usenet posts of possible interest, just fyi

k claffy kc at
Mon Dec 25 07:57:28 UTC 1995

From: boursy at (Stephen Boursy)
Subject: Re: Consumer Report Profile of ISPs Needed [Urgently!] [was Re: ISPs]
Message-ID: <DJzp9B.L7A at>
Organization: The World Public Access UNIX, Brookline, MA
References: <DHAG3M.86p at> <4b4a46$cqe at> <DJu7tu.E9u at> <4bcmqc$aje at>
Date: Fri, 22 Dec 1995 13:24:46 GMT
Lines: 72
Xref: alt.journalism:15203 news.admin.policy:24569 alt.culture.usenet:9056 alt.wired:15519 alt.internet.access.wanted:23251

In article <4bcmqc$aje at>,
John Pike  <johnpike at> wrote:
>boursy at (Stephen Boursy) wrote:
>>	But in regards to what we're discussing with some ISP's every
>>day is Mothers Day--with others Prime Time is always mothers day and
>>that is fraud pure and simple.  A consumer has a right to get the
>>services they've paid for.  Everyone has a bad day--that's not what
>>we're talking about.
>What "we" [I hope, I guess] are talking about is the folks who are doing 
>reporting on ISP's doing a bit of coverage pointing out that this is not 
>a commodity [ie, non-quality differentiated] market, and that there is 
>more to evaluating an ISP that just price. The fundamental problem right 
>now is that just about all that consumers have to go on *is* price, so 
>that is what the ISPs are competing on, which means that they are selling 
>service at below cost and trying to make up the losses by increasing 
>volume [with predictable results...].

	I fully agree.  Almost all advertising and most 'reviews' are 
focused exclusively on price.  But the point is that if an ISP oversells
and cannot provide what they've advertised they're committing consumer
fraud which is quite serious.  Others are honest and keep well
ahead of consumer demand.  An honest business does not sell resources
it does not have.

>And it seems to me that the second thing that needs a bit of research and 
>reporting is some sorta buyer's guide on how to choose an ISP -- what 
>sorta questions to ask and what sorta answers to look for. Right now, 
>this is limited to pretty much asking the monthly charge for dialup 
>SLIP/PPP, whereas the more interesting questions relate to things like 
>"how many customers do you have per modem?" or "what sorta redundancy do 
>you have on your news-server?" or "[fill in the blank -- I am just a 
>GUIdiot so I don't really know what to ask.....]?"

	Very much needed.  I think the best reviews would be accomplished
by purchasing accounts as consumers and testing and comparing 
them--response times and quality for service, problems with connection, 
time taken to deliver mail, news group availablity and most importantly 
the speed of the system--a user should never have to wait.

>The question of quality-differentiation is going to become increasingly 
>acute over the next year or two, as the bigger telecos start to move in 
>on this market and the market starts to differentiate between [for 
>instance] email/usenet/WWW *access* providers and WWW host providers 
>[perhaps]. Naively, as soon as Bell Atlantic offers dial-up SLIP, I would 
>guess that everyone would just go with The Phone Company, assuming that 
>if they can provide POTS they can provide SLIP/PPP.

	And that will also ensure much greater regulation I would imagine.
This could be very bad (ala Exon) or very good (ala Nader) but it's coming
regardless and it'll probably be a mixture of both.  

	As large regulated industries jump in (cable tv and phone
companies) the playing field will change drastically.  This will hopefully
lead to some sort of universal access as well where consumers are guarenteed
a basic tier of services as with phone and cable and will also lead to
a bit more of a system of due process and appeal before there can be
plug pulling and content based cancels which presently are the most
serious problems in this business.


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