Call Kurtis: Bill May Triple For Excessive Internet Usage

Use too much internet and you could pay more money.  Viewers are calling Kurtis Ming to investigate after Frontier Communications said they’re raising rates for those who spend a lot of time online.  The message simple: cut down on what you do online.  If you don’t your rates could jump up to $250 a month.

   With five adults in the Edvalson family, someone is always online.

   “My husband went through a period of unemployment and we cut out everything that was extraneous.  And cable television had to go,” says Suzanne Edvalson.

   Good thing you can watch just about anything online these days.  But that could come at a price.

   “I got an email out of the blue from Frontier,”

   Suzanne shows us the email that was sent about her internet usage:

Dear: SUSANNE EDVALSON

Frontier is committed to providing the best possible broadband experience for all customers. We know our customers often use the Internet for services such as video, games and music downloads, however you may not be aware that your specific usage has consistently exceeded 100GB over a 30-day period. This is excessive for residential usage and more represents the amount of bandwidth usage of a typical business.

We want to provide you with some options. If you wish to maintain your current pricing plan, you may work with us to reduce your Internet usage. Another option is to move to the next price tier of $99.99 per month, which reflects your current average monthly usage. We are happy to discuss all options with you. Please call us within seven (7) days of the date of this letter at 1-877-273-0489, Monday – Friday, 8AM – 12AM ET, to review these options. If you do not wish to switch to another tier, please let us know. (We will also follow-up with a letter to discuss your options.) If we do not hear from you within 20 days from receipt of this letter, your Internet service will be disconnected.

We are committed to providing our customers with the highest quality service and that requires us to manage our network to ensure an optimal customer experience. All of our customers are entitled to equal access to the Internet and the ability to enjoy its available content at our committed level of service quality.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and understanding our promise to all customers. We would like to keep you as a Frontier customer and we look forward to your call.

Sincerely,

Frontier Communications

  “My first thought is: what you’re doing is wrong,” Suzanne says.

   Upset, she called Frontier saying she doesn’t remember anyone saying her internet usage can be capped.

   “All he would say is, ‘You need to call our legal department.” Every question, ‘You need to call our legal department,'” Suzanne tells us.

   We called Frontier to ask about the new usage cap.  The company told us it’s not a cap, but people who use the internet a lot slow it down for others.  So they admit they’ve started charging customers in Elk Grove and Sacramento who use more than 100 gigabytes a month, which they call excessive.

   What exactly do you get for 100 GB?  We asked Frontier.  They say that equals 10,000,000 e-mails,  up to 50,000 photos, access to 800,000 websites, 6,700 hours of online gaming.  But the real gigabyte guzzler is h-d video.  Watch more than 16 HD movies a month and you’ll hit that 100 GB mark.

   Suzanne finds it interesting right on Frontier’s website it offers “free TV.”  It’s a service called My FiTV, which is a portal that streams video. 

   “You can scroll anywhere down on this page and you will not find anything about a cap,” Suzanne shows us while looking at the My FiTV page.

    “This is akin to someone being asked to come eat at an all you can eat buffet and on their way out the door they’re being charged three times over,” says Derek Turner, Research Director at the consumer advocacy group Free Press.

   Turner doesn’t believe frontier’s argument heavy users are clogging up the network.

   “Frontier and other companies who’ve used this excuse in the past have provided absolutely no evidence that their internet is congested or that Frontier cannot make the normal, routine upgrades that are necessary to keep up supply in line with demand,” says Turner.

   For now, Suzanne says she will try to get the family to cut down on their time online.  But she won’t back down on her fight against Frontier.

   “Voice your opinion.  You know, nothing can change if you can’t be heard,” says Suzanne.

    The Edvalsons were going over the 100 GB limit.  Customers who use more than 250 GB are being asked to cut down their usage or pay $250 a month.

   Do other local internet providers have usage caps?  Another consumer advocacy group, Stop The Cap tells us Comcast may limit usage to 250 GB a month.  Surewest, AT&T and Time Warner do not have caps.

   If you need to lower your usage, keep in mind standard definition video use less bandwidth than high definition video.  Frontier says it’ll have bandwidth monitoring tool that is free to customers by mid 2011.

  Here is more of Frontier’s explanation of the new pricing structure:

The company letters were sent to customers that are using an excessive amount of the network. Well beyond any reasonable amount for an average user and significant enough to negatively affect other customers’ user experience.

The letters are meant to communicate to these customers that their usage is in excess and we would like to work with them to adjust their plan or their usage. In most cases our customers were not aware of their usage patterns and are willing to work with us to adjust their plans to fit their lifestyles. We do not have a customer capacity on our network. We are looking to work with these customers to help prevent degradation on our network to ensure the customer experience.

The pricing structure was put in place to help us maintain the network experience for all customers. If you choose to use a significant amount of bandwidth we believe you should pay for the service accordingly.

The letters were sent to four markets across the company. We routinely review network usage patterns and these users jumped out as consuming an inordinate amount of bandwidth, enough to negatively affect other customers’ user experience.

All of Frontier markets are reviewed for usage patterns as the markets receiving the letters were reviewed. These specific markets were not targeted.

The customers using an excessive amount of data negatively impact the network for other users. Preventing us from providing adequate bandwidth to all of our users during peak and non-peak times.

On the MyFiTV topic. Frontier’s myfitv.com website is a portal that we provide as a value to our high speed internet. This site does not have a warning regarding data usage. We believe that our customers will utilize this site as a complement to their video service currently in the home. We are currently working with our customers that are using excessive amounts of data to help them understand what their usage pattern is and how we can help them reduce their consumption or get them on the right plan. Our goal is to preserve the network quality to ensure that all customers have a quality user experience.

Stephanie Beasly

Communications Manager

Frontier

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Comments

One Comment

  1. Phil DeLaPoza says:

    Wow so much for people who watch a lot of net flicks. Recently Net flicks offered a discount of money if you just stream line the movies you watch instead of waiting for your mail. So much for band width usage. I have used frontiernet for years but if i get a letter like that i will move to surewest. I wish i could get at&t in Elk Grove.

  2. duzhang says:

    I received the letter too and it’s ironic that Frontier locks you in on a contract and I actually did ask if there was a cap for their services when I signed on. They replied they didn’t have a cap and now in the middle of my contract, they put a usage cap. I hear if you cancel the contract then there is an early termination fee (how stupid id that). This is basically changing the contract terms and black mailing customers. If this continues, people will leave Frontier and never go back. Plus if you look at the packages that they sell, they never mention a usage cap. Bait and switch, false advertising, crooks, greed you name it, it’s all the above.

  3. duzhang says:

    http://stopthecap.com/2010/12/13/frontiers-merry-xmas-you-used-too-much-internet-now-pay-99-99-a-month-or-lose-it/#comment-14753

    Read this also, someone had the experience of calling that number in the letter and they were told that there is no $99 / month if you go over 100GB, you are now charged with anything over. Again changing the terms on the fly…what next, can this company even be trusted.

  4. still kicking says:

    This has been going on now for a while in many areas in the US as the media companies attempt to maximize their control over both content and its usage. Comcast was caught last year lying to the US Congress in testimony where they denied throttling the available bandwidth to certain users in “test markets”. In the cellular phone arena AT&T recently changed their 5GB cap on phone data plans to just 2GBs claiming that few customers went over that. The irony is that the marketing arms of their content providers all compete in their advertising in the promotion of fast data speeds to stream movies, play games, and other activities that are require large amounts of bandwidth. Then when the customer actually users these services they are called “hogs” are either cut off or their bill suddenly rockets upwards. The game plan is really to escalate the fees charged into hundreds of dollars while forcing the users into a mixture of noncompetitive bundles in monopolistic markets. At the same time these very same companies attempt to stall the progress of technology by essentially castrating the equipment they sell or lease to consumers claiming that they first need to recover their existing expenses often made in areas that are now becoming obsolete.

  5. Kongmaker says:

    The solution is simple: Use torrent? Pay business pricing. Dont? Knock yourself out for $50/mo. Why are we legal content downloaders paying for the users who aren’t? I am 100% pro net neutrality! I just think people need to understand that bandwidth comes at a cost. This is the only way we can preserve net neutrality…make the abusers pay. Restrict torrent sharing to creative commons licensing and create FEDERAL laws to punish violators. I can’t believe I’m saying this but it’s the only way. PLEASE remember that cable television was created for “community” purposes. They will take your internet, too… Nip this in the bud, now… p.s. I think the mpaa is insane…I’m just taking a pragmatic approach. The pipes and routers need to be paid for by somebody…

  6. Jason Carver says:

    I have Surewest and could not be happier with it. I just wish they had Digital TV ijn my area and I would drop Comcast in a hurry! I got rid of Comcast because of their caps in place. Although I do not download excessively I do not like being told what or what I cannot do with the money I spend.

  7. Harry says:

    Frontiers customers have rights too. If Frontier violates the signed contract for service then the customer is not liable for any early termination fees. I understand that bandwith and transmission along with capital investment in equipment has to be paid for that is a given. The pricing stucture has to be fully explained and understood by both parties and not assumed. It is clear that Frontier had not planned or made arrangements for possible customer usage and is now trying to make up for their own lack of foreseeability at the customers expense. The error is at Frontier’s front door and not the customers. Frontier should honor all contracts until their expiration date at what was agreed upon at the time of signing, Then they can offer a new contract at present or changed price structure. The other option is to let these customers out of the violated contract with no penalty as they are not the cause of its termination. Technically Frontier is in my opinion liable for false advertisement at the very least. Bait and switch as suggested in an earlier comment seems to be very appropriate in this case. Their seemingly heavy handed tactics make a very good argument for more competition in all market areas.

  8. Mr. Brown says:

    I received a letter last week and I already have an appointment to have Surewest fiber installed. I am going to go from frontier 6Mbit down/ 512Kbit DSL up to 25Mbit down AND up for $10 less. This is a slippery slope and internet provides need to know that actions such as these will result in lost profits.

  9. Jeff says:

    Is anyone having issues with Frontier’s usage meter? Ever since Jan 6, It keeps saying there’s no data available.

    The site: http://www.frontier.com/frontierusage

    If only Surewest was available in my neighborhood, unfortunately my street is not available as of now..fingers crossed…

  10. Jerry says:

    I feel sorry for the Edvaldsons.! Watching that much filthy mindless trash and ads means that they are sick in the head! ~~~~~~~

  11. Thomas says:

    I do not have frontier, nor do I live in Sacramento, but I do live in the Modesto area. My cable provider is Charter, and I received a letter from them letting me know that I had violated their fare usage limits for the month of November, and that I had already violated their fare usage limits for the month of December as well. This was my first contact with them about this issue, and it was at the middle of December. They informed me that if I violate the fare usage limits one more time, I will be terminated as a customer, and will not be able to get their cable service for 6 months after that.

    Here are some of the problems I have with this.
    1. I got notified late about the issue.
    2. This is only happening because of net neutrality has been implemented, because I have had charter for over a year, and there has never been a problem before this (and my usage has not changed over that time.)
    3. I am paying for a 25 mbps connection, why am I not able to take full advantage of what I am paying for?
    4. I have worked for a cable company in the past, and they have the ability to ensure that your bandwidth does not negatively impact anyone else’s bandwidth. The only time this might be an issue, is when they are unwilling to install the correct equipment in your area (a piece of hardware that cost less than $3.00 dollars.)
    5. Now I am going to have to go from a cable connection of 25 mbps to DSL which is 1.5 mbps because this is the only other option in my area.
    6. I feel that if there were free competition for other equal internet providers in the area, this would not be such a bad issue, because cable companies would have never taken this step to ensure that people would not wise up. Watching television over the internet has tons of benefits, one of which I enjoy the most are that an hour long show only contains 1 minute of commercials (www.hulu.com) and that you watch what you want to watch when you want to watch it. Compared to 15 minutes of commercials being thrust upon you during the same show, and you have to purchase a full package of television channels, most of which you will never watch.

    Overall, cable is trying to hold on to an old way of providing services, which it feels is too dumb to figure out anything better. In my opinion, let the revolution begin, cut the cord to your cable television, and plug into the vast world of the internet.

    As a side note, the largest bandwidth consumption that is provided by the cable companies is not the internet, nor the phone, but cable television itself. That is why when they ditched all of the standard definition programming, they started being able to offer speeds like 25 or 60 mbps, because it freed up some of the pipe.

    In addition, for the person who mentioned MPAA, torrents, and television shows.
    Within the US, television shows are a grey area of the law. They are covered under the beta max verses VHS legal decision, as long as you are not making a profit from downloading them, they are not considered illegal downloads, because you are allowed to keep a copy of them, this is also the reason why you are able to use your DVR without having someone from the MPAA knocking on your door.

    So just remember, that companies never pay any attention to you unless you affect their bottom line, so disconnect from the ones that are causing you problems, and go with companies that are not. This is the only way to make your voice heard.

  12. james says:

    if they change the terms of the contract then they are stopping the sign contract. then change service providers. If they try and charge a fee for that, they sue them. Once in court the judge will side with you since they change the terms of the contract in the middle of the contract which is ILLEGAl, even their lawyers knows this.
    This is just like buying a car or a house, then they changed the rate on you for a fixed mortgage which they can not do. call the legal department and tell them if you get chaged a higher rate of slower connection speed you will sue due to breach of contract.

    File a complaint with the FCC and this and they will also look into the changing also.

  13. abdul javeed says:

    I HATE FRONTIER, they are way expensive than AT&T’s dsl. Their actual download speed is not as advertised and their upload speed is way too slow. I wish there were other providers that i can choose like at&t and surewest but unfortunately where i live in Elk Grove i can only have either Frontier or Comcast. Now Frontier has me stuck in their contract but once im out of contract im never ever going back to them

    FRONTIER SUCKS

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