Our Internet service is terrible

April 29, 2010
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Our Internet service is bad—really bad, according to two researchers at the New America Foundation, a think tank chaired by Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Writing in Slate.com, Sascha Meinrath and James Losey assert that we Americans spend a lot and get precious little for the dollar.

We pay an average of $35 per month for a connection with only 1 megabit per second. Denmark and Canada, for example, pay less for twice the speed.

Speeds here also are sluggish. Americans pay $145 a month for top residential speeds of 50 Mbps. Several top countries have speeds four times faster at less than $60 a month.

Feeling good yet? Add this to the lament: Other countries have adopted broadband on a larger scale.

American broadband execs boast of some of the highest penetration rates in the world. But Meinrath and Losey note that the execs avoid mentioning adoption rates. The reality is that lots of Americans have access to broadband but relatively few actually use it, probably because of the high cost.

The authors go so far as to call Verizon CEO Ivan Seiderberg and his peers hucksters for spending tens of millions of dollars on lobbying to confuse the issue with “bogus” information.

Why the mess? Too little competition, and confusing information that makes comparison shopping difficult, Meinrath and Losey contend.

Unless the Federal Communications Commission dictates that all Internet service providers offer a “broadband nutrition label” to ease decision-making, collect better information on available services, and usher serious competition into the industry, the researchers say “the United States could end up on the wrong side of the international digital divide.”

What are your thoughts? Do Meinrath and Losey overstate the situation, or are they being too nice? And how do you like Comcast, BrightHouse, AT&T or other ISPs in the Indianapolis area? Are you happy with your service?

  • Agree
    I actually find my U-Verse internet service acceptable, but I agree that the access costs seem ridiculous for something that is supposed to be free and open.

    I would also add to this cellular phone service in the U.S., which is woefully behind much of Europe (signal coverage, phone interoperability, etc.).
  • Telecom Lobby Owns Indiana
    They are correct.

    We pay too much for too little.

    Internet now has tiered pricing based upon download speeds, yet few actually receive the tiered speeds advertised.

    There is little true competition between carriers in several telecom categories and no regulatory oversight or enforcement of anti competitive practices, anti-trust, or truth in advertising laws in our state.
  • Please
    There is a reason that there are dozens of web sites blasting Comcast. Right now I would pay anything,to be able to switch, if Commie cast had a competitor. Unfortunately ATT sold our state leaders a bill of goods and it is still not available. They have cherry picked every community they have entered and then left.Regulatory oversite in Indiana is a complete joke, both in the telecon and utilities.
  • Not worth it
    I tried AT&T's ultra-high-speed broadband service (for double the price I am currently paying) for a month. Speeds were not at all what was promised and at times were even slower than my previous cheapest-priced DSL service. So I went back. Why pay more for no difference?
  • Where there is a Will, There is Way
    Ditto to Brian and Google.

    There is no incentive to provide quality and quanity at competitive rates. Unlimited "Voice-only" wireless could / should run about $10 a month, Broadband about $20 and unlimited Voice / Text / Data on wireless 3G about $40 but corporate greed is getting in the way.
  • a little steep but it works
    I've used Comcast internet since 2004 and have had very few problems. That said, it is a little pricey.

    If everybody in the state pays at least $30/mo for internet, lets let Mitch Daniels do what he did with the BMV and just make it ubiquitous across the state.

    Everybody can pay an additional $30 in taxes and get free Wifi everywhere. Pay an extra $50 and you can get ultra high speed.

    If you don't like the idea, have you been to the BMV lately? I was impressed.
  • Black is White
    Indiana telecom reform is a failure.

    State leaders are beholden to the telecom lobby and their political donations:

    Indiana has lost thousands of telecom jobs, yet through complicit fraud or ignorance they publicly state we have gained telecom jobs

    Company and public records reflect that Indiana consumers have reduced the adoption of Internet and other telecom services, yet public officials and company PR machines tell us the opposite.

    Governor appointments to the Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor have intentionally been useless and ineffective advocates for ratepayers, as his Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission appointments fail to implement any change that results in a more competitive environment that expands affordable telecom services.

    Indiana's leadership through incompetence or lack of desire have not been effective in winning billions in Federal High Speed Broadband, Smart Grid and Telemedicine grants compared to other states.

    Our leaders have failed us.
  • Measuring Speed
    One of the things I hate about sites which help you measure your speed do so with a pretty small file. Download a 1MB with anything claiming it's broadband, and it's impossible to be accurate.

    I'd rather have a HUGE file use to measure it. Let the user know it's going to take at least amount of time, depending upon the file used. I'd rather wait to get an accurate measurement.

    One of the things a lot of people don't realize about cable is the maximum throughput is capped. Not for you, but for anyone else on the same "trunk".

    You can crack the cap, but it's not legal.

    I'm working on something and if I bring it into the house, I'll leave our personal connection on cable, but run the u-Verse connection for work. It'll make it easy to separate the cost for each type of activity.

    What I'm surprised at is the issue of broadband over power lines being dropped.

    IIRC, there was a good field test in Cincinnati. The original work was done with a farmer who had a tidy network set up on his farm.

    Equipment (small & simple) exists so you can do it within your house.

    Where's the rest of it (outside of houses)?
  • Third world country
    Internet speeds have increased very little in the last 5 years. Cell phone service and costs are about the same as they were 10 years ago. Reliability has improved. Why not take a bold initiative in Indiana and give a tax credit for companies subsidizing dollars for employee's home internet service? The amount of time employees spend on their internet expense is never or rarely reimbursed by employers. Seems like a business expense that never gets allocated. Seems like the state could at least allow a small percentage of the personal expense to be deductable. Much like a renters deduction in Indiana.
  • In The Know
    Recently moved about 3/4 mile. Had DSL Pro (middle grade) from AT&T for $25/mos. At new home AT&T only provides DSL Basic (lowest grade). Yikes!!! New neighborhood is just at the outside distance that DSL can be transmitted. I'll be looking for alternatives to AT&T once we are settled. No interest in settling for 768K downstream.
  • Outrageous
    Internet was touted by Bill Clinton to be free.. it's a ripoff. We should be getting free internet

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