This week the US is abuzz with news that Time Warner Cable will be performing a trial in Texas on metering bandwidth. TWC set caps and overage is $1/GB. Now, as someone who once had a metered EVDO card, it is amazing how fast 40MB in a day in just email (and attachments) adds up.
Considering that YouTube, MySpace and Facebook are the top 3,4,&5 visited sites in the US, hitting your cap will be quick and easy. And that doesn't include photo-sharing, iTunes, Microsoft updates (114MB for the Office pack this morning), online gaming, VoIP traffic, etc.
How does your average Joe know when they get close to the limit? I can see this being like cell phone bills. Your kids kill your usage and you get stuck with a huge bill that makes you mad at both your kid and your provider.
I can also see how virii, malware, and spam are going to be a huge fight. If 80% of email is spam (and I can attest to that), do I want to pay to receive it? Consumers will be fierce about the controls that TWC will have in place for these bandwidth bandits.
Remember that TWC makes its money on Broadcast TV, so downloading movies, episodes and other entertainment weakens the appeal of broadcast TV.
On the other hand, cable is more expensive than DSL. It already gets a premium for its service, so I'm curious why TWC is taking this route (other than to protect its BTV franchise. It's only 5% of its customers that eat 50% of its bandwidth -- why not just fire those hogs?
AT&T and VZ must be smiling. A move like this means they will see a bump in DSL subs, and hopefully in the FTTx subscriber numbers as well.
Many mistakenly suggest that only cable has a bottleneck issue. It's disheartening because DSLAMs need backhaul (just like neighborhood nodes and cell towers). All traffic has a bottleneck somewhere. In subdivisions fed by mini-DSLAM's or remote DSLAMs, do you think it is a GigE fiber connection feeding it? Not likely. Probably an NxT1 feed. So if you sell 48 ports at 1.5MB or 3MB.... well, you get the idea. Cellular, fixed wireless, cable, even telco (remember the AOL busy signals? and fast usy when trying to dial LD or International?) - all have bottlenecks. Knowing that and selling UNLIMITED just seems like at some point Unlimited will mean anything but. Or as we are seeing today: Unlimited as we define it today.
All business is a Pendulum. We have come full circle back to the early days of AOL, when you bought time on the network. 10 hours for $10. Atleast, hours was an easy measure. Gigabits is a tough one. (GB software meters coming soon!)
What do you think about metering Internet usage?