Before I get into each of the two most popular Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in this area, I’d like to talk about what I know about northwest Indiana, particularly how the technology has changed over the years…
I grew up here- born in Valparaiso, and then mostly Portage until I was twenty years old. My first computer was a Headstart Explorer. It didn’t have a hard drive, but a sort of RAM disk that held a persistent operating system in memory. I could write papers, use a calculator, add names to a phone book, or pretend to type commands in a DOS prompt. Once I turned the computer off, though, every change I made was lost. This computer, as you can imagine, didn’t have an Internet connection. This was 1992.
By 1993, I realized that other kids and adults had access to far better computers, and this thing called the Internet. My computer was now a large paperweight. I was introduced to AOL, and a dial-up Internet connection. Even then, I knew it was slow, but there was nothing faster to which I could compare. Dial-up Internet (AOL) was roughly $25/month if you didn’t play shadow games with your free discs that came in the mail. Your landline phone was a staple in your home then, so I can’t even add the cost of the phone line that was required for the Internet.
Around 2001 or so, at sixteen years old, I convinced the folks to spring for DSL. This was $40/month in Portage under AT&T’s service line-up. The phone line was still not included in this price. This worked great for a couple of years, but then Comcast started getting some traction in the market. This company seemed to come out of nowhere, and was now offering a different kind of Internet service that could be bundled with your TV, instead of the phone company Internet bundled with your landline. By this point, people had already started canceling their landlines anyway. The Internet was faster, and the price was right, given we could also ditch the landline. This steady increase in speed caused my head to spin. In just a few short years, I had gone from a 56k dial-up modem to 1.5mbps DSL, to 25mbps Cable Internet- All for about the same price each month. This was about the way of things until I moved from home in 2005 to Indianapolis.
While in Indy, I watched and helped businesses move into this realm, ditching T1 lines to move into cable and DSL type Internet services. DSL and cable kept up, improving year to year, but Comcast’s cable internet was always ahead. Eventually, it was clear that AT&T’s DSL/Uverse couldn’t compete. Bundles became popular in order for these companies to stay profitable, and most people were still interested in getting their hundreds of TV channels, and recordings dozens of shows to their DVRs every week they didn’t have time to watch. Soon, TV packages were at risk. Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube were increasing in popularity, people were growing tired of the price hikes and the growing length of commercials. That’s when Comcast felt threatened.
Comcast had bundles for years, but now it was faced with growing numbers of “cord-cutters” (people going without a TV package, and getting their shows and movies from an Internet streaming service). They were making it price-prohibitive to get Internet without a TV package. Calling them for new service, you were often faced with a strange option- get Internet service alone for $70/mo, or get Internet, TV, and a phone line for $99? I’ve even seen promotions that would give you Internet and TV for LESS than Internet alone. This, in my opinion, was a clear cut image of desperation. Twice now, I’ve agreed to be charged MORE in order to not have a TV package on my bill. Maybe I’m stubborn, but I simply disagree with these bullying tactics of a company trying to steer the market in a particular direction. Customers are making a serious point; give them what they want.
This brings me to today. I have moved back into the NWI market, and I’m noticing a strange dilemma. Comcast is not as popular “in the sticks” as I would have hoped upon my return. Nitco, the “Infinitely Friendlier” service provider is taking a large market share here. They offer mostly DSL services for Internet, but are working on fiber connections as well. Their prices are well above Comcast’s for the speed they offer, and it can be a hard pill to swallow. Most customers in this area don’t have a choice. It’s either Nitco or Comcast, and believe me, if a customer in Demotte is told Comcast doesn’t provide service to their location, they’re not happy. Nitco takes advantage of this.
As a Information Technology Professional, it pains me to see companies taking advantage like this. Comcast needs to ease up on their prices a little and stop holding Internet at a ransom in order to force people into buying TV service. Nitco needs to realize that their customers wouldn’t have such resentment for them if they’d figure out how to actually compete with fair speeds for the price. If you have questions about the service package you need, or which company to choose for your particular location, give AVA+ a call, or send us an email.
IT Account Manager