• Time Warner Cable

     Time Warner Cable

    Time Warner Cable is one of the more successful independent service providers in the nation, having branched off from parent company Time Warner in March 2009. Once the subsidiary of Time Warner, it now houses its own operations at the Time Warner Center in New York City and a plentiful assortment of corporate houses located out of Connecticut, North Carolina and Virginia. Founded in the early 90s as ‘Time Warner Communications’, TWC came about from a confluence of events and was initially something of a ‘Frankenstein’ company compromised from the assorted details of various mergers and defunct television services like QUBE. TWC did not assert itself as its own division until 1995, when it premiered the ‘cable modem’ origins of a service that would come to be known as Road Runner High Speed Online, and soon thereafter received an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Technological Development – a first for any cable company.

    After TWC managed to remain intact following their spin out from Time Warner, TWC debuted themselves as one of the largest independent service providers working in the United States, armed with several name brand licenses handed down from its former parent company. Although TWC’s newfound independence allowed it a certain freedom when it came to investing in the direction of the company, it was no longer equipped with the corporate connections and affiliations with national channels and services it enjoyed underneath the wing of Time Warner.

     

    Today, Time Warner Cable is the second largest cable provider. It has over fifteen million customers for their services, including cable, broadband internet, DVR and digital phone service, with nearly twenty billion dollars in revenue for the year 2011 and an operating income of four billion. The company owns over seven billion dollars in equity, forty eight billion in assets, and made a billion dollars of profit during the quoted year. TWC has since won three more Emmys for their Video on Demand service, Start Over, and Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development for the Full-Service Network. TWC serves twenty nine American states as of 2012, and has recently acquired both Insight Communications and NewWave Communications and subsidiary NaviSite, and begun enabling their very own ‘cloud’ services.

    Pricing, Plans, and Connection Speed

    Time Warner Cable is primarily functional for residents living in cities, and can experience drops of speed and connection in the rural areas of their service area. TWC provides service to the majority of states in America, but does not include several larger states in the southeast regions like Tennessee, Alabama and Florida. Further limiting TWC’s scope of customers are their newer innovations in internet technology, which tend to debut in major cities and remain inaccessible to a large section of users for months after the face. Their new hybrid fiver coaxial network, for example, is limited to several choice regions (at the time of this writing).

    The good news is that TWC’s vast stable of services – Road Runner, Road Runner with PowerBoost, Earthlink high speed internet, WiFi hotspot access, and Wideband internet – uniformly perform in the top percentile of ISPs. TWC excels in streaming speeds, download speeds and upload speeds, and several of their broadband internet services have been tested at speeds exceeding fifty megabytes per second in Arlington, Texas and New York. These same services have achieved nearly twenty five megabytes per second in cities like Honolulu and Greensboro, North Carolina.

    This service provider currently offers six internet services to connect with customers, beginning at the low-end with 1 megabyte a second and topping out at the aforementioned ‘fifty’ megabytes. Their starting service, ‘Lite’, begins at $19.99 a month, targeting the low end of internet users with cheap internet service providing up to five different email accounts with one hundred megabytes of storage space. Basic, Standard and Turbo services broaden the target range and price range from cheap internet service to more expensive, more specialized technology.

    Aimed at not only casual internet users, but also demanding gamers and frequent downloaders, Time Warner Cable’s Basic plan is ten dollars more than their Lite, while the Standard service is $44.99, and the Turbo service costs $54.99 while running at speeds of twenty megabytes per second, and providing users with up to twenty five email accounts and five gigabytes of storage therein. TWC’s ‘Extreme’ internet service offer thirty megabytes a second at $64.99, with up to thirty email accounts and a whopping ten gigabytes of storage. The ‘Ultimate’ service, their top offer, utilizes DOC SIS 3.0 technology to provide the golden standard of fifty megabytes a second at $74.99, which is faster than the average broadband internet connection. The Ultimate, Extreme and Turbo services all come with the TWC Modem for free home Wifi.

    Additional Features

    In addition to the inclusions of free email accounts with every service, TWC offers free anti-spam, firewall and antivirus protection for its customers. This bundle is quite the bargain for the cheap internet service, as the security included with every internet service is the CA Internet Security Suite, a competitor of Norton and McAfee with an easy to use interface and parental control options that will allow families to filter certain websites and content from their TWC service in addition to protecting them from phishing scams. TWC also provides HD TV, digital DVR, wireless internet and phone service, incentivizing new customers to spend money on packaged bundles that include TWC’s television and phone services for reduced prices.

    Help and Support

    Like most large service providers, Time Warner Cable offers a host of customer service support centers to juggle their millions of customers. Customers can contact them with questions and queries at a local support office, or speak with a representative through their toll free telephone number, email and instant chat. But also ‘like most large service providers’, TWC has seen their share of controversy between their policies and customers. In 2008 TWC tested a new metering technology to update their service plans based on the user’s usage of bandwidth and data, effectively capping those users who use up more than their fair share of bandwidth. Several grassroots groups have even emerged from the crowds of frustrated customers in opposition of bandwidth capping, while Eric Massa, a former representative for the 29th Congressional District of New York, publicly called on TWC to do away with any internet caps.

    However, this controversy is not limited to TWC alone, and has enveloped other service providers for the very same reasons, suggesting that bandwidth caps are not solely the fault of any one provider but widely the fault of service providers trying to tackle the various pitfalls and unexpected surprises of the online frontier. A similar problem that occurred on March 16th, 2010, involving an accidental signal intrusion of TWC that resulted in pornography being broadcast on TWC’s kids’ channels, is a commonplace, if seldom occurring, problem for service providers (Comcast suffered similar controversy for signal intrusions in 2007, 2009 and 2009).

    As far as TWC’s customer service and service technicians are concerned, they typically respond in person within forty eight hours – a relatively quick response time for a company as large as TWC. Frequent calls for service technicians to fix problems associated with bad weather, electrical failures, signal problems and other weekly occurrences returned frequent service technicians showing up for the customers concerned. Where TWC suffers in its customer service department is the same area in which TWC service suffers: namely, rural areas without support from a local TWC establishment that customers in a city like Los Angeles would enjoy. And despite TWC’s quick response time, customers at large view the independent TWM service provider no more favorably than any other service provider, making it a field which is commonly on the receiving end of dissatisfied customers. TWC routinely places near the lowest of the low on American Customer Satisfaction Index studies.

     

    Final Thoughts

    As far as most customers are concerned, service providers are a mixed bag. But because there is no large service provider with a stunning customer service reputation with which to compare all others, sour customers comes with the territory. TWC is a competent service offering customers wireless internet services, cheap internet services, broadband internet and high speeds courtesy of their own hybrid fiber coaxial cable, which allows customers to exceed broadband internet speeds and beat out comparable satellite and wireless internet options. Thanks to their early history with Time Warner, TWC is one of the most capable independent service providers on the market today, backed with enough resources and funds to sustain service and even innovate the industry. However, the avenues that allow for innovation also allow for disappointment, and TWC is currently investigating an institutionalization of service charges based off bandwidth and data usage: a very unpopular platform with customers.

    Otherwise, TWC is a perfectly suitable service provider with reliable internet speeds in the service areas of Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, California, Idaho, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, New Mexico, North and South Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia. The consistency of their speeds makes them stand out from any substandard competition, while their poor customer service reviews and ratings are typical of service providers industry wide. Their bundled packages and security suites offer more bang for your buck, and despite the negative reputation every service provider seems to come into out of a sheer fluke in the relationship between provider and customer, TWC has a knowledgeable customer service center and responsive technician services. TWC doesn’t necessarily offer the fastest internet on the market, nor the best accessories and incentives to buy, but they are the leader in their price range and offer the most consistent internet service among comparable service providers.