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Comcast, Time Warner Try Out Tiered Broadband

If you live in Warrenton, Va., Chambersburg, Pa., or Beaumont, Tex., you may soon face a different Internet experience. Cable-modem providers Comcast and Time Warner will be testing out new bandwidth limits that they say are meant to deter overuse of their connections.

Cecilia Kang's story in today's Post describes the two companies' initiatives as attempts to block what they see as abuse without discriminating against specific kinds of traffic or Internet applications. Comcast will slow the connections of its most intensive users, while Time Warner will charge these people extra for exceeding bandwidth caps.

Will users see these initiatives as a fair way to manage a busy network? It's hard to know without answers to these questions:

* Will you get a discount for accepting these limits on your use? Ars Technica reported earlier this week that Time Warner will charge $55 a month for a plan with a 40-gigabyte cap--which doesn't sound like any sort of price break to me.

* Will DSL providers, who don't seem to have the same capacity problems as these cable companies, jump to point out their newfound competitive advantage in their own marketing, or will they decide to follow Comcast and Time Warner's example?

* Will these restrictions be clearly documented or buried in fine print?

* Will users be provided with a simple, obvious way to see if they're running afoul of these limits, or will they be left to guess what's gone wrong when their connection starts acting weird or their bill shoots up?

Do you have any interest in this proposition? Would you drop your existing Internet service if it implemented policies like these?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  June 4, 2008; 12:33 PM ET
Categories:  Telecom  
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