Time Warner Cable Internet subscribers, check your mailboxes: A modem rental fee of $3.95 a month is in your future.
“All Northeast Internet customers outside of New York City will begin to see the $3.95/month fee starting November 1st,” Joli Plucknette-Farmen, Time Warner communications manager for western New York, said in an email.
“Notifications are being mailed to all Northeast customers this week.”
Internet subscribers can avoid the monthly charge by purchasing their own modems for between $50 and $100.
Phone subscribers who do not have Internet service will not be charged the fee, according to the company.
A similar modem charge ignited a backlash among subscribers in New York City, who were told in early October they would be facing the $3.95 fee. That fee kicked in Oct. 15, prompting some consumers to label it a rate hike disguised as a rental fee.
“It is strictly a fee for customers who choose to lease their Internet modem from us,” said Plucknette-Farmen. “We have been charging similar fees [$8.49] for our set-top boxes.”
So why is Time Warner now charging for a service it had provided its customers for free? Adding $3.95 to the company’s standard Internet rate of $54.99 represents a 7 percent increase.
“As we continue to deploy more and more cable modems, many of these modems need servicing or replacing, get damaged and some are not returned,” said Plucknette-Farmen. “The monthly lease charge will allow us to service or replace the equipment, provide a better user experience and further enhance our Internet services.”
Subscribers who choose to buy their own modem should check a list of approved modems for their specific tier of Internet service at
www.twc.com/approvedmodems, the company said.
The modem rental charge in New York City has triggered a flurry of critical reports online and in print media.
The New York Times last Tuesday profiled a subscriber in Manhattan who opted to purchase a modem. The customer, a telephone and Internet subscriber, was told by the company he would still need the old modem for his phone service in addition to the new modem he purchased for Internet use.
“Retail providers do not currently offer embedded multimedia terminal adaptors, which are necessary for home phone service,” explained Plucknette-Farmen.
Time Warner is not the only company to charge a modem rental fee.
Bright House Communications based in Syracuse just instituted a modem maintenance and rental fee. The cable TV company with a customer base in central Florida notified customers in mid-September that the $2 fee for modems would take effect Oct. 1.
And Comcast’s policy of charging customers $7 for modem and router rental had sparked a lawsuit that was dismissed in January by a federal judge, according to dslreports.com.
Time Warner also may face a modem-related lawsuit launched by the disgruntled subscriber in Manhattan, according to the Times.
Subscribers in Pennsylvania, Maine, and North and South Carolina also are being hit with the rental fee effective Nov. 1.
TWC has about 15 million customers in the United States, said Plucknette-Farmen. The company is in the process of instituting modem rental fees nationwide.
Distributed by MCT Information Services.