Metered broadband: making a comeback like bell-bottom trousers?

Om Malik posted an article today about American ISPs offering metered broadband plans. He says that Time Warner will be the first major US cable company to offer such a plan. I supposed if all you do is check email and occasionally look at websites, it’s not a bad idea. However, from what I’ve seen in the past, I would never go for metered broadband and I hope that it never takes hold anywhere.

A look back at history

When I moved to Amsterdam at the end of 1994, there was dial-up. In the Netherlands (and most of Europe), when you dialed a phone number, even in your area code, you paid by the minute. As a result, Internet use in Europe lagged the US for many years because people here were being billed by the minute. I remember being very frugal with my time online. That is why the US surpassed Europe in Internet usage and ultimately in e-commerce. I hope the trend of metering never comes back in full force (like bell-bottom trousers) anywhere because wherever it does take hold, you can be assured that they will fall farther behind in using and creating innovative online services.

Indeed, when you look at cellular data plans in Europe, very few people have them because in most countries, they’re metered. Unlike in the US, I have not see many affordable flat-rate plans. So people don’t use 3G/HSPA as much as they should. Some operators, notably Telia-Sonera in Finland and Sweden, have begun offering 10 EUR per month flat rate plans, and in those countries, 3G data use has skyrocketed.

UPDATE: Om Malik posted a follow up:

Why Tiered Broadband Is the Enemy of Innovation

Related story:

Time Warner Cable Broadband Tiers Lead to Fears