Time Warner Cable to try out ‘consumption-based billing’

This year may be an unfavorable one for Americans who partake in peer-to-peer file sharing. Comcast recently began hampering connections on some file-sharing protocols like BitTorrent and eDonkey, and at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, AT&T stated that it wanted to implement network-level digital fingerprinting in an effort to curb piracy.

Today, Reuters reports that Time Warner Cable is looking to charge users for their bandwidth usage across its cable broadband Internet network. The cable company has announced that it will launch a trial for "consumption-based billing" in the Beaumont, Texas area later this year. Under the new system, users will be charged based on the amount of data they send and receive rather than a flat fee. If the trial works out, then Time Warner Cable could roll out the same scheme nation-wide, and other broadband operators could follow in its footsteps.

However, the scheme may not impact the majority of users. A Time Warner Cable spokesman told Reuters that consumption-based billing targets the 5% of its users who take up the lion’s share of available bandwidth. Other users, he said, "largely . . . won’t notice the difference." The spokesman added that his company doesn’t want consumers to "feel they’re getting less for more."

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