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Breaking News: Alex Dudley From Time Warner Claims Earthlink Customers Will Be Capped

Phillip Dampier April 7, 2009 Issues 27 Comments

Another day, a new story.

It’s always nice when a vice president of public relations for Time Warner decides to speak for Earthlink. Of course, Earthlink itself has not been doing any speaking themselves on the corporate level despite several attempts to reach them.

Earthlink forced to cap its service because Time Warner said so?

Earthlink forced to cap its service because Time Warner said so?

Brad, one of our regular readers, has been engaged in an e-mail back and forth with the Time Warner crowd trying to sell the “benefits” of their Internet rationing plan, and finally got a one sentence answer to a question he had to raise repeatedly.

Q. Are the caps going to apply to Earthlink service riding your infrastructure?

A. “Earthlink customers will be included.”

Earthlink customer service agents have insisted Earthlink was not going to cap their service, but as we indicated last week, customer service representatives are only reading from instructions handed down by their bosses.  We wanted to receive direct confirmation from Earthlink before we could definitively assure our readers on the question of caps with this alternative provider.

If Earthlink has their own contract for a provisioned level of service from Time Warner, it will be interesting to see if there is any push back from Earthlink.  The presence of Earthlink on Time Warner’s network came about from a settlement with the federal government in 2000.  Under the terms of the settlement, Earthlink was supposed to be granted the freedom to set its own pricing tiers.  The New York Times reported on the agreement and its parameters.

After the AOL and Time Warner merger deal, the companies said they would allow competition on Time Warner’s cable systems. But rivals complained that the terms they offered in initial discussions were unusually harsh. For example, the companies demanded that other companies not price high-speed access lower than AOL Time Warner’s own service.

Mr. Betty of Earthlink said that Time Warner had eliminated many of those restrictions.

Under the proposed agreement, he said, Earthlink can buy high-speed access from Time Warner and resell it to Earthlink customers at any price it chooses on its own bill. In reality, he said, that Earthlink’s service will probably cost about the $40 a month that Time Warner now charges for Road Runner.

Interestingly, with Mr. Dudley now apparently speaking on behalf of Earthlink, this may open a new question that the Federal Trade Commission may want to answer.  If Earthlink is allowed to set its own pricing, why is Time Warner now telling customers Earthlink will be capping?

While this news is not an absolute confirmation of Earthlink’s policy going forward, I’d say it rings warning bells for customers who absolutely need cap-free Internet access.  Frontier under a Price Protection Agreement is looking more and more like the safest bet in Rochester, and we’re still compiling a list of alternate providers in other affected cities.

Meanwhile, customers of Earthlink might want to go to Earthlink’s website and conduct a “support chat session” and ask them again about caps, capture the text from representatives insisting there isn’t any, and hang on to them.  It may provide some useful leverage later on, and StoptheCap! would like to document this whole sordid affair.  Earthlink themselves may have a case before the FTC if their original agreement is now being shown to be worthless in practice.

As the usage cap is many months away from being implemented, you can still drop Road Runner and hop onto Earthlink for the next six months and pay $29.95 a month for service, which will save you at least $10 a month, and feel the satisfaction of not supporting Road Runner or Time Warner’s price gouging.

We will continue to ask Earthlink corporate officials to comment.

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Dan
Dan
13 years ago

I agree that Frontier is now looking like the most viable option for many people. However, until they allow us to sign up for DSL without phone service, it won’t work for many people. I think Frontier may need to take the next step. With the dawn of VOIP making phone service not as necessary, what a great opportunity this is to begin dumping a dead industry and moving their company forward. I’d love to switch to Frontier, but I’m not about to sign up for home phone service that I’ll never need or use.

grant
grant
13 years ago

Ironically I jumped from Roadrunner to Earthlink a few weeks ago when my introductory rate expired and jumped to $49.99 (I don’t do cable).

Though Earthlink advertised 7MBs speed I actually retained my 10MBs RR speed. And as an added bonus, got usenet again.

Ron
Ron
13 years ago

I switched to Earthlink a day or two after the story first hit Rochester about Time Warner. I was told something different from Earthlink then what I found out today. Ok. Apparently Time Warner is in complete control of Earthlink by the looks of it. Here is my Live Chat with Earthlink. The only thing I did was take my email address out and replace it with the word “Me” for obvious spam preventing reasons. Also it took them a lot longer this time to actually respond to a Live Chat Request. —————————————– Chat InformationWelcome to Earthlink LiveChat. Your chat… Read more »

Mark Turner
13 years ago

Ron,

I believe the agent you spoke with was simply explaining the breakdown of services. TWC handles Earthlink’s billing, but as far as I know it does not set Earthlink’s price (this news story notwithstanding). Basically, I would not take Sachi’s word for this.

Ron
Ron
13 years ago
Reply to  Mark Turner

It can be taken that way. It is just very confusing, especially when considering this story.

An Official response from Earthlink would be nice right about now.

Jeffrey_Bays
Jeffrey_Bays
13 years ago
Reply to  Ron

You have to understand. There is not an Earthlink Rochester rep. When I called earthling today, i could tell that the rep was in the dark about the changes TW it doing. They couldn’t grasp the fact that I already had TW internet and all i wanted to do was change who i paid money to. They wanted to schedule an install and they required that I terminate my service with TW before i call them back to place the order. They probably have a pricing structure that changes every 10 days or so. TW will dictate how much they… Read more »

Ron
Ron
13 years ago
Reply to  Jeffrey_Bays

I hate to say it. But I did wonder about that being a chat bot. When I switched over to Earthlink they talked about having it installed. Time Warner called to come and install it and I had told them that I already had everything and all that needed to be done was to switch. Earthlink is separate, so they say, but I am wondering if it is more of a puppet (So to speak) with Time Warner pulling the strings. Maybe I am reading too much into. Like you said they don’t have a Rochester representative. But the Modem… Read more »

Ron
Ron
13 years ago

Phil, I agree. I am glad I went to Earthlink but after the six months and based on what Earthlink does I may switch to Frontier (Unless they end up doing the same thing.) I made my point with Time Warner. I haven’t had cable TV in a very long time because of what Time Warner and Companies like them have done to the pricing. I am stopping Road Runner for the same reasons. If they do to Road Runner what they did to cable, I can imagine the prices in the near future. How ever, I do have Time… Read more »

Jeffrey_Bays
Jeffrey_Bays
13 years ago
Reply to  Ron

Ron,

What did you do to change over your service. Did you have to cancel with TW before you talked with Earthlink?

If you do not use your home phone regularly, grab the magic jack. For light use and outgoing calls, Magic jack rules. I have 6 years of service for about $.70 a month.

Ron
Ron
13 years ago
Reply to  Jeffrey_Bays

Thank you. I will check that out. I am a very light phone user so this sounds prefect for me.

grant
grant
13 years ago
Reply to  Jeffrey_Bays

Be careful with the MagicJack. It might be a great product that you only pay $10/year for, but you won’t get a local number if you live in Rochester.

They will give you a “585” number based out of Batavia. Anyone that calls you will be calling Batavia, and that might be long distance for them.

Still not bad as a second phone line, perhaps. I believe the device cost about $40 up front.

Tim Katje
13 years ago

Time Warner Cable must be made to understand that we will not tolerate this new metered pricing scheme. As the country that invented the Internet, this is wrong! Please sign my petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/unlimited-unfettered-internet to help get the word to TWCs investors.

Josh
Josh
13 years ago

I called and after pulling lots of teeth I got someone on the phone to say they don’t have a cap and don’t plan on imposing any. Even if that doesn’t remain true I switched over to EarthLink today, even if it just means the $30 a month promotional offer. The install was easy enough, it literally is “Unplug my cable modem, wait a minute, plug it back in.”
Hopefully before those six months run out something besides 1.5Mbps DSL will be available in my area.

wickstopher
wickstopher
13 years ago

I am moving soon, and trying to figure out which ISP I should go with. I just got out of a chat session from an Earthlink salesperson, and after some runaround they made the statement that they would NOT be making the move to tiered service. Here is an excerpt: Allan S: Thank you for using EarthLink’s live Sales chat. How can I help you today? Chris: Hi, I am in the Rochester, NY area and I was wondering if you were planning on moving to tiered service a la TWC? Chris: I am moving soon and need to set… Read more »

Marc A.
Marc A.
13 years ago

I don’t torrent or anything, but I do watch a lot of HULU, Joost and netflix on demand downloads and if this goes through i’m pretty sure a lot of people will cancel, and go to DSL, or even just use a cell phone provider internet plan, or just plan go to the library or internet cafe. I am just happy that I don’t live in that market but if it were to happen with comcast, I will be sure to immediately cancel and switch.

Earl Cooley III
Earl Cooley III
13 years ago
Reply to  Marc A.

That brings up a point: how will usage caps affect libraries and internet cafes? I can see cafes going out of business or being forced to jack up their prices over this, and, in general, kill free wifi in collateral damage. As for libraries, their funding is already traditionally precarious; they don’t need another big chunk torn out of them over caps.

Rob
Rob
13 years ago

For some reason I just don’t trust Earthlink. When Time Warner starts arm twisting in a couple of months I’m sure Earthlink will roll over and give in and also implement bandwidth caps.

If these price hikes go through I’m canceling Road Runner.

Dave Wright
13 years ago

TWC will watch their customer base move to other sources because of this low cap on BW. 200GB cap is more reasonable for the $41.95 price. I will leave TWC if they leave the cap at 40GB.

Thanks,
Dave Wright

Rachel
Rachel
13 years ago

I just did the internet chat with Earthlink and got pretty much the same reply as wickstopher. A small copy/paste of the chat: Ricky W.: This is a best effort technology with speeds up to 7.0mb on the download and up to 384kb on the upload. Ricky W.: There is no charge for the standard professional installation, $29.95 per month for your first 6 months and then just $41.95 per month after that. Ricky W.: The best part is that it does not have a contract therefore you will not be under any sort of obligation. There are no cancellation… Read more »

Mazakman
Mazakman
13 years ago
Reply to  Rachel

Potential Earthlink cable customers here in Rochester…be informed that the speed is the same as RR.. 10/384 service. This has been confirmed by a local new EL customer who posted in my thread in the RR forum at DSLReports. Also a speedtest result was posted there by this person.

wickstopher
wickstopher
13 years ago
Reply to  Mazakman

Just wondering, is that with their advertised 7mbps plan?

Dave D.
Dave D.
13 years ago

What the article doesn’t say is that in 2005 the Supreme Court of the United States overturned a federal court decision that would force cable companies to share their infrastructure with Internet service providers such as Brand X and EarthLink.

Then in 2006 EarthLink and Time Warner simply extended an agreement under which EarthLink sells its broadband Internet service over TW’s cable modem network.

Anyone who believes that the TW attorneys prepared a document that gave EL rights to determine bandwidth, caps etc. on their network is in denial.

Ståle
Ståle
13 years ago

I switched to Earthlink today as well, and when asking flat out in the chat session if they will be introducing caps, the answer was ‘no’.

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