Am I getting what I pay for?

Our terms of service are available at http://flashbyte.us/tos/tos.pdf - nothing in this article constitutes a change in this agreement or a guarantee of any kind.

We occasionally get messages from customers that say something along the lines of, “I pay for XX Mbps and my speed tests say I am only getting XX Mbps, here is a screenshot of my speed tests - I want what I am paying for!”

If you would like to understand speed tests and what they actually mean on the FlashByte network you can review:

Speed Test Results on the FlashByte Network

We spend time replying to these kinds of messages enough that I thought I would write a knowledge base article on the subject, and possibly you have been directed here because you sent such a message. I am going to explain a couple of things about the FlashByte residential packages and the issue of getting what you pay for.

First it is important to realize that every install for us is a different situation with variables we cannot control. We are not a Cable or DSL provider with standard equipment and a cable running into every home or business we service. The range of service availability for anyone we provide service for ranges from full speeds, where the limit on your package is going to be what limits your speeds, to having absolutely no service available at all, and we cannot get you any service. Generally speaking those two situations are easy for people to understand. The vast majority of our customers are somewhere in between those two extremes, and it can be harder to understand what is happening and who is responsible for what, I hope this article helps.

The packages listed speeds are upper limits, not minimum guarantees. There are many situations where raising your service to a more expensive package will not change your experience. This is almost never true across all use cases, but depending on what you are trying to do it might make no difference.

For example, both the upload and download speeds are capped on our packages, it is rare that upgrading a package will not increase the real world rate you can upload content to the Internet. If the reason that you upgraded a package is that you upload videos to a website regularly and it takes 45 minutes, and you want it to be faster, then upgrading to the next package is very likely to cut that time nearly in half. If the reason you upgraded is you are getting buffering when you try to watch high definition video at 7pm on Friday nights, and it works great all the rest of the time, the upload rate will not make any difference to you.

If it turns out the reason you cannot get good service at 7pm on Friday nights is because your neighbor always cooks squirrel stew in an unshielded microwave 15 feet away from your TV at that time of night, and it interferes with the link between your wireless router and your TV, but your desktop which is plugged in with a cable works fine, changing packages will not help. If the reason you are getting buffering is because a game you installed on your windows machine three years ago and forgot about does its updates at that time of night, and even though you are not using it, it is maxing out your connection for a long time and slowing down the available bandwidth for watching videos, upgrading your package might speed up the update time on your windows machine, but will not change the fact your video is not loading well. If the reason you are getting buffering is that your kids are also watching videos in the other room, and your connection level to our network is great, and the only thing keeping you from all streaming videos at the same time is the package cap, then upgrading your package will make everything work better.

If the reason you are getting buffering is because the capacity of your link to our network just cannot handle high definition video streaming, because of distance, topology, line of sight, interference, or anything else, upgrading your package will not help. I hope you can see here why we cannot guarantee anything is going to work any particular way, or that any package level is going to solve any of your problems.

Sometimes upgrading a package will do what you want, sometimes it will not, we do not guarantee it will. Based on this, you are always free to change to whatever package you like with 30 days notice, there is just an administrative fee for making that change. In almost every case having a higher level package will result in you getting higher priority in our trying to work out whatever it is you would like to have working, and as with everything else we do, if you do not feel it is a good value you are free to change packages or cancel your service with 30 days notice.

The variables that can change what speed you have at a particular moment are too numerous to list, but include things like DDOS attacks against providers we use, a tractor cutting a fiber cable, a car hitting a pole and knocking out our network in your area, power outages or extreme weather that take part of our network offline, damaged equipment that needs replacement, radio interference from an experiment your neighbor is doing in his garage, your microwave leaking RF energy, a tree in the way that has grown lots of leaves because the season changed and now your signal is poor, a heavy load on the network, you parked your tall truck in front of the antenna and now your service doesn’t work, a person who we use as a relay point that is required to get you service got mad at us and turned off our equipment, your horse ate the cable, you downloaded a virus and it is spamming thousands of emails per second even though you don’t know it, your computer is broken today even though it wasn’t broken yesterday, or your router is broken today even though it wasn’t broken yesterday. I could write a list hundreds of items long, and all of these are examples of things that have happened, and some that happen regularly on our network.

The important thing to see here, is that some of these things we can do something about, and some of them we cannot. Based on the fact that we offer a service that is dependent on hundreds of variables we have no control over, we do not guarantee any minimum level of service.

We always want to know if things are not working as you would like, so we can investigate what is going on and see if there is something we can do to make it better. You pay us to do the best we can to get you the best service we can, and we always try to do that. There is however no speed that drops below that commitment.

The terms of service that cover all of our residential accounts unless it has been changed in writing is available at http://flashbyte.us/tos/tos.pdf - if you give it a quick read through you will see that there is no level of service speed or reliability that drops below what we guarantee to give you, because we do not guarantee anything. Quite literally, even if your service stops working completely, you are still getting what you pay for.

Based on the nature of this situation, where we cannot and do not guarantee anything about your service, we do not require (or even allow) people to enter into contracts with us that would force them to continue on with us as customers if they are not happy. If something happens and your service does not work the way you want it to, you are free to stop using our service at any time with 30 days notice. We will always do our best to try to resolve whatever the problems is, and most of the time we can get something worked out, but if the service does not meet the level of what you think is a good value for the price you are paying, you are always free change packages or to stop using it.

However, there can never be a situation with us where a speed test result is evidence you are not getting what you paid for, because we did not sell you guaranteed speeds, and we certainly do not sell you a guarantee to see a particular speed test result.

If you would like to understand speed tests and what they actually mean on the FlashByte network you can review:

 

Speed Test Results on the FlashByte Network

 

I hope this helps clarify what you are paying for, and if you are getting it.

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