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Bright House/Time Warner Customers: Switch to Earthlink to Avoid Modem Rental Fee

Phillip Dampier November 5, 2012 Bright House, Competition, Consumer News, Earthlink, Internet Overcharging, Time Warner Cable 6 Comments

Time Warner Cable customers irritated by the cable operator’s new $3.95 monthly modem rental fee who do not want to pay premium prices for a purchased modem can enjoy the benefits of a loophole by ordering broadband service from Earthlink, which offers nearly identical performance over Time Warner’s cable broadband network and currently charges no modem rental fees.

Earthlink has maintained a third party agreement to provide its service over Time Warner Cable for more than a decade, and the company’s service operates transparently over your existing Time Warner Cable connection and equipment. In our own tests, we found Earthlink’s service identical to Time Warner Cable with two exceptions:

  1. Earthlink does not provide Time Warner’s “Speedboost” technology which delivers slightly faster service for the first few seconds of a large file transfer;
  2. You will receive an Earthlink e-mail address and forfeit your existing Time Warner Cable e-mail account.

The current promotional offers:

  • Up to 768 Kbps service: $29.95/month
  • Up to 6.0-10.0 Mbps service: $29.95/month for first 6 months; $41.95/month thereafter
  • Up to 10.0-15.0 Mbps service: $39.90/month for first 6 months; $51.90/month thereafter
  • Standard installation fee varies by region.
  • Term Commitment (contract): None (no contract required)

Despite information on Earthlink’s website, the upload/download speeds on offer are identical to what Time Warner Cable or Bright House sells for their Standard or Turbo services in your area. After six months, you can purchase your own modem and return to Bright House or Time Warner Cable on a New Customer promotion and further extend your savings.

We found Earthlink’s online service qualifier not always accurate. For example, we found service at Stop the Cap! HQ “unavailable,” even though an address a few doors down qualified for service. We also discovered Earthlink heavily promotes its more expensive 15Mbps option, ignoring the less expensive 10Mbps service, even though both are available.

No matter. You can skip the hassle and just call your local Time Warner Cable office, which will process your order for Earthlink instantly over the phone. You do not need a new modem — a simple billing change on Time Warner Cable’s computer system is all that is required to switch providers. Earthlink will be billed on your Time Warner Cable bill.

Be aware that switching to Earthlink could effect any double-play or triple-play packages you signed up for earlier. Ask your TWC representative if there are any unintended pricing consequences for changing Internet providers. If there are, let them know you are switching to save money and ask if TWC can offer any competing retention offers to match the price. You may find Time Warner amenable to keeping your business and lowering your price.

There is no long term guarantee Time Warner won’t force Earthlink to charge an identical modem rental fee in the near future, but at least you can avoid paying it now until the authorized modems on Time Warner’s list come down in price.

Currently there are 6 comments on this Article:

  1. elfonblog says:

    I used Earthlink cable modem over Time Warner in Austin TX for years, and I was very happy with it. I picked them for their *slightly* cheaper rates ($29.95 1st 6 mo./$41.95 before tax). However, Earthlink offers significantly lower speed options (6-7 Mbit) for that tiny discount. Nearby neighbors who had Road Runner truly did have faster speeds (10 Mbit) than me for $29.99 1st 12 mo./$44.99 before tax. If your RR service consistently fails to provide more than 7 Mbit on the 10 Mbit plan, then perhaps it’s worth switching just to send them a message. Earthlink’s customer service was excellent, but they didn’t have direct access to things like Time Warner’s in-house Road Runner people have.

    Earthlink’s half-price introductory period is half as long as Time Warner’s Road Runner new customer discount. The terms when I used them were that you had to stay on for a certain number of additional months at full price or they would bill you the difference. Something like an additional 12 months. It wasn’t a contract, but more like an early-cancellation penalty. Earthlink did not charge me for installation, though they had to run a cable from the pole.

    If you purchase your own modem, it will still have to be on Time Warner’s approved list, and no, they won’t let you use the same model modems that they rent to you. It has to be the Cadillac models on the asinine “approved” list. Terms then were that you could get a paltry $3/mo discount. I view this as having been a secret, un-itemized modem rental fee.

    If you switch to another branded cable modem service which Time Warner provides, the process by which you keep the same modem is called “Spinning” the modem to the new service provider. Not sure what SPIN stands for, but L2 is familiar with it.

    So if you’re like me and compared the price of service over the first year, Road Runner actually turns out to be the cheaper service. This is mostly due to the 12-mo introductory price vs Earthlink’s 6-mo intro price. The extra 3-4 Mbit for only $.03-$3.03/mo more also contributes. The new modem rental fee will negatively impact this, but RR likely remains the winner in the long run.

  2. me says:

    Also that modem rental fee is highly dependent on region for TW. TW ‘raised’ my bill and ‘lowered’ (I know shock) at the same time. So it came out about the same. It seems some regions its just a bump up in price and others like mine it is an up/down.

    My bill went up 27 cents this month. Because the modem fee is taxed by my city (so look out for that too). Instead of bundled up in the base price.

    I too have been considering earthlink for awhile. As it is 6 dollars cheaper for essentially the same service. Plus another 3 could make it worth doing… So instead of 58 a month it would be about 49. For a savings of ~100 dollars per year.

    For someone on TW this could be a decent switch. Then go back once all obligations are done?

  3. Jill says:

    I’ve had earthlink since the mid 90s – first as dialup and now as cable through TW. My question is a bit different. I do not have a bundled service with TW, just cable (and earthlink). I really don’t watch the cable and was thinking of getting rid of TW. But does that mean I lose my access to earthlink (and the rest of the web) too?

    • No, you can stay a broadband only customer at Earthlink for around $41.95 a month. Time Warner will keep billing you for Internet only access and nothing else changes.

      If your rates are the primary issue, please go and see our piece on how to negotiate a better deal with TWC. You may find a much lower price for a combo cable-TV/TWC broadband double play package than what you pay right now, but remember TWC has that stupid $3.95 modem rental fee you are now avoiding, so consider that as part of any retention deal they offer.

      http://stopthecap.com/2012/03/01/getting-a-better-deal-from-time-warner-cable-five-minutes-to-save-almost-700-in-2012/

      If you follow my instructions in that article, they will call and offer you an aggressive deal to keep your cable TV business.

      If you just don’t care about cable, you can just call TWC and tell them you want to drop cable TV but keep Earthlink and they should make the account change in the office. No visit to your home is required and your billing through TWC will continue.

      Let me know if you have any additional questions.

  4. No Spam says:

    I had Time Warner and recently switched to Earthlink. I ONLY had cable modem Internet, no TV or anything else from TW.

    Time Warner kept adding charges onto my Internet bill until it would get up to about $65 per month (64 and change). That’s $65 for Internet ONLY. One charge is that they kept adding to my bill was “Turbo” for $9.99. I did a speed test with Turbo before calling them and cancelling it, and again after I cancelled it. It was exactly the same speed. “Turbo” is nothing but BS as there was no difference in speed with or without it. NONE. I think it’s just a scam charge added to your bill.

    Every time I cancelled Turbo, 2 to 3 months later it would re-appear on my Time Warner bill, and I would call and cancel again.
    I finally searched online for alternatives and found Earthlink. I had no idea I had an alternative to TW.

    Also in the past few years TW was also charging me a modem rental fee before they started doing it recently, which I also called about and TW removed it, but it also re-appeared on my bill after a couple months.

    After the last time Turbo re-appeared on my bill I switched to Earthlink. Hopefully EL will be better than TW was. TW is not a company you can trust in my opinion.

  5. No Spam says:

    I had Time Warner and recently switched to Earthlink. I ONLY had cable modem Internet, no TV or anything else from TW.

    Time Warner kept adding charges onto my Internet bill until it would get up to about $65 per month ($64 and change). That’s $65 for Internet ONLY. One charge that they kept adding to my bill was “Turbo” for $9.99. I did a speed test with Turbo before calling them and cancelling it, and again after I cancelled it. I did several tests before and after over a period of weeks. It was exactly the same speed. “Turbo” is nothing but BS as there was no difference in speed with or without it. I think it’s a scam charge added to your bill. Sure looks that way to me.

    Every time I cancelled Turbo, 2 to 3 months later it would re-appear on my Time Warner bill, and I would call and cancel again.
    I finally searched online for alternatives and found Earthlink. I had no idea I had an alternative to TW.

    Also in the past few years TW was charging me a modem rental fee before they started doing it recently, which I also called about and TW removed the charge, but it also re-appeared on my bill after a couple months.

    The last time Turbo re-appeared on my bill just 3 months after I cancelled it I switched to Earthlink. Hopefully EL will be better than TW was. TW is not a company I trust anymore. Not honest. I guess when you’re a monopoly you can do whatever you want to customers and get away with it.

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