Make the hogs pay more:Time Warner Cable Internet testing pay-per-use

Time Warner Cable Internet has a new get-rich scheme for itself: charging its cable internet customers by how much they upload and download. The company is trying it out just among new customers in Beaumont, Texas. If you go over your limit, you pay $1 per gigabyte.

Here's how CNet says it works: The cheap package is $30, which gets you 5 GB and slow downloads. The more deluxe package is $55 and comes with faster service and 40 GB. Internet providers dream of selling service this way. Time Warner told the AP that 5% of users are bandwidth hogs that use up half the bandwidth.

Most people don't know how much they use, but would do OK with the lower plan. But the huge catch is they'd have to tolerate the slow speed. The slow speed is 768 kilobits per second; fast is 15 megabits per second. And everyone likes to think they'll soon be taking advantage of all new kinds of distracting online technologies and they don't want to close themselves off from the possibility. Especially those who bought a computer with a TV tuner.
Wireless broadband customers at Verizon already pay metered usage. But they get connected by a USB modem anywhere. The cheap plan, which seems nearly identical to Time Warner's metered plan, is $35 --- but it's completely portable. You get the 5 MB. I'd assume it's slow. Verizon describes it as "average download speeds of 600 Kbps – 1.4 Mbps."

If the lower plan were lower still, say $15, it might be worth it for the unenthusiastic internet user. But $30 is no bargain. I don't see any advantage to consumers in the metered plan.

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