“Low resolution ghost mode is where your video quality drops down to save bandwidth. The resulting effect transforms once proud basketball players into a slurry of mush, as their video molecules are systematically destroyed.”
Last night, I was trying to watch a basketball game on my Hulu through my Business class Comcast line, which promises 20 meg down and 4 meg up. Not only was my Hulu feed breaking up periodically, but my Drop Cam was going up and down constantly, and sending me emails that it was offline. I checked my bandwidth through my NetEqualizer to find that I was not even pulling 6 megabits, less than 1/3 my contracted rate. When Hulu was not locking up completely, it was dropping down into low resolution ghost mode. I have documented my Comcast findings before through various experiments. Clearly, Comcast has upstream congestion issues or is shaping selected video traffic. Either way I am at their mercy when trying to watch video on the Internet.
What options does one have for alternative Internet service in the Denver Metro area, or for that matter other Metro Areas around the country?
Option #1 Get Closer to the Source
Beam Internet directly via Microwave Link from a hot building. A friend of mine runs an ISP that does essentially this. He buys large bulk bandwidth and from a point of presence rooftop downtown, he can beam internet via point-to-point circuit, directly to your residence or building. I called him out of desperation but I am not in line of sight for any of his services.
Option #2 Century Link
They constantly run commercials touting they are better than Comcast. I call them perhaps once a year or so, only to find out that my neighborhood is not wired for their high speed service.
Option #3 Use my unlimited T-Mobile as a Hot Spot
Believe it or not, I actually did this for a while, and the video service was a bit better than Comcast. The problem with this solution is that T-Mobile will drop your speeds down once you have consumed 24 Gigabytes in a month, and it will become useless for anything other than email. (24 Gigabytes would be approximately 4 full length movies).
Option #4 Move
The city just to the North of me , Longmont, put in it’s own fiber ring to the curb. Early reports are that it works great, and that the residents love it. Since it is essentially a public utility, there are no shaping games destroying your Hulu. If you contract for 20 megabits, you get 20 megabits. And now the city of Boulder is considering doing the same.
With two nearby cities essentially kicking out their entrenched providers within a few miles of my home, I can see other municipalities quickly following suit. Having good quality, affordable municipal Internet service is not just a luxury for a city, it is essential for economic development. As I can attest, it will be a factor in where I choose to live the next time I move. I will not put myself at the mercy of Comcast again.
By Art Reisman