U.S. ISPs' low-ball capping

of Internet speeds

(2010 Jun blog post)

!Preliminary! A little more information, and more links, may be added later.

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Most U.S. ISPs (Internet Service Providers) --- like AT&T, Comcast, Cox Communications, Time-Warner, Verizon --- in their ads, advertise 15 Mbps download speed, maximum --- in their basic plan.

I get ads from Verizon in the mail and newspaper every week in which they advertise the 15 Mbps limit --- for about $40 per month.

    15 Mbps = 15 Megabits per second. Since there are 8 bits in a byte,
    15 Mbps is a little less than 2 MBps (MegaBytes per second).
    Actual speeds may be quite a bit less than this, like 10% of this speed.

    To put 2 MBps in perspective, it is 2,000 KBps (KiloBytes per second). A medium sized web-page image (about 640x480 pixels) is typically about 100 KB (KiloBytes) in size. So you can download about 20 such medium-sized images in about a second on a 2,000 KBps internet connection.

    Put another way, with a 15 Mbps connection, if you download a page with about 20 photo pictures on it (and some text), the page should download in about a second.

    Since many web pages nowadays are overloaded with images, many of these pages download in multiple seconds.

    In terms of videos, a 2 minute Flash video file is typically about 6 MB in size. At a little less that 2 MBps, it would download in about 3.5 to 4 seconds.


This 15 Mbps limit really irks me for at least two reasons:

1) South Korea is typically getting about 100 Mbps, according to newspaper accounts in the past year or so (around 2009). South Korea is reported to be way ahead of us in Internet speeds. In fact, 100 Mbps is about 6 times faster than 15 Mbps.

Verizon is trying to sell us 15Mbps-capped service for about $40 per month. Does that mean that they will want about $240 ( 6 x $40 ) per month if we get speeds like the South Koreans get.

You can bet that the South Koreans are probably paying no more than $40 per month for their 100 Mbps service. $240 per month would be unaffordable for most customers.

2) One really ridiculous aspect of this cap is that, say you are using the Internet about 2AM in the morning and there is very little traffic along the internet pathways that you are using. You could be getting download speeds much higher than 15 Mbps --- but you are being throttled down to 15 Mbps by your ISP, for no good reason --- except to make them rich.


The issue here is a 'bandwith cap' issue, which is discussed in this Wikipedia page.

This page says "Critics have charged that it is a method to charge consumers more by introducing tiered bandwidth caps."

I am one of those critics.

This 'white lies ISPs tell about broadband speeds' article (at netequalizernews.com) explains some of the issues --- and has some links to further information.

This speakeasy.net page offers speed tests for your connection. But, as the link just above points out, these figures may be far faster than your actual download and upload speeds are.

Also of great interest is this article on 10 things your ISP doesn't want you to know (at highspeedinternet.net).

Doing a Google search on terms like network download speed cap isp provides many more articles on this topic.

I plan to read these types of articles and make further comments here.

For now, I am against tiered bandwidth caps --- but I am for DYNAMICALLY putting caps on bandwidth hogs, as they occur. Example: People downloading video file after video file.


Since the 15Mbps bandwith cap at $40 per month seems to be quite restrictive compared to what South Korean ISPs must be offering, I am inclined to say that ISPs, like Verizon, are just more greedy b*stards like the people we see on TV, advertising everyday, especially at night --- 'free' credit reports, reverse mortgages (boy, I'll bet THEY are on the up-and-up), debt consolidators, etc. etc. etc.

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Posted 2010 Jun 23. Minor format changes 2013 Apr 18.