Category Archives: Tech News

How to Save $71.88 a Year by Being Smarter than the Average Cable Internet Subscriber

Like most people living in the United States your home internet options are likely two:

The local phone company —- or  —- the cable company.

This duopoly leaves a lot to be desired. The local phone companies continue to linger in the 1990’s with ancient DSL technologies with puny upload side (i.e. 768k).  The cable company offers on paper at least,  are higher speed packages, but they often fail to deliver to expected levels in practice.

Let’s talk about one of America’s least favorite companies, Time Warner Cable.

At Time Warner Greed is Driving Bad Customer Experience

#2 US Cable Company Time Warner Cable is a textbook example of how not to treat customers.

Several years ago the cable giant decided in order to bolster their income bottom line they’d start charging their internet customers monthly for “renting a modem”.  The new fee applied to anyone not in an active promotional package.  Meaning millions of their customers started seeing a few dollars more on their bill for a modem they might have had freely for the better part of a decade.

Extending simple hypothetical math of Time Warner Cable internet customers at 10 million, and at least 50% of them being outside of a promotional gives us 5 million customers.

5 million customers each being charged $4 a month = $20 million a month
$20 million a month x 12 months = $240 million in new income per year

$180 million at least in new revenue created out of nowhere.

The Taking by Time Warner is even Greater

In a November 13, 2012, article in the NY Daily News documenting a class action lawsuit against Time Warner said that the $3.95 a month fee for modems would generate a whopping $500 million a year of new income to Time Warner.

Just imagine what the modem fee is generating today as Time Warner has jacked their monthly modem fee to $5.99 a month.  The modem fees don’t stop at $5.99 however.  Time Warner Cable wants $11.94 a month for a cable modem that bundles wifi on lower priced plans.  Same modem, same features, $5.95 a month more for customers who decide they can afford or only need slower internet service.

Normally such a massive taking from paying customers would be sold as the means to fund better services.  Not in Time Warner’s wonderland.  Time Warner has been an industry laggard with minimal investment in it’s cable system.  The disinvestment is one of the leading causes for future merger of Time Warner with another cable suitor.


Outdated Ancient Tech Gear Cash Cow for Time Warner

In my own experience, a Turbo Internet package from Time Warner was delivering far less than it should have been.  During peak hours (i.e. 9AM until midnight) performance lurked at times
near dialup speeds (those in rural America can sympathize).

A routine complete tear down of the cable company’s install found good cabling, a splitter at building entry point that was clean and to spec. The problem and  what I learned is that Time Warner years prior had issued us a lovely Scientific Atlanta modem, model # DPC2100R2, manufactured in May 2008.

After looking around I determined this modem was indeed a DOCSIS 2.0 modem, and the support manuals bear a creation date of 2002-2003.

Where else in technology is anyone using a 11-12 year old piece of gear like this?  It’s rare and almost always where disinvestment has occurred.  They are systems long ago abandoned, left to run for a few people until the hardware just stops.

The modem is so old that….  even Comcast has labeled the Scientific Atlanta DPC2100R2 end of life and won’t support it.

But, at Time Warner, they are happy to charge you $5.99 each and every month for housing the dinosaur in your home.  Hide it in your basement and tell inquiring minds you are starting a technology museum.


Why is DOCSIS 2.0 a Problem and Modem Charge Greed Creating Problems?

Cable internet has channels, just like their television offers conceptually.  Your cable modem can select the upstream network from the channels available to it.  Usually there are several channels the modem can choose from.

With DOCSIS 2, the modem can see multiple channels, but only can use a single channel at a time.

DOCSIS 3 is the current standard, and it allows for more channels viewable by your modem.  But the big improvement is channel bonding.  It can take multiple underperforming channels (i.e.
lots of your neighbors are using the internet and clogging things on Time Warner) and create one bigger channel, usually resulting in lower latency and faster throughput for you.

Typically, making the jump to DOCSIS 3, will result in faster internet speeds, lower ping times (latency) and minimize the performance dips during peak usage times (exception is those still
somehow lurking with Turbo plans which are not supported in DOCSIS 3).

To use DOCSIS 3 however, you will need a DOCSIS 3 modem.  That old Scientific America model from 2002-2003 isn’t DOCSIS 3 capable.

Meaning, Time Warner should have upgraded you and your neighbors at least on Standard Internet or greater plans to DOCSIS 3 modems years ago. Officially Time Warner completed it’s nationwide DOCSIS 3 upgrade in 2012.

Saving over $70 a year and Getting Better Internet Speeds in the Process

How would you spend $71.88 saved by not paying Time Warner for ancient underperforming modem?  Your money would be better spent on several months of a TMZVPS, or
a years worth of our TMZHOSTING shared hosting with a new domain (and you still would have money left over for dinner).

Saving on your Time Warner internet bill is simple.   You simply purchase an approved modem, call Time Warner customer support to have it activated on their network and get to setting it up yourself.  Total time is 1-2 hours to do this.  Those with modest technical know-how should be able to accomplish this.  Paying your tech advisor for an hour is well worth it otherwise.

Time Warner provides a list of the current models they support for customer owned modems (other models do work but you should check their forums or other online resources before buying a model not on the list below):
http://www.timewarnercable.com/en/support/internet/topics/buy-your-modem.html

Ebay seller Cents&Pennies sells a number of DOCSIS 3 used modems on Ebay.  I actually bought my new replacement DOCSIS 3 modem from Cents&Pennies:
http://stores.ebay.com/Cents-Pennies?_dmd=1&_nkw=time+warner+docsis+3

If you are on Time Warner’s Standard and below plans and are receiving the speeds you expect, you can stick with a DOCSIS 2 modem.  The DOCSIS 2 modems cost a lot less. That Scientific America DPC2100R2 I have lingering still? It’s $9.48 shipped on Ebay, used of course (that’s less than paying Time Warner fee for two months)
http://www.ebay.com/itm/WEBSTAR-DPC2100R2-CABLE-MODEM-DOCSIS-2-0-/331097129907?pt=PCC_Modems

Cable Internet Woes – America’s Worst Customer Ranked Company Earned Rank

A truck bearing a message is parked near a group of local residents and consumers organizations opposing Comcast's proposed merger with Time Warner Cable, as they protest the deal outside the Comcast Shareholders Meeting in Philadelphia

A truck bearing a message is parked near a group of local residents and consumers organizations opposing Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable, as they protest the deal outside the Comcast Shareholders Meeting in Philadelphia

Resolving Time Warner’s customer service issues revolving around common underperforming network is this simple in many areas.  Upgrade the modem to DOCSIS 3. Time Warner has the capacity for customers but refuses to spend to upgrade customer equipment in a timely and correct manner all while letting them linger on ancient gear incapable of delivering service levels routinely that the customer subscribed to. This is all while gouging customers for $5.99 more a month for a bogus modem rental fee.  If anything Time Warner should be paying you to house their old surplus electronics.

The $5.99 a month modem fee is one glaring example of how corporate greed is destroying Time Warner and why absent regulator sanity we are all but expected to see the approval of the merger of Time Warner and larger rival Comcast.  Competition is needed in the marketplace. Opening up local cable systems like happened with the phone system should be the goal.  More competition for internet access, not less.

Apple Leaks and Law Enforcement Software Featured on Mashable

As a follow-up to our article on Apple iCloud hacks Mashable has an article chronicling one writers experience in hacking her own iCloud account.

Time to hack her own account – 30 minutes.

Cost to hack all the accounts in here office: $400.

It is quite the read for anyone using iCloud and similar hardware vendor provided solutions.

http://mashable.com/2014/09/04/i-hacked-my-own-icloud-account/

 

Retail Giant Home Depot Hacked and Apple Leaks Private Photos

Tuesday a large collection of credit cards appeared on an underground marketplace, and that collection is being linked to home improvement giant Home Depot.  The data breach has the potential to exceed the massive card theft from Minnesota-based retailer Target, who has experienced declining sales, and has wrote down over $230 million in costs due to their credit card hack.

The Home Depot breach comes after the United States Secret Service and Homeland Security issued an August 22nd Advisory warning of cash register malware called Backoff.  The Secret Service estimated then that over 1,000 businesses had been infected by the malware.

Apple Gets Squeezed over Celebrity Owned Device Data Releases

Apple Juiced over Data Security

Apple Juiced over Data Security

Also ongoing is a hack involving Apple and celebrity i-devices.  The celebrity releases feature famous people in compromising situations (read: nude).

Elcomsoft’s Phone Password Breaker is being implicated as one potential source of the leaks. The software is targeted toward law enforcement agencies, and gives full access to their iCloud backups.  Another potential source of the leaks, a vulnerability in Apple’s “Find My iPhone” feature which allows brute force attacks on account credentials.

With software like that from Elcomsoft becoming more available, owners of smartphones and tablets should be asking if depending on their hardware vendor for backups is a wise decision.