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PostHeaderIcon How Much Internet Do YOU Use?

Time Warner wants to know. According to them, 5% of their users use 50% of their bandwidth. That means ~everyone~ with broadband access, whether it’s cable or DSL, is paying for the success of bandwidth heavy applications and their users.

Like to watch TV on the web? Internet Hog! Play an MMORPG? You thief — stealing bandwidth needed by high schoolers to lookup information for their homework!

Time Warner is testing a new usage-based billing system in Beaumont, Texas. For average users, they won’t see a change. High bandwidth users will see an increase in their bills if they go over a set cap, though no word yet on what this cap will be.

I can tell you, as the wife of a gamer, this scares the heck out of me. Sure, gamers use a lot of bandwidth, but if their method for de-stressing after work starts to cost more than just the monthly WoW subscription fee — which gets them unlimited gaming time for a set fee–well, there’s gonna be a lot of unhappy people. Both gamers and the people who live with them and have to deal with their withdrawal symptoms.

And that’s not even touching on folks who like to waste time on YouTube, download music and movies from iTunes, or catch up on their favorite TV shows online.

Or, well, folks like me and Candy and all the other VAs out there, people who conduct business full-time on the Internet. I know I already pay more each month for my bandwidth than your average high speed customer for exactly this reason. I work on the web and I’m willing to pay for it. I’m just having a hard time stomaching the bottomless well usage-based billing could become.

Honestly, I am surprised the corporate folks, people like Blizzard, Apple, YouTube, MySpace, the television networks and more, aren’t raising heck over this. Usage-based bandwidth billing is going to negatively affect their bottom line, too. On the plus side — the writer’s strike is primarily about royalties for new media streams. If the ISPs dry up that revenue stream for the producers maybe the strike will end since there will be nothing left to strike about.

For an alternate perspective, check out this article: The Internet Isn’t Free.

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