Will Congress Stop the Cable Guys From Charging by the Byte?
More drum-beating from Eric Massa, the Democratic congressman who has decided to make an enemy/example out of Time Warner Cable (TWC), which wants to charge its broadband customers based on their Web usage.
Massa says he will introduce a bill that will prevent Time Warner, along with other pipe providers like Comcast (CMCSA) and AT&T (T), from introducing usage “caps” on their Internet services. Wired.com:
“In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Massa [described] TWC as a greedy, unregulated monopoly providing a utility service. His yet-to-be released bill would seek to increase competition among broadband providers and regulate monopolies, he said, though he declined to give specifics.
‘They are providing a utility and frankly you should not be able to impose cascading rate increases without justifying them,’ Massa said. ‘What Time Warner is saying is not true and their own SEC filings show that. This is AIG-style greed.’”
There’s no reason to think Massa’s bill will get any traction, at least until we hear from more established players in Congress who have more traction. But it continues to underscore the tricky task in front of the pipe guys: Now that they’ve trained customers to eat as much bandwidth as they want, it’s going to be hard to start charging by the byte.
Give Time Warner Cable credit for trying to tackle this by pitching the tiered offerings as a way for some customers to save money. In theory, some of its subscribers could see their bandwidth bills drop to $15 a month, the company says. But this is a PR battle that’s just starting up.