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I've never known a carrier (or isp) to offer any speed without a "*experience may vary" type disclaimer. Is this different in the US?

As a rule all consumer services are on a "best effort" basis. Service with guaranteed performance exists, but is marketed exclusively to businesses and is much more expensive. It turns out that providing guaranteed service costs a lot more even if the end result is the same 90% of the time, that last 10% is a real margin killer. Consumers would generally rather accept the occasional less-than-stellar service than pay nearly twice as much for it.

Yup, you'll see this if you've worked with datacenters too, you can get a 100mbit connection on a gigabit link on which you mostly get gigabit connectivity, but only 100mbit of it is guaranteed for much, much cheaper than you can get a guaranteed gigabit link. And in my experience (for personal and small business purposes at least) that guarantee is rarely worth its name.

The end result, more often than not, is 10%. At this point, it has nothing to do with industrial guaranteed service levels, it's marketing X and delivering Y<<X.

Who cares about the price, as a customer I want to at least be able to know what I'm buying before committing 6, 12 months. There can be no competition or progress when we continue allowing ISPs to promise theoretical bandwidths that they don't come close to, ever.

> Who cares about the price?

I do.

Nope. Physics is the same everywhere.

And conveniently, from a user's perspective, damn near impossible to discern from poor network management.

You either meant inconveniently or from the ISPs perspective.

"And conveniently [for the ISPs], from a user's perspective, damn near impossible to discern from poor network management"

pdpi for the win. (And ambiguous phrasing for the loss)

The speed of light in vacuum is a constant, but depending on the medium (ie., frequent scattering), the time it will take for a signal to reach from point A to point B will be much more than the time it takes for a light wave to cover the same distance in vacuum.

God, no. I think this is one of those "would be nice if" hypotheticals.

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