How Geeks Deal With Slow Internet
For as long as I can remember being in front of a computer, I’ve had a high-speed cable internet connection of around 30-35MBps down and 5-10MBps up depending on network load. When we first got our high-speed internet it was from the lovely folks at Insight Communications. It was great, we never had a service interruption and customer service was wonderful if you needed it. It was all fine and dandy until Concast (err… I mean Comcast) decided to come here in 2006 and buy Insight out of our area.
The switch over was a disaster. Some people had their network down for as long as three days which caused some residents and businesses to be very unhappy. Especially the businesses being that their transaction systems were running off of an Insight internet phone line. We were only down for 6 hours during the switch that they promised would be seamless, but we ended up having to change all of our email addresses because according to the wonderful customer service rep from Concast (or maybe I meant to say Comcast) our old insight email addresses wouldn’t be compatible with the Comcast switch.
That wasn’t the end of it. Not too long ago Comcast introduced an official data cap of 250GBs for a residential connection, but along with that they increased their speeds for the home service. Call me crazy, but I think they had a pretty smart idea. By increasing the internet speed, people would in theory consume more data in a shorter amount of time, meaning that more people would get to the point of hitting their cap.
What happens when you hit your monthly cap? First you get a “friendly” call from Concast (do I keep messing that up?) advising you that you’re using too much data and basically need to use the internet less. However, if it happens again they will shut off your internet without giving you any warning at all. You’ll be banned from Comcast for a year and will be forced to switch another ISP often of much lower speeds, and of course it’s pick and choose, and guess what, if you’re kicked off of Comcast residential you can’t upgrade to Comcast business class to escape the cap! Some people have managed to go over the cap many times and never get a call, other people are shut off on the spot. Comcast claims that most of their users won’t hit this cap. What if you have internet TV? Just on my computer alone when I had Comcast I used 50-80GBs of bandwidth a month, and I wasn’t doing anything too crazy either. Just watching YouTube videos and surfing Facebook, and some online gaming which doesn’t use much data.
Eventually Comcast began throttling our connection and my dad ended up switching to a DSL connection because he didn’t want to pay the high Comcast bills when half the time our internet was 1/4 the speed we were paying for, and that’s understandable. However, our only option was DSL. That picture at the top is my average speed. At first I could handle it until I uploaded a YouTube video or tried to watch YouTube in general. It isn’t near as fast as cable was.
My cap is lower too. It’s only 150GB and as I write this I’ve used around 32GBs total for this month. I can’t do high quality live streams anymore, but I get through. Normal web browsing is alright, it’s just doing power-user tasks that kill me. To maximize my internet speed I also use Google DNS most of the time. I do have to watch my bandwidth though and make sure I leave enough for the rest of the family. I hope one day caps will actually go away.
Get the fastest internet connection you can afford. Some places have it better than others especially Mountainview, California where they get free Google Fiber and city-wide WiFi, but not everyone has that luxury. One day we will all get gigabit (or faster) fiber for a fair price and no cap.