Suddenlink Puts Broadband Overage Fees on Ice
Suddenlink Communications has suspended a new policy that charges extra when cable modem customers exceed their monthly usage allotments while the operator reviews its bit-counter and looks to hire a third party to validate the accuracy of its system.
The policy freeze comes soon after some customers logged complaints on Broadband Reports, claiming that the measurements on their router logs, on occasion, didn't match up with the Suddenlink-provided meter. Among them, one user cited a big discrepancy during a weather-related service outage, noting that the MSO's system continued to count bytes while the power was temporarily out. Last week, Suddenlink said it found its meter to be "consistently accurate" and stood by how it responds to customer complaints about it. (See Suddenlink Defends Its Broadband Bit Counter.)
On Monday, the MSO told Light Reading Cable that Suddenlink had completed an investigation and "concluded that our measurement of this customer's usage on the day in question was, in fact, inaccurate, although it did not result in the customer being billed" for any broadband overages. Suddenlink's allowance plan, which is not yet active in all its systems, charges $10 per each extra bucket of 50GB when customers exceed their monthly ceiling three times. (See Suddenlink to Fit Broadband Caps, Overage Fees .)
Suddenlink didn't say what caused the inaccurate meter reading, but did note that the evidence indicates that it was due to an "unusual" circumstance. To make sure there is "no room for doubt about the integrity of our program," Suddenlink is now doing the following:
- Issuing credits to the accounts of the relatively small number of customers billed through this program to date.
- Waiving future charges until the company corrects the cause of the inaccuracy and has its measurement system reviewed and validated across the board by a trusted third party.
Suddenlink didn't identify any possible candidates, but Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), which has begun to test soft broadband caps coupled with overage fees, uses Charlottesville, Va.-based engineering firm NetForecast Inc. to validate the accuracy of the broadband meter it provides to cable modem subs. (See Comcast Lights Up Broadband Bit-Counter , Comcast Turns On Usage-Based Broadband and Comcast to Raise Caps, Test Overage Fees .)
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable