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Cable/Video

10 Meg Was Here!

7:00 AM -- Time for more broadband kiss 'n' tell.

My 6-month trial of Charter's 10-Mbit/s Internet service has ended and two things happened. First, my monthly bandwidth bill went way up (see table), so I downgraded my service to Charter's 5-Mbit/s offering to keep my bill closer to $50 a month.

Second, I noticed that I can't really tell the difference between 5-Mbit/s service and 10-Mbit/s service. On paper, the 10 Mbit/s is, duh, twice as fast. In practice -- and I usually get maximum throughput because of my location, neighborhood, karma, etc. -- I haven't really noticed a change at all. And I only noticed the slightest change in photo and video upload times.

Now I'm paying just under $50 for 5 Mbit/s downstream while other cable systems are offering 30 Mbit/s downstream and 5 Mbit/s up, which is right on par with the highest available offer from Verizon.

What's infuriating is that Charter forces me to call in every six months and change deals. If I don't, I have to pay the "regular retail" price, which is usually a price hike of almost 30 percent for no damn good reason at all.

I'm pretty sure my bandwidth usage, bandwidth throughput, and time spent online have absolutely no relation to the price I pay whatsoever. So why doesn't Charter do what my cellphone company does: Give me the illusion of saving money by locking me in at the same price for a two-year, or longer, term?

Table 1: What I Pay for Bandwidth
Month-Year Downstream Upstream Price Per Month (After Tax) Price Per Day Price Per Megabit (Per Month)
Aug-01 1 Mbit/s 128 kbit/s $54.63 $1.82 $54.63
September-03 1.5 Mbit/s 128 kbit/s $62.91 $2.10 $41.94
March-04 2 Mbit/s 128 kbit/s $41.23 $1.37 $20.61
July-04 3 Mbit/s 256 kbit/s $41.23 $1.37 $13.74
January-05 3 Mbit/s 256 kbit/s $52.05 $1.74 $17.35
March-06 3 Mbit/s 256 kbit/s $32.46 $1.08 $10.82
September-06 10 Mbit/s 1 Mbit/s $60.47 $2.02 $6.04
March-07 10 Mbit/s 1 Mbit/s $83.03 $2.77 $8.30
Apr-07 5 Mbit/s 256 kbit/s $46.49 $1.55 $9.30
Aug-07 5 Mbit/s 256 kbit/s $61.99 $2.07 $12.40
Note: April 2007 and August 2007 projections based on prices quoted by Charter customer service reps


Table 2: What If I Bought 100 Mbit/s?
Month-Year Price Per Megabit (Per Month) What My Monthly Bandwidth Bill Would Have Been at 100 Mbit/s*
Aug-01 $54.63 $5,463.00
September-03 $41.94 $4,194.00
March-04 $20.61 $2,061.00
July-04 $13.74 $1,374.00
January-05 $17.35 $1,735.00
March-06 $10.82 $1,082.00
September-06 $6.04 $604.00
March-07 $8.30 $830.00
Apr-07 $9.30 $930.00
Aug-07 $12.40 $1,240.00
Note: I know that the above figures are, scientifically speaking, complete horseshit. But it is amusing, no?


— Phil Harvey, Barely Managing Editor, Light Reading

Michael Harris 12/5/2012 | 3:13:04 PM
re: 10 Meg Was Here! I noticed that I can't really tell the difference between 5-Mbit/s service and 10-Mbit/s service. On paper, the 10 Mbit/s is, duh, twice as fast. In practice -- and I usually get maximum throughput because of my location, neighborhood, karma, etc. -- I haven't really noticed a change at all. And I only noticed the slightest change in photo and video upload times.

In practice, such advertised speeds are mostly marketing B.S. As Philter has found, the tangible, or experiential, difference is minimal for most mainstream users of web and email apps. Both the 10M and 5M services offered by Charter are best-effort offerings. So, you are paying for access "up to" 5M and 10M. If their network is provisioned to only effectively deliver 4.5M, there's no difference except the price. Have you tried downgrading further, to say 3M, to see if it's any slower in practice? At least it would be cheaper. :)

-- The Milter
BananadineDream 12/5/2012 | 3:12:55 PM
re: 10 Meg Was Here! Well, I downgraded further. I recently switched from Comcast "... now with PowerBoost" 10 Mbps to Qwest "Premium" at 1.5 Mbps. The Comcast fleecing became simply unbearable.

Downloading Windows updates is definitely slower but my wife actually thinks the Qwest service is faster for her usual web mail & browsing. I'm guessing latency is the difference but we all know that perception is everything in a marriage.

- The Perceiver

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:12:55 PM
re: 10 Meg Was Here! Yeah, I'm definitely falling out of love with the high bandwidth numbers thrown around by cable. A steady 1.5 Mbit/s is probably as good as a shaky 5 to 6 Mbit/s hookup for most things.
OldPOTS 12/5/2012 | 3:12:54 PM
re: 10 Meg Was Here! Comcast in my area had slowly raised their BW (and Price) for many years to a rate where most folks computers (except Gamers) can't fully keep up doing full security checking.

Time Warner (TWC) swapped with Comcast in my area and about a month or two later I noticed things seemed slower. But I had the same RR Standard 7M down and .5M up for $45.

A little testing revealed that TWC did deliver reasonably close to the BW promised (Gamer tested), but what they did was reduce the availability to the name server (Radius/BRAS) or expand the number of subs accessing them, causing contention and delays. I suspect the latter. So when every URL/address had to be hashed/resolved/authorized it took a long time. Un-natural QoS. Does your SLA have a time limit for URL/name resolution? No just best effort! So why pay for access BW when they delay access to sites unless you are a Gamer?

For a WEB page, like Yahoo, with lots of independent advertising (separate addresses)it takes a long time to deliver the full page. The frame comes first, followed by several ads that must be delivered first before any real content! My less complex pages without ads (Not LR), I only get slight delays. If you use Task Manager (or XT Performance Monitors) or a security package to observe network activity you can actually witness the delay in events. Or just PING the name server to measure box's network controller's busy measurements. The email server is much faster and consistant for now. I use POP.

I complained and did the PING test for them, but the long distance supporter did the usual dance of it's your home network of three PCs??. Yea my home Gamer's PC smokes when it uses the same URL/game for hours when he is around. But he also complains about the URL resolution delays. Just waiting for more of that P-to-P to fry their network.

I was going to FIOS but my neighbors note that it (BW) also is beginning to degrade with more power subscribers being added. So what price will you pay? How many years of comitment? Any name resolution SLA or also just best effort? Read those contracts marketeers!

OP

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