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.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: competition, google fiber, innovation, north carolina, speeds
Companies: google, time warner cable


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Pragmatic, 14 Apr 2015 @ 6:25am

    This is what a more fair, more open market looks like, people. Let's add a few more competitors to the mix and see what happens, shall we?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 14 Apr 2015 @ 6:50am

    I can't wait for the forthcoming advertisement:

    "Time Warner Cable give you 6x the speed of Google fiber if you allow us to bang your wife, sell your kidneys, and spy on your internet traffic for $50 a month or an alternative fee of $200 a day without the above restrictions.
    Minimum lifetime + 70 years contract required."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      WDS (profile), 14 Apr 2015 @ 9:16am

      Re: Headline confusion

      While the headline can be read different ways, Time Warner is increasing to 6X their old speeds for the same price they were charging. They are not going to 6X google fiber speed for the price that Google is charging.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2015 @ 6:53am

    Nice to see the monopolists sitting on a fire for once.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    avideogameplayer, 14 Apr 2015 @ 7:03am

    All this is bait and switch tactics to try and get Google out...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Geno0wl (profile), 14 Apr 2015 @ 7:06am

    Cincinnati

    Here in Cincinnati there is a local telco called Cincinnati Bell
    http://www.cincinnatibell.com/internet/
    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), 14 Apr 2015 @ 7:20am

    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!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      New Mexico Mark, 14 Apr 2015 @ 8:14am

      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).
      /s

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Cdaragorn (profile), 14 Apr 2015 @ 7:26am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MO'B (profile), 14 Apr 2015 @ 7:27am

    Snoopvertising

    If there is something positive to come out of this it's the high quaility terms like "snoopvertising" we're adding to the English language!
    It's not quite "Internet Fuckery" but it's right up there!

    Well done Karl!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    scatman (profile), 14 Apr 2015 @ 7:32am

    how many times must I say it

    competition is the only fix for the local ISP monopolies
    BOYCOTT OR BEND OVER

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2015 @ 8:00am

    Time-Warner offers 300 Mbps service! 100% of their customers on this tier declare they are satisfied with that level of service. They even have promotional pictures taken with both home owners!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 14 Apr 2015 @ 8:13am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Archillies, 14 Apr 2015 @ 9:46am

        Re: Re:

        In this case it is about the merger approvals not going very well. TWC is tring to show how happy thier user base is probably....

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        RD, 14 Apr 2015 @ 3:06pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2015 @ 8:11am

    Classic monopoly behavior

    Examples:

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2015 @ 8:12am

    I wonder if they'll still throttle Netflix, though.

    My guess? Yes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 14 Apr 2015 @ 8:16am

      Re:

      I never noticed Netflix being throttled (I used to have bad problems with YouTube until I changed my DNS to Google), but Netflix signed a deal with them anyway when they signed one with Comcast.

      I have zero problems with Netflix on Time Warner.

      (Hey, now that I mention it, it may ALSO be because I changed my DNS to Google.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2015 @ 8:16am

    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!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2015 @ 8:21am

    Cable companies also have zero competition because there are places in America where there are no landlines in major cities. No dial-up and NO DSL means the cable company is your only option.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2015 @ 8:29am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Shmerl, 14 Apr 2015 @ 9:26am

      Re:

      Are local taxes on the Internet state dependent? In some places they are surely absent.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 14 Apr 2015 @ 9:28am

        Re: Re:

        They aren't really on the internet, they're on cable services. However, yes, whether or not there are local taxes, and how much they are, is dependent on the locality. Not just the state -- counties and cities may assess their own local taxes.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2015 @ 9:40am

    Can we please start publicly and unabashedly acknowledging how stupid asymmetric Internet access is? Lack of upstream speed is as big a problem as lack of downstream speed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Archillies, 14 Apr 2015 @ 10:28am

      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?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2015 @ 11:40am

    They did this in san antonio as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Craig (profile), 14 Apr 2015 @ 4:59pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Sponsored Promotion
Public Money, Public Code - Sign The Open Letter at publiccode.eu
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.