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April 13, 2009 - 4:32pm

Batavia will be included in Time-Warner's planned tier-pricing rollout

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, broadband, Time Warner Cable.

For any Batavians who thought maybe Time-Warner Cable wouldn't test its new tiered broadband pricing plan in Genesee County, we have some bad news. We just received this message from Lara Pritchard, public affairs manager for Time Warner Cable, WNY Division:

Our trial for monitoring internet usage will rollout across our entire Rochester footprint. Batavia customers will also be enrolled to work with us and provide feedback on their usage /plans.

For those who haven't heard, TW is planning to switch Rochester-area customers from a flat-price service for broadband (cable modem, in this case) Internet service to one which offers different pricing plans, based on anticipated usage. Heavier users would be faced with potential monthly overage charges, or plan on spending up to $150 per month for unlimited usage.

WHAM 13 explains the tiered plan here:

The "trial" is expected to begin in August.

For it's part, this is what TW says about the need for the pricing scheme:

Time Warner Cable said that steady increase in use, along with massive bandwidth consumption by a small percentage of customers, is the reason it's testing the new pricing policy. The company said it needs to pay for infrastructure upgrades.

Commenting on the criticism of the plan, company spokesman Alex Dudley said, "Customer feedback is a critical part of the trial."

But not so fast. As others have noted, there isn't really a cost justification for TW's plan.

Ars Technica:

Britt's rationale for the change—infrastructure is expensive—is tough to understand. Cable's physical plant has been in the ground for years; even hybrid fiber-coax systems have been widely deployed for some time. Internet access simply runs across the existing network, and one of cable's big advantages over DSL is that speeds can be upgraded cheaply by swapping in new DOCSIS headend gear, with DOCSIS 3.0 the current standard. Compared to what Verizon is doing with fiber and AT&T with its quasi-fiber U-Verse, cable Internet is a bargain (well, for the operators).

But perhaps consumers are insatiable bandwidth hounds who are simply overloading TWC's system—or perhaps not. The BusinessWeek article notes that only 14 percent of users in TWC's trial city of Beaumont, Texas even exceeded their caps at all. My own recent conversations with other major ISPs suggest that the average broadband user only pulls down 2-6GB of data per month as it is.

A site called Stop the Cap dug through some of TW's communications for shareholders and found that TW is telling its investors its costs are actually decreasing. (via Fighting 29th)

High-speed data costs decreased for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2008 primarily due to a decrease in per-subscriber connectivity costs, partially offset by subscriber growth.

Gabor Deutsch
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I have a question : How is bandwith usage measured ? I mean on dial up i was monitored by hours used. I got verizon dsl and on a good day average i get 768kbps. About a third of that for download and half for upload. I use my connection for 8 hrs a day, but mostly surfing and internet research. In Batavia without a special package deal they charge 30 bucks !
Howard B. Owens
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It's by the gigabyte. They meter your usage by how much data you're uploading and downloading.
Peter O'Brien
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The problem with them unloading this in Batavia is that options to switch are few. I play online games on both my PC and Wii and I stream video from Netflix for hours a day because its only $10 a month. I understand that Netflix is starting to chew on Time Warner's business through Time Warner's road runner but if they think Tiered pricing is going to get their subscribers back, they are sorely mistaken. If they want me to use their cable service, they need to allow my to customize the channels I receive. I don't want Logo, or Bravo, or Planet Green, or QVC or hundreds of others that I will never watch. As soon as tiered pricing is instituted I will be leaving Time Warner for good even if that means not playing the games I like. And with the money I save I will be upgrading my service with Netflix. Not to mention my electricity bill will decrease. If anyone is a franchise owner of Clearwire, Batavia needs you.
Phillip Dampier
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Greetings and welcome to the Internet: 1997 I'm saddened to learn that Time Warner's Rochester division has decided to also victimize residents outside of their metro Rochester system. This is also probably bad news for folks in the Finger Lakes. However, there is good news and bad news for folks in Batavia. The bad news is that many of you will have fewer options to avoid the Internet Rationing Plan Time Warner wants to impose on you. Many areas are unable to get DSL service from Verizon due to distance from their central offices. Clearwire is available primarily in the most urban areas, not out in the countryside. The good news is that sooner or later, Batavia will be wired for Verizon FiOS, the fiber to the home service that allows for exceptionally fast, and uncapped broadband speeds. Folks in Frontier territory are far less lucky - no FiOS for them ever. StoptheCap.com formed last summer when Frontier foolishly attempted to define "acceptable use" as just 5GB of traffic per month. We were successful in fighting those caps away, and their DSL service remains uncapped to this day. Fighting Time Warner is a larger proposition, but it can be done. Not only is this battle critical to keep gouging rate hikes out of our area, but also to keep them from being dropped on the heads of people in other areas of the country. Time Warner is carefully monitoring customer response to this "experiment." The one word Time Warner truly understands is CANCEL, and that is the message we are trying to send to this company. If you impose caps, we are canceling service, period. Many of us are heading to DSL service, which may not be as fast as Road Runner, but who cares the first time you get a bill with "overage charges." How much more of your money does this company want? Don't we pay them enough already? While the consumer using the Internet for just occasional web browsing or e-mail is not likely to be heavily impacted by their draconian usage caps, if you have a household full of teenagers, watch out. Streaming video, file downloading, and some types on online game playing (especially involving downloading game updates, add-ons, etc.), online file backup services, and work-at-home software can consume enormous amounts of bandwidth. We are covering this issue intensely in all of the affected communities on StoptheCap!, and there are ways you can get involved and fight back. For the next six months, you can cancel Road Runner and sign up for Earthlink service for $29.95 a month. It works over your existing cable modem and requires no service call. Come this fall, TW may force them to also impose caps, but at least you can tell Time Warner you want out of Road Runner today because you are so upset with usage caps and are switching to Earthlink. At the very least, you'll save at least $60 off your broadband service over the next several months. If caps do come about, then it's probably time to explore DSL. I know the alternative options are limited, and that is part of our larger point we are making with federal, state, and local officials. Market concentration and the lack of competition are primary reasons why Time Warner thinks that this is acceptable: Unlimited Road Runner Service Now: $39.95/month Unlimited Road Runner Service Soon: $150/month Get informed and fight back.
Beth Kinsley
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I think the biggest problem is most of us have no clue how much we use and which tier we will be in. When are they going to make that information available to us?
Tom Gilliatt
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Just another luxury going out of my reach! Guess I will have to get Verizon again and get dailup.
Peter O'Brien
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Over the summer your bill will include your usage. You can also download usage monitors but they only track one device on a network. If you are like me and use a Wii, the Roku video player, my smart phone and my PC and my fiances PC you cannot accurately track it very easily.
C D
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Phillip already posted what I was going to say. I saw a Verizon service van by Tops a few days ago, running purple wiring underground (finally). FiOS will be available in the area in the next few months (finally). For those that don't want or care about FiOS, high-speed DSL is also available right now. However, Verizon requires 1-year contracts, while Time Warner is a pay per month kind of service and you can cancel whenever. I can't really speak on Clearwater, because I've heard very little about the company and the service they provide.
Beth Kinsley
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Chris - can you tell me more about FiOS? Is the price and speed comparable to what I have now through RoadRunner. I'm pretty sure that my bill will be going up with the new plan since I have kids in the house, including one who spends way too many hours each day playing World of Warcraft and another that seems to be the queen of downloading.
Howard B. Owens
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From what I've been able to gather, FiOS pricing is comparable/competitive to what TW and others offer now, and it's faster. A friend who follows this stuff -- but I can't find a link confirming -- tells me TW is avoiding markets for tier pricing where FiOS is already available. That's really what prompted me to find out about TW's specific Batavia plans, because I knew FiOS was coming.
Loren Penman
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I appreciate the advice being offered on how to dump Time Warner and obtain other service providers. But there is a MUCH larger issue here. I suggest that all who are concerned about this flagrant abuse of the provisions under the First Amendment contact their legislators. Below is a letter I have sent to Congressman Lee (who makes good use of the Internet); please feel free to use it. Dear Congressman Lee, Nothing has infuriated your constituents in the Time Warner greater Rochester service area more than the recent announcement of a tiered system of pay for Internet usage. The Internet should be an information highway where anybody – no matter how large or small, how traditional or unconventional – has equal access. But the phone and cable monopolies, who control almost all Internet access, want the power to choose who gets access to high-speed lanes and whose content gets seen first and fastest. They want to build a tiered system and, essentially, block the on-ramps for those who can't pay. NOTHING is more fundamental to the principles of the First Amendment than access to information. Just look at how well YOU can communicate with your emailed newsletter! Without ready, affordable Internet access, creativity, innovation and a free and open marketplace are at risk. Please make net neutrality a top issue on your agenda -- because (first of all) it's the right thing to do. Furthermore, I suspect the voters will remember you at the polls based on your reaction to this matter alone. Thank you for your efforts to reach out. Loren Penman Batavia
chris spencer
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Just a head's up: If these internet caps become a reality and you use a wireless router; make sure your connection is encrypted! You'd be surprised how easy it is for someone to steal your bandwidth and leave you with an outrageous usage bill.
Peter O'Brien
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There is no first amendment right to access the internet. You have a right to speak, not to be published or heard. Time Warner owns their portal to the internet and can charge what ever they want to access it. Eric Massa's legislation is just government getting in the way of free enterprise again. And you argument about the information on the internet being crucial to society is just dumb since the nation did fine without it for 200 years.
C D
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FiOS is short for "Fiber Optic Service". The reason speeds are (usually) faster is because of the transmission medium. Fiber optics. Let's talk physics real quick here. A standard network cable (Cat5, Cat5e, and Cat6) is copper-based transmission and open to signal loss, or attenuation, due to temperature and nearby electric/magnetic interference. Fiber optics, however, is a glass or plastic fiber that carries light. It's not affected by temperature or electromagnetic interference. However, FiOS changes transmission medium from fiber optics to network cables when it's going into your house. Mind you, I'm not the final word on everything networking. I just know more than the average person. The equipment and technology is still the same from ISP to ISP. Explaining what TW is doing and the difference between cable, DSL, and FiOS is just the beginning. Google "subnetting", or "cisco 2500 series router". Now, that's the fun stuff. Aside from talking geek, World of Warcraft will chew through bandwidth like termites on wood.
Beth Kinsley
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Thanks Chris. I knew I was screwed.
Tom Gilliatt
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Well if TW can see everyones usage and bill for it why can't they make this info available to the user on line to they can make sure there not using to much??? This idea would be like checking your bank account balance on line, TW could do this if they wanted. I myself with my laptop see open networks all the time and if amazes me how people just run it like that unless they mean too. I guess I have to turn on my bandwidth usage meter in my router.
Phillip Dampier
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Peter: Avoiding getting into a discussion about 1st Amendment issues, let me touch on a few of your points which we all do need to ponder: 1) Time Warner has a de facto exclusive franchise into the cable markets it serves. It is the only currently available wired video/data/telephone-combination provider in the Batavia market (and Rochester for that matter). Satellite is not an option for every person as an alternative. The cable TV marketplace is not competitive in the vast majority of cities in this country. It does temper the free market argument, when free markets do not exist in most communities. 2) This kind of pricing experiment comes as a result of market concentration and unavailable equivalent alternative providers. TW has specifically avoided these kinds of trials in cities where they do face robust competition from another provider offering similar speeds/pricing. 3) Eric Massa's legislation has not even been written yet so it is premature to accuse him of getting in the way of free enterprise, which the cable industry actually isn't a good example of anyway. I think the Internet is increasingly becoming more essential than ever in this country. We got by without telephones and electricity for the first 100 years+ of the United States, but I don't think anyone would argue that these two services are not a daily part of our lives today. The Internet is more likely than ever to join those services as being found in the majority of American homes in the years ahead.
Karen Miconi
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What ways will they{ Time Warner} think of next to soak the consumer. Their rates for service have gone up, a up number of times since first we let them monopolize Genesee County. Now our freedom to surf the internet, and the duration of time has a price tag too?? In my {opinion} Time Warner sees nothing but $$$$$$$ and they need to be stopped. They remind me of the pharmacutical companys allowed to raise their prices whenever they like, at the expence of the poor consumer. Is their no CAP? Is this Legal? Mike and I have DSL through Verizon, and it is fast and we have no problems. We pay $16 a month. Another way to speed up the computer is to buy some memory. We installed 2 gig last week and the computer is 10 times faster. There are ways around the Time Warner Monopoply. We also dont have cable, being we couldn't afford the regularly increasing bill. Now our family finds more construcive things to do with our time. Light the candles Charles. The Ingels Family Little House On The Prarie "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. ”
Tom Gilliatt
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I did a video on upgrading my router for Bandwidth monitoring and going to upload to youtube so TW don't have nothing on me I know my way around routers and will let you know when I publish it to youtube if anyone is interested. Tom
Tom Gilliatt
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Here is a video I made in hope to watch how much bandwidth I use on my network like Timewarner will be and if you got a router like mine or similar maybe something like this can help.
Peter O'Brien
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1. Other cable companies are welcome in the market but no one wants to make the capitol investment to run the cable all over the area. 2. Most of Rochester is covered by Clearwire now. As far as Batavia goes, living in the sticks has advantages and disadvantages. 3. Massa has said he is going to write it so companies can't charge usage fees. Thats just wrong. It is the company's right to charge what they want. Some company is seeing all this hubbub about the cable prices and is going to show up and save the day I guarantee it because there is a lot of money to be made. Just watch.
C D
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Peter, you're right. Companies should be able to force tiered plans if they want. They just won't be able to do it in New York.
Richard Clark
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I did a chat with Earthlink and they said that as far as they know TW can't enforce the "caps" on their plans. I am in alexander and they said that I would qualify for an account with them. I am currently a TW Turbo customer, Earthlinks speed is a bit slower, but hey if it can get me out of TW price gouging then I am in. The only thing that concerns me is that if there is a problem with a line from the pole to the house who do I call to have it replaced? If TW goes ahead with this I think that they will lose a lot of customers and I will be sure to do my part to make that so. People in Batavia can get verizon DSL for cheaper than what TW currently offers, but there is a contract. I have seen that FIOS is coming to Batavia and I think that it should help with TW price gouging and I sure hope it teaches them that its not good to mess with people who don't have a choice in the matter because people will remember that, and once there is a choice people will change. I do find it fascinating that they are only doing this "experiment" in places that there are no other providers for most people. What I don't understand is why a small community like ours is being targeted. I am not sure how everyone else feels but to be bundled with Rochester or Buffalo is getting old. I would love to see Batavia taken seriously and not just considered a spin off of one of the other cities. Thanks to Howard at TheBatavian this is starting to happen.

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