time warner cable Back in 1996 when my parents took the plunge and signed-up for  the Internet for the first time, they had three different options for plans. Either they could choose something like 15 or 30 hours per month, or they could pay quite a bit more to get the unlimited hours plan. I was in 7th grade at the time and between my brother and I, we convinced them that we definitely needed the unlimited option – especially with how slow our Internet actually was with our 14.4 kilobits per second modem! Who wants limited hours of Internet anyhow? Several years after we signed-up, it seemed as though every ISP moved to only offering unlimited plans and it’s remained that way up until today. That could be about to change though with Time Warner Cable announcing that they’re going to begin experimenting with a new pricing structure. To sum it up, the more bandwidth you use, the more you pay.

Can you even imagine going from unlimited data downloads to a limited package? I certainly can’t.  While it’s understandable that they feel the people who are downloading large amounts of high definition video content should pay more than someone who only goes online to check email, limited plans just aren’t appealing to anyone.  Being limited to 15 or 30 hours wasn’t appealing back in the mid-90’s, and being limited to a certain amount of bandwidth isn’t appealing now!

Time Warner is the second-largest cable provider in the United States and they will start trying this new system out in Beaumont Texas for new customers sometime in the 2nd quarter of this year. There’s been no word on the download limits each tier would offer, or the pricing of them. For tech savvy individuals, selecting a plan wouldn’t be difficult at all. But, can you imagine your mom or dad signing up for cable Internet and having to decide which tier would work best for them? It would almost be as bad as someone walking into Best Buy with no knowledge of Windows Vista and trying to determine which version they should get. And if the Time Warner sales reps are anything like Best Buy sales reps, people would be signing up for the most expensive plan possible even if they use the Internet to check mail – much like how uninformed individuals can easily walk out of the store with Windows Vista Ultimate.

How would you feel if your ISP ended up following in the footsteps of Time Warner? Would you end up switching to a new provider if yours did something like this? If Time Warner is successful, do you think other ISP’s will follow?

Source: Associated Press