The metered internet

I’m getting a preview of Time Warner’s doomed idea to charge internet access based on usage.

At the hotel here in Munich, I’m getting criminally overcharged for internet access by the hotel and Swiss: They’re charging me 27 euros for 24 hours to get supposedly unlimited speed (ha! I tested and it’s slow; I can’t even watch a YouTube video worth a damn and it almost took longer to download On the Media than to listen to it) and downloading. They’d charge me a bit less if I agreed to getting lower priority for my packets — the hint is that at the slower speed, I couldn’t be able to use Skype or watch videos — and an unspecified limit on my bandwidth. Being forced to pay a premium to get acceptable service makes me mad enough; not getting acceptable service makes me resent them even more.

It’s not as if cable and telephone companies care about being resented, but this is sure to make us hate them even more. And it moves in exact opposition to the history of internet usage since the mid-90s. That’s when I say that Tom Evslin, then head of AT&T Worldnet, made the internet explode when he set flat-rate pricing of $19.95 a month. Then the peole didn’t care about the ticking clock; they became addicted to the internet; the internet exploded; and we have Tom to thank for that. And since then, whenever we have had more bandwidth, we have found more good reasons to use the internet more and bring more value to it. On the internet, more is more.

Now we have Time Warner and Swiss to thank for trying to put a meter back on the internet. It only makes us hate them more.

  • http://www.louisgray.com/live/ Louis Gray

    Moving toward paying for data by the byte would be a tremendous step backwards for the Web. Although we understand the strain on carriers, unlimited is what customers expect, and those who cannot provide it should be spurned and lambasted.

  • http://www.robhyndman.com Rob Hyndman
  • http://www.yelvington.com/ Steve Yelvington

    Right, Swisscom’s pricing sucks.

    You must be staying in a Hilton, where you get the “privilege” of paying through the nose for services the same company gives you for free at its Hampton hotels.

    I like to do a bit of touring whenever I’m abroad for a conference, but my first step is to move out of the conference hotel and into a cheap place where wifi and breakfasts are free, and nobody’s wearing a suit.

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  • Chris C.

    Not sure what the conversion rate is these days, but that kind of piracy goes on in the US as well. At the NCAA basketball tournament, they charge $30 per day for a wirelss hook up in the media room, and they forbid any sort of sharing the connection. If they find more than one machine using the login assigned to your account, they will terminate the account.

    Couldn’t say how fast the connection was, because at that rate, I opted to reactivate an old AOL dial-up account for a month, rather than pay over three times as much for the three days I was covering the tournament.

  • James

    Charging based on download limits is de rigueur for Australian broadband. Some ISPs are even counting uploads in these limits.

  • Garth

    Here in South Africa just like in Australia we pay per gigabyte for out of country uploads and downloads.

    My internet bill for 8GB of capped usage and a 4Mbps DSL connection works out 128 US Dollars per month.

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  • Patrick

    When staying in a hotel, Internet access is a value-added service, not something that comes with the room, like clean sheets or hot water. Expect to pay for it unless it is in the hotelier’s interest to create a competitive advantage by offering free Internet access as an inducement to travelers to stay there.

    To Steve Yelvington: Tsk, tsk, Steve; half the reason for going to conferences is to network at the hotel bar with the other conferees. By holing up with your laptop in your room across the street at the hotel with free wifi access and breakfasts, you are missing out!

  • Jonathan

    The future of mobile broadband has arrived — in Korea

    On the theme of internet access, Korea’s WiMax-like system provides faster, cheaper wireless broadband

    Article reads as follows, “The next time you’re on the road and either can’t find a Wi-Fi hot spot or it seems to take forever to download an important file via 3G, imagine you’re in Seoul, South Korea. That’s because Seoul’s wireless WiBro network is nirvana for traveling professionals.

    WiBro is a branded version of the same 802.16e-2005 WiMax standard that is coming to the U.S. In Korea, it delivers data three times faster than 3G networks, with typical download speeds as high as 6Mbit/sec.” – article continues at this link – http://broadbandmobile.blogspot.com/2008/04/future-of-mobile-broadband-has-arrived.html

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