Thursday, January 17, 2008

Will TimeWarner thin out peer-to-peer users?

The (incredibly limited) trial of metered broadband proposed by TimeWarner Cable in the US could, reckons Valleywag, put the kibosh on piracy:

The cable provider is preparing to test a new billing scheme in Beaumont, Texas that would charge customers based on actual Internet usage instead of a flat monthly fee. This means BitTorrent downloaders would pay a premium for all those packets they seed across the net. Pirated content is far less appealing when it isn't free.

Mmm. Perhaps, but it seems unlikely. First of all, the teeny-tiny nature of the test - one town in Texas out of all the seven and a half million customers - suggests it's hardly something that TimeWarner is confident about; more to the point, it'll only reduce peer-to-peer filesharing if all carriers adopt the way of billing, and choose to place the cost of bandwidth at such a level that would make sending lots of files unattractive. And they'd only do that if they wanted to discourage people using their computers for multimedia fun. Which would seem to run contrary to the whole marketing position on which broadband is sold in the first place.