According to Ookla's Speedtest.net, the average U.S. citizen gets around 22mbps download and 10mbps upload from their internet service provider.
In a world where high-speed internet access is quickly becoming essential, both for work and for education, that is depressing and disgusting for the prices ISPs are charging, especially in rural areas.
I say that from having lived most of my life on a connection 82% worse than most of the U.S.: 4 down, 1 up, over DSL, for $65/month.
You heard me right.
A little backstory: I live in rural Oklahoma. For decades (and basically the entirety of my life up to just last year), the only source for internet we have had out here with no data caps was the local phone company, delivered over DSL. Satellite internet like HughesNet was available in our area, and they constantly push advertising both via snail mail and over satellite TV making them a rather well-known name, but far too often such providers horribly overprice their plans for what you're actually getting. For example, HughesNet offers 25 down, 3 up, with a 30GB data limit, delivered over satellite, for $100/month. It's not a hard data limit, but once you exceed it, your connection gets temporarily dropped to damn-near unusable speeds - one of my relatives can back this up from their experience with HughesNet. In comparison, fiber providers in much more densely-populated areas offer unlimited gigabit speeds for much the same price, often even less. In our area, data limits don't sit well with anyone. This conundrum left us all with one choice and one choice only: the local phone company, over DSL. This, in effect, gave them a monopoly over the area for many years. The price and speed? 4 down, 1 up, over DSL, for $65/month.
See these guys? Fuck these guys.
We paid $65 for this shit.
(Test done over WiFi.)
Fast-forward to just last year. Our local electric cooperative, along with those of many other areas, began building out fiber internet across their service area and right at the end of December managed to get their first subscriber online. It made me hopeful that high-speed internet in our area wasn't just a pipe dream and after all these years could actually, finally be feasible. COVID-19-related delays aside, they continued building out their new service and this year we were able to place an order. We paid our installation fee and it was installed just three weeks later - yesterday, in fact. The price and speed? Gigabit down, gigabit up, over fiber optic, for $85/month. Immediately after the installation was finished, I ran a speedtest, and...
Now that's more like it!
I literally only wrote this blog post to show off.
(Test done over WiFi, which is why I'm not getting the full gigabit.)
I couldn't believe it.
After years of battling to stream fucking YouTube videos at decent resolutions, my struggles were finally over. We had achieved speeds above 20mbps, with no data caps, in rural Oklahoma.
But then I read the rating, and I had a realization.
"Faster than 99% of US"
That's just pitiful.
If COVID-19 has proven absolutely anything (well, anything other than that the people running this country are absolute morons, but we already knew that), it's proven that high-speed internet is more of a necessity than we ever could have imagined. People are now using the internet for work, education, entertainment, keeping up with friends and family and relatives, and so much more that it's impossible to list everything here. And yet the majority of the US still pays almost a hundred dollars a month to shitty monopolistic corporations for slow bandwidth with absurdly-low data caps for a service that can more and more be considered essential. I'm privileged to have access to unlimited gigabit speeds over fiber, and I understand that (Remember, I've lived my entire life with shitty speeds over DSL). I understand that fiber optics are fragile and aren't exactly feasible to build out everywhere. It's a miracle we even got them at all in Oklahoma. I'm not saying that absolutely all of the USA needs to be covered in fiber optics (although it wouldn't hurt if more areas had access to them), I'm saying that more people should have access to unlimited high-speed (ACTUAL high-speed, not the bullshit high-speed that phone companies and satellite ISPs provide) internet for a much lower price.
Then again, maybe I'm asking way too much from the land of the free and the home of the brave.
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