US to get metered bandwidth

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 3, 2008
Updated • Dec 8, 2012

Innovation usually gets blocked or slowed down by monopolies. A company with barely any competition can make decisions that concentrate more on the profits and less on the satisfaction of their customers. Time-Warner is currently testing metered bandwidth plans for new customers in Beaumont, Texas. New customers have to select a metered bandwidth plan with a combined bandwidth consumption of 5 to 40 Gigabytes with no option to upgrade to a flatrate.

Every additional Gigabyte that will be transferred will be billed with $1 which could spill trouble for Youtube addicts or users whose Internet connection gets hacked. The interesting question is obviously why. Why are they testing metered bandwidth plans when the whole world, and most part of the United States, are going in the other direction.

Bandwidth demands are still rising globally which can be largely attributed to video portals who slowly but steadily raise the resolution of their videos but also file sharing, multimedia distribution and gaming.

Back to the why and the consequences. Cable Internet is limited by design which is probably the main reason why a company like Time Warner wants to reduce the bandwidth consumption of everyone using their lines to be able to squeeze more users into the existing hardware and offer everyone a better experience by reducing the chance that someone else is using most of the bandwidth on the shared line.

This in turn however means that users who have the financial means will be able to experience the Internet to its fullest while users with less financial resources will be left in the dark, so to speak.

It will be interesting to see if metered bandwidth will spread throughout the United States if the tests are successful in Texas. There is however hope. Innovation will come from other means of connecting to the Internet, for example mobile connections.


Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Jucy said on May 20, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    I prefer ProteMac Meter.

  2. khendar said on June 17, 2008 at 9:43 am

    All broadband internet connections are metered here in Australia. The only saving grace here are off-quota services provided by the ISPs (file mirrors, online radio, game servers). Unmetered downloads are certainly not the norm in the rest of the world.

  3. no thanks said on June 5, 2008 at 1:02 am

    They picked a small city in the mid-west to serve as a test for the rest of the country? Why not try running that program in New York City, see what kind of response you get. The bottom line is that if they try it in a normal area, someone else will come up with an alternative that will put them out of business. Here are stats for their testing grounds:

  4. GRTerrero said on June 4, 2008 at 9:12 am

    Most don’t see it, but this leaves the door wide open for future price hikes on prorated bandwidth usage.

    Eventually rising prices for bandwidth usage will leave the less fortunate unable to afford access to the internet.

    It’s democrazy at it’s finest. (No, that’s not a typo!)

  5. Martin said on June 3, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    I backup and download the mysql database of all of my sites on a daily basis which means that I download roughly 1 Gigabyte of data per day because of this alone.

  6. Nick said on June 3, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    This screws online gaming too. If I had this crap internet service I would think twice about signing up for something like Time-Warner’s Gametap.

  7. Geert said on June 3, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    In Belgium it is normal to have a metered interner connection.

  8. Tim said on June 3, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    darkkosmos already pointed out piracy. I think this might be one of the major reasons why Time Warner would want to test metered bandwidth. While 5GB might be enough for some users, there are a lot of (legal!) ways to exceed 40GB of bandwidth per month.

  9. Pootle said on June 3, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    This is fairly normal outside the US. It’s certainly normal for the UK. I have a 20GB capped connection, which is regarded as high for personal use. 5GB or even 3GB is common.

  10. Rarst said on June 3, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Maybe west is more used to even field, but around here internet is heavily segmented with price differences up to 10x times in different parts of city.

    Considering that most of local providers are linked by in-country traffic exchange (they can get 1Gb/s channels for the price they sell few Mb/s to corporate customer) and external channels are not exactly platinum either…

    Truth – providers will always charge as much as they can get away with. And if you have nowhere to run – you are veeeery screwed.

  11. Martin said on June 3, 2008 at 11:58 am

    I think it depends on how you classify information ;)

  12. Dotan Cohen said on June 3, 2008 at 11:42 am

    > This in turn however means that users who have
    > the financial means will be able to experience the
    > Internet to its fullest while users with less financial
    > resources will be left in the dark, so to speak.

    That is how every industry works. The rich have nicer cars, better food, and now better internet access. It is one of the perks that those who study hard and work smart get.

    You could argue that the beauty of the internet is that everyone gets an equal share of the information online. I argue that all that knowledge will fit into a 5 GB/month plan. It is the entertainment that will not fit into those plans.

    I also download the occasional Linux distro, and a Fedora or Windows update can be over 200 MB. At 5 GB/month that’s 4% of one’s pipe. A large amount, but livable.

  13. Yogi said on June 3, 2008 at 11:03 am

    It is amazing that the U.S. has such a backward broadband policy.

    Sooner or later the U.S. will find that it is falling far behind the rest of the world technologically and economically.

  14. darkkosmos said on June 3, 2008 at 10:22 am

    This probably will spread and the massive outcry won’t do anything since most of them are pirates who can’t exactly argue that they want more bandwidth for pirating. (and the rest/most of the web won’t even know what net neutrality is and don’t care about it since myspace isn’t bittorent)

  15. Jojo said on June 3, 2008 at 10:07 am

    There is no chance of bandwidth metering spreading in the USA. This was something that existed in the early days of online when people were using dial-up lines and 56k or lower modem connections. There would be a massive outcry and I am sure the government would get involved to stop this. Time Warner is a sub-standard company. Remember they brought AOL which has caused the company much pain over the years. :)

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.