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(The Week)   Why are US internet connections so slow? "We deregulated high-speed internet access 10 years ago... Left to their own devices, companies that supply internet access will charge high prices, because they face neither competition nor oversight"   (theweek.com) divider line 36
    More: Obvious, united states ranked, Google Fiber, download speeds, Tom Wheeler, regulated markets  
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2785 clicks; posted to Business » on 06 Mar 2014 at 11:41 AM (32 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



Voting Results (Smartest)
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest

2014-03-06 12:02:56 PM  
5 votes:
I've said it before here but the UK system seems to be working. Here government regulation means more competition. The old phone company BT, who own the network, were ordered to allow any ISP access to the network on identical terms and prices. Result is I have over 200 ISP to choose from, all offering deals that try to beat the rest. I could start an ISP tomorrow and be able to serve the whole country and be competitive on price.
They even have to allow ISPs access to the physical exchanges across the country so they can install their own equipment if they want. With fibre now commonplace (FTTC with FTTP rolling out) speeds are good, though not quite in the South Korea league.

Let me repeat the key point. Government regulation means more competition. Barriers to entry are low and everyone has dozens of ISP available, from the big multinationals to ISPs with five employees.
2014-03-06 12:17:49 PM  
4 votes:

styckx: I'm happy with my speeds and they're consistently this fast at all hours. So.. Meh.. I can't fathom any other reason I need more than this..


50/10 isn't terrible.  A lot of the world takes 50/10 speeds (even when faster optical rates are possibly available).  A lot of people in the US would cut you to get anywhere near that fast.

However, what do you pay for that?  Looking at Comcast... $75+ (a little more if you aren't also taking video service) a month?   THAT'S where the first-world is pointing at you and laughing.
2014-03-06 12:06:22 PM  
4 votes:
FTA- "The new head of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler, is a former lobbyist for two sets of vested interests: the cell-phone operators and, you guessed it, the cable companies."

Any more questions?

The politicians have done a good job of distracting our attention with "FRIGGIN' REPUBLICANS SUCK" or "FRIGGIN' DEMOCRATS SUCK", all the while dividing the pie up between them, and screwing us up the arse.

This country is truly boned.
2014-03-06 11:00:01 AM  
4 votes:
You mean the free market didn't lead to internet utopia?

Shocking.
2014-03-06 12:07:18 PM  
3 votes:
There's no yellow in this thread.
Where, oh, where are Fark's resident political/economic creationists?
C'mon fark libertarians, you have a perfect opportunity here to prove that there is no such thing as the common good. And that no regulation lets the market create optimal solutions, that there are no barriers to entry - that competition always springs up automatically to challenge the big guys, that the playing field is always level, that in all properly free markets, buyers and sellers have equal power and information, that monopoly, oligopoly, and cartel aren't the natural result of markets with no regulation, that markets regulate themselves, and all your other articles of faith.

Well, where are you?
2014-03-06 12:02:02 PM  
3 votes:
Well, duh. No competition means you have no need to build out infrastructure; as a result, your service suffers, but do the customers blame their ISP? Nope, they blame Netflix, which means Netflix has to pay to upgrade your ISP's infrastructure.

Also, because it belongs in every thread on this subject:
i.imgur.com
2014-03-06 11:58:22 AM  
3 votes:

Mitch Taylor's Bro: Marcus Aurelius: But I can choose between FIOS and Comcast!

I get to choose between crappy Comcast customer service and crappy AT&T bandwidth.


Unless you live in an enforced municipal monopoly area, an apartment building, or an underserved area with only 1 player.

// and I'm betting that covers something like 60-75% of people
2014-03-06 02:26:28 PM  
2 votes:

dukeblue219: Honestly, what's the point of internet speeds beyond about 25Mbps? It won't make web pages load any faster because it's not the bottleneck anymore, and you can have several people watching Netflix or MLB.tv at the same time with high quality. Even downloading a purchased TV show from Netflix only takes a couple minutes at that rate. I just don't see what the vast majority of the marketplace would use it for, which the sole exception of kids downloading pirated blu-rays.


There are plenty.  We've reached a point where many people aren't hurting for bandwidth for entertainment purposes, but we still spend an insane amount of money and time to simply transport workers twice a day when the work could be permanently moved to where the worker is.
It's not just transportation costs; office space actually costs quite a bit.  Granted a lot of managers have this irrational obsession with control, but in any sort of work where the output is deliverable data, WFH is a valid option.  However, it's an option still constrained by home bandwidth in many areas.

dj_spanmaster: Apparently we can all talk to dragonchildfor the real lowdown.


CDN, not ISP.  I can't provide insight on your own contract with the ISP.  The more relevant point is that end-user bandwidth is really just a symptom of a much larger problem.  When they deregulated, they gave the backbone to the big telecoms.  The same guys you're forced to deal with as customers, you also deal with beyond your municipality.  And here's where things get really ugly, because for all the money they poured into convincing the government they should control those connections, they later realized there was little to no profit in just sustaining the Internet (which is why they're now lobbying hard to destroy Net Neutrality, so they can turn the Internet itself into a giant mafia-style "protection" operation).  So they spend as little money as possible, nothing if they can.  They will happily route your Netflix streaming packets from Seattle to Chicago to Mexico City to Toronto to Los Angeles to New York, in that order, if the underlying contracts are structured such that by their calculations they can save a small fraction of a penny on your entire transfer.  They've literally caused outages routing packets in circles, and major interruptions are a regular occurrence.  Since they've taken over, our Internet is not comparable to a 3rd-world infrastructure.  In my experience, it IS third-world infrastructure.

Let's put it this way:  the local monopolies you deal with are a symptom, like a runny nose when you have the flu.  It's tangible so you complain about it, but it's really your body telling you there's a virus raging through your body trying to destroy every living cell in it.  Fixing the runny nose doesn't make you any less sick.  How much can your end-point transfer speed matter when the Internet itself is maintained by a bunch of crooks who couldn't possibly care less about how badly it's held together?

That's where CDNs come in, and yeah, it's a "free market" solution for a problem the telecoms created.  It's a way of getting around ISPs; as a content provider if you go through a CDN you're more likely to have a stable, fast website.  I speculate that's why Netflix formed their own CDN when they sniffed the political wind.  But it also means the telecoms have a huge argument in their case to destroy Net Neutrality -- it's already dead, in the sense that not all packets are equal (or at least, they are, but they're confident they can convince courts & politicians otherwise).  The distinction is that the protection money they want is going to CDNs designed to compensate for the fact that they're greedy, stupid, incompetent, sociopathic assholes.  I don't think getting that money is as simple as killing off Net Neutrality (it will actually probably be a windfall for CDNs), but they're just the sort to try anyway.

There is another counterforce, which is that the Internet is now basically a major economic force (even though the government doesn't treat it like one).  The politicians can only go so far to schlork the warty wing-wang of Comcast when enabling a complete collapse of the Internet would majorly impact everything from Wall Street to Amazon.com.  So outright disaster is unlikely.  But Net Neutrality isn't necessarily their concern; they want reliability and there's more than one way to get that than protect your blog from a protection scheme.
2014-03-06 01:09:53 PM  
2 votes:
weird that a law from 1996 focused on television broadcasting and telephone services and  would do a poor job at taking the internet into consideration. who would have guessed?
2014-03-06 12:33:57 PM  
2 votes:

Likwit: Wellon Dowd: That article is a pack of lies. The free market is ALWAYS the superior solution.

It is when it's actually a free market. But wired internet isn't despite being "deregulated." But you know that and you're just being intellectually dishonest.

Yawn.


No. A free market can easily result in a natural monopoly. It would be if it was actually a perfect market, which a) don't exist, and b) are not the same as free markets. But you didn't know that and you're just being intellectually deficient.

Yawn.
2014-03-07 02:49:48 AM  
1 votes:

Why Would I Read the Article: So we're calling two huge companies that own basically the entirety of the internet world the "free market" now?  And we're INTENTIONALLY doing this for no reason other than wanting to having yet another republican bashing thread?


gs1.wac.edgecastcdn.net
2014-03-07 02:49:16 AM  
1 votes:

dukeblue219: Honestly, what's the point of internet speeds beyond about 25Mbps? It won't make web pages load any faster because it's not the bottleneck anymore, and you can have several people watching Netflix or MLB.tv at the same time with high quality. Even downloading a purchased TV show from Netflix only takes a couple minutes at that rate. I just don't see what the vast majority of the marketplace would use it for, which the sole exception of kids downloading pirated blu-rays.


Why would we ever need more than 640 Kb of memory?  It won't ever be used.

What's the point of a hard drive bigger than 40 MB?  Nobody needs that much space, with the sole exception of kids collecting porn images.

I'm being sarcastic of course, but real people said these things, one of them is even kinda famous in the IT industry (and if he didn't actually say it, it sounds like something he should have).  People just don't project out enough and use their imaginations, and that's why they say things like what you said above, but what I've learned in 30 years as a computer hobbyist (nee geek) and IT professional, is that enough is never enough - ever.  It never has been, and never will be.  There has never been a case where I've ceased upgrading a component because what I have is "good enough".  There is no component of the modern computer that isn't constantly upgraded with more capable components.  There is always something faster or bigger coming down the pike, and as data and applications become bigger and more complex, those things aren't just luxury items - they're required.  Imagine trying to use a computer from circa 1994 today.  How would that Pentium II with 4MB of RAM and a 100MB hard disk fare in today's world?  Could it even connect to the internet and run a browser without some serious hacking?

Fast download speeds aren't just about torrenting; your second statement above is simply wrong.  Imagine a web browsing experience where pages loaded in the blink of an eye; where web apps were just as fast and capable as any installed app.  Imagine cloud storage that was as accessible as your local hard drive.  It's a shame - and it's shameful - that the US is lagging so far behind not just on speed, but on price.  An online connection isn't a luxury in today's world - it's a necessary utility, no different than water or electricity.  The large American ISPs suck ass, because they face little competition or regulation, and that needs to change if we want to make any progress.
2014-03-06 06:13:27 PM  
1 votes:
It's very simple, guys; let the government handle the infrastructure (which includes transportation, public health, education, and communication), and let private companies make the consumer goods. A (functioning) government wants to make a working society, while a business just wants to make money. If you let an actor who only wants to make money run a part of a country's infrastructure, you'll end up with a third-rate service.

/socialist, of sorts
2014-03-06 03:30:34 PM  
1 votes:

extroverted_suicide: Mitch Taylor's Bro: Marcus Aurelius: But I can choose between FIOS and Comcast!

I get to choose between crappy Comcast customer service and crappy AT&T bandwidth.

Me too!  Opted for AT&T's crappy bandwidth.  Paying $47 a month for "up to" 6 Mbps, usually get 2.5-3.  Hurrah.

My condo is older than dirt and the wiring is awful.  When I tried comcast, I was only getting about 12 Mbps out of the advertised 20, and my average ping jumped from about 50 on AT&T to over 100 on Comcast.  My only real choice is whether to get kicked in the balls by the left foot or the right...


I had AT&T DSL at 2Mbps and when they wanted everyone to switch over to U-Verse, suddenly my bandwidth shrank in the evenings. Since my condo pays Comcast for basic cable and that's rolled into my HOA dues, I didn't want the full U-Verse package. I told them I was leaving and they found a way to offer me 20Mbps for about 3X what I was paying: $60/month for broadband only.

I got a quote from Comcast for 20Mbps and the introductory price was $45/month. Later, AT&T! Even though the price is now $60/month, they've magically bumped up my speeds from 20Mbps to 25Mbps, so I figure it's still worth it.

In an interesting twist, my HOA recently voted to switch to U-Verse so that everyone could have TV, VOIP and crappy broadband (like 6Mbps) rolled into the price of their HOA dues. We'll see how that works out.
2014-03-06 02:50:49 PM  
1 votes:

Deadguy2322: Deregulation is still better than what happened here in Canada in the late 1990s.

As a thank-you to the telcos who bankrolled the Liberal party, the government announced that a national fibre-optic network would be built and that 10 billion dollars was budgeted. They then announced that the telcos knew best how to get the job done and gave them all the cash.

Canada still doesn't have anything resembling a nationwide infrastructure for internet.


The US gave out $200 billion in subsidies to essentially do the same thing. At least you saved 190 billion
2014-03-06 02:41:21 PM  
1 votes:
Deregulation is still better than what happened here in Canada in the late 1990s.

As a thank-you to the telcos who bankrolled the Liberal party, the government announced that a national fibre-optic network would be built and that 10 billion dollars was budgeted. They then announced that the telcos knew best how to get the job done and gave them all the cash.

Canada still doesn't have anything resembling a nationwide infrastructure for internet.
2014-03-06 02:09:53 PM  
1 votes:

Publikwerks: Not to argue that the cable companies aren't awful, but if you look at all the relatively large countries on the Ookla speed test, we are right there. The USA beats out Canada, Russia, China, Brazil, ect...

So you mean the small and population dense countries have better internet than the average American? Wow, that's a shocker, since the average American lives outside of cities.


That only explains some of the slow speeds and doesn't explain the price.  Population density goes way up when you knock out the mountain time zone and even more the farther east/west you go and those areas with population densities like Europe still lag especially in price.  I can understand Bumfark, Nowhere having shiatty speed, but there are lots of big cities with shiat prices if not shiat service to go with it.
2014-03-06 02:01:43 PM  
1 votes:

Mitch Taylor's Bro: Gergesa: styckx: I'm happy with my speeds and they're consistently this fast at all hours. So.. Meh.. I can't fathom any other reason I need more than this..

[www.speedtest.net image 300x135]

What you may not have realized in this is that you are getting over charged for subpar service.

Why is that sub-par?


Because in other countries and some parts of the US you can get faster internet service and pay less for it.
2014-03-06 01:51:20 PM  
1 votes:

Publikwerks: So you mean the small and population dense countries have better internet than the average American? Wow, that's a shocker, since the average American lives outside of cities.


Um... no he doesn't.   50.1% of Americans live in the top 39 rows of this chart.  Milwaukee or larger.  76% of us live in metros of at least a quarter-million people.
2014-03-06 01:29:42 PM  
1 votes:

nocturnal001: Angela Lansbury's Merkin: Marcus Aurelius: But I can choose between FIOS and Comcast!

At least they offer similar speeds. I have Time Warner (and they don't offer the higher speeds they advertise on TV here) or ADSL which gets me 3Mbps down and 768Kbps up (at best).

Yup. TW is terrible.

Google fiber will be delivered to me sooner or later though. Sweet sweet fiber.

I can't believe the ISPs get away with such varying connection speeds. It should not be legal to advertise 8mb download when most of your customers never see anything close to that. This is like advertising a car that get's 100mpg, but with fine print that it only that efficient when it is in idle going down a hill with a tail wind.

Of course we have an evil gubmint agency that somewhat monitors MPG claims.


Part of the issue is that speeds are measured in bits, while files are typically measured in bytes. There are 8 bits in a byte, so a 50 Mb connection is really only a 6.25 MB connection.
2014-03-06 01:23:09 PM  
1 votes:

Publikwerks: Not to argue that the cable companies aren't awful, but if you look at all the relatively large countries on the Ookla speed test, we are right there. The USA beats out Canada, Russia, China, Brazil, ect...

So you mean the small and population dense countries have better internet than the average American? Wow, that's a shocker, since the average American lives outside of cities.


Average as in 45 nearing 40% of the population living outside of cities.

Then again I live between two towns of less than10k and the nearest big city is 25 miles away and population is 100k.  I have fiber service throttled at 40 and 10.  Rock solid stable never wavers more than .5.
2014-03-06 01:16:07 PM  
1 votes:

The Flexecutioner: our local provider (Insight) was bought by TWC last year.  theyre changing rates in May after a year when they got caught up on integrating Insight's properties into TWC.  i called and found out for the same price (for one year) i'd get 20mbs/s vs the 10 i was getting.  we updated over the phone, i just had to reboot the router/modem and voila! my speeds dropped, page loads suffered, videos buffered incessantly, etc.  yay upgrade!


That's too bad. I loved Insight when I was going to school in central Illinois; great service, easy to deal with. Otherwise, hey look, its the old 1996 Telecom Act back at it again. That piece of shiat ruined terrestrial radio in the '90s, and is the culprit behind our current shiatty internet service.
2014-03-06 01:13:31 PM  
1 votes:

monoski: Angela Lansbury's Merkin: Marcus Aurelius: But I can choose between FIOS and Comcast!

At least they offer similar speeds. I have Time Warner (and they don't offer the higher speeds they advertise on TV here) or ADSL which gets me 3Mbps down and 768Kbps up (at best).

Good news or bad news - Comcast is working to buy Time Warner


for you, bad.

for Cumcast, good.
2014-03-06 01:11:42 PM  
1 votes:
Fark time warner (that used to be Insight here) we were supposed to be getting 20mb. Most days we wernt even getting 1. Couldn't stream netflix without buffering some days.
They had two of their "techs" come out to try and see what the problem was. After a few hours they tried to blame my husbands wireless headset he uses for xbox, and said everything was fine on their end and we were basically sol.
When we had the same company, internet speed and headset in our old apartment we never had problems.
But once we moved, I guess my husbands headset suddenly magically started slowing down the internet.

Ended up ditching Insight right before they became TW. Got ATT. Internet is as fast as advertised, no issues. We can stream on one tv, stream on the computer, play xbox live, download, all at the same time with no problems.

Have had other issues with ATT, but can't complain about their internet service.
2014-03-06 01:10:39 PM  
1 votes:

Lawnchair: styckx: I'm happy with my speeds and they're consistently this fast at all hours. So.. Meh.. I can't fathom any other reason I need more than this..

50/10 isn't terrible.  A lot of the world takes 50/10 speeds (even when faster optical rates are possibly available).  A lot of people in the US would cut you to get anywhere near that fast.

However, what do you pay for that?  Looking at Comcast... $75+ (a little more if you aren't also taking video service) a month?   THAT'S where the first-world is pointing at you and laughing.


109.99/m (then $20 more after the first year).. Triple Play is a great deal.. We used to pay for cable (30/5) and a regular phone service through some other company.. Combined we were close to $100 between the two. So For another $30 to get Cable TV and their phone service (HBO, Starz, Showtime, Cinemax) and 50/10.. Couldn't really beat it.
2014-03-06 01:06:36 PM  
1 votes:
What exactly do you expect when you leave the building of the national internet infrastructure to a system based on the concept of providing the least amount of service for the highest fees possible?
2014-03-06 12:55:50 PM  
1 votes:
our local provider (Insight) was bought by TWC last year.  theyre changing rates in May after a year when they got caught up on integrating Insight's properties into TWC.  i called and found out for the same price (for one year) i'd get 20mbs/s vs the 10 i was getting.  we updated over the phone, i just had to reboot the router/modem and voila! my speeds dropped, page loads suffered, videos buffered incessantly, etc.  yay upgrade!
2014-03-06 12:46:38 PM  
1 votes:

styckx: I'm happy with my speeds and they're consistently this fast at all hours. So.. Meh.. I can't fathom any other reason I need more than this..

[www.speedtest.net image 300x135]


What you may not have realized in this is that you are getting over charged for subpar service.
2014-03-06 12:45:58 PM  
1 votes:
Once again, the Invisible Hand flips the bird to the public.
2014-03-06 12:37:13 PM  
1 votes:
In Order for the big ISP's to take Google fiber serious, Google needs to roll out to a major metro area(4 million plus). I just don't think Google's investors want that.
/I would love to see them light up Philly(Comcast backyard)
2014-03-06 12:29:30 PM  
1 votes:

nocturnal001: Angela Lansbury's Merkin: Marcus Aurelius: But I can choose between FIOS and Comcast!

At least they offer similar speeds. I have Time Warner (and they don't offer the higher speeds they advertise on TV here) or ADSL which gets me 3Mbps down and 768Kbps up (at best).

Yup. TW is terrible.

Google fiber will be delivered to me sooner or later though. Sweet sweet fiber.

I can't believe the ISPs get away with such varying connection speeds. It should not be legal to advertise 8mb download when most of your customers never see anything close to that. This is like advertising a car that get's 100mpg, but with fine print that it only that efficient when it is in idle going down a hill with a tail wind.

Of course we have an evil gubmint agency that somewhat monitors MPG claims.


That is exactly what they do with cars, i think i just saw an article about that here in the last few weeks.  the MPG car makers advertise is a bunch of BS.  Our whole economy is based on lying.  Its part of what makes us a christian country.
2014-03-06 12:24:04 PM  
1 votes:

Wellon Dowd: That article is a pack of lies. The free market is ALWAYS the superior solution.


It is when it's actually a free market. But wired internet isn't despite being "deregulated." But you know that and you're just being intellectually dishonest.

Yawn.
2014-03-06 12:05:50 PM  
1 votes:

rumpelstiltskin: Is this going to be another Time Warner bashing thread? Because let me just say, Time Warner is not just a faceless corporation. Time Warner is tens of thousands of dedicated employees, all working together to bring the best entertainment available to your living room. Now, I know, they might not face the same pressures in their jobs as you face in yours. They don't have to worry about things like snarling competitors taking their customers with better service or lower prices, things most working people in America worry about every day. But c'mon. They're doing the best they can. If they didn't work for Time Warner, they'd be working for an airline, or a phone company. We're not talking about the best and the brightest here. These aren't people we want facing down the Chinese. They're like the droolers at the Goodwill Store. Do you make fun of them? Then you shouldn't make fun of TWC employees, either.


No, when I mock Time Warner, I'm mocking the board of directors. The ones responsible for their company. The buck stops there, and the blame is on their shoulders for not steering their company into the right direction.

8/10 nice troll.
2014-03-06 11:56:40 AM  
1 votes:
Is this going to be another Time Warner bashing thread? Because let me just say, Time Warner is not just a faceless corporation. Time Warner is tens of thousands of dedicated employees, all working together to bring the best entertainment available to your living room. Now, I know, they might not face the same pressures in their jobs as you face in yours. They don't have to worry about things like snarling competitors taking their customers with better service or lower prices, things most working people in America worry about every day. But c'mon. They're doing the best they can. If they didn't work for Time Warner, they'd be working for an airline, or a phone company. We're not talking about the best and the brightest here. These aren't people we want facing down the Chinese. They're like the droolers at the Goodwill Store. Do you make fun of them? Then you shouldn't make fun of TWC employees, either.
2014-03-06 11:48:57 AM  
1 votes:

Marcus Aurelius: But I can choose between FIOS and Comcast!


I get to choose between crappy Comcast customer service and crappy AT&T bandwidth.
2014-03-06 11:19:39 AM  
1 votes:
I'm absolutely shocked. Seriously, regulation NEVER WORKS!!! FREE MARKET biatchES!!!11one1!!
 
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