Policy + charging

Rogers Takes Internet Meter to the Masses

Educating the masses
Because of the service's historical all-you-can-eat model, most cable modem customers probably aren't aware of how much bandwidth they're consuming, largely because they haven't had to track their own usage until now. And, for most customers who are subject to these new policies, they still won't have to worry much, because they'll be safely under the threshold.

But, in preparation for policy enforcement, Rogers has been keeping all customers up to speed on their usage, informing users about their monthly data download volumes, how it lines up with their existing tier of service, and, if they're above the limit, how much they would be charged under the upcoming billing plan.

Rogers has also launched a micro-site to demonstrate what a customer could expect to do before encroaching on the consumption thresholds. Those on the flagship Express tier, for example, could expect to download 15,400 songs or 15 "high-quality" movies without exceeding the cap. The MSO has also introduced a Web-based tool that allows registered customers to track their usage at any given time.

Rogers is using an electronic bulletin system from PerfTech Inc. that notifies customers when they have reached 75 percent and 100 percent of their monthly allowance. Rogers and the vendor insist the bulletins do not interfere with Web sessions, but customers can opt out of them if they wish. The opt-out rate to date is less than 10 percent.

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"Quite frankly, not all customers really know or understand what consumption is all about, so we have to step up that notification," Hartling says. "We've taken quite a few steps from a communications perspective to inform customers."

Although there's been a strong, negative reaction to Time Warner Cable's test in Texas, mostly based on the MSO's relatively small caps, Rogers believes it has taken the steps necessary to avoid a big backlash.

"I think you get the reaction you plan for," Hartling says. "Coming into the period we start billing, we're quite comfortable that we've done the right things to inform and educate customers and that customers are quite well prepared."

Rogers won't say what percentage of its customers routinely go over the established usage allowances, but it's more than likely the carrier knows who they are by now. "They [the power users] kind of get it. It's really the masses that we're aimed at in terms of our strategy," Hartling explains.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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berty 12/5/2012 | 3:39:11 PM
re: Rogers Takes Internet Meter to the Masses Rogers have had considerable complaints about this intiative, however they know they are on safe grounds with Bell and Rogers having it all to themeselves in much of Canada. The tame regulatory authority let them do what they want with most services, as a result prices are twice as much as they are in the US. Unfortunately Canadians appear not to worry about these expensive services.

One wonders if there is a cartel between the 2 main players.

yarn 12/5/2012 | 3:39:10 PM
re: Rogers Takes Internet Meter to the Masses If you start charging the sender per bit using a net neutral charging model I think that would kill the P2P model overnight. Because which calculating consumer in his right mind would want to subsidize other people in getting content from their PCs? Everyone would keep their own shared directory empty to avoid having to pay for uploads and that'll be the end of it.
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 3:39:10 PM
re: Rogers Takes Internet Meter to the Masses Moving to a usage based model seems like a perfectly good approach to me. Though it seems preferred if the billing party were a separate entity. Also, the idea that consumer pays for all traffic over the access network won't work well. Sender has to pay too. Imagine if UPS delivered packages only charging the recipient after dropping the package off. Advertisers would have field day and UPS trucks would be filled with garbage instead of real goods.
thebulk 12/5/2012 | 3:39:09 PM
re: Rogers Takes Internet Meter to the Masses I would have to say that a pay for usage model would be the best way for the provider to make money if they were indeed the only provider of the service. I can not see many subscribers being all that happy about service plans like thatGǪGǪ
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 3:39:09 PM
re: Rogers Takes Internet Meter to the Masses Everyone would keep their own shared directory empty to avoid having to pay for uploads and that'll be the end of it.

Sometimes self interested and ethical behaviors align, though not always.
nodak 12/5/2012 | 3:39:08 PM
re: Rogers Takes Internet Meter to the Masses It is odd Internet providers are going in the opposite direction of mobile operators (and for that matter email providers like Yahoo, MSN and Google). While the mobile operators are busy trying to provide you more minutes/data access, ISPs are trying to cap it. How long are these caps really going to last? If people can turn to mobile networks for unlimited data transfer, don't you think the local Baby Bell and the local cable provider will have to react to avoid losing customers?

One last question: how long before TWC starts losing customers to the local Baby Bell who does not currently have a cap?
sunfanz 12/5/2012 | 3:39:08 PM
re: Rogers Takes Internet Meter to the Masses Let's move on. Free internet has to change some how to move forward. Metered internet access with cap is the de facto in Australia since day one there is Internet.

It's just a matter of time for this to happen. There is no free lunch. Sometimes, free things on the surface may indeed be the most expensive one.
thebulk 12/5/2012 | 3:39:07 PM
re: Rogers Takes Internet Meter to the Masses you bring up a good point, wireless providers have been improving there networks, and if they continue to do so they could offer an unlimited plan and pull customers away from the big MSOs.

if the current big providers do not watch there step they could end up alienating there customers; and that is never a good thing for a business.....
spelurker 12/5/2012 | 3:39:06 PM
re: Rogers Takes Internet Meter to the Masses How upset are customers really going to get? 99% of them are not going to hit their caps. I think it will hit those MSOs when signing up new subscribers who have the choice between a simple plan and one that's a little difficult to understand (I couldn't tell you how much I download in a billing period)

I don't see mobile providers' behavior to be a good indication of what an MSO should do. Mobile providers don't have the same network issues -- telephony bandwidth is well understood and well constrained [1 phone will never use more than 1 DS0 of voice bandwidth], and a cell phone is hardly a reasonable platform to download a hi-def netflix video to. Also, very few consumers consider mobile internet to be a viable alternative to a broadband landline.

I think upload limits are probably more helpful than download limits for a cable shop, due to the way those networks run, but I disagree with the UPS analogy -- the internet is essentially a system where the end user pulls data from network servers. Since end user nodes can get assigned floating domain names, a server push model is not very practical.
miar70 12/5/2012 | 3:39:05 PM
re: Rogers Takes Internet Meter to the Masses We've had caps for quite some time in Canada. Bell was the only one holding out, but that was mainly because they had slow DSL lines and needed a differentiator, but even at 1-3Mb/s they started to feel the pain of 24/7 transfer. They have moved to a capped model recently.

Reality is that it's inevitable. For those holding out hope that the cellular providers are coming to your rescue, consider that they use the fixed networks for their backhaul, so it will not get any cheaper than 1.50/GB anytime soon. Those wireless unlimited plans, mostly come with some 'reasonable limit' which in the case of Vodafone's 7.2 Mb/s service is 5GB/month.

Sprint has an unlimited plan and yes they have a few subscribers that are costing them thousands dollars / month in back haul costs. You can expect that to change in line with the other cellular providers and 5GB seems to be the number which is significantly less than the ~100GB you get with your fixed subscription.

and for those south of the border wondering what it is like to be a subscriber of Rogers, a quick browse here should incite the right 'feelings'...

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