May 16, 2012

Off-topic, but... AT&T sucks.

For the past several years we've gotten our internet through AT&T DSL. Unless you want to support Comcast with your money (and nobody with an interest in net neutrality does) AT&T DSL has been the only option in this town.

I got tired of slow network. Calling AT&T did no good, they claimed things were fine. So I measured the actual speed. Repeatedly!

It just happens that I have access to a pair of very nice servers at my work; I wrote a script on my home machine that downloaded a small file from one of them and recorded the download speed every 15 minutes. An identical script on the second server served as control: should the problem be the server rather than the DSL line, the second server would show it.

After sitting through more than a year of dreadful AT&T service, here are the results.

  • Up through the end of April of this year, my actual download speed was at most HALF the advertized "up to" speed. For most of last year, I got a quarter of the advertised speed on average.
  • The jump in speed at the end corresponds to the date at which many of my neighbors gave up and got Comcast. Speeds after that point are still less than 2/3 the advertised "up to" speed.
  • The "control" server (graph not shown here) showed a flat constant speed of nearly 100 Mbps. In other words, the limiting factor was the transfer, not the source.
Conclusions: AT&T sucks, and we need for them to have some serious competition in this area.

They just switched me to "U-Verse" (still the same "up to 1.5 Mbps" speed) so we'll see if that's any improvement. I'm not holding my breath, and the script is still running.

Oh, and here's the code, which was executed every 15 minutes by cron.


DATESTRING=`date "+%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%S%t"`
DOWNLOADSPEED=`curl -s -o /tmp/whatever -w '%{speed_download}' http://REDACTED/randomblock`
echo "$DATESTRING    $DOWNLOADSPEED" >> /REDACTED/speedresults.txt

rm /tmp/whatever