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*|
|Note: I know that the above figures are, scientifically speaking, complete horseshit. But it is amusing, no?|
— Phil Harvey, Barely Managing Editor, Light Reading