When you’re running a website, you need options for good, reliable and affordable internet service. Unfortunately, in central Oklahoma City, one company essentially holds a monopoly, something that is likely to continue with the recent announcement that Google Fiber won’t be launching here as hoped anytime soon.
Google Fiber, you may recall, is the mega tech company’s high-speed internet service that offers some of its base service speeds for free while delivering enhanced bandwidth for cost. In October 2015, the company announced OKC was among a list of cities for potential Google Fiber expansion.
One year later, the company confirmed to NewsOK that any plans for OKC expansion are halted at the moment. While there is hope the project can be reinvigorated at a later date, the news leaves OKC internet consumers like myself — and this website — with only one viable choice for service provider.
AT&T service falls flat
For background, I should note that I have been a Cox Communications internet customer for most of the past decade. In late 2014, I switched my internet/TV package from Cox Communications to AT&T and DirecTV because Cox’s cable boxes kept breaking on me and, of course, AT&T and DirecTV offered great pricing that would save me money.
Long story short, my experience with AT&T internet lasted less than one year and was extremely frustrating. Not only was AT&T’s vaunted U-verse service not available in my neighborhood (think between Northwest 23rd and Northwest 36th streets near Western Avenue), but the “regular” internet I purchased from them consistently underwhelmed, went out of service and caused me to spend hours upon hours calling their help desk and babysitting their technicians.
Ironically, it was ultimately AT&T’s online internet speed test feature that showed I wasn’t even getting the speed promised to me for $20 a month. In effect, technicians were routinely baffled that AT&T lines in my neighborhood could not provide me with the minimum 3 Mbps download speed promised by the plan for which I was paying. On a good day, we could tickle 2.6.
As M.E. McBee and I began working at my house to launch NonDoc, the AT&T service simply couldn’t handle two laptops sucking data from the cyberworld, prompting repeated crashes and automatic resets from the modem.
Eventually, enough was enough, and it was back to Cox Communications I went.
Cox’s monthly fees soar after discount
Doing so doubled my bill back to $40 a month, and for the past year that’s been the price. But now, the company has lifted the “special price” it was apparently offering me, bumping the new monthly total to $60.
A quick phone call asking about the situation yielded an additional $5 discount for the next six months or so, but the unexpected price jump still gouges at $55/month.
I, however, am a privileged middle-class American who can eat an extra $15 per month for internet. On the other hand, I’m also a small-business owner whose ability to keep a business afloat is affected by rising utility prices.
Suffice to say, Google Fiber would have been — and still could be — a huge boost to a community with functionally no internet options. Until such time as a company like Google can rig up a more equitable internet system, I and many others will be under the thumb of Cox Communications, unable to turn elsewhere (at least in my old neighborhood) and stuck with annual 50 percent inflation on the bill.
On the other hand, I suppose things could be worse.
Blue Cross Blue Shield just alerted me that my 2017 premium on a marketplace health insurance plan will be 450 percent higher than it was this year.
But that’s another story of corporate bondage by the short hairs.