The e-mail notices recently started going out to TWC subscribers — many of whom are counting down the minutes to see if the cable company will end its carriage-fee slap fight with CBS or black the network out later today — reading a little something like this:
“We want to inform you of upcoming changes to your Internet service price beginning with your next bill. The Internet Modem Lease will be $5.99.
When leasing a modem from Time Warner Cable you have access to 24/7 customer support and required equipment upgrades or replacements.
We continue to invest in our network to make sure you have the fastest, most reliable service you need.”
The notice then goes on to tout an alleged increase in speed for the “most popular tier” of Internet access, and that the company added some free wifi hotspots for customers around the country.
Which is all well and good until you realize that these fees must have brought in at least $250 million to TWC in just the last 10 months. If it costs that much money to boost a mid-tier Internet service and add a few hotspots, then maybe the company isn’t spending as wisely as it thinks it is. Or maybe it’s not actually using all this money to reinvest in better service, but to make up for all the revenue it’s lost from people who no longer get pay-per-view porn.
The TWC fees have been the subject of at least two lawsuits filed by customers of the cable company. Problem is, TWC recently added a mandatory binding arbitration clause in its terms of service, effectively taking away customers’ rights to band together and sue.
But you could switch to another cable provider — oh wait, you probably can’t because TWC likely has a monopoly in your area.
You could switch to satellite, but then where are you going to get your Internet service, your local phone company with its lovely, antique copper wire network?
And even if you could switch cable providers, companies like Comcast and DirecTV already charge equipment rental fees of their own.