A man living in upstate New York recently learned that if he wanted broadband internet access in his home, he'd have to pay for installation fees totaling $20,000. Even worse: his only option is fucking Time Warner.
Jesse Walser lives in Pompey, New York, a town of about 7,000, and the closest broadband wires sit about a third of a mile away from his house. City dwellers take Time Warner Cable's terrible customer service and maddeningly unreliable internet for granted, but in less densely populated areas, smaller opportunities for profit mean providers may be more reticent to install the necessary equipment, leaving residents like Walser to choose between old-school dial-up or an expensive and limiting wireless plan.
Walser built his home ten years ago, he told Ars Technica, and was told at the time that it would cost $5,900 to extend Time Warner's lines to the house. He declined, opting for dial-up, and then switched to a wireless hotspot plan capped at 20GB per month. When he re-contacted TWC about broadband in 2012, he got the staggering estimate:
Estimates rose through the years and TWC came up with a $22,826.80 figure in an April 2012 letter that Walser shared with Ars. (TWC later revised the figure down closer to $20,000.)
Walser is still fighting for wireline broadband access that doesn't cost more than $20,000, but he has nearly exhausted his options. "I have contacted my state senators, my state legislator, US senators, I've contacted the FCC," he said. "I'm going to continue to do those things, but at a certain point you get onto the watch list."
Walser's home has landline phone service from Verizon, but isn't equipped for DSL or FiOS.
New York state has given Time Warner more than $10 million to provide internet access to underserved areas upstate, Ars notes, but Walser's area does not fall under that program. (The company did eventually offer him a $3,643 discount). At one point, he says, a TWC rep told him: "It's your decision. You're the one who wanted to live in the country."
The father of two says he has petitioned the town of Pompey to file for broadband grants, but for now, that isn't happening, and there's no law that says Time Warner has to hook him up. Even if he does decide to pony up the $20k, he'll still have to deal with a monthly bill, and he'll still have awful Time Warner internet.