May 25th, 2024

Raleigh ISP options suck (but there’s a bigger problem)

Update (3/18/2011):
My area has recently been upgraded to now utilize TWC’s “wideband” or “extreme” or “DOCSIS 3.0” service, with promised speeds of 50MB down, and 5MB upstream speeds. My own speedtests have demonstrated at least 40MB down and 5MB upstream. My service changed from $50/mo. to $100/mo. While I am still frustrated with both TWC and many of the other issues described in my rant below, I must say that I have no reason to complain about the speed of my internet connection.

——- Original Post below ————-
One of the benefits of having a blog that no one reads (why would you? i never post to it.) is that you can just up and decide to make a complete rant about something you wouldn’t want to bother anyone with on Facebook or some other medium. But anyway, on to my point.

I recently moved out here to Raleigh from San Francisco. (I loved San Francisco, and I know I’ll miss it, but I was also ready for a change after 10 years.) So far, it has really been an easy transition with the exception of one thing: bandwidth, and more specifically, upload speed. In San Francisco, I received a 3MB upload data rate through Comcast. In a July report from the FCC, they defined “broadband” as having a minimum of 1MB upload. Here in Raleigh the best I can find is 0.5MB.

What is going on? This area is supposedly rich in technology, and home to Research Triangle Park, which is proclaims to be a “model for innovation.” I love thinking about all the possible innovation while I sit and wait for hours for files to transfer.

We have several options here in Raleigh, but they are all poor. I chose Time-Warner, but it really didn’t matter. I could have chosen any of three other vendors and I would have about the same download and upload speed as the other one, and pay about the same. Coincidence? I think not.

This also dovetails into a larger discussion of why America still lags so many other countries when it comes to available internet speeds. I also have tremendous faith in the free market. So something is clearly going wrong here. I think this story is a great example of just how wrong things are around here (and I mean the U.S., not just this area.) If that story doesn’t make you hate Time-Warner, then you didn’t read it. (I probably wouldn’t choose them had I read this article before I selected them.)

When you search around through forums, it’s easy to find people complaining about the speeds around here. Even more so, there are people so very excited that Time-Warner has “plans” to roll-out DOCSIS 3.0 in this area by the end of the year, and even supported with a supposed email from someone internal at Time-Warner. If a better option existed, they would improve their speeds. And probably instantly. I can pay over $200/mo. for a “business plan” to get the speeds that I had in San Francisco and I don’t think I will be seeing a truck coming down the road laying new wires to my home. They are enjoying their position, and abuse their power to prevent others from competing with it… just like the Baby Bells did, and just like other bloated service providers will continue to do in the future.

Since no one is actually reading, I will continue my rant. The sad fact is that the supremely large corporate entities run this country, and the spineless elected leaders we have across both parties refuse to ensure the consumer wins. Ultimately, we all lose. It becomes a matter of power-to-the-government, or power-to-the-corporation, but never power-to-the-people, and that’s all a free market is anyway. Let real competition happen, let bloated companies fail, quit bailing people out, let people lose their jobs so they can join an efficient organization that is producing enough value for consumers to choose their services.

Our political system generates nothing but actors, and our selfish and mindless reality-tv focused heads just grab the prettiest thing at the moment, letting our short attention span move on to the next Facebook post. In return we have this government, this waste, this inefficiency, and a country that is dangerously weak relative to the rest of the world.

But I must be missing something, because I still choose to live here. But I feel like I’m on borrowed time.

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Robert // Dec 10, 2010 at 6:14 am

    Just wanted to give you a thumbs up on this. Read your rant while looking for a better option than Clearwire.

  • 2 chris // Dec 15, 2010 at 8:13 am

    I just wish more people would get behind municipal broadband. Places like wilson and salisbury have wonderfully fast internet for cheap. TWC have lobbied hard against it but have yet to kill it. If only we could get enough support for municpal in raleigh. I woould kill for a 20/20 or better uplink for telecommuting.

  • 3 Doug // Dec 15, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Totally agree. And of course the government (meaning all of us) needs to be willing to fight the big guys for our right to have this option.

  • 4 Jack // Dec 20, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    I am moving from NY to Wake Forest as of 6/2011.

    I am bringing 2 teenage boys. Whose use of torrents; their minecraft servers; and hosting online gameplay; along w/ streaming music, movies, etc… They have heavy upload and download needs.

    They complain whenever Optimum drops below an upload speed of 15Mbps. Yet, in Raleigh that is still considered a good download speed?

    I read the Raleigh forums and many would be happy with 15Mbps down as a 3-channel consistent download speed.

    My teenagers are going to run not walk back to NY when they find out that obviously no serious gamers live in the whole of the triangle area.

    If they did how could they have tolerated such poor service for so long?

    Uploads of .5 takes us back to the ’80s.

    I will be telecomuting and literally can’t at that speed.

    How is it that Raleigh residents just meekly accept this???

    Here on Long Island several years ago; we rallied our towns to give up the lucrative kick-back fees, that they received for giving exclusivity to one cable provider. Thus most of our towns are open to multiple cable providers.

    Cablevision fought this and lost.

    In the end; Cablevision kept many of their customers because they got competitive with their pricing and speeds (well, until they had that fight with FOX and New York was the only place that you could NOT watch the Yankee playoffs).

    But we have no cable contracts so moving back and forth between Optimum and Fios and TWC or Comcast is as easy as a phone call plus dropoffing off your equipment. Then you head a mile further down the road, you pick up the competitor’s equipment; and plug and play.

    My current internet pkg w/ Optimum is 101/15 for $75/mth.

    They have my business because they price-froze my rates for 2yrs and they threw in TV channels at my basic cable price. And I am not a huge Yankee fan. 🙂

    Fios is my next favorite but their billing errors are time consuming to clear up. And given that the bill never seems to be right; it can be a hassle.

    In Raleigh, TWC/RR has been upgrading Raleigh plants to docsis 3.0.

    However, given the lack of competition; they won’t be offering wideband 50/5 as a stand-alone or double-play option.

    Given that they are the only game in town. Anyone wanting decent speeds has to pay for TWC’s SignatureHome pkg. at $200/mth.

    Once again, Cable is making us pay for services we don’t use.

    I don’t want to pay a monthly internet wiring fee, monthly modem rental fees, and all that “other” premium stuff that they are listing; in order to justify their billing.

    And I haven’t had a landline in 4yrs; why would I go back in time?

    The large part of their exclusive pkg that they are toting is that SigHome customers will enjoy decent customer svc.

    Shouldn’t that be a given to all customers?

    Many of the Raleigh forums are saying that this SignatureHome pricing will fail because Raleigh residents won’t go for paying these outragious prices just to get whole house dvr or just to get stable decent internet speeds.

    I think they are so wrong.

    Overall, it is a small price to pay for happy teenagers to not harangue me.

    And I haven’t the wardrobe to have to start going into an office daily because the telecomuting job; I have been offered is not supported by the town’s infrastructure.

    I will be paying the $200, once they roll out wideband 50/5; next year.

    And I wager so will many others. I hear that a significant number of the Wake County population are from NY, Mass and Calif; like myself. They want the speeds that they had become accustom to.

    It is hard enough to make high school kids move away from their friends and family. I have yet to break it to them; that this huge city to which we are moving doesn’t support anything better than almost dial-up speeds.

    So, when wideband is available; I will be 1st in line at whatever price.

    Being connected is a basic part of our lives. 50/5 is a minimum expectation.

    Thanks for letting me rant.

  • 5 William Ott // Mar 1, 2011 at 7:57 am

    Enjoyed your post here, just stumbled upon it while researching options for a friend. I am one of the few remaining people that was born and raised in Raleigh. TWC is rolling out their 35/5 and 50/5 right now, $200 to $300 a month as business class. I do know the project in Wilson is having major issues and isn’t working very well. TWC is still the better option for reliability in Wilson. Hopefully Raleigh will see more competition and lowering prices in the coming year.

  • 6 David // Mar 10, 2011 at 3:57 am

    Go back to San Francisco. We don’t care about your liberal opinion. If you can’t start your own ISP that can do better than STFU and eat your porridge. Nobody cares about you or your prattlings.

  • 7 Doug // Mar 10, 2011 at 4:12 am

    Nice to have your opinion. Did you really read my rant and decide I’m liberal? Either way, I need to update this post because they have just completed testing on the new 50MB/5MB system (confirmed by a few seperate people at TWC), and they are beginning the installs on selected customers (“signature” customers first). $99/mo with $40 install fee. Includes wireless N router/modem combo.

    I would prefer real competition here, but I’ll gladly accept some solid bandwidth! And it’s finally around the corner.

  • 8 skip // Mar 19, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Anyone remember the days of cable TV for 7 bucks a month and NO ADS to watch

  • 9 kai // Jan 16, 2013 at 10:46 am

    I understand your rant , it’s a shame we have such limited options in a great tech city. I use use other resources for web services. Libraries, coffee shops , etc. I don’t mind paying the bill but if we keep feeding this company money it will never stop. ( oddly the coffesshops , etc would probably also use TWC) but I can’t pay a company for crappy service , customer service , overpricing etc. I just have to make a stand against it. I know its a small insignificant thing to a major face less corp. but it helps me sleep at night and keep $50 in my wallet each month for tea at coffee shops.

    A CHANGE IS NEEDED , with these huge data centers in the area ( well western NC ) we have a pipe line that crosses Greensboro . I know there is an option there … ohhh if i studied networking and telecomm in place of being a different kind of geek.

    P.S. David said “STFU and eat your porridge”…. really is that how people feel. Have we not learned from nazis power, civil rights , etc. Don’t join the group as a follower & fight for justice.

  • 10 marie // Jan 30, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Good post, it’s always about the money.

  • 11 Solange // Aug 21, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    ” Hopefully Raleigh will see more competition and lowering prices in the coming year.”
    I am afraid not!
    Two years later and TWC is still as lying as ever with rated going up bt the months and written contracts blatantly disregarded.
    I quit.
    There must be a better internet option.

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