Supporting the Wrong Internet Providers
My college town was a perfect example of a healthy internet environment in the US. The town was moderately sized but with enough fluctuating college attendees coming into the internet market to promote competition and reasonable prices. For the two years I lived off campus I paid $25 a month for 15mbps (with a minor student discount) which I felt was reasonable for the speeds and service I received. There were few outages and occasional speed issues that usually resolved themselves quickly. Prices were not hiked, service was never dropped, and customer service was efficient and polite. As a child of the information age (I was emailing before I knew cursive) I frustrate quickly if my access was interrupted so I always budget to pay enough to forgo consistent problems. Once I graduated and moved out on my own I still planned to do that, but I never realized how difficult it could be.
My new town’s local establishment offered 14mbps for the low low price of $59.95. I was horrified and immediately angry. My work requires that I have home access and to my disgust the cheaper option was Comcast, who are notorious for their poor customer service and outrageous surprise fees. I begrudgingly went the cheaper route and have regretted it ever since.
Now that an actual discussion is taking place about making internet a utility I’ve realized that I should have been willing to sacrifice a little money to support a provider that I respect. I use the internet every day for work, communication, and my various creative pursuits. I fully support it being viewed as a necessary utility instead of a wild monopoly that a lucky few have dominated as Dan Newlin noted.