What is “oversubscribing?”

You’ve seen those commercials for the cable company. I know you have. The ones where they say you can get 500Mbps speed from your connection. You might have run a speed test or two, trying to get those numbers. And if you run that test early in the morning or in the middle of the night, you might succeed. But try and stream in the evening, and you might still see buffering messages. What gives?

How those cable companies work

It’s simple. They oversell their service. They call it “oversubscribing.” The way it works is, your neightborhood has a limit to how much bandwidth it has, in total. Chances are it’s about 10 gigabits per second. Now that’s great if you’re the only one using it. But if 100 of your neighbors all want to stream at the same time, you’re going to run into some internet traffic jams.

That’s why you’ll get great speeds in the middle of the night, when no one else is using the internet.

How can this be legal?

It’s legal because they tell prospective customers about it. Somewhere in that commercial that screams “500 megabits” and shows it in gigantic letters, there’s a small, thin disclaimer. You’re told upfront that you might not actually get the speed that they’re advertising. And it’s totally legit. This practice is used by many cable companies for their home internet. Along with data caps, it’s how they keep prices reasonable for residential customers.

Cable companies are usually behind the times. You can’t blame them. It takes time and money to upgrade those fiber lines. But, it’s frustrating when you’re getting less than you think you paid for. Those fancy speed numbers turn out to be just a way to get bragging rights. They’re not going to help you on a Tuesday night when the kids want to play games while mom and dad binge old sitcoms.

Finding a solution can be tricky. You could be subscribed to the highest level of service your cable company offers and it could make absolutely no difference. It’s frustrating, especially if you’re paying top dollar.

What can you do?

The best option for you is to choose another internet company. Choose a company that is ready to back up their service promises. And how do you do that? Call the experts!

You need a partner who will get you the best deal. Calling around you may find that there are other companies that claim to offer internet service. But, many of them will just drive you back to the cable company where your service won’t be any better. Why waste your time?

Don’t go it alone. Call the experts at Signal Connect. We’re AT&T Preferred Dealers, meaning that we can get you the best, highest quality AT&T residential internet in areas that AT&T serves. We will be honest with you about what you can expect, too. We’ll help you find the plan that makes the most sense.

In areas that aren’t served by AT&T yet, we have partners who can give you better service than you’re getting now. We can help you find those options and get set up the way you deserve to be set up. The most important things to know: you have options, and you have a partner to help you find the right one.

Start by visiting our residential internet portal. You’ll learn a little bit about how Signal Connect can help you. When you’re ready to find out more, fill out the form there or call the number on the screen during East Coast business hours. You’ll be well on your way to getting great high-speed internet when you want it, not just in the middle of the night.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.