If you're going to give us some B.S. about "building OC3's and I know personally these cost $xxxx/month and if you take the cost of that, and when you use your 20mb/s connection, you're costing the equivalent of $$$$ per month so it's a bargain..." you're merely showing your knowledge of how the internet worked in 1994.
Screw OC3s, more like lots of OC192s. No OC768s though, overpriced especially on T640s. Afraid in 1994 I was on the Enterprise side of networking, not on the Service Provider side; so my '94 knowledge is more about Ethernet switching and Novell NOSes. Only moved to Service Provider Architecture in the last 3 years, so generally my knowledge is hopefully up to date, but maybe not.
In 2009, you correctly note the transit bandwidth charges but these are not likely to be a significant cost to somebody like Comcast. Their bulk of their cost is *fixed* since it's the physical maintenance of their own network. The charges to connect to the backbone? Almost nothing compared with the fixed costs.
They do have lots of Capital Expenditures to purchase all that gear on the edge and their metro networks. And if they're paying about 4-5% (for Cisco/Scientific Atlanta) of their actual costs after discounts for hardware/software/support maintenance (OpEx) on all that equipment, then that is a really large number. However, generally those numbers aren't too variable. They only have to upgrade when the peak averages increase. If the peaks just last longer each day but the absolute maxes do not increase, they're not spending more CapEx and thus no more OpEx. So the Transit BW costs are a pretty big part of what is costing them OIBDA dollars, and to top it off, their customers control whether they have to pay more one more month or not.
Besides, if you look at TW's annual report, you'll see their cost for bandwidth is going down, despite bandwidth use going up from their subscribers.
What does that tell you?
That Level 3 is charging them less per Mbps now? Maybe $8? It can never be free. Maybe they get to Cogent pricing at $5/Mbps, but it will always cost money to run backbone networks for people who need transit. TWC (and other eyeball networks) will always pay for their transit. No one else is getting Settlement Free Peering.
I know what it tells me. It says that if TW keeps at it, NYS should do their best to heavily tax TW's "bandwidth overage charges" so that there is no financial advantage for TW to charge people for additional bandwidth. It goes against my laisse-faire instincts of many decades, but these guys are crooks who lie with a straight face.
No wonder people hate cable companies.
I do not disagree that they are milking this. However I also believe that their highest profits come from the Cable TV side of the house. They don't have to upgrade capacity for that side of the house. Most folks just watch those broadcast channels and pay massive amounts for the pay subscription movie channels, again no real incremental costs, nearly pure profit once they have the infrastructure built out. For the less watched channels that aren't always broadcast, they don't even send the signal if no one is watching. If someone does start watching, they multicast those channels in case a second person down from the Head End starts watching. Again, once you get the first person watching, there are no additional costs, unlike when two people decide to download an episide of the Daily Show and start minutes apart from one another.
Now if more and more folks all decide they don't need to pay for all of that TV and instead all want to watch The Daily Show as a download whenever they want to, then they are all getting those bits from a CDN server somewhere on the Internet. It is likely that TWC won't pay for transit to get to that CDN provider though. Comedy Central uses Akamai (at least from my Comcast home network) for their CDN. AKAM might have caches at each of the TWC regional data centers already (though from my Comcast connection I go to Equinix, Ashburn and use Global Crossing for a single hop to get there). If Comedy Central used Level 3, that might work to TWC's advantage. If they use Limelight though, TWC is probably having to pay for those transit bits. Though LLNW is rapidly peering, so maybe not. Panther Express... aw come on, no way Comedy Central's ever heard of them.
Anyway, the point is that the high profit margins are the TV side. If folks move to getting their content directly from the Internet, they probably will cancel their TV side subscription. TWC has to be prepared for that and make the Internet side just as OIBDA profitable as the TV side before that day comes. They'll never get Settlement Free Peering, so they'll always be paying for bandwidth, and the future doesn't look good with those facts in mind.
Of course, they could install transparent caches at each head end or regional data center. Would certainly help offset those variable transit costs. And then they could sell all that usage info to another Phorm or other behavioral advertisers. Let's hope not though.