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N.Y. Representative Attacks Time Warner Broadband Capping

8 Apr, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

A New York Congressman is taking aim at Time Warner Cable over the company’s possible plan to offer different usage-based pricing plans for its broadband subscribers, and charging customers who go over their download allotment.

“With limited choices in broadband providers and virtual monopolies in many market areas, I view this as nothing more than a large corporation making a move to force customers into paying more money,” Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) said in a statement April 7. “I firmly oppose capping Internet usage, and I will be taking a leadership role in stopping this outrageous, job-killing initiative.”

Time Warner Cable COO Landel Hobbs, in a statement, defends the idea of usage-based billing for broadband, saying, “When you go to lunch with a friend, do you split the bill in half if he gets a steak and you have a salad?”

Time Warner is testing four-tier pricing plan in Austin, Texas; San Antonio, Texas; Greensboro, N.C.; and Rochester, N.Y., with prices ranging from $29.95 a month to nearly $55 a month. Users would be capped on 5GB per month on the low end, 40GB on the high end, and would be charged $1 per gigabyte they went over each month.

“Please bear in mind that this is still a test. We are approaching this as a test because broadband consumption and the Internet itself continue to evolve rapidly and in ways no one can foresee,” Hobbs said. “As we continue to hear from our customers — and as broadband consumption continues to change — we will adjust our tiers to make sure that we offer something for every family. We want to allow households to pick the data plan that works the best for them.”

Greensboro Mayor Yvonne Johnson, while acknowledging that there’s little the town can do, told the city’s paper, the News-Record, that she was disappointed that the cable operator was testing in her city. “I’m not a happy camper about it,” she said. “It’s bad for their customers, and it’s bad for the city.”

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