Modem router rental fees illegal now

Internet access discussion, including Fusion, IP Broadband, and Gigabit Fiber!
8 posts Page 1 of 1
by jygagaring » Mon Dec 21, 2020 1:02 pm
So for those of us using AT&T lines, are we now able to get out of the mandatory fee and run our own equipment as if we were just using Sonic lines? Can I return their useless Modem/router combo and just use my Nest Wifi?

https://www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2020/12/19/22191096/internet-modem-router-rental-fee-fix-television-viewer-protection-act-tvpa
by dane » Mon Dec 21, 2020 1:16 pm
No, afraid not.

As I understand this legislation, it limits Cable TV companies from charging rental fees for modem/router equipment which they did not provide.

Seems some Cable operators were saying “rent ours for $10, or bring your own and pay a $10 customer equipment rental fee”. Frontier’s FIOS service was the example I had seen which I assume is the target of this legislation:

https://arstechnica.com/information-tec ... ee-anyway/
Dane Jasper
Sonic
by apl » Mon Dec 21, 2020 8:21 pm
The specific case of charging for equipment not provided is one part of the law, but by no means the only one, or even the main focus. I quoted the relevant sections in another thread a couple of months ago.

As I recall it makes it illegal for a provider to make equipment rentals mandatory when a consumer is able to provide their own, for any "covered services" which included all broadcast and internet (not just cable companies). Charging for equipment not provided would be just one of the many sleazy ways of essentially making the rental mandatory.

On the surface this would apply to the AT&T router - internet is one of the covered services, and routers are standard equipment that anyone can by for themselves. But AT&T will no doubt argue that the law doesn't apply because there are technical reasons you can't use your own router: as discussed in another thread, their routers contain a certificate that is needed to authenticate to their network, so you can't just use any router. This is, of course, basically nonsense. There is no real technical reason for AT&T to require an extra authentication step to connect a router to a physical line that an AT&T tech ran from their infrastructure into my house. But it would probably take a class action suit, or at least an adverse ruling from a regulatory body, to get them to comply with the intent of the law. I am not holding my breath.

I should add that it also apparently doesn't apply to Sonic's analog telephone adapter (which was the subject of the other thread when I looked this up). Again, there is no technical reason that a consumer should not be able to provide their own equipment, but voice service, unlike internet, is not covered by this particular law.
by fakeout » Tue Dec 22, 2020 1:17 am
>as discussed in another thread, their routers contain a certificate that is needed to authenticate to their network, so you can't just use any router.

But then any provider could just use this excuse for why they need to continue renting their modem to the end user.
by dane » Tue Dec 22, 2020 6:40 am
The law isn’t written to address the issue of whether or not a carrier requires the use of their own proprietary equipment, but rather the carrier (Frontier) who was charging a rental fee despite the customer supplying their own.

I don’t know how or if AT&T will address this issue. They lock their network and CPE using an 802.11x certificate-based authentication, and they consider the CPE to be part of their managed network. Without access to it, they wouldn’t have the ability to diagnose circuit issues or WiFi, to address security, etc. And as a business model, when we purchase a wholesale circuit from them, an equipment rental fee is included in that package. So it’s both technically required, operationally important, and designed into the costs.

And for someone who might argue for replicating the encrypted certificate, that might even be considered an illegal access to their network by an unauthorized device. Who know how they’d look at that.
Dane Jasper
Sonic
by apl » Tue Dec 22, 2020 11:02 am
But then any provider could just use this excuse for why they need to continue renting their modem to the end user.


Yes, exactly my point.

And for someone who might argue for replicating the encrypted certificate, that might even be considered an illegal access to their network by an unauthorized device. Who know how they’d look at that.


As you are probably aware, some people already do this, not for the purpose of avoiding the rental fee, but so they can use their own router without having the AT&T in the loop as an unnecessary extra device. It seems to be tolerated, since it doesn't cost AT&T any money, but if people start trying to return the unwanted rental equipment, no doubt it will suddenly start to be considered a security risk...
by klui » Tue Dec 22, 2020 2:12 pm
They will probably increase the cost to offset the rental fee anyway. Personally I would not mind allow me to attach my own equipment directly to the wire and pay the same amount.
by digitalbitstream » Thu Dec 24, 2020 9:50 am
This can be solved another way: with transparency of pricing legislation.
The root of the sneaky fees is to advertise a lower price than the actual cost.

So require that service companies publish their fully loaded cost: with all taxes, rentals, mandatory fees and the like included. At that point then who cares? Everyone is on the same playing field.
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