Linked by Howard Fosdick on Thu 24th Jan 2013 10:12 UTC
Internet & Networking In the past, OS News has discussed how U.S. broadband access lags many other countries in terms of cost, speed, and availability. Now, this detailed report from the New America Foundation tells why. It all comes down to a lack of competition among the carriers, which can be traced back to the days when cable companies were granted local monopolies. The report argues that "...data caps... are hardly a necessity. Rather, they are motivated by a desire to further increase revenues from existing subscribers and protect legacy services such as cable television from competing Internet services." The report's conclusion: don't expect improvements without legislative action.
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Well....
by henderson101 on Thu 24th Jan 2013 12:54 UTC
henderson101
Member since:
2006-05-30

UK you have 2 options: Cable (a monopoly) or BT (a monopoly provider, but many re-sellers.) With Cable, depending on area - and this does vary, you get Fibre Optic broadband, speeds up to 50mb/s. Might be higher now, but that was the speed last time I looked (actually, might be 100 now?) With BT (and all of their re-sellers, some of which do sell at a lower rate), you get ADSL up to 8mbs (if you are very lucky and live fairly close to the local exchange) and in a few areas Fibre. The BT advertising would have you believe they are the best option, but to be honest, their service is not very cheap. Cable can be okay, so we have a package that gives 20mbs, the best TV package without buying premium channels and a phone line. We pay something like £65 (so, what, US$100?) for that. Remembering that bundles on demand TV (which no one else in the UK can currently rival, as it comes on its own dedicated fibre connection to the STB, not over the connection everyone else in the house is using.) It's a fairly good deal, but I'm sure we pay too much. There's no usage cap, though they do shape the data at peak times. Having said that, I download GB's of data, connect to a work VPN all day long and stream Youtube and Netflix almost every day. The kids alone used over 16GB of data over Christmas streaming films and TV shows on Netflix.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Well....
by sparkyERTW on Thu 24th Jan 2013 13:50 in reply to "Well...."
sparkyERTW Member since:
2010-06-09

Canada's situation is pretty similar: Rogers for cable, Bell for DSL, and their various re-sellers (there's also Shaw, Telus and Cogeco, but they only operate regionally and often in areas Bell/Rogers don't bother with). There's no real competition between them; I've even had an acquaintance who works at Rogers admit that they have monthly meetings together, discussing what each other has planned and basically doing the same. Every year I have to threaten to leave and barter with them just to keep my TV/Internet bill in the area of $100; without negotiated discounts I'd be paying upwards of $150. Sure, I could lock in for more than a year and maybe get even lower, but I don't even like doing it at all. What's fair in a contract where the other party has conditions that say, "we reserve the right to change things at any time to whatever we want, and if you don't like it and want to leave, we're free to penalize you for doing so."?

And much like the UK, we don't have many legal options when it comes to television alternatives like the U.S. does. Hulu isn't available. Our selection on Netflix blows. iTunes is DRM-riddled and stuff is often long delayed arriving (Game of Thrones?). Over-the-air is a possibility, but it's made difficult when Canadian broadcasters barely pump out a decent signal from their towers (the major stations are owned by Bell and Rogers. Coincidence?).

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: Well....
by StephenBeDoper on Fri 25th Jan 2013 20:40 in reply to "RE: Well...."
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

Canada's situation is pretty similar: Rogers for cable, Bell for DSL, and their various re-sellers (there's also Shaw, Telus and Cogeco, but they only operate regionally and often in areas Bell/Rogers don't bother with). There's no real competition between them; I've even had an acquaintance who works at Rogers admit that they have monthly meetings together, discussing what each other has planned and basically doing the same.


I've personally had terrible experiences with both companies, but at the moment I'd give a slight edge to Bell. The main one is that they're offering fiber-to-the-home - an actual upgrade to their services. Rogers seems to be actively downgrading their level of service, while milking their existing customer base as much as possible. (caps & throttling + price increases). I was also REALLY not impressed when I found out that Rogers uses different caps for different regions - in Ontario, I think it's 250GB, compared to a 75GB cap in Atlantic Canada (same monthly cost, though).

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Well....
by Laurence on Thu 24th Jan 2013 14:05 in reply to "Well...."
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

Cable (Virgin Media): 110Mbs (advertised as 100Mb)
BT Infinity: 76Mbs

Both of those are just downstream speeds (I *think* VM offer 10Mb upstream. BT offer 19Mbs).

Neither providers supply end-to-end fibre (well, not in the context of home broadband. At work we have a couple of GbE fibre links provided by BT).

BT Infinity is fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) - so the street and door are all copper. VM are -IIRC- fibre to the street, so from the street to the door is copper.

It's also worth mentioning that BT have been rolling out ADSL2+ to a number of towns. Which sees speeds increased from theoretical max of 8Mb to 24Mb. These speeds theoretical maximums aren't fully achievable though: line noise, other subscribers, etc. But you can still get fairly decent performance if you're lucky.

Edited 2013-01-24 14:09 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: Well....
by henderson101 on Thu 24th Jan 2013 15:00 in reply to "RE: Well...."
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

Cable (Virgin Media): 110Mbs (advertised as 100Mb)
BT Infinity: 76Mbs

Both of those are just downstream speeds (I *think* VM offer 10Mb upstream. BT offer 19Mbs).


I *think* VM does have better up speeds, but they are not standard and the user ends up paying a lot more. They might only be for business use (though then you get in to the wonderful world of Cable and Wireless.)

BT Infinity is fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) - so the street and door are all copper. VM are -IIRC- fibre to the street, so from the street to the door is copper.


I think it depends. Some areas VM are fibre to cabinet, copper to the door, but their cabling is (IMO) better, as the cables are designed for high capacity broadcast TV, rather than phone traffic (saying that, do BT Fibre installs come over the standard phone line up to the door, or do they cable like VM do?)

It's also worth mentioning that BT have been rolling out ADSL2+ to a number of towns. Which sees speeds increased from theoretical max of 8Mb to 24Mb. These speeds theoretical maximums aren't fully achievable though: line noise, other subscribers, etc. But you can still get fairly decent performance if you're lucky.


The problem with BT is that it's all very random still. VM, you either get close to the best quoted speed or you don't get anything because they aren't in that area. Unless your local loop is saturated, the speeds are very consistent. With BT, you will hardly ever come close to the advertised speed, and ADSL up speeds are fairly dismal compared to either fibre offering.

The other thing: this new site being advertised in the UK, Broadbandchoices.co.uk, show you something important about BT infinity: the speed may be quoted the same, the price may be similar or cheaper, but the data is capped. VM isn't, and like I mentioned - you might well have your data shaped at peak, but I can still stream Netflix all day without hitting any buffering on my Wii or iPad/Nexus 7. BT Infinity is also still very niche, and we certainly don't get it yet in my area.

Edited 2013-01-24 15:02 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Well....
by Chrispynutt on Thu 24th Jan 2013 15:54 in reply to "Well...."
Chrispynutt Member since:
2012-03-14

Actually I have BE. They have their own equipment in the exchange and I get my landline phone from The Post Office.

If you want to know what is in your area look up your exchange in www.samknows.com and it will show you all the unbunded options.

That said Fiber to the exchange is either from BT or Virgin Media. However if you are close enough to the exchange ADSL2+ with no bandwidth limit is pretty good from BE.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Well....
by henderson101 on Thu 24th Jan 2013 16:07 in reply to "RE: Well...."
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

The underlying infrastructure is still owned by BT and BE still pay BT to use it. That's the real issue. VM own the residential cable, BT own the residential copperwire telephone network and their own fibre - everyone else lease capacity from BT. Corporate tend to use C&W, but that is hella expensive.

Reply Parent Score: 2