If I wore a pacemaker it would have beeped in alarm mode upon reading David Lazarus’s column in The Los Angeles Times that my cable company may charge me as much as $150 a month for online access.

By coincidence, an hour earlier I ripped an $82.66 check to Time Warner for Internet and basic cable television access. This monthly ransom note amounts to about 7% of my gross monthly income. For sheer entertainment value, I’m willing to pay the price. Certainly, almost doubling the cost will not offer twice the pleasure.

“The sky-high charge is part of a new ‘consumption-based billing’ system that Time Warner will test this summer to address what it says is the possibility of “brownouts” on the Net within three years because of soaring usage,” Lazarus writes.

Oh, my gosh. I’m surfing the Internet six hours a day. Searching for gems to write about. Straining the innards of my computer until it flashes a warning it’s losing its memory capacity.

I really worked up a lather when Lazarus reports the basic problem are video outfits such as Netflix. Yikes! I got Netflix. And then he gently lets me off the hook. It’s the downloading of these videos that stretch the resources of the cable operators.

Whew! I don’t download movies. Or songs. None of those mega kilobytes or whatever some geek named them in the basement of his parent’s home. Who the hell wants to watch a movie on his computer screen when he can relax in a recliner watching the same flick on the TV set? Then, by definition, I’m no contributor to brownouts.

Let me digress here a moment. Only once in my entire life have I been called by a national consumer survey pollster asking my product preferences. After dropping the phone as a result of convulsive laughter, I told the guy I make up my mind what I want, go to the store, find the proper display shelf, buy it and promptly leave. He agreed. I’m a lousy shopper. That’s how I must have been put on the national survey no-call list.

My habits with the Net are no different. I have to arm wrestle my firewall to access even the safest websites on cyberspace. And, when the computer flashes me a warning that a particular site or program is unsecured, visions of viruses and worms crawl through my brain.

But Lazarus, God bless him, put my mind to rest. He quotes an authority who claims all Time Warner and the other operators are trying to do is gouge the consumer.

He quotes Karl Bode, editor of BroadBandReports.com: “The cable companies argue that they can’t handle this demand, but if you look more closely, the growth of the Internet is manageable through reasonable equipment upgrades… By charging a ridiculous amount for Internet viewing, they hope you’ll scale back online and go back to watching things on cable.”

Finally, Lazarus offers a happy conclusion to all of us:

As it happens, an “under new management” sign is up at the Federal Communications Commission. And President Obama’s pick to serve as the agency’s chairman, Julius Genachowski, has a background in the online world and is said to be a strong believer that everyone deserves affordable broadband Internet access.

One of the FCC’s next steps should be to determine how much the Net really costs on a per-gigabyte basis, and to ensure that access providers charge a fair price.

Heavy Net users should pay more. But not that much more.

Cross posted on The Remmers Report

JERRY K. REMMERS, TMV Columnist
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Dustin Drees
Guest
7 years 5 months ago
To the point about Netflix and watching movies on your computer, Netflix is implementing several ways to use its service on your television already. Certain Tivo boxes can stream movies from your Netflix account, as well as the Microsoft Xbox 360. I believe they also sell a box themselves, which allows you to stream to your television. I currently watch more Netflix movies through the application on my Xbox, than I do with the actual dvd service now. All signs point to this being the future for Netflix, not actual dvds. And this is important to note, because while I… Read more »
ChrisWWW
Guest
7 years 5 months ago

Cable is fishing for an end to their monopoly and increased competition from telecoms that offer similar services without the caps. I know that if Time Warner Cable institutes the caps in my area, I will switch to Verizon DSL (FiOS if it’s available) in a heartbeat.

We’ll only run into trouble if all these companies decide to institute caps at the same time. If so they should all be immediately hit with legal charges of collusion.

Guest
Guest
Guest
7 years 5 months ago
Virtually all ISP’s (Verizon, Comcast, TW Cable, AT&T, etc.) are at least considering these caps if not testing them if not already applying them. They’re doing that because something has to be done to prevent the minority of super-high bandwidth users from harming the experience of moderate to low-bandwidth users. In fact, some of the same groups currently criticizing TW Cable were the same groups that previously suggested an approach like the one TWC is currently testing would be an equitable way to deal with the very real, and ever-present network management issues that all ISP’s have to wrestle with.… Read more »
ChrisWWW
Guest
7 years 5 months ago
Pete, A couple of points… a) ISPs can terminate the accounts of users who clog the network on a regular basis. It’s in the agreement I signed, so why not actually enforce it? b) The cost per gigabyte of transfer is going down not up, so why are we suddenly going to see a big spike in fees? c) Why are the Time Warner caps so absurdly low? Why aren’t they tied to peak and off hours, like cell phone minutes? Does it really cost $1 per gigabyte transferred? It all boils down to TWC charging more money for less… Read more »
Guest
Guest
Guest
7 years 5 months ago
Chris — thanks for the constructive reply. Some responses: (a) Setting limits helps enforce user agreements; in fact, many of our heaviest users have told us that if we’d simply publish limits, they’d live within them; they want definition. That said, see my response to point (c), below. (b) I can’t speak to others, but we don’t plan a big spike in fees. In fact, as I recall, in the test market we’re considering, if the less than 1% of customers who use more than 150G per month were to upgrade one tier (for about $10 extra per month), they’d… Read more »
GreenDreams
Guest
7 years 5 months ago
The US already suffers from lackluster broadband. And broadband is the future. What a pity we’re going to back off on providing it, rather than advancing it. “there’s simply not enough money in anybody’s world to build pipes big enough” Apparently, there is enough in the worlds of Korea, Japan and India, but not here. So let me get this straight. Comcast will charge me to play a Netflix movie through their cable, because that’s too much bandwidth for me, but they’ll be glad to broadcast the same movie to me on their pay per view. This is the problem… Read more »
ChrisWWW
Guest
7 years 5 months ago

GreenDreams,
DSL speeds are definitely slower than cable. But I don’t want to support TWCs new business model.

At the very least, I will cancel my TV subscription.

GreenDreams
Guest
7 years 5 months ago
Chris, I know what you’re saying. Just want to point this out as an example in which market forces have not and will not make us competitive in the 21st century. More from the linked article: “Those countries that achieve universal broadband are going to hold significant advantages over those who don’t. And so far, the United States is poised to be a follower–not a leader–in the broadband economy.” How far back are we? “While about 60 percent of U.S. households do not subscribe to broadband because it is either unavailable where they live or they cannot afford it, most… Read more »
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