Do you ever experience a vague naseau when you see something at which you'd like to laugh, but can't shake a nagging feeling in the back of your mind that things are about to get much worse? That's how I feel when I read stories like this: Time Warner Cable Expands Internet Usage Pricing.
It seems that Time Warner Cable is a slow learner, having decided to proceed with their mad experiments in metered residential Internet access. I shared my thoughts on this scam back in June, and the argument hasn't changed. To review (from the article referenced above):
In the case of Time Warner Cable, customers will be charged from $29.95 to $54.90 a month, based on data consumption and desired connection speed. Customers will be charged $1 for each gigabyte (GB) over their plan's cap. Time Warner Cable offers four cap levels of 5, 10, 20, and 40 GB.
$55/mo for 40GB (that's $1.38 per GB), plus $1 per GB of overage. How much are you paying right now for broadband? I pay $44/mo for unmetered service at 12 Mbps through Cox at my current residence in Northern Virginia, and I can guarantee that I pull considerably more than 40GB in a month. But wait, it gets better:
The company's trial in Beaumont, Tex., lasted several months. Of the 10,000 broadband customers enrolled - about 25% of the company's total for Beaumont - about 14% exceeded their cap and had to pay additional fees that averaged about $19 a month.
In other words (according to the quote), roughly one in seven customers in the trial ended up paying, on average, $74 for what they thought would be a $55 plan (assuming these were all 40GB plans; if not, the overage charges begin to look even worse). Of course, the stats don't account for people who wisely discontinued their service with TWC as soon as they heard about the scheme. One could speculate that the customers remaining, then, don't pay too much attention to their Internet service and likely aren't "power users." Yet a good percentage of them still got hit by overage charges.
If anyone reading this happens to work at Time Warner Cable and could offer some bit of insight into this fiasco, I'd love to hear it.
(An additional point to ponder: What happens when Granny's PC on a 5GB plan gets compromised and spends a few weeks moonlighting as a pirate FTP server?)
UPDATE: To debunk some of the arguments presented in the comments, I offer this exceptionally well-timed NYT article, World's Fastest Broadband at $20 Per Home. Japan obviously has no problem expanding its infrastructure; what's our excuse?