Policy + charging

Cap Lock?

Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) has already been hit hard over what's widely considered a less-than-generous consumption-based billing trial it's conducting in Beaumont, Texas.

The monthly threshold, which applies to new customers, is 5 Gigabytes on the low end, 20 Gigabytes for the MSO's mid-level speed tier, and up to 40 Gigabytes for the MSO's 15 Mbit/s modem service. The MSO is charging $1 per Gigabyte if a customer exceeds those prescribed levels. (See Get Your Meter Running and TWC Tees Up Metered Internet Trial .)

The MSO has insisted that it's only a test -- meaning those levels could rise if the operator chooses to roll out this metered broadband platform more broadly. Given the backlash so far, expect those thresholds to rise if the metering test expands beyond Beaumont or becomes the operator's across-the-board policy.

But the MSO is faced with another round of mostly negative reactions in this same area after DSL Reports noticed that the fine print of a "Price Lock Guarantee" TWC is running in the market for the MSO's triple-play service package will also lock customers into the operator's new metered structure for cable modem service. According to the fine print:

"Road Runner Standard package provides 7 Mbit/s service and includes an Internet usage consumption allowance of 20 GB per month. Although the initial 20 GB plan is price locked, Internet usage above the consumption allowance is not and will be billed at $1 per GB per month.

Although these caps apply only to new subscribers, in Time Warner Cable's thinking, the caps also apply to existing modem customers who happen to sign a new contract for the MSO's Price Lock Guarantee.

A Time Warner Cable official said the Price Lock Guarantee is "good for us and good for the customers," but, "in conjunction with the trial, we expect some feedback."

Feedback is all but guaranteed in this case, though I'm not so sure it'll be the kind the operator wants or was expecting.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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