Stepping away from the (data) buffet: Time Warner, AT&T, more

Yesterday we talked Big Data. Today we’re talking access to all that data, something we revisit from time to time here on GMSV.

• Time Warner is again testing charging for broadband according to usage. This time, the company — which three years ago dropped a similar plan after a customer outcry — is stressing that its offering in Texas, which would save users $5 a month, is a choice. For Internet users who watch video, however, it wouldn’t be prudent. Bloomberg points out that customers would tip the 5 GB cap by streaming two high-definition movies. A couple of other companies, including AT&T, have implemented broadband caps in certain areas, but Comcast and Cablevision indicate they aren’t likely to follow suit anytime soon, according to the Wall Street Journal, which quotes Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis: “We don’t really want to rock the boat on that.”

• Over in the ever-widening world of mobile, there also are access experiments afoot. In Europe, one wireless carrier is reportedly offering unlimited mobile access — to Facebook and Twitter only. Other sites cost extra. A study recently released by Cisco says global mobile data will rise 18-fold over the next five years.

Earlier this week in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, an AT&T executive at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona said the company was considering shifting some of its wireless network costs to mobile-apps makers and tech companies. This idea is promptly being trashed left and right. It brings up net-neutrality issues, and some say it would hamper innovation by independent developers who might not have the deep pockets that, say, YouTube does. Rules introduced by the Federal Communications Commission in 2010 for the most part exempts mobile broadband when it comes to net neutrality. (See Internet rules with no bite seem a tad heavy on the ‘neutrality’.)

• And speaking of mobile, you might have heard last week about the man who won $850 in his lawsuit against AT&T, which throttled the Internet speed on his iPhone. Like many — 17 million, says the Associated Press — the California man has an “unlimited” data plan with AT&T. AT&T had warned that it would slow down access speeds for its heaviest users, arguing that it has the right to modify contract terms if heavy data use has a negative effect on its network, according to the AP. AT&T plans to appeal. Still, the man’s court victory might inspire others to take action against the carrier; MacTech has posted a lawyer’s advice on how to go about doing so.

Update: AT&T has clarified its throttling policy. The slowdown kicks in at 3GB within a billing cycle for non-LTE smartphones, and 5 GB for LTE phones.


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