Home » Frontier » Currently Reading:

Road Runner Is For The Birds: Time to Fly Away! (Rochester Edition)

Phillip Dampier April 2, 2009 Frontier 23 Comments
Time Warner Internet Rationing Board

Time Warner Internet Rationing Board

[Update 4/7 – Time Warner spokesman claims Earthlink will also be capped.]

I am pleased to provide customers affected by the unwarranted Internet ration plan being introduced by Time Warner alternatives to consider if they wish to take their business elsewhere.  This list will be updated periodically to contain new information as other options become available.  Some have plusses and minuses to consider, so plan carefully.

You can pose questions and propose updates by selecting the Comments link just beneath the headline of any of our articles and add your two cents.  Two gigabytes might be better; I had to ask.

It is very important that before you make any change to your Internet service, you prepare in advance. Your e-mail address, which may be associated with your current Road Runner account, will be lost when you leave.  Consider obtaining your own domain name which you can use for e-mail accounts no matter where you go, or one of the free online e-mail providers.  I favor Gmail from Google personally.  You will need to inform your regular contacts of your address change and where they can reach you before you cancel service.  Remember to update any mailing lists, automatic contacts (such as those used for acknowledging bill payments or to warn you about the status of your accounts), and any friends, family, or business contacts you might have.

Some ancillary services will also be lost, such as those provided by Time Warner’s portal, AOL, and if you rely on it, their CA antivirus software (when that software does eventually expire months later).  There are plenty of alternatives for these out there, some free.

Even if you’re not ready to leave, why not take up the time of Time Warner with your thoughts and views on their usage cap rationing plan and that you are presently preparing to cancel service because of it?  Tell them several times, by phone, e-mail, letter, and even Twitter!  These have all been collected from across the web and were publicly available.

Incomplete Contact List (Will be updated periodically)

Twitter: JeffTWC (director of digital communications), AlexTWC (VP of Public Relations)

Telephone: TW Rochester Customer Service (585) 756-5000

E-Mail: [email protected] (to protest the cap, supposedly this is the primary collection point they have established)

Mail: (Rochester) President, Time-Warner Cable, 71 Mt. Hope Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620

Alternative Internet Service Providers (Rochester, NY)

EarthlinkEarthlink – Earthlink is the current Achilles Heel of Time Warner’s usage cap plan.  Earthlink, using the exact same cable modem network used by Road Runner, is available as an alternative provider.  It works precisely like Road Runner, except speeds are suggested to be slightly lower and at a slightly higher price.  Unofficially, and I am awaiting confirmation from their Corporate Communications department, Earthlink is not affected by the Road Runner usage cap. Their current promotion offers six months of broadband access at 7mbps down/384kbps up for $29.95, $41.95 each month thereafter.  I have heard reports the actual speed is higher than 7Mbps, but have no direct experience with this.  There are no contract commitments and no cancellation penalty.  You are billed on your Time Warner bill.

Pros: You’d probably never realize your broadband connection had changed.  Same cable modem and billing arrangement, just a different provider.  No caps. Proven provider.

Cons: Slightly higher price for slower speed, their extra high speed tier (supposedly 10mbps but might be higher) is costly at around $73 a month, unsure about upload speeds, no official guarantee yet a cap won’t be implemented down the road.  You cannot “hedge your bet” with Earthlink should they impose their own cap.

[Update 4/7: Although Earthlink corporate officials have been silent on the question, Alex Dudley (Time Warner) claims that Earthlink will also be capped give us pause, and pending direct confirmation from Earthlink, I have struck the line about no caps from the article.  Earthlink customer service representatives are still claiming no usage caps will be imposed as of this morning, but they are only reading from a script they were previously trained with.  Earthlink’s corporate communications office, if they ever return our calls, will be a more definitive source on this question.]

FrontierFrontier 1-800-921-8101 (7AM-7PM Monday-Friday EDT) – Shocking, isn’t it?  Longtime StoptheCap! readers will find it ironic that Frontier DSL might actually be the best way to “hedge your bet” against usage caps in Rochester!  As part of our battle with them last summer, we kept discovering various inconsistencies and questions about the ill-thought-out 5GB per month usage cap. They postponed implementation of it indefinitely after we helped raise a stink and customers began fleeing for other providers, especially when we educated people on how to cancel their contract without an early termination fee.  Frontier later guaranteed that those with Price Protection Agreements would be exempt from any price changes or usage caps for the duration of their contracts!  Therefore, since we are guessing Frontier will probably make the wrong choice and not exploit this golden marketing opportunity to finally begin poaching customers from Road Runner upset with the idea of a usage cap, they’ll probably implement some cap of their own sooner or later.  Why break a record of always making the wrong choice?  But before they do, you have an open window to sign-up cap-free.

Because I am a generous person and I’m still hoping against hope Frontier will blizzard Rochester with mailers offering customers an alternative of being pecked in the head by Road Runner, I am going to recommend Frontier DSL as the best choice currently available for customers who are likely to come close to 20GB or more usage per month who are terrified about caps.  There are several reasons for this:

1) As of 3:00pm this afternoon, I have re-verified with Frontier Customer Service that customers under Price Protection Plans do -not- face the prospect of any change to their pricing or usage.  No caps.

2) It may encourage them to realize the marketing potential of being a serious contender in the local market if they see a sudden spike in customer defections to them.  Time Warner obviously bet against this prospect when they chose Rochester as a “test city” for capping, convinced Frontier was itching to bring back their own proposed 5GB cap from last summer.  It would be delicious to prove Time Warner wrong, and if it’s the last thing I do, I am going to help this company be a more serious and valuable contender in this market.

3) Their service is slower for most folks than the competition, depending on where you are located, but with the proper bundle, it’s also cheaper than cable modem service.

But there are some risks and rewards to consider.  First, to enjoy protection from capping, you will need to agree to a contract term with a steep early termination fee comparable to exiting a cell phone contract.  That contract is what protects you from Frontier implementing any cap, assuming you sign up before they announce anything.  Second, this option is by far the best for those fearing that Earthlink, and any other competitors I might find, will also have caps and you simply cannot think of having Internet service in Rochester with a cap for at least the next 2-3 years.  If Road Runner abandons their plan, modifies it to something akin to Comcast, or if another competitor shows up, you are on the hook with Frontier unless you pay to cancel your contract.  Finally, there is always the risk that Frontier will try a flip-flop and attempt to impose a usage cap on their Price Protection Agreement contract holders anyway, which will lead us into another battle which would likely result in the cancellation of your contract with no early termination fee, but also no other options for uncapped service.

Your time to decide may be limited should Frontier decide to jump on the cap bandwagon before you sign up.  I have no information about this either way.  It’s simply a risk you need to consider.  Earthlink may be the best option for anyone worried about a contract, but could live with the possibility they might cap as well.

It’s a hard choice to make either way, I realize, and it’s a shame we’re in this position.

If you want to go with Frontier and want to help kick back a contribution to StoptheCap!, drop me a note using our Contact form (link at the top of the page) and I’ll email back referral information.  Apparently if you earn a whopping five referrals, they’ll credit our bill $25-50 (the rep wasn’t sure).  It’s not required, but it’s there if you feel like returning a favor.

Here are the plans I am recommending:

Frontier Digital Phone w/High Speed  $69.99 a month before the usual outrageous taxes and fees (this is one I signed up for today)

Provides unlimited long distance calling, a huge calling feature package, their highest speed tier of DSL, and now free wi-fi access to Frontier Citywide hotspots.  Start with the two year Price Protection Agreement.  You can call and ask them to up it to three years anytime should the situation on the ground locally deteriorate with abusive caps as far as the eye can see.  This includes a traditional wired phone line (not VOIP) and they mail you the modem and self-install kit.  It’s $35 to have them install it.  [Update 4/5: A friend from another forum reminded me about the potential ‘modem rental fee’ which may or may not be bundled with this price.  I need to recheck this on Monday.]

Frontier High Speed alone  $44.99 a month without Price Protection, should be $34.99 a month with two-year agreement before outrageous taxes and fees

This is the option for a person who doesn’t want the phone line from Frontier.  I didn’t inquire as to whether this included the free wi-fi access. The Price Protection Agreement protects you from caps.

Now they are claiming both of these options are for up to 10Mbps down/1Mbps up, but the key words are “up to.”  DSL is variable in performance depending on how far away you live from your local telephone company “central office switch.”  The further away, and the lower the quality of the wiring on the pole, the lower your maximum speeds will be.  In metro Rochester, most people report an average of around 7Mbps down/512-640Kbps up.  (“Down” refers to download speed, “up” refers to upload speed) Perhaps Frontier customers can enlighten us.  The rep will also pitch Frontier Peace of Mind, which I call Frontier Piece of Your Wallet.  For $12.99 a month, they include online backup, tech support, the indoor phone wiring “maintenance plan” and something about doing your taxes, but I honestly stopped listening to the pitch after I heard the price.  If you choose this option, you get a “free” Dell netbook computer (after $45 shipping and taxes).  Not worth it if you ask me.  Buy your own netbook.  You can also expect them to pitch DISH Network which you may or may not be interested in.  I wasn’t so I didn’t ask.

It takes 5-7 days to mail your self install kit, or about 10 days to arrange for installation by a technician.  You can honestly do it yourself.  You’ll get a modem and several filters you’ll plug into your telephone jacks around the house wherever a wired phone line is attached.

LocalNetLocalNet (1-888-488-7265 Mon – Fri: 8:00 am – 11:00 pm EDT) – LocalNet is a real mystery to me.  I learned about the service, ironically, from Time Warner’s own website.  It is similar to Earthlink, hopping on Time Warner’s cable modem technology to deliver service to customers.  Billing is also likely done through your Time Warner bill.  The one service they seem to promote that most others have dispensed with is newsgroup access.  LocalNet’s site claims to offer 5Mbps down, 384Kbps up.  It reminds me Road Runner a few years ago speed-wise.  The monthly fee is $43.95, which makes them more expensive than Earthlink.  There are no usage caps at this time.  They appear to be headquartered here in western New York, but there is no mailing address on the website.

ClearwireClearwire – Clearwire is a relatively recent entry into the Rochester broadband marketplace.  It’s a wireless internet service provider that uses higher powered antennas much like cell phone tower sites to deliver wireless Internet connectivity to its customers.  The company is currently hampered by much slower speeds than the wired competitors can offer, a two year service commitment for the lowest price, and variable coverage due to terrain and distance to the nearest Clearwire antenna site.  But, the company has no usage caps whatsoever and has no plans to introduce them.  Clearwire is also embarking on a technology upgrade, starting with tests in Portland, Oregon which should dramatically increase the speed of their service, typically to the 6Mbps range, but sometimes up to 15Mbps if one is very close to a tower site.  There is no word on when this enhanced service might be available in this area.

Clearwire has several plans, some designed for laptops and portable access, others intended more for residential use at home.  Here is a general breakdown of their most popular plans for Rochester, all with two year minimum contract commitments and equipment provided free of charge:

PC Card Premium – Up to 1.5Mbps download – $49.99/month (laptop use)

Clear Premium – Up to 1.5Mbps download – $19.99/month first three months, $36.99/month thereafter (residential use)

Clear Premium Plus – Up to 2Mbps download – $24.99/month first three months, $44.99/month thereafter (residential use)

Clear Premium Plus + PC Card – Includes one PC Card Premium plan for portable use, one Clear Premium plan for residential use – $69.99/month first 24 months

Make sure you review their coverage maps before considering Clearwire.  The service is generally available in the city of Rochester, and the communities of Hilton, Webster, Greece, Brighton, Irondequoit, Brockport, parts of Pittsford, Fairport, and Perinton, and in Ontario county, Canandaigua and Geneva.  There are service gaps in the suburbs, however.

Others: At this time, AOL has discontinued its broadband offering so that is off the table.  They only sell dial-up now.  Some have explored third party DSL services, but have not found any serving Rochester yet. However, there are some serving Ontario county residents and I will explore that and update this article with my findings.  I admittedly do not understand much about “naked DSL” type service so please feel free to share your insights, if any.  Verizon FIOS is not, and likely never will be an option in the Rochester metro area because they do not serve as our telephone company across most of the 585 area code. Frontier Communications is an independent telephone company serving our area.  Unless Frontier signed a contractual agreement with Verizon to co-market the service, it’s extremely unlikely Verizon would overbuild telephone service into this market because of the expense.  Verizon could always make an offer to buyout Frontier locally, however.

Cellular data plans almost always impose a soft or hard usage cap, usually 5GB per month.  I will get into further detail about these providers later.  I will also explore Business Account options for very heavy data users.  Historically, you don’t even want to know what Time Warner is asking because you can’t afford it.  But a Frontier Business DSL account in a capped residential marketplace may be the last shot at relief.

Update History

Sunday, April 5 – Added LocalNet to list of providers, made minor corrections to Frontier’s service plan description.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
23 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Dan
Dan
13 years ago

Thanks for the detailed look into our options. I don’t know that I agree that Frontier is the best option, though. What if we don’t have home phone service? What if we don’t want to sign a two-year contract with anyone, especially a company that is largely responsible for the creation of this website? I understand that Earthlink may not be as great an option as it seems… it’s obvious to me from a 5 minute online chat with a sales rep that their customer service is even worse than TWC, and TWC is terrible. But no contracts and no… Read more »

JS
JS
13 years ago

I’ve left a post on the Verizon FIOS forum entitled “Please bring FIOS to Rochester, NY”.

Dan
Dan
13 years ago

JS – can you post a link to the forum?

CL
CL
13 years ago

I’ve been with Time Warner Roadrunner for many years, but after reading this and doing a quick calculation of my bandwidth usage, it looks like I’ll be forced to move to another provider. I don’t use BitTorrent or other peer to peer file sharing programs, so I don’t consider myself a heavy user, but I do use Skype. After doing a quick calculation, it looks like I could easily use 100GB/month bandwidth for Skype alone. I think the 40GB/month usage cap is ridiculous! It’s just a way for Time Warner to raise their prices and blame it on the “baddies”… Read more »

Rottenchester
Rottenchester
13 years ago

I’ve been on Frontier DSL for years and found it reliable and reasonably fast. I’m pretty close to a CO so I think I’m getting as good as you’re going to get with DSL. I just did a file transfer test and got 555 kb up, and 5176 Mb down. I switched to Dish and Frontier about 5 years ago for two reasons. First, TWC’s cable service would deteriorate in my neighborhood at about 3 p.m. every day, when the kids got home and started using YouTube, WoW, IM, etc. Second, the TWC DVR was a real piece of crap.… Read more »

Tim
Tim
13 years ago

Folks like us in the rural suburbs of Rochester are really stuck. We’re within the TWC coverage area but outside Frontier’s. RoadRunner was our best option for high speed. I could get DSL from Verizon. But, I understand that they have caps. Service would be slower too, as we’re a ways away from the head-end. I’m not sure what we’re going to do. I work from home and need the high speed. I know from my logs that I will regularly come near the 40 GB cap and that’s without doing much online video (we watch a missed show every… Read more »

Bob
Bob
13 years ago

I think I have to chime in on the side of Frontier. I know that some folks have their problems with Frontier, especially those in more rural areas. But I have to say that I have been a happy Frontier customer for the last 5 years. For the last 4 years I have been telecommuting several days a week, using VOIP and desktop remoting all day long and never had a problem. I can remember only 2 brief outages in 5 years and a period of 1.5 days with severe mail routing latencies on Frontier’s side. Other than that I… Read more »

Brion
Editor
13 years ago

Bob, what’s the point of VoIP over DSL when you are forced to have a phone line anyway?

Bob
Bob
13 years ago

To Brion: Since I am telecommuting and I am on the phone a lot. I need to keep work and home lines separate. I was mentioning my extensive use of VOIP to underline the level of reliability I have been experiencing. Granted, with dsl it matters a lot where you live (quality of phone lines and wiring, distance to central office). But since people mostly write when they have a gripe with their service I thought I put this into perspective with a positive review. So here it is to sum up my personal experience with Frontier: 1. Support is… Read more »

David
David
13 years ago

I have to say – as a son with a widowed, computer-illiterate mom this offer would be like manna from the heavens. $12.99 a month and she gets help without having to call me to stop over.

JennyR
JennyR
13 years ago

Have you checked out how much Geek Squad is charging to fix stuff nowadays? $12.99 a month seems OK to me.

SunDown
SunDown
13 years ago

RR cap = satellite re-activated, simple.

Jeffrey_Bays
Jeffrey_Bays
13 years ago

I am suprised they choose Austin. They are a very vocal town, which happens to be the state capital, that prides themselves on being the high tech’s Silicon Hills. The last people you want to piss off are a bunch of voting geeks that have access to virtually every state legislator.

Has anyone heard microsoft’s response to TWC’s “test”? The amount of money they are gonna loose from xbox live subscribers has the potential to be huge.

Diane
Diane
13 years ago
DOWN_with_TWC!
DOWN_with_TWC!
13 years ago

How can you find out how far you are from one of Frontiers CO? I live in West Henrietta off of E River Rd and have had TWC for years. I run a small computer repair, upgrade shop out of my house and just on all the windows updates I do in a month it would put me over the 40gb cap. Not to mention my normal usage I know I would be over 100gb. I think the new pricing plan is outrageous and even the people who are considered “lite” users I think will end up paying overages if… Read more »

DOWN_with_TWC!
DOWN_with_TWC!
13 years ago

Thanks Phil, I guess we’ll see how this all plays out in the next few months. I called TWC today to voice my concern and the CS rep told me they are only planning on doing “testing” this summer and they will determine what will happen after that based on the “testing”. The problem is testing over the summer will not get an accurate reading. Family’s on vacation, kids outside playing, college students gone home for the summer, of course its going to show much lower numbers than it would in say February or March. I also asked the CS… Read more »

Ed
Ed
13 years ago

“I admittedly do not understand much about “naked DSL” type service so please feel free to share your insights, if any.”

Naked DSL is simply DSL without dialtone. The DSL pair is sent to your house to connect directly to a modem.

If you are absolutely desperate to find out what your speed might be with DSL “A BALL PARK ESTIMATE” leave me a message with your address and phone number @ 777-8658 I work with frontier and can give you an idea.

TB
TB
13 years ago

Slight problem…many of us can’t get DSL. The service is awful.

Mazakman
Mazakman
13 years ago
Reply to  TB

Where I live in Webster, NY, we tried DSL last year and it wasn’t bad at all. I saw good download speeds and very good upload compared to what Roadrunner has here. But what we saw that did affect our decision to return to RR was latency and that latency appeared within the local Frontier network on the first and second hops. Apparently because I had been in close touch with one of their marketing reps along with one of their more senior techs, they let me out of my contract after one months grace period and then actually being… Read more »

Jon
Jon
13 years ago

see the ‘Excessive Utilization of Network Resources’ chapter in clearwire’s acceptable use policy. They reserve the right to limit a user’s bandwidth if they feel it’s excessive. Frontier’s AUP currently lists the famous 5GB limit.

dwain
dwain
13 years ago

this is very helpful, i guess i will have to pay my contract service time warrner
roadrunner when i take their box back ($150.00 ripp off service)

Search This Site:

Contributions:

Recent Comments:

Your Account:

Stop the Cap!