Review by iansltx
Good "As-advertised speeds, quick/easy install, reliable"
- Location: Austin,Travis,TX
- Cost: $96 per month
- Install: about 30 days
Bad "Installation/support issues, high price even with owned modem"
Overall "No other good options in this area...yes, this is a good option"
|Pre Sales information:|
Value for money:
(ratings match consensus)
Got my latest bill. As expected, I'll be paying around $11 more than before, with the total coming to just shy of $96 per month. Technically the dollars-per-megabit is negligibly higher thanks to the overprovisioning boost a week ago. But the service is still quite expensive, whatever way you slice it. And I've been having disconnection issues due to low SNR over the past few days.
On the 3rd I rebooted my modem to get a 10% speed boost; TWC no longer does PowerBoost but is now overprovisioning the speeds of their tiers at 15/1 and higher. There are times where I don't quite get those speeds, but at other times I'm hitting closer to 55/5.5 than 50/5. Nothing huge, but still nice.
Other than that, no upgrades to the plant that I can see. My modem SNR is actually down a bit from before...only 36-37 dB. My connection is still reliable, but it wouldn't take much to kill this reliability.
I got a letter in the mail today saying that TWC had extended the promo price of my tier...sort of. The amount I pay is going up by $10/mo, but that puts me at $90 (plus taxes and fees, so the upcharge will be more like $10.83) rather than $105. As such, I'll probably stick with my 50/5 tier, as the new promo rate is good until this time next year. Hopefully I'll be on Google Fiber by then, as paying nearly $100 for 50/5 isn't my idea of a fun time.
A month or two ago I ordered an SB6141 and returned the TWC-provided gateway, so now my bill is $85 instead of $89 (soon to be $90, or even more). The company messed up something with provisioning, such that I was offline for an hour and change the day I returned the modem, but they fixed it.
Service is still reasonably reliably and speedy, and TWC isn't complaining about the ~340GB that I've transferred this month (much of it uploads due to reseeding/updating online backups). However during peak hours Twitch.tv and YouTube become an utter buffer-fest at higher bitrates, unless I tunnel to SoftLayer or the like.
I'll probably downgrade to 30/5 as soon as my promo pricing wears off (probably after this coming billing cycle), unless TWC offers to extend the promo pricing. The extra 20 Mbps of download speed is nice, but uploads are where I'm really hurting, and the 50 Mbps plan doesn't offer any benefit to that end...so I wait impatiently for Google Fiber to solve that problem.
According to my latest bill, Austin now has the $3.95 modem rental fee (plus tax), boosting the price I'm paying for 50/5 to $89.32 per month. I'll be ordering a Zoom 5341J modem pretty soon to avoid this rental fee, and I'll come out ahead within 20 months of that purchase (less if TWC hikes modem rental rates again).
According to TWC's meter, I used 172, 202 and 148 GB of data in August, September and October, respectively. So far this month I've used 162 GB due to my backup partial reseed. Those numbers sound accurate, given what I've been doing on my 'net connection, and they don't matter too much anyway since my tier is still uncapped. If you work things out, my cost per gigabyte is between 40 and 50 cents...more than I'd pay on AT&T with one of their 250GB plans, but also more reliable and faster (17x faster on downloads, 7x faster on uploads, accounting for DSL overhead).
Service still appears to be humming along. I'll be reseeding a backup this month but am not worried that TWC will get onto me about that since I don't do heavy downloading/uploading during peak periods (it's either afternoons before everyone gets home or late at night). At any rate, there's no cap.
The only times I get high latency is when I'm pegging the connection in one or both directions. Which is right now, since I'm pulling 6 MB/s on a few parallel downloads. Otherwise, the connection is completely snappy. For example, pings to a California game server are ~59ms and Netflix buffers in a couple seconds and switches to HD after well under a minute (probably the fault of Netflix more than the cable connection that it takes that long).
Again, I'm pretty much a captive audience for TWC...I'm not going to switch to 3M AT&T DSL or throttled, latency-ridden Clear WiMAX (or throttled/capped cellular or satellite service). Grande Communications, which I'd switch to in a heartbeat if they were available, isn't available in this part of town, and the remaining options all cost hundreds of dollars per month (MegaPath EoC or whatever). So TWC it is.
Service appears to be performing as expected. Speeds are in the high forties or low fifties down, 5 Mbps up. I may run Ethernet to make sure I get full speeds...since I'm on a 2.4GHz-only router in an apartment complex, the last few feet may be my weak link.
I checked my bill just now (after signing up for TWC PayXpress and turning off paper billing) and TWC overcharged me by $1.77 on its last credit card payment, leaving me with a $21.77 service credit. The other $20 was applied by TWC's Twitter team as an apology for the installation coordination issues...I'd rather have had no issues with the install than $20, but I'll take it!
As far as what I'm actually paying, it looks like standard Internet service here in Austin is $54.99 per month. Add Another $50 for 50/5, then take away $25 due to the promo I'm on. Modem rental ($2.50), taxes ($3.12) and fees (a regulatory cost recovery charge of 36 cents) bring my total to $85.97 per month for my first twelve months of service.
So if I was in Comcast territory where FiOS was available or nearby, I could get faster service (50/10) for a comparable price (including modem rental, I think)...and I'm paying more for TWC 'net access than AT&T charges for any of their DSL tiers...but for where I am this isn't the worst deal ever.
Speaking of what AT&T charges for their DSL tiers, I could get the highest-end service that's available here for $19.95 per month for twelve months, if I commit to a year contract. But it's 3M down, 768K up at best so that's not happening (and TWC offers its 3M plan for $19.99 per month for the first twleve months with no contract anyway). It's extra annoying that no high speeds are offered here because there's a VRAD ust down the block from the entrance to my apartment complex, along with buried fiber optical cable warnings on the streets nearby. Guess the phone lines in here must be really, really screwy to keep that VRAD from serving me at 18 Mbps over, say, two pairs (so 5000 wire feet).
ORIGINAL REVIEW (8-15-12)
In this particular apartment complex (NW Austin), AT&T provides DSL and TWC provides cable. Unfortunately, AT&T tops out at 3 Mbps at my particular apartment, so for telecommuting, gaming, etc. that wasn't going to work. Since I had 50/15 connectivity from Comcast in Colorado (see my review of them), I decided to go for TWC's 50M tier (5M up). I dont need the extra download speed, but I heard rumblings that TWC will upgrade the tier's upload speeds, something that I'd find quite handy for transferring large files/photos/videos (hence my having 50M service in Colorado).
ORDERING & INSTALLATION
I ordered service in late July, as early as I could for an expected mid-August install (I moved into my new apartment on the 14th, so an install on the 15th was ideal). The 50/5 tier, Internet-only, came to $82.49 per month including modem rental and after a $20 discount (which lasts one year). Installation was either cheap ($50) or free.
I received an e-mail from TWC a day or two later asking me to reschedule my install...I had picked 8/16 (valid on Time Warner Cable's website) but apparently the schedule didn't actually go out that far. I rescheduled for the 13th temporarily; I would call them back to reschedule for after the 14th later.
A week and a half or so prior to my install, I called up TWC again to reschedule. The customer service rep's English could use work, but I gathered that he had rescheduled me for 8/15 at 8am. Perfect! Or not...
On the 13th, while I was still not in my apartment quite yet, I got a couple voicemails from TWC (my phone was off at that point). I found out by a follow-up call to them that the installation reschedule request didn't take, something I hadn't been notified about. On that same call, I rescheduled the install as early as was then possible: 1-3pm on Saturday.
This was far less than ideal, and the scheduling snafu wasn't my fault, so I contacted TWC via Twitter. They put a tech supervisor on the situation and I got a call several hours later letting me know that I'd have an installer by in the 10am window on the 15th, pending availability. I thanked the supervisor and ended the call.
This morning (8/15) I got an e-mail from TWC stating that the insatllation was complete, though no tech had yet showed. Calls to TWC's automated system listed my order as complete (no additional info) as well. A call to a TWC support rep cleared things up: one system still had the 8/13 install date set, and my tech would arrive in the 8a-noon window.
At just before 10am, a TWC tech called me and let me know that he was arriving. The first part of his installation job was outside my apartment. Having finished that, he came inside around 10:25am. By 10:45, he was gone and the Motorola SBG6580 he brought with him was serving up my 50/5 connection. I then logged into the modem (admin/motorola are the default username/password), disabled NAT and turned off wireless connectivity, effectively turning the gateway into a bridged modem without needing to call TWC to get them to make the change. The wireless on the gateway seemed to work fine for the few minutes that I used it, but I trust my Amped Wireless R10000G more (and, while the Motorola was able to just barely provide advertised speeds over wireless, the Amped actually exceeds those speeds).
In short, the install itself was fine (though I tidied up some cables after the tech left). The scheduling for it wasn't a pleasant process, but TWC ended up getting things done when I wanted them to, so I can't fault them too much.
My 8x4 (DS/US) bonding capable gateway is currently bonding four downstream channels (roughly 42dB SNR and between -1 and -3 dBmV power levels)...and not bonding upstreams. I'm sitting on a 3.2MHz-wide channel that's probably modulating at 16QAM. This makes me concerned about whether I'll be able to get my full 5 Mbps of upload speed at all times, but things seem fine so far.
As I mentioned, speed tests show that I'm getting my full (50 Mbps down, 5 Mbps up) provisioned speed, with no PowerBoost or other shenanigans. I can actually hit above 50 Mbps for download speeds to some servers, though in other cases I'm below 50. It averages out to be a fast connection though, right at what I'm paying for.
Latency and jitter aren't rock-solid like you'd see on a well-groomed FastPath DSL line or FTTH, however both figures are pretty good, with 10ms to TWC Austin core and a few milliseconds of jitter. So VoIP and gaming shouldn't be an issue at all, though TWC routes a lot of their traffic over Cogent, which may not take the most direct route to a given website. Due to backbone-level decisions, I've seen connections that "feel" faster (for example, LTE on my Sprint phone in Fort Worth), however the TWC connection feels faster than my Comcast connection did, and non-Powerboosted speeds should allow me to do better QoS so that I can game and upload photos at the same time
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updated 215 days ago