#BUZZKILL – Cable Companies

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Welcome to our new column, #BUZZKILL, where we talk about things we hate about technology.  This week, we talk about cable companies.

I’ve moved all over the country because of my job. So every few years, I have had to commit to a cable company and I prefer to choose the best or most popular cable company in town. Unfortunately, the most popular companies are not always the best. In the last fifteen years, I’ve tried Time Warner, Comcast, DirectTV, Brighthouse, Charter, Cox, Verizon, and AT&T. And they have all had terrible packages, calling it a bundle or a combo package of of these: internet, tv, and phone. Most of these big companies will push their packages to you until you get reeled in to a one-year commitment. This video pretty much sums up what I mean by how much hatred I have towards most of these companies:

Nowadays, there are plenty of alternatives to dishing out hundreds of dollars to these cable companies and getting stuck with bundled services. Just pay for good quality internet service, connect all your devices, and have access to everything and anything you want. There are the popular sites such as: Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Youtube, iTunes, Google Play, Redbox, XBMC, Vudu, Epix, Crackle, CinemaNow, Crunchyroll, Sideflix, and even Blockbuster is online now.

And what I mean by “good quality” internet service is getting decent internet speeds in your household, running at its capacity at all times, with Wi-Fi being automatically part of the service (you’d be surprised how many companies still offer no Wi-Fi capabilities), and having the ability to handle multiple devices that are browsing, streaming, and gaming all at the same time.

/sauce

But for some of these companies, you’re asking for too much. So they will try to reel you in bundled packages that come with cable, a landline phone, and the lowest internet speeds you can find in the world…just so you can feel better about paying an arm and a leg for their service, a service which may or may not be the ONLY service you can get in your area depending where you live.

On average, broadband download speeds offered by cable companies currently range anywhere from 1 to 50+ Mbps (megabits per second). I usually choose one of the fastest internet speeds offered in my area, which is currently at 50 Mbps, offered by Charter here in Reno, Nevada.

In the following, Geek Squad shows the capabilities of the varying download speeds.

Source: http://www.geeksquad.com/do-it-yourself/tech-tips/interpreting-speed-test-results.aspx

The FCC government agency website provides an unrealistic “Broadband Speed Guide” for your household. The FCC finds that 4-6 Mbps download speeds are appropriate for households. OKAY, dearest FCC, maybe for my grandmother, who doesn’t care if she waits a million years for that cat video her grandkids made for her birthday…

I mean, they do mention that if there are at least four devices connected to the internet, you’ll need download speeds of “more than 15 Mbps.” No FCC, the standards need to be higher in this day and age. Personally, I believe 50+ Mbps should be the minimum and should be offered at a very affordable price. Verizon FiOS gets partially right, by offering 50+ Mbps speeds, but the price is still high up there, since their service is offered as a bundle.

Now look at all this in comparison to Google Fiber

If you’re lucky enough to get the best service offered in only select states right now, Google Fiber offers internet/tv packages that hit homerun. We’re looking at 1,000 Mbps, HD channels, and other additional features that are worth every penny. They currently offer three different plans: 1.) $0/month at 5 Mbps, 2.) $70/month at 1,000 Mbps, or 3.) $120/month at 1,000 Mbps with tv and other additional features.

All in all, Google is paving the way for fast internet service in the country. It’s unfortunate that the other cable companies cannot even come to par with these higher standards, but the question is, what can we do about it? For now, we can file our complaints to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), through your state, and your local government. Voice your opinions, group, and be heard. The time is now.

I’ll close with this disturbingly accurate South Park video on cable companies:

Here’s to better internet service in the future!

Yours,
Poli

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alongcamepoli

Contributor
Superhero by day and chef extraordinaire by night, Poli is your favorite shot of whiskey. She likes to think of herself as an explorer, freethinker, history junkie, and a critic of food and technology- both of which own her soul. Poli is an absolute wanderlust who has travelled to five continents, indulging in the cultural arts and falling in love with everyone she meets along the way. LIKES: long walks on the beach, pugs, fellow travelers, the road not taken, and anyone who can change her mind.

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