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Time Warner Cable Raising Modem Rental Fee (Again): $5.99/Month Starting Next Month

Phillip Dampier July 29, 2013 Consumer News, Data Caps, Editorial & Site News 19 Comments

Time Warner Cable is increasing the cost of renting your cable modem. In the third increase in ten months, using the company-provided cable modem will now cost subscribers $5.99 a month. But the costs don’t stop there. Last week, Time Warner announced it was raising the price of its broadband service an average of $3 a month. Taken together, the cost of standalone 15/1Mbps broadband with a leased modem will now cost $61 a month.

modem fee

SB6141 is a DOCSIS 3 modem

SB6141 is a DOCSIS 3 modem

Time Warner introduced its $3.95 monthly modem rental fee last fall. In June, the company announced it was raising the price of the modem rental to $4.99 a month for new customers,  and has now decided customers can afford to pay more — $6 a month for equipment that costs the cable company, on average, less than $50 per unit according to Wall Street analysts.

CEO Glenn Britt remarked earlier this year that customers accepted the modem rental fee with few complaints. Britt foreshadowed the modem rental fee increase saying the company had significant room to boost prices, noting Comcast charges $7 a month for its modem.

Customers can escape modem rental fees altogether by purchasing their own equipment. At Time Warner’s new prices, most customers will recoup the cost of the equipment within one year. Unfortunately, as news of the modem rental fee increase made its way to retailers and eBay resellers, prices have soared for equipment on Time Warner Cable’s approved modem list.

The popular Motorola SB6141, which sold for $78 two weeks ago, has now shot up to $99.99 in anticipation of a new wave of buyers. Prices on Newegg have also increased from $78 to $99.99 as of this morning. Best Buy has also boosted prices to $99.99. Amazon still lists this white version of the SB6141 this afternoon for $87, but is expected to quickly sell out.

Based on the last two waves of price increases, if thinking about buying your own modem the time to buy is right now because major retailers are likely to temporarily sell out and eBay resellers will begin a wave of price increases in response to demand.

Stop the Cap! top rates the Motorola SB6141 among the modems on the approved list. It is DOCSIS 3 capable, which means it will support faster Internet speeds. But also be aware that if you upgrade to a DOCSIS 3 modem, Time Warner’s Speedboost technology, which delivers a few seconds of additional speed at the start of a download, will no longer work. Speedboost is gradually being phased out by most cable operators so we still think buying a DOCSIS 3 modem makes the most sense over the long term.

Time Warner Cable Modem Rental Fee Increased to $4.99/Month for New Customers

Phillip Dampier June 17, 2013 Consumer News, Data Caps 14 Comments
one time charge

Time Warner’s “Because We Can” One-Time Charge applies to new customers signing up for certain promotions.

Time Warner Cable has increased the monthly rental fee for its leased cable modem from $3.95 a month to $4.99 a month and has introduced a “one-time charge” of $19.99 applicable to certain Internet service new customer promotions.

CEO Glenn Britt earlier commented that Time Warner Cable had room to grow its modem lease fee:

“It was received with a minimum of push-back and we’re still actually charging less than Comcast ($7/month), so I think there is room to charge more going forward. People can buy their own if they want and a small percentage of customers have chosen to do that which is fine with us.”

For now, the increase only applies to new customers, but Stop the Cap! expects it will also eventually apply to current customers as part of the next round of rate increases. The Internet Modem with Free Home Wi-Fi, available to customers ordering 30/5 or 50/5Mbps service costs $14.99 a month.

Time Warner Cable has pulled back on customer promotions since the beginning of the year and has begun shifting its pricing for its most profitable service — broadband, to capture price-sensitive customers who have been unable to previously afford Internet-only service from the company.

Time Warner has introduced a new “Lite” tier offering 1Mbps service for $20 a month and has made the 3Mbps “Basic” service the staple of many of its bundled promotions.

twc pricing

twcGreenStop the Cap! strongly encourages Time Warner Cable customers to buy their own cable modems and avoid the rental fees. Customers can also bypass the rental fee by signing up for Earthlink service through Time Warner Cable.

Our top modem choice remains the Motorola SB6141, which can be found at the “Buy It Now” price on eBay as low as $77.99 with free shipping and no upfront sales tax for most buyers. This model does not include Wi-Fi, but most people don’t need it — a router generally provides Wi-Fi connectivity on its own.

We highly recommend purchasing DOCSIS 3-ready modems to avoid obsolescence issues.

The most recent list of “acceptable” modems that can be activated with your Time Warner Cable broadband service are:

Turbo, Extreme and Ultimate Service Plans

Vendor Model
Motorola SBG6580
Netgear CMD31T
Motorola SB6121
Zoom 5341J
Zoom 5350
Zoom 5352
ZyXEL CDA-30360

Lite, Basic and Standard Service Plans

Vendor Model
Motorola SBG6580
Motorola SB5101
Motorola SB5101U
Motorola SBG901
Netgear CMD31T
Motorola SB6121
Zoom 5341J
Zoom 5350
Zoom 5352
ZyXEL CDA-30360

Time Warner Cable Laying Groundwork for Usage Pricing, Higher Modem Fees

Phillip Dampier June 5, 2013 Broadband Speed, Consumer News, Data Caps 7 Comments

timewarner twcTime Warner Cable has laid the foundation to eventually begin charging broadband customers usage-based pricing, raise the modem rental fee originally introduced last fall, and continue to offer customers unlimited broadband service if they are prepared to pay a new, higher price.

Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt spoke at length at this week’s Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Global Telecom and Media Conference in London about how Time Warner Cable intends to price its broadband service going forward. The moderator peppered Britt with questions as investors looked on from the audience about if and when the cable company can raise prices for its broadband service or start a usage pricing plan that will generate higher revenues based on metering customer usage.



Britt repeated his earlier assertions that Time Warner Cable has no interest in capping customer usage. In fact, the company sees fatter profits from increased usage, as long as customers are willing to pay for it.

For the first time, Britt admitted customers seeking unlimited service should be ready to pay a higher cost for that option, telling the audience Time Warner would set a premium price on the unlimited tier and offer discounts to customers seeking downgrades to comparatively cheaper, usage-based pricing plans. The company hopes this new approach will limit political opposition and customer push-back.

Britt also said there is room to grow Time Warner Cable’s monthly modem rental fee ($3.95 a month), comparing it against Comcast’s current rental fee, which is $7 a month.

Britt complained that increasing usage and demand for broadband speed was requiring the company to invest more in its broadband service, something not clear on the company’s quarterly balance sheets. Real investment, except for expansion by the business/commercial services division, has been largely flat or in decline for several years. Time Warner Cable’s broadband prices have increased over the same period.

Britt also admitted that the costs to offer the service remain comparatively minor.

“In broadband there are the costs of connectivity and peering and all that sort of stuff, but they are pretty minor compared with (video) programming costs so it appears that broadband is usually profitable versus video.”

Britt also admitted the cable industry in general is increasingly dependent on broadband revenue and the profits it generates to shore up margin pressure on the industry’s formerly lucrative video service. As programming costs increase, pressure on profits increase. Yet the cable industry remains profitable, primarily because broadband earnings are making up the difference.

The meter is lurking

The meter is lurking

“I think if you look at the U.S. cable companies the EBITDA margins have been remarkably stable over a long time period,” Britt said. “The mix has [recently] changed. The video gross margin is getting squeezed, the broadband gross margin is larger and we are growing broadband so that is helping. The voice gross margin is higher than video and a little less than broadband and until recently that has been a growing part. And then we have business services which are growing rapidly and have a high gross margin.”

Additional Quotes:

Cable Modem Equipment Rental Charge: “It was received with a minimum of push-back and we’re still actually charging less than Comcast ($7/month), so I think there is room to charge more going forward. People can buy their own if they want and a small percentage of customers have chosen to do that which is fine with us.”

Usage-Based Pricing: “In order to keep up with the demand for throughput and speed which is going up every year, we are going to have to keep investing capital which we do on a regular basis, so we are going to have to figure out how to get paid for that. I think inevitably there is going to be some usage dimension, not just speed within the package, so what we have done is to put in place pretty much throughout our footprint, with a few exceptions, the idea that you can buy the standard service that [includes] unlimited usage and that costs whatever it costs, but if you want to save $5 (and that is the first thing we put in place) you can agree to a consumption limit, and we can start expanding on that.”

“I think the key to this — there has been push-back against caps in the past — I think the reason for the push-back is it was perceived in a sort of punitive, coercive fashion. The usual rhetoric is, ‘gee 20 percent of the people use 80 percent of the bandwidth or some number like that — we need to make them stop using so much.'”

“My feeling is we actually want everybody to use more, we want to invest the capital, we just want to get paid for it. So I think we should always have an unlimited offering and that should probably cost more than it costs today as the usage goes up and then people who don’t use as much should have the opportunity to save money. They don’t have to but they can, so I think that is a much more politically and consumer-acceptable way to do it than a sort of punitive thing people talk about.”

Time Warner Cable Raising Rates in Wisconsin Again; 3rd Increase in Five Months

Phillip Dampier February 26, 2013 Consumer News Comments Off on Time Warner Cable Raising Rates in Wisconsin Again; 3rd Increase in Five Months

twcTime Warner Cable subscribers in Wisconsin are facing the third rate increase since October 2012.

The cable operator has announced a $3/month rate hike for most television packages — a four percent increase for those with the popular digital variety package.

Time Warner blamed increasing programming costs in a notice attached to this month’s cable bills. The company defended the increase, stating the rate rise was half of what it could have been if the cable company tried to recoup all the programming costs incurred over the last year.

Customers facing higher cable bills and still paying regular prices should consider our advice on winning a lower rate from the company. With just 10 minutes, our readers are saving $20-50 a month on Time Warner Cable services with attractive customer retention deals.

In October, Time Warner announced it was introducing a cable modem rental fee of $3.95 a month. In November, the company raised rates on its converter boxes by $1.05 a month. The latest rate increase for cable television takes effect next month.

 Thanks to Stop the Cap! reader Nkundinshuti in Milwaukee for sending word.

Time Warner Raising Rates in the Carolinas: $90.49 for Digital Cable, $167.89 Triple Play

Phillip Dampier February 14, 2013 Consumer News 2 Comments

timewarner twcTime Warner Cable customers in the Carolinas will soon pay $90.49 a month for digital cable television, including one set-top cable box. Customers who buy broadband, television, and phone service will see their monthly bill rise to $167.89.

The rate increases will not initially apply to customers on term contracts or promotional pricing until those terms expire. Others will begin to pay higher rates in March.

Almost 70 percent of Time Warner Cable’s eastern North Carolina subscribers have digital cable TV. The rate increase for television-only service amounts to an extra $5 a month or $60 a year. Triple play customers will also pay an extra $5 a month.

Time Warner’s last rate hike, not including the introduction of a $3.95/month cable modem rental fee last fall, was in late 2011.

Although Time Warner claimed increased programming costs were responsible for the bulk of the rate increases, the cable company keeps adding more channels. In 2012, Time Warner added NFL Network and NFL RedZone, both costly sports networks. In the last few months, Time Warner added an additional 30 channels to the cable lineup in the Carolinas, including a number of new HD channels and barely watched networks including Retirement Living Television and Magic Johnson’s Aspire TV.

A rate change notice mailed to customers in the Carolinas will include exact pricing changes applicable in different communities, but customers in Fayetteville and surrounding parts of the eastern Carolinas will see these changes starting in March:

  • carolinasBroadcast cable: From $16.19 to $17.99
  • Cable programming tier: From $53.30 to $54.50
  • Basic cable: From $69.49 to $72.49
  • Digital tier: From $10.68 to $9.01
  • Basic cable, when bundled with standard Internet and/or home phone unlimited nationwide: From $68.99 to $71.99
  • Digital cable includes basic cable, digital tier, digital equipment and Navigator interactive guide: From $85.49 to $90.49
  • Digital cable when bundled with standard Internet and/or home phone unlimited nationwide: $82.49 to $85.49
  • Basic cable, standard Internet and home phone unlimited nationwide: From $162.89 to $167.89
  • Cable card: From $2 to $2.50
  • Digital equipment primary outlet: From $6.82 to $8.99
  • Navigator interactive guide: Not applicable to $2.17

Customers affected should consider reviewing our tips on how to fight for a better deal from Time Warner.

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