|TWC's terse little message about the fee was sent on a postcard|
|Thomson/RCA DCM425, prefers to be horizontal|
|Motorola SB6141, jauntily vertical|
Hmmm, what one would really want is for TWC to rent the DOCSIS 3.0 modem for $3.95. I went to their store and asked for just that. No dice. TWC's rep would only give me a new version of the same Thomson/RCA modem I had. When I got it home, it worked exactly the same way the old one did. About 16 Mbps downstream and 0.7 Mbps upstream.
I did like the idea of faster service and, 19% annually is a lot better than my portfolio typically yields.
After waiting for the early purchasers to get through the system, I found a new Motorola SB6141 from a well-regarded eBay seller which I won at auction for $97.50.
I connected it and got it authorized by TWC over the phone in about 5 minutes on a Saturday morning. I did have to wait about 40 minutes to return my old modem to TWC at their store. Going to their store at 11AM on a Saturday is not recommended.
Bottom line: My downstream speed is now about 19 Mbps (a figure I got on occasion before, but not regularly) and my upstream speed is now about 2 Mbps (a figure way better than I ever got before). If my modem lasts 4 years, it will give me a return of about 33% annually and provide performance call it safely ~10%+ better than I was getting. That's a good deal provided that the risk of failure of the modem is modest.
How did TWC do? On the downside: TWC sprung a fee on their customers on 2-weeks notice, they required the purchase of more expensive equipment than they provide themselves and made me wait 40 minutes simply to return something to them. On the plus side, the authorization couldn't have been easier. It wasn't the greatest performance by a cable operator, but it was adequate.
More resources: stories in Multichannel News and New York Times Bits Blog