back to article Just how rigged is America's broadband world? A deep dive into one US city reveals all

A deep dive into internet access availability in one US city has revealed – again – that competition for broadband is dreadful and far below what official figures claim. In a report [PDF] put together by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, investigators looked at real-world internet offerings within a 30-mile radius of …

  1. MadonnaC

    Choice

    Since my move in February, this is the first time I have had a choice of high speed(*) providers in the 20 years I have been living in the US. 5 cities, 3 states. I just *so* love the competition that is out there.

    (*)High speed definition varies by era

    1. Tomato42 Silver badge

      Re: Choice

      Oh, but you have the ability to choose from over 30 kinds of breakfast cereals! that means you have Freedom™

      /s

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Choice

        Actually in the US it's usually more like you have the choice of 30 identical versions of the same breakfast cereal made by different companies....

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: Choice

          Actually, it's more like 30 identical versions of the same breakfast cereal made by the same company under 30 different brands.

          Because companies use branding the same way you and I use disposable mail addresses.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Choice

            Don't forget the 30 ways of cooking eggs.

            1. defiler Silver badge

              Re: Choice

              50 types of toothpaste...

              1. chivo243 Silver badge
                Coat

                Re: Choice

                Or the 50 ways to leave your lover..

                1. The Nazz Silver badge

                  Re: Choice

                  re chivo243

                  Anyone notice how Paul Simon still owes us the remaining 44 options?

                  I'll tender

                  Get the Fuck, Buck.

    2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      @MadonnaC Re: Choice

      If you have to relocate, you can see where in the US has the best bandwidth. Some are major cities like Chicago, NYC, SFO, etc ...

      But then there's Lenexa KS, Columbus OH, and other smaller cities.

      This is a stark contrast to the rural areas where they can't string cable (too expensive) and unless the household makes a considerable investment... (100ft mast to house PtP microwave) ... you won't see it.

      This is the largest irony in that many tout high tech, IoT farming, but don't realize the costs of setting up the communications...

      Some would love to have something better than dial up or 3-4G (LTE) data plans for connecting house holds.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @MadonnaC Choice

        Great you mention Columbus, OH. I have had Wow!, Spectrum, and U-Verse available to play off against each other over the years. Wow! is "Winning" right now with 500Mbps and 1Gbps options.

      2. Curtis

        Re: @MadonnaC Choice

        Funny you should mention that. Chattanooga, TN. Most people would consider it "rural" and 10Gb fiber is available to every home serviced by EPB power.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: @MadonnaC Choice

        "100ft mast to house PtP microwave"

        Which will be a tornado and lightning magnet for 200 miles in any direction....

        LEO satellite broadband _should_ act as a wake-up calls to these monopoly providers but they'll either not care, try to get it made illegal or it'll be swamped by 10,000 times the anticipated demand.

  2. Magani
    Unhappy

    There's a worse place?

    And here's me thinking Oz's broadband situation was a load of rancid dingo's kidneys.

    It seems there's always someone worse off than you.

    1. Tomato42 Silver badge

      Re: There's a worse place?

      The Net down under sucks because of physics, not because of unfettered, unlimited and shareholder mandated avarice.

      1. Youngone Silver badge

        Re: There's a worse place?

        The net in Australia sucks because of politics, not physics.

        One of the previous short-lived governments they have in Italy Australia decided the NBN ought to be a cash cow instead of a public good, so the made a pig's ear out of it.

    2. Sampler

      Re: There's a worse place?

      Last flat had 100/40mb NBN (and at one point Netflix said it was off-lining files at 120mb/s during peak times whilst the flatmate streamed the footy = \ ) and new flat has 100/40mb NBN and again performs admirably even at peak times.

      Prior to NBN the ADSL was total shite: couldn't get it in my first flat (I moved here five years back) as the exchange was over subscribed, next I got 1.5/0.5, that double to 3/1 a year later as I moved again and then got up to the heady heights of 6/1 before I moved to a wireless broadband box that had a capped speed 10mb/s down and 1mb/s up but worked at that regardless of where I lived (and had unlimited data).

      All of these cost more than the $60/m I pay for NBN - all located in the surrounds of the populous city of Syndey (I've lived in Bondi, Bondi Junction, Pyrmont, Brighton-le-Sands, Ultimo and then three different flats in Surry Hills) where ADSL should've been at it's best.

      So, there's lots of problems with the NBN rollout, Turnbulls attempts to kneecap it, but, that the actual product in my experience is a vast step forward on the Telstra monopoly of ADSL lines before it.

  3. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Go

    Finally!

    I hope they do more of these to get people's attention.

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: Finally!

      I want a "heat map" of *the planet* for internet availability, the speed delivered, & if any & how much competition is available at a 1 Foot/1/3rd Meter resolution. In real time. No fucking around, no fudging, no bullshit, just an accurate real time map of global coverage. That will show *exactly* where the trouble spots are located, where the fraud spots are (ISP claims coverage but there isn't any, or claims $SpeedX but only delivers $SpeedY, etc), so we can take that fact to court & start forcing the changes we need to Make It Right.

      $ISP wants to claim they cover $Location with $SpeedX, fine, let's check the map. Oops, it looks like you don't cover that area at all, much less with the speeds you claim. Care to fix that before we find all the C-level execs criminally liable for fraud, extortion, & Crimes Against Humanity?

      *Deep breath*

      And while I'm having this fantasy, I'd like that cute engineer from FireFly to ride Lady Godiva style on a pony...

      1. Remy Redert

        Re: Finally!

        You don't even need to go that far. Make it a federal crime to file false reports on this (Oh wait, it probably already is) and then go around doing spot checks all over the country to enforce it. Go to one of those nice ISP websites and check if broadband from them is available at 'your' address by filling in random addresses in the regions those ISPs claim they are available.

        Then go around some of those places, knock on doors or make appointments to come by and test their actual connection speed.

        After a few billion dollar fines and some execs jailed for this bullshit, the situation will rectify itself. Good luck getting the government to go that far though.

        1. Voidstorm
          Pirate

          Re: Finally!

          "Oh look : a speed test is being done!" *routes that traffic via superduper hi priority megafibre* "WOW, AMAZING RESULTS, your broadband is fine at 45MBps"

          "Oh look, they are back to netflix" *hits the Nobble Button* "Jeez this sucks chunks, its like 3Mbps now"

          The absence of net neutrality permits the above not so jokey scenario.

          Yes, I'm a confirmed skeptic when it comes to monopoly telco assholes.

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Finally!

        Lovely dream SS, I hope that someday (in our lifetime would be welcome) that it will actually happen. Given the current FCC's attention to the population instead of the big ISP's, there's a snowball's chance in hell of it coming to pass. Even if the FCC started mandating change and forcing competition it just seems doubtful that it's even possible.

        At the rate the big guys have been sucking up any competition, we'll soon only have one company in the whole country that owns everything. The board and the shareholders will love it. The rest of us, not so much.

        Send the lady on the horse my way, I can use a nice fantasy about now cause reality sure does suck, doesn't it?

      3. Marcelo Rodrigues
        Gimp

        Re: Finally!

        "And while I'm having this fantasy, I'd like that cute engineer from FireFly to ride Lady Godiva style on a pony..."

        She is cute... I'll give you this!

  4. Lt.Kije

    Having Moved in the US from "fibre to the house", to "Cable to the house" to 6.0mb/s "DSL to the house" I am feeling the pain.

    Access is no longer a fun pastime, it is now a utility and should be regulated as one. Makes you pine for the mindset that gave us the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 to "to give rural Americans a 'fair chance.".

    "REA crews traveled through the American countryside, bringing teams of electricians along with them. "The electricians added wiring to houses and barns to utilize the newly available power provided by the line crews."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Makes you pine for the mindset that gave us the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 to "to give rural Americans a 'fair chance.".

      That act spent over $200m in two years, equivalent to $3.5bn today. You think taxpayers want to finance that, just to give a few folks faster porn streaming?

      1. The Nazz Silver badge

        what's the use of faster porn streaming?

        Doesn't it just make things a blur?

        Not that some of the vintage/retro stuff* is already blurry. So my mate tells me.

        *fair do's though, often taken from well used VHS and Beta tapes. But hey, can't complain, it's available and they even have a story line.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        "You think taxpayers want to finance that"

        Some will, some won't. I'm in the "will" category.

      3. RexMundi

        They don't seem to mind financing the $600bn spent on defence every year.

        1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

          "$600bn spent on defence every year."

          Its $720 billion now. And that is just the public budget, which ignores the one-off projects. Also ignores the stuff that isn't precisely defense, like the budgets for the TLAs, Homeland Security, and so on.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "They don't seem to mind financing the $600bn spent on defence every year."

          It's a _lot_ more than that. The US Army managed to mislay 4 times that amount in one year alone due to accounting mishandling, according to a report from the GAO.

          Then again, another US government department mislaid $1tn in one year in the early 2000s.

          Part of the reason the USA is so hellbent on exporting its weapons to other countries (apart from making them dependent on US weapons systems) is simply because they make so much that they don't know what to do with them and stopping making the things would cause mass unemployment. if you factor in the industries dependent on the military spend and the industries dependent on those industries you find that the entire thing is a worse mess than the creaky state of the USSR prior to its collapse.

          Militaristic empires spending themselves into oblivion isn't a new phenomenon but it usually takes a couple of centuries.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Priorities, priorities. $3.5B worth of smart bombs are blown up by the Pentagon in hardly any time at all. It's getting to the point where there's not going to be much worth for the military to be defending other than the mansions of the fat cats who own the companies making the smart bombs.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Makes you pine for the mindset that gave us the Rural Electrification Act of 1936"

      _That_ was part of the "New Deal", which was "Socialism" and that is no longer allowed in the New AmeriKKKa of the right wing snowflakes.

      The good thing is that the louder and more visible that mob are, the more people are taking notes for when mob members start hiding under their rocks again.

      They're that loud and visible because they feel themselves backed into a corner and outnumbered - and the narrative is slowly making it clear not only that they _ARE_ outnumbered, but that ordinary decent people are starting to have had enough of the shenanigans of the right-wingers. There's not going to be any quiet acceptance of martial law emergency declarations, nor any letup in exposure of dodgy deeds.

  5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Ambitious

    "ambitious broadband goals: 25Mbps for everyone by 2022; and 100Mbps by 2026."

    There are places in the world nowadays where 1Gb is more or less standard. I wonder what President Trump would have to say about broadband availability? He probably thinks it's all "peachy" :-)

    1. joed

      Re: Ambitious

      I'd add one more thing to the definition of broadband availability - cost. I couldn't care less that 25Mbps is easily available in my area if it's only available bundled with TV and even more useless VoIP crap (increasing already from already overpriced 50$ to 100$+ ripoff per month). I can bet that 1Gbps can be had almost everywhere if cost was not an issue but if the service is not affordable for majority of residents it's not much different from not available.

      I've settled at 3.7Mbps exactly for this reason.

      1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

        Re: Ambitious

        I totally agree; cost limits actual usefulness.

        That's why I won't upgrade past 6 Mbps down, 1.5 up. (My own testing shows I get more like 7 and 1.2). I've made many a post whinging that uploading a bunch of photos takes all day and/or all night and don't even try video.

        The worst part is when I signed up for THIS tier (from 1.5 down / ??? up) they said it was 6 both ways. Flat out lie. Wish I had a recording of that phone call; I would have had my state's attorney general on them quick to give me this tier for free or a higher tier for the same price.

        But sorry to whinge again.

  6. vtcodger Silver badge

    Welcome to Fantasyland

    I have this uncomfortable feeling that there is a large gap between what our American politicians think they are regulating and what is actually available. 100Mbps for everyone? My guess is that if someone went out and measured actual speeds -- not claimed, not what is paid for, but what is actually delivered to customers, access would be substantially worse than even what this depressing report suggests. Maybe things are better in other countries. ... or maybe not.

  7. kschrock

    When I read articles like this...

    I wonder about drug usage.

    I live on a boat, in a marina, in a swamp. My internet provider is the lowest rated of the top 24 or 25 in the entire US. I pay $50 a month for 50/10, which speed-test always shows 60/12 or 65/15.

    The management at this marina (unlike most) provides no free internet, wired or wi-fi. I therefore let 7 boats close to me, some with multiple people, all with multiple devices, share my router. Works fine.

    For what possible reason would "everybody" need 100 to their home?

    1. imanidiot Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: When I read articles like this...

      Because you don't need it, nobody can have a use for speedier internet...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: When I read articles like this...

        Because you don't need it, nobody can have a use for speedier internet...

        If they want it, let them pay for it. D'oh.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: When I read articles like this...

      Because 640K is enough for everyone, right ?

    3. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: When I read articles like this...

      "For what possible reason would "everybody" need 100 to their home?"

      .... what reason? .... The decision makers at "content providers" are clueless and assume that all users everywhere -- even in remote mountain hamlets -- has bandwidth similar to what they have on their desktop PCs. AND, they think "latency" (a separate and also serious issue for many applications) probably has something to do with milk.

    4. Orv Silver badge

      Re: When I read articles like this...

      For what possible reason would "everybody" need 100 to their home?

      Off-site backup, for one. I mean, I'm hoping you're not going to lose everything if your boat sinks?

      Also, latency goes up fast on low-bandwidth connections if someone starts downloading or streaming video. If you do anything latency-sensitive (VoIP, gaming, etc.) it becomes noticeable problem fast. It's also a bit awkward when Microsoft's latest patch takes hours to download. Basically, no one needs 100 mbps all the time, but the ability to burst at higher speeds is very useful.

  8. Herby Silver badge

    Sometimes it is pretty good...

    My sister who lives in the eastern part of Oregon state (200 miles from Portland) has nice fiber into the house. The speed is AWESOME. Sometimes over 1 gig. I live here in sillycon valley, and the local modem test command yields something around 5 up/1 down (and that isn't Ghz!).

    Maybe someone will string up fiber, but I'm not holding my breath!

  9. Jtom

    Well, after doing some basic research, I have decided that this is yet another advocacy group providing misleading information to counter the government’s misleading information. As usual, neither side tells the whole truth.

    Read ILSR’s entire report, and see if you can find the words, ‘satellite internet service’. They seem to omit that option. Both Hughes and Viasat cover the entire country. Specifically, a check of Ostrander, MN, shows Viasat offering 25 Mb/s downstream, 3 Mb/s up (didn’t check Hughes). Where is Ostrander? Right in the middle of ILSR’s ‘no broadband coverage’ area. Hmmm...

    Perhaps a clue to their omission lies here:

    “We excluded all fixed wireless service from the second and fifth maps because the technology, though often superior to DSL, is not as reliable as fixed wired services in most areas and usually cannot serve the same volume of customers in a neighborhood. Wireless service is often unable to guarantee coverage of all homes in a region due to variations in topology, tree cover, and building materials. Because of this, fixed wireless providers may not be able to provide the maximum advertised speed to everyone within their service areas. The reviews for the fixed wireless providers near Rochester suggest that some of the services are unreliable, though we have also heard quite positive reviews on HBC’s wireless service from subscribers in the RS Fiber Cooperative territory.7“

    Nice way to bias a study.

    BTW, Rochester has a population of less than a quarter of a million people, and this study incorporates an area within a thirty mile radius. That puts you into some very remote, rural areas.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      "see if you can find the words, ‘satellite internet service’. They seem to omit that option."

      I'm unaware of any satellite internet service that provides anything comparable to actual broadband service. Both the Hughes and Viasat service are better than dialup but inferior to real broadband. Excluding them seems reasonable to me.

      1. jockmcthingiemibobb

        But the're excluding fixed broadband providers offering microwave and/or LTE solutions. My provider offers unlimited 25/10Mbps or capped 50/20. Not fiber but certainly beats our awful and congested ADSL.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "My provider offers unlimited 25/10Mbps or capped 50/20"

          How well does that work 4pm-7pm when every kid and his gerbil is watching cat videos?

    2. jockmcthingiemibobb

      With good LIDAR data, predicting wireless coverage is pretty accurate. Uptime of solar powered wireless sites is measured in years and unless fiber somehow makes its way to a farm miles from any town I can't see any other economically viable way of delivering fast broadband out to the sticks.

      1. NorthIowan

        I'm still waiting for my 1 Gbps/500Mbps fiber*...

        That will replace my slow fiber that gets 5Mbps/0.8Mbps for the base/cheapest version now. I think I could pay for faster now, but the telco web page only shows what the new fiber speeds are and no prices listed. The upgrade started in 2017 and will be done in 2019. Being out of town has it's disadvantages. :-(

        Oh, I'm on an acreage like 2.5 miles out of town in rural Iowa. As far as I know, our local town telco has wired fiber to all the farms around here (they sell cable TV running on the fiber to to make $). And now they are redoing it with the max 1 Gbps/500Mbps fiber. And this is a tiny local telephone company serving about 8,000 people in two small towns plus the surrounding farms. On the map in the story, we are east of the "Y" at the end of the blurry Sioux City, Iowa.

        So if my little phone company can do 1 Gbps fiber. I think most US towns and surrounding area's could do better than they are now. Certainly all of Rochester, MN should have good service from at least one provider. Now if you're in the middle of Montana 100 miles form any town. That would be different.

        * To save money I'll probably stick to the low cost plans of 25 Mbps /10 Mbps or 50 Mbps /25 Mbps when the new fiber gets here. I don't have a 4K TV to feed so Netflix does fine with what I have now.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "unless fiber somehow makes its way to a farm miles from any town"

        If you have a copper phone line, you should have fiber at some point. It's the same price to install (in labour), cheaper than copper, less likely to be stolen, less prone to interference and FAR lower maintenance.

        Most telcos have already run fibre to rural concentrators that backhaul your voice calls to the switch somewhere else (most rural "exchange" buildings ceased to have any switching in them a very long time ago. I was one of the people who went about removing them 30 years ago when pretty much the entire world moved away from such things) . The next step is to run fiber the last few miles when the copper finally rots out.

        Some concentrators are only about the size of a beer crate and fan out 24-30 lines (T1 or E1) for a few miles, on the end of a 20 mile fiber run. With 90% of faults being on the copper side, Telcos have been eyeing up getting rid of that for years.

    3. Alistair Silver badge
      Windows

      @Jtom:

      The word is spelled L A T E N C Y.

      Now, Unidirectional services just buffer that out of the way.

      Try voip over Satellite Internet. < I have, on a boat. it can be an Interest ing ex per ience > I don't recommend trying out FPS. Especially when its snowing.

    4. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

      Satellite internet is complete shit. Last time I use one, the daily cap was so low that I would hit it not too long after waking up. The cap was around 250 MB or so (I think they bumped it to 500 MB a few years ago). Then there was the massive latency, which would cause some of my connections to restart and absorb even more of the bandwidth cap.

    5. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Read ILSR’s entire report, and see if you can find the words, ‘satellite internet service’. They seem to omit that option"

      If you've ever _USED_ one, you'll understand why it's omitted.

      Yes they have bandwidth, but it's got a high contention ratio _AND_ rotten latencies.

      Geostationary satellite connections are a link of last resort. Last time i looked they also tend to be hellaciously expensive compared to anything else (except perhaps american monopoly broadband providers).

      Fixed wireless has the same problem. The quoted bandwidth is split amongst all currently active users using some variant of CDMA or its grandchildren, meaning as the client numbers go up, effective bandwidth goes down sharply and latencies climb (this also applies at DSL concentrators but it's much easier to rectify by adding more uplinks, vs adding more downlink frequencies or splitting cells) It's not quite following Ehrlang or road traffic saturation theory but it can be taken to be close enough for practical purposes.

  10. imanidiot Silver badge

    How hard is it really?

    Make a database.

    *Adresses in an area X*

    *Adresses provider Y can deliver broadband to*

    *Adresses provider Y can deliver broadband to* divided by *Adresses in an area X* times 100 = Percentage coverage of provider Y in area X

    It's not hard people. This doesn't even require high-school level math.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: How hard is it really?

      Well of course, if you put like that it is quite easy.

      So you're going to post online the list of addresses Provider Y can deliver broadband to ?

      Oh, you don't have it either ?

      Well maybe it's a tad harder than you thought.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: How hard is it really?

        @Pascal Monett, these providers want to get money based on these numbers. That means provider Y can easily provide the list of adresses for provider Y. Make the list public and anyone that is on the list must get a connection from provider Y. If the cable isn't actually there, provider Y will be held liable for the cost of installation of that cable and the client must receive rates as if the cable was already there. This will quickly put an end to providers lying about connections that don't exist and will provide a clear understanding about what is going on.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: How hard is it really?

          I've lost track of the number of times we've discovered that ISP Y has not been able to provide coverage in their stated coverage area.

          We chalk it up to "fraudulent advertising" and mark the ISP up as such. They don't get repeat calls.

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: How hard is it really?

      So my new, start-up* US ISP can deliver 100% broadband coverage to the entire US, including Alaska, Hawaii and the barrier islands!

      *Terms and conditions apply, contact your account manager for a quote.

      So basically I could run fibre to every location in the US, subject to survey, regulatory restrictions etc. Install costs may be into the hundreds of thousands, but it's available. Or coming soon.

      Or you could be a lucky resident in a new condo or gated community. You have fibre to your home/apartment. Rejoice! Or not, because that fibre is owned by the developers and isn't covered by any CLEC/ILEC regulations so you have no choice of supplier. Unless you want to pay that supplier to run you new cable. And they can persuade the developer/landlord to let it.

      Or you may be in incumbent land where they've replaced aging copper with fibre. Congratulations! You may now get broadband! But being fibre, it's again probably not covered by FCC rules allowing competitive access to local copper because the copper's no longer there. And if it's not a regulated product (or provider), then it may dodge USO (Universal Service Obligation) charges that are meant to transfer money from big cities with large subscriber bases to smaller operators in rural areas.

      But that can be why there are many competing providers promising full coverage in every census area.. Because if they do, then they may qualify for USO handouts, along with other incentives that may be on offer at the muni, state or federal level. So basically the US has a large and complex regulatory system that generally doesn't really support the customer.

      And behind all that are some basic technical and political challenges. Like defining 'broadband'. Then defining that as a Universal Service. Then figuring out how to pay for that to get 100% coverage and also promote competition. Or realising it's really a natural monopoly, but monopolys are bad and generally unlawful. And 100% broadband is hugely expensive. xDSL's limited by copper pair length & quality. So is DOCSIS cable. So is fibre, ie cheap multi-mode optics over plastic fibre for short distances or inside condos vs expensive single mode runs to serve rural farmhouses. That's why heatmaps would show commercial reality, ie where there's high population density, there's likely better services and more competition.

      IMHO, the consumer-friendly approach is monopoly infrastructure based on defined standards. So that could be FTTH based on say, 1Gbps Ethernet or VLAN to each property. Competition would then be on services offered over that infrastructure from PoP to consumer unit.. Which would be technically simple(ish), but would also need regulation and legislative support. One can but dream though.

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: How hard is it really?

        "IMHO, the consumer-friendly approach is monopoly infrastructure based on defined standards. So that could be FTTH based on say, 1Gbps Ethernet or VLAN to each property. Competition would then be on services offered over that infrastructure from PoP to consumer unit.. Which would be technically simple(ish), but would also need regulation and legislative support. One can but dream though."

        That's kinda what the Australian NBN, er NBN MTM, um nbn was supposed to be. At least until our Prime Minister Tony Abbot, er Malcolm Turnbull, um Scott Morrison, or whoever it is next month*, got their grubby fingers on it.

        (* Was Peter Dutton PM for a few seconds, and we all blinked and missed it?)

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: How hard is it really?

          That's kinda what the Australian NBN, er NBN MTM, um nbn was supposed to be. At least until our Prime Minister Tony Abbot, er Malcolm Turnbull, um Scott Morrison, or whoever it is next month*, got their grubby fingers on it.

          Yup. NBN started out as a good idea, ie a USO defining service and a subsidy model to help fund it. Then the lobbying got into full swing, politicians got involved and it was naturally nobbled by the usual suspects. So now it's a service that favors the incumbents and city dwellers, not rural areas.

          But that's also one of my career regrets. I spent some time in Australia and loved it, and nearly ended up buying a 5-bed house less than an hour from Melbourne that came with a vineyard. All for less than I'd pay for a 2-bed flat here in the grey UK. Then of course property prices rocketed and I missed the chance. I did get to find out about Australia's challenges though. I make jewellry as a hobby and love opals. So bought some in Melbourne and the owner invited me to visit their mine in Coober Pedy. Which didn't look that far on the map, but would've been a 2,000 mile round trip. Which is also a long fibre run!

          I guess you know you've been in the telecomms business when sight seeing or road trips end up also being 'how would I PoP this route?' exercises.

  11. chivo243 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    in Smellinois

    My folks are stuck with a choice between Comcrap and smoke signals... not much of a choice if you want internet...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: in Smellinois

      My folks are stuck with a choice between Comcrap and smoke signals... not much of a choice if you want internet...

      For work, this house in Illinois needs to connect to VPN, which lets satellite right out, since the upload slowness causes the connection to drop. We get the fastest speed DSL here will support, claimed to be 1.5Mbps, we usually can count on .75Mpbps up. maybe .3 down. The "competitor" (cable) said sure, we can get their cable BUT we have to pay for the cable to be laid, at a cost of $3000, and still pay their extortionist rates for service! We have no streaming service, broadcast TV, and lots of the CDs that people sell for a buck or two when they get "streaming", and expect that nothing will change.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: in Smellinois

        BUT we have to pay for the cable to be laid, at a cost of $3000, and still pay their extortionist rates for service!

        Ah, so you want better service, but you want someone else to pay for it? I can see a snag there...

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: in Smellinois

          Ah, so you want better service, but you want someone else to pay for it? I can see a snag there...

          That was also the argument made for not wiring farms up to the electric grid, before Rural Electrification. Today a lot of rural farms are still served by the power co-ops created under that program. But that was back when the government still did things because they were public goods.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: in Smellinois

        "For work, this house in Illinois needs to connect to VPN,"

        The obvious choice is "Choose another house"

  12. richdin

    Not always a matter of BW

    I get 200/200Mb service for ~ $30 in Tel Aviv. 1000/1000Mb for $50 if I wanted it.

    Problem is the link from Israel to RoW. That's throttling the experience more than anything else.

  13. DaemonProcess

    need for speed

    Yep, no excuse for poor service and monopoly in metro areas.

    But for rural areas, the distances are so large and the lengths of cable/fibre are so great we'd be talking 10s of billions to refresh it all. Same for Australia - just search for images of 'Overlay Australia' and you will get the picture of how big it really is - same size as Europe, same size as the USA but with far fewer people in the middle.

    One problem is ownership. In the USA, if you own something you are god and the slave-master. If anyone tries to take it away or force you to share it then you can claim socialist nationalisation which is downright un-American. Ever since the practical monopoly of Standard Oil was broken up and then found not to fix anything but rather create multiple small SOs (one of which is Esso) removing monopolies has been regarded as a no-fix idea.

    1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

      Re: need for speed

      "[R]emoving monopolies has been regarded as a no-fix idea."

      And yet it was repeated in the 1980s with the Bell / AT&T breakup and creation/spinoff of the "Baby Bells" -- right at the explosion of cellular and internet.

      To your point, they've spent 30+ years reconsolidating; now AT&T (SBC) and Verizon are now the two biggest players in US cellular and certain wired links.

      My question is: If AT&T/Bell had been taken semi-public (like the US Postal Service) and turned into a "public good" nationwide, how would that have affected cellular and internet proliferation? And where would we be now with regards to access to bandwidth and pricing? I know, there is no way to answer, and even if you could, it wouldn't help things now.

      I have a feeling between utilities/telecoms and retail (Walmart & Amazon), we're headed for a "WALL-E" future under Buy&Large. Or the novel "Jennifer Government".

      1. OldSod

        Re: need for speed

        I lived through the Bell/AT&T break-up and the introduction of the Internet (first) and then widespread cellular service (second) in the US. If AT&T/Bell had been run as a semi-government corporation like the US Postal Service, the introduction of the Internet and cellular service would have been considerably slower. The breakup of AT&T lead to a dramatic reduction in telephone costs, especially long distance telephone costs, in the US, but in no way slowed down the introduction of Internet services.

        AT&T had no clue about the Internet, and their moribund internal processes would have crept along ever so slowly. They had already spurned the idea of packet-based networks when the DoD first came calling with the ARPAnet. The Internet initially flourished because the only thing "the telephone company" needed to provide for subscriber connections was a voice-service telephone line, which practically every household already had (thanks to Universal Service mandates from the government) and which ISPs were able to request installation of en masse. Thousands of independent ISPs using dial-up modems met the need for last mile Internet connectivity; they rapidly broke out on every street corner it seemed once the "no commercial traffic" prohibition for the Internet backbone was laid to rest.

        The RBOCs (Regional Bell Operating Companies, aka Baby Bells [what the local services part of AT&T were broken up into]) that provided local telephone service after the break-up only got into the Internet act when they saw there was an almost insatiable demand for connectivity and speed. They began buying up the little independent ISPs, and they developed digital subscriber line services that could be laid on top of the existing copper for voice services (DSL provided the "always on" Internet *and* allowed for simultaneous voice service as well). Cable companies started getting involved then as well, first with rather painful attempts to make their "barely functioning for one-way video cable plants" work with two way digital data, then upgrading their plants to provide better and better digital services. Eventually the battlefield in many areas had only two major combatants; the telephone company and the cable company. Oh, yeah... satellite providers tried to get their foot in the door, but the round-trip latency was (and is) a deal-killer for many folks.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: need for speed

          The telcos (worldwide) got into the ISP business because they saw people making voice calls via the Internet - breaking their cozy cartels and overnight ISPs went from being their "best customers" to being "THE ENEMY"

          It wasn't helped by outfits like SeMeWe laying their own cables and speculatively leading the curve on international bandwidth provision - telcos were used to dictating how much bandwidth you got and how much you paid for it.

          The Internet turned the whole market model upside down and Telcos weren't ready for that. They attempted to come into the market and shut it down, but that didn't work. They attempted to take it over and that didn't work either (except in some places like the USA). Most are still not coming to terms with it. What you see in the USA is playing out in a number of other countries - but those other countries tend to be 3rd world shitholes, not "advanced economies" and those other countries are for the most part trying to change things to emulate other advanced economies with actual competitive marketplaces.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: need for speed

        "[R]emoving monopolies has been regarded as a no-fix idea."

        And yet it was repeated in the 1980s with the Bell / AT&T breakup and creation/spinoff of the "Baby Bells" -- right at the explosion of cellular and internet.

        The problem in both cases is that breaking up was done without thought to preventing the amoeba reforming and to preventing market conditions that allowed the formation of the monopolies in the first place. AT&T was a monopoly that had been allowed to remain intact but under careful government control for the public good (lessons being learned from Standard Oil) and breaking it up removed that leash (lessons having been forgotten) whilst neglecting the prohibition of locally legislated monopolies.

        The restaurant wars aren't far off either (proxy for Cola companies)

  14. Kev99 Bronze badge

    We live just outside of Wilmington Ohio. The FCC claims we have three providers - TimeWarner/Spectrum, Cincinnati Bell, and Frontier. We can only use Frontier which only offers ADSL. To add insult to injury, even though they claim speeds up to 12 Mbps, we're lucky to see 2.75Mbps. Frontier refuses to upgrade their service as well as refuses to apply for FCC grants for upgrades. They claim they'll be installing micro-dishes to beam broadband but those will be subject to weather conditions. And both the FCC, FTC, attorney general, and public utilities commission refuse to do anything about Frontier's false and misleading advertising. It's pretty sad when a company in Tanzania that's 1/10 the size of Frontier can provide far faster service to rural villages than a US company can.

  15. wekebu

    One Choice

    I live 8 miles outside Chico, CA 95926. I have one choice, a WISP, which provides 6Mbps for $75 with a cap of 150GB. They just started offering 10Mbps with 200GB for $85. I'm grateful to have them, but this is impossible for a household AND someone with kids who game. The lag is terrible.

    My only other 'option' is satellite, which I had for 10 very long years. I swear, I'll move before I ever go back to that.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And your speed is?

    My local ISP is Cox - they provide a handy network speed test on their site which shows that my service is 130Mbs! But my PC connection to their modem is a wired 100Mbs cable running through a firewall.

    Locally our choices are Cox (130Mbs for $90/month) or ATT (25Mbs for $55/month).

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    it still sux

    i have TW (now spectrum; or as I call it - sputum). Started out at 25-3 and was lucky to get close to that. changed to 100-10 (for less money than they were ripping me for the old plan) and; depending on which version of speedtest i use; get 60+ - 10 or less on my computer. the tech said wifi was 100 but that's no good for anything i use. it's still way the heck too much money and the damn thing drops over several times a day usually. i don't even bother calling their service line. As my dad used to say - service is what a bull gives a cow.

  18. Trilkhai

    Speeds

    These figures take the minimum broadband speed of 25Mbps as the benchmark. That is sufficient if only one person is watching a high-definition video...

    No, try again. I pay for a 6 mbps DSL connection, and that's sufficient for my mother to watch TV in HD while I websurf or watch lower-quality YouTube/ShoutCast videos. As nice as 25mbps would be, it's absurd to claim people need it to watch videos, surf the web, or do much of anything else remotely reasonable.

  19. rnturn

    We're moving to (hopefully) temporary digs in a month or so and we're finding that our broadband options are going from two to one (I don't count wireless). I never want to hear another word from Idjit Pai about how wonderful the market competition is for US broadband users. In many (most?) cases, competition in the broadband market is in much the same state as it was for telephone service before the Ma Bell Consent decree... i.e., none.

  20. tatallor

    Come to Romania

    If y'all want fast internet, come to Romania. 1Gbit FTTH connection with added full IPTV package for 30 USD.

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