Blog Post

TWC to Customers: You Don't Want Tiers, You Don't Get Super-fast Broadband

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Updated: Well, I hope all of you who complained about Time Warner Cable’s (s TWC) plans for metered broadband are happy. Shortly after the cable company pulled its metered broadband trials, it’s also rethinking its deployment of super-fast broadband in San Antonio and Austin, Texas; Greensboro, N.C., and Rochester N.Y. Whiny citizens in those communities (including me) apparently don’t deserve super-fast broadband speeds of 50 Mbps unless it’s accompanies by tiers.

A Time Warner Cable spokesman says the cable company was planning to roll out DOCSIS 3.0 upgrades as part of its consumption-based broadband trials, but it’s now “reevaluating whether or not the trial cities are among those places” scheduled for DOCSIS 3.0 rollouts. As for rolling out next its next-generation cable network, Time Warner has been making vague statements but so far hasn’t laid out any definitive plans.

Update: A few people have questioned if this information is based solely on the tweets linked to above. It is not. I emailed Time Warner Cable to clarify the tweets and received the partial quote offered in the story.

101 Responses to “TWC to Customers: You Don't Want Tiers, You Don't Get Super-fast Broadband”

  1. Tara K.

    I live in Dallas, Texas, transplanted from NYC. In all the time in lived in NYC and upstate NY, I had road runner. The customer service was wonderful, hardly ever experienced outages. Time Warner Cable (road runner) in Dallas is a nightmare. I was wrongfully charged a late fee, (the fee was eventually removed from my bill). Additionally, one of the cable outlets in my apartment do not work. When I called TWC to address the issue I was told it would cost me $100 to have a tech come out and activate the non working port, despite having already paid the “activation” fee when I signed up with TWC and got the service installed. Basically I was told that I was going to have to pay $100 to make a service I already subscribed to and paid for work. This, along with the constant outages in my area prompted me to file a complaint with the FCC. Since filing the complaint, Time Warner canceled my road runner service (for “nonpay”), despite the fact that my account was up to date with payments. (I have printouts of my bills, and letters from my bank stating that TWC removed money from my account monthly. I can prove that my account was up to date.) They canceled my service without notice of any kind. (Which is illegal in the state of Texas.) One could argue that I should just switch to AT&T or Fios. Fios isn’t available to me yet, and AT&T delivers the last leg of their service through the old copper phone wires. Based on an engineering perspective the services offered by AT&T are not identical to TWC based on the limitations of the copper wire. Essentially TWC has a monopoly on braodband distributed through the cable wire system. At this point, it another company started up tomorrow offering the same service with the same technology, I’d jump at the chance to sign up, regardless of the price. For those of you currently stuck with Time Warner Crapp-le, the next time you have an issue, mutter these three magic words, “Public Utility Commission” or “Public Service Commission”. After you say those three words, TWC will get down on their hands and knees and personally rim your anus. After leaving an angry message with TWC about my service being illegally discontinued threatening to call the PUC – I received a phone call back in less than 12 hrs, and had a service rep out the same day TWC got back to me.

  2. I’m currently being raped by suddenlink. This is just typical, these corporations get larger and larger and crush their competition or buy them out altogether. Then they charge what they want and leave you with one choice. Pay or use the public library. People stand up for themselves as consumers on ocassion but the majority of us bend over and take it. I can’t imagine what the future is going to be like. As advertised 12 mb/s. What I’m actually getting is 150-300 kb/s down and exactly 65 going up. I’m pinging over 300 inside the games i like to play and constantly booted over lag. I couldn’t imagine having that capped as well. Final words… If your charging me for 12 mb/s dammit I want to play at 12 mb/s. If I can barely get 1 either way you should be charging me 1/12 the price. I just want somebody to tell the whole truth up front for once. I can’t stomach being lied too.

  3. I actually welcome the TWC punitive threats to further handicap the overall U.S. investment in broadband infrastructure.

    Perhaps the only way that we can move forward as a nation, on the bigger issue of economic impact, is if service provider customers become enraged and demand a change from policymakers (local, regional and federal).

    IMHO, the root issue is much bigger than the vested interests of any one of the current American service providers, or their myopic business practices. More details on this assessment are here

  4. Fibre in NYC

    I live in NYC, and Verizon has the right idea. Within the boroughs, FiOS standard data plan is 20mbps/10mbps cap-free, while TWC/RR/earthlink is stuck on 10mbps/512kbps (which usually turns out more like 9/478). Unless DOCSIS 3.0 rolls out to all the boroughs in the next 12 months, this battle is already over, and Verizon takes the cake.

    The fact is, for the average enthusiast (gamers, downloaders, and small-business owners) a 20/10 unlimited connection is all you need. Great, so DOCSIS 3.0 offers me 50mbps down, but I’m only allowed 30gb/mo: That’s an EFFECTIVE transfer rate of only ~100kbps (30gb/60days/24hrs/60mins/60secs). That’s horrifying. 20mbps vs 100kbps…I wonder which one the average consumer chooses?

  5. WhoWhatWhere

    TWC’s ‘surgical’ statement is old news and all the ‘vague’ signs and comments are just that… vague.

    I have to agree that TWC’s top brass and employees seem to be working as double agents and they are putting the company’s future in jeopardy by pushing weird and out of touch policies mainly usage caps. But to infer that DOCSIS3.0 will be put on hold because all the whining protests is absurd. TWC has a lot to gain by deploying DOCSIS3.0 at a very little cost, they can’t afford not to ignore DOCSIS3.0.

    As a TWC business customer we’re very happy with our 15/2 Mbps static IPs account but I understand residential customers concern regarding usage caps. I’m glad that all the protests made TWC change their mind.

  6. if you don’t like the speeds you get with time warner try going with earthlink. it uses the same wire, and you still pay a time warner bill. but it goes out thru earthlink’s servers, which are generally faster. i consistantly get 7-8mb/s when i pay for 6.

  7. Another article about tiers and caps that ignores the biggest menaces in this equation: local government bodies granting monopoly/duopoly status, and an FCC-gone-wild with power and control.

    I’m a huge fan of caps because I can pay for what I want. For those who don’t want to pay for fast speed and high transfer allowances, TW should just offer a low speed variant with no caps, and offer their higher speed connect rates with tiered pricing. Problem solved.

    • skrap1r0n

      Hell just to watch Netflix on the Xbox, I have to pay Netflix, Xbox live and TW. I don’t want to have to pay more for a basic service. I think streaming media is the biggest reason they are inposing these caps.

      I am in Austin, if I had a choice as to my provider, I wouldn’t care what TW did. The problem is, I don’t have a comparable choice.

    • Not a Cable Fan

      Try again. No local government has granted monopoly/duopoly status. Just try to demonstrate ONE such instance. It doesn’t exist. Under the Cable Reform Act, local government was stripped of virtually all powers to regulate.

      The fact is that the last mile is a “natural” monopoly. The costs are so prohibitive for a wired plant, that no overbuilder can ever profit. It might make more sense to operate the CO, the cable plant, the fiber loops, as a local co-op, and have content providers vie for subscriptions (TV/IP, VoIP).

      But that is not going to happen. Not now, not ever.

      So we must contend with the few not-quite-competing options available. Frankly, unless you live in the countryside, or you live in a satellite-prohibited apartment, most Americans do have some choice, and that choice offers up reasonable prices and services. In some cases, we may have to pay more to attract a provider willing to deal with the extra overhead of low-density customers. But if you’re saving $500 a month by living in a rural setting, surely, you can spend some of that coin on $60 a month for satellite or fixed wireless service.

  8. Time Warner Cable is the worst. I’m happy that they decided to postpone metered bandwidth but I hope that something will convince them to scrap the idea altogether. It sucks that they may not be rolling out DOCSIS 3.0 but I have never been able to get more than 5Mb down with my broadband. Granted I don’t live in a bigger city but I am baffled when I see what others are getting, head over to, and regularly end up with 4.5Mbps down. Time Warner Cable is truly the worst.

  9. On behalf of the people of Rochester, “shucky darn” on losing out on that incredible opportunity to blow through those usage caps in a matter of hours. We’ll somehow scrape by with what we have.

    We fought back Frontier last summer (those people are still writing memos about me on the corporate level) with their 5GB usage cap, which was well on the way to reality. When I was standing next to Sen. Schumer last week on Time Warner’s lawn bidding a temporary goodbye to the Time Warner caps, I was reminding myself just how annoyed people in the Flower City get when you try and take away flat rate telecommunications services. Rochester Telephone tried that in the 1970s and the torch-bearing throngs nearly burned down their headquarters.

    People here do not care about super fast speeds if they are accompanied by ludicrous overlimit fees. The Rochester Business Journal just finished their survey showing the same results every other broadband cap study seems to show – an overwhelming (near 80%+) of customers don’t want caps or tiers based on consumption, no matter how much they use. NOBODY wants to look at a “gas gauge.”

    Frontier is making hay out of all of this. I’ve posted ads they’ve been running in the newspapers on and they’re having a great time lampooning the caps TW tried to impose. Unfortunately, they’re not Verizon FiOS, so folks are stuck with traditional DSL for competition, but as long as they’re unlimited, lots of people signed up, including me.

    To those providers in rural areas, I think additional funding should be made available to provide an affordable, level playing field of access. We have a universal service fund already for telephone, a great of which is probably being flushed down a rat hole. A review of the program and redirecting some of those funds to enhance the affordability of connectivity in rural areas sounds like a fine idea. Broadband should not be a limbo dance to who can get away with the lowest caps. Let’s rise everyone up, not down.

  10. Because you don’t improve your network to meet demand, you blame us?

    And now you threten to punish the users for this, just wrong wrong wrong.

    The hole is getting deeper twc

  11. A Roadrunner outage had me on the phone with them last week. When I yelled about it taking two days to get a tech here, they offered me twelve months of RR Turbo for FREE. I told them to shove it — that RR as it is hardly ever gives its advertised speeds and that Turbo was just another scam. Looks like I was right! Cap *this*, TW!

  12. Itaintrite

    Sorry, but this is BS. What’s the point of having super fast internet if you can’t download to your liking? Is 30mbit gonna make loading websites any faster than 10mbit?? Nobody cares.

    Just give us an upstream upgrade.

  13. william

    This response is so funny it’s like my yard my rules kind of logic. Time warner is acting like bunch of kids that don’t want to play fair. The caps they try to impose on us was ridiculous,now if they wasnt to try higher caps it might work…

  14. Here’s a question… Does anyone get their local franchising authority involved anymore? Cable companies in the US have access to public right-of-way because the local city or town grants it to them. The agreements expire every 15 to 20 years, and the renewal process, for cities that have a clue, can start as soon as five years before expiration. The franchising authorities typically act as advocates for their constituents in this natural monopoly. So what are they doing?

  15. Robert A. Rosenberg

    Given that they only support 5/.768 in the area just north of my Rockland County (NY) location (I’m serviced by CableVision/Optonline at 15/2 and 30/5 [with faster DOCSIS3 tiers “RSN”] I’d think that DOCSIS3 is not on their game plan any time soon. I think their NYC speeds are just as pathetic since NYC has FIOS and CV (the city is split between CV and TWC/RR).

  16. I just dumped TWC and moved to AT&T DSL…even though they are not trying out caps in my market. Just tired of supporting this kind of behavior. I found out that I was also eligible to order U-Verse DSL without TV service, and will probably upgrade to that eventually.

  17. Sturmvogel

    No, thanks, TW, keep it. At the caps level you want, a THREE megabit connection is just fine. High speed broadbans is not useful if you cannot use it (caps). So no need to stress yourselves out, someone else will eventually deliver high speed without caps at a reasonable price while you try to “reinvent” yourselves while in bankruptcy court.

    Pissing off your customers with an inferior product works quite well, take a look at the auto industry.

  18. Michael

    I don’t think Time Warner understands the can of worms they are opening. Lawmakers will eat them up if it looks like they are taking retaliatory action against their customers. They have local monopolies in the areas they wanted to impose caps, and are now saying they will deny those customers the natural improvement to performance because they cannot impose ridiculous overage fees?

    Of course they could easily recoup those costs by providing faster bandwidth then the current max at a higher rate (like what Comcast is doing). Of course, the not so secret real reason for all of these actions has nothing to do with the profitability of their high-speed internet service. It has to do with trying to use their cable high-speed monopoly to maintain their monopoly on providing video services to the home.

    I really want to see TWC execs explain their actions in from of a Senate hearing.

    • Keep in mind that TWC hasn’t *done* anything. The service in those areas is the same as it was 6 months ago. They haven’t denied anyone anything.

      A Senate hearing — say, by an Internet Truth and Virtue Commission? — would force companies to conclude that they should not be open about their experiments or future plans. If those plans don’t come to fruition, if the numbers don’t turn out or if they conclude it was a bad idea in the first place — well, they’ll get hauled in front of Congress.

      Next time, they won’t make the mistake of sharing any plans or perhaps conceiving them in the first place. Better to stay at DOCSIS 2 if openly considering DOCSIS 3 will get you arrested!

  19. Brett Glass

    Time Warner is right to do this. If they cannot recover their costs for doing so, why should they roll out faster networks? Bandwidth costs money, and if users won’t pay for more bandwidth there’s no point in installing the facilities to provide it.

      • Sturmvogel

        I believe Brett here is a small ISP as far as I know. He likes those huge markups and would like to be able to do the same himself, so those corporate maneuvers are of great interest.

      • davidwr

        Brett Glass wrote: “If they cannot recover their costs for doing so, why should they roll out faster networks?”

        Chuck replied: “This is all just a scheme to hinder video over the internet because it competes with their core business.”

        I think Chuck just identified the true cost of unmetered high-speed Internet to Time-Warner.

      • Brett Glass

        Actually, Mr “Storm Chicken,” I have spoken publicly against caps and metering. See my testimony before the FCC at However, if it is not possible to keep costs in line via other means (and the FCC seems intent on banning that), one MUST cap and meter. Internet providers are not charities; we cannot sell service below cost.

      • Brett Glass

        Davidwr: If Time Warner is able to make a reasonable profit delivering video via ordinary cable transmission (which is a technologically superior and much more cost-effective way of doing it, by the way), why do you begrudge it a profit when it delivers it digitally? Also, remember that it’s much more expensive to deliver video via streaming, for many reasons. Firstly, each user who “tunes in” imposes an additional burden on the network and an additional cost to the provider– something that’s not true with conventional cable video. Secondly, each stream is individual, so streaming is massively inefficient. Thirdly, IP was not designed to deliver video, so the network has to be overdesigned to do it. All told, it SHOULD cost substantially more to receive the same programming via streaming than via a video delivery system that’s designed for it.

    • Stacey Higginbotham

      Brett, but Time Warner hasn’t convinced anyone that it isn’t recovering the costs of providing broadband. You and I have talked in depth about the costs of your T1 line and the challenges of providing broadband over unlicensed wireless, and I understand the technical hurdles and limitations you face when offering broadband to your subscribers. Time Warner has costs, but they’re also recouping them enough to post a profit. Good for them. I’m actually in favor of high profit margins if a they are won for a good product in a competitive environment. But TWC doesn’t have true competition and customers have so far been rightly outraged at the attempt to take higher profits and charge them more for the same service when Time Warner can’t reasonably explain why that service is now costing them more to provide.

      Believe me, I’ve asked Time Warner to talk on this issue, and so far, they’ve offered me generic statements rather than an understanding of how their costs are changing as a small percentage of users are hogging more bandwidth. I know that has implications on the network, but the tiered pricing plan seemed to go farther than merely addressing that issue.

      • Brett Glass

        Stacey, we don’t have just “a T1 line.” And Time Warner is not doing all that well with broadband; they are shifting revenues from their other businesses (mainly TV).

        As for your claim that Time Warner does not have true competition — that’s simply not true. No cable company serves an area that does not also have a phone company. Cellular broadband is virtually ubiquitous. And what are we wireless ISPs: chopped liver? We serve at least 2 million households (likely quite a few more; that’s just the number that WISPA can verify) in a country with a population of 300 million. (Average household size 3.5; HSSI adoption rate 54%; you do the math. That’s substantial market share. And we’re growing like topsy.)

        It appears that you’re simply bashing Time Warner because you don’t like cable companies. Unfortunately, you’re proposing regulations that would destroy all competition for the cable companies and telcos. Prevent us from either (a) constraining service so that users don’t cost us more than they are paying us, or (b) charging users more if they cost us more and you are guaranteeing that no Internet provider can survive without bundling and cross-subsidization. And that way lies duopoly, because only cable companies and telcos can cross-subsidize. Is that what you want? It’s what you will get if you continue on this tack.

      • Work there and then see how much they communicate to their employees.

        The employees in the call centers know as much or less than the customers.

        4 years as an employee. quit last year.

        Worst 4 years of my life.

        Glenn Britt is a jerk. Maybe if him and the others in Virginia (main headquarters) and NYC would take a pay cut then they could afford some upgrades.

      • Dan Smith

        Brett, if Time Warner Cable ” is not doing all that well with broadband; they are shifting revenues from their other businesses (mainly TV),” then they’re falsifying their 10-Q and 10-K reports to their shareholders and the SEC.

        In their 1Q 2009 filings, Time Warner cited it’s high-speed internet division (prior to the spin-off) as one of their divisions with the highest profit margins and that they foresaw nothing but increasing profits, due to the falling cost of bandwidth and a steadily growing customer base. (And they noted that the profit margin had been growing for at least three straight quarters.)

        Furthermore, recent internal figures from Time Warner Cable estimate the annual cost per houshold of their DOCSIS 3.0 would be $6.95, given the significantly lower operating costs.

      • Brett Glass

        Time Warner is cross-subsidizing its Internet business from its cable TV business. They don’t charge rollouts of cable service to new areas to their Internet service; they charge it to their “bread and butter” TV business. Which makes their Internet business look better on the balance sheet.

      • So why do you continue to fan the flames that ISP’s are ripping off america … these forums and blogs, are totally unrealistic about costs and prices ….

        I continue to say, just like demanding that electricity become flat rate, and marginally priced at a loss … some $13/household and business

        so that the conversion to “green electric cars” will become a social good.

        An ISP can no more provide unlimited bandwidth for $20/mo than your electric company can.

    • hey brett –

      no one begged twc to get into the broadband business – they saw it was lucrative. How about they abandon it and a more efficient isp can pay them for their lines?

      This is just the first step in driving everyone’s rates up, not just the big users. If you want competition, it should be another cable company, not dsl, not wireless.

      • Brett Glass

        Defamatory nonsense. We take customers from Bresnan every day; in fact, we can’t fill orders for new service fast enough. The reason: we actually guarantee a minimum throughput and don’t inflate our claims.However, if we are regulated so that we cannot make a profit, having more customers just means more losses.

  20. They’ll have to roll out with that super fast broadband anyway, regardless of no-cap. If not, Verizon is going to eat it and other competitors, with super fast FiOS… AND NO CAP!!

    Verizon has anticipated the future of broadband access and demands, while these companies were still criticizing it for expensive fiber implementation. The problem is that these companies are too slow to catch on. Maybe they should continue to offer slow broadband until Verizon FiOS stops by and grab all the customers away with faster speed for same price.

  21. Yes, because a hugely profitable company can’t afford the fairly meager costs of DOCSIS 3.0 upgrades unless they’re allowed to impose per gigabyte overages up to 2500% over cost.

    Time Warner Cable can only afford to play this pouting game for so long, or FiOS will eat them for lunch.