Beware, downloaders: Frontier Communication Inc. plans to meter your Internet usage.
Company spokeswoman Karen Miller said Friday that the telecommunication firm plans to limit its customers' free Internet usage to five gigabytes a month in 2009.
If you download more, you'll pay more.
``As it stands now, five gigabytes will be free and there will be a tiered system for those who use more,'' she said.
Miller said the company, which has many customers in Chenango County, is going to charge for usage ``to make the heavy users pay their fair share.''
Asked if five gigabytes a month made one a ``heavy user,'' Miller said,``Our customers, on average, use 1.5 gigabytes a month.''
Those who use the Internet a lot are a source of concern because they force the company to spend money on its infrastructure to expand its capabilities, she said.
Frontier, a communications giant that operates in 24 states, is now notifying its customers of the coming change: Paying by the gigabyte.
One such customer is Elizabeth Ramsey of Treadwell, who has opted to drop Frontier's DSL service in protest.
``Five gigabytes is ridiculous; it's really a backdoor way of ending Net neutrality,''' said Ramsey, a retired Time Warner employee.
Ramsey, who has no television, likes to use her computer to watch movies downloaded from the Internet.
``With five gigabytes, they're limiting you to watching four two-hour movies a month,'' she said. ``And then, they're going to charge you more, even though you're already paying $88 a month for phone and Internet?''
Ramsey said she's decided to downgrade to dial-up service and get her classic movies another way until the company relents and maintains the value of its DSL service.
The issue of limiting free Internet usage by American Internet service providers has led to the formation of consumers' groups such as Stop The Cap, at www.Stopthecap.com, and international media coverage.
Last week, The Register, a British technical newspaper, reported:
``Yet another American ISP is toying with the idea of a ridiculously low bandwidth cap.
Last month, Frontier Online _ a regional carrier serving 24 U.S. states _ quietly slipped new language into its terms of service that appeared to cap its roughly half a million broadband customers at a measly five GB a month. That includes both uploads and downloads.''
The Register also reported that documents purportedly show that the Internet usage of Frontier's customers is significantly more than 1.5 gigabytes per month.
Miller said customers with questions about the issue should visit the company's website at www.frontieronline.com.