Is There A Hidden Broadband Price War?

from the it's-all-in-the-speeds? dept

Last month, we mocked some mainstream press reports claiming both a broadband price war and the fact that broadband prices were rising. There doesn’t really seem to be much of either, as broadband prices have remained pretty constant, even accounting for promotional pricing. However, with Comcast getting ready to significantly boost speeds (yes, with its broadband caps, Ryan Radia is wondering if the actual “price war” is hidden by the fact that it’s in price per megabit.

In other words, if prices remain constant, but your speed doubles, isn’t that something of a price decrease? Radia chalks this all up to competition in the market, but it should at least be admitted that the speeds (even these higher speeds) still pale in comparison to other countries where there is much greater competition than in the US, where most people still are limited to only two real choices. Either way, as someone who’s still stuck on a home connection that runs around 500k (below the new 768k cutoff for “real” broadband) despite being in the center of Silicon Valley, I’m still not convinced that these greater speeds are so readily available yet.

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Companies: comcast

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Comments on “Is There A Hidden Broadband Price War?”

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Frosty840 says:

In the UK, I have found exactly one network which will give me an (allegedly) unshaped 8Mb connection, and that gets me a mere 30GB per month of bandwidth.
The cost for that is £20, which is worth somewhere between $40 and $50 depending on how crazy the economy feels today.

The alternative is to go for an uncapped, but ludicrously over-shaped connection, for the same price, but with such bizarre restrictions as, for example, downloading more than 100MB in an hour will cut your speed to 128Kbps for the next six hours.

The whole market has gone utterly bonkers over here.

jedipunk (profile) says:

I use netflix watch now heavily.
Typically, a one hour show daily and one or two movies on the weekend. Very good quality video.
I also have 1 child that is a big myspace & youtube watcher (but that amount is negligible.

I use about 12gb a week and watch roughly 7-8 hour of tv over the internet.

If I get rid of cable my wife will watch QVC over the internet and who know how much bandwidth that will eat.

Revolutionary1 says:

My TW RR business pricing went down dramatically. Now they did create a new category of service, one for “home business users” but they now offer something they didn’t before. I was paying $150/month for 4down 2up with 5 static IP’s, now I pay $70/month for 15down/2up and 1 static IP. It’s kinda apples to oranges, but even if I get a few more IP’s it’s still cheaper than what I was paying before and for a lot more bandwidth.

CWO says:

But Comcast which is mentioned in this article has a 250GB cap. Sure faster speeds will drive you to that cap faster but they’re just delivering the files to you faster (when possible), not increasing the size of the files. I find it very hard to hit 250GB myself. I know there are legitimate reasons for using 250GB or more in a month but exactly how many RESIDENTIAL reasons are there to hit it (as opposed to business). Just don’t keep your P2P seeding all night and the faster speed shouldn’t really make you hit your cap that much faster…

moe says:

Re: There's something going on.

Ok, must have an itchy trigger finger.

Anyhow, there is some kind of price war going on, but maybe it’s not just in the data market. It’s important to look at the whole enchilada because every broadband provider offering data, phone, and tv.

For example, I just signed up for Verizon FiOS. I’m getting 200+ channels (some in HD) and a 20/5 internet connection for about $105/month.

The price war is in the bundles. Cable is trying to grow its data market and telecom is trying to grow its tv market.

Mark Regan says:

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch

The rest of us in rural America are still waiting for any pretense of civilization. We live two miles away from a major Interstate Highway, one half mile outside the city limits, and cannot get city water, city sewage, cable tv, landline telephone, cellphone service, or more than one or two over the air tv stations (depending upon how high your tv antenna is). Low speed internet service is still a dream. High Speed? What’s that?

Our system of corporate monopolies skimming off the high-profit urban area business, and providing NO service to the rest of the country is a CRIME and relegates America’s rural areas to a future akin to central Africa.

It is time to nationalize the industries providing essential services. It is grossly unfair that an unemployed welfare recipient in any urban center can get economical and affordable phone and hi-speed internet service, but hard working rural residents can get NOTHING.

Maybe we should kill all our cattle and poison our corn and watch you big city folks starve while you call each other on your cell phones and download movies on your computer. Our city doesn’t even have a theater or a shopping center.

But if Obama tries to help the poor folks in rural areas McCain accuses him of being a Socialist. How will we ever convince ATT to install telephone poles here when they can make more money installing fiber optic in an urban area for the same investment and get MUCH more return on their money from the metropolitan area. Capitalism Sucks!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch

I certainly empathize with you since I live in a rural area where my only option for anything resembling high speed internet is a cellular modem or satellite system. What makes it worse, the “local” telephone company, CenturyTel by name, deploys wireless internet in a local city where they already have wired service. I thought those extra charges we pay on our phone bills were supposed to be used to help deploy service to areas that don’t have it.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch

Commenter 13: Ever hear of Universal Service Fund? Big cities, which are dense and thus profitable to serve, have been subsidizing phone, mail, road, electricity, and rail connections to rural areas since the dawn of the country. I didn’t notice you complaining that your mail costs the same stamp as mine does.

How about this: next time I’m stuck in traffic, driving my kids to their crappy schools, choking on the pollution, paying for my parking, and then waiting in a line ten deep for my frappuccino double whip latte, I’ll shed a tear for rural America.

Listen, there are benefits to living in the city, and there are benefits to living in the country. American is still relatively free, so you can choose which lifestyle you want among those options. I drive through the country and I get jealous of the bucolic lifestyle you guys get to enjoy, as I race home Sunday night to the city. But I don’t ask you to ship your clean air into my town, so pleased don’t complain that your Internet is more expensive or less accessible than mine. Or at least recognize and be gracious that the bulk of subsidies on utilities DO go your direction.

Ryan Radia (user link) says:

Re: Re: Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch

Well said. Living in rural areas has lots of serious advantages, as you point out, but also some drawbacks–namely, fewer reasonably-priced ISP options.

I doubt rural dwellers will be forever doomed to crappy broadband. Sure, your average urban house will almost always beat out rural homes, but wireless technologies like LTE and Wi-Max are much more economical for sparsely populated areas from a per connection standpoint. In a couple years, assuming more spectrum is freed up by the FCC, odds are consumers who live in rural areas will broadband service comparable to what Comcast is offering today in certain markets.

MicroFace (profile) says:

There is no competition in my area

I Live 1 hour outside of Sacramento, CA and I can tell you that over half the population is still on Dial-up or cable because they have no access to DSL. In many cases they can not use satellite simply because there is no proper exposure, or the exposure is masked by trees.
The only competition here is to increase our rates every year for the same bandwidth, with no further coverage.
The AT&T company even went so far as to tell the business I work in that is 1700 feet from the exchange that even though we had a useable DSL connection, before that since this company is outside the 1,500 radius to the exchange box that AT&T would no longer provide DSL. Thus this company was forced to “Upgrade” to a leased line at twice the expense. Since there is no other provider of internet services in this entire area, even though this is a soft industrial park with over 3 dozen companies, we are SOL, we can pay up or have no internet connection. So don’t talk about competition to me, it does not exist anywhere in this area.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

In Defense Of Comcast

People, a rise in speed with no change in price is a big improvement, no if ands or buts. Sure, you can hit your caps sooner. But faster is better. Most, and by far most people, don’t hit their caps, so faster is nothing but a pure improvement.

There are a few characteristics of a broadband service. Price, speed, and throughput are the most obvious. Comcast improves an important one of those characteristics, and people are angry enough to complain that the other two didn’t improve? Seems petty. You may hate Comcast for whatever reason (I’ve had mine*), but you should recognize a good thing when you see it.

For example, commenter #15…well, isn’t that a good thing? Sure, you might hit your cap, but the speed boost has improved your viewing quality from youtube to HD. And you want to complain? If you don’t like it, just keep watching youtube.

Am I a Comcast shill, nope, see:

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