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  1. #1
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    Why is the Internet slow and costly in the U.S.?




    TOP STORY


    Why is the Internet slow and costly in the U.S.?


    By Patrick Marshall
    In Tokyo, Seoul, and Hong Kong, residents get bidirectional, gigabit Internet for less than U.S. $40 a month. On the other side of the globe, Parisians have a similar deal, though their upload speed is only 200 megabits per second (and much of the rest of France isn't so lucky).
    Most of us in the U.S. would be happy with half that bandwidth — even as we accept paying twice as much as Internet subscribers in Asia and Europe. In Seattle, I pay Comcast nearly $67 per month for a 50mbps (6.2 megabytes per second — Mbps) connection.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/why-is-the-internet-slow-and-costly-in-the-U-S (opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.
    Last edited by Kathleen Atkins; 2015-08-19 at 19:47.

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    Think yourself lucky - i pay 80 Aussie $ a month about 59 US $ per month for 4.48 Mbps download and 0.45 upload, we have the National broadband coming soon - it is fibre to the node - i.e. a small cabinet that is in a nearby street and copper from there and that will give a significant increase in speed but no doubt a significant increase in cost as well.

    A good follow up from the article would be for you to ask your subscribers everywhere to run a speed test and report the results back.

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    I'm with Bob - I pay AUD100 pm for the new National Broadband Network for which I get 25Mbps d/l, 5Mbps u/l. Same price as you but half the speed. So you're not too badly off after all in the US!

    A speed test shows actual speeds of 23.90 and 4.53 in the middle of the working day, pretty close to what I'm paying for.

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    There was an article on why the UK is in a similar position

    http://www.techradar.com/news/world-...1990-1224784/1

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    Hello - this is England calling. I could cry - and here's why. I currently pay (approximately) GBP30 per month for a combined broadband (uncapped) and voice calls package. This gets me NO MORE than a 7MBPS download speed and a 384Kb (yes, 384Kb) upload speed. I live 6 miles from a metropolitan centre, but it's all copper wire connections. Cable providers are not willing to bear the expense of digging up the roads between my village and the town centre to install fibre. The main telecomms provider has a roll-out plan to upgrade the local exchange, but it's not happening anytime soon. Oh, and my upload and download speeds are better than some around the UK.

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    "And why would markets be less attractive to competition if a city provides broadband? Opponents of public broadband would argue that cities can always deliver the service at a lower cost."

    No, cities can deliver it at lower price, not cost. The cost is subsidized in some way by the taxpayer. In fact, the actual cost for anything the private sector can also do is never as efficiently delivered. The old shell game.

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    One of the main reasons we pay so much is because comm companies can basically charge as much as the market will bear and even then they lie through their teeth in their advertising. While I'm generally opposed to government regulation, they have let the comm companies get away with highway robbery.

    One of the greatest sins is that comm companies have been allowed to act as super-monopolies. They control the means of delivery, control the content, and even act as content providers. Competition is an illusion - stay with any provider for longer than the introductory period and you will find yourself paying roughly the same amount as the guy next door with a different provider.

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    My average speeds from Cablevision(Optimum) New York City are: 119.90 Mb/s Down & 42.42 Mb/s Up

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    Ha, you're all getting off light If I didn't gripe and whine and threaten to jump ship (where to is a bit of a fib, being nonexistent) until my ISP's Loyalty Department comes on the line and gives me a half-price deal, I'd be paying $50/month for 1.5Mbit down, 0.6Mbit up. After I griped and whined some more, they replaced all the phone wiring to and in my house, and now Yay, I get a whopping 2.4Mbit down, 0.8Mbit up. Big improvement!. There's fibre across the road, but 300 rural customers aren't deemed sufficient to install a new junction box.

    Where I lived in SoCal, it was worse... $40/mo. for what was supposedly 1.5Mbit but in reality usually more like 0.3Mbit, fixed wireless being less than wonderful but it was that or dialup, on phone lines that would only support 28bps.

    The real reason, at least in California, that little new cable is being laid, is not the initial cost. It's CA's tax structure. Overhead lines are not taxable, but cable in the ground is taxed as Real Property, effectively 2% of value (deemed as cost to lay the cable) per year. This, in fact, is why overhead lines are being outlawed (not because of visual standards, tho that's the excuse) -- to force 'em into paying tax on new utility cable. If customers were willing to pay to cover the tax (which is about a buck a foot per year for electrical cable, a bit less for phone cable), no doubt new cable would be buried more often. (This is also why electrical service is not being extended in rural areas that still lack it. Which is a surprisingly large chunk of even this populous state.)

    As to the cost of laying cable (and subsequent ongoing and ever-rising taxes), fixed wireless can be done at a cost of around $150 per customer. But there's all the issues of needing line of sight and rights to hang the equipment on a pole and that it really does not work well in bad weather.

    Truth is we caught ourselves in a no-win situation by being rather more progressive about all this communication stuff than was the rest of the world. By the time they caught up, things had changed, and most of what we did to limit ourselves no longer applied. A cautionary tale on regulations applied in advance of actual need.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gsmith-plm View Post
    One of the main reasons we pay so much is because comm companies can basically charge as much as the market will bear and even then they lie through their teeth in their advertising. While I'm generally opposed to government regulation, they have let the comm companies get away with highway robbery.

    One of the greatest sins is that comm companies have been allowed to act as super-monopolies. They control the means of delivery, control the content, and even act as content providers. Competition is an illusion - stay with any provider for longer than the introductory period and you will find yourself paying roughly the same amount as the guy next door with a different provider.
    I totally agree with you, these cable companies (particularly Comcast) are a monopolistic whore.

    I would be VERY glad to see them regulated/deregulated like the old Ma-Bell phone company years ago. Then perhaps we would see some new companies stepping in to give these big guys some well desired competition.
    Last edited by beiland; 2015-08-20 at 10:19.

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    In NYC I have Verizon FIOS. 75 mb/sec down & up. I think I am paying around $80 - $100 / month. I am not sure of the true cost because it is bundled with telephone & TV. It is much more expensive and slower than what is available elsewhere in the world. The monthly data limit is uncapped. That is a good thing compared with typical USA and world wide cell phone data plans.

    I suspect the article's analysis is correct. We have slow, expensive internet access in the USA because the conservative "free market" advocates have established private sector monopolies that are designed to maximize big company profits. In NYC we have some competition. In most of the USA there is only a single "high" speed provider and you can't get anything close to 100 mps speeds at any price. The only private company providing gigabit speeds is Google and they do it only in a very few places on an experimental basis.

    Look back to history. Would you accept the idea that the water supply was provided by private companies rather than by municipalities? No one currently is upset that the water supply is paid for by taxes. The idea of multiple water supply infrastructures and duplicate pipe system is just inefficient and expensive.

    Supplying household water by private, profit making companies currently seems insane. But, once upon a time that was the accepted mode in the United States. Think about the Manhattan Water Company that was founded in 1799 by Aaron Burr. It turns out that this was a legal scam with a charter that allowed it to rapidly morphed into a bank that challenged the financial monopoly of Hamilton's Bank of New York.

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    South Korea is mostly mountainous, which is why 25% of their population lives in Seoul. A majority of the rest live in other nearby cities around the yellow sea basin. So their population density is extremely high.

    The raw average density for South Korea is 1,288 people per square mile. I'd guess that's about triple if you're considering the yellow sea basin area.

    America has a population density of a whopping 84 people per square mile. Sure, that also includes places like Alaska and Wyoming, but there are sure a lot of rural areas with about 85 people living in each square mile. I totally wouldn't change that--I love having elbow room. But it explains why it's kind of difficult to get good internet speeds across the country.

    Of course, if you compare cities like New York (Thanks, AMF1932) with Seoul or Tokyo, things may look different. But I question your assumptions--According to Akamai, the average internet speed in South Korea is only 23.6 Mbps (https://www.akamai.com/us/en/multime...-volume-01.pdf). Sure, gigabit internet may be available in some places for $40/month, but apparently isn't very common yet. (a few 1000 Mbps connections skew averages pretty fast.) The first source I could find for a New York City average was http://testmy.net/city/new_york_ny , which places that fair city right in the neck of the woods with South Korea/Seoul.

    If we're comparing "available" speeds, Google Fiber in Kansas City is 1Gbps for $70/month, which isn't much worse than the prices quoted in the article.

    My advise: be patient. Companies will get faster bandwidth to you as fast as they can. It's only good business.

  14. #13
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    I pay $79 per month for 3 MBPS download speed. Plus, $25 for a phone which I don't want. But it's unlimited data, so I stay with it.

    I could get Verizon 4G or satellite, but I would pay for how much data I use.

    We watch Netflix, so we need unlimited data.

    Some of you are crying about speeds which are astronomically higher than mine.

    There's nothing else available in my area.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjimphelps View Post
    I pay $79 per month for 3 MBPS download speed. Plus, $25 for a phone which I don't want. But it's unlimited data, so I stay with it.

    We watch Netflix, so we need unlimited data.
    .
    Have you checked your speed to verify that you are truly getting that 3 mbps?

    And is 3 mbps really just fine for uninterrupted Netflix?

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    I live in a semi-rural area in the Northeast part of the United States. DSL is the only high-speed access available in my town, and for $40 per month I receive 1.52 Mbps download & 0.47 Mbps upload speeds. Of course, I'm paying for much faster throughput, but my home is too far from the nearest box to take advantage of the full throughput I'm paying for. Not so far away, subscribers with the same commercial provider of internet access are receiving gigabit speeds over fiber. I have no idea how much they pay for that level of service.

    Absent wireless high-speed access, there is no reason to believe the situation will change at this location. With 52 people per square mile, and with 59 miles of roads on which citizens live, the town is much too spread-out to ever build its own system. For the same reason, cable companies won't lay cable in the town. Pity us not, neighbors further up the road are too far from the box for DSL, and they must rely upon HughesNet - this in a million-dollar home.

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