Thursday 08 December 2005
Sprint DSL Still Sucks
I finally got a resolution of my DSL speed problem today: it turns out that despite being sold to me as 5mbps inbound/3mpbs outbound, and despite that speed having been confirmed by four different Sprint people as I called to try to track down what was wrong, Sprint doesn’t actually offer 5mb/3mb service; it’s 5mbps inbound and 640 kbps outbound.
After long searching, I finally found a list of the speeds they offer on their website:
Though I must admit that it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence to see them talk about ‘three speed options’ and then list four options.
5 mpbs inbound is nice, but the real problem I have is that 640 kpbs outbound is totally inadequate. Sprint doesn’t offer anything faster than this though, because… well, because they don’t. Presumably they want to protect their much, much more expensive frame-relay options like T-1 lines and the line.
It’s not just Sprint, though. I say they ‘suck’ in the headline there, but in fact my experience with them has been far, far better than any other technological customer service experience I’ve had lately. Through this whole process, only one person at Sprint started down the path of blaming my computer for the problem; everyone else actually listened to what I said, and didn’t insist that I follow the pointless script.
The problem is with the whole residential and small-business network-service market. We’re seen as consumers, not producers, of data. This is probably true of most residential and small-business network customers, but it’s grating that there aren’t even any practical options for people who need something different.
What is this costing us? What’s the cost to society and to the economy of having a market for Internet connectivity that has a giant hole in it between the low-speed, highly-asymmetrical toy products of DSL and ISDN and the very expensive (and usually symmetric) ‘enterprise-class’ service?
He specifically points out the fact the off-site backup — which is to say easy, no-brainer backup — services are essentially a non-starter without high-speed upstream service. I’m also forced to keep a lot of data on my laptop — movies, music, etc. — that would really be best left in the basement here, because if I find myself in need of that data when I’m not in the house, it’s not really practical to push it all up the soda-straw pipe that Sprint is willing to sell me.
But that’s not all. These policies that say that we are all mere consumers of information, and not producers, means that it’s harder than it should be for individuals to offer their information to the world. If you want to offer movies, music, or even just text in large quantities, you have to contract with someone for web-hosting services — there’s a special hurdle you have to jump to put yourself in the ‘producer’ class, rather than the ‘consumer’ class.
I’m normally not one to jump on this particular bandwagon, since it seems to require a view of the world that holds that social mobility is next to impossible. In this case, though, that’s nearly correct.
Imagine a car dealer with four cars for sale:
If you can see that there appears to be a gap in the market between the 1983 Honda and the gold-plated Ferrari, pat yourself on the back: you are smarter than the people who run the telecommunications industry. Which is, admittedly, faint praise. I cannot be the only person out there who needs to move large chunks of data around quickly, but who cannot justify paying thousands of dollars a month (i.e. many multiples of what I’m currently paying) to do it.Posted by tino at 12:36 8.12.05