Thursday, March 01, 2012

On Usage-Sensitive Pricing Policy

I was quoted, accurately, in today's edition of Communications Daily [subscription required] to this effect: "It is way past time for the consumer groups to get over knee-jerk opposition to usage-based pricing." I was responding to a story concerning Public Knowledge's potential concern about a possible AT&T plan to allow content providers and app developers to pay for the mobile data its customers use.
Well, I heard from my friend Gigi Sohn, Public Knowledge's President, that PK's position concerning usage-pricing pricing is not knee-jerk, but more nuanced than I represented. Without delving here into past positions or particular controversies, I am perfectly happy to credit PK's more nuanced position -- and to welcome and encourage its further development.
Indeed, I see that in his blog concerning Time Warner Cable's newly-announced "Internet Essentials" usage-sensitive broadband plan, PK's Harold Feld is receptive to that particular usage-sensitive plan, as is Andy Schwartzman in his blog. I am too, so we're all in seeming agreement. (By the way, like Gigi, I consider Harold and Andy friends as well.)
In the Communications Daily report, I was also quoted to the effect that "providers must have the flexibility to experiment with different pricing models that make sense from an economic and efficiency standpoint." This I firmly believe, and I've held this position consistently for a very long time.
I don't expect that Harold, Andy, Gigi, and I will agree all the time, or even most of the time regarding particular cases. This is because I am sure I have a considerably different view than they do regarding the costs and benefits of FCC regulation in the current marketplace environment. But if a more nuanced position on usage-sensitive pricing has replaced what I consider to have been, in the past, "knee-jerk"opposition, I welcome the change. Indeed, I will happily withdraw the "knee jerk" opposition characterization -- if I see a real openness to usage-sensitive pricing going forward.