They are doing everything they can to protect their existing infrastructure and do as little as possible to upgrade services.
I'm thinking of back in '98 when QWest was rolling out DSL, the would only connect you to a central office. They refused to put DSLAMs in the pedestals, because if they did that they had to allow CLECs to do the same and CLECs could start "cherry picking" service locations for DSL. One very rural community ("Ruby Ridge?") had to sue to get the right to put in DSLAMs. DSL was dependent on how many wire feet you were from one of the two central offices in town.
Compared to my inlaws up in Saskatoon Canada: Similar size city, they deployed DSLAMs in the remote terminals and ran fiber to them and used the copper to the house for the last mile and covered the whole city.
Remember, the telcos got a $2 billion rate hike to enable them to deploy fiber to the home by the year 2000. Except for a few small trials (I used to work at QWest), they just pocketed the money, no large scale fiber buildout was done.
Until Fort Collins passed the "we are going to build out our own fiber network", Comcast was really dragging their feet on upgrades. You can get gigabit now for around $100/mo, if you commit to a year. I'm just sitting on 120mbps for $90/mo, because people the next neighborhood over are getting door hangers saying the city fiber is coming soon.
I get 980 Mb/s up/down with a 1ms ping in speed tests. Games are amazing, downloads are amazing, hosting files to myself is amazing...all it takes is a little competition.
That would be an Optical Network Terminal, or ONT
PON ONU. Memorable, it isn't.
My speeds were about that to the CenturyLink data center, but anything outside that was slower than Comcast 150 Mbps.
Which leads me to believe they don't have a fat enough pipe to the internet in my area.
Which was too bad, because the $60/mo price was a deal
While I agree with the general sentiment about large providers needing to do more for less and faster, it seems that CL is being a good corporate citizen in Denver at least.
I signed up for gigabit fiber at a previous residence and experienced consistent 850+ Mbps synchronously, often exceeding 900Mbps. Then upon purchasing a home in another part of the city I cancelled this newly-installed (< 1 year) fiber service with no charges.
Fast-forward to last week when I see CL contractors installing fiber in my alley. I'm now signed up for an install of this same gigabit fiber service for $70/month with no data caps, blocked ports, or other random charges (excluding tax) or restrictions. It's quite a good deal compared to other offerings here. A friend in another neighborhood is also set to receive his service soon, so it appears they're investing quite heavily in their fiber-to-the-home rollouts.
This is good, but I see higher/lower prices as a symptom, not the problem itself. My beef with Comcast and its ilk is not that their price is too high, but that they aggressively lobby to kill any viable alternatives, such as city fiber (which allows them to keep prices high and bundle "required hardware" rentals, but throw in short term incentives to appear cheaper than they are). My 2c.
Lots of people in Seattle, and a growing number of other cities, have Century Link gigabit fiber to their residence. I pay less than $70 a month for this.
Comcast is losing marketshare fast in Seattle because of this.
It's best not to make broad generalizations when it comes to ISP's.
A single ISP may provide high speed and low rate in one city, then provide low speed at high rates in another. Your experience in Location A is likely not what other people experience in Location B.
It all depends on the competition, regulation, infrastructure, geography, population density, history, and other features of an area.
It's like how Comcast happened to bring cheap gigabit internet to every city Google Fiber entered... The fact that it takes a local competitor to get these big companies to bring cheap gigabit is exactly the problem. Your anecdotal evidence about a city full of competition doesn't really prove anything.
Otherwise Seattle has only 2 options for physically connected internet: Centurylink and Comcast. And they are priced accordingly.
And this is despite living less than three blocks from a Century Link building crammed full of machines (I can hear the hum from the sidewalk when I go by). I don't get it.
When they additionally lobby to stop locals from fixing the problem - that's them rubbing salt in the wounds and I'm glad they're doing it, it's getting less technical folk to wake up to the BS.
I agree with you, the current status quo is abhorrent.
Were there to be competition, some providers offering poor deals is fine. That isn't the case though. Thank you for articulating.
I did that recently with their Litebeam AC. I have always found Ubiquiti's products to be technically great (superb reliability at a reasonable price, configuration is fairly straightforward although may take some googling). Unfortunately their product range is insanely confusing: even with some familiarity using their products and knowing the exact product exists, I always struggle to find the model I need.
Their forums are pretty good and there’s tons of information on there for any conceivable project.
I’m very happy with all the gear, especially the Rocket 5AC Prism Gen2 with a 60 degree sector antenna. Holy cow those are powerful!
Bellsouth had fiber laid in much of suburban Georgia in the late 90s that remained dark. In the early 00s they were offering internet to some communities by running fiber to a box on the side of the house that converted it to 10mbit Ethernet capped at 1.5mbps and calling it "DSL".
I'm not sure what ever became of this infrastructure. I know that Google and others were buying up dark fiber networks but my understanding was that they were acquiring long haul links and not stuff deployed in communities.
Some cities suffered from the growing pains of the fiber feeding frenzy. City streets would be torn up five or six times within a couple of months as competing fiber startups tried to cash in on the anticipated gold rush.
Those towns with good planning departments put together "street cut coordination" plans to minimize repeated disturbances. But most didn't get their acts together before the fiber bubble burst.
My brother lives in Saskatoon as well and I remember going there in the early 2000s and his "cable" TV was IPTV (the cable box for his TV was connected with an ethernet cable -- it didn't even have a COAX connection). That blew my mind at the time but it made so much sense from a network health/bandwidth standpoint and allowed them to offer great options for movie rentals, etc.
I'm in FoCo and I think that gigabit is now $70 bc of the city announcement, but that is only an "intro" price (love that about comcast). It is also AFAIK not bi-directional gig. Uploads are still capped and you have a data transfer limit as well.
Would be VERY entertaining if they dropped it by $30-40 in the weeks since...
I was thinking about getting one of the lower levels because I'm on an older 120Mbps plan, which started out at $60 for a year or two, then jumped up. I'm not expecting Connexion any time soon, because of my location, but then I realized I need a new cable modem to get the new offer, so most of the saving over a year would be eaten up ($130 for a Surfboard).
Then the roads a block away started getting marked for utility locates. Hmm, I should ask one of my neighbors how crazy utility locates are, he works for a company that does utility locates...
Well, that's how rent-seeking works.
weeps in fibre to the home axed for Australia in 2015
Not everyone lives on your block in your town in your state.
Let’s hope they tie it to inflation or similar. Otherwise the system will die slowly due to underfunding.
For instance, in terms of $/GB, data storage costs have been strictly decreasing in nominal terms even with the existence of inflation.
That said, I am not sure how much innovation is going into the costs of maintaining a fiber network, so it’s possible that it won’t decrease as fast as 2-3% a year on average. I would be really interested if someone had those numbers!
Power users, businesses, researchers, and others might expect more, but not the majority of residential users. Muni fiber investments will last quite a while.
Comcast in my area doesn't even make claims of upload speed anymore, but my recollection of when they used to is that it was about 10% of the download speed. If you want more than 2 Mbps upload, that 20 Mbps plan wouldn't cut it.
There is a full duplex version of DOCSIS, but its adoption faces some challenges due to how operators have to re-architect their physical networks to support it.
There is also currently a push to extend the downstream spectrum up to higher frequencies, enabling both more downstream bandwidth and also the ability to move the upstream split higher, therefore increasing upstream bandwidth.
(Disclaimer: I work with a client who develops products in this space.)
I think I'm around 50 Mbps and it could be used much more heavily, but it doesn't make any sense on YouTube's end to send me a 50 megabit video stream. It's a the storage and upload costs on the provider side limiting that.
Even if you pay extra for Netflix's 4K support, that only needs 25 megabits. It's compressed to hell compared to a 4K bluray, but if we all had faster internet I don't know if that would change. It's lot harder to market the actual visual quality of a video compared to talking about how many pixels it has.
Maybe we'll see whole new services that need the bandwidth, but most stuff that sends a lot of data could be downloaded in advance if you don't mind waiting 5 minutes instead of having it instantly accessible. How many billion dollars are we willing to spend to build out faster networks to avoid that? What's the selling point for very fast streams, we go back to cloud mainframes and all of our devices are dumb terminals that stream our games and the whole OS from an AWS datacenter?
Of course the actual pricing, availability, etc are also important but I don't think there needs to be a one-size-fits-all model for Internet bandwidth.
Even if the physical plant supported symmetric bandwidth, I would expect different pricing plans for different utilization patterns.
And I can't even get a faster more pricy connection because my legacy contract gives me upload speeds I don't get till I add 50% to my bill
- data costs for bandwidth costs hasn't gone down at the same rate
- A big chunk of an ISP is labor costs, which do not go down over time
It depends. If you're constantly doing new customer setup/teardown, yeah that'll cost man-hours. But once your network is up and running it really doesn't take much work to keep it running.
My ISP is a very small local outfit. They have a "few thousand" customers... and the whole thing is run by literally two dudes, doing everything from netops to hw installs to billing and support. Yeah I'll have a few hour outage once every few months, but overall the service is great and it really doesn't take that much effort to keep things ticking.
Basically rent a quarter cab in a colo, get a router (or two), a switch (or two), and a server (or two). Negotiate with last mile provider and a pair of upstreams. Get your DC to x-connect you to your upstreams and last mile provider. Do some marketing (elevator ads in residential apt buildings are apparently basically gold). Buy a pallet of cable modems, spend a few weeks configuring your crap... $50k later, you have an ISP, and you can offer service at 50% of the big boys' rates while still raking in a substantial profit.
For clarification, at the business level data has always been charged by capacity and not volume. And the costs have fallen at double digit rates since they've been measured.
ISPs plan their networks for peek capacity, the only reason they charge by volume is because they can.
Explicitly the reason for automating things, esp. since network connections don't require a ton of labor once provisioned.
Orchestration engines help to do the former (Ansible, Salt, Puppet, whatever), and they usually tie into monitoring systems like Nagios, ScienceLogic, or SolarWinds, and can trip, and then launch, remediation efforts automatically.
I kinda' doubt that $50/mo is really unsustainable, especially once the infrastructure is already built.
Nearly all aspects of infrastructure build out are heavily weighted towards labor costs. A 2009 rule in the US required large projects use union labor, and just that marginal increase in labor costs increased infrastructure costs by around 15%. Anecdotally, I had a home addition some years back. Materials costs about 20%, labor about 80%.
Also once built, the capital expenditures for something like broadband drop to negligible rates while the labor cost of maintenance & administration just keeps on going, maybe not as high as the initial build but you need new & different workers too-- sales reps, account managers, etc. Given that prices tend towards the marginal cost of production over time, in this case being mostly labor, it makes perfect sense that a country with 1/8 the labor costs could offer a service at 1/5 the cost in the US, the difference in those proportions accounting for the marginal capital costs of maintenance.
No, this is incorrect. GDP is a proxy for production in nominal terms. If it were just a proxy for local price level, then every place would have the same real income and would differ solely by relative prices. That the U.S. has a a GDP/capita that is 4x times some other nation does not mean that prices are 4x lower in the other nation.
When you are asking "how much would it cost to do something in B than in A", workers in B might be paid 4x more than in A, but you may also need 1/4 of the workers to do the same job. So the issue isn't wages, it's output per unit work, primarily because of accumulated human and physical capital, as well as things like infrastructure, legal system, needing to pay bribes or efficiency wages, etc.
$50 for just 1gbps, seems like they can even make profit from that.
My first reaction was to say that's wrong. Maybe it's just new, but last time I checked, a couple of years ago, there's no way to get a decent land line under 40€. The trick was that the "cuota de línea" is hidden from the listed price. Most of the land lines are owned by Movistar that rents them to Vodafone thieves and other ISPs that consider it an independent expense, as if it's not just a regular cost. Another possibility are time-limited offers.
Now it's my landlord who pays so I don't care, but still would like to know where did you find that price.
You just need to negotiate with them, not just accept the first base offer.
how/what are most people using internet for that they tolerate such small caps?!
If you have no WiFi access it's a somewhat different story, but WiFi is ubiquitous.
It's also cheaper, a 4G contract with a 100GB cap is about 15€ per month, whereas my FTTH connection at 900Mbps down / 400Mbps up cost me 40€ per month.
In Lithuania, i paid 15 EUR a month for 500/500 and it worked perfectly too.
U.S. prices are super high - mostly a consequence of most people living in detached houses - long distances and high complexity of wiring. In Russia and Lithuania, most live in Soviet-style apartment blocks - high user density.
Your $50/mo for 1 Gbps can therefore remain stable, and the ISP might someday offer 10 Gbps for $70/mo as an upgrade offer. Clearly, by those prices, as long as the per-customer costs are less than $47.78, that $50 more than covers the cost of the 1 Gbps bandwidth. Everyone who doesn't upgrade ends up subsidizing further build-out.
Source: Longmont resident
Longmont as a city is great as well. People view it as a cheaper place to live than Boulder, but I'd much rather live here.
Fiber is great, and people forget how much of US infrastructure was communal in early electric buildouts as well.
Some of the objections seems to be reflexive anti-government sentiment. I haven't seen corporate services do well enough to convince me of the realistic improvements. And with most services negotiated on the national level (Netflix, apple, hbo, whatever) as direct buys, the last mile as a subsidy for cable negotiation seems wasteful.
Commuting from Longmont to Denver is possible but would be a lot of hours driving/on a bus. A rail link is planned but it is scheduled for something ridiculous like 2050 or sometime infinitely far in the future.
Northern Colorado (Longmont, Ft. Collins) has traditionally been a center for hardware design and test equipment, but unfortunately most of these companies have shrunk overall and have reduced their Colorado presence.
I would say that in recent years the epicenter of startup software jobs in Colorado has shifted back from the brief Boulder startup run and moved into downtown Denver, while Boulder has become a center for corporate outposts (Google, Twitter, Amazon, Microsoft, Workday, NetApp, Splunk).
There are a few apartment complexes around Longmont that have resisted integration with the city's fiber network. My understanding is that the city has negotiated with each of them over the installation of fiber on their premises and that some of those negotiations didn't succeed, e.g. the apartment complex owners wanted to own and control the fiber that the city would pay to install.
But this rings true. My building has some sort of an arrangement with Comcast. It's only Comcast and AT&T that are there right now. They pretend to work with other ISPs I bring in but usually cite "something something safety" and prevent them from setting it up. I have given up for now since Comcast has got the price down to $50 for a 75Mbps line for me.
Point is, while I don't know how and can't confirm, I have a strong feeling that Comcast pays off landlords somehow.
> my $50/mo rate will never rise
Came here to dispute that. Your rate may never rise but deficits will come out of taxes.
Being a public service the budget is publicly available.
For 2018, I count $11,930,874 in expenses and $12,420,323 in revenue (literally 99.9% from $50/mo service charge). That's a 3.9% margin. At that margin, I don't see how rates will never rise. The expenses will go up with inflation. If the revenue remains constant ...
That said, it wasn't readily obvious so I didn't dig deeply to see if some 2018 expenses were unusual one-time charges, or anything like that.
If it does well for Fort Collins and Longmont, maybe other areas will try it as well.
Ft. Collins is huge (~170k people compared to most CO towns which are 400-10k ppl). The title sort of leads you to believe it was a folksy, rural community effort. In reality Intel, AMD, Broadcom and a major State University are located there and that probably helped the effort substantially.
Around the world, it seems that there's one consistent criterion for something being a city: it must have self-rule and a certain amount of government structure. Some places (notably not the US) have population requirements, but those tend to be really low (100-1,000 people).
I personally appreciate the headline saying "town" in a colloquial sense, because I don't think of 170,000 as "huge" and it's significant that it's not a large city doing this.
For context, Ft. Collins is not in the top 150 most populous US cities, and to even reach the top 50, it would have to more than double in size.
But that's the problem. It's not a "town" in a colloquial sense for anyone who grew up outside of major metro areas. If 170k is not enough, then there are no cities in Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, nor South Dakota.
The difference between 100k and 1 million residents is much less significant than the difference between 10k and 100k.
What do you mean by self-rule? Singapore is autonomous, but that's definitely not the norm for cities. Almost all of them belong to larger states.
No US city has self-rule even at the level below the federal government. Washington, DC comes closest, but it is technically ruled directly by the federal government (in a manner that is not true for cities that belong to states). China has four "province-level" cities, but is generally accepted to have many more than four cities.
Typically at the municipality level, self-rule means the ability to make and enforce your own laws, as long as they are not inconsistent with the laws of higher government levels, without needing explicit permission of those higher government levels.
This is the concept at play at the municipality level that is being discussed. The cities run themselves unless the state has to step in for some reason. Just as the states run themselves unless the federal government needs to step in for some reason.
This is as opposed to say, a village, which in New England at least is defined as a population center which is not self-governed, but under the direct control of a larger municipality within which it lies.
Jews in medieval Europe were generally subject to Jewish law and not subject to the law that applied to the rest of the city. That's self-rule.
Of course, Washington DC could be considered one example, although the above Wikipedia link begs to differ because DC isn't a state. However, there are a few dozen more, most of which are in Virginia.
Also, this kind of administrative definition of "city" causes weird conflicts. It's easy for a city, such as Los Angeles, to be much larger than the county it's nominally located in, such as Los Angeles county. Conceptually, it's also easy for a city to be its own county, which is a different status than "not contained in any county" -- but in practice where this is supposedly the case, the city will not actually match the county boundaries, instead being noticeably bigger or smaller.
I conclude that, in order to make the claim that cities usually have self-rule, the people who would like to make this claim adjust their definition of self-rule so that it covers the things they're already sure are cities, rather than having a definition of self-rule in mind and observing that, by apparent coincidence, most "cities" turn out to have it.
Not all places start out with those things. The rules differ by state, but generally, you need a certain population, a percentage of whom must petition the higher authorities (which you mention), and then vote as a community to create the create the infrastructure and take care of themselves.
At that point, they lose a lot of the benefits provided by those higher levels, like the county and state service providers of fire, police, and garbage disposal for example.
For example, it's not possible for a VA city or county to make something a crime, unless there's a specific law on the state level allowing them to.
Municipal ISP would have been cool, but I think power would be a better option first. A neighboring town (either Mansfield or Medfield) as municipal power and compares to us during storms they do great (as in fast response times and efforts to not lose power).
Not all selectmen are terrible, but it only takes a few bad eggs to make it hell for everyone.
I should also note that analogies are not my forte.
It used to be in the UK you needed a Church of England Bishop (and a cathedral) but now you have to apply to the Lord Chancellor.
The largest city in the UK is (Greater) London, population ~9M. This is an outlier.
The next largest is Birmingham, population ~1M.
The smallest city (by population) is St Davids, population ~1800. This is also an outlier.
Most cities are 100k to 1M. However, there are a decent number of towns >100k.
The largest town is Reading, population 230k.
There possibly isn't a smallest town worth defining - there's no objective divide between villages and towns.
Interesting, that's pretty big from my perspective.
I grew up in a suburb of a big city (~750k, ~4M metro), and my city was ~60k people. I currently live in a city of <50k. I never considered either to be huge, but definitely not small. The biggest city in my county is a little over 100k people, the "big city" in my area is just under 200k, with the metro area being just over 1M.
My 30k city has its own fiber network, and several neighboring cities have banded together on a fiber project. When I see "town", I think of something smaller than my own city, not something nearly as big as the "big city" in my area.
Way better setup than when I was in I was in ATL and forced to use Comcast. Plus there aren't any data caps.
(sorry this is a bad intra-Colorado rivalry joke, please ignore)
But also Fort Collins has a lot of beer production, so they are ok in my book. It’s still not Boulder though...
I'm sure this is entirely a coincidence and has nothing to do with the fact that they suddenly have some competition now.
They actually where not doing this before because it's probably a bad idea.
Modern cable networks look like this. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_fiber-coaxial#/media/Fi...
Fiber goes to copper which then splits out to a large number of homes. The copper line near your home can do multiple gigabit but that needs to be shared with everyone else on the tree.
So selling higher speeds is easy, but reaching them for everyone requires splitting trees with new fiber drops. Providers usually do the first and only some or none of the second in order to sell bigger numbers and compete with Fiber.
A similar thing happened to DSL trying to compete with cable, lets look where that is now.
See chart 15.3, DSL across the ISP industry only provides advertised download speeds 40% of the time. In any other industry this would be considered blatant fraud.
If I am building roads, it is WAY cheaper to just build highways than it is to build the small roads to everyone’s homes. When doing construction for telecom, the payback calculations are based upon “passings” which basically says “if I lay this cable, how many potential subscribers will I get?” which is a function of addressable users and sales modeling. Comcast used to believe that in a new market, competing against att only, they could win more than 50% of customers over just by connecting them to the Comcast network.
Please always remember, telecom, and transportation, are not technology businesses, they are real estate businesses. Telecom’s real estate are exclusive operation licenses, the most important of which being wireless spectrum, and the second most important of which being the places where they can exclusively tear up the earth to lay cable.
Circling back on my point at the beginning, if we laid fiber to every home, we would not need to upgrade the network connection itself for a long, long time. As it stands now, we have a lot of work to do if we want real high speed options in the future.
More fiber to the home, less fiber to distribution nodes!!
Anyways, I buy said house AT&T comes out and tried to get DSL working, and the lines have been so patched and spliced that they cannot even get 1mbps, so they basically tell me I am screwed that it would not be cost effective to run new copper down a 2 mile stretch and that my only option would be to pay (or band my neighbors together to pay -- All 2 of them) for them to string fiber the whole way. I think it would be something like 70k.
2 Months later Hurricane Irma hits and rips down every poll down our street, and AT&T is forced to restring the whole street due to the fact that they are legally required to provide phone service to every customer in their "exclusive" area or they loose said exclusivity. Fortunately for me they opted to string it with fiber, and provided fiber to the home.
My point is, I don't see how allowing these "exclusive" coverage monopolies does anything but harm the consumer. I imagine a community based provider like the one in the article would be met with a host of legal challenges here.
This is a holdover from the early days of the phone systems, i.e, 1920s.
It is extremely expensive to string cables, and so a whole bunch of companies would install stuff to the most lucrative markets (big cities), go bankrupt, and then there would be all of these cables would be left hanging causing a hazard. So it was decided that only one company would string cables... but that company would have its prices regulated.
Fast forward a few decades, and those incumbent telco/cableco companies still had monopolies (or huge advantages because they had infrastructure built back in the day), but the price regulations were rescinded.
IMHO the solution is either:
* bring back price controls (with infrastructure upgrades and a modest profit margin taken into account)
* force the incumbents to allow ISO Layer 2 access to other companies so there is competition at Layer 3 (IP)
The latter is:
So you’re benefitting by the subsidy of users in denser areas being forced into exclusivity.
I think the problem that was trying to solve is to avoid the Comcast poles, AT&T poles, Verizon poles, RCN poles and probably others, all strung up with their own networks of cables and wires.
I get that it is not cost effective, I have no problem with that, and am not under the impression that I am owed service, rather I just find the exclusivity agreements to be restricting competition and locking anyone out of the market that would have been willing to provide me with service at a more affordable rate. Comcast may have quoted me 20k to run the lines, I will never know, as it was not an option.
I'm not sure I understand what you mean here. I think the confusion is over exactly what exclusivity AT&T holds? (I don't intend this as a lecture since you may well know all of this, I just want to include the full picture.)
In theory, exclusivity is a tradeoff to make regulated markets work. Given a market where they'll be legally required to accept loss-making projects like running service 2 miles for 3 customers, AT&T is persuaded to join by the offer of legally-guaranteed exclusivity. Without that, someone would come and undercut their price in town while refusing high marginal cost customers service altogether. So the idea is that you get access to wiring, in return for AT&T charging higher prices to population-center customers than a competitor might.
This works pretty well for some markets. The USPS is required to offer service everywhere, inflicting much higher operating costs than e.g. FedEx, but it gets a partial monopoly via government mail. ILECs did a decent job of getting everyone telephony access, despite later monopoly issues. And regulated utilities (water, gas, sometimes electrical) provide access consistently without extreme pricing abuses.
But the mess of internet is that unless the Keys have something strange in place, AT&T is an exclusive telephony exchange there. So they're obligated to get you telephone service, but don't actually have to sell you internet - they just do it when the telephony rules make adding internet affordable. Instead, AT&T has a non-regulated coverage monopoly on internet access. Their telephony monopoly gives them a reason to run wires of some kind to every house, at which point providing internet access is fairly cheap. And while competitors can access their poles, the combination of delays and cabling costs means it's rarely cost-effective to do so. Verizon, Frontier, CenturyLink, and Windstream are all inheritors of telephony monopolies, too. The only major broadband providers who aren't started life as cable companies (e.g. Comcast, CableOne, Altice), which weren't regulated monopolies, but still developed natural-monopoly ownership over large areas, and still create an added reason to run cabling.
(Of course, that's enough to create a few large natural monopolies, but it doesn't explain just how crappy things are. ILEC phone carriers should compete with cable ISPs, but outside of Fios intruding on Comcast that's been rare. And ISP pricing/quality is so terrible that in some regions it should still be profitable to eat the fixed costs and compete. As far as I know, that's a story of informal cartel pricing, "make ready" wiring issues, and anti-competitive practices like paying landlords for monopolies. Plus pocketing a small fortune in government funds for network improvements that never came to pass.)
One is that AT&T has absolutely exclusive rights to string those poles. That would be unusual - the Telecommunications Act of 1994 generally requires pole owners to give other users access. But you're in an unusual spot physically, and they might have swung some local rule (e.g. access to the sites instead of the actual poles?), or just cut a deal with Comcast to not touch each other's customers.
The other is that they own the poles, and only have a de facto monopoly on stringing them. The requirement to permit access (the "make ready" rule) isn't very strong, and they can easily delay for months or even years before actually letting anyone else put up a single wire. So legal rights aside, Comcast might just list those poles as "cannot string" because in practice they can't honor any requests to do so.
Either way, it's an absolute mess that's purely bad for consumers. And one that creates some strange incentives... I wonder if anyone without a handy storm has gone and trashed the lines themselves to force a replacement?
Since the cable internet standards haven't required new copper (DOCSIS 1->2->3.0->3.1) in over a decade, Comcast can simply upgrade one or two $100 boxes per complex, raise their prices and provide "faster" service while spending nothing on actual R&D.
They can outsource customer support to Southeast Asia, standards to CableLabs, modems to nearly any company in China, and even piracy detection to random firms like IP-Echelon. Don't forget - Comcast owns an enormous number of film studios and production companies. If there's anything approaching the digital media panopticon, it's Comcast.
I don't know if there's a better-positioned software company in the ISP business.
The ISP I currently work for (in Spain) is playing with this idea for sparsely populated areas, where we didn't lay FTTH yet and our customers are connected through DSL. It can potentially save a lot of money on deployment but the current BTS locations are not enough, we'd have to build at least 2x for decent coverage, update their links and so on. I don't know, I think we will just lay FTTH in the end. Dealing with saturation on wireless connections is very difficult sometimes.
But considering leaves are enough to totally block a 5G signal, good luck getting it.
On the flip side, our local provider got a grant to update their network to fiber (and a threat to lose exclusivity if they didn't improve the network). Oddly enough, they'll be charging $200 for gigabit, and offering lower speeds for more reasonable prices, even though they're installing fiber directly to our home next spring.
It is kinda shitty, but then again, it's just another tradeoff to make when living out here. Personally, I wouldn't give it up for anything compared to living in the city.
You will need direct line of sight to a tower optimistically a mile away. Otherwise you'll fall back to '5G' on traditional 4G spectrum and you won't get any faster speeds.
To be fair, both Fiber and Coax have far worse "penetration"; Changing the definition of a 5g fiber connector from "wireless to devices inside of a home" to "a small antenna you put on the outside of the house or by the window and a wifi router inside" drastically changes the definition, keeps infrastructure cheap, and the cost at the home is still significantly less.
I had the EVO 4G on WiMax, had amazing speed, especially near the highways before anybody else did. Also made for a great hand warmer.
The point is that 5g may provide the product that most people want when they want fiber; have less additional infrastructure cost, and the wireless penetration doesn't matter if we consider a base station -- or a physical install (as required by fiber or coax)
That reason is: it's far more difficult to provide reliable service this way than it seems at first.
The verizon 5g home looks pretty good  if your current options are only dsl or cable which they are for a bunch of americans. It's even got a 4g backup connection.
There are a bunch of proposals on how to do this (I think Artemis networks is one if I remember the name). The problem is that existing roof rights don’t map well to a bunch of microcells.
This has interesting implications for civic planning. It is very much cheaper to put dwellings right on the frontage line, with zero-setbacks to adjacent properties, and then have huge backyards, than it is to center each building on its lot. That relatively small distance between the street/conduit/pole/pipe and one building is multiplied thousands of times across a municipality. An extra meter of frontage on a property at the root-end of a street is counted multiple times when calculating distances to properties closer to the leaf-end of the street.
Things that seem relatively minor for individual properties, like residential street widths, setbacks, minimum lot sizes, and maximum building heights, these have a huge impact on the cost of building municipal service networks. Those zoning rules established for aesthetic reasons literally create millions of dollars of economic impact. You just can't have cheap fiber to the premises if your premises can't be closer than 20' to the property line.
With your post, it made me realize that telecom & power cable runs should really be owned by the resident city, like roads are.
My town is quite literally stringing up fiber (and laying it in some cases) throughout the town limits over the next 90 days.
So unless you mean that most residents/businesses won't technically have a physical fiber-optic type cable dangling inside their abode, I don't understand what you're talking about.
(Germans tend to deploy shielded cable, seems to have something to do with both unifying deployments between known noisy RF-environments/eliminating problems with noisy RF-environments up front and with (electrical?) codes that don't discriminate against shielded twisted pair cabling.)
If you pay for the additional setup, they're happy to provide 10G/2G or even 10G/10G for 199/399 EUR/month. That apparently requires you to provide singlemode wiring from the basement to the units, but to be honest, that's rarely hard to do, considering them being available with coatings that are allowed to be in most low-flammability zones like stairways, quite thin (so it's easy to hide the complete trunk behind a baseboard or along doorframes (if you can slightly round their corners to conform to the bending radius you'll need to adhere to for the many bends you'll have when snaking up a stairwell)), and non-conducting, so there's no isolation/ground fault/lightning protection to consider.
If my street would have gotten dug up just a little further when they did so a few months ago for subsurface electricity and more direct water lines (some buildings, including ours, had their water house mains come from a neighboring building through a meter between their intake meter and the other (e.g. our) building's main cut-off valve/initial fan-out piping.
Note, I would have literally dug into my meager savings and bankrolled/installed fiber conduits in accordance with what this ISP would accept/recommend, going from the houses (talking to the communal utility for sharing the wall feed-through, because at reasonable rates that's literally cheaper than buying the part/renting the drill to DIY at all the neighbour's houses that would take my offer of installing it for free) to a connector/hub box or just something that keeps the insides of these pipes clean from dirt and significant moisture ingress (maybe with a slight distribution to blow dried air through from my house's connection, and flow-regulating valves at the other buildings to extract any moisture that will diffuse through the walls, or something like that).
Once the street between there and the next conduit where the ISP can easily get fiber to (without digging) would get torn up (happens eventually), I'd make sure that more of this is placed, likely with some larger pipes to stuff further innerducts through for all the other residents on this street (low hundreds in units, about half or so single-unit buildings, half multi-unit buildings, but quite a few build in rows of a couple, so, with appropriate fireproofing, they could share a single house-to-street trench digging).
It's not worth it to dig the street up for this alone, but at least the part I'd have placed fiber isn't even paved, it's literally just compressed gravel/dirt mix, and will hopefully get a nice surface sooner or later. It get's rather dangerous to walk when frozen, and because it's not mine I can't use mineral products (salt/sand) to make it safe.
Yes, I also offered to fund a coating with crushed basalt, which would restrict maximum torque (the structural integrity/load bearing depends on a certain ratio of downwards vs. horizontal force), but eliminate most issues with water (at times there is no dry footpath that does not involve a >150cm leap from dry bank to dry bank (if you miss-judge, you will jump into a puddle and might slip in the mud)) and thus also some of the ice problems.
Sorry for the rant.
Modern DOCSIS networks are much more capable than the linked diagram. The general guideline is that your top speed package shouldn't be any more than half of the node capacity (which ends up being similar to GPON that often does a 1gbps service on a shared ~2.5gbps network). The video portion of a HFC network also doesn't share the bandwidth that has been assigned to Data.
The diagram shows a node of 500-2000 homes - that is a HUGE number, I've worked on networks with nodes much larger than they should be and about 250 is the biggest node. ~100 customers per node is more common and in newer or upgraded HFC networks the goal is normally N+1 or N+0 (Node plus one active device or zero active devices - the linked diagram is N+10) those numbers get down to the 32-64 customers/node range.
I do work on DOCSIS networks for small providers but some of the tools the big guys use to monitor the RF quality is pretty amazing. They are able to read the RF Spectrum of every modem in the network and find common impairments in the cable plant and they can also assign individual modems different modulation profiles, so if your inside wiring and drop cable are capable of it your modem gets a higher modulation profile (and higher speed) than your neighbors that have crappy radio shack cable (the inside wiring has a huge impact on the signal quality). Traditionally you would have to set the service to work for the lowest common denominator but the emerging technologies are changing that. That doesn't necessary mean the big guys don't have capacity issues in other places (example: Netflix peering) but there is quite a bit of work and technology behind the last mile delivery.
You also can't ignore the business aspects - there is significant capital investment in upgrading any last mile network. I can take a group of 200 customers at 50mbps and upgrade them to 200mbps and the overall traffic pattern doesn't hardly change at all. That makes it hard for operators to justify to shareholders why spending hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to go from 500mbps to 1gbsp is a good investment.
Perhaps not mentioned (that i see thus far) is how density drives the economics of telecom network deployment. Network will be deployed (and upgraded) in direct proportion to the availability of revenue (homes passed)/dollar of capital investment. Those who live in high density cities will have abundant (1Gbs) and relatively cheap bandwidth. Most people living in remote, rural areas will not receive abundant (1Gbs) bandwidth unless someone subsidizes it.
I live inside the perimeter in Atlanta, GA, where ATT provides a 1Gbs fiber connection for $70/month. I just tested it at 878 Mbs down, 650 Mbs up. And that performance has been consistent for over 2 yrs, with no outages except after hurricane or ice storm.
Before that, Comcast couldn't deliver 25 Mbs and went down at least once a month, for hours at a time. Comcast now offers a 1 Gbs service here, but I wouldn't trust its reliability.
Chattanooga, TN has three plus private ISP's. The local power company (EPB) fought AT&T and Comcast tooth and nail to obtain its telecom services license from the City of Chattanooga/Hamilton County. EPB offers 1 Gbs for $68/mo, 10Gbs for $300/month - residential service - and according to family members, the service is excellent (TV and phone offerings also available). EPB offers 1Gbs service to 98% of the city. Neither At&T nor Comcast are close in coverage, but both claim to offer 1 Gbs service.
The key to EPB's success - they already owned the rights of way required for fiber infrastructure (electric grid), they had the capital to commit to the long term investment required for telecom payback (7-10 years), they deployed a fiber-based network from the outset, they hired experienced telecom people to run that business, and they were/remain a respected corporate citizen dedicated only to serving their local area.
Those rights of way are a key consideration often overlooked when outsiders evaluate telecom economics. LOTS of legal and regulatory (local, state, federal) hurdles involved in obtaining them if one doesn't already have them.
The bigger problem is the industry which can do horrible, abusive things to its customers and communities. They'll try anything except delighting their customers. If any of the upcoming WISP solutions like Starlink take off, you might imagine a serious disruption.
All residential ISPs overprovision  at some point or another - be it at the acccess level (as with shared mediums like DOCSIS and GPON), distribution/aggregation (metro Ethernet switch and (V)DSL DSLAM uplinks) or at peering/upstream level (always).
You cannot expect to have non-overprovisioned 1Gbps at $60/mo, when global transit is currently around $0.6/Mbps/mo. Typical overprovisioning levels range from 1:8 to 1:16.
 - From the point of view of offered speeds vs. underprovisioning infrastructure, as you put it.
EDIT: corrected that DSL is not shared medium
They now seem to have moved away from that model, based on a quick look at their website.
DSL is the worst. Local VRADs just get slammed, particularly in areas with long connection runs.
You can buy IP transit for under 10 cents per Mbps at well connected datcenters. Additionally, any ISP with peering at an Internet exchange will have a lower blended costs as a lot of content can be accessed over settlement free peering and local CDN nodes.
The reality of 1Gbps networks is people have trouble saturating the line for very long. Even 5 different 4K streams is not hitting anywhere close to that.
Being able to download a 20GB file quickly is the benefit, even if you don’t download many of those per month.
Edit: Yes, it's not a great analogy.
Since then I've lived on a farm outside Boulder, Colorado, with internet from Comcast. Here, the download speed of their "Performance Pro" tier has increased from 60 to 150 Mbit/sec, and will increase again to 175 soon. Also, Comcast has been good about fixing service problems, replacing the coax from their utility poles to the premises when I experienced loss of signal issues.
> I'm sure this is entirely a coincidence and has nothing to do with the fact that they suddenly have some competition now.
Yes, between Century Link putting in Gigabit fiber and Boulder's moves toward their own municipal internet, Comcast is likely feeling enough competition to keep making technical improvements.
"upgrading our network" - In this case network refers to financial network, but should really be "net worth".
"increasing your Internet download speed" - download speed for them is actually slang for the amount of money they can charge you for standard access.