With their rather disastrous 2009 attempt
to forcefully impose low caps and high per-byte overages well in the rear view mirror, Time Warner Cable recently revamped their metered ambitions by launching a new cap & overage model in limited markets in portions of Texas
. Unlike their original effort, this option to incur overages is voluntary, though like their original effort there's fairly little real value to consumers underneath the coat of PR paint. While some customers might want a truly usage-based tier where light users like grandma pay very little, once again that's not what's on offer here.
As it stands now, users on Standard, Basic and Lite tiers in those markets can switch to the cap and overage model (known as Internet Essentials
) and back again at will. Once they do, they’ll face a 5 GB cap, with $1 per gigabyte overages not to exceed (for now) a maximum of $25/month. According to Time Warner Cable, switching to these plans may wind up saving users up to $5 per month, though we’ve not seen users confirm this, and you'll have to bundle several services to net this supposed savings.
Speaking on their recent earnings call, Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt stated that the CEO would soon be expanding the voluntary option to additional markets, but that unlike their first plan -- they’ll continue to offer users an unlimited consumption tier:
...we do think over time, there will be consumption element to the tiers. What we've done in South Texas...a few months ago, we announced that people there who want to save money could buy a tier that had a consumption element to it. But we retained our unlimited tier with no cap. I actually don't like the term cap. And I think we should always have that. So that this was not in any way coercive, people who wanted to save money, could. People who wanted to keep what they had, have kept it, and they still have unlimited. So our plan is to roll that out further across our footprint as the year goes on.
While Time Warner Cable may keep their unlimited option, they’ll obviously make it less and less attractive as an option by making it prohibitively expensive. As we've seen in Canada, those monthly cap ceilings also have a way of magically rising as time goes on. It's fairly clear that Time Warner Cable hopes to slowly shift everyone to the cap and overage pricing model, though it will be up to consumers if they want to play a role in the broadband version of the boiling frog metaphor