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Feds Help You Find Your Fastest Internet Service 163

Posted by timothy
from the ok-not-good-for-nothin' dept.
jfruhlinger writes "Slashdot previously covered the National Broadband Map, designed by the US Federal government to illustrate where the 'digital divide' between those with access to high-speed Internet and those who go without. But, as blogger Ryan Faas points out, you can use it for a much more individualistic purpose: to find your fastest local wired or wireless ISP. Just plug in your name and address and you'll soon see what your options are."
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Feds Help You Find Your Fastest Internet Service

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  • Obligatority (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Yvan256 (722131)

    We've upped our security, now up yours!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Yvan256 (722131)

      Obligatory, not obligatority. Maybe if obligatory and authority had a child...

      • by Yvan256 (722131)

        ... and that was supposed to be a reply to "New Internal Cavity X-ray Technology for Airports", not "Feds Help You Find Your Fastest Internet Service". /sigh

      • Obligatory South Park Carmen :-)

        Ra-spect ma au-thor-it-tay !

    • Re:Obligatority (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday February 24, 2011 @05:01PM (#35306118) Journal

      Sadly this thing isn't even worth joking about, it is a 200 million dollar lie that is so full of shit its eyes are brown. Plugged in my mom's address (I've been fighting for a decade to get something better than dialup for her) and it said I had FOUR count them four choices, two of which don't even operate in this area, one which told us point blank if you are even a single block out of the city limits to piss off, and the fourth refuses to run a single inch unless you give them 300% of the costs of the line upfront to ensure their incredible ass raping profits. Oh and they also have a WISP listed that we actually tried and is lucky if it works four hours a night and have worse TOS than Hughesnet.

      So yeah, if you are using this thing for anything more than a laugh you are just wasting your time the way the government wasted your money on this fairy tale. So far I've plugged in a dozen addresses and not a single one was close to reality and both the speeds and carriers available were complete bullshit.

      • I'm not sure of the current rules, but the older ones said that if an ISP offered broadband in a single home for a zipcode, that zipcode was considered broadband ready.
      • by Dahamma (304068)

        Hah, it told me Comcast had up to 1Gbps service available in my neighborhood. Riiiight...

      • by Cinder6 (894572)

        I have the opposite experience. It says all the advertised stuff is between 768Kbps and 3Mbps. Well, I've got a 6Mbps line... (I'm usually hovering around 5Mbps in actual usage.) A nearby city has faster Internet, yet still shows the same info.

        So, yeah, worthless.

      • by guruevi (827432)

        The thing actually returns the correct data for me, I mean the corrected data, the data the ISP's marketing campaigns say you can get here. According to the site I have the choice between 2 providers (which is correct): 6-10Mbps and 10Mbps-25Mbps.

        Here is what the providers have to say about their product:

        The 6-10Mbps provider:

        High-Speed Internet provides - 44.99 *:
        Speeds up to 3 Mbps

        High-Speed Internet Lite – 768K - 25.99 *:
        While not as fast, High-Speed Internet Lite still provides downloads up to 8 t

      • But they have your address now
        isn't that what they really wanted ?
      • I think the big disclaimer is "Advertised Speeds". Yes, at my address QWest advertises 25-50 Mbps, they advertise fiber optic connections, and Comcast also provides similar advertisements. But when you check availability I'm out of luck.

        Unfortunately, as both you and I know, advertised != available.

        I get a reliable ~6 Mbps down but I am only provided ~740Kbps up. The down speed meets the expectations of the 1996 telecommunications act that gave many concessions to telecoms with the expectation of investing

      • by IICV (652597)

        Well you know what - if policy makers are making decisions based on this data, maybe that's why our telecom infrastructure is so fucked up? I mean, if they think you have four ISPs available but you really don't, then clearly they would think that there is healthy service in your area when there really isn't.

        Maybe we should start up a crowdsourced version of this, with an eye towards providing more accurate data?

      • Do you wonder why no one wants to invest in providing you broadband? If anyone risked the investment, wading through the vast sewer of regulatory red tape and expense and risking all sorts of new ex post facto restrictions after the investment was sunk and irretreivable (all for the greater good, of course), and they wanted to reap a reward for taking the risk, people like you would accuse them of being as bad as those who commit forcible sodomy. Why would anyone want to bother?
  • I'll start the betting pool now: how long before we start hearing reports of favouritism, reports of ISPs being given lower ratings because they host services the government doesn't like, and other sorts of corruption.
    /tinfoil
    • Well I don't know about that, but I wonder how many people will realize this is broadband only, and that doesn't include providers like Time Warner/Road Runner. It shows AT&T in my area (may God help you if you use them in this area) and Verizon (lower speeds that ATT according to the website) as the only choices. I switched to RR from ATT months back and hope to NEVER have to use ATT broadband ever again.
      • by basotl (808388)
        It shows Time Warner for my area (10-25 Mbps) So I am guessing you are just seeing an example of incomplete information for the map. Not that is any better.
        • by Sancho (17056) *

          In my area, it shows Verizon as providing 50mbps to 100mbps DSL. Which is false. So yes, the data could use some work.

          • by KevinKnSC (744603)

            I'm in the same position, with listed speeds much higher than any provider in the area will actually sell me. Instead of just posting about it here, though, we can help to improve the data. Since we all want faster connections, it's in our interest to notify them when a provider is reporting an area covered at a higher speed than is actually available in that area.

            Clicking the provider name will expand some details, and then mousing over the bullet next to "source" will show the agency that uploaded that da

          • by Rick17JJ (744063)

            For my address, it shows Qwest offering 6 - 10 Mbps, but the Qwest webpage shows only 1.5 Mbps being available here. I am currently connected to the Internet on a Qwest 1.5 Mbps DSL connection. The broadband map also shows Verizon and two other options being available. I am not sure if those choices and speeds are correct or not.

      • by eln (21727)
        Cable is definitely broadband, and that site shows Time Warner among the list of providers in my area. It does mention that the data is only updated every 6 months, so maybe Time Warner moved into your area less than 6 months ago? Either that or Time Warner may not be accurately reporting its coverage area to the government.
        • by AuMatar (183847)

          Cable may or may not be broadband. The new definition of broadband is based on speed. IIRC, it's 4mbps. Cable can offer that, but doesn't always.

          • >>>broadband is based on speed

            It seems odd to define bandwidth as Megabits/second rather than Megahertz. That's like saying a 200 kilohertz FM station is 200 kbit/s wide.

            The OECD defines it as 256 k.
            The FCC is 4 Mbit/s.

            • It's because people don't care what MHz the underlying technology uses, they only care about how much data they can send and receive per second.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Actually it is baseband, but the marketing folks have now ruined even more of our language.

          • by russotto (537200)

            Actually it is baseband, but the marketing folks have now ruined even more of our language.

            Neither DSL nor cable are baseband. I'm not sure if the term is meaningful with fiber.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 24, 2011 @04:04PM (#35305218)

    Checked my location, advertised speed and reality are not the same.

    Thanks but try again.

    • Agreed. advertised != actual. I hope government broadband policy isn't based on the assumption that provider advertised speeds are accurate... or honest.
    • by rwa2 (4391) *

      Played with it... simple, but not very useful. Use http://broadbandreports.com/ [broadbandreports.com]

    • What about latencies? Those can be as important or even more important than download & upload speeds. Try doing VoIP over a 300 ms latency satellite connection.
    • by CompMD (522020)

      Same here. The fastest service AT&T will provide at my address is 3Mbps DSL, but this website says they offer 10-25Mbps service.

    • I checked my addresses and they're not even close. Claims I could get FIOS out in the sticks and that Comcast offers 100-10000mbps. (Actually tops out at 50mbps in that area which is still pretty darn fast.) Claims my primary location only has 3mbps DSL and T-Mobile available when DSL is available at twice that speed and cable is available up to 20mbps along with 4G from Clear/Sprint which runs in the 8-10mbps range.

    • by jburroug (45317)

      Yeah I noticed that when they showed Comcast at the top of the heap for my area with 50-100mbps. Which is a fucking joke, I never got those speeds with them even when the connection was working...

    • I find if you move the decimal point over a few places to the left, you get an accurate understanding of what to expect. I'm listed in a 10Mbps region, and I get a very reliably disappointing 150kbps. I haven't been surprised in years at the throughput I've gotten from Comcast.

      My buddy a few streets up floored me by getting 1250kbps last night, though. It pays to live in the posh part of town, I guess.

    • by hackus (159037)

      Yeah, no surprise there.

      Check other sites the Fed has designed.

      Like unemployment. Unemployment in my area is at 6%.

      Ssssssssure it is. My highest Broadband speed is also 20Mbit.

      Rrrrrrrrrright.

      -Hackus

  • I entered my address and got back no results (apparently my 2 providers disappeared). Then I entered my city and got back three providers, Cable, DSL, and Verizon. Only Verizon doesn't really provide broadband here (except for their 3G phone coverage), and they got the max speed laughably wrong on the other two. Our DSL provider is listed as offering 10-25 Mbps service, when 3 Mbps is the fastest they actually offer here. They're closest to the mark on our cable provider, but still wrong (listing 10-25 Mbps

    • by cavtroop (859432)

      Agree. According to this, I can get FIOS. No dice. They did get the cable Co right, though.

    • by Ken Hall (40554)

      I put in mine and it shows no wired providers, only wireless. I had 8 mbps DSL four years ago from Bellsouth/AT&T, and have even faster now from Comcast.

  • Not accurate results (Score:5, Informative)

    by mschaffer (97223) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @04:09PM (#35305284)

    The National Broadband Map gives erroneous results. For example, it states that Verizon has broadband service for my address, but it doesn't.

    • It doesn't list Insight as a provider for my area, yet that's what I have and it's far faster than anything on the list.
    • by basotl (808388)
      How about Verizon Mifi? Do they offer data cell service to your area?
    • by arazor (55656)

      The National Broadband Map gives erroneous results. For example, it states that Verizon has broadband service for my address, but it doesn't.

      Same for me as well. It listed at least 6 providers for my area but in fact there are zero providers of broadband in my area.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Do you live in a cave?
        Satellite access is available near everywhere, if you have a working cell phone odds are 3G Internet service is available.

    • by antdude (79039)

      Same for my area. It doesn't show my cable ISP. Sheesh.

    • It shows Qwest's maximum bandwidth at my house as dialup, but I'm typing this on 3Mbps DSL. I could have (and have had) 8Mbps here, but that would have reduced my outbound bandwidth and I run a light-duty webserver.

    • To say it gives bad results is an understatement. I just plugged in my zipcode. The map doesn't even correctly show the area of that zip code. So that is epic fail number one. Then it lists one company AT&T that does offer service here and one I have never heard of that might actually offer service. Then it omits the local cable company that has been doing the Internet for a decade under the various names cable companies shift among and has been operating under for at least three or four years. Th

      • Ok, the unknown company listed turns out to be an alias (Cequel) for Suddenlink Cable that I had never heard of so they are listed. The wireless provider isn't though and they do offer service here. They rent ya a little WiFi router with the traditional four wired ports on the back and a cellular modem embedded in it.

    • by gravis777 (123605)

      It tells me Deutsche Telecom offers 10Mbps service in my area. Um, this is the USA here, there is no Deutsche Telecom here.

      It states AT&T offers 10Mbps in my area, but the fastest advertised speed in my area is 6. It also states that Charter's maximum speed is 10Mbps, but I have 30Mbps (their next to the top speed), and my actual speed is slightly FASTER than the advertised 30.

  • Nice to see them using OpenStreetMap!
  • YRO, RLY? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by arielCo (995647) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @04:10PM (#35305314)
    Why is this exactly in Your Rights Online? Are /.ers so afraid of entering their ZIP code anywhere?
  • Pure Bullshit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phantomcircuit (938963) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @04:13PM (#35305352) Homepage

    That site says comcast offers 1 gbps service to my house.

    • And this is what the feds used to hand out billions in stimulus dollars to the telcos. Hurray!!!
  • That service would really useful if I had more than two high speed options to pick from. But I don't. And neither does most of the United States. And if I define high speed as more than 4 Mb/s, then I have one option: Comcast, which just happens to be the most hated company in America.*

    Mid-level ISPs used to have to change everyone the same rates - it's was a rule. That got chucked in the early 2000s wave of deregulation, and immediately afterwards the big telecos gave the local ISPs impossibly high rates f

  • Who wants to bet that the popular explanation for the inaccurate information on the map is bribes? $50* to add 1MB/s to listed speed or remove .5MB/s from a competitors?

    *amounts arbitrarily chosen

  • I typed in my zip code and it showed coverage on the map, half a state away (PA). Not even close to the same place. That does me no good.
  • ...to find your fastest local wired or wireless ISP. Just plug in your name and address and you'll soon see what your options are.

    It works! I asked it for fast internet connections in my area and It told me to "go fish".

  • by wakebrdr (13565)

    Another unnecessary government program. Long live big government!

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      It would be useful, but only if it were even REMOTELY accurate. As it is, it's worse than useless (in my area it made the broadband situation sound a LOT better than it actually is).

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Honestly, this is the sort of thing the government should do. For capitalism to work you need informed actors. Where it falls short is that it is using company reported speeds rather than actual speeds for these connections.

      • It listed Verizon and AT&T (+ one other) at my location. Neither of them actually service my house. They provide service in the zip code, but not my part of it.

        It didn't list the one wireless company that does (it's a local company though, so that's somewhat forgiveable).

  • by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @04:32PM (#35305674) Journal
    The summary is wrong, but so is the site. It didn't ask for my name, the map it draws for my ZIP code is wrong, it doesn't report the proper speed for one of the providers, and actually fails to list my ISP altogether, which has been around before 6/30/2010. Pretty much what I expected.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Site is not encrypted, wants to know your location (firefox plugin said so) wants your name and your address and obviously knows your IP address....Seems suspicious.

  • The site claims that various providers offer speeds to my house that are about 3 times what they actually offer, and about 4-5 times what they actually deliver. If this site is based on voluntary reporting by carrier, they are lying. If it's based on anything else, I'd really like to know where all the bad data is coming from.

  • I have been bitching for a long time about the "competition" in the market is a race to the bottom rather than a race to the top. What I mean by this is that various providers, not only ISPs but wireless carriers of voice and data alike, are scaling the quality and quantity of the services provided in order to lower their costs. They are all playing a balancing act to see how bad their service can get before they lose too many income providing customers. And as one major player offers less, the others fe

  • Feds Help You Find Your Fastest Advertised Internet Service

    ...there, I fixed that for you. That's not even right though. I'm in Verizon country but there's no FIOS in my whole county, yet they list FIOS speeds. Looks pretty useless to me.

    db

  • I already knew this much though -- my torrent speeds are freakishly fast!! I see as much as 2MBps. It is rather sick compared to previous locations. But now I can see where in addition to my provider, there is Verizon (which I hate and will never willingly be a customer) and some wireless carriers delivering respectable speeds as well.

    It is really good to know what my options are at any give time. It is also excellent to know what my options are when I am planning to move. Turns out I may be moving in

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      Uh, if you're not just being sarcastic there, you might want to actually verify those results before you move. This thing is not very accurate (it *greatly* exaggerated what was available in my area).

      • by erroneus (253617)

        Excellent advice! I'll have to knock on some doors with my laptop and ask if I can do a bandwidth test. :) Failing that, I'll scan for unsecured wireless to get a rough sample. ;)

        Anyway, fair enough to say "your mileage may vary."

  • Sure I could pay for 60Mbps, but 10 is all I need.
  • If you hit the Expand All link, you'll see details for each provider in your chosen area. Over to the left, there are links where you can up/downvote the info for each provider.

    For my area, the providers were correct, but the speeds listed were for their fastest and most expensive service options - 100 Mbps for Verizon FIOS and Comcast DOCSIS 3, when the service most people choose is 10 Mbps or so.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      All I see is a "Confirm this provider serves here: y/n" choice. I don't see any option for "The speed reported is way more than what is actually offered in this area" or any way to correct this.

  • If you look at mine, the local T1 provider is ranked "equal" to AT&T, and the local Cable Co (which is the best (non-business) option) isn't listed at all. And AT&T is only listed as a "Wireless" provider, which isn't true. And Verizon's Wireless is reported at 3-6mbps, which it's not, since we're still in the mobile dark ages.

    And AT&T is completely full of shit. They claim to offer "up to" 3mbs, but you never get more than 1.5. Doesn't matter where in town.

    If I wanted to read the press releases

  • I entered my office building into it. It's the most connected building in Manhattan, but according to the site, nothing greater than 25Mbps is available.

  • ...get the entire area around my neighborhood listed as having 10mbps-25mbps speeds when they have repeatedly informed me that there is no possible option above 1.5mbps download in my area... Hmmm... Did the government just grab this data from their marketing info? LOL...

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @05:14PM (#35306334) Homepage

    Using my address, I see 6 ISPs offering >3Mbps service. All of that is completely wrong.

    1) Verizon: 50 - 100Mbps.
    When I tried to get Verizon DSL, they told me it wasn't supported in my area. The reality is it is a lower middle class area and many people on my street can't afford internet access. So they probably could provide it, but don't bother.
    2) Cavalier Telephone: 50 - 100Mbps
    Ironically, they use Verizon's lines. Their service was so bad it was getting to be less than the 384Mbps they claimed it was. I canceled a few years ago.
    3) Clearwire: 10 - 25Mbps
    This is a wireless provider, and I don't even think it can theoretically reach those kinds of speeds. I stopped by one of their booths at the mall and they can actually tell you the signal-to-noise ratio for a given address and they told me that service probably wouldn't work here. That is believable, since I don't get cell service at my house either.
    4) Comcast: 50 - 100Mbps
    I signed-up for Comcast business class internet and they called me and apologized and said their lines couldn't handle anything more than their low-end 3Mbps service. But it sure beat Cavalier Telephone so I went with it. But even at their "turbo-boost" they still only claim 12, so what the heck is with 50 - 100?
    5, 6) T-mobile claiming 6 - 10 Mbps (wirelessly? I don't think so...) and Covad claiming 3 - 6 Mbps.
    Perhaps I should switch to Covad for being the only one to make an honest claim.

  • This map isn't much help when every major market I've ever lived in has effectively had a broadband duopoly of abusive phone provider vs. abusive cable provider.
  • by InvisiBill (706958) <slashdot AT invisibill DOT net> on Thursday February 24, 2011 @05:55PM (#35306870) Homepage
    http://www.broadbandmap.gov/faq#ms4 [broadbandmap.gov]

    What can I do if I think that the information about my address is incorrect?
    If you see information that you believe is incorrect, please let us know [broadbandmap.gov]. You can let us know if you believe the provider is not available at that location. Please remember that the search results show information about the census block or road segment. Generally, if broadband is available within part of a census block or road segment, it is available across all of that area, but not always.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @06:02PM (#35306954) Journal

    Do the great unwashed masses really need to eck out that last 500KB/sec from their ISP? Does it really matter that "naughty farm animals" loads in 1/8 of a second instead of 1/4 of a second?

    I know, Netflix, Hulu and more recently Amazon have finally made movies on demand practical, but past about 10 Mb/sec does speed really matter?

    I recently called my ISP and asked to be reduced to the slowest speed they offer -- 15 Mb/sec -- to save money and because even as a geek doing geeky things, I still wasn't using a sizable fraction of the bandwidth (25 Mb/sec) I had before. And guess what -- the Roku box, and Netflix plugin for Media Center, continued to function just fine.

    This doesn't stop the local competitor (who will remain nameless but starts with a C) from coming to my door twice a month with promises of blazing speed if I'd only switch to them. I try to explain that I really don't need that kind of speed, and they look at me like I had said I really don't breathe very much.

    I suspect a lot of this "get the screamingist bandwidth you can afford!" is just marketing to consumers that don't understand what bandwidth buys you. (And doesn't buy you.)

  • So I go and input my address, it shows the options available- I have T-Mo for personal and Verizon for biz. The map thing told me 6-10 mg T-Mo -- what a crock. I get edge when I can even get a signal. for Verizon it was even worse. I have zero-NO SIGNAL and it told me I could get Broadband speeds! laughable at best. I lose my Verizon signal 2 miles from home every day coming home from work.
  • We're between two big State Agency buildings and have some high density residential around us on surrounding blocks. One thing I notice is that the plans are sort of a mix between business of residential use.

    Comcast says 100Mb - 1Gps - this field should obviously be labeled "100Mb or greater" - Comcast actually does offer business class DOCSIS 3.0 plans - but only the 50/10 plan for residential according to its website address drilldown. Moving over to their business class site address drilldown - NO cabl

  • It fails to list my provider while erroneously showing one that does not serve my area.

  • by Cowclops (630818) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @10:35PM (#35309028)

    I apparently already have the fastest internet service I can get... RR turbo at 15/1. I only signed up for it because it was advertised as 15/2 right on the site where I upgraded my service. After about 2 weeks of trying to explain to various people in the company that the service is advertised as 15/2 so I expect 2 mbit uploads, the best they could do was credit my account for free turbo for 6 months and absolutely could not offer me the service advertised. Sounds like bait and switch to me. Even made a youtube video about it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIatnz01XaY [youtube.com]

    To add insult to injury, what I really wanted was RR extreme (Their 30/5 docsis 3 service) but even though its been on and off the ordering page on their web site, every time I try to order it my order gets cancelled because its not yet available right at my house. Never mind that Comcast, for as crappy as they are for other reasons, have like 95% of their nation wide service area covered with docsis 3 already and have for like 2 years.

      If they'd get off their asses and actually make docsis 3 work, I wouldn't have had to deal with the bait-and-switch 2mbit/1mbit RR turbo shennigans.

    Somebody should just sue them over this shit. Even if its not illegal to drag your feet on upgrading your customer's service, it IS illegal to offer a level of service at a certain price, and then refuse to honor the offer later. Credit or not.

  • Wrong in every city I know about. Massive FAIL. It even tells me the service I am using currently to post this doesn't exist.
  • Too bad the data is bogus. It claims that AT&T is offering 10-25meg down aDSL in my area. The most they7 are offering is 6, and that runs at less than 4.5 meg. I'm pretty sure that the cable company (Time Warner) doesn't deliver the stated 10-25 either, have not found a user around here that gets more than 8, usually less. And I can't find any links to allow one to report bad data. What a waste of tax dollars.

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