Time Warner Talks Last Mile & Bandwidth Caps

[qi:066] I visited Time Warner Cable’s (s twc) Austin cable plant today in order to learn more about the last mile — or how cable broadband gets from the Internet backbone to your home — and how the limitations of cable play out in the way the company manages its network. I spoke with Scott Young, senior director of digital systems, about the Austin network, whose users download between 5 and 6 GB per month on average. That’s twice the amount the average Comcast user downloads per month and isn’t representative of the national Time Warner network.

Time Warner Cable is trialing a metered bandwidth offering in Beaumont, Texas, with tiers of service ranging from 5 GB per month through 40 GB per month. When users reach their limit, Time Warner will charge overage fees. In contrast, Comcast caps users at 250 GB per month and after a certain number of overages, kicks users off the network. Young talks about the different caps toward the end of the video, and says Time Warner offers to provide fiber to the home for customers willing to pay the price, should caps or constrained upload speeds become too much of an issue.

At the last mile, cable ISPs have two issues to overcome — the fact that end users share a connection from the node, which means one person overloading the node degrades service for everyone, and a limit on the amount of spectrum available for uploading data. Check out the video for more.