(WCPO) - Just one year after it began charging a monthly rental fee for Internet modems, Time Warner Cable is now raising the fee for most of its customers nationwide.
The monthly fee to rent a modem, necessary for Time Warner's Roadrunner and other Internet services, is going up to $5.99 a month for most customers. A local Time Warner representative told 41 Action News that the local monthly fee will continue at $3.99.
The company had been charging a $3.99 monthly fee since last fall. Before that, Time Warner lent the small piece of equipment out free to customers.
This effectively raises cable bills by $6 over what they were last summer, even though there has been no official "rate hike."
Why The Rental Fee?
Many customers were angered when Time Warner began charging for modem rental. However Time Warner is actually the last of the major cable operators to charge a lease fee for these.
Cox and Comcast charge around $7 a month for an Internet modem, while Cincinnati Bell Fioptics, its major competitor in southwest Ohio, charges $3 a month. AT&T UVerse and Verizon Fios also charge modem rental fees, in areas where they provide service.
Time Warner cable says the fee is necessary for upgrades to its systems.
But the Wall Street Journal points out that the company is now making millions of dollars from this new fee, and in the past was able to upgrade service without charging it.
What you can do
Some customers, including those with Time Warner's new "Signature Home" plan (includes a security system and other extras) do not have to pay a modem rental fee.
Also, customers grandfathered in to an older contract, who live in apartments under group pricing, or who get Time Warner Internet with another TV cable system may not have to pay.
But if you don't like the idea of paying $6 a month, or $70 a year for something that used to be free, Time Warner will allow you to purchase your own modem.
It has published a list of approved modems, that will work with its internet, at http://www.timewarnercable.com/en/residential-home/support/topics/internet/buy-your-modem.html.
Most cost between $60 and $125.
As always, don't waste your money.