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Massa’s Fight Against the Cap Makes it to Ars Technica

Representative Eric Massa has ably taken up the cause of fighting against The Cap at Time Warner, proposing a law against such policies across the country. Now his fight has caught the attention of a solid gold biggie in the tech talk world, Ars Technica. Hopefully, this new exposure garners his cause – and that of this website – the attention of even more influential press and activists.

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For the Lighter Internet User

Rachel Barnhart posts on the 13WHAM.com blogs that she’s going all AT&T wireless for her Internet connection. Of course, this plan is really only valid for those of you who don’t use a lot of bandwidth, but that’s a awful lot of people.

So, I wonder how this affected the calculus at TW, if at all? Light users of the Internet don’t really need Time Warner at all anymore. If they can afford a good smart phone and a laptop, they can have their Internet connection wherever they go. And keep in mind: fifty percent of households in America don’t even have a computer, so we’re talking about the affluent half of the country even using the Internet.

So, unless you’re a web designer or a gamer or other such high-volume user, why would you even bother with a home connection? Seems like tethered Internet may soon become the vinyl record of networking in a few years: prized by a few but otherwise untouched. With this in mind, does it really pay to piss off the only customer base you’ll have in five years?

Seems like Time Warner’s just begging for someone to come along and offer a better solution.

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Paying to Work, Paying for Advertisements

One ripple in the Time Warner bandwidth cap story I’ve not yet seen discussed is this: what happens to all those people who work from home? Do they get raises? Do they get Time Warner stipends from their employers?

When we discuss data in terms of the number of DVDs or HD Hulu movies we get off the Internet, the discussion almost seems silly: nine DVDs a month does seem like a lot. But consider that medical transcriptionists – many of whom I know for a fact live in the Rochester TW area – download and upload one MP3 and one Word document with every job they do. And they do about twenty or thirty jobs a day on the small side.

It won’t take long before those transcriptionists are paying to work each month. And they’re not alone. Lots of people work from home, some using much bigger files than those mentioned in the above example. Moreover, many of them use Remote Desktop, which means a constant stream of information going back and forth between their home and work PCs.

And while Time Warner uses the straw man of YouTube and Hulu videos, they don’t mention all the other Flash files you download while browsing the Internet: all those rich advertisements, popping up on your screen and hovering over your intended websites. I presume they’ve developed a way to avoid charging you for those, correct? Because every single .jpg, .gif and Flash file that advertises wrinkle creams and new low mortgage rates is a file you have to download.

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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 StopTWC.info for more information, including the phone number of Colleen Bernard at TWC Customer Care.

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The Metered Internet: Where Has all the Bandwidth Gone?

. . . Long time passing.

A basic premise of the metered Internet plans Time Warner and other ISPs are cooking up is that there is simply too much bandwidth being used up by too few people. You know, the YouTube users and the downloaders. In order to be able to maintain – and presumably enhance – the network to accommodate such over usage, someone needs to pay for all that loss of bandwidth. As much as I vehemently disagree with the plan on a number of levels, I did at first take this root concept somewhat at face value.

But then, on my ride into work this morning, I happened to catch another one of those annoying Time Warner commercials for their “All in One Package” and it suddenly dawned on me: hey! Isn’t broadband phone service (VoIP to it’s friends) kind of a heavy-bandwidth activity? And aren’t people paying Time Warner extra money for use of said service?

Why, yes. Yes they are. And having now encumbered a fair amount of the overall network bandwidth with phone calls, Time Warner would like to charge Internet users extra to do what they were encouraged to do when Broadband Internet was a new and expensive novelty. I’d say that’s fairly close to “double-dipping.”

Does that sound fair to you?

Late Update: Ok, just for the sake of measurement, I checked the total download size of this video on YouTube.  It’s 13 delicious megabytes of the best comedy on television, and it’s five minutes long.  Longer videos are obviously bigger files.  Just for the sense of scale for those of you not as familiar with Ye Olde Internet Page of Weights and Measurements, if you watched this video 65 times a day – without doing a single other thing on the Internet, at all – you would fill up your 25 gig allotment for the month.  I’m not saying that’s a little, I’m not saying it’s a lot. I’m saying it’s a fact.

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Time Warner Considering Capping Your Internet Connection

Do you watch a lot of YouTube? Do you check out blogs like Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo that employ a fair amount of video in their reporting? Have you been downloading files from iTunes for your iPod? Well, Time Warner wants to put a stop to all that. They’re looking, along with Comcast and a great many other providers, to put a cap on the amount of data you can download under their basic plan and then charge you overage for every gigabyte you download over that. Think “I’m over on my anytime minutes,” and you’ll get the picture.

Now, I realize that not everyone is as savvy when it comes to technology lingo, and the below-quoted article definitely delves into that dark continent more than your average. Still, there’s plenty here that most Internet users should understand and be worried about, so have a read:

Cable Broadband Users, Get Ready For Overage Fees – Clear caps? Great. $1.50/GB Overage fees? Wait a !@$% minute… – dslreports.com

It’s a constant meme thrown out by network neutrality supporters, but it’s true. The future consists of any number of bandwidth eating services that haven’t been invented yet. The present consists of multiple, independent operators trying to force high-definition content down Comcast’s pipe. DirecTV is launching an HD-delivery system that uses your bandwidth as a VOD delivery vessel.

Time Warner Cable’s overage trials involve caps ranging from 5GB to 40GB per month.
If we agree that independent video is a direct and serious threat to
Time Warner Cable television revenue, and we agree that the bandwidth
needed for HD services will only grow, then what stops any cable
operator from lowering the definition of “reasonable consumption” to
deter use of competing HD services?

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Frickin’ Time Warner’s Frickin’ On-Demand

“On Demand” my frickin’ ass.

Is anyone else out there in Rochester-land having the problems we’re having with Time Warner’s service, lately?  We’ve been through three DVR’s in the last few months, all while never solving one particular problem: “Error 1103,” a service unavailable error message when ordering movies.  Our Internet connection has been up and down over the last few weeks, which I’ve confirmed has been an issue for more than just us, wondering if this service problem extends to the On Demand thing, as well.

It cannot possibly be the box, since we’ve had three of them: one to replace what we thought was a damaged box, then a final one because we have an HDTV now.  I don’t see how it could be the lines, and thus I suspect it has to be a service problem they’re not telling us about.  Bear in mind: you pay to have the OD channels on your TV.

Anyone with any information can contact me via the contact form at the top of this page.  Thanks.