updated 11:20 am EST, Wed February 4, 2009
TWC Data Caps Spread
Time Warner during a financial results call today revealed that its experiment in metered data use on its cable Internet service should expand to new areas in 2009. Without entering into specifics, the company's cable chief Glenn Britt says that more cities will be subject to the program, which charges users for usage at fixed intervals up to a 40GB cap. It's unknown whether the feature represents a larger trial or a formal rollout.
While Time Warner has never publicly discussed the likelihood of making the caps permanent, the limits have been labeled unrealistic by critics who point to even Comcast's 250GB cap as more practical. A 40GB cap would limit users to at most 10 HD movies per month using networked media hubs like the Apple TV assuming the user does nothing else during the period, discouraging them from using Internet video. No mention has been made of a change to the caps or an overage fee that would let frequent users keep using the service beyond the cap.
Concerns have been raised by Alley Insider and others that too-low caps without reasonable overage fees may draw fire from regulators at the FCC, who may see the caps as deliberate attempts to push customers towards cable video options rather than letting users opt for Internet-based video that includes legitimate options like Hulu or iTunes.