As Time Warner and Comcast continue to work out their big merger, internet and cable TV customers across the U.S. are preparing for an even larger company to take over their local cable monopolies. There is a spark of hope, though.
In the places where Google has announced it will install its Google Fiber initiative competition has, unsurprisingly, spurred otherwise lazy companies to actually improve their service. Just months ago AT&T announced that it will offer a competing gigabit internet and TV service in Austin, Texas. Now, Time Warner is waking up and doing its best to compete as well.
Time Warner Cable today announced that it will be significantly raising internet speeds for its customers in the Austin area. These customers will not have to pay any extra money for these new speeds, but will see their download speeds, in some cases, rise by over 600%. The speed increase will begin rolling out to customers sometime this summer.
Time Warner customers in Austin with the most basic internet service package will see their 2 Mbps download service rise to 3 Mbps. Those with the "standard" package will see a boost in download speed from 15 Mbps to 50 Mbps. The gains are even more significant for the cable company's higher-priced internet packages - the "Ultimate" package will see download speeds rise from 50 Mbps to 300 Mbps.
These speeds don't come close to the gigabit internet service AT&T and Google will be offering, but Time Warner is hoping that it will be enough for existing customers to stick with cable. The company is touting the fact that these speed increases will roll out all over its service area around Austin while Google is still slowly installing its infrastructure.
Of course, the very fact that Time Warner can manage to raise its internet speeds for everyone in Austin puts the lie to the common cable company defenses that speed upgrades are too expensive, or that customers don't really want higher speeds, or even that bandwidth caps are necessary to reign in the crazy amounts of traffic customers are using. The very fact that Time Warner is raising speeds in Austin - one of the only places in the U.S. that local cable is now facing competition - perfectly demonstrates just how complacent cable companies have become and how unfairly customers under cable monopolies throughout the U.S. are being treated.