Those who have heard my recommendations for Internet service often look at me incredulously. People so universally aim hatred at cable companies, they cannot believe I would insist Charter's service is superior to that of AT&T U-Verse. While I've worked with enough installations of the two services to say that Charter's Internet service is almost universally faster and frequently cheaper, many people hate the cable company so much, they insist otherwise. That's why a new ranking chart from Netflix is so interesting.
Netflix does a lot more to stress network connections than almost anybody else as they send “over 1 billion hours” of programming to members per month. The incredible amount of data they send out also gives them a great deal of data about how well different ISPs work around the country. In those rankings, only the two major consumer fiber services (Verizon FiOS and Google Fiber) beat out Comcast and Charter in the performance race, while AT&T U-Verse ranks at a dismal 11th place and AT&T's regular DSL is even lower at the 15th spot.
This isn't surprising from a technological standpoint. Unlike fellow Bell alum Verizon, AT&T opted to save money on its next generation offering by not running fiber to individual homes, instead using traditional copper phone wiring. The same copper wiring that has been around since Alexander Graham Bell. Traditional telephone wiring is definitely showing its age and while AT&T finds itself trying to squeeze every last ounce of capacity out of those aging lines, fiber and cable providers actually have a glut of capacity that should be able to maintain speed increases for years to come.
An example might suffice: Charter's “PowerBoost” allows customers to periodically “burst” at faster speeds than what one is paying for — it isn't unusual for me to see a Charter connection hit 10Mbps faster than its advertised rate, for example. AT&T on the other hand almost never actually achieves its advertised speeds and, even if it did, its fastest package (24Mbps) is 20% slower than Charter's more affordable, standard 30Mbps package.
Food for thought next time you shop for a new Internet package.