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Time Warner Cable Modem Rental Fee Increased to $4.99/Month for New Customers

Phillip Dampier June 17, 2013 Consumer News, Data Caps, TWC (see Charter) 14 Comments
one time charge

Time Warner’s “Because We Can” One-Time Charge applies to new customers signing up for certain promotions.

Time Warner Cable has increased the monthly rental fee for its leased cable modem from $3.95 a month to $4.99 a month and has introduced a “one-time charge” of $19.99 applicable to certain Internet service new customer promotions.

CEO Glenn Britt earlier commented that Time Warner Cable had room to grow its modem lease fee:

“It was received with a minimum of push-back and we’re still actually charging less than Comcast ($7/month), so I think there is room to charge more going forward. People can buy their own if they want and a small percentage of customers have chosen to do that which is fine with us.”

For now, the increase only applies to new customers, but Stop the Cap! expects it will also eventually apply to current customers as part of the next round of rate increases. The Internet Modem with Free Home Wi-Fi, available to customers ordering 30/5 or 50/5Mbps service costs $14.99 a month.

Time Warner Cable has pulled back on customer promotions since the beginning of the year and has begun shifting its pricing for its most profitable service — broadband, to capture price-sensitive customers who have been unable to previously afford Internet-only service from the company.

Time Warner has introduced a new “Lite” tier offering 1Mbps service for $20 a month and has made the 3Mbps “Basic” service the staple of many of its bundled promotions.

twc pricing

twcGreenStop the Cap! strongly encourages Time Warner Cable customers to buy their own cable modems and avoid the rental fees. Customers can also bypass the rental fee by signing up for Earthlink service through Time Warner Cable.

Our top modem choice remains the Motorola SB6141, which can be found at the “Buy It Now” price on eBay as low as $77.99 with free shipping and no upfront sales tax for most buyers. This model does not include Wi-Fi, but most people don’t need it — a router generally provides Wi-Fi connectivity on its own.

We highly recommend purchasing DOCSIS 3-ready modems to avoid obsolescence issues.

The most recent list of “acceptable” modems that can be activated with your Time Warner Cable broadband service are:

Turbo, Extreme and Ultimate Service Plans

Vendor Model
Motorola SBG6580
Netgear CMD31T
Motorola SB6121
Zoom 5341J
Zoom 5350
Zoom 5352
ZyXEL CDA-30360

Lite, Basic and Standard Service Plans

Vendor Model
Motorola SBG6580
Motorola SB5101
Motorola SB5101U
Motorola SBG901
Netgear CMD31T
Motorola SB6121
Zoom 5341J
Zoom 5350
Zoom 5352
ZyXEL CDA-30360

Currently there are 14 comments on this Article:

  1. elfonblog says:

    Time Warner already charged $4.99/mo for the modem rental when we switched to them Dec 26, 2012 here in Austin, TX.

    We found a used Motorola SB5101 online for $20 (about half what the cheapest ones generally go for) and it’s reliably providing us with 25-32 Mbps. TW won’t let you use this model for speeds faster than the “Standard” (15Mbps) tier, but as we see, it’s been capable of as high as 38Mbps.

    My buddy found another SB5101 in a thrift store for $12 last weekend, and as soon as he finds/builds a proper AC adapter for it, he’ll be able to see how well it works. It needs 12VDC but the connector is a weird size. A 9VDC connector fits, though.

    Installation was a piece of cake. It was done over the phone, and it took less than 10 mins. Most of that was waiting for a human to answer. I had both modems plugged in and on a cable splitter, so I was able to see my rental modem reboot and disconnect, then the purchased modem reboot and come on line. I didn’t even change IP addresses.

    For the love of bits, DON’T get any ‘lite’ or ‘basic’ tiers! Work that out as price per Mbps. Highway robbery! At the very least, get Standard, and run a cable over to your neighbor to split the bill with them! lol

    We need to keep a sharp eye on ol Britt. It’s obvious the rental fee is due only to opportunity, not to cost. And that $19.99 fee? That’s likely the COST of a cable modem, purchased in bulk. A piece of equipment that is that cheap should NOT be subject to a “rental” fee. Bad Britt. BAD!

  2. Scott says:

    The only sure things death and taxes, and the inevitable cable company rate hikes.

  3. Dave Hancock says:

    While Comcrap may charge $7/month for modem – Verizon FiOS charges NOTHING! Folks in the Buffalo suburbs (where I will move in a week) do have a choice!

    • Here in Rochester we have Frank the Frontier Bison, so no fiber anywhere near us. It’s a shame we are the only upstate city stuck with a company that thinks DSL is just neat.

  4. Michael says:

    I am interested in setting up internet, maybe digital tv with TWC – would the twitter method work for me as a new customer?

    • New customer offers are pretty poor these days, but you can try and let us know what they offer you. Visit the website first and compare available deals there and see if they have anything more aggressive via the Twitter method. If you are switching from another provider, you may qualify for the gift card rebate, but follow the instructions.

  5. Shane Burns says:

    Damn it Glenn Britt. Your ass deserve to be fired.
    (Rant End)

    Okay, but Im not happy with Time Warner’s decision. Im going to buy another Motorola SB5101/U and maybe look for good router somewhere on Slickdeals, for my Roommate’s house. I dont want her mom to pay more money to TWC. Smh

  6. me says:

    my new fee is -4 🙂

    Just bought the SB6141. Just note there are a few odd amazon reviews with the ‘black’ ones. Apparently the retail ones are white. The oem ones they sell to the providers are black. Also keep an eye on the firmware version that is loaded onto the device. Apparently some of them come with very old firmware and do not work very well with the newer TW systems.

    Mine has been working like a champ so far for a week. The return of the rental was semi painful showing of poor customer service. The service techs who switched me over were very good. The person whos job it was to process the return not so much.

  7. Anita says:

    i’ll cancel my service if charges for modems continue to rise, period! My bill is what it is, and modem costs shouldn’t be toyed with.

  8. Anita says:

    My service will be canceled before I pay another rental modem fee!

  9. Adam says:

    I did what you recommended and bought my own modem. I had been getting speeds of 28-32Mbps reliably on the “rented” modem despite only having Turbo service. When they switched me over to the $80 modem you recommended, they did something and now I never get past 19.53 Mbps. Great recommendation, thanks so much. Thanks to you all, I’m out $80, and my speed is down 50%.

    • Shane Burns says:

      Hi there, when you were getting 28mbps to 32mbps. This is called Powerboost. It allow temporary speed boost for like 20 sec or longer. Time Warner DO NOT allow PowerBoost on Docsis 3.0 modem, hence you were seeing flat 19.53mbps. If you want Powerboost back, I suggested sending your new modem back and get DOCSIS2.0 modem. However if you plan to upgrade beyond Turbo tier then Docsis 3.0 modem is required.
      I have Motorola SB5101u and Standard internet. Im getting about 30mbps down with Powerboost and 18mbps without Powerboost. Im happy with it.

    • As another reader has already mentioned, this is an artifact of PowerBoost, a very temporary speed boost providing brief bursts of download speeds—typically only with the first 10 or 20 MB of a large download, which isn’t much when downloading large files or streaming video content. It’s especially great for throwing off the accuracy of speed tests.

      Cable operators have been gradually shifting away from PowerBoost. TWC’s DOCSIS 3 service is more robust and offers a more even experience, avoiding some of the peak usage slowdowns DOCSIS 2 modems endure because it operates across a larger number of channels.

      The only time I really noticed Powerboost making any real difference to me was when I looked at speed test results. But if you are really upset, perhaps you can call TWC and tell them you think it is unfair they do not offer PowerBoost on DOCSIS 3 modems and see if they will compensate you with a good promotion on 30/5Mbps service. Then, you can still avoid the modem fee (which is going to keep rising) and get consistent speeds even faster than you had before.

      Time Warner Cable will (rightfully) say their Turbo service is only advertised as providing 20Mbps service, so whatever else you got was not assured, advertised or promised (and didn’t last anyway).

      I personally prefer consistency over speed gimmicks and bloated modem fees. Since DOCSIS 2 modems will be eventually retired anyway, I don’t think worrying excessively about PowerBoost makes much sense.

  10. Ben says:

    I just got an email from TWC today (7/28/2013) with a note saying that they are increasing the rental fee to $5.99…

    “Important information about your Internet service

    We want to inform you of upcoming changes to your Internet service price beginning with your next bill. The Internet Modem Lease will be $5.99.

    When leasing a modem from Time Warner Cable you have access to 24/7 customer support and required equipment upgrades or replacements.

    We continue to invest in our network to make sure you have the fastest, most reliable service you need. Improvements we’ve made in the past year include:

    • A 50% increase in speed on our most popular tier
    • Additional WiFi Hotspots nationwide–now access to more than 150,000 free WiFi Hotspots is available nationwide with Standard Internet.

    Thank you for choosing Time Warner Cable.”

    Wow… they only give a few months between each increase.

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