Time Warner Caps: My Two Cents

Time Warner Cable Logo As reported by Ars Technia and Slashdot, Time Warner cable is testing out its own usage caps. However, unlike Comcast (250GB) and AT&T (150GB), who are using one hard cap across all plans, Time Warner will have multiple caps (5GB, 10GB, 20GB, 40GB) using a range of pricing ($30 – $55). People haven’t been happy with usage caps since Comcast got the ball rolling, but there was some level of tolerance because, in all honesty, 250GB is rather high. AT&T seemed a more moderate high. But this latest attempt at caps by Time Warner is really causing an uproar as it’s really close to what people actually use.

The root of the problem is that people don’t trust these cable companies to offer fair caps, and I don’t blame them. Their business is becoming more profitable, not less. Cable companies have less expensive infrastructure than phone companies. Unless the cable companies can hand over some usage data and guarantee that their revenue will be roughly the same under a metered plan as it was under the unlimited plans, people are going to balk and cry, “money grab!”

And I don’t blame them because these caps aren’t true metering. Electric, water, and gas bills are metered. Everyone pays a set fee for service, and then pays for what they use. Under these caps, you don’t pay less if you use less. I would not have a problem paying more if you can show me I’m above the average and you also let me pay less if I’m below that average. Under my roof, my wife and I typically use 30GB-35GB down and another 2GB up. The wife visits fan sites with videos and I have online gaming, blogging, YouTube, and what not. We both use VoIP. I currently pay Armstrong $40 for 8GB down 512MB up unlimited. Under Time Warner, I’d be paying $15 a month more without Time Warner showing me that my usage is above average (which I doubt, if any of the anonymous ISP-worker horror stories about abusive customer usage hold any water).

To be fair to these cable companies, switching from one pricing structure to another is never going to be easy. The people that are taking advantage of unlimited usage now are going to start watching that usage more closely and most likely cutting back, which makes the conversion to divvying up the revenue by usage more difficult. In an open process, Time Warner could eventually settle on a pricing structure fair to everyone. However, cable companies have garnered no trust whatsoever, especially Time Warner. You reap what you sow.