February 27, 2012
TW Cable is giving usage-based billing another try, as the company announced on its blog Monday.
Subscribers who opt in to the Essentials Broadband plan can consume five gigabytes per month before being charged $1 per GB above that threshold, not to exceed $25 per month. They would get access to a meter that tracks their usage at granularities from hourly up to monthly. TW Cable is also providing a 60-day or two-billing-cycle grace period before charging for overages, and customers can switch back to an unlimited broadband tier at any time.
The plan is being rolled out only in parts of southern Texas and is limited to customers of TW Cable's Standard, Basic and Lite broadband tiers; customers for its faster Turbo, Extreme and Wideband/Docsis 3.0 tiers will stay on the MSO's unlimited broadband plan.
The MSO stressed that its high-speed Internet customers "will always have access to unlimited broadband at a flat monthly rate."
Why this matters
When TW Cable tried this three years ago, the program was panned as a greedy money-grab designed to keep over-the-top video competition in check. The new program uses a new tactic: It's optional and targets the lightest broadband users looking to knock a few dollars off their bills, taking after the ESPN-free, $39.99 per month TV Essentials tier that TW Cable has introduced in a set of markets. (See No-Frills Cable TV .)
TW Cable's move follows new policies recently implemented by AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Suddenlink Communications . If the new policy doesn't spark a new firestorm, expect other MSOs to introduce similar usage-based programs.
More about usage-based broadband and consumption caps.
Suddenlink to Fit Broadband Caps, Overage Fees
AT&T Enforces Broadband Caps
O, Canada! Netflix Streaming Gets a Reprieve
TWC Mothballs New Metering Trials
Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable
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