Are you sure you’re getting what you paid for?

Bill Andad of DaniWeb posted this blog entry this month about advertised speeds and actual speeds in the UK. His point is that the broadband ads that often convince you to buy a product turn out to be better than the product.

Here’s a quote: “…sadly it comes as no great shock to anyone that the download speeds to be found in the real world at the consumer end of the equation were nowhere near the advertised rates that persuaded them to sign up for any particular service in the first place.”

Locally, you hear or read ads that say “up to” a certain speed. That’s important, because that “up to” mark is often at 3am when no one else in your neighborhood is online. Ever tried to get online on a snow day?

Old fashioned copper lines and DSL only have so much bandwidth to go around. If your neighbor’s watching his favorite shows or his kids are gaming, odds are he’s eating up some of your bandwidth. The same principal is true for fiber, but there’s a lot more bandwidth to go around. We have configured the Greenlight fiber lines through Wilson’s neighborhoods so that bandwidth shouldn’t be a problem.

Those “blazing” fast or “high” speeds  in the ads might not be quite what you’re expected. Fiber, like Greenlight, offers much more bandwidth so you can get the speeds you paid for.

“How does Greenlight work?”

We still get this question from time to time as more people call to ask questions about Wilson’s new network.

Greenlight:

  • is a fiber to the home network. The fiber runs over a separate line that goes straight to your house.
  • runs on the computer, TV,  and phone you’re already using (assuming they’re only a few years old).
  • is owned and operated by the City of Wilson
  • has free, local tech support 24/7
  • is available to every business and home in the City of Wilson
  • offer residential speeds up to 100 Mbps
  • services are often less expensive than traditional cable/phone providers

Greenlight is not:

  • associated in any way with the cable or phone companies. It’s an entirely different technology.
  • DSL
  • wireless
  • WiMax

Fiber is the fastest, most reliable technology for this sort of thing. The City of Wilson’s network is entirely fiber. Here’s a short article that explains it pretty well. The only thing that doesn’t apply here is the cost. The author says fiber is more expensive, but Wilson’s service prices are actually lower than what you’ll find in other places.

If you’re a techie, this is all review; but some citizens, including newcomers, are still learning about this network. Wilson’s Greenlight is the fastest and most reliable service here.

Live in Raleigh or Durham? You’re paying more, getting less from the same company.

So,  what happens when your town city or shows its interest in providing broadband services? I can only speak from our experience in Wilson, but it’s pretty interesting.

First, the incumbent provider lowered rates. After years of getting a yearly rate hike, they stopped in the City of Wilson. Haven’t had one in a couple of years now.

In fact, check this out. This morning, I went to the website of the cable company to check prices.

Here are the speed and price for the cable company in Raleigh. Click on the image for a better look.

Screen shot of cable company website on July 14, 2009

Broadband rates in Raleigh from the cable company. Screenshot from July 14, 2009

So, for $49.95 a month in Raleigh, you can get up to 7 Mbps for a month. For another 10 bucks, you can get up to 10 Mbps.

Now, compare that to Wilson. Again, same company.

Broadband costs in Wilson from the cable company. Screenshot from July 14, 2009

Broadband rates in Wilson from the cable company. Screenshot from July 14, 2009

How about that?

If you live in Raleigh, you pay more money for lower speeds than people in Wilson get from the same company. If you upgrade to 10 Mbps and live in Raleigh, you’ll pay $59.90 while a Wilson customer 40 minutes east of you pays $46.95. Heck, they don’t even offer 7 Mbps in Wilson. You go straight to 10. Greenlight’s minimum speed is 10 Mbps, too.

They also rolled out all sorts of discounts for packages, as long as customers were willing to sign up for two years.

I understand that they’re a private company and can charge pretty much whatever they want. I do find it interesting, though, that they can create these magically higher speeds for less money in two towns that are so close together. Why do people in Wilson pay less than people in Raleigh? Because people in Wilson have a choice. Greenlight offers the fastest speeds ( up to 100 Mbps residential) at a better value.

If your city is considering a fiber network, just know that those high cable and broadband prices you’ve heard about for so long may loosen up the minute you announce your interest.

Great news, Senate version of monopoly protection bill seems to be dead in the water

You’ve been a patient lot this summer as we’ve watched these monpoly protection bills zig and zag around the NC House and Senate Committees. Finally have some good news to report. Yesterday, lawmakers voted to essentially gut SB 1004. Check it out. The only thing that didn’t change is the name of the bill. All of the language has been changed to accommodate some sort of energy issue. Heck, I don’t think the word “broadband” in the current version.

Way to go! Pressure and letters from you helped send this bad bill to its demise.

That said, HB 1252 is still out there. At the beginning of the summer, the bills were identical. Now, they’re totally different.

Here are the first two sentences of HB 1252, which has been changed to some extent:  The Joint Select Committee on High Speed Internet and the Revenue Laws Study Committee shall study local government owned and operated communication services. The Committees may propose legislation, if appropriate, to regulate the operation of 10 local government owned and operated communication services.

We still think there’s enough regulation right now on municipal broadband providers without creating new laws. I’ll let you know more about HB 1252 as soon as I know. It hasn’t moved since early May.

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