Image: Comcast

It’s probably a good idea to check whether a home is properly wired for internet before purchasing it. Zachary Cohn and Lauryl Zenobi, a Seattle couple, learned the hard way, having recently bought a house in the Northgate neighborhood of the city and receiving a $27,000 quote from Comcast after realizing that the home required 181 feet of underground cable line extended to it before they could get access to the company’s high-speed broadband. The quote followed months of inquiries to the cable TV and ISP provider, which allegedly failed to respond until the couple sought help from the City Councillor’s office. Cohn and Zenobi ultimately opted not to pay the fee and went with a 4G hotspot instead.

“I was just flabbergasted that a house like this, in an area like this, could possibly have never been wired for Internet,” Cohn told Ars Technica in a phone interview, noting that the house is “in the middle of Seattle” so “it didn’t even dawn on [him] that that was possible.” Lack of Internet service would be “more understandable” if he was two miles from his nearest neighbor, he added.

The Seattle Kraken hockey team’s $80 million practice facility is in the same Northgate neighborhood, about a half-mile from the house. There’s a major bus station in the area, a light rail station that recently opened nearby, and an elementary school within about a 90-second walk, Cohn said, noting that the property is “well within the Seattle city limits.”

The house, built in 1964, is also about 10 miles from both T-Mobile Park, where the Seattle Mariners play, and Lumen Field, the Seattle Seahawks stadium named after CenturyLink’s Lumen brand. T-Mobile doesn’t offer its new home Internet service at the house. CenturyLink offers Internet service at Cohn’s address—but only its ancient DSL with download speeds of up to 3Mbps and upload speeds up to 500kbps. Cable and fiber just aren’t available at the house.

Source: Ars Technica

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16 comments

  1. I've seen this happen with CenturyLink and another provider that I can't remember the name of in years past. It basically came down to around $10K per 100 feet of cabling. It's been like this for decades now.
  2. When I was home shopping in 2016 my #1 requirement was high speed internet availability. We found one house that was perfect for us. Unfortunately only DSL was available. Yet, less than 1/4 mile up the road was fiber. I got a quote of $83,000 to run fiber to the house. We didn't buy that house.
  3. Yeah my bro-in-law's house in the mountains is 200 feet shy of getting cable, and they quoted him something like 25k. He declined.
    750Ft for our house up in the mountains. Spectrum quoted us 10k for the run. Declined and now we have Starlink..
  4. Internet should be a utility.

    If you live in the right spot -- they can't get cable or fiber to your house fast enough. Live in the wrong spot, and they can't be bothered to even work up a legit quote. If it were a utility, they would have to hook you up for a reasonable and legit price.
  5. Internet should be a utility.

    If you live in the right spot -- they can't get cable or fiber to your house fast enough. Live in the wrong spot, and they can't be bothered to even work up a legit quote. If it were a utility, they would have to hook you up for a reasonable and legit price.

    You would probably end up on 56k dialup in that case
  6. You would probably end up on 56k dialup in that case
    I know that’s meant as a joke, but it’s utterly true right now. That’s all we have now since the telecom is a utility and will run a telephone line out, but since DSL isn’t regulated as a utility, they aren’t obligated to provide that. There are still 1.5 million AOL dial up users in the US, so for a lot of folks - it’s either dial up, satellite, maybe cellular depending on where they are at, and hope they can get in with Starlink sooner than later
  7. I know that’s meant as a joke, but it’s utterly true right now. That’s all we have now since the telecom is a utility and will run a telephone line out, but since DSL isn’t regulated as a utility, they aren’t obligated to provide that. There are still 1.5 million AOL dial up users in the US, so for a lot of folks - it’s either dial up, satellite, maybe cellular depending on where they are at, and hope they can get in with Starlink sooner than later

    The problem with DSL is it's distance limited. The further you are from a connecting office the lower the speed. At a certain distance and beyond they simply can't offer it. We're talking a few miles at the most. So, yeah, depending on how far away you are dialup would probably be faster than whatever DSL they could provide.
  8. I know that’s meant as a joke, but it’s utterly true right now. That’s all we have now since the telecom is a utility and will run a telephone line out, but since DSL isn’t regulated as a utility, they aren’t obligated to provide that. There are still 1.5 million AOL dial up users in the US, so for a lot of folks - it’s either dial up, satellite, maybe cellular depending on where they are at, and hope they can get in with Starlink sooner than later
    I remember around 15 years ago living in a rural area, paying for AOL 56K on dialup, and was lucky if I saw above 5K on most days. After close to 10 years the local telecom did some upgrades and then my speeds boosted to around 20 Mbps. It was like a new day.

    The problem with DSL is it's distance limited. The further you are from a connecting office the lower the speed. At a certain distance and beyond they simply can't offer it. We're talking a few miles at the most. So, yeah, depending on how far away you are dialup would probably be faster than whatever DSL they could provide.
    I always laugh when someone mentions broadband or highspeed internet and then I inform them those terms are loosely used with little bearing on real-world numbers. One of our offices used to be at a location with DSL that was cobbled together through bundled copper and it was rated at 1.5 Mbps. It was claimed to be high-speed. There was a fiasco with CL claiming it had fiber in the building which we and their own techs had to disprove. Turned out their database was reporting on businesses on the other side of the street. The nearest CO was around 3 miles away. It took CL the better part of 6 months to admit to that but it said it would've happily charged us thousands to trench it across the street.
  9. The problem with DSL is it's distance limited. The further you are from a connecting office the lower the speed. At a certain distance and beyond they simply can't offer it. We're talking a few miles at the most. So, yeah, depending on how far away you are dialup would probably be faster than whatever DSL they could provide.
    See, I would totally agree with you, up until about 15 years ago, that it wasn't feasible for telecoms to run DSL out to every home because of this.

    But now, fiber is common, and not many places will install new copper when they lay new line... and while not every telecom has replaced all their copper with fiber, it's definitely heading in that direction.

    And even in places where they do still have legacy copper, they can run fiber to remote DSLAMs to get copper DSLs -- that's what they have done in our area, while they slowly go back along those lines and start offering fiber to folks that they can. DSL still sucks, but the 4-12Mb (depending on your distance) is still better than dialup.

    So yeah - the tech has been there forever, it's just that Internet isn't a utility, so the telecoms (and cable companies) only roll it out where there is significant profit margin -- whereas a utility has to roll it out everywhere, but gets to recoup their losses at a fixed margin.

    Companies would rather take the higher margins and not have the pain in the *** factor of having to provide access and be on the clock to repair interruptions: utilities have to restore service expeditiously, whereas when you aren't regulated you get those famous 2-3 week repair times, and tech support just telling you to reboot your modem over and over.

    We just want to stick our fingers in our ears here in the US and pretend that free market is serving us well, all the while the deck is stacked in favor of the large companies that can manipulate the rules to their advantage. The ISPs have effective monopolies, but without any of the regulation or requirements that a utility would have to abide by. If you could actually have a free market, it might work, but that isn't what we have in the US - we have the worst of all worlds right now.
  10. It's something everywhere, I live in Belgium, and a basic internet broadband package is on average 60.28€/month, France is 34.99€, Germany 43.30€ and the netherlands 46.83€ so all of our neighbours are a lot cheaper
  11. It's something everywhere, I live in Belgium, and a basic internet broadband package is on average 60.28€/month, France is 34.99€, Germany 43.30€ and the netherlands 46.83€ so all of our neighbours are a lot cheaper
    Thanks for the input!

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