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Time Warner Cable Customers in Upstate New York Howling About Broadband Rate Hikes

Phillip Dampier August 6, 2013 Broadband Speed, Competition, Consumer News, Editorial & Site News, Frontier, Verizon, Video 2 Comments
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Frontier is enticing Rochester-area customers to “say goodbye to Time Warner Cable.”

Time Warner Cable’s relentless rate increases, particularly on its broadband service, are leading to calls for more competition in the upstate New York cities of Buffalo and Rochester, now dominated by Time Warner, Verizon Communications (Buffalo), and Frontier Communications (Rochester).

“Bloodsuckers,” came the terse reply of Cathy Slocum.

Frontier Communications is making the most out of the cable company rate increases with a new “Goodbye Time Warner” ad campaign (that incidentally includes a link to Stop the Cap!’s coverage of TWC’s modem fee). It is pitching $19.99 broadband price-locked for two years — an improvement over its earlier offers thanks to a major reduction in sneaky fine print.

Customers can get up to 6Mbps service (up to 12Mbps available in limited areas) at the special offer price as long as they keep a Frontier landline active with a qualifying calling package. There are no contracts with this promotion, but Frontier’s pesky $9.99 “Broadband Processing Fee” applies if customers ever choose to disconnect Internet service. A free Wi-Fi Internet router is included and the company claims it offers “free Internet activation.” But an installation fee still applies, discounted if customers choose the self-install option. Taxes, governmental and other Frontier-imposed surcharges also apply and new Frontier customers are subject to credit approval, which will show up as an inquiry on your credit report.

In the past, we have taken Frontier to task for its expensive early termination and modem rental fees, as well as its bundling requirements, but the company has since ditched most of these as part of its new self-proclaimed reputation as “BS free.”

Unfortunately, Frontier’s DSL speeds can wildly vary, so if you take advantage of their offer, be sure to verify the speed actually get at your home or office. If the service proves too slow to your liking after installation, you can negotiate canceling within the first two weeks without any termination fees.

Where FiOS is available in Buffalo, Verizon is offering promotional pricing on its bundled services, including an $84.99 offer including 50/25Mbps Internet with a Verizon landline offering unlimited calling. This is cheaper than Time Warner’s offer with considerably faster upload speeds and no modem fees. In parts of Buffalo, Verizon is authorized to offer broadband and phone service only, although several suburbs have franchise agreements that allow the phone company to also sell television service. A large part of the city and other suburbs are still stuck with Verizon’s copper network, however, which means DSL is the best they can offer.

Time Warner Cable’s new customer promotions, useful when negotiating a customer retention deal, have resumed bundling Standard tier (15/1Mbps service) Internet speeds into most offers. Previously, the company bundled 3Mbps service in many of its promotions. Broadband-only customers can pay as little as $34.99 a month for a year of Internet service at 15/1Mbps speeds, assuming one buys their own cable modem. A double play offer of broadband basic television (around 20 channels, mostly local over-the-air) with 30/5Mbps Internet service is now priced at $94.97 a month after a $5.99 mandatory modem rental fee is included (not optional with this package).

Time Warner Cable executives have repeatedly told investors its higher priced promotions are intentional to increase revenue and profits even if the company loses customers by charging higher prices.

fios offers

Verizon FiOS offers in the Buffalo area.

“I moved here from the New York City area a year ago where we had two cable companies — Cablevision and Verizon FiOS,” noted Stephen O’Brien. “Competition changes everything. Not only were the rates much lower than here, the companies would offer you all kinds of incentives to switch from one to the other. One time we switched and got a free iPod Touch. The argument that the rate increase is needed to cover investment is the biggest red herring of all — Cablevision and FiOS spent many times more on infrastructure, yet their rates were much lower.”

Stop the Cap! recommends Time Warner Cable customers check out our guide to getting the best deal possible from TWC.

[flv width=”640″ height=”380″]http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/WGRZ Buffalo Time Warner Rate Hikes 8-6-13.flv[/flv]

WGRZ in Buffalo reports upstate New York residents are upset about two recently announced broadband rate hikes. Time Warner Cable says it needs the money to keep up its broadband service’s reliability. What alternatives do customers have?  (2 minutes)

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