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Time Warner Makes Modem Change

Stocks in this article: TWX GOOG EBAY

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - For as long as I've subscribed to the Road Runner Cable Internet service I've plugged my computers (and Wi-fi routers) into a Time Warner (TWX)-supplied cable modem. The modem was part of my monthly service charge. That seems to be coming to an abrupt end in less than two weeks.

Yesterday, I received a very matter-of-fact postcard which informed me of an upcoming change:

Dear Time Warner Customer:

As of October 15, 2012, an Internet Modem Lease Fee will be applied to Time Warner Cable provided Internet modems at the rate of $3.95 per month. If you would like to use your own modem, visit twc.com/approveddevices for a list of approved modems.

Thank you.

Time Warner is not the first to charge for cable modems. Other companies have been doing so for a while. And, I've been leasing TV boxes from them for as long as I can remember. But I hate paying for what used to be included in their fee. And when you do the math it comes out to nearly 50 bucks more each year.

The company provides a long list of modems that it will lease to you and it chooses which one you'll get. All of the approved devices recommended for purchase are made by Motorola Mobility - the smartphone-making division owned by Google (GOOG). There are five recommended models from which to choose - based on your level of Internet service speeds and whether or not you want the modem to also handle your Wi-fi distribution.

In my case, that means I get to choose one of two Motorola SURFboard models. A quick check on the Web shows the Modem/Wi-fi model sells for between $120 and $150 with just the modem device about $10 cheaper. But you can also buy these models in used or refurbished condition on eBay (EBAY) at greatly reduced prices.

Time Warner wants the customer to install the new modem (should be very easy to unplug the old and replace with the new) - then call to register the new device. The last step is going to a Time Warner office to return your old modem.

All of this has to be completed before Oct. 15. I'll let you know how it goes.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.

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