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Internet, TV companies can't charge you extra for owning a modem anymore

If you opt to rent the company's equipment rather than buying your own, still, you'll have to pay.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Have you checked your internet bill lately? You might have seen a line on it for "equipment charges" related to a modem or wireless router. 

Take note: It's now illegal for broadband and TV providers to charge fees for equipment customers own themselves, according to Ars Technica.

The fees are outlawed under a bill called the Television Viewer Protection Act that Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed in 2019.

Previously, internet and TV companies were able to charge a fee for equipment bought by their customers. Frontier Communications in particular charged what it called a service fee for equipment "whether you use it or not," The Verge found on an archived version of the company's website. 

As of Sunday, Dec. 20, companies can't do that anymore. Frontier since removed that section of text from its website.

Other companies, like Comcast and Spectrum, don't charge customers for the use of purchased equipment. 

But it remains OK for companies to rent out equipment that isn't purchased by the customer, like a cable modem or a wireless router, and those fees will vary by provider and type of equipment. 

While a standard internet modem costs $70-120 up-front at a big box store, it would pay for itself over time when the internet or TV company charges $5-10 a month to rent their equipment.    

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