Basically Every ISP Is Trying to Scare You Into Paying for Internet You Don't Need

Illustration for article titled Basically Every ISP Is Trying to Scare You Into Paying for Internet You Dont Need

You thought AT&T was screwing unsuspecting customers into paying obscene bandwidth bills with ridiculous claims of stuff you can't do? Time Warner says you can't have 3 people on the internet without at least 15Mbps. Oh, it gets worse.

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Illustration for article titled Basically Every ISP Is Trying to Scare You Into Paying for Internet You Dont Need
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According to Time Warner, unless you have at least 7Mbps internet, you can't download music, or even "Windows Media Player software." And you need their most expensive plan for "Super Fast Shopping Concert Tickets & Online Auctions" and watching videos. No wonder I couldn't snag Momofuku Ko reservations when I still had Time Warner!

Illustration for article titled Basically Every ISP Is Trying to Scare You Into Paying for Internet You Dont Need

And then there's Cox. By being vague, they're a little less bad, but still perpetuating the idea you can't share photos or download music without at least a 10Mbps connection. And WTF is PowerBoost? (DOCSIS 3.0?) Update: Okay, it's not some marketing name for DOCSIS 3.0, but a tech Cox licenses from Comcast to give a little extra bandwidth for part of a download, if the tubes are clear.

Illustration for article titled Basically Every ISP Is Trying to Scare You Into Paying for Internet You Dont Need
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Verizon is the least offensive here—while they still say you need at 7.1Mbps for streaming video, their other claims aren't totally unreasonable, and just below the chart they give you access to what the bandwidth translates to in real-world experience at each tier, like that a 50MB album would take over 6 minutes to download with their 1Mbps connection, so you see what you're paying for.

Illustration for article titled Basically Every ISP Is Trying to Scare You Into Paying for Internet You Dont Need
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Here's AT&T's ridiculous chart again, which says you need at least 3Mbps to use Facebook, and at least 18Mbps to download movies.

Comcast doesn't merit going into the wall of shame, surprisingly, since they just show you how fast stuff downloads at different (theoretical) speeds, so there's no real fear-mongering involved.

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The bottom line is that you have to know your own internet habits and what kind of speed you really need—don't let your prospective ISP scare you into you paying for more bandwidth you'd actually use. Personally, I'm pretty comfortable with around 20Mbps down, and 10 up. But six is definitely tolerable, and I'd wager for most people, unless you've got a bunch of people watching Netflix and downloading music and playing games all at once (like me).

Image via YsteJam Photography/Flickr

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DISCUSSION

bennygesserit
Benny Gesserit

Rogers Internet - up here in the frozen north - has semi-metered internet. My plan gives me 60Gb of traffic for the month - run over that amount and it's $2 a Gb. Meh. I monitor usage using a tool they supply and I'm yet to exceed my limit.

The last couple of months I keep getting calls from marketing drones trying to sell the next package. Typically, it goes like this:

Drone: Mr (Redacted), I'm calling about (next tier up) internet service. We've noticed you've come close to EXCEEDING your allocation in the last few months.

Me: Hmm, well, while we've been talking, I called up YOUR own company's usage page and in the last year and half I've never gone above 80% of my limit. Is that how you define "almost exceed"? That's like saying I ALMOST made it to NYC when I actually went to Boston now, isn't it? (OK, I use Montreal and Toronto but you get the idea.)

This is followed by awkward silences and back-paddling. If you're going to try and scare people into changing their tiers, for Zod's sake don't give them a tool that proves you're lying. Sheesh.