Why Your Internet Service Sucks

February 20, 2013 by in tips

Why Your Internet Service Sucks

Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age — a new book from telecommunications policy expert Susan Crawford that calls the state of Internet access/service in the United States a national crisis.

…we are being gouged: We are all paying too much for services that are both uncompetitive and second-class, and not enough Americans are being served adequately by reasonably priced, world-class services.
One on One: Susan P. Crawford, Author of ‘Captive Audience | nytimes.com | Brian X. Chen| Feb 19, 2013

At the heart of the problem lie a few powerful companies with enormous influence over policy making. Both the wireless and wired markets for high-speed Internet access have become heavily concentrated, and neither is subject to substantial competition nor oversight.

How to Get America Online | nytimes.com | Susan Crawford | January 23, 2013

Crawford suggests that sub-standard internet service in the US will not be addressed until “Americans…realize that compared to other countries, they are paying more for less and leaving behind many of of their fellow citizens. As things are, the United States will be unable to compete with nations whose industrial policy has been more forward-thinking.”

If other countries are beating us in both speed and price, then it’s time for us to change our expectations, and start demanding something better. Have your doubts? Take a look at your most recent Internet service bill, and think about the fact that people in Hong Kong can get a 500Mbps symmetric fiber connection for just $25 per month, and tell me you’re happy with the way things are.
The Digital Self: Admit it, U.S. Internet service sucks | digitaltrends.com | Andrew Couts | Feb 19, 2013

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72 Responses to Why Your Internet Service Sucks

  1. Brian J. Brandon says:

    We're an Internet Service that doesn't suck! http://www.vUnity.com

    Residential options soon!


  2. Jamar GudTymez Mitchell says:

    The sad thing about it is the US internet speeds could've been comparable to other countries a long time ago. It's no reason why since the invention of broadband internet in the mid 90's were still stuck at speeds of 100Mbps. I've played with and seen speeds more than double what we get and cost way more cheaper. This is just another way for big companies to squeeze more money while retracting the goods that one payed full price for. This will continue to happen, until we the people stand up and decided enough is enough. Until then we will continue to see more articles like this one over and over again.


  3. Patrick Allen says:

    Well, in my case (Montreal Canada) it's $58/month for 12 mbps… In a remote area on the country side, Internet providers refused to offer the service to a community claiming it would be too expensive an infrastructure for the return on investment… They then decided to install themselves a satellite antenna and split the fees between them (500 souls). End result for them is a terrible $52 for super high speed… A year! Maybe people, even in big cities should do the same… Enough with the thiefs!


    • Jean-Philip Merrette says:

      ^^ dans les deux cas, le service souffre d'un genre de ADD ; je m'explique, un download est facilement interrompu par un autre lorsqu'internet est solicité ailleur; exemple, lorsque deux ordinateur qui navigue sur internet, un a priorité sur l'autre (est-ce que tu download encore un video sur youtube chéri ? Facebook ne veut pas s'ouvrir)


  4. Phil Whisenant says:

    I am just paying $29.99 a month for Broadband speeds of up to 65 MBPS(download) and 4.14 as my (upload) speed. I think I am getting the best deal anywhere in the United States. Charter is the fastest.


  5. James L says:

    What ever happened to San Francisco’s idea of free city wide internet access. I thought at one time they were going to put hospots on every street corner.


  6. what we can do to demand more speed? nothing, its the same crap that cellphone service and tv service… you can call and ask and complain and they will just ignore you.


  7. Ray says:

    I just switched from Comcast at $52 for 23 mbps to CenturyLink DSL for an average of $49 for two years and increased the speed to 37 mbps. CenturyLink has a deal for $29.95 for 5 years but I would have had to increase my telephone costs by an additional $29 and I did not want to be tied into a 5 year deal.


  8. Tim Lombard says:

    Paying $40/mo. for 160kb/s

    That's roughly 1.2mbps Down. Talk of competence.


  9. Nick Rowe says:

    If you’re fed up with the poor speed and the high cost – do what a rural community in North West England are doing – getting their own access to 500 Mbps – see BBC article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21442348 I live in a village in rural East Midlands of England and get a fairly poor service of 2 Mbps for about 15 quid a month (about $23). If I was closer to a decent exchange I’d get around 5-8 Mbps for the same money. And generally we think we’re not doing very well for speed and cost in the UK.


  10. 'William Wry says:

    Point of order here people, it seems that a lot of you are missing the point the speed advertised is not guaranteed it depends on a lot of variables and if you look on your provider's website it probably says so there somewhere. If you think the US is bad try the Internet in Canada I'm paying $60 a month for an advertised 5MBs which I don't get, it states as much on the providers site and at weekends it slows right down.


  11. Mike says:

    I suspect from what I read here that the AT&T fiber optics “U-verse” combo is pretty hard to beat for home applications. Good price here in MI for initial 12 mo. AT&T provides good service here as well. Surprised to hear Comcast is not all good. Most of us don’t need blazing speed as we do dependable performance with support when needed.


  12. Lewis Brinin says:

    Yes I agree internet here is not what it could or should be but the question is what can we do about it??


  13. Bob says:

    Precisely what we need. The government getting involved in an area it has no business poking its nose into. Internet service is a privilege, not a right so stop looking to spend taxpayer monies then bitch about high taxes and big government.

    Good grief but where did we go so very wrong in this country.


    • wurman says:

      @Bob: how sad that you know nothing about the internet. As noted in 2000, Representative Al Gore was on a committee that funded the old military & industrial & academic ARPANet. His efforts led to funding that developed the network. As a US senator, Gore “forced” greater funding, then led the way to taking the US government, taxpayer funded network “public” and turned it over to the private sector at no cost. Now, the Big Telecom sticks it to us in price gouging and poor service as we pay again and more for the internet we devised.


    • Nick Rowe says:

      @Bob: Have to say that most countries with superfast internet speeds have a large degree of government involvement with varying degrees of financial support. In the UK it’s considered the same as road building or other physical infrastructure that will ultimately benefit the country as a whole. It seems to me that abdicating govt input in favour of big business is precisely why the US is in this position. Just my view from this side of the pond…


    • David says:

      @Bob: In Istanbul you can get fıber internet to 100mbs for about $40 per month. Telecom is heavily regulated by the government. Go figure.


  14. 500 Mbps for $25 a month would indeed be nice. But that is Hong Kong, which has stuck to the path of minimal government intrusion. Not so in the crony-capitalism land of the US. Comcast just went up to $65 a month for a whopping 10Mbps. And that's it. CenturyLink doesn't even offer DSL in my condo area (I am in Colorado Springs, CO). Monopoly gouging.


  15. Lou Nihoul says:

    Cawford is an ultra-liberal who wants the government to pay for everything. Don't worry about money – tax the rich,


  16. Sandra Crockett says:

    Unfortunately Time Warner Cable has the monopoly in the USA.
    We don't really have a choice and are forced to like it.


  17. I live in a rual area and they stick it to us. we can only have 2 roviders blue wire witch is based 2 hours away and they come out put an anteni on your roof and charge you $49.99 per month for 1 meg internet. or for the same price for wildblue wich is a satalite connecton of 1 meg :(


  18. Years ago I lived in a house that had three cable providers that were in my back yard. I would switch between them every once and awhile and my bill was about $8 but in other areas where they had only one provider in their back yards, they were paying about $30 a month.


  19. Bill says:

    Exactly. Power over policy. Government doesn’t care what the private sector pays, they alol get theirs FREE. Paid for by the private sector. What couold be better than fleecing us outsiders?


  20. Bill says:

    Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power

    There in lies the problem.


  21. I have Comcast at work and it works great. I also have it at my apartment and it sucks. The difference being: at work, I am sharing bandwidth with maybe a dozen people at a time. At home, I am sharing it with 3 or 4 times the number of people.


  22. Hong Kong is a tiny spec of land. Building out infrastructure is far easier than in the vast US. Add in that there are overlapping state and federal regulation of service providers, something not in Hong Kong.


  23. Dan says:

    The problem US is that consumers are addicted to too many things. Pretending they need this and that to survive. “I can’t do this without that.” What did you do before they invented the cell phone? Live under a bridge? Well, there you are. Put up with it. Or do something about it. Writing books (you write books about anything these days – who cares?) and complaining will not help when all of your politicians have two jobs: one with the public sector and one with the private sector. Clean up your act. There are 300+ million of you for gawd’s sake. How cowardly are you?


  24. Mark D Suazo says:

    Sounds like a good time to write our congressional leader and force them to pass laws to bring our nation to competitive standards. Also sounds like many class action law suits are needed too show these companies that they can not bleed us dry and continue to get away with it. I have Charter and have 100 Mbps I feel the price is high, but compared to others, I am not being financially raped for sub standard speeds and service.


  25. hank hart says:

    i live on texada island bc canada we have fibre optic cable installed on our island,BUT the phone company does not find it important to provide ADSL as there are not enough customers complaiming they dont listen anyway,in powellriver adsl is available but thats a ferry ride away ,nice to live on paradise island beautifull but slooooooooow on the internet


  26. Rick Cooley says:

    I pay over $100 a month for my bonded DSL service, which includes my phone service.i am supposed to be getting 20Mbps, but it's way less than that. It's ridiculous! I shouldn't have to wait 10 seconds for a webpage to load. It should be lightning quick! BAM! It's loaded as soon as I type in the URL and hit the enter key. I am switching to COX soon. I've about had it with this crappy service.


  27. Frank Schwartz says:

    The only way to force these companies to be competitive with the world market is to allow the world market into the U.S. This will probably not happen.
    The only other way to force fair competition is for everyone in the U.S. to cancel their phone service, tv service, and internet service.
    This country should organize these services by states, and have the states provide these services. We pay enough taxes now that they could incorporate those costs into the system, therefore providing acceptable services at lower costs.


  28. Jack Haesly says:

    In my opinion, the major suppliers of web services in this country are implied criminals and should have their franchises revoked and their senior managers prosecuted and jailed as bandits. Susan Crawford’s book is correct on this point.


  29. Grant Wuller says:

    I’m a Clec,FCC Federal and State politics is why we have inferior products. I had to pay my Ilec $40,000 per access point to just walk into their facility 2001-2003. I was looking at 13 facilities, that was with no equipment installation…yet. Do the math! My local Representative gave the local Ilec $500,000 of taxepayor money to boost their infrustructure and install Dslams the same year. Needless to say to connect to the network I have to buy my connection from the Ilec, my competitor. The telecommunications act of 1996 was and is a joke!


  30. Jerry Fleming says:

    At least you have something to bitch about… I don’t have the option of COMCAST, FIOS, or anything else of consequence (except satellite – a non-choice)… My only option here is dial-up or AT&T’s poor excuse for DSL… What I pay for and what I get is dismal at best… And AT&T customer service propbably rivals COMCAST in the run for crappiest…


  31. Mike Keenan says:

    I have at&t’s dsl service. I am paying 33 dollars for 1.5mbs but the best connection I have ever gotten is .77mbs. The worst connection has been .18mbs. The customer agreement with at&t states that is you complain too much, THEY will cancel your service. They will not maintain the phone lines, nor downgrade my service to a lower price. I am just paying for service that will never be provided.


    • Mike Keenan says:

      @Mike Keenan: I just got word today that the service I posted about is going from 33 dollars to 36 dollars in the next billing cycle. The original signup was 20 dollars a month and was advertized as never going up…so much for at&t’s truth in advertizing. At times, my dsl service is slower than a dialup connection. One good thing about it is it does not tie up the phone line while using it in this rural area of Kentucky.


  32. Jack Lohman says:

    OF COURSE! The best way to keep a system broken is to pay off your politicians with a piece of the action. Campaign bribes!

    Money works! Always has and always will.

    Get the money out of politics and you’ll see this issue fixed overnight. And incidentally, every other “little fire” in the process. Like banking and energy and health care! Get smart, America!

    We would have had single-payer healthcare (instead of ObamaCare) had it not been for $125 million in campaign bribes from the hospital, insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Our politicians are sharing in the loot and like it as it is. ONLY a 100% turnover in 2014 will fix it.


  33. Brad VanHorn says:

    The total lack of competition is the new capitalism. Cell phones, internet, television, almost any service you can think of is way overpriced including the price of gas. Gas companys don't compete, they collude. The secret the providers don't want you to know is its far better anx cheaper elsewhere. Look at the cost of a CD. Sony has gouged every human on earth then complains about pirating when sales go down. I haven't bought a cd in 10 years. Wonder why Sony?


    • Albert Cooke says:

      That's the quote of the day: "Gas companys don't compete, they collude"
      Excellent post! (and you're so right about CD's)


    • Lex Parker says:

      Wouldn't complain about gas prices too much if I were you, even if you paid 4$/gallon it would still be a lot cheaper than the UK. Over here it's more like 7.05$/gallon..


    • Brad VanHorn says:

      Yes but we produce millions of gallons of gas and use far more then the UK. Its still over priced. But I feel fer ya.


    • Michael J. Toro says:

      While corporate titans enjoy singing the praises of the free market system (it makes for good PR), it's actually the last thing that they want. For them, a free market is free only if they're in complete control of it.


    • Lee Shenton says:

      Yes, but we don't have good public transportation, making driving a necessity to work, go to school, shop for groceries, etc.


    • Sam says:

      @Brad VanHorn:

      The big driver for increased gas prices was the deregulation of the futures market in conjunction with high demand overseas. Speculators can purchase large amounts of crude oil without having to take delivery of it creating an artifical demamd which drives up the price. Traditionally when the US would see a fall in oil consumption (late 80’s early 90’s for anybody old enough to remember) the glut would result in a price drop as producers had no market to sell the oil to however with high demand overseas there is a market for excess US oil supply which again drives up the price.

      It was just poor oversight and pressure through lobbying that has allowed a few players to drive up the price of crude oil and not nessecarily oil companies. Your complaint would have merit if they were buying cheap crude oil and colluding with other oil companies to sell at a high price but the truth is oil companies are having to purchase crude oil at a high price and refine it into fuel (refineries and arcane environmental rules being another issue) which of course translates into high purchase prices.


    • Thomas Kopacz says:

      Ture but most car are diesel and run on gas-oil and get twice the miallage as in the US


    • Europe has crazy high taxes on gas. The high price isn't because of the cost of crude oil.


    • John Steever says:

      Is it difficult for you to commute 100 miles a day for work or take a 1500 mile road trip (realizing we use a different unit of measure)?


    • Justin Davis says:

      I could not disagree more. In this country you have the right not to purchase a product (unless the gov't tells you to). You do not have the right to steal just because you believe something is overpriced. Sony has to make up for the artists and products that did not pan out by making money on those that did. The reason music and movies suck these days are because of piracy. Everyone wants to complain, but not actually solve the problem. Start producing your own cds, gas, or internet service.


      • Trevor C says:

        @Justin Davis: Justin Davis you ignorant luddite. First of all, Brad VanHorn never said he pirated. Ever hear of iTunes. And your argument of the sorry state of the movie and music industries being caused by pirating. You are either lying or dumb enough to believe the MPAA/RIAA shills. Pirating does not have a significant effect on the industry (artists are making too much money to be getting it from nowhere). And do you know what Justin Bieber and PSY have in common? Their popularity exploded after their video went viral on YouTube. PSY has the most viewed video ever on YouTube and has made $8 million from the advertising, not even accounting for the purchases that were made after seeing the video. The only crisis in the industries is YOU, who extol the free market while failing to observe what it does: evolve. The industry in the technology age is different, and the only people who are struggling are the big companies who refuse to evolve like computers are some passing fad. The same goes for internet. The national fiber networks aren’t anywhere near capacity, yet the companies lobby with their BS to get politicians to do their bidding, like some hogwash law that AT&T is sponsoring that would prevent municipalities from providing internet if only one person in a census tract has a 1.5 Mbps connection (which barely qualifies as broadband), even if the company has no plans to offer service in the area. Network infrastructure is not cheap, but at the prices we pay things should be a lot better, and access should be much better and access more widely available. What we have now is merely an illusion of a free market, and your defense of it is inexcusable.


  34. Ronnie T. says:

    I’ve been told for the past 2 years by AT&T that we’ll be able to get U-Verse “Soon”. Our only option is their anemic DSL. Needless to say, we spend a lot of time waiting while everything we do buffers. Of course, that doesn’t keep them from sending me emails telling me all the great stuff I can stream online since I have High-Speed internet service. Yeah, right. Cable is not available so that’s not an option.


  35. Jack Lohman says:

    OF COURSE! The best way to keep a system broken is to pay off your politicians with a piece of the action. Campaign bribes! Money works! Always has and always will. Get the money our of politics and you’ll see this issue fixed overnight. And incidentally, every othe “little fire” in the process. Like banking and energy and health care! Get smart, America!


  36. R. Wildman says:

    Just for comparison, here in Thailand I’m getting 10Mbps for about US$20/mo. That’s up from my ISP’s initial rate of 512Kbps about 7 years ago–WITH NO INCREASE IN THE MONTHLY FEE OVER THAT PERIOD OF TIME! Additionally, for cell phone service, I can buy a phone from anyone / anywhere; buy a SIM card from anyone / anywhere; stick the SIM in the phone & I’m ready to call, for around US$0.04/minute–no long-term contract — I can change phone companies just by buying a new SIM any time I feel like it!


  37. Eric says:

    i have time warner and after listening to others talk about how slow there is, how limited in amount of access / month etc etc etc i am very happy with my service, my mother and the area she is in. is still in the stone ages. people i have talked to in other parts of the world and the limits vs cost that they have is just WOW and people that have posted here only want to complain? could it be better? yes. could it be worse. YES. is taking them to court because you didnt get enough information before you bought something or dont like the service you think you should get, all they are going to do is up the prices to cover the cost of your claim

    as for the comment for bruce. get time warners cable, dont get the phone, use magic jack or vonage or what not (its cheaper and uses up some of the bandwidth your not really using) screw cable tv go buy an antenna rather then complaining about their prices, when they asked me, i TOLD them exactly that. (shut the tech guy right up). and for everyone that really wants to complain, why not just ask aol to start sending you there cd’s again and we can all go back to aohell and be so happy we can send emails to people around the world so they can get that ‘you have mail’ sound poping up.


  38. Ron Griffin says:

    Fraud, breach of contract they don't deliver what they advertise. TWC turbo boost not very good. THey hate it when I call on slow internet, buffering happens all the time with me. Imangine that.


  39. Richard McRee says:

    Comcast Internet service is awful. The same for their customer support, recently rated the worst.


    • BW Michelle says:

      I 2nd, 3rd, 4th that statement! The WORST and in my zone they have full control :-( shame


    • Lou Nihoul says:

      I don't work for Comcast nor do I won thier stock. . I have had nothing but great service and have a consistent 25mip downlload and 6 upload. This is a residental service.


    • Kenny Hilpp says:

      Yours may be service to a residence, but check your bill, you are paying an upgraded or business class service fee.


    • Matt Stith says:

      My Comcast is 30mbps consistently, and about 6mbps up also….and it is NOT business class, I have debated paying since both my wife and I work at home, but it is not necessary. There are others that have no where near this service though….we are lucky….we pay 190 for loaded cable, internet, and phone….but VIOS would create competition but they are not going to do it when they can just up the price on those they have without competition. Our other alternative is Fairpoint, which is not an alternative.


  40. Alan Wong says:

    I live in Canada and we are experiencing the same BS. High prices because Bell,Rogers,Shaw, Telus and Videotron(my ISP) all charge high prices for Internet access with limited data plans and the option to buy extra data packages. For $64.33 a month taxes in, I get
    30 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up with 130 GBs of combined data up and down. That’s 4.33 GBs per day of data transfer which is why I don’t
    watch TV online. I share this connection with
    4 other family members and usually have to buy an extra data package every month.
    Frankly I’m fed up, but what choice do I have
    I looked at Internet resellers that offer unlimited Internet meaning no data cap, but the reviews are scary (poor service).
    I sympathize with my American friends with their poor Internet access, you are not alone. Just look to the north where we get screwed by a few large ISP’s just like you.


  41. K. Michelle Pendley says:

    Monopolies, like the cable companies, are impossible to avoid unless the government instates laws to allow other companies to compete. Comcast is too big, too greedy and now, they are outsourcing, so I'll add, their also cheap!


  42. John Molenaar says:

    In Canada it is the same and worse. It is down to 2 or 3 major players, charging outrageous rates for drivels of bandwidth. I gave them the finger and switched to an independent ISP for roughly the same price but no cap on bandwidth. Yes, that is correct. Here, with your monthly fee, you have a limit on what you can pass through your router every month – and they will charge $2/gb if you go over. Absolutely sickening. How do they expect us to embrace all the heavy bandwidth services of the future by holding a knife to your throat every month to use it?
    I think the only way they will get the message is by quitting and switching… in large numbers.


  43. Michael Summerfield says:

    The hotspot on my Verizon phone is so pathetic, I'm taking them to small claims court for fraud. If every unhappy customer did the same, their pathetic customer service would be death by a million cuts.


    • I used to have Comcast, and when I had a cash crunch, but knew for a fact that I would have the cash to pay my bill in full in just 3 days time, they would not allow me the extension of time after being a loyal customer for over 3 years. Now since they would not allow me a lousy 3 days, they no longer are my internet provider. I use Clear for my internet service, and still feel that I pay too much, but at least they have great customer service. I agree that corporate clout in the political arena is too much for us "little" people to fight, but yes, if we all got together to fight, then maybe these corporate idiots would realize we've had enough of being gouged for little or no customer service along with shoddy service.


  44. Unfortunately the big providers do not listen to their customers. TWC is one of them Turbo Boost with 20 mbps down comes to $62 a month and is not consistent. The only other option in this town is a local phone companies DSL which costs the same and is only 2mbps down when operating correctly. 5 miles away, Fios is available and they have no intention of wiring our town up.TWC has a lock on us. Basic cable plus regular internet with no phone will run you just over $100 PLUS taxes. That is criminal.


    • Lex Parker says:

      Wow I'm in the UK and pay £24 (36.3$) for a consistent 20Mbps connection + line rental, and I'm not even in a big town. You guys are getting properly ripped off on this point. However it is compensated by the fact that cars and tech are generally a lot cheaper in the States.


    • Thats not really any comopensation at all.


  45. Nelson Jones says:

    It's not just our internet access but also our cell phone coverage and billing. Now the singular question of how to get this fixed: Who to address this to? As noted, the providers have pretty much bought the political clout to sustain current practices and profits.

    I'd vote with my wallet and leave the whole mess behind if my job didn't depend on having this access. And honestly, I'm not ready to wear a horse hair shirt just yet.


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