I'd be less cynical if...
Dane Jasper has stated several reasons (taxes, upgradability, etc) for keeping the $6.50 modem rental separate from the base $39.95 Fusion rate. To a cynic (like me) these reasons sound a bit too much like rationalizations, masking a somewhat different motive -- enabling Sonic to continue to highlight a lower rate while actually charging a higher rate.
If Sonic insists on keeping the modem rental separate from the base Fusion rate, I'd be a loss less cynical if they would simply (whenever displaying their rates) highlight the $46.45 rate and include a footnote "Includes $6.50/mo equipment rental", rather than highlight $39.95 and footnote the additional $6.50 charge. That would seem a lot more aboveboard and honest to me.
Why should I care? As a "grandfathered in" Sonic Fusion subscriber, the pricing change (according to Dane) does not affect me. But any hint that revenue and growth are overtaking customer focus at Sonic affects all of its subscribers.
Santa Rosa, CA
Thanks Jeff for the comments. This topic has been discussed a lot in the Sonic.net forum too, so you might also be interested to read comments and discussion there.
Fundamentally, our competition now charges most customers for equipment (Comcast, $7.00, AT&T, $6.00), so we felt it impossible to bundle the cost of equipment into the monthly fee. I think this model comes over from that of Cable-TV, where set-top box fees have for years been separated.
I share your frustration with the lack of ease with which one can compare an advertised broadband (or television, or mobile phone, or hotel, or airline, etc) price point with the final delivered cost, and when our competitors are forced to make these costs part of the advertised rate, we'll be happy to do the same. But until then, we cannot play on a level field without following the industry.
These things being said, I will also point out that the new equipment we are able to deliver is far better than any equipment we've offered in the past. This delivers benefits for customers in circuit stability, extended reach WiFi, centralized management, upgrading and troubleshooting, IPv6 support, etc. I'm hopeful that these gains will also create some real-world benefits for customers.