Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Watch out for this....

A number of news organizations have reported that TWX will commence a metered internet test on their cable system in Beaumont, TX. Essentially, rather than all "you can eat" the company will limit its low end users to 5GB/month and their higher-end users to 40GB/month with a penalty for exceeding the limit. The logic behind this move according to the company is that 5% of its customers use nearly 50% of its capacity. That sounds a lot like the old 80:20 "rule" that prevails elsewhere in the world so what's the big deal.

Here's the problem from where I'm sitting. First, the subscribers are expected to accept on face value that this inequity is taking place and not just a backdoor method to create another source of revenue. "Not to worry" says TWX because to exceed the penalty thresholds you would have to download a thousand videos or million MP3 files or a billion web-pages (yes, I'm being facetious). But that's where my second problem comes into play. If you look at the history of the Internet, our individual bit consumption (downloaded and uploaded) seems to grow geometrically as new content becomes available. What exists as an unreachable threshold for 95% of the subscribers today may well be eclipsed by 95% just a few years down the road. Just exactly who is going to insure that TWX or any other cable company continues pushing the threshold out? And does that only happen after enough subscribers complain and threaten action.

This is not a good idea!

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