Time Warner’s plans to meter its cable internet are taking shape. The short of it: $1 for every gigabyte over the plan’s standard allowance, which will be 5 GB for a $30 plan and 40GB for a $60 plan. This compares to Comcast, which has secret limits somewhere north of 250GB, and Bend Cable, which has a 100GB cap.
Of those two plans, only the latter is of any use to anyone who does more than check email and IM: 5GB is what you get with cellphone data plans right now. Even 40GB is crummy: compare to Comcast, derided by geeks for its secret caps, with its 250GB-ish allowance. If you used that much bandwidth in one of Time Warner’s test markets, you’d be getting a $270 internet bill.
$1 per GB is nearly $5 for a single DVD’s worth of data–after a cap you could reach by downloading only eight linux distributions, video games or movies (assuming each occupied a single DVD). Amazon’s file storage service charges about a quarter per Terabyte of bandwidth.
I thought metered bandwidth was a way of heading off regulatory action over that “unlimited” silliness. This convinces me that it’s a way to get us used to paying for it by the byte now, before bandwidth becomes so cheap they’d never get away with it.
The good side of metering is getting rid of secret limits and the deceptive marketing of “unlimited” plans. The bad side is, well, $1 a GB.
One images a cheap router slung from the pole at the end of your street, its routing table exploding with torrent-related garbage. Your fault, or the cable company’s?