Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Time Warner Tests Metered Internet
There's long been talk about treating the Internet as a public utility, a necessary function of daily life that should be run as a natural monopoly and regulated by the government.
The reason: the Web and its information services are quickly becoming necessary inclusions for daily life. Government agencies, schools, law enforcement and businesses are well into the migration of service to the Web, giving people the ability to quickly handle tasks that once required a great deal of time.
As these services continue to expand, it's increasingly important for Americans to have access to the networks.
The question, though, is how fees would be assessed in a public utility world of the Internet. In the early days, customers paid per minute to access the Internet, but that gave way to monthly flat fees. The rapid expansion of audio and video -- which can choke traffic -- has led Time Warner to rethink the way it charges.
The company is currently conducting a test in Texas that would bill people in the same way electricity is. The metered-approach would force people for spening more time browsing and downloading (or even emailing attachments) more.
America Online, which popularized the pay-per-minute approach, shifted its metered plan in the early nineties and saw unprecedented growth. If Time Warner and other cable operators push ahead with this plan, expect to see DSL companies and satellite operators trump their blanket, monthly fee structure as a way to poach angry consumers.
By Brad at 10:08 AM | Comments (1)