Micro: buying a modem one way to avoid rising cable Internet fee



If you’re a customer of Time Warner Cable Internet, you may have recently gotten a notice that the fee to lease a cable modem is rising from $3.95 to $5.99. The fee was originally introduced in November and prompted two class-action lawsuits.

One way to avoid the fee short of switching Internet providers it to buy your own modem instead of renting. Time Warner Cable has on its website a list of modems compatible with their service, most ranging from about $50 to $150 depending on capabilities. The sweet spot seems to be the Motorola Surfboard SB6141 for $88 (plus shipping) on Newegg.com; it works with basic broadband tiers as well as faster “DOCSIS 3.0” high-speed Internet. In a little over a year of service, a modem free of leasing fees at that price would pay for itself.

Installation can be as simple as swapping the hardware and calling Time Warner Cable to give the company the modem’s serial number and MAC address. For customers whose cable modem also doubles as a Wi-Fi router, additional setup steps are required. A few caveats: Internet customers who also use Time Warner’s digital phone service can’t swap out their cable modem for a purchased one. And those who have TWC’s Signature Home service are not being charged the lease fee to begin with.

In this space every week, we’ll define a tech term, offer a timely tip or answer questions about technology from readers. Email ogallaga@statesman.com.


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