The Internet Year of How Much

  • Posted on: 21 December 2022
  • By: woadmin

Consumer Reports recently reported that 84% of their members in March 2022, agreed that Internet service is “as important as water or electricity.” National surveys mirror those numbers with the latest number there being an April 2020 survey showing 80% of all surveyed consumers saying the same thing.

With the importance of Internet services clearly established in most people’s minds, the two questions that beg for answers are how much should you pay for your Internet connectivity and how much Internet should you get for that money.

Consumer reports also published a study on November 17, 2022. It was based on the analysis of 22,000 Internet services bills. They found that “the median cost of high-speed Internet service was $74.99 with nearly half of households paying prices between $60 and $90 per month.”

They also found that it was hard for people who bundled services to actually tell what they are paying because many companies would rather you not know exactly what you are paying so you cannot comparison shop. All this comes at time when the FCC is planning to require what have been called Broadband Nutrition Labels so that you clearly understand what you are getting.

At WideOpen, we are ready for the labels. We already have very clear, easy-to-understand pricing. You will find our pricing displayed on our homepage. On that page along with our pricing are the speeds which will be delivered to your router through our fiber. To find pricing and speeds on the first page is actually fairly rare in the world of Internet pricing.

As part of my job at WideOpen, I also help other communities understand the broadband challenges that they face. One of the first things we deliver to them is a service provider report which details the pricing and speeds available by zip code by provider. I would estimate that less than one in ten Internet service provider of the many that I have surveyed have detailed speed and pricing information on their first page.

Some service providers will not give you pricing without an exact address. They often cloak this in “we have to know your location to make sure we are providing services there” which sort of makes sense except I have had customer service reps tell me they keep the information hidden because they charge different prices in different neighborhoods.

For those service providers who are reluctant to put their pricing on the web, I have to call and talk to a customer support representative. That kind of situation put a consumers at a real disadvantage. Because the only thing in writing would be your notes.

Even then companies can be very vague on speeds and what costs are included. On a recent call I was told, “We just estimate those extra fees. You will see the exact number on your first bill.” Then there are the special discounts that disappear and result in radically higher prices after the first year. Some of the stranger fees masquerading as government fees are there just to pump up the company’s bottomline.

Still I was totally surprised recently when I was told on the phone that the price that I would pay for Internet service would increase $10 a year for the next three years which did not match what was on the web. Sorting out which was right would not be fun.

None of those things happen when you choose WideOpen Blacksburg’s fiber. Our pricing has no gimmicks and the speeds that get delivered to your router are the speeds that we advertise.

Anyone with a technical background will tell you that the speed that gets delivered to your computer has a number of variables included whether your computers have a wired or wireless connection. Some routers are not as efficient in handling high speeds. While I am not on the WideOpen Blacksburg Network , I am on a fiber network in North Carolina where I live. A router swap made a huge difference in my network speeds.

My theory on how much broadband you need, is to budget a specific of money monthly. Then find the most reliable and fastest Internet you can get for that money. I cringe when I see people paying over $200 and sometimes over $300 for bundled Internet, TV, and telephone. I pay far less with fiber and streaming services. You just need to be sensible about the streaming services you use.

Certainly, our symmetric 500 Mbps up and down is right in the sweet spot, $75, or the median cost for Internet connectivity costs discovered by the Consumer Reports study. The difference with our service is that you will actually get 500 Mbps down/ 500 Mbps up, not the much smaller numbers that CR found in their study which included a look at premium services.

Because of the nature of CR study, you cannot draw an exact conclusion on advertised speeds versus actual speeds. However a chart like the one in their report should at least prompt you to run a speed test to see if you are getting close to what you were told you would be getting. Today, at my computer not the router, I tested 936 Mbps down / 939 Mbps up so I am pleased with what I am getting. Are you pleased with your speeds and the price you pay?

David Sobotta
Vice President
WideOpen Networks

1. Page 3- What Consumer Reports Learned From 22,000 Internet Bills.- Dec. 17, 2022

Who wants Gigabit fiber?

  • Posted on: 11 October 2017
  • By: woadmin

We're getting ready to identify our next neighborhoods for Gigabit fiber expansion. If you live in Blacksburg or Christiansburg, fill out the survey (the link is on the home page) and let us know. Tell your neighbors, too--we are looking for neighborhoods with a high interest in getting connected.


Fastest fiber in the New River Valley

  • Posted on: 3 August 2017
  • By: woadmin

Our first two neighborhoods are now online with super-fast fiber connections. Residents are paying $69.95/month for a Gigabit fiber connection and a 1000 Meg down/1000 Meg up Internet service. We are now going to be looking for more neighborhoods in Blacksburg to bring the world's best Internet service. Follow the link on our home page to fill out the "I want fiber" interest form. We'll be bringing fiber to the neighborhoods with the highest response rate to our form, so tell your neighbors to fill out the form too. The next two neighborhoods will be launched in Late Summer of 2020.

Gigabit fiber is here!

  • Posted on: 20 June 2017
  • By: woadmin

We are completing the final equipment configuration on the network in our first two Blacksburg area neighborhoods today, and expect to start connecting customers with super-fast Internet in the next couple of days.

What comes next?

We will be using data from our survey (have you filled it out to let us know you want Gig fiber?) to identify where to build next.

The picture below shows the first fiber to the home cabinet in the New River Valley.


Why fiber?

  • Posted on: 28 May 2015
  • By: woadmin

One of the most common questions we get is, "Why do I want fiber?"

We've created a one page handout that may help answer that question. You can download it by clicking on the PDF icon.

Here is some of the reasons you want fiber:

  • Work from home--full time, part time, or nights/weekends. We give you the freedom to choose!
  • Run a business from home, or run a server from home.
  • Connect more TVs, laptops, computers, tablets, printers, and servers and have them all work at the speed of light!
  • Use all the bandwidth you want without worrying about slowdowns, overage charges, or data caps.
  • Watch TV, movies, sports,and video at the highest possible quality--a better entertainment experience!
  • Put home security cameras around your house and get notifications, live HD video, and sound right on your tablet or smartphone, wherever you are.
  • Connect to the Virginia Tech network or your company VPN as if you were sitting in your office at work.
  • Make full use of cloud services at blazing fast speed.
  • Seamlessly connect multiple business locations and offices.
  • Home-based employees can fully participate because videoconferencing works like it is supposed to with no stuttering, drop outs, or screen slowdowns.
  • Get an inexpensive home phone line that actually provides a high quality connection without annoying drops.
  • Fiber makes back up services like Carbonite, Amazon, and Mozy work the way they are supposed to with no waiting.

Click here to download a handout explaining the strengths of fiber.

Fiber adds value to your home!

  • Posted on: 3 April 2015
  • By: woadmin

Fiber adds resale value to your home. A $3500 investment in fiber can increase your property value by more than $6,000--a 180% return on your investment! Fiber is the best home improvement you can make, as it is the only type of improvement that adds more value than what you spent. Typical upgrades like a remodeled master bath, granite countertops, or a new deck will add less that you spent. Attached is a screen shot from a Render Associates nationwide study on fiber, and here is the link to the presentation with all the data.

Here is another summary of a 2014 study on fiber value.

Here is a report on typical home improvements and estimates of your likely return...typically 60% to 90%.


What about TV?

  • Posted on: 12 March 2015
  • By: woadmin

Everyone is asking us about TV service. We need to pass at least 1,000 homes in Blacksburg with fiber before we think we will be able to offer a package of TV--which we absolutely want to do.

But we are also watching the death of cable TV and satellite services. A new report from Nielsen, the TV tracking firm, shows that 40% of American homes are streaming video over the Internet. This represents a 10% year to year increase. At that rate, there will be few subscribers left on cable and satellite in five more years.

But wait! There's more! The amount of TV being watched live, unsurprisingly, is also down, which makes sense. If you have a Netflix and Hulu subscription, why worry about watching something at a particular time?

What does it mean for Blacksburg? Fiber is going to be very important as more and more programming comes over the Internet. Fiber in a community is not just about economic development--it is also about quality of life, and young professionals want to live in a place with great connectivity, not old-fashioned copper networks. We want Blacksburg to have the world's best network---one that future-proofs your home and your neighborhood from obsolescence. Our fiber network, on the first day we connect your home, will have the capacity to handle HD video (5 meg per video stream), 4K video (10 Meg per video stream), and 8K video (25 Meg per video stream). It will also be able to handle any level of business class video conferencing that you might want to do from home--two way, three way, five way....need more participants? Our network can handle it. And if you want to connect to the Tech campus, it will be as if you are sitting in your office on campus...from home.



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