Time Warner’s Austin Cap Debate Moves to City Hall

April 7, 2009 in Tech

Chip Rosenthal, one of the members of the City of Austin’s Technology and Telecommunications Commission is inviting anyone angry about these caps to come to City Hall Wednesday night at 6:30p.

For those who haven’t heard the back story, after running a trial in Beaumont, Texas, Time Warner Cable has decided to introduce metered Internet pricing in Austin. Instead of unlimited usage as before, it’ll work a lot like your cell phone. You choose a plan, and if you use more bandwidth that you ordered, you’re charged an overage fee.

TWC is spouting off scary numbers like the Top 1% of users are using 20%+ of the bandwidth, but instead of targeting the 1%, they’re changing the plans for everyone.

In the end though, this move isn’t about bandwidth—it’s about content. YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix are crowbars, prying long-time customers away from Time Warner’s locally monopolistic cable TV services. Bandwidth hogs all, once the seed of “overage fees” is planted in consumers’ minds, these services quickly shift from being a pleasant, free alternative to an indulgent, possibly costly treat.

And once you have customers counting videos the way we count cell phone minutes, Time Warner can slide in to deliver their own content…free from bandwidth metering, of course.

5 Comments to Time Warner’s Austin Cap Debate Moves to City Hall

  1. http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/44497

    Check this article out too. I had no idea that each Netflix Xbox 360 title was ~8GB. Watch one a week and you are looking at $$$. Not to mention the normal browsing habits we all have.

    It seems to me that the cable monopolies have realized they lost the set top box race to the game consoles and they want to tighten their grips and squeeze out the other players so we stop looking elsewhere for our content.

  2. Den Phillips on 7 April 2009

    I was actually looking at switching to ATT’s internet service because of this. Since I live in S. Austin I only have 2 options TWC (which wants to cap and have overages), and ATT (who admits they are a corporate shill for the RIAA).

    Whatever happened to cheap broadband for the masses? I thought this was going to be one of Obama’s priorities in office, but obviously it’s been pushed back due to the hard economy. But when countries like Australia can have 100Mb broadband almost universally (http://tiny.cc/f45en), it makes me wonder what is wrong with our internet provider model.

  4. Travis Slate on 8 April 2009
  5. If the US telecom industry were more nimble, I’d be optimistic about someone else capitalizing on this dumb move by TWC and offering better broadband service in the Austin area.

    But it isn’t, so I suspect one year from now I’ll still be wishing for FiOS.

  6. Andrew Dupont on 8 April 2009
  7. Thankfully I’m one of the lucky few that have the Grande option. What’s scary though is this won’t only affect the geeks at home, but what about apartment complexes? Or Wifi at coffee shops? This could have a scary ripple effect for a large swath of Austin that has no clue that it’s coming…

  8. Mark Phillip on 8 April 2009
  9. I’m surprised to hear that businesses use the same vendor’s for internet service. I always thought maybe there was some sort of secret society of internet providers that catered to those guys.
    Sounds like this could be kind of catastrophic for the City in general since they are considered one of the most wired/tech savvy cities in the country.

  10. Travis Slate on 9 April 2009

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