Thursday, August 19, 2010

Soliciting Advice About the Home Internet Service

This summer I decided to redo my utilities. I have gotten rid of my home phone line and switched my home phone number (which has a nice pattern to it) to my cell phone. I would still like to upgrade to a better cell phone, but that's for another day.

Yesterday, after considerable research, I decided to go with a middle-level package with DirectTV. I had had Direct TV one year several years ago and didn't like the customer service. I had wanted to go with DishTV, but many of the stations I watch regularly (like National Geographic) were only available on their most expensive package.

My choices turned out to be much more limited than I thought. Obviously I wasn't going to return to Comcast for TV sservice after the way the company treated this 20 year customer and stockholder. AT&T's U-verse which everyone raves about isn't available in my neighborhood. That left DishTV and DirectTV. I can't wait until there are more options available. I'm not a big fan of satellite TV.

I am still researching internet options. One option would be to go back to Comcast at $42.00 a month. The advantage there is the service is fast and I already have the equipment. The negative is that I don't want to give those jerks any more of my money.

The only other provider I could find in my area is AT&T, another company I'm not a fan of. When I called AT&T about a DSL line with 6 mbps speed at $19.95 that was advertised in a mailing I had received at home, I was told that was not available where I live. The customer rep then tried to get me to buy a 1.5 mpbs line for $35.95...which would be marked down to $25.95 since I was getting TV through AT&T's partner, DirectTV. The bait and switch-like tactic turned me off big time. Additionally, customer service reps have told me I have to buy a DSL modem, which has been quoted at $75 and $100 by two different AT&T reps

I also looked into such things as NetZero, but I'm not ready to return to dial-up.

I'm going to look into buying a DSL modem from someplace like Fry's and going with AT&T even if it's slower than advertised. My only other option is to go back to Comcast.

Any advice about home internet service would be appreciated.


Indy Student said...

AT&T's DSL has given two of my client's absolutely horrible Internet service. The connection will just randomly drop and may (or may not) pick back up any time between 2-30 minutes. Because these are places of business, there is a network set up and they will swear up and down that the Internet connection problem is due to the network, which is complete bull. They are two separate systems which are not dependent on each other.

I am in the process of switching over to Comcast cable modem at both places, though the problems are worse at one client's office.

Unfortunately, with products such as utilities, television, and Internet service, the market is too small for much competition to ever occur in any one area. So you take what you can get.

I'd highly recommend Comcast over AT&T for your Internet service based on my clients' experience with AT&T. While neither may provide great customer service, Comcast's product is likely to work and keep working.

As for television, I can't help you much there. Hulu covers most of the network television I watch, and the only thing beyond that I watch is The Daily Show and Colbert Report, both of which Comedy Central's website provides.

Nicolas Martin said...

I’ve been wrestling with the same issue. Comcast is an abomination, but the speed-to-cost value of its broadband is much better than U-Verse, and we do not have the DSL option in our area (which is mud-slow anyway). Since TV has so little value, I decided to stick with the lowest tier service Comcast offers so I can continue to have decent Internet speed. I have to hold my nose, though, because of Comcast’s contempt for consumers. (And, no, it has not improved.)

Probably unsurprisingly, AT&T’s U-Verse TV options come with so much small print that I don’t trust them. I don’t want to fall into a contract pit. When you add the $10 HD fee, U-Verse isn’t even an especially good deal.

The most important thing, I think, is to remember that every moment spent watching TV is a moment not spent doing something more worthwhile. Except during the NFL season, of course.

Melyssa said...

This is my plan. I have cable wireless internet and ports that connect my MacBook to my flat
screen TV.

I don't subscribe to cable TV. Instead, I have a $13.99 a month Netflix account and the ability to stream directly to my TV.

I can also watch TV via the internet on my television.

I want to completely control my programming and I don't want to be sucked into cable television.

I think TV rots the brain and it is a very powerful form of mind control. And I certainly don't want to get most of my news from cable television.

I gave up my phone last December for a whole year to get quiet with myself. Plus, I absolutely hate it when you are having a pleasant, meaningful talk with your friend and they keep interrupting you or stop telling a good story, to take phone calls.

I think cell phones are the rudest thing that ever hit the planet. Plus there is a good amount of evidence that cell phones can cause brain cancer.

I think texting and constantly staring into a little communication device is not healthy and does not encourage healthy relationships.

Humans coming through an electronic device are NOT more important than a real live flesh and blood person in front of you.

I find twitter to be absurd, and the trend monsters that tweet, are generally devoid of much depth.

When I get a phone again, I'm contemplating getting this little number:

Paul K. Ogden said...

NM & Melyssa, you're too down on television. Television provides wonderful learning opportunities. National Geographic channel (which is becoming my favorite), History Channel, Science Channel, Discovery, etc. all provide wonderful educational programs.

Sure you can sit around and watch junk television if you want. But I don't think it's fair to blame the medium, for the misuse of the medium. Used correctly, television is a wonderful invention.

Melyssa, I too started watching things on Hulu. The full length programs available though thus far is too limited. I spent all summer watching movies through Redbox. Frankly, I'm all movied out.


Paul K. Ogden said...

IS, NM, and Melyssa,

Thank you all for your input. I had a friend tell me how much success he's had with AT&T DSL. I'm not quite sold on it. IS's...your comments make me wonder.

My Comcast internet would occasionally go out, but not for long periods of time. Before their service went south, you could call service up 24/7 and someone would be there (speaking clear English) to try to fix any problem you had. I used to brag about how great service Comcast has. Not anymore.


I have countless documentary titles from History Channel, Discovery Channel, and PBS on Netflix for $13.99 a month. They are available to me 24/7 on my MacBook. I can choose what I want when I want it.

Netflix is $13.99 a month.

Not having cable helps keep my TV turned off more than it is turned on. In fact, I only turn the TV on once or twice a week.

I still get regular digital TV through a TV antenna. That's how I keep up with Antiques Roadshow, which is the best show on TV.

Nicolas Martin said...

The channels you commend often dish out a heavy dose of politics and superficiality with their product. I’d rather spend time with history and science books than with inch-deep TV treatments. Right now I’m reading Gotz Aly’s remarkable book, Hitler’s Beneficiaries. Not in a lifetime of TV watching would I learn as much about the Nazi effort to maintain support in Germany by allowing troops to plunder the rest of Europe and send the goodies home.

Sean Shepard said...

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is a distance sensitive service. If you are more than around 15,000 "cable feet" from the nearest AT&T wiring center (which in Pike would likely be one called Trinity [87x] near 86th/Michigan and one called Axminster [29x] near Lafayette square) than you're service degrades quickly. Anything beyond about 6,000 cable feet really loses the best speeds.

AT&T dangled some broadband expansions as a carrot to get the State Legislature to do them some favors and has been building out "remote terminals" to shorten the distance to a lot of neighborhoods but there are still under served areas.

I've used both Comcast and Bright House at (different) home(s) and either tends to work okay although I did have some issues with Comcast customer service a few years ago [old history by now].

I personally loathe giving AT&T any of my money and enjoy supporting any competitor of theirs.

Really, in my opinion, cable modem service can't be beat and the speeds are ever increasing. Monopoly service areas are the only thing keeping prices in the $40-$50 range and, yet, still you get 6 or 10 mbps @ $40.00 a month compared to 56 kbps (dial-up) a decade ago for $20 a month. Twice the price, TWO HUNDRED times the speed. The Internet has been a great example of the free market at work.

dcrutch said...

I had pretty good service from Comcast for a home biz situation for a couple of years for broadband modem purposes. Other than their obvious monopolistic pricing, I can't really complain. I switched to AT&T Elite DSL & it's been about the same quality, speed, & service for slightly less money. I look at television about the same as your most strident commentators. The next thing I try is wireless a la' Melyssa.

One trick the next time is to barter with them. Have the price of the competitor handy.