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

I wonder if this might not end badly for TWC, like less money badly.

Quick dirty example to follow.

If they have 100 customers each that pay $50 for cable they may 5000 a month.

Under the new plan though customers "right size" themselves. Everyone knows it isn't the majority that are heavy users right? So 90 people move to the new plan which is $20 a month - 1800 a month, the other 10 pay $50 for the big plan - so 500 a month. Total $2300 a month for TWC.

So theoretically TWC could come out making less money each month by forcing consumers to buy packages which match their usage. Or am I missing something?

I'm living in Canada and we've had to live with a cap level on broad band usage for some time now. I've got a 60 GB level cap per month and have only ever gone over it once. However, with my son's usage of the internet and the XBox on the increase as well as my own usage of the internet on the increase, I can see how we could easily go over this limit more often.

Needless to say, I'm more aware of what we are doing than ever.

However, if companies want to start distributing everything digitally, level caps will cause them problems if people have to pay more.

farley3k wrote:

So theoretically TWC could come out making less money each month by forcing consumers to buy packages which match their usage. Or am I missing something?

Their long-term objective here is to make up that shortfall (and then some) by charging premium rates to content providers like Google, YouTube, Xbox Live, PSN etc. so their content does apply to customer's caps. I do think they are betting a lot on these companies doing that though. I know Google is very much in favour of Net Neutrality and would most likely say "Screw you, lets see how many customers you keep when no one can access YouTube."

farley3k wrote:

I wonder if this might not end badly for TWC, like less money badly.

Quick dirty example to follow.

If they have 100 customers each that pay $50 for cable they may 5000 a month.

Under the new plan though customers "right size" themselves. Everyone knows it isn't the majority that are heavy users right? So 90 people move to the new plan which is $20 a month - 1800 a month, the other 10 pay $50 for the big plan - so 500 a month. Total $2300 a month for TWC.

So theoretically TWC could come out making less money each month by forcing consumers to buy packages which match their usage. Or am I missing something?

They're going to make it up with hidden charges and outrageous overage billings would be my guess.

Your examples of the bandwidth you think you're using are artificial, Lara. There are precious few games that take 13GB to download, for obvious reasons. Actually playing on on-line game doesn't consume all that much bandwidth, and you'd be hard-pressed to find enough hi-def content on Netflix to cover a Friday Movie Night with 8GB/week of actual use. If you want hi-def content from Netflix, you're going to get Blu-Rays through the mail (like I do, despite the fact that I have three devices that support Netflix Watch Instantly.) There's just not that much there in terms of hi-def streaming due to Hollywood's licensing terms.

So given the dishonesty of your claims about your personal bandwidth consumption, why should anyone take your article on TWC's wickedness at all seriously? It may very well be that TWC is the most evil, greedy, capitalistic cable company in the whole world, but you can't prove it my making false claims.

You're right, how dare she use her previous months bandwith use for gaming alone as an example of how easy it would be for her go over a 40GB cap.
/sarcasm.

BubbaDude wrote:

Your examples of the bandwidth you think you're using are artificial, Lara. There are precious few games that take 13GB to download, for obvious reasons. Actually playing on on-line game doesn't consume all that much bandwidth, and you'd be hard-pressed to find enough hi-def content on Netflix to cover a Friday Movie Night with 8GB/week of actual use. If you want hi-def content from Netflix, you're going to get Blu-Rays through the mail (like I do, despite the fact that I have three devices that support Netflix Watch Instantly.) There's just not that much there in terms of hi-def streaming due to Hollywood's licensing terms.

So given the dishonesty of your claims about your personal bandwidth consumption, why should anyone take your article on TWC's wickedness at all seriously? It may very well be that TWC is the most evil, greedy, capitalistic cable company in the whole world, but you can't prove it my making false claims.

If you don't believe my numbers, please feel free to check my sources. I've conveniently provided them via the hyperlinks.

ETA: After your post, I did a little more digging on the bandwidth "cost" of streaming Netflix movies, and discovered a few things.

First off: You may indeed be correct about the Business Week Netflix figure being inaccurate. According to Business of Video's Dan Rayburn (via Seeking Alpha), Business Week's numbers overestimated quite a bit:

We know that the average encoding rate for video streamed to the XBOX 360 is about 2000Kbps. That means one person watching a two hour movie would transfer roughly 1.8GB of data. For high definition movies, the average encoding bitrate is around 3200Kbps and one user would transfer about 3GB of data.

Business Week's Tom Lowry, on the other hand, says that "a download of a high-definition movie typically eats up about 8 GB". Although I'm unsure where he got that number from, I lean toward trusting his number, if only because Business Week is a large publication with a dedicated fact-checking department that usually catches obvious exaggerations or falsities, and I'm not sure what Mr. Rayburn's fact-checking process is. But for the purposes of discussion, let's run with Mr. Rayburn's numbers for the moment.

I also made the mistake of assuming in my calculation that because the Xbox 360 is HD, all the movies you can stream over Netflix must be HD movies. Kind of a silly mistake, to be honest, and I'm not even sure why I made it. (That said, there is quite a bit of Netflix content that is HD, more than enough for several months worth of Friday Movie Nights. And there's more than appears on that official list, according to this site.)

So let's run the calculation again, this time assuming that my Friday Night movies are 1.8 GB, not 8 GB. That certainly changes things, doesn't it? It appears that our combined gaming habits only put us in at 27.95 GB, not the previously mentioned 52.75 GB, which is indeed below the 40 GB limit.

But as I said in the piece, this calculation only includes our Internet consumption due to gaming, and does not factor in all the other dozens of ways my husband and I use the Internet, from emails to Amazon MP3s, from my everyday work-related usage to his occasional work-from-home days, to just plain old surfin' the web. Our relatively casual gaming habits—and they are about as casual as you can find in the gaming community—leave us only 12 GB to parcel out between the two of us for all these various online uses (and if that's not a set-up for divorce, I don't know what is. :)) While perhaps the two of us can manage that rationing fine, I'm just glad we don't have a third gamer living with us, or worse—a teenager.

Let it never be said that I won't admit when I am wrong, and I thank you for pointing out an inconsistency in my calculations. That said, I think you probably could have pointed it out more politely, and refrained from insinuating that I wrote things about Time Warner that I didn't (that they're "evil" or "wicked", for example). But I do welcome all opinions, and I'm glad you posted, if only so I could clear up any confusion I may have accidentally caused. After all, I have no desire to fan the hysteria by giving an example with inaccurate numbers!

KaterinLHC wrote:

So let's run the calculation again, this time assuming that my Friday Night movies are 1.8 GB, not 8 GB.

Well actually, by your own new potential sources, they are 3 GB, which sounds like it could be right if it's only streaming. (When I download an HD movie off Xbox Live, it's usually somewhere between 5 and 7 gigs.)

kuddles wrote:
KaterinLHC wrote:

So let's run the calculation again, this time assuming that my Friday Night movies are 1.8 GB, not 8 GB.

Well actually, by your own new potential sources, they are 3 GB, which sounds like it could be right if it's only streaming. (When I download an HD movie off Xbox Live, it's usually somewhere between 5 and 7 gigs.)

I fail to understand how streaming the same file that you could download otherwise results in less data transferred, myself. But that's probably just a lack of understanding on how streaming video works under the hood.

As to the subject at hand, it's crap. Yes, yes, I know. Aussies/Dutch/insert some other country with crappy bandwidth caps here have it worse. But let's say that all of a sudden, your caps were being cut in half? You'd be just as indignant over it if not more so. But I digress. For years now, over a decade, ISPs have charged more for less. They're living like a bunch of fat lazy cats on the backs of those who are forced into using their service. It's ridiculous, and needs to change. Do I have any thoughts? Municipalizing the service could be a good start, but I really have no idea of how that would wind out.

AnimeJ wrote:

Do I have any thoughts? Municipalizing the service could be a good start, but I really have no idea of how that would wind out.

I suspect it would be worse. Government has routinely displayed an ability to do things worse than even the most incompetent business. They're focus is not turning a profit and so the incentive to compete is even less than a monopoly. Even monopolies, as consumer unfriendly as they are, have a reason to pursue means to keep themselves on top.

Also, I resent the idea of people paying for a service they are not using. Even if they charge some fee for the service it will still be subsidized by taxpayer dollars. I'd rather continue paying my $100 for FIOS (TV, phone, and Internet) than pay less but know someone who isn't connected is helping to pay my bills.

Update: Time Warner sent out this letter yesterday announcing changes to their tiered billing structure.

From the letter:

We’ve made changes to the terms in our current and upcoming trial markets as follows:

• To accommodate lighter Internet users and those who need a lower priced option, we are introducing a 1 GB per month tier offering speeds of 768 KB/128 KB for $15 per month. Overage charges will be $2 per GB per month. Our usage data show that about 30% of our customers use less than 1 GB per month.

• We are increasing the bandwidth tier sizes included in all existing packages in the trial markets to 10, 20, 40 and 60 GB for Road Runner Lite, Basic, Standard and Turbo packages, respectively. Package prices will remain the same. Overage charges will be $1 per GB per month.

• We will introduce a 100 GB Road Runner Turbo package for $75 per month (offering speeds of 10 MB/1 MB). Overage charges will be $1 per GB per 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.

• Once we implement this trial, we will not immediately start billing customers for overage. Rather, we will first provide two months of usage data. Then we will provide a one-month grace period in which overages will be noted on customers’ bills, but they will not be charged. So, customers will have an opportunity to assess their usage and right-size their service packages before usage charges are applied.

• Trials will begin in Rochester, N.Y., and Greensboro, N.C., in August. We will apply what we learn from these two markets when we launch trials in San Antonio and Austin, Texas, in October, but we will guarantee at least the same level of usage capacity in these trials.

• As we launch DOCSIS 3.0 in the trial markets, we plan to offer a 50/5 MB speed tier for $99 per month.

Botswana wrote:

Also, I resent the idea of people paying for a service they are not using. Even if they charge some fee for the service it will still be subsidized by taxpayer dollars.

But in most cases, that's already happened. Taxpayer money helped pay for the infrastructure that most major telcos use. I don't know if it's even possible to entirely make it a government service, but the solution is probably to have them provide oversight and get the companies to make changes. That's how it happened in Japan. The government stepped in and told the industry that since it was footing part of the bill anyways, it wanted it done.

KaterinLHC wrote:
• 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.

Is that cap for all the tiers or just the highest tier? Because I would go with the 5 GB plan + $75 fee for unlimited bandwidth before I would go with the 100 GB plan + $75 fee.

Switchbreak wrote:
KaterinLHC wrote:
• 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.

Is that cap for all the tiers or just the highest tier? Because I would go with the 5 GB plan + $75 fee for unlimited bandwidth before I would go with the 100 GB plan + $75 fee.

The letter is unclear, but the example seems to suggest that the $75 cap will only apply for the 100 GB plan. Of course, that misdirection may be the point.

The big gaffe in TWC's argument that a few bad apples are spoiling the barrel is that they are under complete control of their users' bandwidth.

The perfectly available technical solution to any of their arguments - especially the fear that the 'net is cannibalizing their movie services - is enforcing Quality of Service on their routers. This would automatically reduce the bandwidth used by their chosen types of traffic. If they want streamed movies to have a maximum bandwidth available per user, they can cap that technologically.

Really, they have no valid argument for this tiered program other than profiteering. This is especially problematic for users here in Greensboro, NC (one of the four pilot cities), as Verizon's FIOS and other high-speed Internet connections are as yet unavailable. AT&T/BellSouth DSL is pitiably slow, even under a mile from the switching station.

Is there no way to stop TWC?

Oh this is interesting:

http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r222...

So I looked at TW's 10-K form and noticed something interesting... their cost to provide broadband service has decreased about 11% since the year before. Yes, you heard that right.
Spaz wrote:

Oh this is interesting:

http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r222...

So I looked at TW's 10-K form and noticed something interesting... their cost to provide broadband service has decreased about 11% since the year before. Yes, you heard that right.

Yeah, that's the one thing that's always ticked me off about this stuff. Bandwidth is cheap, and getting cheaper every single year with no signs of slowing. Raising the price to consumers is monopoly-based gouging and nothing else. I don't really mind them charging consumers based on their usage patterns, the problem is the sudden rate hike that has no relation to cost to them.

Kelstek wrote:

The big gaffe in TWC's argument that a few bad apples are spoiling the barrel is that they are under complete control of their users' bandwidth.

The perfectly available technical solution to any of their arguments - especially the fear that the 'net is cannibalizing their movie services - is enforcing Quality of Service on their routers. This would automatically reduce the bandwidth used by their chosen types of traffic. If they want streamed movies to have a maximum bandwidth available per user, they can cap that technologically.

This is also a bad outcome - because we do not want the content providers deciding which content gets priority on their network. For example, Time Warner could prioritize a for-pay movie site, and push Hulu to the bottom of the priority list ... unless Hulu pays them money. That's a nightmare scenario.

There is some QoS that needs to happen (prioritizing phone calls, for example) but it needs to happen on a network neutral basis, meaning that all traffic of that type is treated the same way.

Is there no way to stop TWC?

No - because they have legal monopolies in many places. This is the fundamental problem with permitting monopolies. The only possible way to work around them is to use another technology, which is available in some places but not others.

The funny thing is Verizon's cellular Internet is actually cheaper for the bandwidth cap (albeit limited in speed due to being on a, well, cellular network). On top of that their overage fee is significantly less than a dollar per gig. Now locking you into a two year contract, etc and so forth is a bit of a bitch but if I were in these areas using my laptop primarily I think I might go pure Verizon rather than deal with this Time Warner nonsense.

IMAGE(http://usera.ImageCave.com/randomimg/VerizonLimits.jpg)

Edit: Pfft, fine I misread MB for GB. Still, the fact that the base cost is cheaper is a wee bit strange to me, especially given the costs of bandwidth through cellular towers versus bandwidth through cable systems.

The problem TWC has is that they assume each customer will only use a small percentage of the bandwidth allotted to them, and they built out their infrastructure based on this assumption. Telephone companies did the same thing for phone service back in the 80-90s, and the sudden surge of people dialing out with modems and leaving them connected for days at a time caused major problems regarding available capacity. In response, the telcos tried to impose per-minute fees on data calls regardless of whether the call was local, rather than building out additional infrastructure to support the new usage pattern. TWC is basically doing the same thing with their metering requirements. As others have said though, the infrastructure situation has changed a lot since the telcos faced this issue with modems--increasing internal bandwidth is now just a matter of changing out the box on either end of the cable. So unless I'm missing something this simply sounds like a money grab.

Interesting tidbit from Gizmodo:

It's notable that Time Warner's not rolling this out anywhere Verizon has FiOS deployed—where in certain markets, for under $150 a month, you can get 50Mbps downstream and 20Mbps upstream (yes, that's more upstream than downstream in any of Time Warner's packages) and it's totally unlimited

magnus wrote:

Interesting tidbit from Gizmodo:

It's notable that Time Warner's not rolling this out anywhere Verizon has FiOS deployed—where in certain markets, for under $150 a month, you can get 50Mbps downstream and 20Mbps upstream (yes, that's more upstream than downstream in any of Time Warner's packages) and it's totally unlimited

As far as I can tell, the test markets were places where there wasn't any good competition.

wordsmythe wrote:

As far as I can tell, the test markets were places where there wasn't any good competition.

I couldn't decide which of these two images to reply with, so I'm using both.

IMAGE(http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_fWLtJmEhLG0/SWy4IyP3_yI/AAAAAAAADVs/uUcTL59byyc/s400/captain+obvious.jpg)

...and to TWC:

IMAGE(http://knowyourmeme.com/system/photo/image/681/what-you-did-there-i-see-it.thumbnail.jpg)

That is one creepy ass bird.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

That is one creepy ass bird.

Seriously.

Get the taxidermist!

We've had bandwidth caps in Canada for a long time now. Is this new to most American internet users?

My cap is 60 gigs with Bell as my ISP and regular high speed. Most ISPs offer high speed with a bandwidth of 30 gig or lower

One of them has a cap of 20down/10up with a fee of 7.50 per add'l gig and (strangely enough) is the most popular in my region

Crazy!

Caps are actually not that new up here, at least in Ontario. Rogers and Bell both used to offer unlimited service until not even a couple of years ago where they both instituted 60GB caps, then throttling. And only last year is when Bell illegally forced throttling on 3rd parties and is now trying to force the same 60GB caps on them as well.

Ok, so I live in the City of Rochester. Literally in the center of everything, and here are my options
TWC cable internet- 10M (though I never see half that) 50/mo now that I've had their service for over a year
Frontier DSL - 768k starting at 40/mo
Earthlink DSL - 7M at 42/mo or 10M at 73/mo + a one year contract
Clearwire Satellite - 2M/256k at 45/mo + a 2 year contract + a lease on the adapter box

Another thing to keep in mind about Rochester, is the sheer number of college students here. We have 10 Colleges/Universities here, not including business/votech colleges like Bryant and Stratton. With more than 16k attending just one of these colleges, it makes you wonder who TWC is really targeting.

All these young users, who would prefer, or can only afford to choose either cable or internet, are forgoing cable. Because what is more important, internet where you can do your research AND watch tv, or just tv service.

I, myself, being an hourly employee, cannot afford both cable and internet service from TWC. So I only have internet and a subscription to Netflix. Now you're telling me that I won't be able to watch my crappy "b" movies without seriously thinking about whether "Space Truckers" is going to put me over my limit, and therefore over my monthly budget? Watching Lost in HD from ABC? Might need to check that habit. Now how will I interact with my non-nerd friends?

But the cap also affects the basic users as well. My grandparents currently subscribe to Roadrunner Lite. And according to the new pricing scheme, they will pay more, for slower service with a miserly cap. And they pay out the nose for tv service as well. I guess Grandma is going to have to chance getting seriously ill to play bridge with her bronchitis infected friends this week, huh?

And by the way, Fios will never come to Rochester. Unless TWC is forced to give up their legal monopoly for high speed service, Verizon has no way to get into this market. Never mind that they're in all the surrounding areas, slowly fencing TWC in.

Although, I suppose I could always go back to stealing it from the bar across the street....but wait, won't the cap affect them too?

qapla47 wrote:

Another thing to keep in mind about Rochester, is the sheer number of college students here. We have 10 Colleges/Universities here, not including business/votech colleges like Bryant and Stratton. With more than 16k attending just one of these colleges, it makes you wonder who TWC is really targeting.

That's a very good point: Rochester is quickly becoming the educational hub of Western New York. Take RIT (my alma mater), which has two distinguishing characteristics: one, it's jampacked with gamers, otaku, hackers and other geeks of all stripes and colors; and two, it has a very high percentage of commuter students. Most of the geeklicious student body lives off campus, either in school-owned housing or local apartment complexes--which means they have to supply their own internet connections. Due to its speed, affordability and availability, Time Warner's Road Runner has always been the obvious choice, but I wonder how that will change with the caps in place.

And by the way, Fios will never come to Rochester. Unless TWC is forced to give up their legal monopoly for high speed service, Verizon has no way to get into this market. Never mind that they're in all the surrounding areas, slowly fencing TWC in.

It's my understanding that the reason Verizon isn't in Rochester and has no plans to ever come here isn't Time Warner, but Frontier (our local indie phone company). Frontier has exclusive telco rights in Rochester, and Verizon won't set up FIOS unless they can also handle the landline service. To do so means they'd have to buy the rights or buy out Citizens Communications, the company that owns Frontier.