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    • The FCC's latest Internet Access Services report reveals that 41% of US Census blocks had only a single ISP offering Internet speeds of 100 Mbps or higher, while only 15% had more than one such ISP. The remaining 56% had no available 100+ Mbps options.

      In my area (Portland, Oregon) I have more ISP options than in much of the country, but I still wish there were a few more to choose from, and it'd be nice if there were more competition on price.

      What's it like where you live? Are you happy with your ISP?

    • Brian Strong

      I live in San Jose, CA. If anyone assumed I have access to the best ISP options with the fastest connections I would not fault them, but sadly they would be wrong.

      The only 100+ Mbps option in my area is Comcast. I've actually been fairly happy with Comcast in terms of the connection speed and reliability, but I do not like their practices when it comes to billing rates and usage limits.

      Every year I have to call customer service and threaten to leave as a negotiation tactic to keep my bill under control. The truth is that there isn't any reasonable alternative, but at least they are willing to work with me. In the end it always means I have to commit to another year of service at a slightly higher rate (but still lower than what they automatically increased my bill to).

      In terms of usage limits, Comcast increased their data cap from 300GB to 1TB in my area sometime in 2016. They claim that most people won't need to worry about this limit and for the most part that has been true for me; up until recently.

      My home is becoming more connected to the internet with security cameras that upload HD video. My photo and video library continues to grow and needs constant backup to the cloud. My TV and other connected screens continue to stream more hours of higher resolution content. These things have resulted in 2 perfect storms over the last 6 months that forced me over the 1TB limit. Comcast gives customers 2 courtesy months during each 12 month billing cycle, which I have now burned through. The next time this happens they will charge me $10 for each additional 50GB, or I can buy an unlimited plan for an additional $50 a month.

      The numbers in that FCC report are really sad. I really wish there was more competition for 100+ Mbps connections. Google Fiber gave me hope, but AT&T and Comcast made it very difficult for the project to continue and ultimately it was shut down.

      AT&T did run fiber in my backyard last summer, but my address is still not eligible for service. ☹️ Maybe next year?

    • I’ve been getting progressively less happy with my Comcast. Paying $75 a month for 50Mbps I rarely get the actual 50, but more like 30-40 and occasionally less than that.

      Recently I had a 2 week long intermittent outage where the signal would drop to a crawl 0.3Mbps and then jump to 20Mbps every 30 seconds or so. I thought that it was my Router and was ready to get a new one, but based on a recommendation from a friend, I tested the direct connection and the Router wasn’t the issue. I then contacted Comcast support who then scheduled an appointment a few days later. On the day of the appointment I got an automated message saying that “they’ve identified a problem with a connection in my area and have resolved it”. So my “incident was closed”. No apologies, no explanations, but the connection seemed to work properly since.

      A friend of mine recommened me to try out AT&T’s new fiber that has been installed in our neighborhood. Supposedly I will get 10 times the speed for the same price I’m paying now. I need to do some research on the plans and pricing, but the offer seems like a no-brainer.

    • We had an AT&T sales guy, great guy actually, knock on our door during the few weeks of Hell with Comcast that our neighborhood went through. He cited various neighbors who switched. Unfortunately, it turns out he couldn't sell true fiber in our area. They had to come install a satellite dish. We passed and Comcast got better.

    • tl;dr My current option is Comcast, I do not know what my new provider will be as I don't know where I will be living. Now let me explain why...

      This area of ISP and fair access is something I have been learning about as I advocte for Net Neutrality. While I was researching this piece for System Contractors News, I found out about the way franchises for communication are handled. I had to cut some of the information for length such as how communication franchises are assigned by region. Some of the rules date back all the way back to last century and the Communications Act of 1934. This law changed the Federal Radio Commission to the Federal Communications Commission. The official title is “An act to provide for the regulation of interstate and foreign communication by wire or radio,
      and for other purposes.”
      What the communications franchise fees, and I will concentrate on cable television, allow for is a community to charge a fee (rent) to the public right of ways to run their physical plant (fiber or coxial or twisted pair). Often time the area will offer a monopoly for the area as part of the agreement. so AT&T might have run the fiber optic cable ahead of being granted the rights to offer in that area. Basically they agree with the franchising authority that they will be able to offer service on July 1, they will start paying on July 1, but they are allowed to access the right of way ahead of time in order to provide uninterrupted service for the community.
      The other challenge is that most personal accounts do not have guarantees of data transfer rates down to a certain minimum speed which can be as low as 12Mb/s based on the FCC definition of broadband. So you can have speed "up to" 100Mb/s in the plan you pruchase, but no guaranttee. Yes, I am the weird person who reads the agreements. For a business account one can have minimum speed levels at a higher rate.
      In terms of the satellite dish internet it often does not function well with VPN or other time critical items as the transmission delay is over a quarter second just for the signal to go from earth to satellite to earth. That number does not account for routing and processing latency. Then there is cloud cover... etc.
      If you really want to get into the issue as it applies to Virtual Private Networks and VoIP and teleconferencing options...want to know why video teleconferencing hardware has so many different interface options, so many different approachs. Try being a company like WebEx or GoToMeeting and having to guarantee a service level but the final communication portion is out of their control, it goes to a cable or telephone company. As a hardware company my previous employer had multiple hardware based codecs and interfaces to address the issue.

    • I live near Salt Lake City, and work at a local fiber ISP there. There's a municipal fiber network here called Utopia that allows third party ISPs to provide internet over their fiber lines. I also have said fiber at my home at 1Gbps speeds. The lowest speed we offer is 250Mbps. We actually do lines over centurylinks DSL network, though over recent years they've been strangling us out of it by making speed upgrades beyond 1.5Mbps impossible. Were super lucky to have major competition between ISPs which has bred a great experience for users. They have the option of like 9 different ISPs at any time.

    • If you were in Portland I would be throwing money and kittens at you right now.

      Well, maybe I'd just hand you the kittens. They can be dangerous when thrown.