The Mere Threat Of Google Fiber Has Time Warner Cable Offering Speeds Six Times Faster At The Same Price

from the behold-the-magic-competition-fairy dept

Like so many other incumbent ISPs, Time Warner Cable has grown all-too comfortable with the lack of broadband competition it enjoys across most of its territory. Some markets are worse than others, usually not-coincidentally directly tied to the level of regulatory capture in a region. In the Carolinas, the company has worked tirelessly to protect its regional monopoly and duopoly, passing a bill in North Carolina (on the fourth try) preventing towns and cities from improving regional broadband. Company execs have also downplayed the rise of gigabit broadband, proudly informing users they don’t really want faster, cheaper services.

Now Time Warner Cable is facing the worst-case scenario for a government-pampered duopolist. One, the FCC has moved to pre-empt Time Warner Cable’s protectionist law in North Carolina, arguing it hinders the deployment of broadband services in a reasonable and timely basis. Two, Google Fiber recently announced it will be expanding $70, gigabit services (you know, the ones users don’t need or want) into Raleigh, Durham and Charlotte sometime in the next year. The one-two punch of regulators thinking independently and increased competition has to be a nightmarish hellscape for company executives.

Time Warner Cable has of course responded by announcing it is increasing speeds in Charlotte and Raleigh six fold (to 300 Mbps) at no additional charge sometime this summer:

“Starting this week, customers will receive communications from TWC outlining the first phase of the project as the company begins the process of creating a 100% digital network…”With ?TWC Maxx,? we?re essentially reinventing the TWC experience,? said Darrel Hegar, regional vice president of operations, Time Warner Cable. ?We will boost Internet speeds for customers up to six times faster, add to our robust TWC WiFi, dramatically improve the TV product and set a high bar in our industry for differentiated, exceptional customer service.”

That’s on the heels of an AT&T announcement that it would be offering its own $70, gigabit service in parts of North Carolina (it’s $110 or more in non Google Fiber markets). Funny how this whole competition thing works, huh? Granted the whole concept of responding to price competition is new to some of these folks, so there’s obviously some initial kinks to work out as these companies figure out what the concept means.

For example, Time Warner Cable’s 300 Mbps down, 20 Mbps up tier will run you $65 promotional, $108 regular price — notably slower and more expensive than Google Fiber’s symmetrical 1 Gbps, $70 a month offering. Similarly, AT&T’s service is very selectively deployed (mostly high-end developments) and the company is only willing to match Google Fiber’s price point if you agree to deep packet inspection snoopvertising. Meanwhile, while Google Fiber pricing is generally straightforward, both AT&T and Time Warner Cable still employ a wide variety of obnoxious fees to drive up the advertised price post sale.

That’s of course the best part about real broadband competition. You actually have a choice, and can respond to slow speeds, abysmal customer service, net neutrality violations and other shenanigans by voting with your wallet. The downside? Google Fiber’s only available in a handful of markets, hopefully putting the onus on other companies to follow Google Fiber’s lead and start lighting a fire under the posterior of a broadband industry that’s just screaming for some disruption.

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Companies: google, time warner cable

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Comments on “The Mere Threat Of Google Fiber Has Time Warner Cable Offering Speeds Six Times Faster At The Same Price”

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Geno0wl (profile) says:


Here in Cincinnati there is a local telco called Cincinnati Bell
recently they started offering 1 Gbps Fiber for $70 a month!
Suddenly TWC in our area started blasting the TV with 100 Mbps ads constantly for a reasonable price, even though as little as a couple years ago they wouldn’t even offer 30 megs for a comparable price.
Funny how competition works.

Spaceman Spiff (profile) says:

Competition, indeed!

I recently got a call from AT&T (I have business U-verse internet), offering to “upgrade” my U-verse from 25mbps to 45mbps, at “no cost”. After some digging and questioning of the rep who called me, I find that my $80 monthly internet bill will go to $145 – “no cost” indeed! What a bunch of dishonest, disgusting, liars!

New Mexico Mark says:

Re: Competition, indeed!

Ingrate! It would have been no cost to you for the sales rep to click a couple of buttons on their console to activate the new “service”, regardless of subsequent charges. You should have been deeply thankful for that (and for the fact they didn’t charge you for the sales call).

I got a call from TWC recently offering me a TV bundle with my Internet service. I got to use my favorite (slowly, and with great seriousness) “I don’t believe in X” response. It is always fun to hear a sales reps squirm as they try to deal with that one.

She was actually pretty quick on her feet and started talking about all the fun shows I could be watching, to which I responded that I was on my way to go scuba diving (technically a scuba lesson, but close enough), and that I also hike, spend quality time with my family, backpack, take interesting courses, swim, kayak, teach outdoor skills, and generally enjoy life. Why would I aspire to become a couch potato? She eventually agreed that what I was doing sounded a lot more fun than watching TV. Hope her supervisor wasn’t listening in on the call. Agreeing that watching lots of TV isn’t much of a life is a hangin’ offense in cableland.

Cdaragorn (profile) says:

I’m in an area close to one where Google Fiber has come in. While I can’t get Google’s offering yet (I’m still holding out hope 🙂 ), my Comcast speeds have magically increased to 5x what they were when we first moved here.

We originally paid for 12Mbps. We’ve recently started getting 60. And no, our price hasn’t changed at all. It’s been funny watching this happen, honestly.

PRMan (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I had it but they said I needed a modem upgrade to get it. I dropped down to the new lower-priced 50Mpbs tier instead and saved $30/month, since I’ve never used more than 40 that I can tell.

But Google Fiber is nowhere in sight (Orange County, CA) and yet they offer 300 to anyone who wants it for $75/month.

I know it wrecks the story, but this ISN’T only a reaction to Google Fiber. Time Warner constantly and consistently upgrades their equipment to higher levels of service.

RD says:

Re: Re: Re:

“I know it wrecks the story, but this ISN’T only a reaction to Google Fiber. Time Warner constantly and consistently upgrades their equipment to higher levels of service.”

Look man, TW isn’t as bad as Comcast, sure, but we are talking a matter of degrees here, not the night/day difference between all of them and what Google
Fiber is doing. It IS a reaction to Google Fiber, as in throwing a bone in the hopes of being able to keep Google at bay and out of those markets for as long as possible.

Anonymous Coward says:

Classic monopoly behavior


Upstart wants to build a new undersea cable. Monopoly stomps on new cable with 1-2 additional cables. Everyone loses money, but monopoly can afford to lose more to smother upstart in the crib.

Russia wanted to bypass the de Beers diamond monopoly in the 1970’s. de Beers dropped the price of diamonds for years until the Russians gave up & joined de Beers. de Beers has a 10+ year’s supply of diamons that it can dump onto the market to kill anyone who tries to bypass them.

Anonymous Coward says:

but as usual, Congress just sees this as TWC being generous, rather than it crapping itself because of real competition being in play! if they were only interested in doing what they can, representing their people rather than worrying about how they can feather their own nests, congress encouraging competition would then see some amazing changes take place in the USA and it could/should be with all industries, not just broadband!

Anonymous Coward says:

The other fees that cable companies charge include modem rental, plus cable internet service is subject to local taxes. Even if Congress ever re-authorizes the Internet Tax Freedom Act, cable internet is still subject to local utility taxes.

Just the local taxes alone on Comcast business class here drives the bill from about $84 (counting modem rental)to about $110.

Archillies says:

Re: Upstream

I agree upstream is important. The effort by ISP companies to limit the upstream is totally about forcing people who want to serve data into buisness accounts.

A personal web site is unbearably slow at 1 meg up of DSL. Remote service is possible but barely.

A casual minecraft server will overwhelm most non-commercial cable (much less DSL)circuits with just two or three users. I guess no body has more then three friends that they want to share things with….

Only socially unskilled 16 year olds in dark basements would need or want a decent upstream right?

Craig (profile) says:

This happened in Austin too

TW did this same thing when Google announced fiber in Austin TX.

Their 30/5 plan which I had got upgraded to 200/20 (with a new router) for the same price.

Now, standard price for the 200/20 tier here is ~$80 per month (though you can call and negotiate it down it to like $54).

However, once Google Fiber becomes available I’ll still switch instantly because:

TW: 200/20 for ~$80 a month
GF: 1000/1000 for ~$70 a month

That’s 5x the download and 50x the upload speed. If they are really serious about staying competitive from a speed perspective they’re going to have to do more catch up.

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