Time Warner Cable sees backlash from $4 modem fees

Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) is grappling with complaints from subscribers who are opting to purchase their own cable modems rather than pay a new $4 monthly fee that the MSO plans to charge to customers to lease the devices.

The New York Times profiled a subscriber in Manhattan on Tuesday who was told by the MSO that he would need to keep his Time Warner Cable-owned modem in order to access its digital voice service, even though he had purchased his own modem to use its high-speed Internet service.

Time Warner Cable says it won't charge subscribers monthly fees for its modems if they use them to make phone calls, but that it will charge $4 fees to subscribers who rely on the devices to surf the Web at high speeds. Tom Arana-Wolfe, the subscriber profiled by NYT, told the newspaper that he was considering filing a class-action lawsuit against the MSO related to the modem fees.

The modem policy was also the focus this week of a blistering column by TheStreet.com senior technology correspondent Gary Krakow.  He detailed the challenges he faced in attempting to activate a Motorola modem he purchased to access Time Warner Cable's broadband network, including calls with customer service representatives and line of subscribers that stretched out the door of one of the MSO's retail stores in New York, where there was a one-hour wait.

For more:
- The New York Times has this story
- TheStreet.com has this story

Related articles:
Bright House Networks adds $2 monthly modem fee
Time Warner Cable to charge subscribers $3.95 monthly to lease cable modems
Time Warner Cable bleeds 169K video subs, grows Q2 revenue 9% on high-speed Internet and voice-service gains
Time Warner Cable rolls usage-based billing option in southern Texas, testing waters for broader launch