Media damage control effort falls short, trots out the exaflood...
Almost as if on cue
, Time Warner Cable has issued a new statement
on their metered billing trial that provides a few concessions to the complaints consumers have raised. Unfortunately, for every concession there's an equal amount of distortion, as the carrier clings tightly to the idea of metered billing despite unprecedented public backlash. According to COO Landel Hobbs, the carrier will be instituting a number of changes to their metered billing trial on the fly, including:A new 768kbps/128kbps tier for $15 per month
, with a 1GB per month cap. This would almost seem in direct response to our criticism that their plan really wouldn't benefit ultra-light users
. Still, the carrier shoots themselves in the foot by offering such a low cap with $2 per gigabyte overages on the tier, an even larger
markup over cost (a lovely 2000% or more) than their previous overage structure.Overages will be capped at $75 per month
, which isn't much of a concession, considering many users who currently enjoy unlimited access could easily find themselves with $120-$150 broadband bills simply by engaging in heavy consumption of Netflix HD delivery.A new, 100 GB Road Runner Turbo package for $75 per month
, with $1 per gigabyte overages. This isn't much of a concession either, since they told us about plans to increase the highest cap to 100GB back in February
. 100GB isn't enough to appease many of today's
heaviest users, much less the heavy users of 2012. You can pay $150 per month for the same unlimited service you enjoy now, which isn't a good deal on any planet.
In addition to fairly weak concessions, Hobbs felt it necessary to insult his audience by trotting out the "Exaflood" argument, or the industry-propagated concept that the Internet is going to grind to a halt unless you give carriers whatever they'd like (be it deregulation, fewer price controls, or hazelnut ice cream). Says Hobbs:
For good reason. Internet demand is rising at a rate that could outpace capacity within a few years. According to industry analysts, the infrastructure may not be able to accommodate the explosion of online content by 2012. . .This could result in Internet brownouts. . If we don't act, consumers' Internet experience will suffer. Sitting still is not an option.
Of course data from real scientists
counters the exaflood argument, which was crafted by a corporate-funded think tank, the investment community, incumbent policy groups
, lobbyists and executives -- who are best served by the public believing that bandwidth is not just rare -- but an extremely endangered resource requiring new pricing models, greater restrictions on usage
, anti-consumer legislation and higher prices. Hobbs seems fairly insistent that ripping off his customer base isn't enough, as he goes the extra mile to insult their collective intelligence as well.
What would make users happy? A real
concession would be if the carrier announced they were eliminating overages completely, and affixing caps that were more reasonable as the age of HD video and next-gen broadband approaches. This is
a trial, and if Time Warner Cable is willing to show that these terms are negotiable, annoyed customers should still have hope. Still, it's unlikely that Time Warner Cable's going to step back from the metered billing ledge -- since this push is focused on protecting future TV revenues from Internet video.
Based on the level of dishonest discourse Time Warner Cable's employing -- it's a future they're absolutely terrified of.