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Internet Access / Providers in the US

Internet Access / Providers in the US

Old Jul 6th 2012, 4:59 pm
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Default Internet Access / Providers in the US

Hey there!

To avoid repeating myself / cross posting, I'm new and I just posted an intro in the welcome inn. On to my first question

This is a bit of a seemingly low-priority thing to ask before anything else I suppose, but it's on my mind nonetheless, and is important to me! Many aspects of my life rely on having fast, reliable and nigh-unrestricted internet access, yet I can't seem to find too much in Google about the Internet infrastructure of the US.

The UK has a fairly solid network - broadband service providers are pretty good (regardless of what people may tell you) and our internet access is almost completely unrestricted. I'm aware that some countries do not have very good infrastructures, and some employ much stricter content filters. I've been trying to find information on the USA's infrastructure and internet service providers, but aside a few wikipedia entries (which we all know can be misleading) and a plethora of ISP websites with very little information on them, I've not been able to ascertain what level these things operate on in the US.

I appreciate this may be a bit technical for a general question, but there may be someone who can answer on here. I currently have a 60Mb fibre optic broadband connection, which is currently much faster than the UK average. The max speeds we can achieve here is 100Mb, though things are moving fairly quickly.

Many moons ago, I was told that personal internet connections in the US were cheap, reliable and lightning fast (T1 rings a bell)... though it's a very long time since I saw any information on them. Those speeds are no doubt obsolete now. What type of connections are available to the consumer and business markets over there? Does it vary by state? What kind of costs are associated with them?

I suppose I need some reassurance that I will still be able to use all the services I use at the moment and won't be annoyed by content restrictions or unreliable connections?
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Old Jul 6th 2012, 5:25 pm
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Default Re: Internet Access / Providers in the US

Really depends on the area. Typically cable or something like Verizon FiOS are fastest, assuming you have a decent local operator. Here in San Diego Cox is not too bad, although we'll see what happens to my bill now that the first year is over...

Speed-wise you'd be looking at a few tens of megabits over cable and can go 100Mbps+ with FiOS. You'll pay for the higher speeds though, and some come with transfer caps although those tend to be pretty high. The real question is whether the operator has the network capacity to support those speeds at peak times or if they're overprovisioning like crazy... Once you've narrowed down the location you'll want to your homework.

FWIW, T1 would be really slow by modern standards (1.544Mbps) - my cellphone can get better peak throughput.

After the expensive slow duopoly hell that was Toronto the internet connectivity here is great!
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Old Jul 6th 2012, 5:28 pm
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Default Re: Internet Access / Providers in the US

Thanks for your reply

It's likely to be CA that I move to, but I'm not completely sure yet... haven't got that far. It will need to be somewhere with lots of tech jobs - I contract in the UK (just reading up on 1099s and W2s now), and will possibly be doing the same in the US (if possible).

So, what kind of prices are we talking for a decent connection?
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Old Jul 6th 2012, 5:37 pm
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Default Re: Internet Access / Providers in the US

I use Fios in southern California. I pay for the 25/25 (down/up) though in reality it's usually more - right now speedtest (thru wifi) shows 22/20, but I've seen 30/25. On my bill, combined with TV, it shows as $45 for the Internet component, minus $5x2 internet discounts, minus another $5 bundle discount, all three for 24 months. It's allegedly uncapped and unrestricted (ie no speed limits after X gig). I've had no problems in the 2+ months so far.

You might want to post in the Immigration & Visas section about the visa situation.
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Old Jul 6th 2012, 5:41 pm
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Default Re: Internet Access / Providers in the US

OK, thanks - that gives me a clearer idea... so it sounds pretty cheap in comparison to our prices. I pay about £60 for the 60mb connection + the best TV package.

I'm still researching the visa (and my work situation), so I'll find out a bit more before I start posting in there I think
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Old Jul 6th 2012, 5:42 pm
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Default Re: Internet Access / Providers in the US

Internet access varies widely, not only from state to state but from town to town. For example, out here in the sticks we don't have cable infrastructure, but I still find my access to be acceptable (and I work with large images and videos).
As for pricing, I think that most providers like to push their bundles, and they have always worked out cheaper for me (home phone and internet).
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Old Jul 6th 2012, 5:55 pm
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Default Re: Internet Access / Providers in the US

Originally Posted by Spikeh View Post
OK, thanks - that gives me a clearer idea... so it sounds pretty cheap in comparison to our prices. I pay about £60 for the 60mb connection + the best TV package.
Ah, but it all adds up. FiOS Extreme HD is $64.99 but then you pay for the set top boxes too, $16.99 for HD DVR rental plus multi-room DVR HD at $19.99. Add various taxes and unlisted surcharges and my bill is $140.35 this month - theoretically $155.35 without the discounts. Maybe I could buy a DVR instead of rent it to cut down the cost slightly. I didn't bother with the home phone at $15 per month as I've only potentially needed it maybe 2-3 times over the last 2+ months.

Originally Posted by Spikeh View Post
I'm still researching the visa (and my work situation), so I'll find out a bit more before I start posting in there I think
Just make sure you read the "Really, really read me" thread before posting! The visa, assuming you're not eligible to work through other means (eg being a US citizen), will be your biggest stumbling block.
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Old Jul 6th 2012, 6:36 pm
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Default Re: Internet Access / Providers in the US

OK, great stuff

We get charged for installation too, and there are additional services that I've not got, but it sounds like it might be a similar price in the long run, which (in exchange rate terms) means it's quite expensive. I expect that I would be able to get a decent job or contract, though I'm unsure of wages / rates at the moment.

We have two main providers over here - Virgin and BT. There are quite a lot of smaller providers, but most use BT's infrastructure and / or don't provider the higher speeds.

What of performance and reliability then? Say, for example, I was to move to somewhere with lots of tech companies like the SA Bay Area? Would I be more likely to get a connection that's more reliable, or does it have little bearing?
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Old Jul 6th 2012, 6:53 pm
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Default Re: Internet Access / Providers in the US

Originally Posted by Spikeh View Post
OK, great stuff

We get charged for installation too, and there are additional services that I've not got, but it sounds like it might be a similar price in the long run, which (in exchange rate terms) means it's quite expensive. I expect that I would be able to get a decent job or contract, though I'm unsure of wages / rates at the moment.

We have two main providers over here - Virgin and BT. There are quite a lot of smaller providers, but most use BT's infrastructure and / or don't provider the higher speeds.

What of performance and reliability then? Say, for example, I was to move to somewhere with lots of tech companies like the SA Bay Area? Would I be more likely to get a connection that's more reliable, or does it have little bearing?
You speak as if we have no experience of the UK... most people here are British Expats (hence the name!). I only moved 3 months ago, previously on BE Unlimited as it used LLU at the exchange, and actually delivered 13 meg compared to the 7 promised and <3 actually delivered by BT - the latter of which also throttled at peak times. I had Sky TV, mostly as there was no Virgin in my area.

As others have said, your experience will vary widely. Others will know what's available in SF Bay area and you only tend to get 1-2 options (and usually for leccy and gas there is NO choice - only one provider per area).

With respect, if you think it'll be easy to get a job/contract then you really do need to head to the immigration section first for a reality check. All of this is irrelevant if you're not even eligible for a visa. Most employment visas require sponsorship from a prospective employer and what employer would want to spend thousands of dollars and wait months for you to arrive when he can hire a local tomorrow at no cost? In addition, H1B season is over for the year which would mean an October 2013 (yes, over a year away) before you could start work with that type of visa. L1 is another popular method but I don't think that's likely if you're a self employed contractor. EB1A is self sponsored but requires significant evidence of significant past achievements in your field of expertise. Anyway, start reading about visas first.
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Old Jul 6th 2012, 7:04 pm
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Default Re: Internet Access / Providers in the US

Sorry - I was under the impression that there would be a split of american and british members here I like to be thorough, which doesn't always do me any favours No offence intended.

I understand that this is not going to be an easy task, and will likely take years to achieve. I'm patient, and willing to do as much research and form-filling as required. I know that hard work doesn't always equate to success - I'm just going to try my hardest!
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Old Jul 6th 2012, 7:52 pm
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Default Re: Internet Access / Providers in the US

Originally Posted by Spikeh View Post
OK, great stuff

We get charged for installation too, and there are additional services that I've not got, but it sounds like it might be a similar price in the long run, which (in exchange rate terms) means it's quite expensive. I expect that I would be able to get a decent job or contract, though I'm unsure of wages / rates at the moment.

We have two main providers over here - Virgin and BT. There are quite a lot of smaller providers, but most use BT's infrastructure and / or don't provider the higher speeds.

What of performance and reliability then? Say, for example, I was to move to somewhere with lots of tech companies like the SA Bay Area? Would I be more likely to get a connection that's more reliable, or does it have little bearing?
I live in the SF bay area and use comcast. Currently the standard comcast connection is reliable at 25 mb/s download and 4 mb/s upload but I live in a condo complex and was getting unreliable throughput (some times as little as 2 mb/s download) due to conflicts with others using the router on the 2.4 ghz band. Recently I upgraded to a dual band "n" type router and now consistently get the 25 mb/s download and 4 mb/s upload speed using the 5 ghz band.

The 5 ghz band has much less possibility of conflicting with other routers since it can't get very far through walls so that band is primarily confined to your apartment.

Normally comcast charges about $100 per month for internet, digital tv (several hundred channels), and phone as an introductory offer but increases to about $150 per month after a year.

Last edited by Michael; Jul 6th 2012 at 7:57 pm.
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Old Jul 6th 2012, 8:07 pm
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Default Re: Internet Access / Providers in the US

Originally Posted by Michael View Post
I live in the SF bay area and use comcast.
I am not in SF but north in WA.
Use Comcast at around $ 70 a month for internet, had it over 2 years so discounts have gone.
monthly use limit is 250 g
speed wise I get a gig downloaded in about 10 minutes/6 gig in an hour
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Old Jul 6th 2012, 11:42 pm
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Default Re: Internet Access / Providers in the US

This really varies very locally. I live in Silicon Valley so you'd think it'd be wonderful speeds, but the truth is some areas have a very antiquated infrastructure that hasn't been updated for decades, and is not conducive to speedy internet.

Our dsl provider regularly hassles us to upgrade to the higher speed option (we get about 2.5Mbps now) and promises us it is available in our area, but when we say yes they do test after test and then say no it's not available in our area.

Cable might be available but they'd have to do a new install down our street, and I don't know how much they'd charge. The cable company also said we could get FIOS, but on talking to the next level up again they said it's not actually available here yet.

Basically it can be very slow, and sadly you can't rely on what a provider promises is the speed available to you before you actually move into a house.
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Old Jul 7th 2012, 2:02 am
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Default Re: Internet Access / Providers in the US

Originally Posted by GeoffM View Post
(and usually for leccy and gas there is NO choice - only one provider per area).
Hell, it isn't that easy! For leccy we have a choice of one provider (APS), though we live in the other provider's area (SRP). Every April SRP sends us a form to complete and return, then about 6 months later mails a check for the difference we would have paid had they (SRP) rather than APS provided our electricity. Go figure! Only in America!
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Old Jul 7th 2012, 3:45 am
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Default Re: Internet Access / Providers in the US

Local service is provided, essentially in a monopoly status with either the phone company (DSL/FIOS) or the cable company being the wires that bring you service. In some cities you'll find a few other options, but by and large your choices of the actual wires are the cable company that has a monopoly in your city and the phone company that has a monopoly in your city. You can sometimes get different providers through the local phone company's wires, but it's really not that effective.

Comcast is one of the largest cable providers (and one of the most hated). They are rolling out DOCIS 3.0 modems throughout their system which supports 130mbps down and about 25-30mpbs up. You'll see about half of that.

FIOS is fiber, though limited. You can see variations in offerings where it is available, unto about 300mpbs down I think.
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