Frontier mulls usage-based broadband to manage network costs

Frontier may not have followed cable operators like Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) or its fellow ILECs AT&T (NYSE: T) and CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) in implementing usage-based billing on its broadband subscriber base, but it isn't ruling it out either.

In an FCC filing, the service provider said that none of its broadband tier users, including its traditional DSL or its newer FTTH services in select markets, are subject to metering.

"Frontier does not apply usage-based pricing to any of its broadband offerings," Frontier said in an FCC filing. "Frontier has no plans at this time to offer a metered broadband service."

It added that a usage-based service is something it could implement, but did not provide any specific details on if and when it would carry it out.

"We continue to monitor the market and continue to consider a usage-based offering as an option," Frontier said. "Factors Frontier considers in this process include the FCC's Open Internet rules, policies of other companies, consumer demand, network capacity, and cost, among other factors."

Usage-based billing has become a controversial issue amongst telcos and cable operators in recent years.

Service providers maintain that implementing usage-based billing or a broadband cap is necessary as network costs continue to rise. Many service providers say that the majority of its users don't surpass their usage limits.

AT&T began implementing a 150 GB monthly cap on DSL services and a 250 GB cap on U-verse services in 2011, but a later report said that the telco was only penalizing DSL users who went over their monthly allowance, not U-verse users.

Meanwhile, a number of CenturyLink users, according to a thread in a DSLReports forum, a number of subscribers said they were confused about the bandwidth caps.  

But cable operators like Comcast are just as active on the usage-billing front.

Comcast said late last year that it would roll out its usage-based billing pricing following a number of trials. After testing a few different models for its usage-based data pricing, the service provider said its 300 GB model -- which allots customers 300 GB of data per month and then charges an additional $10 for every 50 GB of data they use over the cap -- was the most popular.

For more:
- see this FCC filing (PDF)

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