Time Warner Cable took a step back today from its plans to expand testing of a new Internet billing plan that would charge consumers based on the amount of bandwidth they use.
Pay-per-Gigabyte Internet pricing isn't a sure thing yet.
After weeks of customer complaints and despite the company's efforts to justify a new pricing strategy, the country's second largest cable company backed away from its timetable to test what it calls Consumption based Billing in Austin, TX, San Antonio, TX, Rochester, NY and Greensboro, NC the company announced today.
Time Warner Cable had planned to try the new pricing model in the two Texas cities this summer, expanding a program that began testing in Beaumont, TX last year. The Rochester and Greensboro trials would then follow.
[Details on the original plan and its potentially high costs for gamers can be found in MTV Multiplayer's first report on Time Warner's tiered Internet pricing.]
The cable company's announcement today puts those plans for new tests on hold:
"It is clear from the public response over the last two weeks that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about our plans to roll out additional tests on consumption based billing," Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said in a statement. "As a result, we will not proceed with implementation of additional tests until further consultation with our customers and other interested parties, ensuring that community needs are being met. While we continue to believe that consumption based billing may be the best pricing plan for consumers, we want to do everything we can to inform our customers of our plans and have the benefit of their views as part of our testing process."
Time Warner Cable's statement doesn't eliminate the possibility that its trials will be re-instated, nor even that those trials will occur in the timeframe announced earlier this month. But Time Warner Cable has taken an unmistakable pause in its plans due to consumer feedback and possibly some political pressure. The Time Warner Cable statement notes that the company will work with Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and "all other interested parties" as it figures out its strategy. Wired reports that Schumer had been joining public and political resistance to Time Warner Cable's plans.
Time Warner Cable also announced plans to distribute tools that will allow customers to track their usage, a move that was going to be an early step in the new pricing tests anyway. This software, the company argues, will help consumers recognize how much Internet bandwidth they consume.