Will Time Warner's Metered Billing Lead To Overcharging?
Three years ago, faced with a widespread backlash, Time Warner retreated from a controversial plan to test pay-per-byte billing.
The company had intended to roll out metered billing in four cities -- Rochester, N.Y., Greensboro, N.C., and Austin and San Antonio, Texas. The cable company had planned to roll out prices that would vary between $15 a month for 1 GB of data and $75 per month for 100 GB. Many users in those areas had been paying between $40 and $60 a month for unlimited data. But protests by consumers, not to mention intervention by lawmakers like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), convinced Time Warner to retreat.
This week, however, Time Warner announced it intends to relaunch metered billing -- though on an opt-in basis. The company says it will offer some subscribers in parts of southern Texas the ability to save $5 a month on their bills by limiting their data transmission to 5GB per month. The cable giant adds that people can opt-in or out of the tiered plans at any time.
"Yes, we did try this before, a few years ago," Jeff Simmermon, director of digital communications, wrote on the company blog. "And yes, pretty much everyone agrees that it didn’t go so well. So we listened to customer complaints. A lot."
He goes on to say that Time Warner subscribers "will always have access to unlimited broadband at a flat monthly rate."
Notably, Simmermon doesn't say what that rate will be -- which has some critics nervous. Stop the Cap, which led the fight against Time Warner's metered plans in 2009, is already warning of upcoming "Internet Overcharging schemes."