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More than 39M Americans Only Have Access to One Wired Broadband Provider (broadbandnow.com)
299 points by edward on Feb 13, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 121 comments

Basing this analysis on ZIP Code greatly underestimates the reality many Americans face, especially in more densely populated areas.

Here in New York (10003, for example), the site says I have four options for broadband, but in reality, many buildings have exclusive contracts with ISPs (I could only get TWC in my old building, for example).

My sister lives in Miami and she also has access to one ISP, despite the site giving two options. Her ISP, Hotwire Communications (which gives her "up to" 20 Mbps), isn't even listed.

Same thing with my parents' ZIP Code (and they live in a single family home). The site says they have access to three ISPs, but one of them is only 12 Mbps and the other isn't actually available.

ISPs have to submit coverage data to the FCC (Form 477) twice a year. This data goes down to the census tract level which is generally far more specific than a ZIP Code.

I'm not sure why they aren't using the more detailed information from http://www.broadbandmap.gov/data-download

Hey, co-founder of Broadbandnow.com here and author of the article.

In our initial development of the site we realized that MOST people don't know what census block they live in, where everyone knows what zip code they live in.

That makes sense, especially for getting started. Have you considered ways to guide people to narrowing down their location?

We store shapefiles (I'm doing GeoJSON in RethinkDB but same difference) for every census tract that we cover with the speed and technology offered (because that's what the FCC requires). Since we have the data we're redoing our service availability mapping so prospective clients can drag the placemark icon on gMaps to their house (because geocoding is horrid in our area and you need to compensate for long driveways) and then show them what's available.

It's interesting when service location is abstracted out. We have a rural residential POP where the immediate neighborhood has fiber, the surrounding mile or two has 10-25Mbps fixed-wireless, and then out to 6 miles has 1M-384k fixed wireless. It's all in the same zip code, and actually, because it's so rural, mostly the same census block. The consumer impact of this: we get people calling us after looking at online broadband maps excited to sign up for fiber and living in the 4 mile range only to get their hopes crushed. Then they realize they can chose between 1Mbps with no cap or 15Mbps LTE with high overages.

I'd love to chat with you about the best way to make this happen on a large scale.

If most providers have shapefiles, is there a common method we could use to collect/manage that data that you'd recommend?

Almost every day (sometimes 5-6 a day) we have smaller providers who email us looking to update their coverage or adding more coverage, but we haven't come up with a manageable way to make it happen.

Then there is the whole validation issue which opens a huge can of worms.

If you're open to chat, I'd be incredibly grateful, we've been trying to tackle this problem for months.

Feel free to drop us a line at help [at] broadbandnow.com

Hey nickreese;

the data is way off. not onlt is basing it on zip not sufficient; but the data is not consistant with actual provider data. I put in my zip; was told I have WAVE as a provider in the area. 'thats news to me' so I go to wave and enter my zip. 'yup; they aren't in my area'

I think you need more accurate data before you can put 39mil in your title! the situation is _much_ worst!

It ought to be possible to map between them, no? I know census blocks are smaller than zip code blocks, but you could provide a choice (or just ask for street address).

The report is actually based on the Census Block data from the NTIA. This is more specific than Zip codes. The broadband search is based on zip for ease of use.

The providers shown on a zip search are providers that reported having at least some coverage in that zip (translated from census blocks). It doesn't mean everyone in the zip has access to all those providers.

So there is a reason for this. The wires (the copper cabling) in your building are owned by hotwire or comcast or whomever made a deal with the building at the time of construction. These wires are a real-estate asset with attached exclusive rights of way over them. For most buildings it is too costly to kick out comcast or build their own internal network. So technically her neighborhood might have multiple providers, each in different buildings.

In some cases the building management is given a wholesale rate for your internet, and then marks it up and uses the revenue to fund association costs, or their own profits.

There's rather little problem to pull some Cat5 or even fiber through a reasonable-size building. Well, NYC buildings are tall, but that's what buys you more customers per yard of cable.

If the building owners had an incentive, or just were not tied by a previous exclusive deal, the technical hurdles would be quite manageable, and more providers would be willing to run their cables and offer their services.

When I lived in Moscow ~6 years ago, my quite moderate house on the outskirts of the city had 2 optical cables run into it, in addition to cheap DSL available over the phone cable, all in hope to serve 60 apartments of people with modest incomes.

I was previously involved in a startup tackling this idea. The pushback in the US market was that the building management is usually super non-technical, afraid of being stuck managing the network themselves, and afraid of the cost. For fiber to be run in a building with 250 units, you're talking around 100-150k in labor, materials, and other costs.

Lately there are two ways I see MDUs providing internet outside of the normal cable/telco ROE arrangement (in my market) that work around that pushback:

1) Low-income housing with a up front grant from .gov for 512kbps or so per tenant. They hire a consultant to deploy wifi and hook it up to random ISP. ISP is paid out of the grant.

2) Mid-range or high-end housing pays a small local provider $10-25 per unit per month to provide X Mbps on a 2-3yr contract.

Both cases remove the up-front cost. The former doesn't care about managing infrastructure and the latter has outsourced it to the ISP.

For us, we try to avoid running new cable/fiber/cat5 because asbestos and cost, but we're working off different assumptions. Your model has cost per unit at $600 and we aim for less than half that otherwise ROI is too far out. Fiber costs basically the same as cat5 but you can frequently reuse copper for 100BaseT if there's a wiring closet per floor which greatly reduces the cost of running cable.

Right now we don't worry about delivering more than 100M because most people we talk to care more about cost than speed once you reliably deliver 15-25Mbps (e.g. not over wifi, no cable/telco peering congestion BS/<10ms to google.com).

I was just talking with some friends about a cloud-managed micro-ISP which would run essentially as a co-op within a condominium. Provide the back-haul and a remote monitored edge device to serve the building LAN, a billing and support portal, financing for the installation cost, etc.

250 units is about $100k in ARR. It sounds like it would easily cover the financing on installation costs with plenty of room to spare for operational cost and even some profit kicked back to the condo association.

I checked your Bio and didn't see any mention, would you mind sharing the name of the startup that was trying this (or something remotely like this)?

Not sure about GP but I have a lot of experience in this area and have tossed around similar ideas myself. If you or anyone reading is interested in this kind of thing I'd love to chat more. Email in my bio.

There's nothing you can really do about this. Even if there were dozens of potential providers, apartment buildings wouldn't want to accommodate dozens of companies running wiring through their building or putting equipment in their telecom closets. And they certainly don't want to take on the cost and hassle of maintaining their own wiring inside the building.

Do building owners maintain their own water plumbing?

The PSTN network is connected to a DMARC at the edge of a building, http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demarcation_point

How did the phone network work for years with neutral wires within buildings?

>>Even if there were dozens of potential providers, apartment buildings wouldn't want to accommodate dozens of companies running wiring through their building or putting equipment in their telecom closets.

I don't see why this is such a big deal. Where I'm from, different telecom companies come into apartment buildings to set up boxes and run wires and everyone is OK with it.

We rented an office for the new company a few months ago in a building that had just been rehabbed. The building owners had arranged to bring Comcast into the building, but for obvious reasons we wanted to avoid Comcast and called AT&T. AT&T couldn't run cable to the building without significant modifications to the building's wiring. All the conduit intake was installed by Comcast. The "phone closet" was full of Comcast equipment. There is, so far as we know, literally no way to get any service in the building besides Comcast --- unless we owned the building and paid tens of thousands of dollars for new telecom buildout.

Getting a new telecom service into an existing building is, in fact, a big deal.

In our building, a brand-new luxury complex with hundreds of units, the building owner wouldn't even let Verizon run fiber to each unit. They were only allowed to get into a telecom closet on each floor with VDSL the last few hundred feet.

Single-provider building policies will eventually reduce the market value of the real estate, eliminating any minor economic benefit that may accrue in kickbacks from the single provider.

of course there is - UNBUNDLE LAST MILE, its that simple

We had unbundled last mile for quite some time with DSL. Sure we got a ton of new ISPs, but none of them wanted to invest in upgrading the infrastructure.

Right... I know it's hard to figure out an appropriate division, but when this came up a few weeks back, I came up with the following:

For my home, 2.5mi from the Capital Building in Washington State, I'm offered four wired broadband providers: 1. Comcast, "advertised 100mbps to 1gbps" (true enough, although you can only get 150mbps, so I'm not sure if that's bracketing) 2. CenturyLink, "25-50mbps" (CenturyLink's own website says "Our systems indicate that our High Speed Internet is not currently available at your service address." I tried several other streets in the area that indicated that none of them had availability either.) 3. Platinum Equity LLC, "10-25mbps" (err, Platinum Equity is an investment firm - oh, one of their portfolio offers "T1 and Bonded T1" lines to businesses and after further investigation would offer me 192K SDSL as a residential offering) 4. Integra Telecom Holdings, "3-6mbps" (a Vancouver telco that does business fiber). So there's one - Olympia, WA.

Even in smaller cities within a single zip-code there can be problems.

Here in San Luis Obispo, Charter cannot run cable to many of the downtown historical buildings–leaving AT&T DSL as the only option. I've turned down some office space because of it.

Yep I'm in the same boat. My apartment complex has its own ISP, whose max available speed is 6mbps with a 150gb cap. Outside of the complex, at least Charter is available, which is 60mbps. The kicker? I pay $46/mo and Charter's offering is $40. Even if it's introductory that's still worth it.

I would actually pay more than I already do to get better internet through my complex, but I literally can't. Bloom Broadband is terrible.

Yeah I've lived in a few larger and mid sized cities and I've never had more than one option. On the east coast its Comcast in some buildings and Time Warner in others (mostly in the North). On the West Coast its all Comcast. Some residential areas I know have access to Century Link but I've never heard of someone in an apartment complex having a choice on their ISP.

98005 lists 5, the building I'm in right now doesn't have any of them; actually called those only to be told that the service is not available. (Only I heard that Comcast 6-digits money to extend their line, I don't know how long it'll take...)

Yep, even in Palo Alto ZIP Code 94301 my apartment only had one option: Comcast. Both ATT U-Verse and Sonic.net were out of range.

In Belmont / 94002, you have a "choice" of comcast or att capped at 6 megabits/s down and 1 megabit/s up. So not really a choice at all.

Can confirm. NYC. Stuck with Time Warner. Or incredibly slow Verizon DSL that has day or week long outtages.

Yes, the number has to be higher.

Also consider qualitative differences: sure, I can get DSL, but it would be a far worse option speed- and cost-wise than cable. So I'm effectively forced into one provider.

I'm lucky, I have access to two really shitty, overpriced providers, not just one shitty, overpriced provider.

I'm in the same boat, living in a small town in Iowa. We pay $57.95/month for the fastest package — 12M down and 512K up. If my ISP ever gets uppity, I have the "luxury" of switching to the only other provider at $39/month for 6M down and 512K up.

The price of living in a small town I guess.

Chicago suburb. $120 for 50/10. I have one other option, but I stopped doing business with AT&T a decade ago. I agree this is better speed for the price than yours, but only marginally. Areas with affordable, reliable, fast broadband are the exception, not the rule. There are very few areas with competition.

Also, don't forget the caps. I think we should start adding a third value to the downstream/upstream tuple. So I have 30/10/350G.

Most of us are paying for a fixed amount of data now.

Things aren't substantially different in most "bigger" towns in my experience (I've lived in Boston, NYC, SF Bay Area, LA, DC and San Diego). If anything "smaller" places seem to have a better chance of actually having more options since they are more likely to allow for grand experiments or newly built municipal-managed networks. Of course, YMMV greatly depending upon exactly which small town.

I currently live in San Diego and my situation is mostly the same as yours. My cable option (Time Warner) peaks out at a higher speed, but the only other option is DSL at exactly the same rates you mention (6/0.5). And since the cable option is the only viable truly broadband option the customer service and uptime on it is pretty abysmal because with an essentially captive audience why bother making it better?

I was one of the lucky citizens to have their "Broadband" connection de-classified... 18 down 1 up... Now they just call it "high speed"... all for the low low price of $70 a month! Thanks AT&T!

I live in a very densely area of LA and its either time warner or 768k down from at&t. Believe me you're situation sounds much better.

In an industry with very high fixed costs and almost no marginal costs, more competitors = higher prices.

Maybe, but we're talking about Internet service here. Most of these competitors have fully amortized plant already in the ground. The major fixed costs most of them have is their own bureaucracy. Not a week goes by that I don't get a direct mail piece from Comcast suggesting I sign up for Xfinity broadband ... which I already have.

Maryland/Baltimore don't show up on that list, but while Verizon has some existing DSL (not FiOS) customers, they don't seem to be taking any new customers (and you can find no evidence on the internet that they offer DSL in Baltimore).

Baltimore essentially only has a Comcast option.

I wonder if it's actually even worse than this article suggests -- not only is DSL slower than most people want, but there are some places Verizon may technically 'offer' DSL, but in fact not really. (many places? I think Verizon is focusing on FiOS and there may be other places that they only 'offer' DSL, but do not really offer it at all?)

> Baltimore essentially only has a Comcast option.

I have FiOS in Baltimore.

That nobody else does is 100% the fault of the city. Verizon was willing to build FiOS here, and did in a few places where they didn't need permission. But the city turned it into a huge social justice issue and sank the whole thing.

In Baltimore County you mean?

I have it here in Harford County.

I was under the impression there is zero FIOs build out in the city.

When I lived in Tucson I had a similar problem. IIRC Comcast offered acceptable speeds (15/1?) and Qwest or similar offered maybe 1.5 Mbs down and less up. "Competition" existed only in a theoretical sense.

I actually tried writing to the head of Qwest Arizona and Qwest nationally to try and convince them to run faster pipes to my area—a lot of students and younger people who like fast Internet access lived there—but didn't get any action.

"Qwest"---Century now, right?---has never been very serious about this, but then again I've read that unlike AT&T and Verizon they also didn't try to compete with the cablecos on video. So as I recall they didn't put egregious caps on their slow offerings.

Right now I'm in one of those locations that's outside of any city (but only by a hair, part of the property is inside one), so it's only AT&T. We could in theory enjoy ~1.5 Mbs down after a DSLAM upgrade some time ago, but we don't bother because AT&T, to protect their U-verse video offerings puts strict caps on DSL. Even in small-medium sized cities/metro areas like mine (Jopin), where they don't offer U-verse (besides that brand for new generation DSL), and pretty clearly never will. 150 "GB" as they calculate it, $10/each 50 GB over.

Now, having started in the bad old days when 1200 baud was fast, and if you were lucky you could get 2400 baud or greater on a direct link, I'm only so unhappy, with my parents disgruntled by this limit on Internet video. But we're certainly "roadkill on the Information Superhighway", and I don't, for example, see this being addressed by the White House/FCC proposed 300+ pages of new regulations. Then again, they're not yet public, but even the most positive descriptions indicate we're SOL.

Oh, yeah, the price keeps increasing, right now it's $39/month as long as you have an also expensive voice land line (all told with the nickle and diming taxes, another 30+ dollars).

On the other hand, AT&T i.e. SWB is a freaking telco, the service is rock solid. Everyone of my friend with cableco Internet service has notably worse reliability, enough to impact e.g. working from home.

Cox is a great provider in AZ, and in fact, in Tucson I don't think Comcast is allowed to sell in the city, only the county (if you actually live in the city, as most of my family does, your only options are Cox and Century Link).

I'm fairly lucky in Phoenix, with Century Link I get 40/20 for about 70/month.

And, Century Link I believe is currently in the process of rolling out Fiber in Phx (same w/ Cox)

The [Reddit] thread has much more information regarding this article, including the Author and co-founder of the site.

The head of this study is on reddit, as reddit.com/u/NickReese

This study does not take in account the upcoming change of bradband >=25Mbps . The current site uses >=10Mbps .

There's also question regarding their data, as it does seem compromised in certain locations. He was looking into it, after a few redditors that supposedly had multiple broadband providers only had one, and some none at all.

[Reddit] http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/2vk1xx/after_33b...

It shows 17 providers for Cupertino but many of them are business only, a lot of them don't even show claimed bitrates, and it looks like it's counting LTE as broadband (while it's fast, it's insanely expensive to actually use for more than a few gigs per month).

It's been a couple years since I moved out of there but at the time I'm pretty sure I only had one true broadband choice, Comcast. This being a few miles from Apple and Google.

Even after reading that thread, I still find the conclusions quite compelling. I have no doubt the data could be +-10% off easily, but even if it is 10% off that is still a pretty shoddy state of affairs.

They are definitely trying to provide good data if nothing else...

This is a posting from July 22, 2014 that states, "Yet as of the 2013 over 39 Million Americans (12.1% of the population) only have access to 0 or 1 broadband providers..."

What are the numbers now that broadband has been re-defined as "25 mbps" [1]?

[1] http://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-finds-us-broadband-deploymen...

Hey, co-founder of broadbandnow.com and author of the article. We'll be rerunning the stats with the new definition shortly. I'll make sure it's posted here.

More to the point, DSL is not "broadband" unless it is being used to avoid the need to send the CWA into an apartment building to rewire it.

I'd love to see the numbers on who can choose between one cable provider, and several (useless) providers of 3 mbps dsl.

I'll bet it's a lot more than 12%.

Has there happened a redefinition of broadband since it got faster?

I got 30MBit at the moment, but when I got my first DSL connection back in 2001 I got 1Mbit and it was considered broadband...

As of January, minimum broadband speed is 25Mbps: http://www.theverge.com/2015/1/29/7932653/fcc-changed-defini...

Oh, you get 3 mbps on DSL? Lucky you!

That is an ugly truth.

I live in Virginia and have access to ZERO wired providers and zero wireless -- all we have is satellite. That's because the state allowed Verizon and others to chomp up the lucrative northern Virginia market with FIOS without requiring that they upgrade the rest of their wired switching equipment in less-populated areas. So Verizon makes money on the nicest part of the market -- and the rest of us get nothing. And this is from a company using eminent domain to provide their service.

I thought it was a bad situation ten years ago. Now I think it's a scandal. Especially for poorer areas on the Mid-Atlantic, the tobacco deal was specifically supposed to provide broadband. The idea was that over time we would trade off tobacco farming for some kind of technology work. Instead we were sold out.

Just last week, a neighbor came to me asking about doing internet work for a call center from their house. I told them it was impossible, short of leasing a T-1 or T-3 from Verizon. I cannot tell you how whacked it is to say that in 2015.

> I live in Virginia and have access to ZERO wired providers and zero wireless -- all we have is satellite. That's because the state allowed Verizon and others to chomp up the lucrative northern Virginia market with FIOS without requiring that they upgrade the rest of their wired switching equipment in less-populated areas. So Verizon makes money on the nicest part of the market -- and the rest of us get nothing. And this is from a company using eminent domain to provide their service.

The eminent domain thing is a red herring. Most places in northern VA, fiber is routed along utility poles owned by the power company, or in underground conduits owned by the power company. In any case, being allowed to run some cables at their own cost in no way justifies forcing them to build miles and miles of fiber in the middle of nowhere.

The Virginia market is actually a great example of how telecom should work. There are relatively fewer regulatory barriers, so companies build infrastructure in places it makes sense to do so. My parents have 150 mbps cable or 75 mbps fiber because they live in a close-in suburb where people can afford to pay enough to justify that investment.

In contrast, the dense, wealthy neighborhood next door to where I live in Baltimore has no fiber service, even though Verizon has fiber in several buildings mere blocks away. Why? Because the city's quid pro quo for allowing Verizon to wire up anyone with fiber was wiring up the vast swaths of the city where it makes no economic sense to do so. And the end result is that nobody gets fiber.

Why is it Verizon's responsibility to provide you with service? I am certainly not a fan of big communication companies and the monopolies, but I can't see the logic behind your argument. How are you entitled to a fast internet connection?

If internet access is a concern of yours, it should likely factor into your thinking when choosing a place to live (just like access to other services like fire/police/education).

It's not. However, he's fairly entitled to have a beef with his government, that allowed such a deal to proceed knowing likely full well what the reality would be.

Which is exactly my beef.

Nobody here is demanding that any one company do anything. The thing is, we've electrified the country, we've run phone service to just about everybody. This is a solved problem. It's not like the internet was some super weird thing that's just impossible to do. You want the business in the lucrative areas, you gotta provide it in the not-so-lucrative areas. That's the trade we made with those other services, and that was the trade anybody in their right mind would have made with the internet.

Verizon's not to blame -- aside from just being weasels. There's no crime in that. (In my mind they could have made out better had they kept their eye on the public interest instead of quarterly reports, but that's neither here nor there. No crime in being short-sighted)

The problem here, as you point out, lies in the government officials. I swear after watching this go on year-after-year I find it extremely difficult to believe that anybody can be that inept. I strongly suspect payoff money somewhere, but I doubt anybody will ever prove anything.

The problem is that we never had a regulated internet monopoly.

The government made AT&T and Dominion Virgina Power run telephone and powerlines to everyone, but in exchange there was legally no competition.

Now the government wants competition, but that means there is nobody on the hook to subsidize this guys internet connection.

It is probably more efficient to just install LTE instead. Running fiber to every farm house is a waste of money.

Well, the trade we made, by and large, was allowing for monopolies, regulating them, and allowing for charges like a universal connection fee--in the case of phone service. Rural electrification in the US came through a fairly major federal program (during the Great Depression).

None of this would be impossible to do with broadband although there would certainly be side effects--almost certainly including increased costs to those who already have broadband. It's also the case that satellite is an alternative for many. I understand that it's not ideal but I know quite a few remote tech workers in rural areas who use it and don't have a particular problem with it.

Fair point.

I am not aware of the deal involving tobacco for technology. Sad that it appears to have not worked out. Perhaps this faith would have been better placed in setting up a line-of-sight or co-op system rather than in politicians.

How about wireless? It is good enough for many cases. Especially on country side without interference from other users.

I would like to offer two stories:

- Czech Republic before 2005 had really bad internet service. Single telecommunication company had monopoly. It only offered expensive dial-up and very slow ADSL. So it gave rise to community driven internet providers based on WIFI. They even made their own hardware based on laser diods. The biggest community network had about 500K users.

- Ireland around 2010 had (and still has) very bad internet access. Goverment gave free license to new mobile phone operator which used exclusively 3G networks. One of the conditions was to provide internet access over phone for montly fee 20 Euro. Many people are now using phone as their main connection (I know case where monthly traffic was 44GB without any complain from provider).

Here in the states, Comcast cable modems/routers automatically create a "public" wifi hotspot in your home by default, so the infrastructure for a large wifi network exists in many places. The catch is, for the public to join the wifi network they must have a Comcast account in good standing. I can only assume based on Comcast's intent to build "the largest public (private) wifi network" themselves and the recent legislative attacks against community/public broadband networks that attempting to create a truly public wifi network using any of the available broadband providers as a backing service would be a Bad Idea. Anecdotally, the wireless broadband providers here are also a joke.

Some cities have wifi providers. It's not common. As for mobile internet, the data caps are the issue. Data for Verizon is $60/mo for 10GB. With Comcast, it's unlimited (or maybe 250GB) for maybe $50/mo?

http://broadbandnow.com/Pennsylvania/Pittsburgh Looks like it's pretty decent, but everywhere I've lived so far (which has been in quite a bit of the city in the past 4 years) has not had access to FiOS. In my apt right now I only have access to Verizon DSL because Comcast canceled my account because I wanted to downgrade. (Their sales staff could only upgrade, status quo, or cancel outright -- not downgrade.)

Also, http://broadbandnow.com/Pennsylvania claims that 90% of people have access to 100mb service in my county. 1) No. 2) "Access" doesn't mean at any price anyone but a business can afford.

I am one of these 39M Americans. My sole provider is AT&T through a 6mbps DSL line. I live in Charlotte, NC within 20 minutes of the center of the city.

It's unfortunate that I live on a more rural road where there's an approximate 1 to 1.5 mile stretch of road with absolutely no houses. Beyond that, my street has only 20 houses after this stretch. This is definitely off-putting for carriers to install new lines down to us because they're likely to not see ROI foreeeever.

I really don't know what to do. Satellite is currently unacceptable with the bandwidth caps and latency.

Does anybody have any suggestions? I've contacted all of the major providers looking to get updates to our area.

Parents have a strikingly similar situation in VA, except they can't even get DSL. They eventually went with Verizon over LTE after years of crappy satellite internet. You can't purchase more than 30GB/mo, but otherwise, it's worked great for them.

The only problem with the LTE service is that so many things like to silently update in the background---they can bump up against that 30GB limit without intending to.

Maybe contact your board of supervisors or whatever they're called in your neck of the woods? At least you could get them thinking about the problem next time the service contracts are up for negotiations.

What's your LTE situation look like? Also, how do you like your neighbors? It might be worth someone's while to run fiber out there if they could guarantee they'd have 100% uptake to those other houses.

LTE is spotty. Looking at coverage maps, it does some interesting things and covers half of our street but our house remains uncovered for the most part.

I don't know that I could get 100% uptake, but I could definitely get 50%. At one point I read that they have cutoffs of, say, a minimum of 10 houses to qualify for serviceability. I think this is an attainable number. There's actually another 20 or so homes at the beginning of the road that I believe to be unserviceable too.

Is there a way to contact the NTIA regarding their BTOP program? I'd personally be interested in seeing where they're investing their money given North Carolina took in a very large chunk ($150M). I'm all for trying to strong arm this until I get better service.

>More than 39M Americans Only Have Access to 1 Wired Broadband Provider

And those who have more than 1 are served by an oligopoly who overcharge for mediocre (at best) service.

Are the few cities with municipal broadband or Google Fiber seeing better service and prices?

I'm in this group and it seriously blows. Windstream DSL is my only option for wired internet. During the daytime, my speed is usually around the advertised 6mb down/0.75 up. But in the evenings and on weekends, I frequently see it drop to 0.5/0.1 or less. During the past year I've had a dozen or more outages, including two that lasted for a day or more.

When I want to download something quickly (or just open a web page some evenings), I tether to my cellphone which thankfully has unlimited LTE service because I've refused to sign a new contract. (Speeds are around ~18/5 if I put the phone in my front window.)

A guy working at Time Warner (which provides 50mb service about 0.5 miles from my house) said it would cost around $22k for them to wire up my neighborhood and that was too much for them.

After that, I've started looking into what it would take to run my own fiber lines to my neighborhood. It looks like it'd cost me that much or more, which is not an insurmountable amount, but it is significant. And I'm not sure if there's any way I could ever hope to make it profitable.

Edit: Oh, and I forgot to mention: my price has gone up twice during the past year - I'm now paying ~$65/month.

Second edit: I just realized that my service doesn't qualify as "broadband", even under the FCC's old definition. I have zero wired broadband providers available.

How many people are in your neighborhood? Perhaps you could crowdfund part of it and say, "We will pay you X to wire up our neighborhood ...", and defray the cost enough to make it viable.

Yea, I've tried that - no luck so far, but I haven't given up on the idea.

I usually consider "my neighborhood" to be the ~0.75 mile road that I live on, which is about 18 single-family homes. I've met just about everyone, but I've only lived here for ~1 year, so I wouldn't say that I know anyone really well.

Austinite here. Here's what's available to us:

Time Warner is the most available and is the only cable option for many people.

Grande Communications is available in a few, selected areas.

Google Fiber is slowly becoming available across the city, one neighborhood at a time, but is not available to most at the moment.

AT&T U-verse is also an option, but the impression I've gotten is that Time Warner is still much faster.

The biggest bullshite in Austin is that now that Google rolls into town, Time Warner and AT&T are scared, so now they are complimentary upgrading everyone. Yes they may have made recent upgrades too, but it takes someone like Google to make them provide something better.

And even though I got a complimentary upgrade to 300mbps down, it's capping out at 100...

>And even though I got a complimentary upgrade to 300mbps down, it's capping out at 100...

Isn't a 100 Mbit router that is the bottleneck? Be sure to have Gigabit Ethernet support in your modem/router as well as your computer. Sorry if I'm stating the obvious!

That's a good question - I believe my router is good up to 300mbps but I'll double check!

Are you really complaining about your 300 mbps Internet capping out at 100 mbps? Come on... :P

In DC in theory you have 3 providers but in practice that's not how it works. Even though my neighbors had RCN or Verizon they could not serve me. I ended up stuck with Comcast and everything this implies. Then I moved to another place, just a round-robin, now I'm stuck with Verizon.

This article was based on the OLD definition of broadband and that included DSL as a wired provider.

When the FCC releases it's 2014 dataset we'll re-release this same report and apply the new definition. (My gut says the results will be much different)

Also in using the site if you find that your zip is vastly inaccurate (lots of areas in PA that we're investigating) drop us a note here or via help [at] broadbandnow.com and we'll dig into the data.

You can check your zip here: http://broadbandnow.com/search

Our goal is to help make shopping for broadband easier.

It's a big undertaking as the industry leverages it's opaqueness to charge higher prices, but hopefully we can bring more transparency to the marketplace.

Greetings from beautiful Cedar Key, Florida. Bright House Networks will take your order for 90Mbps cablemodem, but the installer who eventually comes out will tell you that they don't do cablemodem here. AT&T will sell you 3Mbps (yes that's a 3) DSL that has horrendous packet loss and dropouts. There are no WISPs, although expensive LTE service is really good. Fortunately this is an area that is eligible for Exede Satellite Internet's Freedom plan, which is enough for work, google hangouts, Netflix, and more. TL;DR zero reliable wired providers of any sort, and one terrible one.

[Disclaimer: Do not interpret this as a complaint, I knew what I was getting into when I moved here, and I do love this place for a lot of reasons]

Yep. I live right outside Chicago. Comcast is the only game in town... well that is a lie. You can also get at&t which offers lightning fast speeds upwards to 1.5mb for THE SAME PRICE as comcasts 16MB offering. Wooo competition!

In my neighborhood in Brooklyn, It seemed I could choose from some pretty slow DSL from Verizon or cable Time Warner (turns out to be pretty slow a lot of the time). Then I found a smaller company offering much faster Fiber connections for the same prices as the DSL or Cable. So I called them up, and while they do service our street, they are specifically not allowed to service our house. I assumed the worst—two companies dividing up territory. Ended up with some pretty terrible Cable internet that gets decent speeds around 1AM when I am either asleep or out of the house. Rest of the time it crawls.

And it gets worse...

As critical services move to the Internet, and we become reliant on IoT and cloud for our day-to-day, including emergency communication, many residences and businesses will need access to at least two permanent connections because we will need 99.999 uptime (and some programmable CPE to abstract the user from switching between the providers when one is down or degraded).

This means even two broadband providers will not always be sufficient. Many of us will need at least four total (true) broadband providers: 2+ wired 2+ wireless to then choose from in truly healthy, competitive enviro...

Counterwise, you've just illustrated why I pay absolutely no attention to the IoT and will be surprised if it really gets anywhere any time soon (like, probably within my lifetime, assume a quarter century), and make sure nothing bad will happen when my rock solid AT&T DSL does occasionally go down.

Heck, Heinlein discussed this sort of thing in his 1966 The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Technically I could get DSL, but their bandwidth isn't really broadband.

I'm actually surprised that that minimum is as low as 39 million.

Access is relatively. Eg. I only found out there is a second provider after I had signed the long term contract and the tech was physically installing it. (he mentioned the other provider during troubleshooting)

Then again their packages are a reasonable compromise between nice and the realities of Internet so it's cool. Eg. Gigabit access but only unmetered late at night. So if you need to pump a terabyte of data you can do so...at 1AM.

My city is divided in to monopolies. Where I live specifically is Comcast. If I go to one of their "competitor's" websites and put in my address they will literally say "Sorry we don't service your area, Comcast does" and then auto-redirect me to a Comcast order page. There are no other choices. $80/mo for 25/3.

Our building in downtown San Francisco is limited to 2 options that are both more the $700/month for 20Mbps up/down.

It is insane.

Does that not affect the rent/purchase value of apartments in that building? Or are the prices so high because of the location that it doesn't really have any impact?

Do you mean $700/month for residential internet service?

Not just the US. Where I'm based in (an only moderately rural part of) the south west UK, I have a choice of BT Broadband and literally no one else. (And, even more annoyingly, BT have posters on cable boxes around the smallish town I live in advertising that Fibre is available here when, in fact, it is most certainly not.)

Says ~2% for Massachusetts... Makes me hate my single choice of Charter even more.

One of the worst providers I have ever experienced.

I have access to NO Wired Broadband Provider, for over 4 years now. But hey, I'm not an American.

I am one of them. Can't believe how Comcast has monopolized themselves in South Philadelphia. No choices. It's the most irritating thing ever, and will most likely make me move to another part of the city (or another city entirely) if they don't shape up.

I live in South Philadelphia (7th and Oregon), and while I have neither Comcast nor Verizon service, it seems like I can get either. They both mail me at least once a week, and occasionally come to my door, asking me to sign up. I investigated signing up for FIOS, but the cost was $90/month, and it just isn't worth that much to me. I have FIOS at work and it's fantastic, but my employer only pays $25/month for it.

From what I understand, Verizon is not expanding their FIOS service area anymore, because so many people are like me, and don't want to pay much for it.

I'm thinking of moving to Graduate Hospital, I don't live in Philadelphia despite the name. Is there a resource to see availability for different parts of the city? I didn't really consider this issue.

edit: nvm the link is the resource, though it doesn't appear to be that accurate of a representation

Number seems low given there are many people still using AOL!


This is only how many have access, not how many are using it.

#firstworldproblems ... It's as if people are not thankful to have good connectivity in the first place. Try living in a developing country, a heavily firewalled country, or on a boat for instance. You will learn to appreciate wired US broadband.

What are typical DSL, ADSL and cable speed (up/down) in the US ? And how much does it cost ? With/without quota ?

For instance, in Europe I have a €27 subscription with unlimited data and 1.5megabytes/400kilobytes link. How does it compare ?

I pay Comcast (ewww I know, but my only choice) $60 for 105 down / 25 up (megabits) and basic TV (no hd, but I hardly even use it). Not terrible and I actually get these speeds when downloading stuff at 2am, but at peek hours I get sporadic connection loss and slow downs which makes gaming... frustrating to say the least.

That is pretty comparable actually.

I have access to 2, but one of them is very slow DSL. My subdivision technically has 2 cable providers, Comcast and Mediacom - but which one you can get is determined by your lot number. My neighbors can get Comcast and I can't.

I have two, but only if you count DSL as one and DSL speeds do not begin to rival what the cable company offers. Cable wants 66 for what I have now and DSL is 49 for less than a third.

Do I really have a choice when one of them is so unappealing?

And the situation won't get better with new net neutrality rules...

That's really bad for a country like USA. In India we atleast have access > 5 providers in big cities.

( Though, yes I agree there is no Internet in villages, but it's slowly changing )

According to the new definition of broadband, I now only have one. Cable. DSL drops off the chart as it's only 1.5 Mb/s.

I'm in North Austin. The moment Google Fiber becomes available, I'm dumping Time-Warner. End of discussion.

I only have one option, AT&T Uverse, and I live in a < 10 year old building in downtown San Francisco.

The US is simply going about this all wrong.

I'm from Australia but live in New York and luckily my building has access to 2 providers (TWC and FIOS). My previous building only had TWC.

The problem with having a monopoly over providing retail Internet access is, well, that you have a monopoly. This is what infuriates me about the position of cable companies demanding Netflix pay to "push" bytes onto their networks.

No one is pushing anything. The customers of cable companies are _paying_ for Internet access and using that bandwidth to access services on the Internet that include Netflix.

The only reason cable companies even care is because Netflix provides competition to cable TV.

This situation can only exist because there are regional monopolies and for some reason the US just loves pretending regional monopolies are somehow "competition". Look at the Baby Bell situation as an earlier example.

In Australia, most people have only 1 physical option for fixed-line broadband, being Telstra, which was the government telco but has since been privatized. A few places also have cable Internet, typically over HFC, from Foxtel (owned by Telstra) or Optus.

I say "physical option" because the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission; think of it like the FTC/FCC but without quite so much regulatory capture) some years ago forced Telstra to provide space in exchanges for rivals to put DSLAMs to provide ADSL service. Telstra receives income from this and tries their damndest to undermine this situation but the fact is you can get Internet from a bunch of providers because of it.

10+ years ago ADSL2+ was pretty decent. Now it's a tad archaic. Many people don't have >2Mbps due to distance from the exchange.

The US solution is to encourage overbuilds. This is not a good solution. For one, it's a waste to deploy so many networks. For another, providers will cherry pick areas leaving many with still a single provider.

What you need is forced separation of retail and wholesale. I think the Australian example provides good evidence for this.

Wholesalers need to be denied the ability to sell to retail customers and they need to provide the same terms to all retailers.

The previous government in Australia brought in the NBN (Next generation Broadband Network), which was to be FTTH for the vast majority of Australians. Deployment was slow and only a few areas got hooked up. Despite what anyone says, the cost was going to be way more than the government quoted (A$42B originally). The new government has essentially decided on a mix of technologies, being FTTH, HFC and FTTN.

FTTN is fiber to a box in the street and then copper cable the rest of the way. With VDSL2, you can probably get to 100Mbps this way. Recent trials of G.Fast have I think raised this to 1Gbps. So it's not a terrible solution. It's certainly not FTTH however.

There is antitrust precedent for forced separation of services, like the Hollywood Antitrust case of 1948 [1]. This separated studios, distributors and theaters.

I don't know if Title II is the answer here either. US regulation has been pretty terrible (eg the breakup of AT&T into the Baby Bells).

Still, most people do have one electricity provider and utility rules do prevent them from price gouging since electricity, gas and water are essential services. I believe that Internet access will be---or arguably already is--an essential service in much the same way.

Whatever the case, building more networks is a pretty terrible solution to the problem.

[1] US vs Paramount Pictures Inc. (1948), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Paramount_Pict....

First world problems.

Well, this is roughly 13%. This isn't actually that bad.

I've only recently discovered the horror that is AT&T U-Verse. Some buildings in Chicago have a contract with them so there's no escaping it. I can't imagine how bad it would be if a whole state only had one provider like this.

I totally agree with you.

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