back to article Enjoying that 25Mbps internet speed, America? Oh, it's just 6Mbps? And you're unhappy? Can't imagine why

American internet users are, seemingly, getting a quarter of the internet speed they are paying for. That's the upshot of yet another survey, this time in the US state of Georgia, that demonstrates that American consumers are being institutionally lied to about their broadband. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution hired a data …

  1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Still worse

    Last time I checked, the rating showed maximum speeds by wire protocol rather than actual wire capacity. It would show 100 Mbps ADSL2+ and FTTN connections for regions that were so far down the cable that the actual maximum speed was below 3 Mbps. One ISP would bond 6 pairs of phone wires together if you paid enough. That showed up as hundreds of Mbps available when the reality is that you'd pay about $1200/month for 6 pairs totaling 12 Mbps.

    Thankfully, my neighborhood now has AT&T FTTH. At the moment I can buy a naked and unthrottled connection for a reasonable price, but I get the impression that I'm an unwanted customer who needs to be pushed into expensive TV bundles.

    1. binary
      Facepalm

      AT&T throttles data, beware!

      We had AT&T for a little over a year. We paid for 25 MB/s until, they got caught several times providing only 3 MB/s. Not to mention their service is very unreliable due to data throttling. The best way to put it, we found their service inadequate.

  2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    6MBps? Luxury!

    I'm a Comcast victim & can't get more than *half* that on a great day.

    I wait for Youtube videos to buffer before they play. I wait drumming my fingers on the desk while I wait for shopping sites to refresh because between their crap code & my crap bandwidth, it takes forever to get shit done. I wouldn't bother trying to video chat even if I could see to do so, simply because my connection sucks shit.

    And it's all Comcast's fault for charging me $39.99 a month plus a metric fekton of fees, charges, sircharges, & taxes on top of that until it nearly *doubles* the price.

    6MBps is a luxury that I don't think exists in this back water, middle of nowhere, agricultural NoMansLand located just outside the Silicon Valley & their gigabit fibre connections in every toilet HappyLand utopia.

    25MBps? Not on your fekkin life. =-(

    1. Craigy

      Re: 6MBps? Luxury!

      Lucky i get 300kbs down nad half that up if i want anything over 5mbs it'd be 15grand or satellite or mobile hotspot

    2. Shooter

      Re: 6MBps? Luxury!

      I live 2.1 miles from the center of my (small) town. Until a few months ago I had DSL service from a local boutique ISP - the best available. Max speed was approximately 0.5 mbps. Then they decided to get out of the residential service business and concentrate on business service. They (somewhat sneakily) steered me towards AT&T; I swallowed my gorge and signed up. While I have nothing but respect for the technical side of AT&T, I hate with a passion every other aspect of that corporate sinkhole. Fortunately, they screwed up the scheduling badly enough that I had time to come to my senses and cancel the installation.

      Cable is not an option for me. Although my next-door neighbor gets high-speed cable internet, they are on a semi-main street 100 meters from my house. The cable company refuses to offer service down my 3.5 mile long side road, unless my neighbors and I pony up tens of thousands of dollars to run the cable underground. On top of paying the standard rates, of course. And while the cable company (Charter, in this case) are more than happy to take the government subsidies for rural broadband development, they aren't at all interested in actually, you know, *developing* rural broadband.

      Satellite internet is available of course, but again the installation costs and monthly tariff are outrageous, especially considering the available speeds. And the service is often subject to signal degradation due to weather, etc.

      Currently, I am paying an extra $30/month to tether my cell phone data plan to my home network. Even though my house is almost exactly half way between the two nearest towers, I can generally manage about 4.2 mbps download. Upload is practically non-existent of course, but fortunately I rarely have much upload traffic. And since the missus and I have different tastes in entertainment, watching video on the TV doesn't happen very often - we usually watch video on our phones or tablets, which doesn't eat up our tethering allotment (we have unlimited data on anything consumed directly on the devices). On occasion I've been known to run an HDMI cable from my phone directly to the big-screen TV (which also bypasses the tethering allotment), but that is inconvenient enough that we don't do it very often.

      1. Timo

        Re: 6MBps? Luxury!

        Why not get a link extender and hang off your neighbor's cable? If you're friendly with them they might be welcome to splitting the cost.

        There are a few ways to pick up a point-to-point connection between your two houses and you could appear to have separate networks up to the cable gateway, to minimize security concerns.

      2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re:Tethering

        Currently, I am paying an extra $30/month to tether my cell phone data plan to my home network.

        Man are you getting robbed blind. Most Mobile contracts here include tethering at zero cost.

        I use it all the time when I'm out.

        Sadly what you are saying is typical of what goes on all over the USA. So much for being No 1.... No 1 in being mugged by big buisness perhaps.

        And your POTUS is more concerned with sending tweets bad mouthing Sadik Khan than governing his country.

        1. Shooter

          Re: Re:Tethering

          I had 10 gig at no extra charge through my cell phone provider. The $30 ups it to 50 gig for both my wife and me. That's still cheaper than my DSL was, and so far we haven't even come close to exceeding our limit.

      3. LDS Silver badge

        Re: 6MBps? Luxury!

        Here to serve houses to which deploying cable is too expensive, FWA is used more and more, and now tops at 100/30Mb/s (consumers) if you have a clear view of the antenna.

    3. mark4155

      Re: 6MBps? Luxury!

      "And it's all Comcast's fault for charging me $39.99 a month"

      No it's all YOUR fault for being a mug and paying it.

  3. Michael Hoffmann
    Unhappy

    Huh, so Aussie NBN Co also runs the US fraudband system? Who knew?

    1. sbt

      The NBN isn't great, but lies about performance aren't the problem.

      We do have independent testing by end-user devices though (SamKnows whiteboxes), similar to those used in the reported US study. We have also sold-off one government owned monopoly wholesale provider with crummy infrastructure that treats its retail customers like sh!t for $60 billon(ish), and replaced it with a new one, but at a cost of $50 billon (2019 estimate).

      Not sure about the "most technologically advanced nation in the world" claim. Isn't that Estonia?

    2. GrapeBunch Silver badge
      Pint

      Thumb up for fraudband, which I thought might be a neologism, but which according to the Urban Dictionary was coined in 2006. Fraudband deserves more bandwidth.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Big old nations with large populations generally have a harder time pleasing everyone than more compact nations with up to a few million population.

        If we in UK get access to fast fibre broadband for only 10% of our population, then that’s 5 times more than the whole population of Estonia, so these comparisons to places who have recently renewed their smaller infrastructure just aren’t useful.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Feel free to make comparisons to similar countries such as S.Korea, Japan, France, Germany, or say, California - please report back.

          The UK could have a near 100% fibre rollout if the parliament had the will.

          1. NetBlackOps

            The Comcraptic office is just up the road, it's 3:40 AM PDT, and speeds are running 360 Kbps to 2.997 Mbps in California here which pretty much knocks out any arguments that service is so great even close to their node when no one else is online. Averaging right at 1 Mbps. I have this system monitored to a fare-thee-well.

            Oh, that's on a premium Internet access account. Yea! Big bucks for craptastic service.

            1. fobobob

              The dumpster fire that was Comcast internet (100/20) at the office I work with was eventually replaced with Comcast's fiber service (100/100) at several times the price. Expensive, but it does have an actual SLA, and has proven completely reliable so far. The previous service was plagued by:

              First, absolute garbage ISP-provided routers, required due to their asinine scheme for implementing static IPs:

              Cisco DPC3939, 3941: Defective Intel Puma 6 chipset, and everything that goes along with it. WiFi was, however, pretty decent. Drops connection randomly; web pages randomly take 30+ seconds to load due to retries. RDP and other real-time protocols are basically unusable over this turd. Seriously, f*ck this router. A large part of its issues seemed to stem from a bad reaction to erratic network connectivity on Comcast's side. When the pipe was calm, as at night, things weren't too bad.

              SMC D3G: Broken IPv6 support (only one IPv6 host will work properly), only 4 upsteam/4 downstream channels. Could not have been used for service beyond ~150mps as a result. Had to disable IPv6 on ~40 computers to keep Outlook from having a fit (it was the only application that seemed to be unable to cope with it). This one was mostly okay, but was not fast. Eventually died outright, leading to...

              Netgear CG3000: Weird issues that felt similar to the Ciscos, despite using a Broadcom chipset, but far less severe. Forgets custom DNS servers for DHCP clients, and starts handing out Comcast's about 1 minute after booting, regardless of what is shown in the UI. First one we got (used) died in a month or so. Second one had all of the same basic issues, and they refused to provide a brand new one. Locked up randomly, sometimes 2 or 3 times in a day, and sometimes went weeks without locking up. Drops packets reliably, once per minute including to the LAN IP, followed by a few packets with 200-2000ms responses. Performance degrades over the first hour or two of use, and then stays bad. Only router I've ever had to use that has consistently erratic ping times on its LAN interface, as well as packet loss to the LAN interface.

              Second, we were on a seriously overloaded network segment which would show latency and packet loss that made for some very jagged and colorful Smokeping graphs with any of the three router types, especially the Ciscos. While available bandwidth would typically stay above ~70%, packet loss of 1-2% was frequently observed, and would often spike to 5-10% for minutes at a time. This was almost always coupled with latency spikes to 100-5000ms. This seemed to occur pretty much daily, with all of the routers, though the SMC had the least issues (rarely more than 0.5% loss, and rarely more than 200ms). Note that these values are for pings to several of Comcast's core IPs such as their DNS servers and the nearest-hop router.

              Finally, Comcast support could do little more than "send a signal" (i.e. remotely reset) the router or schedule a tech to come out. Multiple technicians admitted openly that the particular plant was seriously overloaded, and submitted trouble tickets, but it was never fixed in the 3 years we had it. Even showed me some of their network diagnostic software views. Signal strength to/from the router was perfectly fine. Their network and their corporate constructs are, to use an expression I've become fond of, a dumpster fire, clown shoes, sh*tshow.

              Business Class, my ass.

          2. macjules Silver badge

            Aw how cute. You must believe everything that Boris says. By the way, the supersonic pig flypast was sponsored by Boris and Jacob. Sorry about the loud bang.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "near 100% fiber rollout in UK"

              "You must believe everything that Boris says."

              If you don't agree with me I must be a BoJo supporter? You silly English person.

              The UK is not a poor 3rd world country. There is enough money to lay Fibre from Land's End to John o' Groats. There is enough money for that if less funds were spent elsewhere.

              It's all about priorities, and whatever the parliamentary dwellers think will bring most votes for next election.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "near 100% fiber rollout in UK"

                Fibre was mooted back in the early 90's by BT, but the wonderful Maggie listened to the wolf cries of the cable co's and blocked BT from strating to build thier own fibre network, which meant that the urban area were cherry picked while the more rural ones were left to hang. We'd have been close to full fibre in the UK, excpet for in some respects out Govt is as corrupt and paid for as the US one.

                I always laugh at the Enterprise car rental ads when they bang on about "American Style customer service" - I hear about that regularly from friends in the states, personally - I'll stick with the much maligned OFCOM and BTW network set up, at least we have a choice in ISP and the ability to push for decent service given the constraints of our particuar individual lines and location.

                I have lost a little speed from my FTTC service (due to crosstalk) in the 4 years since this area went live, but its still topping out above 70, so that is good enough for our needs especially as its uncapped. Cant believe the amount you guys over there are stung for in return for poor speeds and miniscule data caps.

                1. Gio Ciampa

                  Re: "near 100% fiber rollout in UK"

                  "at least we have a choice in ISP"

                  So have both OpenReach and Virgin run a fibre connection to your cabinet/property?

                  Not here they haven't (OR "don't have plans yet" to do so) - so tell me where the choice is if I want fibre broadband?

                  1. Gio Ciampa

                    Re: "near 100% fiber rollout in UK"

                    Sorry... I do have a choice... Virgin or Nothing!

            2. hottuberrol

              Supersonic pig? I didnt know any air force was still flying my old F1-11s

          3. pintofbitter

            My nephew in France has just had an "upgrade" to a 5 meg line and he pays the same as me (£40 per month), mine is 100 meg.

            1. Potemkine! Silver badge

              In France, I pay 40€ / month for a "triple play" offer (TV, phone, Internet) with a maximum bandwidth of 1Gb/s (fiber) and I live in a small town in the countryside.

          4. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

            Malaysia too

            They've got full fibre coverage as well. Even to establishing residential areas up in the hills near KL.

            Not sure about the really small villages but I know the larger towns are also well served like Ipoh and George Town.

            Its all doable with the political willpower to do it. But if no-one's pushing the telcos then they're never going to pony up the energy to move over when they can just continue to rake it in with a monopoly on the customers.

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Yet people rubbished Boris here for saying he wanted to do it by 2025.....

            Now if anyone bar Bojo, Corbyn etc had said it, there would be jumping for joy....

        2. shaolin cookie

          Which just goes to show we shouldn't have huge nations. Split the countries much smaller (like the size of Estonia) and get better service and more democracy with leaders people might actually know. The bigger cities would make nation states too large to know the leaders, but then the likes of Singapore do have great internet speeds so at least in this respect it may not be a problem.

        3. Olivier2553 Silver badge

          Thailand, with a population slightly over France, ~70 million, with size equal to France but on a narrower and longer shape is all FTTH and advertising 100Mbps for $20/month.

    3. julian.smith

      Nothing much wrong with my NBN

      50/20 Fixed Wireless with Aussie BB

      I'm part of an (anonymous) Choice NBN monitoring project, I've got a black box on my router and they send me monthly reports

      Av Down 35Mbps

      Av Up 9 Mbps

      Ping 61 ms

      The research shows it's better than 95% of Aussies on 50/20 fixed wireless.

      YMMV

      1. moooooooo

        Re: Nothing much wrong with my NBN

        FTTH/FTTP in NZ is where you need to be.

        1Gbps/500Mbps plan through BigPipe (.co.nz) $NZD106, no plan, no throttling, no data caps.

        Fibre install was free into my apartments lounge room.

        And Chorus (the wholesaler) is trialling 10Gb residential FTTP with a rollout in the next 6 months or so.

        Yes NZ is smaller than Oz (i'm from Melbourne but moved here for work 6 years ago) but Oz could learn a lot from the rollout here as they abandoned FTTN (fibre to the node) and went FTTH/FTTP.

        Do i need Gb internet? nope, but i was on 200/200 Mbps and when Chorus announced Gb was available my ISP, BigPipe, upgrade me to that plan for free and my monthly bill was the same. Actually it went down by $20 to $106 as Chorus also reduced the wholesale price a whileback.

        Awesome and reliable and cheap. Can't ask for much more than that!!

        1. igavus

          Re: Nothing much wrong with my NBN

          Pretty good price, cheaper than our national telco in Estonia :)

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. CountCadaver

          Re: Nothing much wrong with my NBN

          Thats a good development, for years friends in NZ complained about getting gouged for terribly slow service (250Kbps max) when I was getting 2Mbps ADSL with a 16mbps ADSL2+ in the near future

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think that a few things are getting conflated here.

    I have a 6 Mb connection, which is advertised as a 6 Mb connection. Inasmuch as one can trust a speed test, it's a 6 Mb connection.

    I stream audio/video all the time.

    The ISP sells a number of data tiers and of course all of it is geared toward the upper more expensive tiers.

    I have access to other faster networks in other undisclosed locations so I'm not isolated to a solitary 6 Mb experience.

    So when I continue to read that I can't possibly survive unless I'm doing at least 25 --- well I know better.

    If the ISP were to charge the same amount and provide 25 Mb ok.

    But what's more likely is that if everyone is convinced that 25 is the bare minimum, then we lose our cheap data option.

    It becomes an excuse to jack prices.

    Whether we pay for it or the government pays through some subsidy we still end up paying.

    1. Blank Reg

      I couldn't get by on 6Mbps, I have some very large files (~3-5GB) that I need to move around a few times a week. But I found that paying for 1Gbps was a waste of money. My ISP has always delivered higher speed than what I pay for, but for me anything over 150MBps is overkill. The time saving is just too small to bother paying extra, instead of less than a minute to download it takes 5.

      And now they are running fiber to my house and will offer 1.5Gbps, it still won't save me more than 5 minutes.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Same, I have 70mbs (which I get consistently) because it’s the entry level. If the isp offered 10 mbs for half the price I would take it.

      2. sitta_europea Bronze badge

        "...couldn't get by on 6Mbps, I have some very large files (~3-5GB) that I need to move around a few times a week."

        You heard of rsync?

    2. DCFusor Silver badge

      Same here, - tiny town, one provider (our coop phone co, not known for competitiveness) - and I get 4 down and 1 up. Which is what I pay for, and reliably get out a couple miles from the DSL node.

      Landline + DSL (uncapped) is $72/mo - it's always been expensive here with only around 20k people in the whole county. But raspberry pies etc mean I can do uploads to youtube (the big files) and so on overnight and not care. Ditto things like linux distro downloads.

      The phone co is laying fiber - those are long runs, but aren't as much trouble "out here" as there's no other infrastructure in the way - but if I understand correctly, the price for being connected to it is more like another $100+ a month. I will have to give that a pass on my fixed income if it's the case when it gets here in another year or two.

      Seems like actually needing more than I've already got is a pretty edge case - wanting is always another story...If you really *need* that bandwidth to do your job - perhaps you're a telecommuting video editor? Then perhaps you shouldn't live where that's hard to get, or should investigate "the bandwidth of the post office with SD cards".

      I mean, the rest of us not-so-entitled people did it in the snow on bloody stumps when it was uphill both ways.

      We tried satellite here and the reliability was poor and the price very not worth it. Not being gamers we didn't care about the horrible latency.

  5. Grikath

    25Mbps is called "internet access" ?

    What is the U.S. on... Dial-up?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Trollface

      Yup, but only in places where the phones lines are not made of string and plastic cups.

      1. Blank Reg

        Back in the early days of telephony they sometimes made use of barbed wire fences to connect to the phone system in rural areas.

        1. mark4155

          Totally correct. In my youth I experimented with this over a distance of a mile or so. Wooden fence posts and wire (not barbed in this case) you just need to follow the fence wire and ensure continuity of the circuit, it was in a field, beware of farmer and bull if you want to try this out. We then ditched this plan and strung a single wire between a number of lamposts using an earth return method. A bit of a hum on the line bt as 14 year olds I could chat free of charge to my mate under the bedsheets.

      2. JJKing Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Ooops

        Yup, but only in places where the phones lines are not made of string and plastic cups.

        Well there is the problem right there. You should be using empty metal (tin) cans. You get much better signal that way.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Ooops

          WRONG! The "tin" can here aren't actually made of tin yet are grandfathered so they're immune to false advertising laws. The signals through them are WORSE, not better. Frankly, you're better off with paper cups than them.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yup, but only in places where the phones lines are not made of string and plastic cups.

        Ah, you mean the site internet at IBM Poughkeepsie...

    2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      At Grikath, re: dial up.

      Unfortunately the answer to your question is yes.

      America is very spread out. Plain telephone service might be available, but getting dial up over it may be "iffy" at best & a sad joke at worst. DSL is a pipedream, FO is a utopia that will never be realized in their lifetime, so satelite may be their only option.

      Unless you live in the middle of a large town where establishing the infrastructure makes financial sense, you are unlikely to get a reasonably fast DSL much less high speed broadband & certainly not gigabit fibre.

      I live in a moderate sized town in a decently sized county & can barely get 3MBps. Faster service is available *IF* I agree to shell out to upgrade *their* infrastructure so they can deliver it. They advertise that this area can get those high speeds, they just forget to mention they'll bend you over a table & rape your wallet to upgrade the lines to get it to you first, then again every month to continue to provide it. Those "up to" speed ads need to die.

      In places like China where the population is densely packed & the infrastructure will pay for itself a trillion times over the moment you turn it on is vastly different than America where everyone is spread out & providing the infrastructure might take a hundred years to pay off.

      You Brits anyer newfangled leccy trickity. Gettin fast fiver octicks. BAH! Get offn my string & tin can! =-)P

      1. fishman

        Re: At Grikath, re: dial up.

        Even in areas where the US population is not spread out the ISPs screw us over. Because most of us only have one high speed internet provider available, they can do as little as they want and charge as much as they want since they have no competition.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Only getting 1/4 of what I pay for here!

    So I just tested the bandwidth from my wifi-connected macbook to my digital ocean droplet with iperf and it reaches 286Mbps which is annoying because I know the fiber delivers up to 1Gbps and that is what I pay for. I also know that my unify wifi access point should be able to deliver more than 1Gbps over the 5G wifi but it does not. Probably because I have been too lazy to mount the wifi AP to the ceiling...

    Reading about people having to deal with 6Mbps reminded me to be grateful for what I have.

    1. druck Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Only getting 1/4 of what I pay for here!

      It's pointless trying to measure wired broadband speed over WiFi, you need to connect to the fibre modem with Ethernet to know what you speed you are getting.

      There are so many factors which can affect the WiFi speed between the access point and the client, its near impossible to get the optimal transfer rate, so you will never get an accurate measure of a 1Gb broadband connection using WiFi.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Only getting 1/4 of what I pay for here!

        Thanks for the well intended advice. You are right, and I already did exactly what you explained and that is why I wrote that I know the fiber delivers 1Gbps. The only reason for being slightly annoyed is because all fingers are pointing at one person only to improve the speed. But honestly, I haven't bothered because a stable ¼Gbps via wifi is pretty damn okay.

  7. Claverhouse Silver badge

    Could Do Better, But Not Discontented

    For this post I retested at broadband.co.uk. In rural Britain.

    For £20 a month I'm on Vodafone Fibre ( lowest choice ) getting 38.11 Mb down, 3.26 Mb up.

    Is this perfect; no ? If I could afford the higher package I could be upgraded to 80 Mb down tomorrow. Is it fairly cheap, and reasonable ? Very much so.

    Last year I could only get ~3 Mb down for £15. I certainly didn't lose any cheap data option: if I had stuck with Sky, they offered to increase it to £20 for that ~3 Mb.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Could Do Better

      I'm sitting on 300Mb symmetrical because I had to go out and drum up enough support over 4 Parishes to get a commercial FTTP provider interested. BT and Northamptonshire County Council (bankrupt and with government inspectors trying to turn them around) would not upgrade us on the 'Rural broadband' government funded initiative, but decided to use the money on a town centre regeneration project. My bloody MP is too busy with Brexit to ask the right questions to bring them to order!

  8. ThatOne Silver badge
    Devil

    Why am I not surprised?

    Lack of competition. Funny when you think the USA are so proud and eager to proclaim the healing powers of "free market". Meanwhile in Europe about several ISPs are competing with each other to provide fiber to the premises even in the boonies, for 30-40 euro/month.

    There is obviously a drawback to that: The European ISPs don't make enough money to be able to do serious lobbying work, so they have no political power at all. They can't afford to buy a commission, so they just have to be good at what they're supposed to do. Sad.

    1. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Why am I not surprised?

      'Funny when you think the USA are so proud and eager to proclaim the healing powers of "free market"'.

      That's because what the USA has is a "free market" - not a free market. Just as its political system is "democracy", not democracy.

      If you read the article carefully, you will see that the root problem is the dominance of a handful of huge corporations that are completely uninterested in competition or improving service. Instead, they have made a successful bid at regulatory capture.

      Here in England I get an absolutely regular, reliable 70 Mbps down and 18 Mbps up from Andrews & Arnold (AAISP), a small independent specialist ISP. I have just tested it for the first time in 11 months - I stopped measuring because the results were always the same and I never have a glitch.

      I could have gone with Virgin or BT (actually AAISP uses BT's infrastructure) but I was unwilling to accept Virgin's Ts & Cs or BT's atrocious customer service.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why am I not surprised?

        And the regulatory system in place ensures that they don't have any real competition. Anyone who disputes this is being terribly disingenuous.

        Especially here, too many commentards confuse and conflate free-market capitalism with crony capitalism. For broadband services, the US has a crony capitalist system, not a free-market capitalist system.

        1. DCFusor Silver badge

          Re: Why am I not surprised?

          A yank here - you betcha, and crony capitalism isn't limited to just telecom. The revolving door between "private" outfits and government regulators is in full swing in almost all fields where there's enough total bucks to make it worthwhile for the cronies. That doesn't leave much out.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Why am I not surprised?

      America land of cosy cartels and regulatory capture! Even where there is competition, and you have to look hard to find it in the internet broadband market in most parts of the country, it's basically a cartel. It's the same across a whole range of services. But as long as corporate profits remain high, everyone seems to be happy.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why am I not surprised?..blame the FCC, PUC and City..

      There are two separate economies in the US, depending on product. There are the products where the government have little or no invasive control. Where everything is cheap and works. Then there are the products were various government regulatory bodies are involved and have invasive control. Where everything is expensive and crap.

      Internet access has been very much the latter since the FCC, at the Fed level, decided to get involved in 1998 and quickly destroyed all meaningful competition. I had very fast DSL internet in 1997 at a very cheap price, by world standards at the time. By 2005 I had very slow DSL at a very expensive price, by world standards at the time. And it has got much much worse since then.

      First we have the FCC, who are utterly corrupt and are the poster child for regulatory capture.

      Then in California we have the PUC, the Public Utilities Commission. Who make the FCC looks completely honest and amazing efficient. Then lastly we have the City level, which has their own mini PUC. Which takes institutional corruption to a whole new level. But there again they are just upholding a San Francisco tradition that goes back to 1847. Utterly corrupt and venial city government.

      Abolish all city / county level interference in broadband, shutdown the state PUC's and make the FCC purely a technical standards organization and then very quickly you would be able to get broadband speeds which I can get in most parts of Europe. Very high speed internet, even on my phone, for around $20 a month. Rather than the $80/$100 a month you currently have to pay in SF for internet access that even starts to reach the throughput I get even when using my cell phone as a wife access point in Europe.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why am I not surprised?..blame the FCC, PUC and City..

        Hey, I know how it is, I used my cell phone as a wife access point and found your wife.

        I got pretty good throughput, if you know what I mean, wink wink, nudge nudge.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why am I not surprised?..blame the FCC, PUC and City..

          Its amazing what sensors can be found in modern cellphones..

          The big problem is that it really kills the battery life. But the wife doesn't seem to complain.

      2. Slef

        Re: Why am I not surprised?..blame the FCC, PUC and City..

        Does your phone have an orifice or is it virtual?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why am I not surprised?..blame the FCC, PUC and City..

        As always I am fascinated by the motivation of down voters. Are the votes based on actual experience with the relevant government agencies or on having followed in detail the various goings on over the last few decades. Or for that matter, actually looked at their itemized monthly bill, say from PacBell (now the Death Star) , and gone digging into the various surcharges and levies and how they came about. And where all the money from those extra charges actually go. Some fascinating stories there. Its not just the FCC surcharges that are outright stolen. Like the tens of billions for "rural broadband" since the late '90's.

        Or is the vote just based on ideological reasons (big government must always be good) or perhaps on writing style. One or two typos and all those down votes. Tough crowd.

        Well if they knew the history of city and state level utility regulation they would know it came out of the Progressive Movement of the early 20'th century. In California most of the ground work was done by the alliance of groups led by Governor Hiram Johnson. In SF it was Mayor Jim Rolph. Those regulatory agencies worked pretty well for about a generation or so but by the 1970's were long past their sell by date. But they were never reformed or replaced by agencies that were better suited to the realities of the modern economy. All hijacked by special interest groups of one form or other.

        If the choice was between completely new regulatory agencies and no regulation then I'm all in favor of *new* effective regulatory agencies. If the choice is between the current regulatory regime and no regulation then I am all in favor of no regulation. The current setup just guarantees defacto and dejure abusive monopolies.

        Just look at your last months utility bills, any of them, and you will have all the evidence you need. For those of you in California. You are paying between 3 and 8 times the actual free market rate for your utilities. Directly because of the various city and state regulatory agencies and authorities. If you have been paying these bills for decades you will know the stories of how grossly inflated they have become over the years. And very little digging will give you the various reasons why. About 90% or so due to regulatory capture of one form or other by special interest groups. The other 10% (maybe) due to reasonable changes in the business environment.

        Or in the case of trash collection in SF, its a straight case of organized crime going back many many decades. To the 1920's. So just one of the perennials. For the City.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: Why am I not surprised?..blame the FCC, PUC and City..

          > As always I am fascinated by the motivation of down voters.

          I didn't downvote you (I never downvote), but I'll try to explain why I might had been tempted to: You hijack a specific problem, with specific causes, to shoehorn it in the old "big/small government" fight Americans love to indulge in.

          European countries all have "big governments", and no ISP problems. Should one conclude that a "big government" is a requisite to having fast Internet? Do you see the stupidity of it?

          The issue is simple, and nobody has ever tried to obfuscate it: There is a cartel/monopoly on Internet access in the USA, and that's bad, period.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Why am I not surprised?..blame the FCC, PUC and City..

            It's worse than that. The US Government is a cartel and has reached the point it's a closed loop. At that point, only something drastic can break it.

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Why am I not surprised?..blame the FCC, PUC and City..

        "First we have the FCC, who are utterly corrupt and are the poster child for regulatory capture."

        So, basically what you are saying is it's not regulation that causes poor service, poor quality and lack of competition, it's the abuse and hijacking of the regulatory system by the corporates and crony politicians that causes the issues.

        I suspect a major part of the problem is the political appointments system, from the Supreme Court on down. It never seems to be about the best person for the job, but more about the incumbent party trying to load up every gov department or organisation with party members and problems that causes every time the government changes (from local up to federal).

        1. DCFusor Silver badge

          Re: Why am I not surprised?..blame the FCC, PUC and City..

          They often don't even care about parties - that's just a distraction from the cronyism, with a slight tilt as to which parties favor which bit outfits more. Hey, look, a squirrel!

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Why am I not surprised?..blame the FCC, PUC and City..

          Which essentially the problem behind the problem is the human condition, period. ANY man made edifice such as a government eventually succumbs to this. The US may simply be at the endgame of one such cycle.

    4. LDS Silver badge

      "to be able to do serious lobbying work"

      Not always... here in Italy the ex monopolist (TIM) and owner of the "national copper network" is lobbying heavily to be able to merge with the company to which they lost the bids for the new broadband network (built with taxpayers money).

      They lost the bid because they promised FTTC and the other company promised FTTH - and now the risk is the old copper network may become useless in a few years - and all of their competitive advantage will evaporate with any residual value of the old network.

      The risk of the merge is they will slow down the FTTH rollout to squeeze some more money from their old network while avoiding to spend money in the new one, and keep a competitive advantage, even if it means to deliver slower speeds to many customers because FTTC issues (distance, crosstalk, derivations, etc.).

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: "to be able to do serious lobbying work"

        > Not always... here in Italy the ex monopolist

        True, this happens, and not only in Italy, but you already stated the big difference yourself: "Ex-monopolist" is the key word here: In Europe all the old monopolies (in all service branches) have been smashed, and while they didn't go down quietly, and often tried (or still try) to retain/regain their former power, the European situation is nevertheless one Americans can only dream of. In the USA those monopolies are still going strong, and getting more influent by the day, instead of just desperately fighting to keep at least some of their former power.

  9. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    I'm doing OK. For an advertised 30 Mbps up/30 Mbps down connection, I'm getting 20 down and 23 up. And the speed test site (at dslreports.com) complains about my ancient browser (FF 42.0).

  10. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    The real problem...

    The real problem is the internet providers are (probably...) not literally lying. They are reporting using the FCC's approved method. The problem is this method is VERY faulty -- they report by 5-digit ZIP code, which (like the first 4 digits of a UK postal code) only breaks down to a region of a town or sizeable rural area.

    So, where I live the DSL provider provides "up to" 40/5 service I'm getting about 34/4.2 (running off a VDSL2 DSLAM.) Fair enough. Where my parents live towards downtown, the DSL hardware is so old (late 1990s vintage) that the ANSI standard it uses is listed by wikipedia as a no-longer-used "historical" standard, max speed would be 8mbps.. they were getting 6mbps on it (before they switched to wireless internet a while ago). But it's the same ZIP code so for FCC purposes they get to claim 40mbps service there too. The areas with no DSL? They get to claim 40mbps service because it's the same ZIP code as areas with service. If they decided to upgrade some VDSL2 DSLAM in the city to 100mbps, or run gigabit fiber to ONE house, they'd get to claim 100mbps or gigabit service ZIP code wide.

    It's 100% ridiculous given how easy it is to accurately map speeds, that this ZIP code method is still permitted. There's really no excuse for it other than to let the incumbent DSL and cable providers claim more coverage and better speeds than they actually provide. In some cases the incumbents have taken federal or state funds for rural buildouts, built out a small fraction of the buildout they were supposed to do, then stopped since per-ZIP code reporting let them have the illusion (to the FCC) that the buildout is done. (This isn't a matter of the money they were paid running out, the rest of the money was just added to the company profits.) A few state PUCs (Public Utility Commissions) have called companies out for this ("either finish the buildout you were given tax money for, or you must return the money") but not as many as should have.

    1. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: The real problem...

      "The real problem is the internet providers are (probably...) not literally lying. They are reporting using the FCC's approved method".

      Which was imposed by the big internet providers.

    2. DougS Silver badge

      It isn't by zip code

      It is by census block. This is about the size of a city block in urban areas, but in rural areas a single census block may be several square miles in size and can easily encompass that one house that happens be on a main highway or other easy to serve area, so the maximum speed that person would be eligible for gets counted for the whole census block.

      Here's the trick though - in rural areas often a house will be well off the main road - you might have a driveway 1000 ft long. Call up the cable company to get service and they'll quote you thousands of dollars for install. A telco that offers fiber to the home would charge even more. But hey, if that one house is "eligible" for gigabit fiber it doesn't matter if they'd have to pay a $15,000 install cost, they can count that census block as being gigabit.

      And of course the reports are based on advertised speeds not measured speeds, so a cable company that's oversubscribed can sell you a gigabit but you'll never see that, and get a fraction of it during peak times when everyone is streaming Netflix. DSL doesn't suffer from the oversubscription problem, but people further away from the DSLAM or who have impaired lines can't get the maximum speeds on offer. The speed they can offer to the house in the census block that's closest to the DSLAM is what would count for the broadband report, even if most of the houses are too far away to even be sold DSL!

  11. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    [QUOTE]So I just tested the bandwidth from my wifi-connected macbook to my digital ocean droplet with iperf and it reaches 286Mbps which is annoying because I know the fiber delivers up to 1Gbps and that is what I pay for. I also know that my unify wifi access point should be able to deliver more than 1Gbps over the 5G wifi but it does not. Probably because I have been too lazy to mount the wifi AP to the ceiling...[/QUOTE]

    Nope, it's very likely because those multi-gbps speeds are with either 4xMIMO or even 8xMIMO (4 or 8 antennas in the access point.) The Macbook however will have 1 or 2 antennas. The good news, with MU-MIMO (Multi User MIMO) you would at least probably be able to get reasonably close to 286mbps off 2 Macbooks simultaneously.

  12. Boohoo4u

    No @#$&

    This story is so old, it was first distributed on floppies...

    1. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Re: No @#$&

      8-inch hard-sectored floppies?

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: No @#$&

      Nah.... Punched Cards ... The 72 Column ones please.

      1. David_42

        Re: No @#$&

        IIRC there were 80 columns, 72 for code and 8 for numbering the cards, just in case.

        1. Ken Shabby Bronze badge
          Coffee/keyboard

          Re: No @#$&

          For FORTRAN

          1-5 for statement number or C for comment

          6 continuation

          7-72 statement

          73-80 identification

          identification (if used and you did after the first time you dropped a deck) could be used to re sort them after the inevitable.

          COBOL similar except 7 is continuation 8 for divisions,sections,paragraphs and 12 for statement)

          Now if I could only remember where my slippers are.!

        2. batfink Bronze badge

          Re: No @#$&

          Yes and I'm old enough to remember that numbering the cards was a bloody good idea for when you dropped the whole deck!

          1. Dog11
            Boffin

            Re: No @#$&

            ...and squaring the deck up nicely, and drawing a diagonal line across the edge with a marker, to provide a rough visual indicator of order.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who are they accountable to?

    > The cable companies and FCC continue to knowingly mislead Congress

    > and the American people about competition in the broadband market.

    Then why doesn't congress sack/disband the lot of them?

    Republicans bang on about "commie" handouts, yet here we have a government department that is now actively on the side of the companies it is meant to regulate.

    Bombastic Bob, what do you support subsidising comms companies with tax payers dollars?

    1. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Who are they accountable to?

      "Then why doesn't congress sack/disband the lot of them?"

      Hahahahahahahaha! I see what you did there.

      You are pretending not to know that Congress is owned by the big corporations, and does exactly what they tell it. Down to having the corporations actually write legislation so Congress will get it "just exactly perfect".

      1. I'm Dugly

        Re: Who are they accountable to?

        Yeah, I read a perfectly nauseating article some time back about the critically important work lobbyists do. Essentially, they explain the new legislation to the congress critter because the critter can't be arsed to figure it out for themselves.

    2. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: Who are they accountable to?

      Alas, 6mbps is more than enough for receiving disinformation via Twitter, so the government has no real motivation to act.

  14. mics39
    Devil

    Hire Boris Johnson, he will bring you fiber to rural areas.

    1. Forum McForumface

      When he says “string ‘em up”, that’s not what he means...

    2. Spanners Silver badge
      Meh

      @mics39

      "Fiber" is how one of my kids used to spell "fibber". Very apt to put in the same sentence as Boris.

      Being outside the USA, we would prefer the correctly spelled "fibre"

  15. David_42

    Probably the exception, but my observed speed has been creeping up slowly over the last four years. I'm on the lowest tier and it was around 11 mbps down in 2015. It tests fairly consistently at 15-17 mbps now. When I signed up, the agent said the lowest tier wasn't available in my area, but I signed up online without any problem. Even 11 mbps was enough for two movies at the same time and that only happened when my wife's daughter was visiting.

  16. apa 64

    Now I understand...

    When there are news about Nvidia GeForce Now or Google Stadia etc. on video games sites there are always a lot of comments saying "video game streaming won't work". I was wondering that because it's working fine for me (Europe, 100Mbps fibre, 40€/mo). It's just that those commenters live in developing countries, Internet-wise.

  17. Swordfish1

    I'm with TalkTalk in the UK on Fibre large and get 75Mb/s download and about 18Mb/s upload, all for £27.50 per month, unlimited data.

    I could go cable for extra with Virgin Media, and get 300Mb/s download

    A country like the USA, which is celebrating the landing of man on the moon in 1969, and has Silicon Valley, and all the tech that has been born from there, and from NASA, I would have thought by now, you'd have the best broadband in the world.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "I would have thought by now, you'd have the best broadband in the world."

      They have the most profitable BB industry you can buy in the world :-)

  18. Mr. Nanook

    That's my upload speed

    Just ran the Source Forge Speed Test.

    Latency 25ms

    Download Speed 35.2 Mbps

    Upload Speed 6.60 Mbps

    Packet Loss 0

    Comcast XFinity customer, running WLAN through a Linksys router about 4 years old. Seems I'm not getting the 100 Mbps they advertise but it is Saturday afternoon so....

  19. Applejackson

    Ajit Pai is a shill

    Ajit Pai is a shill for the ISPs. He continues to work for Verizon (where he came from) and all of the others despite holding a position that is supposed to be looking out for the public well-being. He does the complete opposite in every single move he makes then laughs about it right in our faces because he knows he's untouchable as long as he has the favor of the walking pile of excrement that is currently squatting in the White House. Here's hoping we can eradicate this infestation come 2020.

  20. Rob Willett

    The land of the free...

    I live in rural England, in the Yorkshire Dales. BT were asked to wire the village and quoted some large figure and were told to go f*** themselves.

    We then went to B4RN (sic) and we laid the cables for the ISP. We did all the donkey work, trenches, wayleaves, across fields and laid pipes to each house. B4RN did the techie stuff with fibre tp each house. We have 1GB fibre to the house as do most people in the village. 880mbit download and 890Mbit upload. Total price £30/month which is about $36/month. No restrictions on usage or downloads apart from not sharing. B4RN also offers pretty free services to charities and schools.

    The only downside is I can't change the Genexis router to a decent one. I'll live.

    I can't get over how screwed the US public is, You have no choice, crap service, politicians who lie (ok same as us). I thought America was the land of the free, From where Im sitting, I know who has the best deal...

    Elections are coming, vote with your feet,

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: The land of the free...

      HOW when ALL roads lead to Hell...INCLUDING back the way you came?

  21. SteveCarr

    Here on the fringes of the civilized world....

    ....in a cool but sunny winter's morning in Dunedin, New Zealand, I have FTTH, with a consistent and repeatable speed of 930Mbps down and up, no data cap and all for under NZ$ 89/month (that's around US$50 or so).

    And dare I mention my 4G mobile plan, at NZ$80/month, again uncapped & with unlimited NZ and AU calling?

    Plus they throw in free Netflix Premium & Spotify.

  22. vaporland

    scammy ISPs

    An elderly acquaintance was a customer of Verizon FiOS and Verizon Wireless. They were scammed into swapping out their fiber optic internet for a 4G 'MiFi hotspot' because it would supposedly lower their overall cable bill.

    Fast forward, everything slows to a crawl - and why not, they watch HULU and Netflix, so they maxed out the 4G data limits and got throttled down to a crawl.

    I told them to return the 4G device and go back on FiOS. They did and are happy.

    I love my gigabit internet for $89 / month, so I expect Verizon to tell me that I have to switch to some 5G bullshit in the future - no thanks.

  23. Marty McFly
    FAIL

    I am average-average.

    I pay for 8mbps, the maximum available in my area. That average of 6.3mbps is really close to what I get in reality. But I get triple-digit speeds on uploads!!!! (Of course, that is thousands of bits per second rather than millions).

    Yeah, US IPS's really suck.

  24. Jtom

    Unlike other commenters here, I am in Georgia. Don’t know where they did their tests, but I am getting 31 Mbps down, 21 Mbps up, right now, and the limiting factor is my WiFi. There are a lot of WiFi networks around me. When I plug directly into my router, I often get 70 Mbps down (I seldom upload much, so that I don’t pay attention to that speed).

    There are often four TV sets in my house all streaming shows simultaneously (and we frequently binge watch UK shows - right now it’s Midsomer Murders). Never had a stall to load, just continuous delivery.

    I am on Comcast, but I there are two other competitors available to choose from. I am in an upperclass suburb of Atlanta, which makes a big difference. Many places in downtown Atlanta get crappy service, not because of the service provider, but because the outside plant is so frequently vandalized. Be careful jumping to conclusions when reading stats like this.

  25. Steelburgh

    Remember it's the INTERnet

    Not saying the author is off base (though using cable company interchangeably with ISP leads me to believe they're missing some key industry knowledge), but how were these speed tests conducted? A broadband provider can have a blazing fast local public network, but if the pipe coming into their network is slow, that won't matter. Big issue for a lot of rural areas. Now, the big boys the author mainly targets, they should have no excuses. But the article kind of lumps all tiers of providers together.

  26. sitta_europea Bronze badge

    I kicked BT into touch.

    Getting the same service now (pretty crap TBH) but it's only costing a tenth of the money.

  27. FrankVanRiet

    You all live in the wrong country..

    At least for internet connectivity.. i live outside the city of Antwerp in a rural village. Internet speeds are 169Mb/s download and just shy of 20Mb/s upload. Just tested with internet speed test. And that is through a VPN..

    And yes i pay more, but it also includes my cable television, a landline phone, free video on demand content (mostly older movies, but most of the current TV series)..for about 100$.

    But i must also sa y : our country is small, and every home has cable to it.

    I used to have ADSL (now DSL, symmetric) , and i know people who still use it and that is really a disaster.. you never get even near the advertised speeds..

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: You all live in the wrong country..

      That's the thing. Geography matters. All the better countries have SMALLER landmass and shorter connections. Let's see the US compared instead with Canada, Russia, or China, the only three countries COMPARABLE TO OR LARGER than the US.

  28. DaemonProcess

    paper tape

    Maybe some people could get by on 1940s punched tape as a faster method than their DSL provider. If it gets sent back to base in a loop, it could be put into a recycling mash and re-made. Just a few hours latency on ping, won't hurt anybody.

  29. mhenriday
    Boffin

    The maths are off again

    American internet users are, seemingly, getting a quarter of the internet speed they are paying for.
    In that case, shouldn't that sum on the blackboard,rather than reading «2 + 2 = 5», read «2 + 2 = 1», all in honour of Mr Pai, who no doubt is a wizard at maths ?...

    Henri

  30. localzuk

    I feel lucky

    I'm with A&A in the UK and get exactly the speed the line is capable of. I never see slow downs, and if it goes offline I get notified.

    If only all ISPs were as good!

  31. slowroadtotek

    Six would be great!

    I am lucky to get 1mbps from AT&T. $50/month!

  32. Bob. Hitchen
    Linux

    On fibre copper mix

    I get 140Mb/s down 20Mb/s up on BT landline day or night. It's probably overkill. Some of the stories here are horrific.

  33. ecofeco Silver badge

    Everything in America is a scam

    See title.

    Everything.

  34. Gra4662

    Better infrastructure

    Perhaps if American telcos used Huawei they could put in faster kit and offer a faster service.

    How does anyone watch Netflix over there?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One thing to be said for living in a smaller community with a major university in the US; the span of internet access and availability/speed is wide open. I've got Comcast 300mb download - must feed the 4k streaming as well as all the other devices. On the other end, have rural customers and some of the less demanding users in town still tooling along on dial up. I could go up to Gigabit and also fiber optic, but there is the need for food to consider.

  36. Ghostman

    You only get WHAT on fiber?

    I live in an ittsy-bittsy town in south central Georgia (USA) called Byron. If you're a rock fan you will remember it as the home of the 1970 Atlanta Rock Festival.

    I am on Cox cable, pay for 30 mbps, use Netflix, Amazon, internet phone, and a streaming service.

    When I saw the figures above for some Brits on fiber, I checked with several speed test sites.

    Getting speeds of 112 to 160 mbps depending on how far away the server is.

    Wife is right now watching Family Feud (Family Fortune over the pond) and I'm glad she isn't watching Naked Attraction on More4.

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