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Communications Entertainment

Charter Fights FCC's Attempt To Uncover 'Hidden' Cable Modem Fees (arstechnica.com) 65

Charter is trying to convince the Federal Communications Commission to backtrack on a plan that would force cable providers to charge a separate fee for cable modems, an anonymous writes, citing an ArsTechnica report. From the article: Charter is unusual compared to other cable companies in that it doesn't tack on a cable modem rental fee when offering Internet service. But FCC officials don't think that's good for consumers, because the price of Charter Internet service is the same whether a customer uses a Charter modem or buys their own. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's latest proposal for new cable box rules would require companies to list fees for equipment used to access video. The FCC is clearly hoping that Charter will create a separate fee for cable modems and lower the base price of Internet service by a corresponding amount, thus letting customers save money in the long run by purchasing their own modems. (Separately from modems, Charter already charges monthly fees for the use of its TV set-top boxes.) "As part of the proposal, all pay-TV providers are required to be fully transparent about the cost consumers pay for leased equipment used to access video programming," an FCC spokesperson told Ars. "The goal is to uncover hidden fees and give consumers the ability to make informed choices. If a consumer chooses to purchase their own equipment at retail, our rules would require they no long have to pay for the built-in cost on their bill. We look forward to input from the Commissioners on this aspect of the proposal."
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Charter Fights FCC's Attempt To Uncover 'Hidden' Cable Modem Fees

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    She'll make this problem go away

  • Charter customers pay for the modem, Charter is not in the charity business. Charter doesn't put the modem fee on a the bill as a separate line item because then Charter's customers will want to avoid the fee by owning their modem instead of leasing it.
    • by doug141 ( 863552 )

      then Charter's customers will want to avoid the fee by owning their modem instead of leasing it.

      Some will. Others will be happy to lease, since any connectivity problems are then with company equipment.

    • Charter doesn't want customer-owned DOCSIS 1 or 2 modems on their network messing things up / slowing things down for other people. I owned my own modem at the time of the switch, and they sent me a new modem without changing my monthly rate. Before that, they only charged a rental fee to modem-renters.

      The Cisco modem they sent is not a very good one, however - for a while it required a reboot every few weeks to fix a "lack" of signal. But it still did better than my DOCSIS 2 that I was too cheap to upgr

      • Charter doesn't want customer-owned DOCSIS 1 or 2 modems on their network messing things up / slowing things down for other people.

        Comcast, which allows customer-owned modems, handles this problem quite well with notifications that a customer-owned modem will be obsolete in a year or so, and then has follow-up notices. Additionally, Comcast will start refusing to activate a modem when it has hit EOL. You can find out what modems are EOL here [xfinity.com].

        .
        While Comcast is not my favorite company, imo, they handle customer-owned modems well.

    • Yeah, but because they don't tell you (as a separate line item), the cost of renting the cable modem, you're unable to determine whether or not it's a good deal.

      I mean, okay, my cable modem is from Time Warner. I honestly couldn't tell you how much the rent on it is, because the internet service is bundled into the rent I pay.

      But let's say I did have the bill for that. A mid-range cable modem costs, what, $100? $150? (Newegg lists some going up to $200.) Let's go with $150.

      If the bill says my monthly cable

    • by ndogg ( 158021 )

      That's kinda the point of the FCC policy.

    • I'm with Charter on this. There's a cost associated with customers that use random equipment instead of your preferred equipment and there's a cost associated with having to plan around customer-owned equipment when making changes to your sytem. It's unlikely this cost is meaningfully less than what charter pays for the equipment it provides customers.

      I 100% support requiring charter to allow customers to use their own equipment but if they're already doing that then the FCC should back off.

      • What do you mean by random device?

        I'm on TWC (for now, at least) and you have to buy a modem off a very specific (and short) list if you are going to connect it to their network and expect them to provision it for you.

        And - Comcast has such a list [xfinity.com] too.

  • Going to Backfire (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 31415926535897 ( 702314 ) on Thursday September 22, 2016 @01:30PM (#52940179) Journal

    If I were Charter, I would embrace this. I would make the base internet price the current price, then tack on $10/month to renters of cable modems. I would include a letter in the bill that says, "The FCC has mandated that we start charging for the rental of your cable modem...yada yada, it's the government's fault your rate just went up."

    They'll make a killing and not really lose many customers. The FCC is creating a golden opportunity for them.

    • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Thursday September 22, 2016 @02:41PM (#52940747)
      I can only say that among my circle of friends and family that just about all of us have about reached the end of what we're going to pay for TV and internet and I think there's a pretty good chance that $10 extra would be the straw that breaks the camel's back and makes people drop cable TV altogether. Cable TV subscribers are going down every year due to cost. Even Disney had to do something in some negotiations in the past year that most stock market analysts didn't think they would ever do. They were able to keep their channels like ESPN on basic cable packages but they had to agree to lower numbers of subscribers to do it, which does reduce their revenue.
  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Thursday September 22, 2016 @01:34PM (#52940227)

    Business Class With Static IP Force you to rent. The FCC needs to stop that and let you buy the same one that used at home that you can buy.

    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      With Business service, you're paying extra for a higher level of support, therefore, they get to dictate what hardware is used as CPE, so they can monitor it.

      If you use your own HW, then they're more limited and providing the higher level of support isn't feasible.

      • But they should make that fee be part of the basic rate and not an added fee on top of the static ip fee.

        If you don't have static ip then you can use your own with out paying the fee.

      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        With Business service, you're paying extra for a higher level of support, therefore, they get to dictate what hardware is used as CPE, so they can monitor it.

        That's just a lame excuse. It has no basis in reality.

        I have business-class DSL, and Covad (or whatever they're called now) doesn't dictate what hardware is used as a CPE, and they sure as h*** don't require me to rent it from them. They do provide recommendations. If you stray outside those recommendations, it becomes your problem if things don't w

        • by mysidia ( 191772 )

          That's just a lame excuse. It has no basis in reality.

          Yeah it does.... If the ISP doesn't have SNMP/SSH/etc to the NIU device, then a truck has to be rolled to diagnose, even for an internal network issue.

          Then the customer will not be happy when they have to pay the extra fee for the truck roll, plus the technician's time.

          Also, for business internet: the cost is more than enough for the ISP to supply a basic CPE for free: However,
          it's the ISP's property, and important that it is the ISP that has eye

          • by AK Marc ( 707885 )

            If the ISP doesn't have SNMP/SSH/etc to the NIU device, then a truck has to be rolled to diagnose, even for an internal network issue.

            It's a shame that the cable industry couldn't work out a Data Over Cable Service standard to help them with this.

  • Let's force Charter to charge $0.01 for cable modem rentals. That will solve everything.
  • problem solved - no fucking boxes.

    Make cable user friendly again.

    I don't have cable anymore and haven't for had it for over 12 years, and yes, boxes have a little to do with it.

  • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 ) on Thursday September 22, 2016 @01:42PM (#52940299)

    Free.fr, a french ISP notorious for bringing low cost internet doesn't charge a rental fee for its "boxes" and using any other hardware is not supported.
    In a lawsuit related to the non-disclosure of some open source components, they argued that the freebox (that's the name of the modem) is part of their network and that the customer has nothing to do with it. IIRC, they lost, but I can see Charter pulling the same argument.

  • With Comcast you can buy an approved DOCSIS 3.x modem [xfinity.com] for ~$70. In 10 months it pays for itself.

    I'm surprised Charter gets away with over-charging the customer. Oh wait, this is the cable industry -- everything they do is over-charging the customer. :-/

  • I work for a very small ISP, and personally, I'd side with Charter on this one. We provide a modem to customers as part of the basic service and guarantee internet will work with the provider modem. If our modem goes bad, we supply a replacement no questions asked. Customers who are technically adept may use their own equipment, but we won't support it beyond providing normal configuration settings. If any Tom, Dick, or Harry can use whatever they want, then the ISP is on the hook for supporting possibly da
    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      I have worked for larger and smaller ISPs than you. I disagree. You support the line speed. If the modem doesn't connect with a good line rate, your "best effort" service is delivered. If the modem has problems with PPPoA, you refer them back to the supported model, provided with the service.

      You can protect yourself without being a Nazi. I've swapped out modems on bad ISPs like yours, just kept the original in a box, and swapped it in if I got an idiot on support.
  • My monthly bill from charter has a $9 fee for "Modem lease".

    • My Charter bill doesn't. I'm considering jumping to Playstation Vue for video service and was examining my bill to see how much the internet service would increase by if I dropped video service ($6/month) and I noticed that there wasn't a modem rental charge (even though there are charges for the two DVR's).

  • What's the advantage of this policy? It looks like a fixed fee without charging separate rental fees would encourage all customers to rent, else they're paying for someone else's modem. That the modem rental cost to you is essentially a $2 fraction of your bill instead of a $10 line-item only occurs because 80% of users are paying that $2 but not renting a modem; so why wouldn't you? On the other hand, if the modem rental is a separate fee, everyone gets to avoid it by buying an $80 modem... except poor

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I rented a cable modem for one month until my own arrived. Comcast provides a long list of modems that work with their system. Registering the new modem was a piece of cake. There was no pressure to keep renting when I returned the original modem. The new modem was paid for in less than a year of not renting.

  • Back in the day att used to give you the modem as in you own it. Later it was like you pay $99 for it and get an $99 rebate.

    Now it's you must rent it or you rent it but the fee is hidden.

    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      Back in the day att used to give you the modem as in you own it. Later it was like you pay $99 for it and get an $99 rebate.

      Was this also "back in the day" when the only DSL provider you had was your local RBOC?
      AT&T didn't have to worry about you taking their free-gift modem and switching to another provider with it then -- unless you were moving and would be out of their service area anyway.

  • I gladly, and knowingly pay the $10 a month rental. I have a closet full of old hardware (anyone want a V.Everything modem?). And if there is a problem they can get into it remotely. A new cable modem with 16x4 and GigE will run about $180 for a new modem with router. That means I will spend about $60 more on my 2 year contract. And when I get done I will not have yet another piece of hardware to put in the closet.

    • That's a good point, but it depends on the ISP.

      With mine (TWC) they charge extra to enable the wifi on your cable modem/router without a certain level of service. Additionally, they will enable a hotspot using their modem allowing other people to use it (but separate from your network, they claim).

      I loathe these shenanigans, and prefer to control my equipment. Hence two more pieces of junk to join my USR Courier modem, Psion 3, and other junk in my "Island of Misfit Toys".

  • 'Don't make us take off our masks as we anally sodomise you with a spiked club!'

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