TWC Defends Tiers, Plans Speed- and Consumption-Based Plans

When Time Warner Cable (s twc) rolls out its new pricing plans, it won’t base its tiers simply on consumption, but will also consider broadband speed as part of the equation, according to a statement released this afternoon by TWC Chief Operating Officer Landel Hobbs. As it deals with the backlash generated by its expansion of tiered broadband trials to four new cities, among them San Antonio and Austin, Texas, the cable company is getting its messaging together. From the statement:

Our current pricing plans require all users to pay the same amount, whether they check email once a month or download six movies a day. As the amount of usage has dramatically diverged among users, this is becoming inherently unfair and not the way most consumers want to pay for goods they consume.
When you go to lunch with a friend, do you split the bill in half if he gets the steak and you have a salad?

This metaphor is unfortunate, since prior to this, broadband has been compared to an all-you-can-eat buffet, and the point is that everyone pays the same price and eats what they want. Changing the rules of the game now does a disservice to everyone, from consumers to innovation to companies such as Amazon (s AMZN), Google (s GOOG) and Microsoft (s MSFT), which stand to lose if consumption-based broadband forces people to reconsider certain of their online services. Read More about TWC Defends Tiers, Plans Speed- and Consumption-Based Plans

Charter Says Bankruptcy Won’t Affect Speed Upgrades

Charter Communications (s chtr) today filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to rid its balance sheet of $8 billion in debt, but that apparently will have no affect on the company’s plans to roll out upcoming speed boosts. I feel unusually credulous writing this, but Charter spokeswoman Anita Lamont told me, “What’s happening on the balance sheet won’t affect our operations.” Perhaps that optimism is how a cable company with 5.5 million customers, $6.48 billion in sales and a $2.451 billion net loss for 2008 found itself with $21.67 billion in debt. No matter, Charter has said it plans to roll out DOCSIS 3.0 upgrades in a few markets in 2009, although Lamont declined to say which ones.

Metered Bandwidth Trend Spreads To India

[qi:004] The metered bandwidth malaise that is spreading across the U.S. — Internet service providers such as Cox, Comcast (s CMCSA), Charter (s CHTR), Time Warner (s TWC) and AT&T (s T) are all dabbling at restricting your monthly bandwidth — is taking root in other parts of the world. In India, two major broadband suppliers – Airtel (click to download a pdf of their terms and conditions) and Tata Indicom — have started imposing restrictions on their already meager broadband offerings. We think metered broadband is a regressive move.

Vid-Biz: KickApps, Disney, Charter

Hearst-Argyle Taps KickApps; the social media/video platform to power “u local” UGC efforts, allowing people to upload photo and video important to their community. (VideoNuze)

Disney Eyeing Online Video Service? At a conference CEO Bob Iger says the Mouse House is considering a subscription-based online video rental service. (Nikki Finke)

Charter Communications Bundling Sports TV and Web Video Access; $10 a month extra will give subscribers a sports TV package including content on the Internet — but no live games. (Multichannel News)

Dailymotion Partners with Cinetic; agreement gives video portal exclusive rights to show one independent feature film each quarter. (release)

Obama Nominates Genachowski for FCC Chair; nominee has a reputation for being pro network neutrality. (CED)

Glitches Return to Netflix Streaming, Users Blame Silverlight; complaints of poor video quality popped up over the weekend; company says it hasn’t pinpointed the problem, and it has only impacted a small number of users. (CNET)

Charlie Murphy to Launch Web Series on Crackle; Charlie Murphy’s Crash Comedy will feature sketches and parodies from the Chappelle’s Show alum. (Hollywood Reporter)

eReader for iPhone grows up to version 2.0

eReader 2.0 bookshelf

eReader 2.0 bookshelf

I was excited today to hear about the next version of eReader for the iPhone (s aapl), and for good reason.  Long my favorite ebook reading solution, I couldn’t think of any feature it was missing.  This new version shows how good it is that the eReader folks are still thinking ahead because they’ve added functionality that makes the reader even better.

Version 2.0 enhancements (according to eReader):

  • color themes (day and night time)
  • Book cover art
  • user defined book categories
  • indicator to let you know what books are already on your device
  • percentage read indicator in the bookshelf
  • additional fonts
  • margin options
  • line spacing options
  • larger tap targets for links
  • auto-scroll

I’ve been using the new eReader all day and I love the auto-scroll feature.  It makes reading so easy and it’s totally configurable to suit your reading speed.  Just start auto-scrolling and then tap and hold on the screen.  Speeding up or slowing down the scrolling is then as easy as sliding up or down on the resultant icon that appears.  I also find the percentage read indicator very useful as it allows you to easily tell if you’ve read a particular book or how much of it you’ve read.  This is handy when you have as many books in your bookshelf, as I do.

Welcome to Consumption-based Broadband

The all-you-can-eat broadband buffet appears to be at an end as ISPs implement caps and metered pricing for broadband services. The stated goal is network management, but the real reason is to cash in on the increasing value of the web despite being a dumb pipe. Today, Time Warner said it would expand its metered broadband trials, and on next Monday Charter will detail plans to force subscribers to pay for what they download, with plans starting at 100 GB per month caps at lower speeds and no cap for the fastest speeds. Read More about Welcome to Consumption-based Broadband

Survey Says…Cable Sucks

[qi:004] Cable providers rate poorly on both customer service and pricing, but thanks to their speedy broadband service, they have so far managed to score more customers than the phone companies, according to a survey out today from research firm CFI Group. The survey, which quizzed 1,318 households online at the end of June, measured consumer satisfaction with telecommunications providers. Read More about Survey Says…Cable Sucks

Comcast Earnings Prove Broadband Growth Slowing

As earnings season continues, it’s clear that some in the U.S. have had their fill of broadband. Within the past week AT&T and Verizon reported slowing broadband growth, and today Comcast saw its high-speed Internet access customers grow by 278,000 new subscribers, but added 18 percent fewer customers than it did during the second quarter of last year.

It appears that messing with P2P traffic, the likely enforcement order from the FCC and worries over tiered broadband have done little to dissuade people from moving to cable Internet, perhaps because it’s simply faster than DSL in most areas. During their second quarters, AT&T added only 46,000 DSL broadband subscribers and Verizon added 54,000.

We’ll know more when Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications report earnings next week, but as broadband growth slows, it’s time to tweak the service. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said on the conference call this morning that the company plans to upgrade its network in 20 percent of its market to DOCSIS 3.0 later this year (Comcast said this last year, too). AT&T is pushing U-verse and Verizon is relying on FiOS. Can the former Baby Bells can lay fiber fast enough to keep their customers for the long-term, or might they nickel and dime them with tiered service to goose revenue in the short term?

GigaOM Interview: Bob Dykes, CEO of NebuAd

The uproar over Charter Communications testing out a deep-packet inspection system to deliver advertising to its customers is far quieter than the one that erupted over similar plans by British ISPs, but it, too, has led to government questions about privacy and what rights a web surfer has online. I chatted this week with Bob Dykes, CEO of NebuAd, the company that’s providing the ad-insertion service to Charter, about the company’s privacy practices and the motivation of the ISPs that underpins such intrusive monitoring.