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How to avoid Time Warner Cable’s modem-lease fee

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Why pay $72 a year to lease an Internet modem from Time Warner Cable when you can buy one for about $50?

It’s a question more customers likely will ask themselves now that the company recently announced it’s hiking its monthly fee to lease modems by 50 percent, from $3.95 to $5.99. The increase was announced just eight months after the modem fee was introduced by the company, which previously didn’t charge customers for using its hardware.

The benefit of leasing a modem, according to the company, is access to 24/7 technical support that isn’t available to those who buy their own. Time Warner employees will select the appropriate modem and install it on site for customers, who don’t need to do the research to buy modems themselves. Technical assistance also is provided to upgrade and replace modems.

The cable franchise also helps customers who wish to avoid the lease fee and buy their own modems, but in a more limited capacity. To help customers hunt for the right equipment, it has provided a list of 21 modems that are compatible with its services on its website, http://wdt.me/QFLxb7. Research done by the Times found the price range for the modems was $44 to $129 on Amazon.com.

Modems are small boxes lined with blinking lights that tell users when they’re connected to the Web. Signals are received by modems from Time Warner’s cable television line to provide computers with high-speed Internet.

Some modem models double as wireless routers by offering built-in wireless access. They enable customers to create a wireless home network to get access to the Web with cellphones, tablets and laptops.

Modems with built-in wireless routers found on Amazon.com were all more than $100, but used models are sold at a lower price. Those who already own wireless routers can save money by purchasing a standard modem without the wireless feature.

After buying a new modem at a store or online, customers will need to call an agent to activate it. Customers must have the Cable Modem ID (MAC address) on hand that will enable the agent to activate the account.

The website’s live chat feature also may be used to complete this step by contacting an agent on the Web.

Once the new modem is activated, customers will have to drop off their leased modems at a Time Warner Cable office location to avoid any further charges.

Watch a YouTube video posted by a customer who bought a modem to avoid the lease fee at www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzIqDuW43eU.

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