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Doug's Mailbag: A Broad Field of Choices for Broadband

Today's Mailbag features your thoughts and experiences with different broadband Internet providers:

The first broadband I had was DSL. I was convinced that I would not be sharing coax/cable TV speed with neighbors. Compared to dial-up, it was rocket fast. Then, my father-in-law got FiOS just a couple of miles away, and I started to drool. While cable speeds seems to climb, I always saw their turbo-boost as smoke and mirrors. Finally, after the cable contractors destroyed the lawn installing fiber optic cable, I arranged for FiOS. And I love it. Occasionally, it seems slow, but I'm not sure if that is my computer, my target Web site or something along the network in between.

I have been using AT&T DSL since 1999. When we first received our DSL modem we had a lot of trouble getting connections. After about six weeks, and a number of calls to support, everything straighten out. I have checked with AT&T at various times to see if we could get a faster connection and were told we were too far from the CS. We have a speed of 1.5 mbps, down and 384 kbps up. After all this time, I hope someday we will be able to obtain a faster connection.

I am one of the many people who really have no valid second option to my primary Internet service. I have access to both cable and DSL Internet service options, and I use cable -- I even pay extra for a higher bandwidth tier. The DSL service in my area is closer to dial-up speeds and priced close to the entry tier cable Internet service. This fact caused me to go with cable.

I have occasionally been without service once or twice a year; usually due to interesting things like someone shooting a cable box on a pole (I live in the country) or a neighbor destroying my underground cable while grading a wash (I really do live in the country), but the service is stable. I pay for 20mbs download and generally get somewhere around 10 mbps to 15 mbps while upload is rated at 2 mbps (but actually is 0.7 to 1.2 mbps).

My fallback and travelling option is a 3G USB modem with service through Sprint. I find none of the wireless carriers to be really great service providers, and I am tired of complaints of people actually using their service, service limits and lack of investment in service capability. Phoenix has not been blessed with LTE or WiMax, so I am not sure which service I will upgrade to.

I am currently waiting for my third-rate Cable provider (Mediacom) to enable Docsis 3.0 in my area.

Here at our office we use AT&T DSL Elite, which is "rated" at 6000 mbps downstream and 768 mbps upstream. We get around 5000/600, which I don't think is too shabby. It is fast enough for our use, and we have about 10 people sharing the service, using both wired and wireless access. AT&T DSL is the only high-speed service we have used here since the end of 2003 when we finally gave up on dial-up, and we have had no significant problems with the service.

I've always had Qwest DSL, starting with 512 kbps, then 1.5 mbps service, but I don't know what my actual speeds were. Guess I wasn't geeky enough to care. I later upgraded to 7 mbps service, and my actual speed was consistently between 5.9 and 6.2 mbps. Recently, I upgraded to 12 mbps service. My actual speed is consistently between 10.2 and 10.4 mbps, which is pretty damn good in my book. So I'm wondering if some of the information coming out of these government studies isn't angled a bit to make things appear worse than they actually are, so us ignorant taxpayers will be happy to have our taxes raised so the government can supposedly spend a lot of money to "fix" the nonexistent problems.

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to [email protected]. Letters printed in this newsletter may be edited for length and clarity, and will be credited by first name only (we do NOT print last names or e-mail addresses).  

Posted by Doug Barney on 09/13/2010 at 1:18 PM


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