Faster network speed, or your money back

Faster network speed, or your money back

British Telecom is the major network carrier in Great Britain and it has a service that will come out and fine-tune your computer’s connection in order to squeeze out a faster speed for you.
For a fee of about $160, they will come out and set up a connection that they guarantee will give you 0.5 Mbps more than what you have or your money back. They seem to be pretty confident about their services.
We have network services, but no guarantees of speed.
Oh wait. We do have guarantees of speed, but the tariffs for dial-up lines have never been updated. So the guaranteed speeds are so slow, you would never get any money back. The last time I looked, guaranteed data speed on a dial-up line was 4,800 bits per second. That’s 4.8 Kbps, which was considered a decent speed in 1979.
We talk about upgrading our network infrastructure in the United States, but we do not seem to be pushing as much as we should. Shouldn’t we have raised the bar a long time ago?
Instead of “discovering the Internet” with Bill Curtis, maybe the phone companies’ commercials need to “discover speed” and how to sell it to customers.
The Sham-Wow of network services
If you have ever seen the commercial of Sham-Wow, the “miracle towel,” you know the hype of that commercial and its claims. It also seems to peak your interest into buying some towels.
Maybe this is what some of the network carriers need to do in order to get more people attracted to their network services. Marketing new network services was never a strong suit of the phone companies and maybe they need to get some tips from BT as well as the Sham-Wow guy.
To those that would argue that the phone companies really have great marketing, how many of you bought ISDN in the late 1980s for your houses years ago? Projections for ISDN by “all the experts” were that most Fortune 500 companies would have it in by the late 1980s and all residences would have it in by the early 1990s. Never happened.
Maybe network carriers like AT&T and Qwest need to show some definitive examples of how they can move information faster instead of trying to protect their stagecoach-era copper networks. Just like soaking up water with a “miracle towel”, the network carriers need to show what high speeds can do for people downloading large files and videos.
Fighting utopia and providing less
Qwest was cited for restricting competition and trying to keep consumers locked into slow speeds delivered by their copper-based networks. An article followed-up by many comments shows the lack of motivation for Qwest to offer something competitive and instead, it roadblocks progress with lawsuits and requests for restrictions while claiming they are protecting the consumer.
When you look at the comparisons in the charts, Qwest comes up short – and expensive.

QWEST 12Mbps/ 0.896Mbps $46.95 PLUS*
MSTAR 15Mbps/15Mbps $39.95

The comparison gets even more one-sided when you compare higher-speed services:

QWEST 20Mbps/ 0.896Mbps $100 PLUS*
MSTAR 50Mbps/50Mbps $59.95

* PLUS – Bundle a $30 a month Voice package and sign two-year contract
Qwest executive Jerry Fenn claims, “Why provide a Rolls-Royce when a Chevrolet will do?” I will quickly point out that a Rolls is about 10 times the cost of a loaded Chevrolet and provides a lot more.
Using his own analogy, the price of Qwest should then be one tenth of the competition. Based on his executive expertise and perception of the market, we should be seeing Qwest service prices immediately drop down to this:

QWEST 20Mbps/ 0.896Mbps $5.95 AND NO EXTRA CHARGES
MSTAR 50Mbps/50Mbps $59.95

The Qwest monthly cost is one-tenth the price but the MSTAR upstream speed is 50 times faster than Qwest upstream speed. That’s well beyond a Rolls-Royce comparison, Mr. Fenn.
Where do they get these executives? Let’s see Fenn put his network services where his mouth is – $5.95 a month. No ups, no extras. That might be a fairer price for services that do not compare in speed as well as symmetrical upstream speeds.
Gimmick for customers?
Should we also have the same “money back deals” here in the United States? We have different tiers of network services we can buy, but do we have any real money back guarantees if you do not get what you are paying for?
There are several speed tests you can use to measure what you are getting as to connection speed.
The incumbent phone companies have failed to get out of their tired strategy of “we will sell no technology, before WE think it’s time.” Instead of spending tens of millions of dollars on lobbyists and lawsuits to impede other alternative carriers’ progress and protect their stagecoach-era copper infrastructure, they should pour more money into network upgrades and provide speeds which keep us in a competitive edge, instead of a non-competitive rut.
CARLINI-ISM : There needs to be real competition to get network speeds up and costs down in the United States.

James Carlini is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University, and is president of Carlini & Associates. He can be reached at or 773-370-1888. Check out his blog at Carlinis
This article previously appeared in, and was reprinted with its permission.
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