Time Warner wants to upgrade my internet for free. But they're evil too?
October 1, 2014 8:02 PM   Subscribe

Will Time Warner's new free upgraded modem cost me anything?

I got a letter today from Time Warner Cable telling me they're upgrading my internet speeds for free and they want to give me a new modem for it. This sounds great in theory. But they’re also Time Warner, so the offer is naturally suspicious. I've heard they were upgrading speeds in the LA area, but I’ve also seen stories like this about Comcast (a different company for now) turning on mobile hotspots from customers' personal internet without the customer’s consent. Those articles mentioned it being turned on from the company supplied router, while the letter from Time Warner only mentions a new cable modem. I have my own router, so I presume none of these shenanigans could happen unless they gave me a router as well. But still. Time Warner. Kinda shady. Anyone have any experience/knowledge about this?
posted by downtohisturtles to Technology (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Are they going to give the modem outright, or eventually charge a monthly fee for it? If they retain ownership of it, then they can charge for it at any time.
posted by Sophont at 8:09 PM on October 1, 2014

When the technician came by in July to install our router, he mentioned the upgrade and said we should be eligible at some point, although we might have to go to an actual store/kiosk to get it. There's a bit here at the bottom about the upgrades, although if you currently have your own router and do not lease any equipment from them it doesn't apply unless you decide you do want to lease one.
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:10 PM on October 1, 2014

I got this letter too and have been wondering if i should go ahead with it. One thing I'm worried about is that, maybe doing this free upgrade will kind of "reboot" my commitment with them and thus, negate any discounts/promotions I have. So if you have any kind of special deal or pricing right now, I would hesitate to take them up on this offer. They're so sneaky.
posted by silverstatue at 8:11 PM on October 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I got mine upgraded recently and I wasn't charged for it. It happened during a service visit and the tech didn't even ask. So far it doesn't seem like it's impacted any of my subsidized pricing, either, but I'll be on the lookout now that such a concern's been mentioned.
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:30 PM on October 1, 2014

They keep doing that shitty thing where they interrupt my internet connection to reroute me to a page reminding me to upgrade to a faster router which I never need except when they are rerouting me to a page to remind me to upgrade to a faster router. So basically I am not getting one because fuck them, but also as others have pointed out, what the hell have they ever done for free, and what have they ever done to earn our trust?
posted by poffin boffin at 9:04 PM on October 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

Usually what happens is your leased modem reaches the end of its life (higher speeds are incompatible with the DOCSIS 2 modems) and the company lets the people who have the modem that's incompatible with your current internet tier's top speeds know that they can replace their old modem for one compatible with the new standard (DOCSIS 3) so you can get the new higher speeds.

Go for it, this is normal and fine.
posted by inturnaround at 10:10 PM on October 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

I sent for mine yesterday. It sounded like what inturnaround said, and I figure if there are any gotchas it will somewhere in the documents yo. I'll report back.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:21 PM on October 1, 2014

Echoing inturnaround, TWC's motives aren't sinister and the new modem in indeed free. They've upgraded their infrastructure to a higher standard, and you need the new hardware to take advantage of higher speeds
posted by BadgerDoctor at 10:27 PM on October 1, 2014

somewhere in the documents yo

somewhere in the documentation.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:12 PM on October 1, 2014 [6 favorites]

Comcast said they wanted me to upgrade to a wireless modem. I agreed, they snail mailed one. Installed the new one, snail mailed the old one back postage paid. Things are working, bill is the same amount. At least through one billing cycle.
posted by Cranberry at 11:40 PM on October 1, 2014

Check if this new modem extends your contract with them.
posted by devnull at 1:09 AM on October 2, 2014

You in Studio City? If that's accurate this is completely legitimate. I was apparently like the second person in Los Angeles to get this upgrade (I live in West Hollywood) according to the tech since I kept calling them OVER AND OVER asking when it would be available. My internet speed more than tripled for no extra cost. The middle speed tier should get you something like 50 down / 5 up while the high speed tier is more like 150 down / 15 up.

Oh, they did want to charge me to use the new router wirelessly but I told them no and then enabled it myself using the factory default password. Hah, eat it Time Warner.

They're probably scared of Google Fiber. And they should be. I will drop them in a hot minute if Google Fiber ever becomes available here, free upgrade or no free upgrade.
posted by Justinian at 2:56 AM on October 2, 2014

This is fine and normal unless you own your current modem. I bought a docsis 3.0 modem so i'm going to be set for years. And they constantly, and i mean constantly try and goad me into getting some service upgrade that would require me to rent a modem from them again. I'm sure the reps are trained to, but it's really annoying.

If you're already leasing a modem though, accept the upgrades every time they offer.
posted by emptythought at 3:52 AM on October 2, 2014

Is it strictly a modem, or is it a gateway device? And is it broadcasting a public hotspot for TW? I know Comcast is pushing this arrangement on their customers now.

Speaking of Comcast, they've been deluging me with emails, snail-mails, and robo-calls telling me I need to upgrade my old, purchased by me, modem. While it's nice to be getting better service finally, one can't help but wonder if all this upgrading has something to do with getting their customers on their side of the merger debate.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:01 AM on October 2, 2014

An alternative explanation: do you have any options other than Time Warner where you live? When my old building got enabled for FIOS, Time Warner (which had never done squat for us) started raining free shit down from the sky to convince people to stay. In my new building, where we only have Optimum but they're setting up FIOS now, Optimum gave me a high-end wireless router for free (well, on loan, but I don't have to pay for it).
posted by Itaxpica at 6:37 AM on October 2, 2014

Creepy update: within an hour or so of my above comment my router mysteriously died and now TWC is sending a tech support dude with the new one I never wanted, so I will ask him all these questions when he gets here.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:08 AM on October 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Poffin boffin, the upgrade is coming from inside the house!
posted by wenestvedt at 9:20 AM on October 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

I work for a cable company (not TWC).

As the years go by, we are becoming more and more high-speed data-oriented. By "we", I mean the entire industry. We are replacing old video technology (analog) and using that now-open frequency space to improve our HSD infrastructure.

In doing so, we're able to introduce new high speed internet tiers (higher than what we previously offered), but we're also able to bump up our existing basic and light customers to a new level. Basically, adjusting to the industry standard.

If I had to guess, your current modem does not support the speeds that your package has been increased to. I say this because TWC did the same thing to me, except I didn't know that they were increasing my speed, I didn't know that I needed a newer modem, and when they bumped me up, they just freaking cut off my service. Because my current modem didn't support the new speeds. It took a nearly 2-hour call for them to realize what had happened. Someone had a breakdown in communication.

So yeah, as someone whose job is to partly monitor what equipment our customers have, I suggest getting the new modems. Old models suck.
posted by JimBJ9 at 9:24 AM on October 2, 2014

Also, not to get too technical, but we're able to put DOCSIS 3 data carriers on spectrum frequencies that are inaccessible by DOCSIS 2 modems. It's just a case of newer better technology allowing the company to utilize more of the existing spectrum in more efficient ways.
posted by JimBJ9 at 9:29 AM on October 2, 2014

further update: I asked TWC tech dude

- will there be a new/increased charge for the rental of this shiny new modem
- will this affect my current package
- will I somehow become a public wifi hotspot and if so can i turn that off

His answers were I don't think so, I have no idea, and I think that's only business accounts right now.

so not very helpful, alas. But my internet speed is about 2x what it was with the old one so I guess I feel tentatively good about it.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:11 PM on October 2, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. Especially poffin boffin for the real time questioning of TWC. I'll go ahead and order and hope for the best.
posted by downtohisturtles at 4:02 PM on October 2, 2014

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