WIRED: Time Warner Cable plans to test its controversial, new scheme to have users pay by the gigabyte in Rochester, New York, but the area’s freshman congressman calls usage caps greedy and plans to introduce legislation to stop it. New York Democratic Rep. Eric Massa called TWC’s proposal to switch its 8.4 million cable broadband customers to metered internet billing an “outrageous plan to tax the American people.”Massa, a longtime blogger at the liberal site DailyKos, says he will be joined by a “legion of activists” and called the fight against usage caps a “national issue of generational consequences.” However, Massa’s fight will not get far without support from powerful House members,including Virginia Democrat Rick Boucher who now controls a key committee on telecoms and the internet. Critics say usage caps will cost users more and hurt innovation on the net — especially in new video services, as subscribers begin to calorie-count their internet usage.
TWC’s new tiered pricing structure for its Roadrunner internet service starts at $15 for a plan that allows 1 GB a month with an overage charge of $2 per GB. (A GB of data equals about three hours of online video from Hulu.com and about half of a rented standard definition movie.) The company says bandwidth hogs need to pay their fair share and maintain that if the company doesn’t get enough money to build new infrastructure, “internet brownouts” will be inevitable. In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Massa dismissed those arguments, describing TWC as a greedy, unregulated monopoly providing a utility service. His yet-to-be-introduced bill would seek to increase competition among broadband providers and regulate monopolies, he said, though he declined to give specifics.”They are providing a utility and frankly you should not be able to impose cascading rate increases without justifying them,” Massa said. “What Time Warner is saying is not true and their own SEC filings show that. This is AIG-style greed.” MORE