That 20 Mbps Broadband Line We Promised? It's Actually 300 Kbps. Enjoy!

from the broadband-black-holes dept

Did you know that U.S. ISPs in uncompetitive markets are really, really shitty at their jobs? While I assumed that was pretty common public knowledge by this point, there's an interesting new groundswell of attention being paid to the fact that most ISPs are absolutely abysmal at communicating 1: what real-world speeds a user can get; and 2: whether users can actually get service at all. Case in point was the recent, Kafka-esque experience of a new Washington homeowner, who spent months being given the runaround by Comcast and CenturyLink regarding service the companies repeatedly (but falsely) promised was available.

This week, another story is making the rounds that highlights how ISPs will often claim to offer one speed, then actually offer users something dramatically more pathetic (if you can get connected at all). This user in Michigan, for example was told by AT&T's website and employees repeatedly that he should be able to get 20 Mbps at his address -- only to discover that the top speed he could get was a not-so-brisk 300 kbps. Such circa 1999 speeds are of course well below the FCC's new 25 Mbps broadband definition, changed to highlight the notable lack of U.S. competition at higher speeds.

Given that AT&T likely doesn't see any competition in the user's market, that 300 kbps isn't just slow, it's unreliable, suffers from the more-than-occasional hiccup and for good measure it's capped at 150 GB of usage before overages are incurred. Similarly, no competition means AT&T doesn't have great motivation to upgrade its outdated internal databases, or improve customer service. The lack of competition and regulatory capture in so many of these states makes communicating with AT&T (or getting regulators to care about broken promises) a Sisyphean endeavor:
"I’ve complained to just about everybody, the FCC, the FTC, the Michigan Public Service Commission,” Mortimer said. "I got a call back from the office of the president of AT&T responding to my FCC complaint. All I got was, ‘sorry, Mr. Mortimer, the speeds are the fastest available at this time.’" Since Ars first spoke with Mortimer in January, he suffered several more frustrations with AT&T. In one incident, his Internet service was shut off after an auto-payment error, he said. In another mishap, AT&T raised his bill from $33 to $89.40 after adding a phone line to his Internet service, even though he never asked for phone service."
While we generally like to cling to the narrative that broadband connectivity in the States is bad but getting better (thanks to gigabit deployments and Google Fiber), the reality is that in many areas, it's getting worse. The story forgets to mention that AT&T and Verizon are hanging up on unwanted DSL users like these they don't want to upgrade so they can focus on more profitable (read: capped) wireless services. AT&T's so disinterested in the DSL market right now, it's actually turning away eligible customers eager to give them money, and hoping that many of the DSL customers it has get frustrated and leave. Verizon, meanwhile, is taking an even classier route: waiting until natural disasters strike, then refusing to repair DSL and phone customer lines it no longer wants.

The good news is that once you're actually connected at the speed your ISP advertises, more often than not you'll be able to reach those speeds consistently. An annual FCC study informed by custom firmware-embedded routers shows that most ISPs (with the exception of most DSL providers) deliver the speeds they advertise. The FCC has been naming and shaming ISPs that don't with fairly good results. Still, these DSL lines nobody wants to upgrade are going to be a notable problem going forward. And with billions of subsidies already thrown at companies like AT&T and Verizon over the last generation to avoid exactly these problems, people are justifiably skeptical that throwing more federal taxpayer dollars at these markets is actually going to help things.

That's of course where municipal broadband and the FCC's push to eliminate protectionist state laws comes in. Poorly-served towns and cities need the right to craft their own, flexible and customized broadband solutions in cases of market failure -- whether that's a publicly-owned fiber ring or a public/private partnership with somebody like Google. Instead, we've watched as the same telcos that don't even want to serve many of these DSL customers -- pass protectionist law preventing these communities from doing anything about it. We're only just starting to see this logjam starting to break, but it's going to take a lot more work to get many of these broadband black holes out of the grip of mega-ISP apathy.

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  • identicon
    HMTKSteve, 1 May 2015 @ 6:47am

    talk to a tech

    The first mistake people make is calling the company. If you want to know what is potentially available look for a technician on a job nearby. Ask them your speed and availability questions first.

    The field techs know first hand what is available because they do this work, in this area, every day.

    Calling the main corp line means you are talking to someone who is looking at a potentially out of date database.

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    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 7:44am

      Re: talk to a tech

      This is excellent advice. Not just for internet service, but in general. Talk to the people who are actually doing the work to find out what the realities are. Talking to customer support or sales (often the same thing) will only get you the official overly optimistic answers.

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    • icon
      Karl Bode (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 9:53am

      Re: talk to a tech

      Absolutely good advice.

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  • identicon
    Joe V, 1 May 2015 @ 6:50am

    Just a thought

    Despite living only 7.1 miles from downtown San Francisco, the city I reside in its AT&T and Comcast are the only players in town. NO ONE else serves the city of Pacifica California.

    I, like many internet subscribers, HATE bandwidth caps/metered broadband. Both of these two companies have that form of extortion in place. As a cord cutter, I am forced to choose between expensive mediocre service from both of these companies. As much as I detest AT&T and their artificially low metered bandwidth and additional charges, their DSL internet service while slower has been consistent, reliable and nearly trouble free in the 8 years I have been a customer.

    They are way better than Comcast. Comcast service on the other hand has had issues with internet going down, throttling, cable TV transmission issues, and remember the company for years had a fuzzy TOS that has bandwidth limits in place but the company refused to tell subscribers what it was.
    I was one of those many subscribers that made national news whose service was disconnected because they flagged me as using the internet too much. I remember the phone call from their 856 area code with an individual claiming to be a rep from their abuse department threatened me to "limit my usage" or I "would face disconnection for a year". I was angered by the threat and I kindly told the guy to go FUCK himself. Sure enough my internet was cut off but not before I and many former comcast subscribers brought this to the local and national media. I also was able to get internet from Verizon even though it is DSL and they are one of the few telecoms that does not impose caps or overage charges.

    Getting back to the metered broadband : What I don't understand is how they can justify this to a subscriber AND demand payment from Netflix and other streaming TV platforms. Check out www.stopthecap.com. I'm not the only one who is disgusted with this "take what we give you cause that's good enough and too bad if you don't like it or can't get in your area" attitude by telecoms AT&T, Comcast and Verizon.

    THESE are the reasons why cities and towns around the country FED UP with the status quo duopolies have decided to get municipal broadband and are laying down fiber despite the objections of the giants who are using ALEC to bribe public officials in setting up roadblocks to keep muni broadband from coming into other areas AND are trying to do this under the cloak of secrecy. Everyone is raging about slow speeds and all want fast. For me, I see the writing on the wall : internet streaming and live TV is on the rise. Its inevitable. The telecom giants also see it.

    You would think realizing this, Verizon, AT&T would want to exit the cable TV business and provide just broadband by itself. The costs of broadcast TV are enormous compared to just internet. Instead of paying out a huge check to the broadcasters, that money could be used to invest in the broadband infrastructure instead.

    You would also think the broadcasters would be on board and all over this due to the fact they have control of their content and can strike deals per platform and delivery mechanisms.

    Bandwidth caps are not and still not necessary nor needed.
    WE are being ripped off. We deserve better.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 8:02am

      Re: Just a thought

      "Everyone is raging about slow speeds and all want fast."
      And yet companies like Comcast are making public claims that people don't want fast speeds.

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      • icon
        JP Jones (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 11:49am

        Re: Re: Just a thought

        I'm no expert, but it's only pirates that want fast speeds. Clearly, if you go over the cap and want fast speeds, you must be downloading TV and movies illegally. There is no other possible use for such bandwidth.

        Now go back to watching us pay grown men millions of dollars to play children's games on TV. The internet is a fad anyway; once we get control it'll all be better.

        Trust us.

        Sincerely,
        Your friendly neighborhood "news" corporation

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        • icon
          tqk (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 2:34pm

          Re: Re: Re: Just a thought

          I'm no expert, but it's only pirates that want fast speeds. Clearly, if you go over the cap and want fast speeds, you must be downloading TV and movies illegally.

          Classic paranoid delusional thinking. "Those guys in that huddle down on the field must be conspiring against me!"

          A guy quoted on Ars after getting a letter from his ISP explained he's doing SETIatHome processing.

          Go talk to your psychologist. You need your meds dialed up.

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          • icon
            orbitalinsertion (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 2:42pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Just a thought

            Are there meds for comprehension deficiency?

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            • icon
              tqk (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 2:54pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just a thought

              Are there meds for comprehension deficiency?

              That's what my sister (spit!) told me was the reason why she was dosing her kids with Talwin & Ritalin. My b-in-law and I thought they might be just as well off smoking weed. They appeared to have the same effect as far as we could tell.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 4:42pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just a thought

                TALWIN?

                That's like an opiate dude, stronger than morphine, orally. You're thinking of something else for sure.

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                • icon
                  tqk (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 5:59pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just a thought

                  That's what she told me they were getting, for ADHD. This same silly twit was trying to convince me I was ADHD. She just recently retired after thirty years of teaching grade school ("Elementary" here in Canada).

                  I've pretty much disowned her and hope never to see her again. Ditto for my sociopath brother. What a family. It's good to be out of it.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 2 May 2015 @ 1:47pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just a thought

                    I'm Canadian too, we call it primary school in my province :)

                    But you must have it wrong, unless they are hurt somewhere, no way a kid will get Talwin for ADHD. I'm a pharmacologist, medication for ADHD fit into about 4 categories :

                    -The piperidines : Methylphenidate (Ritalin, since it must be dispensed more than once a day because of its 3 hours length of action, they came up with Biphentin (Gelcap with plastic beads that last over 12 hours) and Concerta which is an impossible to abuse plastic pill with a tiny hole that delivers the Ritalin over 12 hours. Yeah some people like to snort crushed ritalin/biphentin beads so they had to come up with that. You poop that plastic out intact too...creepy

                    -Good Old Amphetamines : Adderall XR (lasts 12 hours, we don't have the instant version american have which can be abused much more easily, Adderall XR is also beads in a gelcap.

                    Dexedrine, the oldest and the safest (so hilarious when you think of it) which is dextroamphetamine, only, Adderall is a mix of 3 different salts of dextroamphetamine and 2 salts of LEVO-amphetamine, if you had basic organic chemistry you should know that some molecule have mirror images of each other that don't necessarily act the same. Levo-amphetamine only cranks up (slows down in the case of people with real ADD/ADHD) the peripheral nervous system, not the brain and the spine, so all the bad side effects from Adderall are caused by this.

                    Dexedrine is 100% dextroamphetamine, and available in much lower doses than Adderall XR (that goes up to 30mg), there is 5mg instant release ones that last 3-4 hours then the beads in a gelcap thing for the 10 and 15mg ones, in fact it was the first medication to ever be used this way to slow its delivery and at the same time the side effects/dangers.

                    Then there's Vyvanse which lasts 18 hours, mostly for adults with ADD, it is also 100% pure dextroamphetamine, beads in a gelcap, but these beads cannot be crushed and abused, well they can be crushed, but it wont work if snorted or injected,since it is a compound of lysine and dextroamphetamine, only the liver destroys the lysine which then releases the D-amphetamine very slowly for 18 hours, goes up to 70mg in the US, they kept it max 50mg in Canada

                    Then there is a weirdo antidepressant like medication that nobody likes called Atomoxetine (Strattera).

                    And then we have things like clonidine (a medication that is used for MANY things) and Intuniv XR which is of the safest non-stimulant kind of medication which makes people calm down in a non addictive way...it's a shame it doesn't exist in an instant release form like in the US though where it's called Tenex, it's in the same family as Clonidine, it's all very safe. Often the smart docs give a small dose of dexedrine with a dose of Intuniv XR at the same time in the morning, cancelling all the bad effects of amphetamines and Dexedrine or Adderal XR in small doses can't be given to children under 16, unlike the Ritalin they try on everyone first.

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                  • icon
                    JP Jones (profile), 8 May 2015 @ 3:42pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just a thought

                    Go talk to your psychologist. You need your meds dialed up.

                    Is there a medication I can take to understand how my clearly sarcastic post became a discussion on ADHD treatment?

                    Because I need some of that.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 4:40pm

          Re: Re: Re: Just a thought

          Dear Asperger's Sufferer,

          A family of 4 with parents renting movies on netflix and watching videos on youtube at 1080p with 2 children playing online video games on their PC's and consoles broke caps and got insane bills in Canada when they decided to let ISP's implement them. Giving people a 60mbps/10mbps connection only to put a 120gb download and upload combined (true story with my former cable ISP) until they had to offer 10 dollars more a month and you get unlimited data.

          I got cable modem in 1999 which was 8/8 (symmetrical, very rare for cable isp's to be close to symmetric) for 29,95 a month and encouraging people to massively download ANYTHING. Following ISP's offering other broadband later in the '00's were all about offering INSANE SPEEDS XTREME DOWNLOADS. Then they tell people no more and raise prices massively in a recession. Of course all of that is gone now, because even them acknowledge that what you bring forward here is BS.

          (The "offensive" intro is a parody of those bills people received with insults as names in case you don't get it.)

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 8:42am

      Re: Just a thought

      The key to this "lockup": AT&T (& SuckCast) DON'T see any competition in MOST user markets. Monopolies DON'T CARE about service, pricing or product offering & actively fight against ANY changes.

      Fight the Broadband Monopolies - call your locally bribed elected officials to express your dislike of the Municipal Broadband Restrictions!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 9:33am

      Re: Just a thought

      Comcast owns a lot of media content, so in their case "paying the broadcasters" means they're writing a cheque to themselves.

      And in most cases, local franchise monopolies are bound to cable tv services in some fashion... trying to drop the tv endangers many of those protections.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 3:24am

      Re: Just a thought

      "I, like many internet subscribers, HATE bandwidth caps/metered broadband."

      I'm with you. And other utilities (gas, water, electricity, etc) should all be un-metered as well. It's time for the meters to go!

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 6:54am

    OKAY, we get it: AT&T, Comcast, Verizon BAD -- Google good.

    The payload of this routine piece is to mention Google favorably, as if it's making a difference.

    Now, how wide-spread and influential is Google Fiber?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Fiber

    It's in all of THREE Midwest cities so far: Austin, Provo, Kansas City.
    a small and slowly increasing number of locations. As of March 2015, Google Fiber had 27,000 television subscribers.


    Google Fiber is NO BIG DEAL, just a few demonstrations.

    So the obvious cause for these propaganda placements is that Google pays for them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 7:06am

      Re: OKAY, we get it: AT&T, Comcast, Verizon BAD -- Google good.

      Yup. And when I mention that I like lemon meringue pie, it's because the lemon growers pay me...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Lord_Unseen (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 7:21am

      Re: OKAY, we get it: AT&T, Comcast, Verizon BAD -- Google good.

      You're right about one thing. Google Fiber is just a few demonstrations, but that's exactly what's needed. You'll notice that in each of those cities, the local incumbents have stepped up and are offering significantly better service and prices than any time before Google came to town. Google Fiber was never about Google coming to every city nationwide. It was about demonstrating how internet can be done well and scaring the big ISPs. To some extent, that's worked.

      Saying that Google Fiber is a good thing hardly makes somebody a shill.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 8:03am

        Re: Re: OKAY, we get it: AT&T, Comcast, Verizon BAD -- Google good.

        The problem is that it only worked in areas with Google.
        It hasn't done much of anything to these same players outside of Google influenced areas.
        So in the end, nothing has changed.

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        • icon
          tqk (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 9:00am

          Re: Re: Re: OKAY, we get it: AT&T, Comcast, Verizon BAD -- Google good.

          So in the end, nothing has changed.

          I believe it's changed a lot. It's put paid to all the others' protestations of, "You're just not being realistic. This is the best that can be done, and at the best price that it can be done." Guess what, Google, even as a sideline to what it does as its core business blows them out of the water and has people all over the country praying Google fibre will come to their town too. It's also dragged the incumbents grudgingly into upping their game, *in the places Google's rolled it out*. Well, why aren't they now rolling it out everywhere now that they've shown how empty were their earlier protestations?

          Because they don't have to as long as Google's not done it everywhere. They're happy to just rake in the bucks in their captive markets providing overly expensive lousy service and ignoring consumer complaints knowing their customers have little choice but to accept it or move.

          This's pretty insulting when taxpayer's money has gone to subsidizing improvements which the ISPs have avoided implementing, because the FCC prior to Wheeler's let them get away with it.

          These big ISPs are lucky there aren't mobs of pitchfork wielding consumers and taxpayers storming their boardrooms demanding heads for the guillotines.

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        • icon
          James Burkhardt (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 9:10am

          Re: Re: Re: OKAY, we get it: AT&T, Comcast, Verizon BAD -- Google good.

          Which was actually the point of the 'propoganda' statement for google fiber. That the narrative that its improving overall US broadband statistics is untrue.

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        • identicon
          RD, 1 May 2015 @ 9:14am

          Re: Re: Re: OKAY, we get it: AT&T, Comcast, Verizon BAD -- Google good.

          Wrong, asshole. Cincinnati, OH upgraded their Fiber lines to 1gb recently. Google isn't anywhere near here, but when asked why they did it, they said they saw the writing on the wall and decided to get the jump on everyone. There are 3 ISP options in Cincy. COMPETITION, that is why, that is the point you are missing. Doesn't matter if it's Google, TW or whoever. They want to be the *leader* in the market, and take business away from the competition.

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    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 7:49am

      Re: OKAY, we get it: AT&T, Comcast, Verizon BAD -- Google good.

      "The payload of this routine piece is to mention Google favorably, as if it's making a difference."

      In the markets where it exists, it is making a HUGE positive difference. But I think you're missing the point. The point isn't the "Google is good", the point is that when real competition enters a market, the historically awful behavior of the old-guard ISPs improves a lot.

      In other words, Google is demonstrating the need for competition. And that, all by itself, can make a big difference.

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      • icon
        tqk (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 10:45am

        Re: Re: OKAY, we get it: AT&T, Comcast, Verizon BAD -- Google good.

        The point isn't the "Google is good", the point is that when real competition enters a market, the historically awful behavior of the old-guard ISPs improves a lot.

        Indeed!
        "Comcast had little interest in upgrading its Chattanooga network when it faced no real competition. "I think we would have welcomed the incumbents to come into town and to have done some of this work, but frankly no one was interested in doing it," EPB communications VP Danna Bailey told Ars long before Comcast announced its fiber intentions."

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    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 8:19am

      Re: OKAY, we get it: AT&T, Comcast, Verizon BAD -- Google good.

      Google Fiber is NO BIG DEAL, just a few demonstrations. Lets look at the propoganda shall we?
      While we generally like to cling to the narrative that broadband connectivity in the States is bad but getting better (thanks to gigabit deployments and Google Fiber), the reality is that in many areas, it's getting worse.
      Hmm. That 'propoganda' tells me that while we like to think google fiber is improving the market, its actually having little effect in many areas. Like its not as big as people think it is. Like the statement is saying exactly what you are.

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    • icon
      Karl Bode (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 9:57am

      Re: OKAY, we get it: AT&T, Comcast, Verizon BAD -- Google good.

      You're absurd. I've probably been the loudest when it comes to pointing out that Google Fiber's actual impact is notably smaller than the press likes to suggest:

      http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Four-Years-Later-Just-How-Big-is-Google-Fibers-Impact-126 717

      I'd like to know where this Google money I get paid is supposedly hiding, since my kitchen is from 1978 and could use an upgrade.

      Maybe register and we can have an honest conversation about who pays YOU?

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      • icon
        OldMugwump (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 10:36am

        Re: Re: OKAY, we get it: AT&T, Comcast, Verizon BAD -- Google good.

        That's the point.

        I think paid shills (some substantial proportion of ACs here) really think that people who disagree with them are other paid shills.

        Because...why express an opinion if you're not paid for it?

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  • identicon
    RD, 1 May 2015 @ 7:11am

    "AT&T's so disinterested in the DSL market right now, it's actually turning away eligible customers eager to give them money, and hoping that many of the DSL customers it has get frustrated and leave. Verizon, meanwhile, is taking an even classier route: waiting until natural disasters strike, then refusing to repair DSL and phone customer lines it no longer wants. "

    Screw these companies. PAY THE TAXPAYER BACK if you aren't going to add or maintain the lines. GET OUT OF THE WAY.

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  • identicon
    Dan T., 1 May 2015 @ 7:29am

    Well, it's still 1000 times the speed of the 300 baud modem I used back in the early '80s.

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    • icon
      Berenerd (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 7:56am

      Re:

      Yeah and what, 400 times the cost?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 8:08am

        Re: Re:

        Not to mention the size of websites have increased along with the increase of the average internet speeds.

        In the early 80s you had mostly text-based websites.
        Then with the 56k modems you started seeing more, large and animated images and (regretfully) compressed background music.
        Now that we have 10+Mbps speeds, we have full-blown video and interactive websites.
        The modern web would be completely unusable on 80s speeds.

        As gigabit speeds become more normalized, the web is going to evolve as well and people still stuck on old kbps speeds are going to suffer.

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        • identicon
          David, 1 May 2015 @ 1:32pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The modern web would be completely unusable on 80s speeds.

          Just like putting a modern American on a 10-speed.

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        • icon
          ltlw0lf (profile), 2 May 2015 @ 12:49am

          Re: Re: Re:

          In the early 80s you had mostly text-based websites.

          In the early 80s websites didn't exist. Sir Tim Berners-Lee didn't invent the world-wide web until March of 1989, and websites weren't really around until November.

          In the early 80s, we called the text based "websites" Bulletin Boards or BBS.

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          • identicon
            David, 3 May 2015 @ 4:40am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            BBS were not a "web". Gopher sites were.

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            • icon
              ltlw0lf (profile), 5 May 2015 @ 9:04am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              BBS were not a "web". Gopher sites were.

              Gopher didn't exist until 1991. It was actually invented after Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web, and was direct competition to the world wide web.

              Many BBSs were on the internet before 1991, including my own BBS. They used UUCP or other protocols to get there. Sure, they weren't the same, but they existed before the web, in the time period of the 80s.

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  • icon
    DB (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 7:56am

    "..still 1000 times the speed of a 300 baud modem"

    I had a Racal-Vadic triple modem in the mid-1980s that did 1200 baud.

    That was three decades ago. I can now easily buy a device that can compute a million times faster. You can't really compare anything with what existed back then.

    More to the point, 20 years ago I was paying $10 per month for 56K dial-up service, and ISPs were rushing to get into the profitable business. 15 years ago I could get a $20 DSL line that was 20x faster. That was effectively the same price, since it included a dedicated copper pair.

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  • icon
    aldestrawk (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 7:57am

    AT&T caps rate below contracted agreement.

    An interesting thing concerning the max DSL rate happened to me a few years back. I live in a rural area near Silicon Valley and have a wonderful ISP. I am still limited to 1.3 Mbps as that is the max rate for DSL here considering my distance to the nearest central office. AT&T, of course, provides all the infrastructure, for which the ISP, Cruzio, pays them to be able to offer Internet connections. One day, I noticed videos were pausing during download. I went through my usual debugging strategy (I'm a software engineer who works on switches and routers). A speed test consistently maxed out at 384 Kbps. That number was instantly suspicious to me and indicated that AT&T had intentionally capped my rate on their routers at the central office. Luckily, I didn't have to deal with AT&T directly. I called Cruzio and was able to talk to a tech guy immediately. He said, a number of their customers in my small town had experienced the same problem. He said he would deal with AT&T. 10 minutes later, the problem was solved and I have never had that issue again. So, it looks like AT&T had an issue with overall throughput and decided to handle it by capping the rate on various customers, hoping they wouldn't notice. I don't know what would have happened if I had to deal with AT&T directly. I am certain solving the problem would have taken longer than 10 minutes though. I would like to have a faster connection but my only choice for that is Comcast.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 8:07am

    But think of the Free Market

    You gringos want free market, you got free market.

    Stop complaining.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 12:48pm

      Re: But think of the Free Market

      This is not a a free market. A free market wouldn't include laws paid for by the major ISP's to make sure that states and local communities aren't allowed to create competing networks such that the major ISP's might actually have to give a damn how they treat their customers.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 1 May 2015 @ 8:24am

    Heller's Catch-22

    Yossarian pulled back from Orr adamantly, gazing with some concern and bewilderment at Mt. Etna instead of Mt. Vesuvius and wondering what they were doing in Sicily instead of Naples as Orr kept entreating him in a tittering, stuttering, concupiscent turmoil to go along with him behind the scheming ten-year-old pimp to his two twelve-year-old virgin sisters who were not really virgins and not really sisters and who were really only twenty-eight.

    Ok, that quotation is about broads rather than broadband. And the article does not suggest any involvement of Virgin Mobile.

    But the pimp could likely get a job at AT&T any day.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Eric Jones, 1 May 2015 @ 9:05am

    AT&T

    We have about 12 broadband connected jobs site all over Cleveland, Akron area. I set up and tear down 12 sites a year. AT&T doesn't have a clue what they really offer for a location or what speed. I have ordered DSL many time and have a phone line installed. Find out after DSL is not available while the Customer service person said 6/.768. Many times the speed offer is much faster than what they can deliver to the site. I have had sites where the DSL was slow and that the next best things was to scrap it all together. While AT&T once in a while wants construction cost Time Warner always has a cost for install and take forever. The speeds always meet what they sell me but the install process is horrible. Visits and Engineer have to come out when I can clearly see the Cable connection hanging on the pole. I am sure residential customer are going through the same hell I go through. The bad thing is even the lower tier ISP are the same way. Not many want to be Google and Even Google is not what people really want. I bet Google is watching every bit that goes through that network. What need to happen is the local governments need to offer Fiber to the home as part of the local services. Just fiber no other services not even internet. The government fiber will need to connected different Internet provider. One provider is not offering the quality, you just change providers. The fiber stay put and you can anything you want over the fiber and Ethernet. You could even order different providers for different services. One provider might offer cheap fast internet but it is capped. While another is slower but is unlimited.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DV Henkel-Wallace (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 9:20am

    pedantry, sorry!

    AT&T's so disinterested in the DSL market right now...
    s/disinterested/uninterested/

    AT&T actually has a strong interest -- in eliminating DSL subscriptions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    OldGeezer (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 9:58am

    I guess I'm lucky that I have Cox. I have always gotten the speeds I was promised. My package I have now is unlimited. I switched my phone when I changed and they saved me enough over what I was paying AT&T that it really isn't that much more. I also saved by dropping TV that I never watched but they only blocked analog and I still get a lot of HD digital channels. Service has always been pretty good.If you call by noon they usually get out here the same day. I've even called later than that have had someone here in an hour or two. When it's an area outage it's usually not longer than a couple of hours unless there was a big storm that knocked down a lot of poles.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 12:22pm

      Re:

      You also have no idea what your missing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        OldGeezer (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 1:19pm

        Re: Re:

        I have an idea. My AT&T landline was twice what Cox is charging and I would have had to paid extra for caller ID. Back in the dial up days I had AT&T for internet. Calling for service was being put on hold for 20 or 30 minutes at a time only to be told several times that I was talking to the wrong department. They would then transfer me for another long hold only to be told the same thing and another long wait while a recording came on every 20 seconds telling me how important my call was. If my call is so important, answer the fucking thing! the main problem was my AT&T phone had so much noise on the line my modem would keep cutting out. They never fixed the problem.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      orbitalinsertion (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 2:58pm

      Re:

      Completely the opposite of all my experiences with Cox, whether in billing or infrastructure problems. But I'm glad you've had excellent service.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        OldGeezer (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 7:48pm

        Re: Re:

        I guess it may depend on management in different areas. AT&T DSL and Verizon wireless are the only other choices here. I had the Verizon on my laptop and a lot of the time I was lucky to get 100 Kbps when it wasn't losing the signal completely. Amazing that with no real competition that Cox has given me such good service for years. They even give a discount on your next bill if the tech doesn't show up in the time slot they schedule.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    NilTune, 1 May 2015 @ 10:50am

    Re: Just a thought

    This is glorious recommendation. Not only for web service, however generally. sit down with the people that are literally doing the work to seek out out what the realities ar. speech client support or sales (often identical thing) can solely get you the official excessively optimistic answers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Doug (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 11:20am

    It's a bonus

    With a 300 Kbps limit and a 150GB data cap, the bandwidth limit is a bonus feature to keep the user from exceeding the cap. At that speed it would take 48 days to exceed the data cap, so the user is SAFE.

    Silver linings.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 12:16pm

    Cox uses "speed boost" for the first 2 seconds so that average users have no idea from speed tests what they are actually getting. DSL in the few areas that it serves ends up being faster and more stable. I know my service has gotten worse over the last decade and I'm paying a lot more for it.

    "Broadband: the only technology that goes backwards"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 1:00pm

      Re:

      If a speed test only takes into account the first 2 seconds of data transfer, the speed test is broken and worthless. And probably operated by a major telco.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      OldGeezer (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 1:28pm

      Re:

      I don't rely on brief speed tests for my Cox. I go by times on longer downloads and at least in my area Cox is pretty consistently giving me the speed I'm supposed to be getting.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 12:19pm

    A major disinsentive to better broadband service are the cord cutters since many of them also provide cable TV.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 2:14pm

    Cap

    300 kbps isn't just slow [...] for good measure it's capped at 150 GB of usage
    By my calculation he could only use 100 GB anyway, assuming 100% efficiency and decimal GB definition.

    Congratulations: you've not only found a capped user who can download at maximum speed without hitting it in a few hours, you've found the one guy whose cap is so high it's literally impossible to exceed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 8:06am

      Re: Cap

      By my calculations, he can only use about 95GB in 31 days - but that assumes 8 bits per byte - there's usually some overhead so I generally assume 10 bits = 1 byte for wired communications - in which case he'd be lucky to use half the cap.

      If it's anything like my DSL line - you're lucky to get ~300kbps during peak time, but it improves after midnight and most of the following day until 4pm again. Too much congestion upstream.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tom, 11 May 2015 @ 3:18pm

    It isn't all doom and gloom

    I live in a small town north of Kansas City. I have a 12Meg DSL service and consistently receive 14 Meg download on my service. The up load is my issue at only 1Meg.

    The question I always like to ask: Since we will subsidize a City to build a fiber network, do you think we should provide some help to the telcos to bring fiber to a city and have them manage it? Capital does not grow on trees and based on my bill, the governments get 30% of it for....what?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jill, 27 Sep 2017 @ 6:58am

    My experience exactly

    I have AT&T (your world DISconnected). I have literally spent weeks of my life on the phone with this sham of a company. I have been promised 6mb, then they reduced it to 3mb because the line was a disconnection disconnecting hundreds of times per day. Yes hundreds. THe reality it we get less than 1mb on a daily basis. Att continues to lie to us every time we call. We are currently attempting to add another line of dsl only that was supposed to be active was 2 days ago. In the llast two days I have been told that the line is already active and they “tested” the line and said it was clear. Today I spoke to someone who told me it hasnt even been connected yet. If there were any other options I’d be gone

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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