Time Warner to Trial Pay-Per-Use Broadband

Dennis Faas's picture

Time Warner is testing a plan that could end flat-rate monthly broadband subscriptions.

The second-largest Internet service provider in the US, Time Warner will soon launch a trial in the Beaumont, Texas market with four different prices for those downloading up to 5, 10, 20 or 40 gigabytes each month. They chose Beaumont randomly and say the area doesn't have a specific problem with heavy broadband use.

A spokesman said it was a possible way to tackle the problem of light users effectively subsidising those who use the Internet more often. "What we're trying to accomplish is to create a network that serves our customers equally; not one that is serving a very small number that are using a disproportionate amount at the cost of the vast majority of our users." (Source: kansascity.com)

One report says around five per cent of Time Warner's customers are responsible for half of the company's total traffic. (Source: enews20.com)

Though there have been reports of file-sharing programs causing bandwidth problems for some Internet providers, Time Warner insist that's not a problem for them. They say the trial is intended to resolve the issue now rather than wait until it gets out of hand. It's thought the growth of online video may speed up the problem.

Rival firm Comcast caused controversy last year when they cut off several customers for excessive use. Some of those affected had downloaded over 500 gigabytes a month, the equivalent of more than 60 DVD movies. Though Comcast didn't announce a specific limit, they said the crackdown was on customers downloading over 100 times more data than the average customer.

The Time Warner plan would mean heavy users pay extra fees rather than losing service altogether. The scheme could be seen as fairer pricing and, by discouraging bandwidth-hogging 'excessive' use, could speed up access for the average user.

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