Time Warner pushes usage-based broadband pricing across Texas

Time Warner Cable, which has been the earliest and one of the most aggresive proponent of usage-based broadband tiered pricing is offering a $5 price break for its light Internet users in more Texas cities, including Austin and Dallas, reports Multichannel News.
The Essentials tier, which is opt-in only, entitles customers that use less than 5 Gigabytes of data per month to get a $5 off TWC’s monthly prices. If the broadband users go over the 5 GB limit, then they shell out $1 per gigabyte with a maximum of $25 in surcharges.
The Multichannel News adds:

According Time Warner Cable, Texas customers can switch between metered and unlimited plans as often as they like. Essentials Broadband users will have access to an online meter that displays usage on a monthly, weekly, daily or hourly basis.
Customers will have a 60-day grace period (two billing cycles) to adjust usage patterns, during which the MSO will notify customers of overages but won’t charge for them. Time Warner Cable provides a data-usage tracker at My Services so customers can gauge their monthly consumption.

TWC “essentials” was first introduced in February in locations such as San Antonio, Laredo, Corpus Christi, and the Rio Grande Valley and the service has now been extended to other cities such as Austin, Dallas and El Paso. TWC was experimenting with usage-based pricing models in 2009 and back-tracked after a public outcry. The company has taken slow and measured steps to roll out usage-based pricing in dribs-and-drabs.
We’re not exactly a fan of the current plan, as Stacey wrote in February:

I find the plan somewhat disturbing, given Time Warner Cable’s history attempting to implement tiered pricing back in 2009, but also because Time Warner is creating artificial constraints on people who may then be reluctant to pay more for Internet access. Plus, those giving up on unlimited access aren’t getting very much of a discount — I look at it as like selling your car in exchange for a discount on bus fare. I also think that as we’re encouraging ways to help poor people online via programs such as Comcast’s Internet Essentials program (even though the broadband these programs offer is not my definition of broadband), this helps set a precedent that unlimited or fast broadband is a luxury or an indulgence.

Of course, now that Time Warner Cable’s major competitor AT&T (s T) has shifted to a usage-based pricing model for its broadband customers, TWC can be a lot more brazen. Other ISPs in the state are also going to a usage-based pricing model.