Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Should Broadband Usage be Priced Like A Utility

Homeowners don't seem to bat too much of an eye at their utility bills. Water, electicity, and gas bills come due monthly and we tend to not pay much attention to them unless the price changes radically. We know that prices are regulated and there is little we can do but watch how much water, electricity, and gas we use. They are tightly measured and unless there is a leak, they are secure.

But is broadband usage a different story? Should homeowners be expected to pay for broadband usage as others offer unlimited access? Can we be sure we are measured accurately and can we completely control how it is being consumed? As more and more content becomes accessible through the web and with pushes and notifications, we may be somewhat at the mercy of the app. True most content is not nearly as big as long form video content; still, we are getting more and more addicted to our web connectivity.

Unlike other cable operators, Time Warner Cable still wants to try and push through a broadband fee based on usage. While some try to throttle high users of broadband, Time Warner wants to incent low users to get measured by usage and receive a benefit for not using the web too much. They have a new test in the works. "Under the new pricing plan, consumers will get a $5 reduction in their monthly bill if they accept a cap of five gigabytes monthly." Of course, should they exceed their limit, they will pay a penalty. At only a $5 monthly savings, I find it hard to believe that any family would grab on to such a deal.

The wireless companies are all trying to get more dollars for usage billing. Unlimited access may become a thing of the past. Certainly cable would like to find more revenue by charging this way as well; Time Warner Cable may be the most aggressive, but others are watching the test.

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