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Cablevision: Metered Billing Confuses Customers
Wants consumers to consume more 'drug,' not less...
by Karl Bode 06:25PM Tuesday Apr 07 2009
Buried in a Yankee Group write up of last week's Cable Show conference in DC is an interesting nugget from Cablevision. At a roundtable at the show regarding capping and metered billing, Cablevision's Senior VP of Corporate Engineering & Technology, Jim Blackley, didn't exactly sound enamored by the idea of billing by the byte. Cablevision seems particularly concerned that the shift to metered billing would simply confuse users:
quote:
Blackley, noting that the company compete with Verizon’s FiOS and AT&T’s U-Verse products, came down squarely against the idea saying, "we don’t want to give consumers more to think about." Blackley also had the quote of the day. Speaking of bit caps and not wanting to complicate the issue for consumers, he said, "we think [broadband] is a pretty powerful drug and we want people to consume more of it."
Cablevision of course is doing battle with FiOS in the relatively competitive NY metro market, and can't afford to give Verizon a marketing advantage (perhaps like those old SBC ads). That's in contrast to Time Warner Cable, who is only testing their metered billing model in non-FiOS neighborhoods. Also unlike Time Warner Cable, Cablevision is moving quickly to upgrade to DOCSIS 3.0, and is deploying a Wi-Fi network to add additional consumer value.

We asked Cablevision about their cap and metering plans and as was the case when we asked Verizon last year, the company says there's no plan to adopt per-byte billing but uses language that keeps the option open down the line. There are "no plans at this time to pursue a metered billing strategy for our Optimum Online broadband service," spokesman Jim Maiella tells me. Fear of giving Verizon any edge (aka competition) apparently is a strong deterrent.

The fear that metered billing would drive away confused customers that have grown used to flat-rate billing also has merit. A survey last fall conducted by Zeugma Systems found that 81% of consumers unsurprisingly don't like the idea of a cap and overages. 83% of polled customers either don't know what a gigabyte is, or have no idea how many they use.

Update: After additional conversations with Cablevision attempting to glean a more substantive position, spokesman Jim Maiella had this to say:
quote:
You seem to be tying our position on metered broadband to defensive competitive fear, as opposed to a pro-consumer product philosophy that - in the case of Optimum Online - goes back more than a decade. Don't forget, when our broadband service was first introduced into the market in 1997 it was a 10 Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream service. Those speeds would be highly competitive in today's marketplace, although we've since upgraded our base speeds to up to 15 Mbps down and 2 up. The attractiveness, value and competitive advantages of our products - all of them - become most clear and compelling when our customers use them.

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StudioTech
Off The Air

join:2001-10-10
Edison, NJ

They don't dare at this point

Not with Fios breathing down their neck.

funchords
Hello
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-11
Yarmouth Port, MA
kudos:6

1 recommendation

Very nice Juxtaposition

Very nice Juxtaposition to »Time Warner COO: Metered Billing Is What Consumers Want

cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7

Re: Very nice Juxtaposition

Well, obviously customers want to confuse themselves. Shesh. Do the marketing drones have to spell everything out for the us.
tmc8080

join:2004-04-24
Brooklyn, NY
Reviews:
·Optimum Online
·ooma
·Verizon FiOS

More people are less stupid in NY Metro..

Whichever provider gives them the best 'bang for the buck' will have a sizeable chunk of the broadband market and will be profitable for future upgrades when they become necessary. What the other 4/5ths of the cable industry is heading for is a showdown with last mile telcos.

Down the line, one of three things will happen:

1. AT&T joins the cable industry in putting hard data bit number caps into it's broadband dsl package (a really stupid, short sighted move) which will move the rest of the industry that way.

2. AT&T gets serious about last mile upgrades and moves into FTTP 50-200mbit with g(X)ons.

3. A political firestorm over non-competitive markets will force some regulatory reforms which say that both last mile providers can't force customers to buy bit capped packages only.

In reality, they should be offering these bit capped deals at a substantial discount to their current unlimited offerings. To do anything else is to say that the cable industry in it's majority view has substantially changed terms of service to protect it's core VIDEO business-- and that's just the way it's going to be.

If AT&T decides to join the party.. maybe congress should revisit the issue of letting Telcos getting into the video business in the first place. As a carrot and stick.. IMO, I would use the VOIP as the bait to keeping the cable companies playing fair with last mile broadband.. you want to play cute.. either you'll be banned from providing VOIP services.. or we'll find a way to tax your business so much it wouldn't be worth billing by the byte (or with hard data caps) anymore.

Cablevision has a long-term perspective.. the rest of the industry is cutting into their broadband market to spite their video coax face.
patcat88

join:2002-04-05
Jamaica, NY
kudos:1

Re: More people are less stupid in NY Metro..

said by tmc8080:

If AT&T decides to join the party.. maybe congress should revisit the issue of letting Telcos getting into the video business in the first place. As a carrot and stick.. IMO, I would use the VOIP as the bait to keeping the cable companies playing fair with last mile broadband.. you want to play cute.. either you'll be banned from providing VOIP services.. or we'll find a way to tax your business so much it wouldn't be worth billing by the byte (or with hard data caps) anymore.
But deregulation means more free market rights and less civil rights violations for corporations!

funchords
Hello
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-11
Yarmouth Port, MA
kudos:6

1 recommendation

said by tmc8080:

1. AT&T joins the cable industry in putting hard data bit number caps into it's broadband dsl package (a really stupid, short sighted move) which will move the rest of the industry that way.
I've never been an AT&T customer (at least not in this incarnation), but from the outside looking in, it appears that this company has no vision or goals and changes as the wind blows. I've realized that there is a pattern to AT&T.

1. Hear some half-baked idea that consumers will hate.
2. Immediately announce it as something you'll implement within the next year, and then don't.
3. Pretend nobody knows what they're talking about when they ask you later why it never happened, or,
4. Dabble in the dumb idea and then apologize if caught.
5. Wait until the last minute, then,
6. Wait more.

This is management by trial balloon. They go every direction at once resulting in no actual progress.
--
Robb Topolski -= funchords.com =- World Traveller -- KJ7RL
... Do something! ...

RadioDoc
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-05-11
La Grange, IL
kudos:2

Re: More people are less stupid in NY Metro..

If you are a customer you learn early on to just ignore what they say and wait to see what they actually do. This started with Big Ed shooting his mouth off. What I do know is that I am paying $10 less a month than Comcast wants for the same speed tier, and at the moment there are no restrictions on DSL use unlike what Comcast imposes (no servers, usage caps, etc.).

I don't think they even bother with the balloons. Some AT&T marketing droid farts out some stupid idea and then they all watch the reaction.

morbo
Complete Your Transaction

join:2002-01-22
00000
Reviews:
·Charter

Re: More people are less stupid in NY Metro..

said by RadioDoc:

no servers, usage caps, etc.).
in case you missed the memo, AT&T has mentioned that they are considering caps for the internet services.

RadioDoc
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-05-11
La Grange, IL
kudos:2

Re: More people are less stupid in NY Metro..

said by morbo:

said by RadioDoc:

no servers, usage caps, etc.).
in case you missed the memo, AT&T has mentioned that they are considering caps for the internet services.
Considering. Go back and read what I posted.
tmc8080

join:2004-04-24
Brooklyn, NY
Reviews:
·Optimum Online
·ooma
·Verizon FiOS
said by funchords:

said by tmc8080:

1. AT&T joins the cable industry in putting hard data bit number caps into it's broadband dsl package (a really stupid, short sighted move) which will move the rest of the industry that way.
I've never been an AT&T customer (at least not in this incarnation), but from the outside looking in, it appears that this company has no vision or goals and changes as the wind blows. I've realized that there is a pattern to AT&T.

1. Hear some half-baked idea that consumers will hate.
2. Immediately announce it as something you'll implement within the next year, and then don't.
3. Pretend nobody knows what they're talking about when they ask you later why it never happened, or,
4. Dabble in the dumb idea and then apologize if caught.
5. Wait until the last minute, then,
6. Wait more.

This is management by trial balloon. They go every direction at once resulting in no actual progress.
You are probably right.. though not competing has consequences for the entire industry.. the perception that a non-competitive duopoly exists.. [therefore, tweedle dumb=Comcast, tweedle dumber=AT&T::::combined, they make up about 2/3 the geography of last mile in the USA] Inviting regulators to reconsider how companies upgrade/charge for broadband.

So is it crazy like a fox, or just plain crazy? Verizon waited until sometime in 1994 to begin it's crappy DSL builds.. then realized that much of their last mile copper was inadequate nearly 10 years later and the build was several million over budget.

Who knows.. We are beginning to see customer pushback & backlash. Maybe they think that congress is too focused on the banks, cabinet positions, the economy, and international affairs to realize that they are trying to desensitize consumers to a new form of price gouging... whereas its actually doing the opposte.. pissing them off, more and more day by day.. by the looks of this thread, enough to finally do something about it!

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK
#1 is a given.

#2 could be a long, long way off.

#3 Is iffy, I doubt it will happen, unfortunately.
patcat88

join:2002-04-05
Jamaica, NY
kudos:1

1 recommendation

FUD

The Cable Internet is "shared" FUD used to work for me. Then I realized even if my cable 1/6th what is should be, its still faster then DSL.

Jeffrey
Connoisseur of leisurely things
Premium
join:2002-12-24
Long Island
kudos:3
Reviews:
·voip.ms

1 edit

1 recommendation

Re: FUD

said by patcat88:

The Cable Internet is "shared" FUD used to work for me. Then I realized even if my cable 1/6th what is should be, its still faster then DSL.
Assuming you're on CV's Boost package with Optimum Online, (30/5), 1/6th of the download would be 5MB and 1/6th of the upload would be about 768kbps - still significantly slower than Fios's 50/5 in this competitive market.

On the more serious side, kudos for CV (and for Verizon) on no "per-byte" billing. For me, per-byte billing is an innovation killer.
--
"Honesty may be the best policy, but it's important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy." - George Carlin

[my ramblings]

fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2

Re: FUD

When I had boost (Wayne NJ) I got the full 5M up anytime I needed it.

I ran a server too with no problems.

funchords
Hello
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-11
Yarmouth Port, MA
kudos:6
said by patcat88:

The Cable Internet is "shared" FUD used to work for me. Then I realized even if my cable 1/6th what is should be, its still faster then DSL.
Exactamundo. Give consumers the truth. They can handle the truth. No need to pretend cable is fiber. Cable is good enough or better than DSL for most people, no liespretending required.
--
Robb Topolski -= funchords.com =- World Traveller -- KJ7RL
... Do something! ...
dynodb
Premium,VIP
join:2004-04-21
Minneapolis, MN

Faster speeds = more caps

The faster broadband speeds get, the more we're going to see caps implemented. Perhaps not the ridiculously low 5GB variety that TW has proposed, but it's only a matter of time before everyone institutes caps.

Back in the days when 640k or 1.5M was the norm, it wasn't so much an issue- even a DS3 could handle quite a few users even with a few "power users".

Start increasing speeds to 20M, 50M or 100M and suddenly even a GigE trunk is at risk of getting congested with enough heavy users.

What we're seeing now is just the beginning. I'm not sure about metered billing, but caps are likely in everyone's future.

morbo
Complete Your Transaction

join:2002-01-22
00000
Reviews:
·Charter

Re: Faster speeds = more caps

the logical answer to increased traffic is to.... upgrade the backend. meaning, this traffic explosion didn't happen overnight. there's a clear pattern of increase in usage, and whether or not the providers want to take smart action and spend some money to prevent problems OR blame consumers is their choice.

with that said, there's no reason for metered billing or caps if the correct decisions are made re: upgrades. providers are just getting extremely greedy.

pizz
1gbps is all the rage.
Premium
join:2000-10-27
Astoria, NY
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

Cablevision get's it.

Out of all the major MSO's in this nation, Cablevision, gets the idea of being an industry leader, not a passer-by (Time Warner Cable). They've also brunt the storm and took on major player FIOS and arent bleeding as bad, as people expected. My hats off to them, i still wish i lived in a Cablevision service area.

And i'm not a shareholder or employee!
--
The more you talk, the less you listen.
zed2608
Premium
join:2007-09-30
Cleveland, TN
kudos:1

Re: Cablevision get's it.

id love to live in cablvsion area to

verolom

join:2002-03-23
Reston, VA
me too
Bytezboy

join:2001-05-17
New York, NY
Don't forget cablevision will cap you upload speed if you upload too much.
doppler

join:2003-03-31
Blue Point, NY

Re: Cablevision get's it.

said by Bytezboy:

Don't forget cablevision will cap you upload speed if you upload too much.
Pay the extra for boost service, capping is not a problem.
Be cheap about a great service, you get what you deserve.
ace41690

join:2003-01-24
Northfield, CT
This hasnt been reported in forever, they dont cap anymore!

Subaru
1-3-2-4
Premium
join:2001-05-31
Greenwich, CT
kudos:1

Re: Cablevision get's it.

they don't cap with the non boot service?

Thinkdiff
Premium,MVM
join:2001-08-07
Bronx, NY
kudos:11

Re: Cablevision get's it.

OOL doesn't cap on any tier, at all, and hasn't for at least over a year.

Alcohol
Premium
join:2003-05-26
Climax, MI
kudos:4

Re: Cablevision get's it.

said by Thinkdiff:

OOL doesn't cap on any tier, at all, and hasn't for at least over a year.
Not just that - they've uncapped the download part of their modems.

Cablevision is on the right path for technological advancement.

xirian
Premium
join:2003-01-26
Beacon, NY
kudos:1
not in years

M A R S
Premium
join:2001-06-15
Long Island
kudos:1
said by Bytezboy:

Don't forget cablevision will cap you upload speed if you upload too much.
Not true at all..
--
See you in Villains

RARPSL

join:1999-12-08
Suffern, NY

How True Metered Billing should work

If a company wants to go to metered billing it should be structured in one of two ways:

1) You get a fixed monthly charge (for your connection) and a designed usage charge. IOW: $X/Month and $Y/GB.
2) You get a fixed monthly charge (for your connection) with a designated GB allowance of Y/GB. If you exceed Y GB in a month then you pay an overage charge per GB that is NO MORE than the monthly charge divided by the GB allowance. IOW: You pay $X/Month and get a Y GB allowance. When/If you exceed that allowance the overage MUST be no more than $X/Y per GB.

ALL of the so called "metered" plans are of the second type EXCEPT that they charge an overage fee that is way out of line with the initial charge. A fair plan IMO, should be both plans with the user getting charged the lessor of the two charges (so low usage users get charged for their actual usage). An alternative is having the second plan offer "roll-over" GB as opposed to "Use Them or Lose Them" GBs (with the monthly fee dropping down to a lower tier's usage cap if the account is under used for 3 months until the roll-over minutes are burned off).
iansltx

join:2007-02-19
Austin, TX
kudos:2

Re: How True Metered Billing should work

Exactly what I was thinking...in fact, if I wre to start an ISP it'd be exactly that way...but that's too smart for the cable and DSL giants...
Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL

Re: How True Metered Billing should work

said by iansltx:

Exactly what I was thinking...in fact, if I wre to start an ISP it'd be exactly that way...but that's too smart for the cable and DSL giants...
mod to have throttling with choice of having full speed at a added cost per use over the cap. Also have cap free off peak time.

also have roll over.

cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
said by RARPSL:

ALL of the so called "metered" plans are of the second type EXCEPT that they charge an overage fee that is way out of line with the initial charge.
Shouldn't the same be said for, say, wireless phone plans? Take the most basic advertised regular Verizon plan which is 450 minutes for $40 with $.45/minute overage. It should be about $.09/minute, but they are charging over 5x as much as they should. Why aren't people all up in arms about wireless phone overage fees that have ALWAYS been there and been disproportionally higher then the "$X/Y" price of the base plan?
decifal

join:2007-03-10
Bon Aqua, TN
kudos:1

1 recommendation

i like throttleling

I like the idea of throttling people that consume constant large amounts of data to lesser priority on data packets than ones that do not. That way gamers shouldn't be affected due to the fact that games don't really relay that much data to play.. And if your downloading movies/porn/games/whatever, then the throttle won't truely hamper you that much.. Its not like shooting at an enemy and trying to move out before he/she/it retalliates. The download will still finish in very good time and you'll be fine..

Don't get me wrong though.. Someone streamlining a video here and there to me imo shouldn't be throttled.. Just the kiddies that treats their dsl/cable connection like its a dedicated T1 connection just for their excessive doings.. Its not perfect, but it beats the hell outta 5 gig a month caps with 1 gig overages, and your still paying 55 a month to boot!! That's pathetic on bell company's part for using tax dollars to partically fund their network just to turn around and do this sorta thing..

I demand regulation
Mr Matt

join:2008-01-29
Eustis, FL
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom
·Embarq Now Centu..
·Comcast
·CenturyLink

ISP's reflect the philosophy of the Greedy Old Pig Party.

I cannot understand why customers will accept a pricing philosophy that does not give the customer a way of determining the amount of data that will be downloaded to their browser when accessing a web site or a detailed description of the amount of data downloaded by each website accessed.

Furthermore companies that bill for usage normally provide the customer with a detailed bill showing when and how the usage took place.

I can download a report from my land line or cellular company with a detail description of the numbers called and the duration of each connection. I am sure that the Cable Television Companies provide each customer with a detailed listing of pay per view programming viewed through their subscriber terminal (Digital Box).

I believe that the reason that the cable television ISP's do not have a system in place to provide detailed usage history to customers, is that it would cost to much to develop such a system. With the history of how the inaccurate the Cable ISP are at providing accurate IP addresses, when served with subpoenas related to piracy issues, how can a customer be sure that the amount of data the ISP claims was downloaded is accurate.

Until some State Attorney General sues the a Cable Company to force them to disclose the source and duration of downloaded data, consumers will continue to be treated like mushrooms and fed bull feces by the CATV ISP's.

Any customer that subscribes to broadband service from a company that imposes or is planning to impose caps has a responsibility to write their public servants and complain about the lack of transparency in these billing systems.

Capt Cap

@sonnet.com

Re: ISP's reflect the philosophy of the Greedy Old Pig Party.

Let's force the ISPs to track everything we look at and see, so they can put it on our bills!

Then, our Internet usage can be subpoenaed in court... Americans should demand it!

... Or, maybe we'll just deal with the caps, and let the details be lost in the ether.

AnonDog

@verizon.net

Billing by the Byte

Billing by the byte only confuses the consumer when the ISP feels like he is going to have to take a hair cut on what he is making by not billing by the byte.

There is exactly *one* fair method of billing. It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that. Don't let them leverage the confusion that flat rate billing has produced into a system whereby they always make more from *YOU* the *AVERAGE* customer than you should have to pay for the service you receive.
FSchmertz

join:2007-07-01
West Milford, NJ
Reviews:
·Optimum Online

Not so fast

For all the folks (I guess on Verizon DSL) who "Can't Wait for OOL,"
be aware that not everybody gets good service. I'm going on 18 months with DSL or even dialup speeds from them, and they've admitted a downstream problem. Not exactly a prompt fix.

It's an oversold node problem in certain areas, I think. Drop by the OOL forum and check it out.
sunny8294
Shqipe

join:2001-03-15
Localhost ;)

Metered Billing sucks!

Metered billing is just another way of money-hungry/greedy bastard companies who are trying to make more money by providing less. Oh, and not to forget the customers will pay for the related expenses such as implementation of metered billing, the technology to deploy it etc.
--
.:: Sunny ::.

flattener

@vpginc.com

metered billing

What is the traffic meter and where it is installed? What happens with packets that are corrupted or delayed or not delivered by the remote end; they need to be retransmitted; are they subtracted from the bandwidth. What is QOS and who is verifying QOS? Is QOS done by the same meter. Who is calibrating meter and who is certifying meter. Since Internet is network of networks, no ISP provides end-to-end service. The metering and QOS makes sense only if service is provided end-to-end.