[qi:004] Updated: Time Warner Cable has modified the language of its consumer subscriber agreement that is directed at legitimizing the cable company’s ability to throttle and measure a consumer’s bandwidth. The new additions to the agreement also sanction tiered pricing. After Time Warner Cable’s failed attempt to expand tiered billing trials, which created different pricing plans for consumers based on the amount of data they downloaded, the company promised it would shelve the plans while it educated consumers. It looks like that education campaign may come now that the legal bases are theoretically covered. Here’s the new language:
6. Special Provisions Regarding HSD Service
UPDATE: Stop the Cap, which first reported that Time Warner had modified its subscriber agreements, has updated its original story to note that there is a dispute over when Time Warner actually made the changes to its subscriber agreement. “Time Warner Cable representatives told another reporter that the language we reported on was published earlier than ‘implied’ in this article,” wrote Phillip Dampier, founder and editor-in-chief of STC, in an update published yesterday evening (we heard from the same reporter). “In their eyes, this represented ‘nothing new.’”
Exact timing aside, what is clear is that Time Warner did recently notify a subscriber in San Antonio, Texas, of a change to the subscriber agreement on that subscriber’s May bill, which is what prompted both Dampier’s story and my own. Time Warner still has not returned my repeated calls and emails seeking comment, while calls to the company’s customer services reps resulted in an array of responses, including one representative telling me that Time Warner was still practicing tiered billing in North and South Carolina and another who said that the subscriber agreement is accurate and that the company is not charging overage fees.
One way or another Time Warner still needs to address the concerns generated by the modified language. Yesterday Public Knowledge, a public interest group, called on the FCC and Congress to investigate the language included in the terms, specifically those that appear to exempt Time Warner’s own services from a bandwidth cap and any throttling. If Time Warner provides me with information as to when the changes were made, or answers any of the other questions I sent, I’ll update you.