Friday, April 3, 2009

I don't get it

So, everyone is up in arms about Time Warner declaring tiered broadband pricing in Austin, Texas. Apparently.

Some interesting facts:

1) In Australia, pretty much every single ISP charges this way. I had to re-read the press release a couple times to make sure I wasn't missing anything.

2) Nobody cares, because it makes sense - you get what you pay for.

3) The mainstream companies give you jack shit bandwidth per month. The lesser known companies give much more. Some of those companies give good service, others don't.

4) The better companies don't charge you for going over the limit, they just reduce your bandwidth for the rest of the month (with the option to buy more in small increments). Scott claimed that $1 per GB is 'ridiculously punitive'. Excuse me while I Lol. How is paying 33 cents per episode of a torrented TV show more than you can afford? God, some people will whine about anything.

5) Many downloads are un-metered. I'm with "Internode" in Australia, and as long as the Internode servers are available for Steam to use, my hefty Steam downloads are not metered at all. Many companies also feature "off-peak" downloads, where if you download after midnight it doesn't count (i.e. you set your download manager to go after a certain time).

So, worried about other companies following Time Warner's example? Well, they will. And some of them will be dicks who charge $40 a month for a 2 GB download limit, while others won't and will undercut the market. Shop around.

When I read Scott say "the end of the Internet as a content delivery system", all I could think of was "the sky is falling". This guy needs to harden up just a little bit.


_ said...

Couple of responses before I wander off to "harden up" or something. My blog post was written for people in the US (and mostly people in Austin specifically.) So I didn't explain a couple of things that might otherwise confuse overseas readers.

You recommended, based on your market in Australia, that people who are unhappy with this should "shop around". That's not an option. Thanks to deregulation of telecom/cable companies over the past couple of decades, most communities (including most of Austin) have no competition. If you want broadband in Austin, your choices are cablemodem through Time Warner, DSL at 1/4 the speed through the local phone company, or dialup at 1/50 the speed. There is no shopping around involved. While this isn't the case everywhere in the country (yet), and luckily I live in one of the few areas of Austin that *does* have other options, Time Warner is trialing it in the markets they are specifically because for most people affected, their choices will be pay more, or significantly change their internet usage.

$1 per gig is ridiculously punitive because it is nowhere near the going rate for bandwidth ISPs are paying. It isn't an attempt to make up a cost (because that cost does not exist to that degree), it's an attempt to change behavior. Thus - punitive.

While metered internet usage is the norm in Australia and Europe, that shouldn't mean that everyone not currently living under that should just shrug and accept it, any more than you'd accept your cell phone companies suddenly yanking 3G/4G phones simply because "the US market doesn't have them, and they get by just fine".

And while Steam and other media providers have local Australian content nodes that bypass download metering, that's because in Australia bandwidth is metered because of its relative scarcity to the rest of the world. Somehow I don't think US cable companies are going to set up unmetered content for that reason - but more as yet more anti-competitive "encouragement" to use, say, Time Warner pay per view movies instead of Netflix.

Will the Internet survive if every US ISP goes to metered billing? Sure. But I'd suspect you'd see a lot of what you're currently used to (such as Steam, online video, etc.) start to wither away from lack of use, because many US consumers won't be willing to pay double their current bill for the same (or less) service.

Chappo said...

I hear over in France that they get 30+mbps speeds mostly uncapped for 40 bucks a month...

Melf_Himself said...

I think you're drastically over-estimating how much band-width you actually *need* each month. I'm not a casual internet user by any means. I game, I keep up to date with roughly a bajillion blogs, I watch trailers for upcoming games, I torrent a lot of TV shows, etc.

I get pretty close to my cap of 25 GB each month. I could download a lot more than this if I really tried. I could spend more time watching every ridiculously pointless thing I can find on YouTube, I can be completely lazy with respect to looking up the TV guide and just torrent every show/movie I want to watch, I could download every 2 GB Steam demo that gets released, etc.

But I don't. I don't bother with the shit I don't really need. Bear in mind that I STILL download a *lot* more than a "casual" user. Such users are often on plans with something pathetic like only a 2 GB cap.

Also, $1 per GB is nothing, really. Global financial crisis anyone? Companies are attempting not to go under (if they go bust, since they're apparently the *only* company, you'll have no internet, and wish you could pay $1 per GB).

Finally, I don't know how they're branding DSL over there, but given that we get technology generally at least a year behind the U.S., I am assuming that you have the equivalent of "ADSL2" over there. With my ADSL2 connection, which runs through my phone line, *while I'm on the phone if I want*, I cap out at about 900 Kb/s on Steam and fast torrents, so I'm assuming that's the maximum speed I can download at. It seems pretty fricking fast to me.

Do you not have ADSL2 in Austin? I honestly don't see how you could "need" something 4 times as fast when you can already watch movies etc with no hitches after only a couple seconds of buffering.

_ said...

When US users refer to DSL, it's almost always the original DSL version (400k/s or so, about 1/4 the speed of cablemodems).

I personally have U-Verse DSL which is a 30mb/s DSL connection, most of which transmits television over IPTV in lieu of cable TV, but that's still very limited in terms of rollout area. Most places are limited in terms of century-old copper wiring to older DSL implementations.

Telecom tech in general in the US is behind that of the rest of the world, in large part due to corporate shenanigans.

Oakstout said...

This is the reason I stopped using Time Warner and switched to DSL though my local phone company years ago.

I got a nasty gram from Time Warner saying they were going to move me to a business class charge, which is 100.00 a month, because my of my usage being more than a few gigs a month. So don't fool yourself, Time Warner has been doing this thing for years,they just decided to come clean with it.