If you think your Internet is absurdly slow, like 1990s dial-up slow, you may be painfully correct if you live in one of four major cities that suffer from some of the worst Internet connections in the country. According to researchers at M-Lab, which gauges Internet performance using their own suite of tools, AT&T customers in Chicago, Century Link users in Seattle, Time Warner Cable Users in New York and Verizon users in Washington, D.C., experience some of the most offensive speeds for loading websites and other Internet services in the entirety of the United States. And given the high density populations of each of these large cities, this Internet problem is no small issue.
So what’s going on? As CNN explains, Internet service providers, like the aforementioned companies, strike up interconnection deals with “tier-1 networks that serve the Internet’s content to the world.” But when numerous people are trying to access the Internet at the same time during peak hours, these service providers require a toll from tier-1 networks as payment for all the business they’re driving their way. This, of course, doesn’t always sit so well with the networks, and rather than swallowing their pride, broadband companies instead send fewer customers at a time to these tier-1s, which means that some Internet users suffer through incredibly long delays when trying to access the Internet.
The slight silver lining is that not all Internet speeds are slow all the time — in fact, it’s only during peak times during which these cities have serious delays on their hands, and generally for only an hour or so at a time. In Seattle, it’s between 9 and 10 p.m. and in New York, it’s from 8 to 9 p.m. (if you’re a Time Warner customer — Verizon customers have to be patient between 7 and 11 p.m.). Chicago and Washington, D.C. have to deal with longer windows of delays, with the former sometimes putting up with slow speeds that last for seven hours, from 4 pm to 11 pm. D.C. is problematic from 7 pm to 10 pm.
But in happier news for the rest of America, around 97 percent of customers can access the Internet at advertised speeds during their own peak times. But apparently, if you’re living in one of the buzzing metropolises of the United States, prepare to go back to the 20th century when it comes to website visits.