walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

broadband speed testing and debunkery

I read this, after discussing Net Neutrality coverage on NPR with my walking partner.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/02/06/272480919/when-it-comes-to-high-speed-internet-u-s-falling-way-behind

I was skeptical of this claim:

"What's even more disturbing is that in other countries — I've visited both Seoul and Stockholm recently — they take these services for granted. For about $25 a month they're getting gigabits symmetrical service, which is 100 times faster than the very fastest connection available in the United States and for a 17th of the price. It really is astonishing what's going on in America. Americans aren't quite aware of it because we don't look beyond our borders, but we're falling way behind in the pack of developed nations when it comes to high-speed Internet access, capacity and prices."

(a) They don't take them for gratned. Seoul and Stockholm recently spent beaucoup bucks to upgrade their urban broadband, and these are pretty dense cities which contain a large fraction of their countries population. That's a whole lot of does-not-compare/misrepresents reality going on. Also, South Korea and Sweden are among the top handful of cities in the _world_ for broadband speeds. We're falling behind if we aren't constantly always the very best? When my husband uses this kind of comparator strategy, I scream at him until he stops, because it is toxic and ridiculous.

(b) It isn't 100 times faster. When I sit downstairs and use house wireless, I get (Ookla test) 7.5 Mb/s up and down (if I go upstairs and use house wireless, the other part, it's not as good, and this is by no means surprising to me). I'm not testing what might happened if I wired in, because I don't really care. 7.5 up and down is enough so that everything downloads pretty quick, and I've never had upload problems to speak of, even when uploading video. Ookla Sweden rankings doesn't produce any cities with better than 120 Mb/s (mind you, that's pretty fucking amazing) -- but that's not 100 times better than _my_ connection (which isn't that great -- I haven't even paid to upgrade from 50/25, much less max it out). (So I have no idea where this gigabits symmetrical access thing is coming from. This woman may well believe in flying unicorns.)

(3) It isn't 1/17th the cost. The Internet component of my bill, not using _any_ of the discounts to reduce it, is $45/month. That's not 17 * 25. $425 is 17 * 25, and my overall bill is about that (I'll know once it stabilizes again). And my overall bill includes _4_ cell phones, 1 tablet with LTE, unlimited voice, unlimited messages and 2 G of shared data, as well as digital voice to the house, the aforementioned $45/month for Fios 50/25 and oh, yeah, _cable programming_ charges.

I'm all in favor of improving broadband access, especially to people who cannot afford it, and/or who live in areas that are not blessed with Comcast Xfinity and Verizon Fios competing for their business. However, I really loathe ideologues who feel compelled to lie to make their case. NPR, where the hell are your fact checkers? This is inexcusable.

I'm still trying to understand the case for net neutrality. I've spent a lot of time reading about railroads over the years, with an emphasis on network building and regulation. Are the railroads a valid basis of comparison for current broadband? Hell yeah! I'm happy that she made that analogy. Should we expend enormous amounts of money to put out of business corporations that are building a lot of infrastructure and making money doing it? I'm _so_ unconvinced. I honestly prefer the idea of subsidizing the customers so they can afford to buy on the open market; I think the results would be cheaper and better.
Tags: our future economy today
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