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July 19, 2007 9:23 PM   Subscribe


 


Excuse america's poor broadband performance? Have you seen Canada's wireless (cellphone) internet plans? Haha hahaha ha.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:40 PM on July 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


caused America to fall dangerously behind the rest of the world in Internet adoption

Yeah, because lack of super fast access to the world's biggest time sink is going to destroy our civilization.
posted by IronLizard at 9:54 PM on July 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


Speaking of super fast.
posted by peacay at 10:19 PM on July 19, 2007



Yeah, because lack of super fast access to the world's biggest time sink is going to destroy our civilization.


You know, some of us use the Internet to telecommute, or to download operating systems and updates, or back up our files remotely -- none of these qualify as a timesuck, and all such activities would benefit greatly from increased throughput and reliability.

On the other hand, commenting in MetaFilter does qualify as a timesuck, I'll grant you that -- but one that would be an equal waste of time, and equally frequented, even if broadband were only half as good as it is now.

So bad broadband arguably doesn't impact our ability to waste time on the Internet, but does impact our ability to put it to truly productive use.

also: I wanna watch teevee on the web, ma! get me some broadbandages!
posted by davejay at 10:30 PM on July 19, 2007


Yeah, because lack of super fast access to the world's biggest time sink is going to destroy our civilization.

I don't know about destroy, but it certainly doesn't enhance it. Here in tiny Sweden, I've got a 2Mbps 3G connection - real wireless, not some WiFi crap - with complete national coverage and it costs me 199 SEK (about 30 dollars a month) for unlimited use. If I wanted, I could choose between a second wireless operator, two DSL providers, and two cable operators (each offering 8Mbps) all for about the same price.

I don't know anyplace in the U.S. that offers consumers the same choice.
posted by three blind mice at 10:41 PM on July 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


Furthermore, while millions of Americans do use broadband at college campuses and other schools, the students in other OECD nations have access to similar connections.

...And even MORE furthermore, many of the students in other OECD nations aren't even paying for their college. As opposed to the $30,000 A YEAR that Americans are paying for the luxury of broadband.

Saying "Well at least our students have broadband" as some counterpoint to their argument is as disingenuous as suggesting that Americans are better sailors because more of our millionaires own boats.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:56 PM on July 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know, some of us use the Internet to telecommute, or to download operating systems

No kidding, and I happen to be one of the 'some of us'. Does that justify the hyperbole? Tell me how having only 8mb downstream is 'dangerous', or even 3mb or whatever they're pushing these days.
posted by IronLizard at 11:00 PM on July 19, 2007


three blind mice,

could it be that Sweden, a 'notoriously' socialist country, has actual competition because the government does not provide handouts to the service providers nor does it provide legal protection, like those in both the US and Canada, that lock out competition through regulation schemes that make it almost impossible to bring competition to market?

I love hearing about places that aren't "free market" which have freer markets than those that trumpet their free markets to the rest of the world.

And then again... I really, really, really hate you and your dirt cheap wireless... damn, that's an insane price. I pay more than that for cable, with less than half the bandwidth. Preposterous.

/ uses the internet for work and play
posted by C.Batt at 11:05 PM on July 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


Wait, you have cable and it's only 1mbps? You're kidding right? I get 8mbps for 40$ a month.
posted by IronLizard at 11:11 PM on July 19, 2007


Yup. Maybe less. They might be advertising higher rates, but effective bandwidth is just about 1 Mbps. I'm paying 90$/month for 'net plus tv - I think the net portion is about half of that.
posted by C.Batt at 11:14 PM on July 19, 2007


Geez lol and I thought that when I was in France , 20MB (TV+Internet ADSL) at 30 € was too much :))
posted by zouhair at 11:24 PM on July 19, 2007


On behalf of all Australians, I propose a swap.
posted by pompomtom at 11:39 PM on July 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Isn't all broadband oversold in this country? They tell you you're getting 8mbps, but that's only if you're the only user on your switch or whatever they call it. Add in 200 of your neighbors all downloading "The Natural Blondes of Sweden, Part 67" and you're not close to that.
posted by maxwelton at 11:56 PM on July 19, 2007


If lack of cheap broadband is the only thing keeping a large proportion of American workers from telecommuting, then it is indeed dangerous to America and the rest of the world. Cars are fucking up the world, and America is one of the worst overusers of cars.

Unfortunately, most Americans would continue to drive to and from work every day even if they had free unlimited broadband, because the office is where employers want employees.

People would watch unlimited porn at night, however, so cheap broadband would be a great boon to the pornography industry. Hurrah.
posted by pracowity at 12:05 AM on July 20, 2007


They tell you you're getting 8mbps, but that's only if you're the only user on your switch or whatever they call it.

Well, then I must be the only person on the switch (I'm not) because I get a bit higher than that consistently at night and it's only moderately slower during the day.
posted by IronLizard at 12:13 AM on July 20, 2007


You think you've got it bad? As pompomtom says try living outside of the Amerci-sphere.

His mother isn't exactly making the most of her high-speed connection. She only uses it to read Web-based newspapers.

There is no god.
posted by oxford blue at 12:16 AM on July 20, 2007


5MB down, half MB up... advertised as 6/1. Time Warner Cable in NC is painful... but at least I don't have Comcast.
posted by tarheelcoxn at 12:22 AM on July 20, 2007


Two little letters that will make any broadband user sick to their stomach:

BT.
posted by generichuman at 12:31 AM on July 20, 2007


Use uT and encrypt the traffic. Sometimes works, sometimes doesn't.
posted by IronLizard at 12:36 AM on July 20, 2007


I always find it funny when people claim corporations are actively, deliberately degrading service in order to maximize profits.

It's like the urban myths about the guy that invented a car that runs on water, but the oil and auto companies keep it all hush-hush. As if those very same companies wouldn't all try to become instant kazillionaires selling the cars that run on water and selling the services that might bring water to you." Nope, never mind the oceans on either side of the country that are easy to get to. Our plan is to stick with the idea that we'll sell the stuff that gets sucked out of the ground in Third World countries."

And comparisons to Sweden. Pfft. Grab a map. The densely populated southern area of Sweden is about the same size as Texas. Slam California, Oregon and Washington together, and you get a landmass about the same size as Sweden, but with 5 times the population. There are more people in Southern California alone than there are in the entirety of Sweden.

Needless to say ... far easier to wire up (and wi-fi up) a small-ish country.

But if the Bikini Team wants to chat...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:35 AM on July 20, 2007


Needless to say ... far easier to wire up (and wi-fi up) a small-ish country.

Wouldn't it be more economic to service somewhere with higher rather than lower population density? You say the southern area of of Sweden is about the same size as Texas, yet total population in Sweden is ~9 million while Texas has ~23.5 million.
posted by biffa at 2:01 AM on July 20, 2007


Needless to say ... far easier to wire up (and wi-fi up) a small-ish country.

I don't get this argument either. Why can't companies pick out densely populated areas and in just those areas, provide cheap, generous Internet service?
posted by tksh at 5:56 AM on July 20, 2007


Hm, all of Sweden makes up about two thirds the size of Texas (450,000 sq. km vs 678,000). Its southern tip would be about 1/5th as big, roughly. Then again, the south-eastern half of Texas is much more densely populated than the north-west, so, with more than 3 times the population, it would be pretty much a comparable job to wire it.

Just providing data, never mind me.
posted by Spanner Nic at 6:07 AM on July 20, 2007


tarheelcoxn: "5MB down, half MB up... advertised as 6/1. Time Warner Cable in NC is painful... but at least I don't have Comcast."

Wait, wha? When TWC bought out the service we were using in NC, three things happened: 1) our speed and connectivity became increasingly shitty and unreliable, with long outages; 2) they REPEATEDLY fucked up our bill, adding erroneous charges, refusing to remove them unless I called to argue for hours, and then adding the charges back in again on the next bill; and 3) they instituted a policy in which there were NO phone numbers that could be used for contact with their "service center" in Raleigh from an out-of-state number, a MAJOR fucking pain for a household that uses only cellular (and I refuse to pay a fee to change my number: Why? Area code != geographic location any more, folks.)

We were extremely damn happy to move to MN and ditch TWC for Comcast. Worst service I have ever had. Anywhere. Period.

Not that Comcast is anything special - we wanted DSL, but for some damn reason this little corner of Minneapolis is apparently not serviced by any DSL companies. Oh, sure, if we wanted to sign up for phone service, they'd probably be happy to hook us up with DSL - but try to get a naked connection and they're all "Oh, golly, we don't have that capability in that area!"

Right. If I'm inside city limits (I am) in a large metropolitan area (it is) then there's no goddamn reason why I should have only one option for broadband.

The really shit thing is we moved to NC from Michigan just as our local (publicly owned) utilities co. was rolling out broadband-over-powerline trials. Missed out on that, suffered with shitty service, move to big city and still get stuck with one option. America, we're #14! Woo.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:09 AM on July 20, 2007


Why can't companies pick out densely populated areas and in just those areas, provide cheap, generous Internet service?

At this point, I believe it would be difficult for private operators to get the start-up to do so. Even still, I'm not sure that the municipalities would go for new fiber networks – here in DC, Verizon has torn up my neighborhood streets 4 or 5 times to lay new transmission lines, often without guaranteeing street repair afterwards.

With all of this tearing-up of streets and the inconvieniences it contributes to street-traffic, you'd think that we'd have FiOS or Europe's ADSL 2+ (are they the same thing?), but no.

I consider myself lucky to get 1mb/s. over Verizon DSL. And the monthly cost of Comcast's services? Prohibitive. It was $50-60/mo. Now they've got a $33/mo. special for the first 6 months, but I suspect that's in place because people like us choked at the prospect of paying more than $40 a month. Greedy capitalism is often its own first casualty.
posted by vhsiv at 6:34 AM on July 20, 2007


My computer is so fast that I can see your comments before you post them! Arguing with me is fultile!
posted by Totally Zanzibarin' Ya at 7:06 AM on July 20, 2007


I always find it funny when people claim corporations are actively, deliberately degrading service in order to maximize profits.

But that's simply not true. Take TW cable in my area You may have "ok" speeds downloading, but upload speed is capped at a ridiculously low level. To get higher upload speeds, you have to pay more as a business class customer. Now, when I had the opportunity to work from home on occasion, sending files to work was a huge PITA. I often said fuck it, and brought everything back the next day on a thumb drive.

According to TW, if I "needed" it for work, I should pay for or have my company pay for it. Even though it is actually capped at a lower rate than what the lines are capable of uploading at.

Also consider, for about a year now, the local TW has had the ability to increase their speeds again for their customers. They're just waiting for some competitor to start offering some other service that threatens to take business away. Then they'll "flip the switch" and start advertising their now faster product.

I'm sure there are many many more cases like this across the US. Its a sham, but there is no real reason for them to do better, because there is no real competition.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:50 AM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


there is no real competition.

Quoted for emphasis.

If it wasn't obnoxious, I would quote it in 48 pt, bold, blinking marquee text for appropriate emphasis.
posted by uri at 8:55 AM on July 20, 2007


Yeah, the "population density" argument is bunk. New York City, easily in the top 10 most densely populated areas in the world, and we have a choice between Time Warner (which sucks), Verizon DSL (which sucks more), and if you're lucky, RCN (which sucks marginally less). It's the same with electricity: we're so dense it should be cake to get some shiny new wiring here, yet Queens still blacks out at the first hint of load.

It's state-sponsored monopolies, plain and simple. The Gov't should eminent domain all the cables, the whole power grid, everything, then lease it out piecemeal. Is it unfair to the companies? Yep. Fuck 'em, and I say that as a shareholder.
posted by Skorgu at 9:08 AM on July 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Also consider, for about a year now, the local TW has had the ability to increase their speeds again for their customers. They're just waiting for some competitor to start offering some other service that threatens to take business away. Then they'll "flip the switch" and start advertising their now faster product.

That makes zero economic sense (that they are solely awaiting a competitor in order to roll out a new service), so I doubt the veracity here. That's like saying Starbucks has invented a new, patented mega-tasty coffee bean, but they're waiting for another coffee chain to spring up before they start roasting, when they could be selling cups at a higher price right now and making more money.

If TW has increased capability now, the rational move would be to roll it out now and charge a premium for it, and then lower prices to meet any competition. This would create a significant barrier to entry, warding away any competition before it even shows up.

So again, "teh evil corporations are keeping the good stuff away from us" argument doesn't hold any water.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:53 AM on July 20, 2007


I think the difference is that TW already sees the competition moving into their territories: the telcos. So they're just being prepared. And the problem with lowering prices later is that TW will have gotten used to the profits from the high profits (so will their shareholders) so better to wait and roll out "higher" speeds at higher prices.

At least that's my devil's advocate take. But I'm the first to admit (from firsthand experience) that corporations don't always do things that hold water or even make a lot of sense.
posted by anvilcity at 11:47 AM on July 20, 2007


profits = prices
posted by anvilcity at 11:47 AM on July 20, 2007


US = 3rd world.

Grow to like it.
posted by Twang at 4:19 PM on July 20, 2007


US = 3rd world. Grow to like it.

Grab a map.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:07 PM on July 20, 2007



That makes zero economic sense


Sure it does.

They already have a premium service. They know what price points the average user will pay for regular and premium service, so there isn't much benefit to rolling out SUPER PREMIUM that very few people will shell out for.

However, unnamed telco rolls into town or rolls out a new, faster service, and all Time Warner as to do is say "but wait, why leave and go with Telco when you can have this super shiny fast internet that we just increased your speed on. And we do that because we're such a great company that wants to give you the best service possible! (ignore that we've been sitting on it for over a year now)
posted by [insert clever name here] at 5:10 PM on July 20, 2007


You're missing the point that a business exists to make money, and inventory product (in this case, the capacity) is a financial liability (because of storage, maintenance, taxes, etc). If you have unused inventory, you are by definition losing money on it. It costs money to generate the inventory. It also costs money to hold onto the inventory.

Rational businesses don't have unused inventory (or rather, they actively minimize it wherever possible). A simple example is a used car lot. There's only so many spaces available on the lot. Sell the cars, so you can free up spaces and sell more cars.

If a shareholder saw a report that said Telco A had lots and lots of unused inventory (capacity) lying around just waiting for a competitor to show up, the immediate message would be "use this inventory ... somehow ... dammit! ... or I'll take my money elsewhere."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:38 PM on July 20, 2007


US = 3rd world. Grow to like it.

Grab a map.


I live in Canada now? Where the hell is my free healthcare?
posted by IronLizard at 6:04 PM on July 20, 2007


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