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Time Warner Shelves Bandwidth Caps For Now

As part of its education strategy, Time Warner Cable says it will work on making measurement tools to help customers track bandwidth usage.

Time Warner Cable, which has come under intense criticism from Internet users and politicians for moving toward bandwidth caps, said Thursday it would shelve additional testing of consumption-based billing for now and focus on educating customers.

While stopping short of tossing out the pricing model, the cable company acknowledged that the time wasn't right for expanding its use of bandwidth caps, which the company believed was still "the best pricing plan for consumers," Time Warner Cable chief executive Glenn Britt said.

"It is clear from the public response over the last two weeks that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about our plans to roll out additional tests on consumption-based billing," Britt said in a statement. "As a result, we will not proceed with implementation of additional tests until further consultation with our customers and other interested parties, ensuring that community needs are being met."

Time Warner Cable a week ago said it would expand trials of the new billing model from Texas into New York and North Carolina. The company also unveiled new pricing that would be based on the amount of data consumed in the course of a month, starting as low as $15 a month for 1 GB to as much as $150 a month for unlimited downloads.

The announcement drew waves of protest on the Web and sparked a letter-writing campaign by Free Press, asking Congress to investigate.

Indeed, Rep. Eric Massas, a N.Y. Democrat, said he would introduce a bill that would prohibit "unfair tiered price structures from Internet providers." In addition, Sen. Chuck Schumer, also a New York Democrat, threw his weight behind critics and pressured the company into reconsidering its plans.

"By responding to public outrage and opposition from community and elected officials, Time Warner Cable made the right decision today," Schumer said in a statement.

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