Time Warner Cable announced this week that they’ll be testing a pricing plan that will shift their current model of unlimited bandwidth to charging customers for going over a certain amount of gigs per month — not unlike many cell-phone plans, which charge users for minutes used over their base rate. Bittorrent users, take note: Downloads and uploads count as gigs used. This also doesn't bode well for iTunes and Netflix’s quest for complete world domination by the year 2010 — movies average over a gigabyte per download, not to mention the data exchange that’s involved with Netflix-type streaming.
As customers are just beginning to get used to the idea of purchasing and viewing movies and TV shows online, how will they cope with paying for not only an episode of Lost, but also a “download tax” to Time Warner? Just think about our office: What happens when Vulture wants to download Cavemen, but Daily Intel needs its Gossip Girl now? Or Lane's downloaded too many PS3 demos? We foresee households breaking out in the geekiest family struggles ever, complete with dinner-table shouts of “You already used your gigs for this week!”
More important, is it possible this might drive consumers back to stores to buy physical objects? Maybe Blockbuster isn't quite as foolish as we thought! Or maybe not — you’ve seen those gas prices, right? One’s thing's for certain: We wish we were in college again, with our unlimited university account. —Michael D. Ayers
Bloggers Blast Time Warner Cable Metered Internet Plan [Dow Jones/CNNMoney]