It appears Time Warner Cable has decided to test the waters for metered Internet access. Starting in Beaumont, Texas, customers will be charged additional fees if they go over their monthly allotted bandwidth. The proposed rate is $1 for every gigabyte of bandwidth exceeded.
Time Warner spokesman Alex Dudley has stated that the new price plan reflects the impact of 5% of customers consuming a heavy amount of bandwidth. Michael Arrington from TechCrunch shoots back that metered access will stifle innovation.
I agree with the opinions that Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and other cable companies are simply extorting customers in areas where they are the only option for Internet access. It doesn’t surprise me that cable would make this shift given the availability and increasing use of media downloads via iTunes, Amazon, etc. The telecommunications industry has a better network to handle the bandwidth usage of its customers, and is not directly impacted by the consumer choosing to download an episode of Grey’s Anatomy from iTunes or ABC.com versus watching it on cable.
I’m not sure how many customers will jump ship when hit with the new metered access plans. The unfortunate folks trapped with TWC or Comcast as their only option, will have to pay. For myself, I will quickly change providers.
I don’t see this proposal as a long term option in a competitive market. Hosting companies used to charge for the bandwidth usage on a metered basis, but many now have super-large plans or unlimited bandwidth. Same can be said for cell phones; competition recently spurred the new onslaught of unlimited plans.