Time Warner Boosts My Speed, Cuts My Bill: I Just Happen To Live Near Google Fiber

Rob is a Time Warner Cable customer, and he’s received two really interesting things from them lately. First, a 50% speed boost: they claim to have upgraded the speed of his home Internet connection. That’s neat. Oh, and they’ve also cut his bill, from $45 to $30. Wow! What has prompted this amazing treatment? Years of loyalty and on-time payments? No, not exactly…Rob lives in Kansas City, pilot site for Google Fiber, the gigabit broadband project that’s threatening to make current broadband providers almost care about competing.

I’m a Time Warner cable internet subscriber in the KC area, and I got two(!) good pieces of news from them recently.

No. 1. A few weeks ago, they emailed me to tell me that my “Basic Rate” internet service was being upgraded by 50% from 10Mbps to 15Mbps, effective at the next restart of my cable modem. I haven’t tested this — that only occurred to me in retrospect — but it sounds great.

No. 2. My latest cable bill was ~30% lower than the previous month. $29.99 vs. $44.94, for a savings — by their calculation — “of $23.96 this month.” My calculation is slightly different, I get a savings of $14.95, but lower is better. The line item has the note: “Enjoy your savings of $23.96 by subscribing to this package. (Offer expires 11/29/2014)” It doesn’t say anything about me having to do anything to get this rate, and the “package” they mention is the one I assumed I was using already. But the bill says $29.99, so that’s what I’m putting on the check.

I have to wonder what prompted this generosity, and I can think of two things.

Thing 1. Google Fiber. True, it’s coming to select neighborhoods in the KC area, specifically KCK and KCMO. I can see the nearest “Fiberhood” from my dining room, but unfortunately it might as well be on the moon, as it’s in a different ZIP code, area code, city, county and state. So I don’t see why they’d be worried about me jumping ship for that.

Thing 2. I got a direct mail come-on from Clearwire Communications for wireless 4G internet service. According to the mailer, basic packages start at $34.99 a month for “4G Home Basic” service. No word on data speed in the ad, and the fine print implies that you need to purchase a “device” and that the promotional rate is for a limited time.

I wonder if any other readers have seen similar price breaks and service upgrades with Time Warner, and what the company’s motivation is.

If you live in Kansas City or one of the cities on deck to get Google Fiber, have you noticed ISPs going out of their way to court or keep your business?