said they would while we enjoy our free internet. We implicitly made this tradeoff years ago. Not our fault you choose poorly.

Botswana wrote:
WizKid wrote:

Are the Aussies saying capped internet is great and having a cap doesn't effect how they use the internet in ANY way? OR is this simply a case of I'm being raped by the internet company, so I'm glad that other people are starting to be raped too? (misery loves company, especially on the internet)

I don't see how any honest consumer can see internet usage caps as being a good thing, and want the practice to spreed. Either the cap is low enough to effect your use, and thus be a bad thing, or the cap is large enough to not be needed, and thus be pointless for the company to enact. This isn't a "have your cake and eat it it too" situation.

Yeah, I find the commentary from our overseas brethren a little confusing. It basically reads "Hey, you get to be screwed just like us!"

Yes, it is victim mentality at it's finest. Made all the more interesting by the exclusion of Scandinavian countries that have far better and faster connections than Americans.

Darn you Swedes! With your uncapped 10/1mbit connections and your Pirate Bays- You're ruining the internet for the rest of us! If only you were getting screwed as well....

Captain_Arrrg wrote:

Darn you Swedes! With your uncapped 10/1mbit connections and your Pirate Bays- You're ruining the internet for the rest of us! If only you were getting screwed as well....

Oh, we're getting screwed too. The good kind.

Skyrider wrote:
Poor Old Lu wrote:

Ya'know, a little competition would probably present a very quick solution. I've never understood why people put up with cable monopolies.

Your quick solution would be grand, but how do we get from A to B without a new company knocking on my door every week ready to dig another trench in my front yard, street, wherever?

Is the end answer municipal/regional ownership of the transmission infrastructure, with competition taking place among providers of content? Would that ultimately be the best end-result for the consumer?

Municipal ownership of infrastructure with companies leasing use of it could well be the best option. The leasing fees could go directly into upgrades/maintanance. Plus, it's a self-sustaining system. The more companies using it, the more lease fees, the more upgrades. Makes sense to me, at least.

magnus wrote:
Captain_Arrrg wrote:

Darn you Swedes! With your uncapped 10/1mbit connections and your Pirate Bays- You're ruining the internet for the rest of us! If only you were getting screwed as well....

Oh, we're getting screwed too. The good kind.

Curses! *shakes fist*

Kannon wrote:

Municipal ownership of infrastructure with companies leasing use of it could well be the best option. The leasing fees could go directly into upgrades/maintanance. Plus, it's a self-sustaining system. The more companies using it, the more lease fees, the more upgrades. Makes sense to me, at least.

I love the idea of municipal infrastructure, but this still leaves a major problem unsolved: the problem of population density.
I outlined earlier why cable monopolies got started, and even though it's probably more feasible these days to have a competitive environment for cable and internet, it will still be difficult to provide it for rural, low population density areas.
If municipal ownership is the answer, how will rural counties be able to afford the massive costs of installing a high speed network capable of covering everyone when their tax revenue is already very low per acre of property? Because that's the fundamental problem with a free market solution to this: the outliers will be cut off because it's too expensive to provide them access. Installing coax or fiber gets almost exponentially more expensive the farther you go, so having to run singular lines out to houses or small neighborhoods scattered throughout the countryside makes absolutely no economic sense.

Not that I support anti-competitive practices; I would like nothing better than a free market solution to this problem. I'm just having trouble thinking of one that doesn't involve leaving a certain number of customers out in the cold.

Oops, accidental double post!

Captain_Arrrg wrote:

Darn you Swedes! With your uncapped 10/1mbit connections and your Pirate Bays- You're ruining the internet for the rest of us! If only you were getting screwed as well....

And your excellent free healthcare, superb quality of living and high rates of personal happiness. Damn you!

Kannon wrote:

Municipal ownership of infrastructure with companies leasing use of it could well be the best option. The leasing fees could go directly into upgrades/maintenance. Plus, it's a self-sustaining system. The more companies using it, the more lease fees, the more upgrades. Makes sense to me, at least.

And this has worked so well on the roads, water & sewer systems. If the fees were actually spent on the actual system as intended, then it could work. I'd lay money down that the first time there was any sign of the leasing fees exceeding the cost of basic maintenance, the surplus would be put into a "rainy day trust fund," then immediately spent on some other urgent program (or budget shortfall) and never be seen again.

I wish I didn't distrust both government and utility companies quite so much

This issue only exists because of a horrible lack of competition. Cable and teleco's where gifted with huge public trusts and right of ways and have been raping the US ever since in one fashion or another. The cure is constant and real competitive threat and forced asset sharing to smash monopolistic tactics (caps being only the tip of the iceberg). That being said caps, while annoying (and these are VERY annoying) are really aimed at big contented purveyors (google is of course target number one) to force them to subsides and pay for right of way (and then priority). Pipe providers as usual (as the RIAA or MPAA due) are vastly over valuing their end of the proposition and thus feel empowered (by a lack of competition nipping at their heels) to try and hold the world hostage for as much of the pie as they can get, and if a few consumers or producers get smashed in the crossfire oh well.

Add hock statistic, I'm a average silly cone head valley kind of geek and gamer, last month my house hold ussage was
* March 2009 (Incoming: 54814 MB / Outgoing: 20035 MB)
So, about 53 Gigs and change, so well bellow comcasts 250GB, and just over the $54 40GB cap. I pay around $49 I think for comcast. So while it's not clear what small overages would range or continual overage it's obvious these tiers are being broken up in a silly (anti med-heavy user) way. That said I don't think it's going to be that big of a deal for most users. Though studies of certainly shown that caps slow innovation and usage due to the mind share effect (everybody remember when your cel phone minutes where metered tightly?), but again that is about squeezing the big guys.

Just like the telco's feel they missed out on e-mail and now avenge themselves upon us all with insane costs for SMS (a pretty much free b channel transmission for them) cable now wants to change the video story and be the IP pipe and be the content guys instead of all those annoying them that give their pipes value (never mind they have utterly failed in the past at this, they always end up trying to rebuild AOL).

Only wide spread and significant cross market competition will save us from this crap and enforce a natural order of open services and neutral pipes.

Jonman wrote:
Captain_Arrrg wrote:

Darn you Swedes! With your uncapped 10/1mbit connections and your Pirate Bays- You're ruining the internet for the rest of us! If only you were getting screwed as well....

And your excellent free healthcare, superb quality of living and high rates of personal happiness. Damn you!

And yet, they have a slightly higher suicide rate than the US. What's that about?

wordsmythe wrote:
Jonman wrote:
Captain_Arrrg wrote:

Darn you Swedes! With your uncapped 10/1mbit connections and your Pirate Bays- You're ruining the internet for the rest of us! If only you were getting screwed as well....

And your excellent free healthcare, superb quality of living and high rates of personal happiness. Damn you!

And yet, they have a slightly higher suicide rate than the US. What's that about?

It should be obvious: We're just stubborn f*ckers.

As far as municipal ownership goes, I know it _wouldn't_ work in the real world, but it's one of the best solutions I can come up with. Though, in rural areas, there's got to be a decent plan B. I don't know the issue with Telephone lines and updating them to be DSL compatible, but it seems a decent solution to me. Outside of that, I've got no idea.

wordsmythe wrote:

And yet, they have a slightly higher suicide rate than the US. What's that about?

Subsidized suicide booths.

Transfer fees are a reasonable idea, but these particular transfer caps and overage fees are ridiculous. Those of us held hostage to TWC should hope that their experiment fails or at least forces them to tweak their fees. Either way, it's time to boycott and raise a fuss.

EDIT: I also wanted to say that broadband providers have already let the cat of the bag by not capping data transfer for more than a decade. People are just not used to thinking about their internet use this way, even on their mobile devices (AT&T has no transfer caps on iPhone data plans).

More importantly there is no upside for consumers in this situation. I don't know about you, but I have very few issues with my cable internet access. If there is a bandwidth emergency, I'm not seeing it, and I'm not willing to pay to fix a problem that doesn't exist.

wordsmythe wrote:
Jonman wrote:
Captain_Arrrg wrote:

Darn you Swedes! With your uncapped 10/1mbit connections and your Pirate Bays- You're ruining the internet for the rest of us! If only you were getting screwed as well....

And your excellent free healthcare, superb quality of living and high rates of personal happiness. Damn you!

And yet, they have a slightly higher suicide rate than the US. What's that about?

Hmm that makes me wonder what the guy to girl ratio is there...

Those are pretty sucky caps. The caps in Australia aren't great either, but at least the ISPs now shape the connection speed when you exceed the caps, rather sting you excess data fees like they used to.

WizKid wrote:

Are the Aussies saying capped internet is great and having a cap doesn't effect how they use the internet in ANY way? OR is this simply a case of I'm being raped by the internet company, so I'm glad that other people are starting to be raped too? (misery loves company, especially on the internet)

I don't see how any honest consumer can see internet usage caps as being a good thing, and want the practice to spreed. Either the cap is low enough to effect your use, and thus be a bad thing, or the cap is large enough to not be needed, and thus be pointless for the company to enact. This isn't a "have your cake and eat it it too" situation.

Definitely not -- it's a terrible thing, and I think that the limits we have in place here are the main reason why no-one has started a streaming content business like Netflix over here, since there'd be so few people with enough of a data allowance on tap to really make use of it.

If anything, if Time Warner is doing is anything like what Rogers seems to be doing in Canada, you're actually getting more screwed than us. We've had caps for so long that the ISPs have developed good tools for managing them: they all have online usage meter tools (and there's a Firefox extension that will read data from most of them), and when you go over your limit, most of them use traffic shaping to drop your connection to dialup-like speeds instead of charging over-use fees. Most of them also have fairly extensive collections of unmetered content -- on my ISP, Internode, that includes Steam downloads, as well as their own mirror which has heaps of stuff, including Linux distros and game demos/patches/etc.

WizKid wrote:

Are the Aussies saying capped internet is great and having a cap doesn't effect how they use the internet in ANY way? OR is this simply a case of I'm being raped by the internet company, so I'm glad that other people are starting to be raped too? (misery loves company, especially on the internet)

I don't see how any honest consumer can see internet usage caps as being a good thing, and want the practice to spreed. Either the cap is low enough to effect your use, and thus be a bad thing, or the cap is large enough to not be needed, and thus be pointless for the company to enact. This isn't a "have your cake and eat it it too" situation.

Of course not! None of us are glad you're being screwed over - we're all just bitter ourselves. If someone complains that they're being forced to give up their sports car and ride on the bus, the people who've always had to take the bus can understand that it may suck for him, but aren't going to be able to muster a huge amount of sympathy.

That's not to say we wouldn't rather have sports cars too!

but... but... what about porn? I don't want to go back to just looking at jpegs omg!