dslreports logo
site
spacer

spacer
 
   
spc
story category
Suddenlink Starts Charging Overages Again
After Pausing Cash Grab Because Meters Didn't Work
by Karl Bode 09:27AM Monday Jun 03 2013 Tipped by Gaff See Profile
Last summer, cable operator Suddenlink decided to impose caps and charge their users overages -- before bothering to ensure that their usage meters worked. The result was a large number of complaints from users about meters that weren't reliable, and even tracked phantom subscriber usage when the power went out or modems were off. After we posted several stories critical of the sloppy caps Suddenlink then suspended the usage meter and overage plans, first insisting their meters were accurate -- then a little while later acknowledging they did find problems.

Click for full size
Some seven months later and users in our forums point out that the meters have returned, and others notes that the company has notified them that they're charging overages again. One user received this notification this week letting him know that overages have returned:
quote:
As of approximately 11:59 p.m. CT on 05/30/2013, your Internet account had used 276 GB in the current monthly billing period, exceeding the monthly allowance of 250 GB. This is the first time your account has exceeded its monthly allowance since our current plan was put into place. Per that plan, customers are not billed for exceeding the monthly allowance until the third time doing so. Very few customers exceed their allowance; even fewer exceed it three times. In the future, we'll notify you whenever your account approaches its allowance and again if it exceeds that allowance.
While caps and overages on fixed-line networks are little more than a gash grab and TV revenue protection racket, the very least consumers should expect is that meters should work. Yet we've seen time and time again that many ISP usage meters simply don't work, and we've seen just as frequently that U.S. regulators couldn't care less. Hopefully the second time is a charm for Suddenlink and meter accuracy, though user discussion suggests there may still be problems.

view:
topics flat nest 

Cabal
Premium
join:2007-01-21
Reviews:
·Suddenlink

Sure, if you're a 1%-er

For the rest of us, last week's news on median bandwidth was fairly encouraging against caps of 250 GB and 350 GB: »Sandvine: Mean Monthly Usage 44.7 GB
--
If you can't open it, you don't own it.
Uplinkpro

join:2008-02-11
Lake Charles, LA

1 recommendation

Re: Sure, if you're a 1%-er

If the caps will only affect a small portion of their customers then it's only fair to state that they're nothing more than a cash grab rather than what they try to mask it as. Caps are clearly targeted at people that opt to consume most of their media via online services such as youtube, netflix, hulu, and more. The fact that they decided to also count their own Suddenlink2Go because of people saying how unfair it was to not count their own services doesn't help their position at all. Why would I use S2G if it counts counts against me and doesn't have the options that other sites do.

Also, factor in that some gamers will easily hit the stated caps when stuff such as Steam sales occur due to the sheer size of most games these days. Let us not even mention that both times they started the caps were before major events (before christmas and before summer vacation) where there tends to be more data consumption as well as more online sales.

As technology progresses we also have to look at future data consumption, where an uncompressed 4K movie can be 100GB. With the advent of h.265 this number may be decreased by a large amount, but you still can't compress it too much or it would no longer be 4K. These caps would then by definition strangle such technologies in their cribs because no one would want to watch a movie that could potentially wipe out 1/5th or more of their data cap.

What makes it worse though, as I have mentioned in other threads, is the fact that they didn't even notify the areas being affected by the re-implementation of the caps that they were put back into place. They are quite simply trying to hide the caps under the rug where no one will see them until it's too late and I, for one, will continue to call them out on it.
MURICA

join:2013-01-03
We are all "the 1%" here.

If you don't use more than 45 GB a month then you don't really need broadband.

For comparison, DIAL-UP can transfer 15 GB of data in one month if used 24/7. If you transfer 45 GB of data in one month that means you have used your connection at an average speed of 168 Kbps for that billing period.

...If you're not planning on using your connection then what the hell do you need 100 Mbps for?
jcremin

join:2009-12-22
Siren, WI
kudos:3

Re: Sure, if you're a 1%-er

said by MURICA:

If you don't use more than 45 GB a month then you don't really need broadband.

I'm not sure if you're trying to make a point about caps, but if not, that's a pretty stupid thing to say. That's like saying that if the average speed you drive your car at doesn't exceed 20 miles an hour, why do you need one that can go 70?

djrobx
Premium
join:2000-05-31
Valencia, CA
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·VOIPO
said by MURICA:

We are all "the 1%" here.

If you don't use more than 45 GB a month then you don't really need broadband.

For comparison, DIAL-UP can transfer 15 GB of data in one month if used 24/7. If you transfer 45 GB of data in one month that means you have used your connection at an average speed of 168 Kbps for that billing period.

...If you're not planning on using your connection then what the hell do you need 100 Mbps for?

If you're saying that, you've clearly forgotten how long it takes for even the simplest of web pages to load on dialup.

You've already pointed out that 45GB of usage is 3x what you can pull with CONTINUOUS use of dialup. I don't usually use my connection continuously.

Even if I only used 45GB/month, I want the service to be as fast as possible. Even if I just download 4 4GB ISOs in a month, I want to wait around for them the least amount of time possible.
--
AT&T U-Hearse - RIP Unlimited Internet 1995-2011
Rethink Billable.
Uplinkpro

join:2008-02-11
Lake Charles, LA

1 recommendation

Re: Sure, if you're a 1%-er

You realize that broadband is now measured as a minimum of 6mb/s download now right? Seeing as even Netflix in its current form only needs about 3mb/s for streaming unless you're going for super HD you technically don't even need broadband for streaming anymore.

Even at 3mb/s you're looking at 1 gig of data in an hour, or 4 hours per ISO for your example. You could be downloading them while you're asleep. In fact, in one day at those meager speeds you can download about 32GB worth of data.

Basically, your "fast as possible" is wasting money if you don't use it. You can say "time is money" but you're not required to actually be at your computer while something is downloading, and thus is irrelevant. The point here is having the same caps for different speeds is counter-intuitive since the only people that need those kinds of speeds are those that would actually be moving large amounts of data.

Now let's go on to other examples, where recently a game called Defiance had a 10GB patch. This may be rare, but with a 250GB cap your average usage for a day is only 8.3GB, meaning you used more than a day's worth of allowance (ha!) just on a patch for a game.

For Netflix at the previously mentioned 3mb/s speeds that would mean 8 hours a day of Netflix. However, that's only assuming you ONLY watch Netflix and that you're the only one watching it. Realistically this is not the case as no one is going to use their connection for only Netflix and most homes consist of more than one person.

The tl;dr here is speed only matters if you can use it.

Now, for the car comparison someone else mentioned, a better example would be getting a Koenigsegg CCXR to drive around town. sure, you may have one of the fastest cars in the world, but no one will give a damn about being able to hit 250 MPH when the fastest you can legally go is 70. Sure, it might look good, but no one else really cares.

Also, another thing to point out, at 15mb/s (my current speed that was bumped up from 10mb/s for "free") a person can theoretically use 158GB in a day just from the download speed. Needless to say this means that 15mb/s is more than enough for your "average" user going by Sandvine's numbers. Going any faster when there are caps is simply a waste of money.
jcremin

join:2009-12-22
Siren, WI
kudos:3

Re: Sure, if you're a 1%-er

said by Uplinkpro:

Now, for the car comparison someone else mentioned, a better example would be getting a Koenigsegg CCXR to drive around town. sure, you may have one of the fastest cars in the world, but no one will give a damn about being able to hit 250 MPH when the fastest you can legally go is 70. Sure, it might look good, but no one else really cares.

Excellent point. When I brought up the car example, I was making the point about it being silly that someone could use dial-up for today's modern internet. On the other extreme, your point is spot on and couple be applied to these people falling all over themselves for "gigabit" speeds, which is just plain dumb. It's like having a CCXR since the only time 99.99% of people will hit anywhere near a gigabit is when they are running a speed test to show it off to their friends.

I know this is slightly off topic, but I made the point in another article about how it would make so much more sense to see the focus on bringing the rural areas who are stuck with less than 5mbps speeds (or even just dialup) up to a technology that could handle 10 megs now and 100 megs in the future. Most urban areas already have those speeds (which are mostly unnecessary), so it's dumb to spend the money on gigabit when there are so many people who just need something usable.

JMHO42

@verizon.net
I used VoIP over dial-up back in the '90s--well, I tried to at various times... didn't really work all that well (delays primarily). Dare I even mention the impossibility of streaming Netflix over dial-up? (I looked for sarcasm in your post, but I couldn't really detect any.)

No, almost no one needs 100mbps. But broadband isn't about how much you use it; it's about being able to do all of the things you want Internet access for, and--typically--that means streaming video for most users (less than 10mbps for one stream--much less).

Of course, it's not like anyone's usage costs the ISP anything more compared to anyone else's usage. Caps are always and ever a lie told by the ISP in order to grab more money and convince all customers that how much they use actually has any effect on other customers. It doesn't.
adamg

join:2013-03-01
Paterson, NJ
said by Cabal:

For the rest of us, last week's news on median bandwidth was fairly encouraging against caps of 250 GB and 350 GB: »Sandvine: Mean Monthly Usage 44.7 GB

congratulations, that means most people don't use Steam or Vudu or anything remotely cutting edge on the internet. Those that do should be punished now that grandma has internet for facebook and makes the average look low.

Suddenlink should be praised for their innovative strategy of progressively offering services that are faster and faster relative to what their network can handle. Such innovation. Movers and shakers I tell you.

IowaCowboy
Iowa native
Premium
join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
kudos:1

Avoiding caps

Subscribe to pay TV, does not necessarily need to be through your ISP, I have mine through DirecTV.

ArrayList
DevOps
Premium
join:2005-03-19
Brighton, MA

Re: Avoiding caps

Exactly how is subscribing to tv supposed to prevent people from going over these arbitrary usage caps?

IowaCowboy
Iowa native
Premium
join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
kudos:1

Re: Avoiding caps

Because streaming video will burn through caps easily.
Wilsdom

join:2009-08-06

Re: Avoiding caps

Why not listen to the radio? Needlepoint is also a great choice.

ArrayList
DevOps
Premium
join:2005-03-19
Brighton, MA

1 recommendation

People stream because it is cheaper. The caps are there to keep people subscribed to tv. It's aimed at discouraging competition, not improving networks
Uplinkpro

join:2008-02-11
Lake Charles, LA
Because you can watch everything from everywhere on tv. It's not like there are internet only shows or shows that are unavailable to your region.

LightS
Premium
join:2005-12-17
Greenville, TX
I would rather pay a few bucks per overage to watch stuff on Netflix than $50-70/mo for TV.
Happydude32
Premium
join:2005-07-16
kudos:1
said by IowaCowboy:

Subscribe to pay TV, does not necessarily need to be through your ISP, I have mine through DirecTV.

What if I watch that college football game that’s available only on Watch ESPN, but not one of the real channels? What if I want to watch the first season of Game of Thrones that’s available on HBO Go but nowhere else, what if I want to watch Deadwood on HBO Go, what if I never saw an episode of Dexter and I want to stream 60 or 70 episodes of it on Showtime Anytime. All of that involves having a pay TV subscription. What if I want to stream NFL Sunday Ticket on my tablet while watching another game, what if I want to watch a lot of movies on TV shows on DirecTV On Demand? That uses a lot of data, while having a pay TV subscription. Seriously, do you ever get tired of repeating your same misunderstandings day in and day out?
--
4/17/13 - A Beautiful Day For Freedom, Thank You United States Senate!
Message to Anti-Gun Liberals: HA HA!
Hussein Obama 0 – American Public 1
“the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”
Repeal Obamacare Now!

gatorkram
Need for Speed
Premium
join:2002-07-22
Winterville, NC
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Suddenlink

1 recommendation

16.7 hours of usage, fair usage?

As a consumer nothing makes me more angry than feeling like I an being ripped off, taken advantage of, or otherwise given the short end of the stick.

This is how caps make me feel. And worse in this case, when I first got service from this company, back in 2006, they didn't have caps, or overages. Where is the value for me? The prices sure didn't go down once they implemented these things either.

The worst of it is, how misleading their explanations are, oh how much you can "do" with their limits. It's always like, 1 million emails, listen to hours of music, watch hours and hours of youtube and the sorts.

The part they don't mention, which to me is the most telling of them all, is if you have the 50mbit plan, which is limited to 350gb of transfer, that you will hit your limit in just 16.7 hours at full speed.

Here is a link to the bandwidth calculator should you want to see how much you can use your connection. »/calculator?sz ··· vestate=

People will try to argue that nothing on the internet requires that much data and that no one needs that much data, or some other argument that the average person blah blah blah... My point is, and always has been, simply how restrictive the caps really are, in real world terms.
--
What the heck is a GatorKram? »www.gatorkram.com
amungus
Premium
join:2004-11-26
America
Reviews:
·Cox HSI
·KCH Cable

Re: 16.7 hours of usage, fair usage?

EXACTLY the point. This is the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. GREAT link. Bookmarked. That middle column is especially telling.
250GB/mo. @ 25Mbps (Cox's "preferred" which I'm betting 'most' people are subscribed to) would be 23.9hrs.

This is just not keeping up with reality. These limitations are largely artificial, and completely unnecessary.

The "average household" (let alone a few college age people) is rapidly depending on much more bandwidth being readily available. Trying to cap it like this is flat out absurd, and ought to be illegal.

karlmarx

join:2006-09-18
Chicago, IL

Re: 16.7 hours of usage, fair usage?

250 GB? That's pathetic. I routinely exceed 2TB of data every month. Yet still, I only use about 6% of my potential bandwidth every month (90/10). I do not consider using 6% of my potential in any way 'abusive'. Granted, if I used 20TB a month, or 60% of the potential, it could be considered excessive, but 6% of what they are selling me is well within my rights. I don't have caps, and I would never support an ISP that did. I'd much rather have 10Mb uncapped than 25Mb capped any day.
--
Remember 1 in 4 people are retarded. 25% of Americans are Republican. Coincidence? I don't think so.
adamg

join:2013-03-01
Paterson, NJ
imagine if you're like me, and have the 107 meg plan, and are limited to 15 minutes per day of full speed service.

WHT

join:2010-03-26
Rosston, TX
kudos:5

Typo

should be cash grab not gash grab
big_e

join:2011-03-05

Guilt tripping their customers for using more than average

Notice how they are using a comparison to the average customer usage within a particular data package for their meter instead comparing it to the hard cap of 250 Gb. They are trying to make their customers feel guilty for using more than average even when their usage is far below the cap, sort of the same way your electrical utility will send you a letter chastising you for using more electricity than average to guilt trip you into using less. It isn't like using more internet bandwidth than average is will require burning an extra few tons of coal or they are going to have to build a nuclear power plant because you like to watch more movies on Netflix than the average household. If they gave a comparison to the hard cap, most households will realize they have freedom to use their internet even more just as long as they fall below the 250 Gb cap. Suddenlink is misleading their customers.
elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA

Has anyone actually been charged?

For all the noise made here, I didn't see any reference to a single user getting a bill for exceeding their cap.
Uplinkpro

join:2008-02-11
Lake Charles, LA

Re: Has anyone actually been charged?

Since it seems you haven't been paying attention, you get 2 warnings before they start charging you. This is visible in the letter (on the third overage you're charged). Most people here probably know by now that I was the one that received that e-mail from Suddenlink.

What I haven't posted about, of course, was that my billing cycle begins on the 20th, so that amount was for only 10 days of usage, two of which seemed odd on their meters since we didn't do anything substantial on those days.
elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·EarthLink

Re: Has anyone actually been charged?

said by Uplinkpro:

Since it seems you haven't been paying attention, you get 2 warnings before they start charging you. This is visible in the letter (on the third overage you're charged). Most people here probably know by now that I was the one that received that e-mail from Suddenlink.

What I haven't posted about, of course, was that my billing cycle begins on the 20th, so that amount was for only 10 days of usage, two of which seemed odd on their meters since we didn't do anything substantial on those days.

And so I ask again: has anyone actually been charged?
Uplinkpro

join:2008-02-11
Lake Charles, LA

Re: Has anyone actually been charged?

Actually yes. The last time they brought out the caps that they had to take down because the meters didn't work properly I was charged overages. They added credit to my account after they removed the meters due to them being inaccurate.

Also, it seems their meters are inaccurate in the same ways as they were before. If you refer to the forum you'll see Gaff being pinged for double the usage his router is showing on the 27th. For me the days I'm leery about are the 25th and 26th, though I wasn't running my own router's meter at the time (which is also inaccurate to be fair). We plan on getting a custom firewall between our router and modem with a more accurate meter to get a better picture of our usage.

Another thing to note, I actually gave up on having them fix our packet loss problem and replaced their modem with our own. They had replaced the first modem (that was throwing out errors) with their own, but that didn't stop the issue. Replacing that modem with a docsis 3.0 one that we bought mitigated the problem to not being nearly as bad as it was, but from time to time we still get issues.
elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA

Re: Has anyone actually been charged?

Ok, so that's two people, in the past. Any more?

How much $ was anyone charged, net, in the end?
Uplinkpro

join:2008-02-11
Lake Charles, LA

Re: Has anyone actually been charged?

You haven't read the e-mail have you? Sure, no one has been charged YET because they just implemented the caps and overages again and reset them from the previous iteration. However, their e-mail shows clear intent of charging after you've gotten 2 warnings.

quote:
Per that plan, customers are not billed for exceeding the monthly allowance until the third time doing so.
That one sentence clearly states to anyone that can read that if this wasn't a warning it would be an overage.
elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·EarthLink

Re: Has anyone actually been charged?

said by Uplinkpro:

You haven't read the e-mail have you? Sure, no one has been charged YET because they just implemented the caps and overages again and reset them from the previous iteration. However, their e-mail shows clear intent of charging after you've gotten 2 warnings.

quote:
Per that plan, customers are not billed for exceeding the monthly allowance until the third time doing so.
That one sentence clearly states to anyone that can read that if this wasn't a warning it would be an overage.

In other words, no one has been charged.

This is the same pattern we've seen over and again for years - a lot of noise, and no actual charges. Meanwhile data hogs cease their activity, disconnect, or subscribe to a capless tier.

"Low caps, high overages" serves Karl and his brethren well as they stoke the populist headline flames, but in reality, they don't end up resulting in overage charges, as they are not enforced, they are rescinded, or subscribers mend their ways.

I fail to see why this outcome will be any different.

NormanS
I gave her time to steal my mind away
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-14
San Jose, CA
kudos:12
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
·Pacific Bell - SBC

Re: Has anyone actually been charged?

said by elray:

This is the same pattern we've seen over and again for years - a lot of noise, and no actual charges. Meanwhile data hogs cease their activity, disconnect, or subscribe to a capless tier.

I neither ceased my activity, nor subscribed to a "capless tier". I took my $103.xx a month away from capped AT&T, and gave $55.xx a month to uncapped Sonic.net, LLC; and doubled my download speed in the bargain.
--
Norman
~Oh Lord, why have you come
~To Konnyu, with the Lion and the Drum

••••••••
semaj81

join:2002-08-12
Marietta, OH

Not sure if..

Not sure if this is for all markets.. I have the meter back, but I don't show a limit. Just shows my usage, that's all.. Their TOS states anyone over the 30Mbps plan is allowed up to 350GB/month.. I come under that by about 100GB each month so.. maybe that's why I'm not notified? Also, I don't use Suddenlink DNS servers... But either way, their limits aren't as bad as I've seen others have..

••••••••••