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Earthlink Customers Benefit from Time Warner Cable Maxx Broadband Upgrades

earthlink_logoEarthlink customers in New York, Los Angeles and Austin are receiving letters from Time Warner Cable advising them they qualify for the same speeds Time Warner Cable broadband customers are receiving as part of the TWC Maxx upgrade program.

Standard Earthlink customers in these cities will get speed upgrades from 15/1Mbps to 50/5Mbps at no extra charge. Turbo speed customers will see speeds rise from 20/2Mbps to 100/10Mbps, also at no additional cost.

twcmaxStop the Cap! reader Iris was immediately suspicious about the tone of Time Warner’s letter, which has the potential of confusing customers that own their own cable modems. The letter suggests customer-owned equipment might not be compatible with the speed upgrades. Customers are given a phone number to verify their eligibility, and some who have contacted Time Warner Cable report back they have been given a brief sales pitch to ditch their own modem in favor of one from Time Warner Cable, which costs $5.99 a month forever.

Time Warner could have simply enclosed its list of approved modems, which would answer customer concerns without having to make a phone call. But that wouldn’t give the company a chance to score extra revenue convincing customers to toss their old equipment in the trash while paying an unnecessary monthly modem fee for the rest of their lives.

For the record, your old modem probably will continue to work even if it isn’t capable of delivering the fastest speeds. If 50/5Mbps is fast enough for current Earthlink Turbo customers, they might want to consider downgrading service until they can budget to buy a new modem capable of taking full advantage of the faster 100/10Mbps speeds now on offer.

For your convenience, here is the latest Time Warner Cable Approved Modem List for TWC Maxx upgrade areas:

approved modems


Sprint Will Shut Down Clear/4G WiMAX Network by 2015; TD-LTE Upgrade for Most Cell Sites

wimaxSprint has begun decommissioning its increasingly obsolete 4G WiMAX network with definitive plans to shut off the service completely by the end of 2015.

While most Sprint customers with smartphones have long since moved away from WiMAX, Sprint has resold access to the 2.5GHz network for some prepaid Boost, Sprint, and Virgin Mobile customers as well as third parties including FreedomPop and Earthlink.

WiMAX was the first 4G network in the United States, launching first in Baltimore in the fall of 2008. Sprint customers were offered the HTC Evo 4G smartphone to access WiMAX’s faster speeds. Separately, Clearwire marketed access to WiMAX as a wireless home and business broadband solution. WiMAX was often promoted as a longer distance alternative to Wi-Fi, and was initially capable of 30-40Mbps speeds.

clear-logoIn practice, WiMAX in the United States never achieved great success. Sprint and Clearwire’s network was never built out sufficiently to provide nationwide coverage, and because it relied on very high frequencies, even customers inside claimed service areas often dealt with reception problems, especially indoors. Clearwire’s home broadband replacement often required reception equipment be placed near a window, preferably one without a thermal coating that could block or degrade the signal.

As soon as Sprint and Clearwire added a significant number of customers to the network, speeds deteriorated. Neither company invested enough in upgrades to keep up with demand. Instead, Clearwire’s home broadband customers, originally promised unlimited service, were routinely speed throttled for “excessive use.”

The same year WiMAX was introduced in Baltimore, Network World was already warning the technology was in trouble. By 2011, the magazine had officially declared WiMAX dead.

“There was way too much hype surrounding WiMAX (like the White Spaces today, it was marketed as ‘Wi-Fi on steroids’ and a replacement for Wi-Fi; such was, of course, complete nonsense)”, the magazine wrote.

Other American wireless carriers showed little interest in WiMAX, particularly as competing 4G technologies including HSPA+ and LTE were nearing deployment.

SprintDespite the promise of greatly enhanced data speeds with the next generation of WiMAX, dubbed WiMAX 2, many of the world’s largest wireless carriers were already preparing to move on. In particular, China Mobile (and its 600 million customers) became the decisive factor that turned WiMAX 2 into a bad bet. China Mobile decided the better choice was TD-LTE, a variant of LTE technology. With China Mobile providing service to 10 percent of the world’s mobile users all by itself, support for TD-LTE grew and attracted equipment manufacturers that saw the earnings potential from selling tens of millions of base stations.

TD-LTE is an excellent upgrade choice for WiMAX operators because it was designed to work best at high frequencies ranging from 1850-3800MHz — the same frequency bands that WiMAX already uses.

Sprint expects to decommission at least 6,000 of its 17,000 WiMAX cell sites. Another 5,000 of those sites have already gotten TD-LTE technology, a part of Sprint’s broader LTE network upgrade. Sprint will combine its FDD-LTE network in its 800MHz and 1.9GHz spectrum with a TD-LTE network in its 2.5GHz spectrum. Sprint Spark customers are being offered tri-band equipment that can access either technology. Sprint can use its massive expanse of 2.5GHz spectrum to offload data usage from its lower frequency spectrum, especially in large cities.

Another 5,000 legacy Clearwire cell sites will be upgraded to TD-LTE between now and the end of next year. Sprint expects to deploy TD-LTE more widely than WiMAX, potentially serving 100 cities and 100 million base stations by 2016.

Sprint has protected much of its postpaid customer base from the transition by repeatedly encouraging customers to upgrade to LTE service, now being rolled out as part of its Network Vision plan. But firms like FreedomPop and others that now lease access to the WiMAX network will leave their customers with a shorter upgrade path when WiMAX equipment stops working, requiring users to upgrade to LTE equipment.

Sprint hypes its new tri-band Sprint Spark network, which combines two different LTE networks to deliver faster data speeds. (1:18)

Time Warner Cable Hiking Rates for Earthlink and Time Warner Cable Customers

Phillip Dampier February 18, 2014 Consumer News, Earthlink, Time Warner Cable/Spectrum 3 Comments

timewarner twcEarthlink and Time Warner Cable are two independent companies, but you would never know it from Time Warner Cable’s mailed notification of rate increases that will apply to customers of both. In addition to general rate increases, Time Warner is now imposing its $5.99 monthly modem rental charge on Earthlink customers that used to avoid the modem fee.

The cable company has also seen fit to add a considerably higher monthly fee for “The Guide” — which refers to the on-screen guide offered through your set-top box. Love it or hate it, it will now cost you an extra $3.27 per month per cable outlet.

Your Time Warner Cable basic television package now called “Preferred TV” will now cost about $2.50 more per month, ranging from around $79 in Maine to $82.50 in Buffalo.

Other increases:

  • All cable TV customers should expect to see a new Broadcast TV Fee surcharge applied to their bills after the rate increase takes effect. In the northeast, it runs $2.25 a month;
  • Time Warner’s Variety Pass, which includes semi-premium movie channels is increasing to $10 a month in many markets. That is up around $1;
  • Your primary set-top box rental fee will increase from $8.99 a month to $10.25 a month. Each additional box will increase from $8.49 to as much as $10.25 a month, depending on the market;
  • Your broadband price may also be increasing. Lite Internet will be $37.99 a month, Basic $47.99, Standard $57.99, Turbo $67.99, Extreme $77.99, Ultimate 50 $88.99;
  • Earthlink customers will now pay $37.99 for Earthlink Lite and $57.99 for Earthlink Standard. Earthlink’s turbo upgrade costs an extra $10 and TWC’s $5.99 monthly modem rental fee will now apply unless you buy your own modem;
  • Customers with extra cable outlets installed after the new rates take effect will now owe an extra service fee of $1.50 per month per outlet.

Customers on promotional packages will not see the new rates applied to their accounts until after their promotions expire. Rate increases are generally rolled out region-by-region over the course of the year. These rate increases will apply to customers in the northeastern United States beginning with the March or April invoice.

CBS Online Video Yanked from Time Warner Cable/Bright House/Earthlink Customers

cbsCBS has blocked Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks’ broadband customers from watching CBS online video in a retaliatory move against Time Warner Cable’s decision to pull CBS-owned programming off the lineup because of a contract dispute.

Broadband customers of both cable companies (Bright House relies on Time Warner Cable to negotiate its programming carriage agreements) started losing access to CBS streamed content late Friday, now replaced with a message blaming Time Warner Cable for the loss. Earthlink customers using either cable operator are collateral damage — Earthlink is effectively reselling the others’ cable broadband services.

“If Time Warner Cable is a customer’s Internet Service Provider, then their access to CBS full episode content via online and mobile platforms has been suspended as a result of Time Warner Cable’s decision to drop CBS and Showtime,” said a CBS spokesperson. “As soon as CBS is restored on cable systems in affected markets, that content will be accessible again.”

In place of the programming, cable customers get to see a brief attack ad criticizing Time Warner for yanking CBS-owned channels and networks, despite the fact CBS authorized the companies to keep the channels up and running until the dispute can be worked out.

Time Warner Cable shot back with their own rebuttal.

Time Warner Cable claims it does not want a war over programming costs in its latest ad regarding the blackout of CBS programming, which now also affects the cable company’s broadband customers. (1 minute)

dont want a war“CBS has shown utter lack of regard for consumers by blocking Time Warner Cable’s customers, including our high-speed data only customers, from accessing their shows on their free website,” the company said in a statement. “CBS enjoys the privilege of using public owned airwaves to deliver their programming – they should not be allowed to abuse that privilege.”

Customers well outside New York, Dallas, and Los Angeles discovered several CBS-owned cable channels were missing, even though they are not served by a CBS-owned local affiliate. The most obvious — Showtime/The Movie Channel came during the middle of the latest season of Dexter.

New York City residents can sat least keep watching WCBS by signing up for Aereo, which streams local stations over the Internet. A 30-day free trial is available. Getting programming in other cities is going to be much tougher. Some predict hardcore viewers will just look for pirated copies of their favorite shows.

CBS said no further negotiation took place over the weekend. Some industry analysts predict the impasse could run for weeks, even potentially until the start of football season — considered a line of PR destruction neither company is willing to cross.

Golf is not as critical, apparently. The PGA Championship taking place in Rochester, N.Y., this weekend is likely going to get a smaller viewing audience because of the blocked programming.

The blackout of CBS programming by Time Warner Cable enters its third day with no light at the end of the tunnel, suggests this Bloomberg News report. (3 minutes)

This is not the first time broadcasters and cable operators have cut viewers off, sometimes for more than a week. Bloomberg News reports the soft deadline for Time Warner and CBS to sort out their differences is the start of the fall football season. Sources say Time Warner now pays $1 a month for CBS, but the network now wants $2 a month. (3 minutes)

Time Warner Cable Officially Unveils 15Mbps Speed Increase; Some Markets Just Getting DOCSIS 3

Although “soft-launched” several weeks ago in many markets, Time Warner Cable has officially unveiled its holiday gift for 2012: a free 50% speed increase for Standard tier customers: 15/1Mbps service.

The speed increase is now complete across New York, New Jersey, New England, the Carolinas, Virginia and Alabama. Customers can activate the higher speed by briefly unplugging their cable modem for 10 seconds, plugging the cord back in, and in some cases rebooting their computer.

Customers outside of these areas can try this as well. Stop the Cap! has received reports from readers in the midwest, Texas, and California that the speed increase has arrived in their areas as well. All Time Warner Cable systems across the country should be providing the new speed by the end of this month.

Earthlink customers using Time Warner Cable should also see an identical speed increase.

Some Time Warner Cable customers are only now getting upgrades to DOCSIS 3 service, which open the door to 30/5 and 50/5Mbps speed tiers. The latest: Binghamton, N.Y. and surrounding southern tier communities. Customers further upstate have had that option for 1-2 years.

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

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.

Trouble Looms for Smaller Phone Companies As Cable Swipes Away Business Customers

Phillip Dampier June 6, 2012 AT&T, CenturyLink, Comcast/Xfinity, Competition, Earthlink, FairPoint, Frontier, Hawaiian Telcom, Time Warner Cable/Spectrum, Verizon Comments Off on Trouble Looms for Smaller Phone Companies As Cable Swipes Away Business Customers

The cable industry is moving in on the phone companies' best customers: commercial enterprises

The growing competitiveness of the cable industry in the commercial services sector could spell trouble for some of the nation’s smaller telecommunications companies.

A new report from Moody’s Investor Service declares the cable industry is spoiling the business plans of telephone companies to grow revenue selling service to business customers.

With cable companies now investing in wiring office parks and downtown buildings to sell packages of voice and data services to corporate customers, traditional phone company revenue will suffer, declares Moody, which predicts traditional wireline revenue will be flat or decrease this year into next.

Cable Companies Quash Telecom Business-Revenue Rebound,” warns the companies at the greatest risk of revenue declines include EarthLink, Inc., Integra Telecom, Inc., U.S. TelePacific Corp., and CCGI Holding Corp. Among familiar independent phone companies, Frontier Communications, FairPoint Communications, and Hawaiian Telcom are at the biggest risk of losing customers, primarily because all three lack strong business products, according to the Moody’s report.

AT&T, CenturyLink, and Verizon are at a lower risk of losing customers, because all three focus investments on commercial services. CenturyLink’s acquisition of Qwest, a  former Baby Bell, strengthened its business services position, especially in the Pacific Northwest.

The cable companies best positioned to steal away telephone company customers are Comcast and Time Warner Cable, both of which have invested heavily in wiring commercial businesses for service. In the past, cable operators charged thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) of dollars to install service in unwired commercial buildings, but now that initial wiring investment is increasingly being covered by cable operators.

Moody’s declares the business service sector a growth industry for cable. The report notes business revenues only account for $5 billion — just six percent — of the cable industry’s total business in 2011. In contrast, phone companies earn 40 percent of their revenue from business customers.

The report also states individual cable companies are now collaborating to deliver business service to companies with multiple service locations, which used to present a problem when offices were located in territories served by different operators.

If the cable industry continues to erode traditional telephone company revenue, it could eventually threaten the viability of some companies, especially those heavily-laden with acquisition-related debt.

An Unsolicited Testimonial: Stop the Cap! Saved Us Over $20 A Month on Our Cable Bill

These kinds of testimonials help fuel our fight on behalf of consumers for better (and cheaper) broadband:

Hi Guys,

I don’t usually take the time to write thank you’s, but I found your site the other day and managed to save over $20 on my cable bill by switching to ”Earthlink” which I had no idea was possible. When I signed up with Bright House I was promised the $45 a month price for standard Internet, but I signed up a day before their prices jumped to $50. I managed to fight to get my price down for $45, but all of a sudden that stopped and they were refusing to give me the price I signed up for, for the remainder of the year. Due to that, I switched to the Earthlink promo prices and got Bright House to switch me over. They tried to lie to me on the phone to make me think I couldn’t get the Earthlink promo pricing, but I won the argument and am now very happy.

In six months, I’ll try to switch back to Road Runner and get their promo prices.

This is such a hidden unknown gem and has saved my family lots of money. Thank you!

— Scott

Thanks Scott.  Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks have Earthlink as a hidden little secret most customers know nothing about.  It’s an arrangement that started way back in 2001 with the now-long-forgotten (and broken up) merger between AOL and Time Warner.  A voluntary agreement to allow third party ISPs to sell broadband service over Time Warner Cable has been ongoing ever since, even though customers would routinely find Earthlink’s regular prices not so exciting, if they found them at all.

The Earthlink savings are best realized for broadband-only customers who do not want to get tied down with a double or triple-play package from their cable company.  Both Time Warner Cable and Bright House charge considerably higher prices for standalone broadband service.  It’s part of a marketing tactic to convince you better savings are possible with a bundled service package.  But if you don’t care about the phone line or cable TV, why pay for either?

For every third-party ISP we’ve encountered reselling service on Time Warner Cable or Bright House, it seems mostly an exercise in branding.  For example, Earthlink’s standard and “turbo” products are totally identical to Road Runner offered by both cable companies, with two important distinctions:

  • You do not get the benefit of SpeedBoost, a temporary speed increase during the first few seconds of a file transfer;
  • You are assigned an Earthlink e-mail address, not one from Bright House or Time Warner Cable.

In fact, Earthlink as a company seems to be running mostly on auto-pilot these days.  We found their website woefully outdated, still selling speeds upgraded several years ago. If Bright House locally sells 10/1Mbps standard Road Runner service and Earthlink offers 7Mbps with a 384kbps upload speed, you will actually get 10/1Mbps from Earthlink as well.  The only difference is the name of the service as it appears on your monthly Time Warner Cable or Bright House bill.  Both cable companies literally just select Earthlink from a drop-down menu on the customer service computer screen.  All service calls and billing are handled by the cable companies.  If you need technical support, however, it will come from an overseas call center or online “chat” platform Earthlink runs.  But Earthlink includes something Time Warner Cable and Bright House customers lost several years ago — up to 20 hours a month of free dial-up usage when away from home.

After the Six Month Promotion….

Earthlink charges $29.99 a month for speeds that are identical to Time Warner Cable or Bright House’s Road Runner Standard service.  In most areas this is or will soon be 10/1Mbps.  Turbo, which usually increases speeds to 15/1Mbps, costs another $10 a month.  These promotional prices are good for six months.

When the six months are up, you are then qualified to participate in whatever New Customer Promotions Time Warner and Bright House are running for their broadband service.  We are commonly seeing offers of $29.99 a month for a year of standard Road Runner service in upstate New York, with occasional offers of a year of free Road Runner Turbo service thrown in.  Assuming those prices remain in effect, you should be able to secure at least 1.5 years of broadband service for $30 a month.  Remember, if your cable company charges you a modem rental fee, consider investing in your own to save that additional charge.  They are priced well under $100.

When your six months of Earthlink and a year of Time Warner/Bright House promotional pricing is up, simply threaten to take your business elsewhere, and you will usually find them willing to extend the promotion for an additional year.  If not, schedule a cancellation date two weeks out and wait for an inevitable phone call from the customer retentions department with a special “winback” offer.

Also remember you can always start new service under the name of a spouse or family member.  Third party resellers (Google “Time Warner Cable “and pay attention to the online ads) may even throw in a prepaid rebate card for signing up for service through them, so shop around when the promotions expire.

These shopping tips may apply to other cable broadband providers as well.  Remember, if your local phone company is now providing more than traditional DSL, most cable companies will go out of their way to hang on to a customer threatening to walk to AT&T U-verse or Verizon FiOS.  Let them fight to keep you as a customer, and you keep the savings.

Earthlink Imposes 250GB Usage Limit on Their Customers Getting Service from Comcast

Phillip Dampier July 12, 2010 Comcast/Xfinity, Earthlink, Internet Overcharging 1 Comment

Earthlink, which depends on phone and cable companies to deliver its broadband service, has imposed a monthly usage limit of 250 gigabytes on its customers obtaining service from Comcast.

Customers began receiving postcards in May notifying them about the change in service terms which took effect July 1st.  Earthlink blamed the usage limits solely on Comcast, noting they were dependent on other companies to provide the infrastructure necessary to reach customers:

Comcast and other cable providers provide portions of the network that EarthLink High Speed Cable service uses to deliver broadband Internet access. EarthLink provides the other portions of the network and services like Webmail and the myEarthLink Start Page®.  EarthLink works with its business partners, like Comcast, to manage the network infrastructure.  […]Because Comcast is EarthLink’s business partner in providing the EarthLink Powered by Comcast Service, EarthLink is working closely with Comcast in implementing this Usage Cap.

Internet providers routinely sell the benefits of their broadband accounts to better accomplish data-heavy activities like online video using their service, even though in some cases all of that "heavy use" is being used as an excuse to implement usage limits on customers.

In reality, Earthlink offers little more than a handful of its own services to customers.  Most of its network connectivity, billing, and other services are handled by the providing cable or phone company.  Customer support with many technical issues is handled by Earthlink’s own off-shore technical support staff.

Still, Earthlink had offered an alternative to those threatened with Internet Overcharging schemes by Time Warner Cable and Comcast because the company had not adopted those usage limits until Comcast insisted they follow suit.  Presumably with this precedent in place, any other Overcharging schemes imposed by these providers would also impact their respective Earthlink customers.

For those violating the usage limits, enforcement won’t come from Earthlink.  Instead, the provider warns, Comcast will be the entity that comes down on your head.

The vast majority – more than 99% – of customers will not be impacted by the monthly 250 GB Usage Cap. In the event that you exceed more than 250 GB, you may receive a telephone call from Comcast notifying you that you exceeded the 250 GB Usage Cap in the previous month.  The customer service representative on this telephone call  will (i) tell you how much data per month the account has used, (ii) help you identify the source of excessive use, (iii) explain ways to moderate  and reduce your data usage, and (iv) explain the consequences of continuing overusage including termination of the EarthLink Powered By Comcast Service.

Based on Comcast’s past records, the vast majority of customers voluntarily reduce their data usage after this initial call.  However, if after you receive this telephone call from Comcast, you continue to exceed the 250 GB Usage Cap during any month within the six month period after this first telephone call, your EarthLink Powered by Comcast Service may be terminated.  For example, if your account exceeded the Usage Cap in the month of August and Comcast contacted you the first week of September informing you that your account exceeded the 250 GB Usage Cap in August, if your account exceeds the monthly Usage Cap in September, October, November, December, January or February, your EarthLink Powered By Comcast Service may be terminated.   In the event that your EarthLink Powered by Comcast Service is terminated as a result of exceeding the 250 GB monthly Usage Cap, you will have to wait one year from the termination date to be able to subscribe to the EarthLink Powered by Comcast Service again.

[…]Comcast has found that most customers who exceed the Usage Cap during one month change their usage patterns or make other adjustments in their data usage. It is our expectation that only a small fraction of the tiny number of customers whose accounts exceeded the monthly Usage Cap for at least two months during a six month period will have their EarthLink Powered By Comcast Service terminated for one year.

For now, Earthlink customers will have to call the company (888-327-8454) to determine how much data they’ve used during the month as the Comcast data usage meter is apparently only for Comcast customers.

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