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Time Warner Cable Adds $2.50 Monthly Modem Rental Fee for New Customers; Buy Your Own

Phillip Dampier March 27, 2012 Consumer News 20 Comments

[Update 10/2/2012: If you are visiting here to explore Time Warner Cable’s new $3.95 modem rental fee, please visit this article for the latest information and reviews, should you wish to purchase your own modem to replace the one you currently rent from the cable company.]

In mid-March, Time Warner Cable added a $2.50 monthly modem rental fee for all new broadband customers, but existing customers not already subject to modem fees will be exempt from paying it.

The new equipment fee applies even in areas where cable modems have always come free with the cable company’s broadband service.  Until this month, customers in some areas including Rochester, N.Y., could not purchase their own cable modem equipment, but that restriction has now been dropped.  In areas where modems always came free with service, some customers have told Stop the Cap! the cable operator cannot provision their new modems until after April 1st.  Call your local Time Warner Cable office for exact information applying in your local area.

At $30/yr, consumers are advised it may be more affordable to purchase your own cable modem, especially if you are comfortable installing it yourself.  Cable modems are at least as reliable as wireless routers, and even easier to configure.

Time Warner Cable’s current promotion page offers six months of free modem rental to new customers, with fees starting the seventh month.  The cable operator supports a large number of different modems.  In the northeastern United States, Time Warner will provision any of these units (you can find your area’s list of approved equipment on Time Warner’s Internet Support page):

Vendor Model


Cisco DPC2100 N
Motorola SB5101 N
Motorola SB5101N N
Motorola SB5101U N
Motorola SB6141 Y
Motorola SBG6580 Y
Motorola SBG900 N
Motorola SBG901 N
Motorola SBG940 N
Motorola SBG941 N
Motorola SBV5121 N
Motorola SBV5222 N
Motorola SBV5322 N
Netgear CGD24G-100NAS N
SA DPC2100r1/2 N
SA DPC2203 N
SA DPC2203C2 N
SA DPX2203 N
SMC 8014WG N
Thomson DCM425 N
Thomson DCW725 N
Thomson DWG855 N
Ubee (formerly Ambit) DDC2700 N
Ubee (formerly Ambit) DDW2600 N
Ubee (formerly Ambit) U10C018 N
Ubee (formerly Ambit) U10C019 N
Ubee (formerly Ambit) U10C020 N
Ubee (formerly Ambit) U10C022 N
ZyXEL 974H N

Prices range from under $50 for the DOCSIS 2 Motorola Surfboard SB5101, to north of $130 for Motorola’s DOCSIS 3 SURFboard Gateway SBG6580 on Amazon.com.

We called Time Warner customer service in Rochester for information about the modem rental vs. purchase option and learned:

  • The modem rental fee only applies to DOCSIS 2.0 equipment suitable for Road Runner Lite, Standard or Turbo service (1-20Mbps);
  • Road Runner Extreme (30/5Mbps) and Wideband (50/5Mbps) still includes free rental of the DOCSIS 3 cable modem and the company does not currently support customer-owned DOCSIS 3 modems in this area;
  • Support options for customer-owned equipment are obviously more limited, but should your cable modem fail, you can quickly rent a replacement and pick it up at your local cable store to get back online fast;

We also learned Time Warner is running promotions in many areas pitching existing Standard and Turbo Service customers six months of Road Runner Extreme for just $10 more a month for six months. If you need 50/5Mbps Wideband service, signing up for Signature Home at $199 a month is often the best value when combining phone, Internet, and cable TV service.

Because different regions handle cable modem equipment and promotions differently, it is important to call your local office prior to ordering any equipment to verify it can be provisioned and to obtain correct information about any promotions or pricing.

Currently there are 20 comments on this Article:

  1. Andrew Madigan says:

    After crashing two different Ambit/Ubee modems from Time Warner with my RR Turbo connection in Rochester, NY, they allowed me to register my own modem. That was about two years ago. I got a Motorola SB 6120 (it wasn’t on their list back then either). It was a good, solid modem, it didn’t crash, ever. I found when I upgraded to DOCSIS 3 my modem automatically picked up the improved downloaded speed, but upload speed didn’t improve until I got time warner’s “approved” Ubee modem/router a week later. That device is a piece of trash, it reset about once a week and lost all of its settings. Even worse, they won’t give customers the username/password to configure the modem, so when this happens you have to call customer service to get it fixed.

    I live in the Bay Area now, Sonic.net is 1000x better than Time Warner.

    Depending on the modem you get, it could take 2-4 years for it to pay for itself. Question is: will you still be using DOCSIS 2 at that time. Even if you get a DOCSIS 3 modem, there’s no reason to believe Time Warner will start supporting customer equipment on DOCSIS 3. You can bet when people start calling to complain about this fee TW will try to upsell to Extreme.

  2. Anon says:

    This article needs to be revised, the fee is due to rise in faulty equipment from manufacturers (NOT Time Warner Cable)

    • The fee is actually just more revenue-boosting from Time Warner Cable, a way to enhance profits without changing the top line price for the service.

    • Scott says:

      The article is just fine, no company goes and charges the entire replacement value of a subscribers electronics every year “due to a rise in faulty equipment”.

      If their older provided modems were faulty, they simply need to replace them as a cost of business, if they’re within the warranty period that costs of them nothing, if it’s more than average for older equipment you’re talking an increase of a few percent a year on a $30 value modem – not 100%. It’s outright gouging of customers to pad their monthly bill without having to call it an increase.

      That type of excuse is likely what you’ll hear out of the Time Warner call center when you call in to complain not knowing any better.

  3. Upset customer says:

    It`s actually $3.95 in Queens/NY. Shame on you TWC.

  4. angel says:

    In middletown NY. I recieved a letter telling me that TWC will be chargeing $3.50 a month for there moden. Dont they charge enough??

  5. Saira says:

    I am wondering if we can switch to phone-only modem to avoid that $4
    Charge? Ugh twc!!!

    • You can either buy your own cable modem (check TWC’s approved modem list on the company’s website under broadband), or you might try and call and complain about the fee and suggest you might switch to the competition. You could find the fee waived or your package price reduced to compensate.

      I am not subject to the fee here as a long-standing customer, but if I ever was, I’d buy my own DOCSIS 3 modem and not worry about this in the future.

      I don’t think I’ve ever had a cable modem die on me, although they have been replaced when technology upgrades are rolled out.

      • Molly says:

        Everyone in my building got the postcard today even though we’ve all been customers with them for awhile. Unfortunately I think TWC is the only provider that services our area in Brooklyn so you can’t even threaten to leave. It just seems crazy that they bring a modem to your house as part of the start up and now we’re going to be charged for that modem. The only option being to buy another one and then have to go way out of our way to return theirs to their inconvenient store locations. They should at least offer to pick it up.

  6. George says:

    I got the same $3.50 letter as well and accidentially tossed it. Can someone tell me what it said if you want to return theirs and buy your own? Thanks.

  7. Dre says:

    It says starting Oct 15th there will be a $3.95 lease fee for the internet modem (Queens/NYC).

    Is it possible to get a list/link Facebook, change.org or another social media and have all customers who are upset at these nickel and dime type increases without any added value to the service, to get our united voices back to TWC.

    Maybe, we can have an effect like the move against Bank of America debit fee issue recently. We shouldn’t take these charges lying down.

  8. MACximize says:

    But I use my modem for both Internet & Phone Service. I can’t tell which modems will replace my Arris TM602A. Suggestions?

  9. Update 10/2/2012: If you are visiting here to explore Time Warner Cable’s new $3.95 modem rental fee, please visit the article linked below for the latest information and reviews, should you wish to purchase your own modem to replace the one you currently rent from the cable company:


  10. Jay Garabedian says:

    Time warner says in their ads $99 for 12 months,guess what happens after those 12 mo.The price skyrockets.I think I need to switch internet providers.Think I’ll try RCN.

  11. GUIDO says:


  12. Leslie says:

    I happen to have my own cable modem from some other location/cable service gone by, so I called to have it activated. Even though this modem is THE EXACT SAME brand and model (RCA DCM425), Time Warner told me that I can’t activate my owned modem and return the leased one because this model is not on the list of 5 modems approved for customers to purchase themselves and then activate.

    I explained that I didn’t go out and buy this; I already had it, and pressed them for details on why I couldn’t activate basically a carbon copy of what was already running. All I got was something mumbled about Time Warner having to configure the modem before it gets leased out and the one I have probably wasn’t configured correctly to work.

    Is there any truth to this? Since this is not a service-branded modem (e.g. a Verizon modem for FIOS), it seems like it should work as long as the model itself works for Time Warner, which it obviously does. I feel like they are trying to scam me into either continuing to pay the leasing fee or buying a significantly more expensive “approved for purchase” modem.

    Any insight would be much appreciated!

    • Leslie says:

      To clarify: the modem I own that’s on-hand is the exact same brand and model *that Time Warner is currently leasing to us.*

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