Friday, April 10, 2009

Abuse version 2.0

Yesterday evening Time Warner released a second statement regarding their bandwidth tiers and pricing. Time Warner claims in it,
We’ve heard the passionate feedback and we’ve taken action to address our customers’ concerns.
Oh goody! They've gotten rid of the caps (or at the very least significantly increased them) right?
Not exactly. Here's the breakdown of the "new and improved" tiers:
  • A new "lighter Internet user" tier will exist providing 1 GB per month at speeds of 768 KB up/128 KB down for $15 per month.
    Overage charges will be $2 per GB per month.
  • Bandwidth tier sizes are increasing to 10, 20, 40 and 60 GB for Road Runner Lite, Basic, Standard and Turbo packages, respectively.
    Package prices will remain the same.
    Overage charges will be $1 per GB per month.
  • A new 100 GB Road Runner Turbo package has been added for $75 per month at speeds of 10 MB/1 MB (very notably slower than RR Turbo now but $20 more expensive). Overage charges will be $1 per GB per month.
  • Overage charges will be capped at $75 per month.
    That means that for $150 per month customers could have virtually unlimited usage at Turbo speeds.
  • Trials will begin in Rochester, N.Y., and Greensboro, N.C., in August.
  • DOCSIS 3.0 will be launched sometime in the future [editorial: 2090?] with a 50/5 MB speed tier for $99 per month [editorial: with an unknown cap].
If you were like me you laughed, you cried, and you hurled. Then after you finished watching Wayne's World you read this memo and your jaw hit the floor.

I'm not exactly sure who Time Warner has been listening to because I'm quite sure I didn't hear anyone, anywhere say, "I wish there was a low-end tier with next to no usage and double the overage fee for slower than DSL speeds." Or maybe the execs over there have some really powerful drugs.

Time Warner Doesn't Get It

They just keep missing the point. People don't want usage caps....PERIOD. We're not shouting up and down about how slow Road Runner is and how we need DOCSIS 3.0 for 50Mbps download speed. (Well, ok some people are, but they're a very small minority at the moment - DOCSIS 3.0 is just good business sense for them no matter what.)

Laughingly Time Warner refers to two studies Conducted by Nemertes Research about the pending so-called 'exaflood' wherein the demand for Internet services exceeds capacity and people start experiencing "Internet brownouts" where speed unexplicably is reduced at times.

The first study conducted in 2007 stated in its conclusion,
We conclude that the evidence is good that demand for Internet and IP services is increasing exponentially, while access investment is proceeding linearly.
The next Google, YouTube, or Amazon might not arise not because of a lack of demand, but due to an inability to fulfill that demand. Rather like osteoporosis, the underinvestment in infrastructure will painlessly and invisibly leach competitiveness out of the economy.
There is, however, another gap that is within scope for us, as researchers, to address, and that is the data gap. We have several times noted that the best available data (chiefly that from CAIDA and MINTS) is exceedingly limited, due to the unwillingness of service providers to share details on their infrastructures and capacities.
What I take from that study is that it says our infrastructure is limiting our access and by doing so having an adverse affect on the ability for online businesses to thrive and move forward.

Additionally it says that companies like Time Warner are stingy with their data and this report could be highly flawed due to "exceedingly limited" data.

A second study the following year repeated the same message: capacity (i.e. bandwidth) is not keeping pace with demand and that needs to change for Internet businesses to be viable.

There have been accusations that Nemertes is simply astroturfing for the industry, but whether they are or aren't, it seems to me their warnings are going unheeded by TWC. Indeed, TWC is attempting to address the "problem" by limiting usage instead of building out infrastructure.

Time Warner hasn't done themselves any favor with this latest memo. I know it's simply renewed my efforts to get the word out and bring people's attention to the fact that not only are these caps ridiculous but that TWC has seen fit to move the date up to August from the original planned start date in September...but just for Rochester and Greensboro. That's probably because we're simply the loudest two test sites and they want to silence us first by capping our usage and making it unfeasible to continue fighting online.

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