Saturday, August 22, 2009

Why Rural Folk Feel 3.6X Angrier About Broadband, TV, and Verizon

Guest Blogger Stephen Cobb writes:

Right now it hurts to watch New York City's Channel 4 NBC news if you live just a few hours outside of New York City in the rural areas that supply the metropolis with its dairy goods and fresh produce. Why?

The NBC 4 New York sports section is sponsored by Verizon FiOS and Verizon FiOS spots are all over the show, advertising an $80 per month deal on high speed Internet, plus television and phone service. That's $80 for all three. What do you have to pay if you live outside the city? $290.

That $290 "deal" is what rural folks must pay to get service that is not even as good as FiOS at $80 or even FiOS at $160. Yet some of the fiber optic cables that make FiOS possible pass right through these rural fields and valleys. Here's how it breaks down in the many areas that phone and cable companies chose to ignore:

$80 for HughesNet satellite Internet
$75 for Verizon land line phone service
$135 for DirecTV satellite TV

Yep, it adds up to $290, about 3.6X what city cousins pay. Bear in mind that the rural dweller's $80 rate for satellite Internet only gets him, if he's very lucky, download speeds of 1.6Mbps and upload rates of maybe 128Kbps, with latency that is much worse than dialup. And daily traffic is capped at 425Mb (in other words, one hi-def movie download or operating system upgrade and you're done for the next 24 hours).

Yet the current 3-way FiOS package from Verizon, which "serves" most of these rural areas of New York state at a much lower grade, gives the subscriber phone service, plus TV service, plus broadband Internet access at 50Mbs upload, 20Mbps download. That is more than 25X what you can get in the country, with a bandwidth cap that is at least 1,000X greater than the cap on satellite. So, Verizon gives city dwellers a level of service that is massively better than what they offer their rural customers, at about a quarter of the cost rural customers have to pay.

If the situation were reverse and it was rural customers getting that deal, surely there would be riots in the streets of the city. No?

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