Spectrum Internet

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Spectrum Internet is a US Internet service provider (ISP) which provides cable Internet service over DOCSIS-compatible modems. A division of Charter Communications (which acquired Time Warner Cable in May 2016), it also contracts its service to other cable providers, often in competition with ISPs owned by local telephone companies. This service was formerly known as Time Warner Cable Internet and, before that, Road Runner High Speed Online.


Road Runner's official logo and mascot

Time Warner Cable first launched what would become Road Runner with a 1995 market test in Elmira, NY, under the banner Southern Tier On-Line Community.[1][2] Later it became known as LineRunner[3] (a moniker subsequently employed by VoIP service), before Time Warner Cable adopted the Road Runner brand name.

Road Runner High Speed Online employed the Road Runner character from the Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote cartoons as its mascot and brand name. However, in 2012, it was rebranded as simply Time Warner Cable Internet, dropping the Road Runner branding which Time Warner Cable had to license from the now-unaffiliated Warner Bros.[4]

With Charter's acquisition of Time Warner Cable in May 2016, the service has been rebranded as "Spectrum Internet" on September 20, 2016.

Tier service[edit]

With the completion of DOCSIS 3.0 rollout in 2012,[5] Time Warner Cable Internet has standardized the Internet tiered service data rates across most of its franchises, although some minor regional variations might still exist. The maximum advertised speeds[6] for these services are:

  • Everyday Low Price: 3 Mbit/s / 1 Mbit/s
  • Basic: 10 Mbit/s / 1 Mbit/s
  • Extreme: 50 Mbit/s / 5 Mbit/s
  • Ultimate 100: 100 Mbit/s / 10 Mbit/s
  • Ultimate 200: 200 Mbit/s / 20 Mbit/s
  • Ultimate 300: 300 Mbit/s / 20 Mbit/s

The Lite tier was intended as a low-cost, low-speed (1 Mbit/s or less) cable Internet alternative to dial-up Internet service. The Lite tier was retired from Time Warner's Internet lineup for a time, but in the summer of 2013 it returned to Time Warner's Internet offerings. In late 2013, it was upgraded from 1.0 Mbit/s download to 2.0 Mbit/s and rebranded as Everyday Low Price.[7]

The Standard service tier is Time Warner Cable's base package. At 3.0 Mbit/s download, it was the only speed offered when the Road Runner service was created. It was upgraded to 4.0 Mbit/s later on, then to 5.0 Mbit/s in 2005,[8] 7.0 Mbit/s in 2009, 10.0 Mbit/s in 2011,[9] and 15.0 Mbit/s in 2012.[10] The pricing for the Standard service started at $39.99/month, and gradually increased to $59.99/month as of 2016, although promotional and bundle pricing are available. The Standard tier as the base package was renamed to the Extreme tier under the TWC Maxx speed levels.

Premium was Road Runner's first foray into faster tiered service levels, introduced in 2004.[11] It offered 6.0 Mbit/s download speeds, compared to the Standard speed of 4.0 Mbit/s. It was later increased to 8.0 Mbit/s in 2005, when the Standard speeds increased. The Premium tier was later renamed to Turbo, and the speeds it offered continued to increase, as the Standard speeds continued to increase. Turbo was also the first service tier to receive the PowerBoost technology. Turbo Plus was a previously offered tier that was at a faster speed tier than Turbo, but slower than the future DOCSIS 3.0-based tiers. As Extreme and Ultimate tiers became available, the Turbo Plus name was retired.

The Extreme and Ultimate service tier offerings were created in 2009 at 30 Mbit/s and 50 Mbit/s download, respectively, and gradually became available in all markets over several years as Time Warner Cable rolled out DOCSIS 3.0 upgrades nationwide.[12] In late 2013, the Ultimate tier was extended to include Ultimate 75 and Ultimate 100.[7]

Time Warner Cable Maxx[edit]

On January 30, 2014, Time Warner Cable announced its new TWC Maxx initiative in New York City and Los Angeles which substantially boosted service speeds at no additional cost compared to the existing speed tiers, with the highest speed tier tripling from 100 Mbit/s to 300 Mbit/s.[13]

As of mid 2016, TWC Maxx upgrades have been completed in New York City up the Hudson Valley, Los Angeles,[14] Austin, Kansas City, Dallas, San Antonio, Raleigh, Hawaii, and Charlotte. Rollouts of TWC Maxx are in progress in San Diego, Greensboro, and Wilmington and should be completed in early 2016.[15]

After the TWC acquisition by Charter in June 2016, TWC Maxx upgrades have been put on hold, indefinitely.[16]

Legacy Internet Plans TWC Maxx Internet Plans
Everyday Low Price
2/1 Mbit/s
Everyday Low Price
3/1 Mbit/s
3/1 or 6/1 Mbit/s
10/1 Mbit/s
15/1 Mbit/s
50/5 Mbit/s
20/2 Mbit/s
Ultimate 100
100/10 Mbit/s
30/5 Mbit/s
Ultimate 200
200/20 Mbit/s
50/5, 75/5, or 100/5 Mbit/s
Ultimate 300
300/20 Mbit/s


PowerBoost was a technology licensed from Comcast that allowed Road Runner customers to temporarily experience download speeds significantly faster than their current speed at no extra cost. PowerBoost was launched in New York City in 2008,[17] and eventually was rolled out nationwide. PowerBoost was first included only with Turbo service, but eventually was extended to Standard service also in 2009.[18] As of 2012, Time Warner Cable Internet's service offerings no longer make any mention of PowerBoost,[6] though it may still be available with some service tiers on a regional basis. Time Warner Cable does not support PowerBoost on DOCSIS 3.0.[19]

As of August 7, 2013, Time Warner appears to have discontinued the PowerBoost feature as it upgrades more customers to DOCSIS 3.0 cable modems. To compensate for the reduction in average Internet speeds caused by the abandonment of PowerBoost, Time Warner has increased Internet speeds across the Standard or higher tiers of service by 10%, though it has yet to advertise these speed increases officially.[20]

Modem rental[edit]

Time Warner Cable Internet previously provided the cable modem and modem maintenance to its subscribers included as part of their service fee (that is, not a separate line item). Beginning in late 2012, they began charging a modem rental fee of $3.95/month for this service. Alternatively, subscribers can buy their own approved modem, but Time Warner Cable will no longer troubleshoot[dubious ] or replace those modems.[21]

In August 2013, Time Warner raised the modem rental fee over 50% to $5.99/month.[22]

In January 2015, Time Warner once again raised their modem rental fee another 33% to $8.00/month. That represents a 100% increase in just over two years, from late 2012 when they created a billing line item for company-owned Internet modems.[23] In April 2016, Time Warner once again raised the modem rental fee to $10.00/month.

Bandwidth caps[edit]

Despite raising prices of its Internet service within the previous year, Time Warner Cable announced in February 2009 that it would expand its bandwidth caps and overage fees into four additional markets by the end of the year.

On April 1, 2009, the cities to have metered billing were announced. In addition to Beaumont, Texas, the cities would be Rochester, NY, Austin and San Antonio, TX and Greensboro, NC.

These metered based billing plans were canceled according to Time Warner "due to customer misunderstanding".

Caps would range from 5 GB to 100 GB with no unlimited option. The bandwidth will include downloads and uploads. If a user goes over, they will be charged $1 per additional gigabyte. Time Warner Cable announced they would provide a meter for users to monitor their usage. The new plan was set to begin in the summer of 2009, however due to protests they had decided against the bandwidth caps. Currently, users have unlimited bandwidth usage given that it does not exceed the predetermined data service maximum as given in the "master agreement".[24] Time Warner would have offered unlimited data for $150/month had the plan continued.[25]

Glenn Britt (1949-2014),[26][27] CEO from 2001 until December 2013, justified the new billing plans by claiming that the infrastructures had to be continuously upgraded and users would pay for how much they use. In February 2015, a Huffington Post article alleges a 97% profit margin on Time Warner's Internet service.[28]

Facebook groups have been created in protest in addition to an online petition and a Web site dedicated to stop the movement.[29] Other Web sites have been recently following the Time Warner cap plans that were already following broadband Internet providers metering and capping plans.[30][31]

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer and Congressman Eric Massa, both of whom represent portions of the Rochester, New York market that would be affected by the changes, announced their opposition to the plan and even went as far as to threaten legislation to ban such a scheme. On April 16, 2009, Time Warner abandoned the plan.[32]

Road Runner Mobile[edit]

In late 2009, Time Warner Cable began reselling Clearwire Mobile WiMax service as Road Runner Mobile, including in bundles with the company's existing broadband, TV and VoIP services. In October 2009, the company indicated that they'd be launching their incarnation of the service starting December 1 in Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill, Charlotte and Greensboro, and later, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Honolulu, and Maui.[33] Pricing for the "up to 6 Mbit/s" service ranged from $39.95 a month to $79.95 a month depending on the chosen bundling options, and came in three flavors:

Road Runner Mobile 4G National Elite: gave customers unlimited access to both Time Warner Cable's 4G Mobile Network and Sprint's 3G EVDO network for $79.95 if the customer was a Roadrunner Standard or Turbo customer.

Road Runner Mobile 4G Elite: gave customers unlimited access to the Time Warner Cable 4G Mobile Network for $49.95 if already a Roadrunner Standard or Turbo customer.

Road Runner Mobile 4G Choice: gave customers access to the Time Warner Cable 4G Mobile Network for $39.95 if the customer was already bundling at least two Time Warner Cable services. The tier also capped usage at 250 MB per month.

Users received additional discounts if they were triple play customers.

As of late 2011, Time Warner Cable stopped signing up new Road Runner Mobile customers under resold Clearwire WiMax service. Existing WiMax customers could continue to use the service, but TWC began signing up new Road Runner Mobile customers under resold Verizon Wireless 4G LTE services.

As of late 2012, however, all mention of Time Warner Cable-branded mobile broadband services have been removed from Time Warner Cable's website and most regional franchises. TWC appears to have exited the mobile broadband market.

Companies offering internet service over Time Warner Cable's system[edit]

MediaOne was formerly the largest of Time Warner's Road Runner partners, leaving the agreement when taken over by AT&T Broadband (subsequently absorbed by Comcast), and then became Xfinity.

Insight Communications also used to offer internet service through Time Warner Cable's system until Insight's purchase by Time Warner Cable in 2011.


  1. ^ "Cable World, March 10, 2003". Findarticles.com. 2003-03-10. Archived from the original on August 9, 2011. Retrieved 2012-07-16. 
  2. ^ Woroch, Glenn (February 1996). Turning the Cables: Economic and Strategic Analysis of Cable Entry into Telecommunications (PDF). Consortium for Research on Telecommunications Policy. p. 27. 
  3. ^ "Time-Warner Announces High Speed Data Services". Listserv.buffalo.edu. Retrieved 2012-07-16. [dead link]
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  11. ^ "Followup: Road Runner now has tiered services". Retrieved 2014-05-21. 
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  14. ^ "Time Warner Cable Completes "TWC MAXX" Rollout in Los Angeles and New York City". Archived from the original on 2015-04-11. Retrieved 2015-04-08. 
  15. ^ "TWC Maxx Expands Rollout in 2015". Retrieved 2015-07-14. 
  16. ^ "Charter Indefinitely Suspends Time Warner Cable Maxx Upgrades Pending “Review”". Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  17. ^ "POWERBOOST™ LAUNCHES IN NYC". Time Warner Cable. 2008-06-27. Archived from the original on 2013-02-04. Retrieved 2012-10-26. 
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  19. ^ "[TWC] No more powerboost?". DSLReport. 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2012-10-30. 
  20. ^ "Time Warner Cable Quietly Delivers Nationwide Incremental Internet Speed Upgrade •". 7 August 2013. 
  21. ^ Chen, Brian X. (2012-10-02). "Time Warner Cable to Charge Modem Rental Fee". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-10-26. 
  22. ^ "Time Warner raising cable modem fees more than 50 percent - The Buffalo News". 
  23. ^ "Comcast and Time Warner Cable hike modem fees as much as 33%. Time to buy your own". CNN. 2015-01-02. 
  24. ^ "http://www.timewarnercable.com/corporate/service_agreement.html". Archived from the original on 2014-02-14.  External link in |title= (help)
  25. ^ Eddy, Nathan. "Time Warner to Offer Unlimited Bandwidth for $150 a Month." eWeek. April 10, 2009. Retrieved on May 5, 2009.
  26. ^ "Glenn Britt timeline" (PDF). [permanent dead link]
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  28. ^ "Time Warner Cable's 97 Percent Profit Margin on High-Speed Internet Service Exposed". Huffington Post. 2015-02-02. 
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  33. ^ "DSLreports.com". DSLreports.com. 2009-11-24. Retrieved 2012-07-16. 

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