Not long ago, a friend in the community where I lived posted a question in our online community. How good is AT&T U-Verse because Time Warner stinks? I was moved to put pen to paper and thought I’d share the thoughts more publicly:
Since I work on the internet, the fact that internet service stinks particularly bugs me; this is true of the cost and service, both in home and for business. The fact that all providers stink, bugs me.
Technology Evolves Efficiently
This is technology. EVERY technology gets cheaper. It’s essentially a law of science (maybe). This technology, in particular, gets cheaper and faster. So quickly, that the businesses that provide it can’t keep up.
ISPs (internet service providers) built a profitable model on a once slow and expensive service. While the technology raced past them, they struggled to figure out how to continue to make just as much money, deliver increasingly better service, AND account for the variable, and generally lower, costs.
What variable costs? Unlike 10-20 years ago, today, we all use vastly different amounts of internet data. I, for example, probably use more than you. I upload and download data constantly; I watch TV through the internet, I work online, I load data non-stop. I can never leave my AT&T wireless phone service because I’m lucky enough to have been grandfathered from an unlimited data plan… every time I get a new phone they chuckle and point out that I shouldn’t get a new plan as it would cost me a fortune.
What’s my point? They’ve all been creating service plans based on how much we use. Seems logical right? I use a lot, that should cost me more than you, who uses very little.
Here’s why it’s ignorant and bugs me. The COST to provide incredibly fast internet is now pennies compared to what it once was. Heck, Google is providing 10x faster internet in some communities, for nothing, just to prove that it can, and the industry should. The old companies (AT&T, Time Warner, etc.) are freaking out.
Internet Service Sucks
So why does your service suck? And mine? Because the only way the service providers can force you on to more expensive plans is to create the illusion that “better” is a different service, a service that costs more.
Take AT&T U-Verse for example. U-Verse?!? The internet is the internet. There is no such thing as a verse… that’s just a marketing ploy to get you to buy a bundle of services that are “better.” U-Verse bundles wi-fi, which is incredibly fast!!, a DVR, TV on demand, amazing internet, blah blah blah. You can do all that with any variety of disparate services: they all use the same internet.
The problem for them is that those of us that know it’s BS, force them to come up with those ploys. For years now I’ve had no cable, no special DVR, no special service for wireless music, etc. I can do it all through my basic inexpensive, unlimited internet by cobbling things together. I have TV on demand, record everything, never watch commercials, etc. All for $40-ish a month. (What do you pay?)
So what can the internet service providers do but force me, us, to upgrade to those “better” services?
To do that, they make your existing service suck. Slowly, so slowly you don’t really notice, it’s not their fault your service is slower – “you’re downloading more.” Over the years, mine has slowed to the point that it’s almost unusuable. It’s as bad as the days of dial up. I haven’t done anything differently… Yes, I use more at times (because my TV is through the internet now) but when I’m not watching TV, to wit, using the internet on my computer at home is grindingly slow – I’m not downloading more and it’s still slow?? To force me to pay more, they have to make what I have stink. It’s called throttling. They throttle certain accounts, certain websites, etc. They can throttle anything they want to force you to use less or pay more.
Why would they do that?! Don’t they lose customers?!?! Yes, of course they do, I’d sooner switch than pay my existing service provider, which now stinks, more, because they have a “better” plan (in part, because I know they are just scamming me). We switch to others, but there are only so many other providers and ALL of them do this. Everyone is just moving around and the ISPs don’t really lose anyone.
That’s why Google is doing what they are doing. Some customers flee to the other service provider, just as many flee from there; so, it’s a wash. At the end of the day, we all start spending more for the new fangled service and the companies do just fine. Google has fired a shot across their bows and said, STOP IT.
The Dark Ages of the Internet
In many ways, we’re in the dark ages of the technology. The internet service providers are Europe. Those with power have to control the serfs and they do that through ignorance and restraint. Not because they WANT to, but because they don’t know any other way – they too are ignorant. What else can they do?? They are the wealthy Kings with power… they can’t do anything to disrupt the way the churches, and Lords, and fiefdoms, keep funneling them money and giving them God-like control and power.
But there is a light… why do I keep referring to Google?? Google is like the Middle or Far East during the same time. Enlightened. Inventing. Advancing. Google is GIVING some communities fully connected, incredibly high speed internet for nothing. Because it can. Because it’s possible. AND because their kingdom (like the rulers of those Eastern countries) isn’t built on ignorance.
Soon, Marco Polo will come along and bring the Eastern science and enlightenment to Europe. And we’ll experience the Renaissance of the internet and the inquisition of the ISP.