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DSL speed drops drastically in peak hours - and the ISP admits it!


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I live in a rural area on the outskirts of a small town. Although the folks closer to town have Time Warner cable Internet service available to them, the only ISP that serves my neighborhood is Fairpoint Communications, which bought out Verizon's system several years ago. As such, I continue to subscribe to the 3mbps down / 768kbps up ADSL that Verizon originally provided with excellent reliability, but which Fairpoint has provided with steadily declining reliability over the last 3 or 4 years. Although during normal work and school hours, I can depend on 2.9mbps/768kbps performance, download speeds start dropping at the time kids get home from school, drop even further as people get home from work, and bottom out around 6:30PM, with download speeds typically being 200kbps or less, often dropping to where a speed test will not complete, while upload speeds remain normal.

 

I've spent hours on the phone with Fairpoint, wading through all the typical B.S. excuses "The Internet isn't designed for high speed traffic like Netflix or online gaming" (except during off-peak hours?); "Your computer probably needs to be replaced with a newer one" (but only during peak hours?); "The wiring inside your house must be bad" (but only during peak hours?); - and so on.

 

I learned early on not to call the DSL tech support line, as they are instructed to tell me that my line isn't capable of 3 mpbs service, and to cut my service back to 1.6 mbps/256kbps regardless of my objections. Obviously, that only deprived me of upload speed while doing nothing to abate the download speed loss. It took me 3 weeks of working my way through the strata of Fairpoint management to find someone who would order the original service restored - and she warned me that if I complained to tech support again, the same thing would happen and she wouldn't rectify it again.

 

Eventually I spoke to a manager in another state who admitted that they had sold service to many more customers than the DSLAM in questions was provisioned to serve during peak usage hours; that their limited budget for system upgrades was reserved for areas that were populous enough as to be worth spending the money on; and that, since they were not legally mandated to provide any particular quality of DSL service - unlike voice service, which he admitted had to conform to very specific standards - there was no way I could expect them EVER to upgrade service in my area! I responded that he was describing intentionally terrible customer service and was told "If you don't like it, drop it and get something else." I told him that there were no other alternatives here, to which he smugly replied "I know!"

 

So here I am, paying $39.95 a month for a connection I frequently can't even download my email in less than several minutes, with my ISP telling me to like it or lump it, Time Warner indicating they will never extend their service another 3 miles to reach my neighborhood, and the only nearby wireless provider being unreceivable here.

 

Bringing this to the attention of my State and Federal Senators only results in them tasking an aide with writing to Fairpoint to ask them to help me. Of course, if they were willing to help, they'd have helped already!

 

So: short of going into business as an ISP and providing service to myself, what is a victim of such "DSL service" supposed to do to get the service he's paying for? Does anyone know any way of bringing pressure to bear on an ISP giving such terrible DSL service?

 

 

 

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You should check to see if there are any LoS or similar radio ISPs piggybacking off of TWC's internet to extend it out to the rural areas. Theres a couple companies that do that here and I have heard good things about them. Mostly I have heard the bandwidth is good but latency is high, (ie. 20mb up/down, 100+ ms)... That seems like it would suffice for you. See if you can find a company like this around you! It can be difficult as they do not advertise and don't have many customers.

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Unfortunately, one of my main desires is to play World of Warcraft, so high-latency connections are not workable, let alone typically being more expensive than I'm comfortable paying.

 

I'm pretty much stuck unless someday DSL gets regulated as a tariffed service and providers are required to meet reasonable standards of service. Of course, at that point, I imagine many providers will drop DSL from their offerings.

 

I recently was able to watch a movie on Netflix in 720 resolution and without any buffering - between 3:45 and 5:30 AM. Not a solution, but it proves my connection is capable of proper performance when the provisioned bandwidth capacity is not being exceeded.

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