Robert's Random Ravings

Time Warner must be stopped

Road Runner/ Time Warner

Road Runner/ Time Warner

Time Warner is a dreadful cable company. I know this because I have had to endure their service (or lack thereof) for the last 8 years. When I first moved to Texas, I bought a house on the north shore of Lake Travis in a town called Lago Vista. It is about 40 miles from downtown Austin. I was excited to try out the small town lifestyle (with the safety net of the nearby larger city of Austin). One of the things that I thought I would have to give up, though, was high speed internet. I was very pleased to find out that Time Warner’s Road Runner service was available out in Lago Vista.

The Customer Service that you get from Time Warner leaves a lot to be desired, but in fairness, I do have to say that about 90% of the problems I have had over the years with them are related to their cable television product and not their internet product.

Overall, I cannot complain too much about the Road Runner service. It has been fairly stable and steady, and the speed has gradually increased over the years without an increase in cost. In fact, the cost has actually gone down. That is until now.

Now Time Warner has been testing a new program of charging customers based on the actual amount of bandwidth they use per month, as opposed to the unlimited usage that it currently offers. This test has been going on in Beaumont, TX, a small town near the Texas/Louisiana border. Based on the results of their testing of approximately 10,000 households in the Beaumont area, it appears that Time Warner has decided to expand this program to a few additional cities. I am very disappointed to find out that Austin will be one of those cities.

According to this article at businessweek.com:

In April, Time Warner Cable will begin collecting information on its customers’ Internet use in the Texas cities of Austin and San Antonio and in Rochester, N.Y. Consumption billing will begin in those cities later this summer.

They apparently are going to offer four tiers of usage: 5, 10, 20 and 40 GB, with an additional charge of $1 per additional gigabyte of usage.

To say that I am furious is putting it mildly. I rely more and more on the internet for viewing television shows, buying MP3s, renting and viewing movies online, etc. All of these things use a lot of bandwidth.

I frequently download updates to software that I own, including Windows and Microsoft Office. Some of these updates can be 250 MB to 500 MB alone. As a reference point, a typical album of MP3s is about 100 Megabytes. Downloading a high def movie (such as the online videos from Netflix) can be 5 – 8 GB each.

The businessweek.com article goes on to say:

A recent report from Sanford C. Bernstein suggests that a family on the 40 GB plan that streams 7.25 hours of online video a week (a fraction of the 60 hours Americans spend watching TV in a week) could end up spending $200 per month on broadband usage fees. And that’s just for video viewing, before factoring in such Internet activities as music downloads and photo sharing. “To put it mildly,” says Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett, “the decision to limit data consumption can be expected to have profound implications for [consumer] behavior.”

I remember the old days of online services, long before there was such a thing as the world wide web. I used Compuserve in the early 1980’s when service cost between $12 and $24 an hour, depending on your access speed. Those bills really got up there and I thought it was a huge step forward when Compuserve and America Online started to charge a single monthly charge instead of per minute fees.

This policy on the part of Time Warner will stifle innovation and make the internet more and more unaffordable for the average person. I think the only response that makes sense on the part of the consumer is to terminate their service with Time Warner and go to another company that has a fairer billing model. If TW thinks that I personally will put up with paying $200 a month for the same thing that I have gotten for $40 a month over the last 8 years, they are seriously mistaken.

And those of you with other internet service providers are not safe either. Comcast is just cutting people off after one warning if they go over some undefined limit of usage. AT&T is also studying how to implement this type of billing. I guarantee that if Time Warner is able to do it and be successful with it, then every other major internet provider will attempt to do the same.

We need to contact our leaders at all levels (city, county, state and federal) and make them aware of this unfair situation. Something needs to be done and somebody needs to keep these companies in line. Especially since there is so little competition in so many markets, meaning that some people will have no choice but to put up with it.

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04/03/2009 - Posted by | General | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. In England a company named NTL also tried consumption based billing. There was such outrage, customers were canceling
    their service with NTL. Within ONE month NTL reversed their new billing policy. If EVERY TW customer effected by this new
    billing scheme cancels their service, then it will hit TW where it truely hurts, their wallets. But it will take everyone biting the bullet and canceling service for it to be effective. Also, a supervisor named Iris Andrews is someone we can all call and complain too about this outrageous change in terms. We spoke to her last night for 30 minutes. Just call 336-584-1383 and get through to a representative, tell them you need to speek to Iris Andrews, and you should be connected shortly. If we dont stand together in this then TW will keep looking for new and inventative ways to charge us for services that we already pay out the wa-zoo for!
    UNITED WE STAND!!!!!

    Comment by belle6737 | 04/03/2009 | Reply

  2. Apparently, Time Warner has heard the complaints from the public. Check out this link: http://a.longreply.com/109511

    This is a response from Time Warner to the outcry.

    Comment by rkurzweil | 04/10/2009 | Reply


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