Bandwidth has certainly been this week’s buzzword. Time Warner had the blogosphere up in arms this week when rumors of their plan to impose a decidedly ridiculous tiered bandwidth cap plan hit the Web. The company had been “testing” these plans in select markets in Texas and South Carolina and planned to roll out the pricing to Rochester, NY this spring.
The cheapest plan starts at $30 with 5 gigs and tops off at a paltry 40gigs for $55. Forty gigabytes! And they charge a buck for each gig you excede. That’s a joke to most anyone who streams video onto their computer even a few times a week. I mean, just last week I personally ate through 20 gigs.
Now, bandwidth caps are not anything new. I use Comcast which imposes a 250 gig cap on their customers. AT&T allows up to 150 gigs of bandwidth. But Time Warner’s consumption-based billing, particularly in regions where their service is the only one available, seems to scream anti-competitive.
And we’re not alone in this opinion. Leo Leoporte of TWiT fame got on the air this week and mused that the Cable Company was attempting to strong-arm their customers into giving up their perfectly legal habit of streaming programming through their computer.
“It’s like they are saying ‘We’re in the TV biz and if you download too much TV we’re not going to make any money,” Leoporte said on this week’s edition of TWiT. “‘We want you to be able to search and listen to music but don’t you go downloading any shows from iTunes’.”
But New York Congressman Eric Massa took this news a step further this week and accused Time Warner of breaching the first amendment.
Calling the initiative “job killing,” Massa said of the cap plan, “just at a time when access to information is driving our economic recovery, Time Warner is moving to stagnate the 21st Century technology needed to rebuild America.” Check out Stopthecap.com for confirmation from Massa’s office that a bill is in the works to prohibit this kind of broadband capping.
Time Warner’s argument for its aggressive capping is, what else, cost. The poor cable company insisted to BusinessWeek the new restrictions are necessary to cover “infrastructure cost.” Ars Technica calls their bluff and we, and others, tend to agree.
“Cable’s physical plant has been in the ground for years; even hybrid fiber-coax systems have been widely deployed for some time,” Ars Technica writes. “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).”
To find out more about bandwidth caps and sign a petition to prevent caps from coming to your community, visit stopthecap.com.