Time Warner’s Net Neutrality Sneak Attack

Time Warner’s recent announcement that it will be switching to a new tiered pricing scheme – meaning that users who go over a cap on their bandwidth will be charged per-gigabyte – is making big headlines this week. But are we discussing the actual issue at hand, or are we being played by a corporate sucker game? Let’s discuss the arguments on their merits.

Time Warner representatives claim that, “We want our customers to download as much data as they want from wherever they want. All we ask is that they pay for whatever they consume.” Are we not already doing that? Time Warner has advertised for years – along with every other High Speed Internet company – that we could “download movies and music” with their service. If we weren’t able to do that, why would any of us ever have paid for a service literally double the price of the standard service ten years ago, dial up?

Time Warner also throttles our bandwidth and has for years. That means that while the pipes connected to your house might be able to handle 20Mbps of service, the company prevents you from getting more than 10Mbps on a good day. So, we’re paying more money for a service designed to download movies and music – which doesn’t even operate at the speed it should – and now they want you to pay for using more of their service? That doesn’t exactly sound like a fair shake.

And in all the years that Time Warner has been in Rochester, their service has never once increased it’s value. If anything, value went down when they opted to throttle bandwidth. Meanwhile, the cost of having a HSI connection has remained the same. Cost stays stead, value goes down, therefore we’re already technically paying more for less. This is exactly the opposite direction we expect technology to go.

What possible justification could there be to pay more for service which is a decade old? If on the other hand, they made capital investments in our infrastructure, raised the throttle cap and made the download cap larger, more expensive service might make sense. And by the way, Road Runner already has a Business Class version of their service, which means they already have a second tier from which to glean more money.

But even more disingenuous is this claim:

When Time Warner Cable introduces a new payment structure for Internet service later this year, it says it will place customers in plans aligned with their current usage.

That means subscribers to the company’s Road Runner service shouldn’t face higher costs, spokesman Alex Dudley said Thursday.

OK, this one’s easy. Why would you open this can of worms with your customers if you didn’t think you were going to get more money? If the majority of users won’t pay more, what is the incentive? Corporations don’t do anything without a motive, so clearly there must be some sort of incentive.

And the incentive is to move the goal posts in the discussion of Net Neutrality. The Time Warner plan will almost certainly fail in Rochester, a city with a heavily technological background where more than a few people know this plan is crap. But that’s OK: the idea is to float the notion of *having* to pay for more service; the idea is to leave the impression that the Internet is getting crowded and someone’s going to have to pay for it.

If this notion becomes a default axiom in the media, then the question becomes: who will pay for this extra bandwidth? Customers won’t want to pay for it, which means that the idea of a two-tiered Internet becomes the only viable alternative.

I’m asking all of you who read this and care about maintaining a viable, healthy Internet to get involved in what ever way you can to put a stop to both the Time Warner service change and the dishonest swindle of Net Neutrality that Time Warner is attempting. Go to for more information, including the phone number of Colleen Bernard at TWC Customer Care.

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.

3 replies on “Time Warner’s Net Neutrality Sneak Attack”

Another fiction is that there’s a “market” for these kind of services. There are at most two or three players in each market.

We need to transition from “Internet as Shiny New Thing” to “Internet as Public Utility”. For the privilege of using public right-of-ways for cable, and for making massive, long-term, stable profits, public utilities are heavily regulated, and the recent behavior of TWC and Frontiernet shows that they need some regulating.

Your points would make sense if the network that delivers you your data was receiving operating revenues from a single stream. The network that delivers you your data is not designed as a single stream deliver device. Modern cable networks have been designed and built to deliver data, video and phone service. The problem with most of the net neutrality advocates is that they use the data transition capability of the network to avoid paying for the other two portions of that same networks service. Let me guess you’re a huge BitTorrent user who doesn’t pay for the pirated movies and music you’re downloading and you have magic jack phone service. You expect every thing out on the net to be delivered to down Time Warner’s cable network to your home for free. Hey you can get anything on the net for free right! Wrong! You can’t usurp paying the other fees that support the upkeep of that network and expect it to stay up and running. Sorry those movies, music and phone services you get without paying for tax the network and cause the same higher price fees you’re bitching about.

Let's begin with two logical falsehoods in your argument: that you know who I am and what I'm doing and that what I'm saying here is merely "bitching." You don't do your side of the debate any favours by throwing such falsehoods out there.

Next: the idea that I am or am not paying for "services" that I might have previously paid for. Previously, I watched cable TV, used Frontier for my phone and surfed the Internet using my Frontier phone like. There was never any restriction on my bandwidth on dial-up beyond what the physical limitations of the line produced. I did not use Time Warner for phone at all, let alone Internet. I'm still doing all three things – television, phone and Internet, but two out of those three are being done on Time Warner. Now you're telling me that I'm paying TW less money? That doesn't make any sense. My phone, by the way, is Verizon. Where is your complaint against that in defense of Frontier?

Third, Time Warner is already capping my speed online. If capping the speed doesn't help their bandwidth problem, perhaps they aught to spend a little less money on campaigns to tie my Internet service and more money on actually improving service.

But with the exception of not knowing what the hell you're talking about, this was a very good argument. Bravo.

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