After Time Warner Cable took a public relations beating for pushing low caps and high per byte overages on consumers back in 2009
, the company has been stepping very carefully in what is quite obviously their relentless desire to charge consumers broadband overages. Early this year their metered billing option returned to a few tiny markets as a voluntary option
named "Internet Essentials
The company promises users a $5 discount off their bill if they sign up for the plan, which features a 5 GB cap and $1 per gigabyte overages. Granted if you actually use your connection for anything more than checking the weather a few times a week, that "discount" evaporates immediately. Seeing the value yet? Yeah, us neither.
If having your bandwidth consumption tightly constricted for no particular reason appeals to you, you'll be happy to note that Time Warner Cable has expanded the plans further throughout Texas. According to the company, Internet Essentials is now available in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Waco, Temple, Killeen, Kerrville and the Golden Triangle.
Time Warner Cable continues to try a little too hard to sell users on the idea that this plan is a good idea for them, and that tightly rationing bandwidth is about meeting a consumer need.
"It’s clear that one-size-fits-all pricing is not working for many consumers, particularly in a challenging economy," said Time Warner Cable's Gordon Harp, Regional Vice President of Operations in Texas in a press statement, adding that the new tier is designed "to meet the needs of consumers who want more price flexibility."
Except it's far from clear that consumers asked for Time Warner Cable's metered proposal. In reality, as the company found out painfully in 2009, most customers are perfectly happy with flat rate pricing. Consumers are even happy with flat-rate pricing at what's often an obvious premium -- because they don't like having to worry about counting their bytes.
It's Time Warner Cable that wants the shift. Flat rate pricing doesn't fit Time Warner Cable's agenda because the company simply wants to charge more for data. As we've long noted, the goal isn't value or flexibility for consumers, it's to constrict the bandwidth pipe and impose new tolls to offset the inevitable impact Internet video will have on TV revenues. The tried to force it, now they're trying to soft sell it.
Customers remain fortunate that the option is voluntary -- for now.