TimeWarner's decision to implement bandwidth download caps…

Posted by Dan on Apr 14, 2009 @ 9:38 AM

While my current monthly download usage is pretty small, TimeWarner's decision to implement download caps really irritates me. They want to implement caps of 1 GB, 10GBs, 20GBs, 40GBS and 100GBs based on different tiered packages and then charge you overages for every GB over your limit (with the a $75 cap of overage charges.)

They've been facing a backlash about this decision and rightfully so in my opinion.

As I stated earlier, my current download usage isn't very high, but one of the immerging Internet markets in downloadable movie rentals. When the XBOX360 introduced it's Netflix interface for watching streaming movies online, I thought that was a huge jump forward in downloadable movies. Well the Netfix streaming library is still too sparse and doesn't include enough new movies, that will change over time. I certainly see a time in the near future where you'll be able to rent movies purely online.

This is why I'm so irritated with download caps. We're seeing more an more Internet based services succeeding. We're seeing more SaaS applications having success, streaming video taking off and of course iTunes has seen great success. All of these services share one thing in common—they require downloading content to use the services.

If TimeWarner really needs a way to help recover costs, don't limit how much I can download, limit how fast I can download it. TimeWarner has kept bumping up the bandwidth transfer rates, but most people don't need 6Mbps or 8Mbps sustained xfer speeds. I'd much rather see them keep the tiered xfer rate pricing and keep the uncapped download speeds. Let the people who need the higher transfer rates (because their transferring tons of data simultaneously—which is where the real problem lies anyway) and let the rest of us just download the data we need without having to worry about our download usage.

This really makes me hope Verizon bring FiOS to Central Ohio sooner, rather than later. Verizon currently has no plans to cap their download usage and the xfer rates are already much higher than TW. If TW does implement download restrictions, that will be the straw that broke the camels back.

Not only will they lose me as a RoadRunner customer, they'll probably lose me as a Cable subscriber as well.

Categories: Personal, Technology


  • I completely agree with you. I am a Time Warner customer also and while I never download movies or stream Netflix stuff, I do use a lot of bandwidth in the course of my daily business.

    If Time Warner implements a cap on me and it affects my bill, I'm gone in 60 seconds. The amount of the bill keeps increasing, and it seems like the trend is for the quality and quantity of the service to decrease. Not the best business plan for customer retention is it?

  • @Dan W:

    If you're not using BitTorrent clients or streaming movies, then you'd probably be hard pressed to reach their caps. You're really only going to have an issue if you're streaming a lot of content or constantly downloading large file. Of course if you find yourself having to download large files for development, than that could prove to be a problem.

    I just think it's going to be more common for people to start watching streaming media. I know we often rely on the XBOX streaming service to watch shows we missed or are trying to catch up on.

    Also, services like Hulu provide extremely high quality streaming and I know there are people that are relying on those services now instead of TV.
  • That's the "problem", isn't it? People are choosing to watch TV shows through sources other than cable ... and cable companies that also offer internet access just can't have that. You will pay for cable and you will watch it.

    From a customer's perspective, the problem would be that the cost of cable tends to increase and the perceived value doesn't seem to match (I say cable rather than cable/satellite because internet via satellite isn't in the same class - satellite service may suffer from the same cost/value problem, but there generally isn't a companion service that gets capped to compensate). "Fixing" the problem by effectively jacking up internet pricing for people who watch "TV" via the internet seems to be a short-term win for TW et al and a significant long-term loss ...
  • @Dave:

    That's a good point.
  • @Dave D.
    You hit the nail exactly on the head. The majority of TW's revenue comes from Cable TV. With more and more TV shows available on the net, TW will see their cash cow dwindle over time if they don't make some radical changes in their business model.
    They need to enhance their TV service by offering it on the internet. Perhaps a partnership with the folks that make SlingBox, or an internal network site that broadcasts the shows so that only TW customers can view the shows.
    TW is also going to have to compete with applications like XBMC and Boxee also. I just built an XBMC media server for my TV and thanks to it, I watch almost no live TV anymore.. Almost 90% of what I watch is now streamed either from other sites or from my NAS box in my basement.
    (And yes, I know this is an old post, but I haven't been to Dan's site in a few months.)

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