With a couple of short term exceptions, I’ve been a Time Warner customer since as long as I can remember. Every year Time Warner gives me a 12 month discount, and every year I call them, threaten to leave them for AT&T, and ask for an extension of the discount. Every year they agree. This year they did not and are raising my monthly premium from $44.99 to $64.99.
AT&T plays the same game. At $40 a month, they have cheaper prices for new customers for a 12 month period, after which you once again have an opportunity to threaten to leave them for Time Warner.
This game is ridiculous, but we play this game because AT&T and Time Warner hope you get sick of calling in every year and will just complacently accept the premium increase.
Everyone prefers complacency over competition. It makes life easy.
Over the last 5-10 years, Internet users have become more data hungry. What started slowly with illegal torrents among a few users has snowballed into the majority watching nonstop 1080p and 4K HD streams on YouTube and Netflix.
AT&T and Time Warner, along with the rest of them, are under great pressure to raise prices in order to raise enough funds to continue to reinvest in their infrastructure for an ever increasing data hungry customer base. In case it wasn’t apparent, broadband is a scare resource, and Net Neutrality regulations mandating that Internet providers can not discriminate against data heavy content doesn’t help the situation.
AT&T has opted to ration their network by imposing data caps on their users with what used to be a 300 GB limit and is now a 1 TB limit. Time Warner has opted to charge everyone higher premiums by offering them unlimited higher speeds regardless of whether or not they use it. It’s still not enough, and so premiums continue to rise.
Mega mergers to reduce overhead by eliminating costs are quickly becoming a reality. By this time next year, AT&T and Time Warner may very well merge into one company.
It’s important to view Net Neutrality for what it really is. A refusal by data hungry content providers, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon (Prime Videos), etc., to risk losing “elastic” customers by raising their premiums to pay a fee to Internet providers, hoping instead that the Internet providers will look like the bad guys when they raise their premiums on “inelastic” customers.
It’s easier canceling Netflix than it is canceling your Internet.
I’ll be switching to AT&T for the next 12 months, and perhaps will play this game once more then. Until then, I would urge everyone to thoroughly inform themselves on the issue.
Bandwidth doesn’t grow on trees.