Metering Returns To The Internet

TWC to squeeze heavy bandwidth users

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As one major broadband provider prepares to test a pay by usage Internet scheme, we are reminded of the old days of online access.

Names like Prodigy, Delphi, and CompuServe mean little to the modern Internet user. In the dark ages before the Web and http came into being, the online world consisted of lots of text, a necessary familiarity with uuencode/uudecode, and metered access.

The more things change, etc. Time Warner Cable will bring back the past with a plan to charge subscribers based on their usage, according to Reuters. That test begins in Beaumont, Texas.

Time Warner Cable claimed five percent of its subscribers use 50 percent of its bandwidth. with Internet users receives the blame, with the problem worsening when more people seek video content.

However, one industry observer commenting on the Bits Blog thinks the clampdown has more to do with content than the actual, minimal costs of providing extra broadband connectivity:

Metering Returns To The Internet
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  • http://www.terraworld.net Don Bledsoe

    David said, "Today would be a good day for people to ask their elected officials why their cities can’t have an Internet utility."

    I work for an 11 year old ISP in rural Kansas. Between the RBOCs slugging it out with cable companies on price and having to adapt from increasingly unprofitable dial-up services to rural wireless almost overnight, it’s been tough to just stay in business. In the 16 counties in southeast Kansas where we do most of our business, not a single town qualifies as a "city," according to Federal standards. We’re just too rural. All of these citizens want high-speed and they want it yesterday.

    In one of the major towns (population about 12,000) where we’ve done considerable collaboration with the town to provide barely-profitable Internet access, the City of Coffeyville, KS decided to become a wireless ISP. They use Motorola Canopy, whose installed CPE cost is nearly $500, they charge the customer $49 to install it and $39.95 monthly. We provide live technical support, they provide email support. We get the rural customers who don’t have line-of-sight to their access points and we get calls from their unhappy customers. It appears as though Coffeyville Wireless doesn’t know much about managing their network and performance has suffered as they’ve added more users.

    We can’t compete with a town whose citizens tax dollars buy the equipment the town gives to rural residents to use. The town won’t even discuss the issue with us, apparently preferring instead to slowly put us out of business there instead.

    Our strategy is to build a carrier-class wireless infrastructure they and no one else can match and win back their customers. We’ve resorted to the services of a venture capitalist and put ourselves into hock for the next decade.

    To suggest that people call their local city or town officials and ask why they aren’t providing Internet services to its residents very short-sighted. A better solution would be to become the Internet franchisee in a town, not unlike the cable franchise. The problem most people have with this approach is that it kills competition which leads to higher prices and evolves into a limited monopoly — most people are not in favor of that.

    Don Bledsoe
    Terra World Communications
    Independence, Kansas

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