Getting broadband in Manhattan

I live in a central part of Manhattan and work in more or less the center of the emerging internet district (21st & 6th).  Amazingly, one of our biggest challenges being a NYC startup has been getting reliable internet access. At home I have one option – Time Warner cable – and the service is down frequently (sometimes for days – I’ve set up a backup 3G network it happens so often).  Perry Chen (cofounder/CEO of Kickstarter) lives next door and we share internet and sadly our main topic of email conversation is “Is your internet working?” At work the situation is far worse.  Here’s the description of our experience from my Hunch cofounder Tom Pinckney:

We’re located on 21st between 6th and 5th aves and have had a very difficult time getting reliable internet access for our office. We’re frankly not particularly price sensitive on this given how critical fast low-latency access is for our programmers. When our internet access is down our programmers cannot be productive and our site can’t be monitored — we’re helpless and twiddling our thumbs. Every hour of no internet access is about $1,000 of wasted salary across all of our employees.

We’ve tried wireless WiMax from TowerStream, ethernet-over-copper from Megapath, T1s from Verizon, DSL from Verizon and cable modem access from Time Warner Business Services. Verizon Fios is not available. Verizon and Megapath could literally never get working lines installed for our building despite months of effort. The WiMax service suffered high latency and weather outages every time it rained hard. The Time Warner cable modem service has gone weeks with hour or two outages per day.

By my last count, there are 5 internet startups on our block alone. The situation is so bad someone set up a Twitter account so we could all go to our iPhones and lament whenever the internet is down.

It’s embarrassing how bad internet access in Manhattan is.  As a side note, I think it undermines the arguments by people who claim there is actual broadband choice (e.g. regarding the net neutrality debate).

3 thoughts on “Getting broadband in Manhattan

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