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ISP - getting what you pay for?
Old 02-11-2009, 07:40 PM   #1
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ISP - getting what you pay for?

I have been waging a private war with my ISP (Charter) over rates, false advertising and service outages. One of my big beefs (besides their bundled service package deals that expire every 6 months) is that the advertised speeds are never even close to my real experience.

I am supposed to be getting 10 Mb download service and have never seen more than 3.2 Mbps speeds. I recently upgraded from 5Mb to 10 because the service bundle was cheaper. When I had slower service, my speeds never exceeded half of the advertised speeds either. I can understand they might not have the infrastructure to provide higher speeds, but then I think I should get a discount as they are advertising something they can't provide.

Speed test

In my city, the services are buried and the city contracts with a single cable provider and single phone provider and leases them the lines. City residents have only these providers to choose from. Next week I have a meeting with the head of the planning commission to ask about the contracting process and what recourse a resident might have. Don't imagine I'll get very far.

How's your connection?
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Old 02-11-2009, 08:23 PM   #2
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Regardless what other speeds people get, you ought to get what they advertise, especially if the city supports them as a monopoly.

I'm sure you know that speeds vary depending on load, there is usually some sharing at some point that is a bottleneck if a high % of users are on. However, there should be some fine print to define that, and certainly if they advertise XMbs you ought to get it at least sometimes.

If they give you a hard time after documenting the problem, I wonder if a class action lawsuit threat might get their attention?

I ran your test, I'm getting ~ 1.4Mbps on my fixed wireless connection. They have towers several miles away, we have a small dish on the roof, so no utility/Right-Of-Way issues. I can't even find my docs right now, I'm pretty sure that when I signed up, it was advertised at 1.0Mbs, and I think they upgraded along the way. $29/month.

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Old 02-11-2009, 08:44 PM   #3
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It's also a function of where the test server is. Here is a site with servers in different locations.

I get results that differ by a factor of more than 2 when I use the Seattle server instead of the Washington D.C. server. I'm in Virginia.

I get 7.8 Mbps (download) and 2.4 Mbps (upload) using your test site. My ISP is Comcast cable.
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:03 AM   #4
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To illustrate the variability of speeds - I am also in Virginia and my ISP is Comcast Cable. I just ran your test and got 7.5Mbps (download) and 4.4Mbps (upload)
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:33 AM   #5
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I use DSL lite - no land line phone line needed - for $20/mo - on the tests I get 650kbps and 110 kbps - works fine for me.

What does the higher mbps get you for the added cost.
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:41 AM   #6
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Comcast-using local site, 20mbps down/12mbps up. At east coast site, 12/8.

Prior to this I had Clearwire. Comcast is an improvement.

Ha
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Old 02-12-2009, 06:44 PM   #7
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According to the link, my download speed is 4 Mbps. Cox Cable says my service is "up to 12 Mbps".

What aggravates me more than Cox, is the way people are changing perfectly good websites and making them all "fancy" so that they take longer to load. To a very minor extent, some parts of the Vanguard site would be an example. I have been boycotting SmartMoney since they changed their webpage design.
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Old 02-13-2009, 08:14 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Want2retire View Post
A

What aggravates me more than Cox, is the way people are changing perfectly good websites and making them all "fancy" so that they take longer to load.
I am with you on that one! Remember when some web sites would offer a "text only" version? That was nice.

This always reminds me, that back in the 80's I had a 1200baud modem and my broker had a BBS. To put that in perspective, that is a :

0.0012Mbps DL rate, literally one thousand times slower than the connection I have today, yet I could DL my portfolio prices FASTER than I get them today. The screen updated almost instantaneously when I hit RETURN (I could just barely see it scroll down as it filled). Yes, it was just plain text, but what more do you need for that?

Maybe the stimulus bill should have had incentives for slimming web sites, there must be a huge energy savings from not pumping so many bits around?

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Old 02-13-2009, 08:31 AM   #9
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Im unsure if this is affected by the fact that im using a wireless router, but my download is 4.4 mbps while upload is only 378 kbps
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Old 02-13-2009, 08:36 AM   #10
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Im unsure if this is affected by the fact that im using a wireless router, but my download is 4.4 mbps while upload is only 378 kbps
Oh, I forgot to mention that I am using a wireless router as well. Oops.
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Old 02-13-2009, 08:45 AM   #11
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I am with you on that one! Remember when some web sites would offer a "text only" version? That was nice.

This always reminds me, that back in the 80's I had a 1200baud modem and my broker had a BBS. To put that in perspective, that is a :

0.0012Mbps DL rate, literally one thousand times slower than the connection I have today, yet I could DL my portfolio prices FASTER than I get them today. The screen updated almost instantaneously when I hit RETURN (I could just barely see it scroll down as it filled). Yes, it was just plain text, but what more do you need for that?

Maybe the stimulus bill should have had incentives for slimming web sites, there must be a huge energy savings from not pumping so many bits around?

-ERD50
I miss the days of all text websites. too.

I guess that makes us a genuine curmudgeon and curmudgeoness, but it was great to get the desired info from a website without taking forever or having the browser freeze up from unwanted graphics and ads.
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Old 02-13-2009, 09:09 AM   #12
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I miss the days of all text websites. too..
Then maybe, like me, you also miss word processors that used markup language similar to today's HTML. I'm thinking of Wordstar running under CP/M, etc. I could never go back, but it was fun to play with.

I'm all for GUIs and when well-implemented they really make cyberlife easier and more enjoyable. But used badly they make browsing feel like a 3-ring circus of colors, shapes, distractions -- you can barely find what you're lookng for.

I knew I would love Google when they first came out with their home page: a header, a text field and a button with almost no other text.
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Old 02-13-2009, 09:50 AM   #13
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Im unsure if this is affected by the fact that im using a wireless router, but my download is 4.4 mbps while upload is only 378 kbps
Most ISPs provide a much higher DL than Upload speed. Makes sense since most operations are DLs, and it is the total traffic that sets the bottlenecks. You only upload when sending email, storing photos, and the requests when you click are small data packets.

Most wireless router speeds are far, far faster than the ISP. Even the older 802.11b is 11Mbps. Pretty sure that is both ways. So, a transfer between two computers on the same wireless network should be faster than from the internet.

Ahhh, wiki shows 4.5Mbs as the typical throughput on 802.11b though (no citation), but that makes sense. 11Mbs is theoretical I guess. So, if you have a b router, that might be your limit.


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Old 02-13-2009, 10:13 AM   #14
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It's also a function of where the test server is. Here is a site with servers in different locations.

I get results that differ by a factor of more than 2 when I use the Seattle server instead of the Washington D.C. server. I'm in Virginia.

I get 7.8 Mbps (download) and 2.4 Mbps (upload) using your test site. My ISP is Comcast cable.
True. Speedtest.net is another excellent site to test speed and see the impact from server location. Speedtest.net - The Global Broadband Speed Test

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Im unsure if this is affected by the fact that im using a wireless router, but my download is 4.4 mbps while upload is only 378 kbps
Shouldn't make a difference. Router settings might, but those speeds look pretty normal to me. ISPs limit upload speeds in the US to interfere with file sharing, which hogs resource.

Also, keep in mind that broadband is shared - trunk lines are shared among neighbors. Like party lines, when more users are online, everyone's speed falls...

Michael
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Old 02-14-2009, 02:52 AM   #15
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I use DSL lite - no land line phone line needed - for $20/mo - on the tests I get 650kbps and 110 kbps - works fine for me.
661kbps down and 312 kbps up here using ATT DSL. I have the $10/mo version they don't advertise but is still on their web site if you dig for it.
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What does the higher mbps get you for the added cost.
When I first switched to this DSL service from dial-up a couple of years ago, it seemed lightning fast. Now, as W2R mentioned, fancy graphics and animation on web sites is starting to slow things down a bit for me. When I use the computer at my son's house where he has the most deluxe (naturally) service offered by his cable TV provider, I can tell a difference. But I'm too frugal to give up this $10 price!
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Old 02-14-2009, 11:17 AM   #16
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Interesting - - using MichaelB's website, and a Houston server, I get 20,647 kbps download and 3,793 kbps upload on my laptop, which is connected via wireless.

I get basically the same at my desktop (not connected wirelessly) as I do on my laptop, using either website. I bought a spiffy new wireless-n router last summer, so maybe that helps.

And youbet, you're right - - it ain't cheap. My internet service costs $43.99/month with Cox. That comes to $527.88/year. Oof!!

Definitely not LBYM. I try to partly make up for it by choosing bare bones basic TV cable instead of extended basic. Bare bones basic is only $15.55/month.
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Old 02-14-2009, 12:14 PM   #17
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And youbet, you're right - - it ain't cheap. My internet service costs $43.99/month with Cox. That comes to $527.88/year. Oof!!

Definitely not LBYM. I try to partly make up for it by choosing bare bones basic TV cable instead of extended basic. Bare bones basic is only $15.55/month.
I'd sooner eat worms than go back to dial-up. Given my addiction heavy usage, the $30 or so I pay for DSL each month is an extremely cheap pastime per hour.

And as for TV, when my 2-year commitment to my current satellite package ends later this year, I may scrap pay TV completely.
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Old 02-14-2009, 12:30 PM   #18
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I'd sooner eat worms than go back to dial-up. Given my addiction heavy usage, the $30 or so I pay for DSL each month is an extremely cheap pastime per hour.

And as for TV, when my 2-year commitment to my current satellite package ends later this year, I may scrap pay TV completely.
I have to agree about dial-up. There have been times in my life when downloads literally took hours, and I don't want to return to that.

I have been thinking about what to buy now that I have that inheritance and more funds available for ER than I had previously planned. So far, I haven't spent any of it and my life has not been much different. After much introspection I realize that I really, honestly, don't WANT a Lincoln Navigator or a boat or an RV or a McMansion on the water.

But, I might enjoy a more deluxe cable TV service and I have never been able to afford it. So, when we move north I might go to the other extreme and get the top-of-the-line package. That's a start.
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Old 02-14-2009, 12:50 PM   #19
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But, I might enjoy a more deluxe cable TV service and I have never been able to afford it. So, when we move north I might go to the other extreme and get the top-of-the-line package. That's a start.
Now that's the kind of talk I like to hear.
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Old 02-14-2009, 01:11 PM   #20
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I'd sooner eat worms than go back to dial-up. Given my addiction heavy usage, the $30 or so I pay for DSL each month is an extremely cheap pastime per hour.
Actually, at $10/mo my ATT DSL service is cheaper than the $14.95/mo I was paying AOL for dial-up.
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