Full Show

Download Speeds and Houston’s New Tracks: Thursday’s Show (May 21, 2015)

There’s long been competition for our home entertainment dollars, from providers of phone, internet, cable or satellite services. That competition’s centered around jockeying for customers by providing better deals, content, or service. Phone companies claimed better rates or hours for long-distance. Cable and satellite companies claimed better channel lineups. Internet service providers claimed better connections. […]

There’s long been competition for our home entertainment dollars, from providers of phone, internet, cable or satellite services. That competition’s centered around jockeying for customers by providing better deals, content, or service. Phone companies claimed better rates or hours for long-distance. Cable and satellite companies claimed better channel lineups. Internet service providers claimed better connections.

Today, some of those services are outdated, or have been redefined or merged, and we stream and download content of all kinds on a variety of digital devices. And that’s given rise to a new form of competition. For many Houstonians, it’s no longer about minutes on the phone or channels on the TV. It’s about download speed. How much data you can get, and how fast you can get it?

As Houstonians today stream and download content at home, from movies on Netflix, to video games on Xbox, to apps on smart phones, Houston’s biggest internet providers are locked in an arms race, of sorts, to improve their download speeds. Just today (5/21/15) Comcast announced the roll out of a new residential multi-gigabit broadband service in Houston called Gigabit Pro, which (according to a Comcast press release) eventually promises up to 2 Gigabit-per-second service (or Gbps). They’re also offering a new tier for Houston area customers with up to 250 megabits-per-second in download speed. It’s Comcast’s attempt to keep up with AT&T, whose Gigapower service, available now in limited areas of Houston, offers 1 Gbps service and allowed AT&T to overtake Comcast just a few months ago with the fastest download speeds seen in Houston.

And yet: as major internet providers promise download speeds “up to” a certain amount, reality doesn’t always match the promise. These plans either aren’t available at all in many Houston neighborhoods, or the average download speeds are far less vibrant than customers hope. On today’s Houston Matters, we discuss the competition over download speeds here with Houston Chronicle tech blogger Dwight Silverman.

Also this hour: As we’ve heard this week in the series Houston’s New Tracks on News 88.7 FM, Houston’s newest light rail lines open this weekend. Starting Saturday, (May 23, 2015), riders can start hopping on two lines which run from downtown to the East End and Southeast Houston. News 88.7 FM transportation reporter Gail Delaughter will take a closer look at the development of Houston’s commuter rail system, how it’s designed to interact with vehicles and the way some riders plan to use it.

Then: We explore how and when eminent domain is exercised in Houston and across Texas, with Andy Edison, Adjunct Professor at the University of Houston Law Center.

And: Edel Howlin talks with Houston teen fiction author and child psychologist J.L. Clark.

Share