If you think your Internet is slow, think again. Four major U.S. cities have earned the dubious title of the country's slowest Internet. Ironically, one of the cities is in the heart of one of the nation's high tech capitals. According to a new study, these slow poke speeds are more like the dial-up connections of the 1990's.
Remember how long it used to take to load a webpage back then? If those days are back, you can forget about streaming a movie on Netflix, listening to music on Spotify - heck, with speeds that slow, I don't think you could even visit Facebook without getting extremely frustrated.
So why is service so slow and in just these four cities? A new study from M-Lab has collected all the evidence by measuring network performance across the country. The speeds have indeed slowed down, but the study refused to lay blame.
It is important to note that while we are able to observe and record these episodes of performance degradation, nothing in the data allows us to draw conclusions about who is responsible for the performance degradation. We leave determining the underlying cause of the degradation to others, and focus solely on the data, which tells us about consumer conditions irrespective of cause.
During peak hours, AT&T customers in Chicago, Century Link users in Seattle, Time Warner Cable Users in New York and Verizon users in Washington, D.C., are all seeing Internet speeds that rival that of dial-up in the early '90s. I was really surprised to see Seattle, home of Microsoft, New York, the media capital of the nation, and Washington, our government capital, on the list.
Turns out, it's all related to the net neutrality debate. In a nutshell, net neutrality is the idea that all ISPs treat all data the same, regardless of its source or destination. CNN points out, the slowdowns are because certain ISPs are ignoring the net neutrality debate.
Internet service providers (the companies we buy Internet access from) have interconnection deals with so-called tier-1 networks that serve the Internet's content to the world. But when the broadband companies feel that the tier-1s are using up too much bandwidth, particularly during peak Internet usage hours, Internet service providers often ask tier-1 networks to pay a toll for all the traffic they're sending.
When they're unable to reach an agreement, broadband companies will often refuse to broaden the pipe for tier-1s, resulting in extremely slow speeds during peak hours.
But, there's still some good news. The Internet is actually getting faster for most Americans. The FCC says 97% of consumers are receiving Internet speeds as advertised by their providers during peak times.