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Internet and TV/Cable Service issues?

Original post made by Al Henning, Duveneck/St. Francis, on Jun 7, 2010

I have been trying to upgrade my AT&T DSL internet service, without success.

Our home is over 19,000 ft from the central switch for AT&T DSL service. As a consequence, the speed is limited to 300 kbps, and frequently under 200 kbps. (Although I am paying for 1.5 Mbps speed. And have been paying for it, for a long time.)

Repeated calls to AT&T (especially when the modem fails to synch, again because of the distance) results in the discovery that AT&T will not sell us high-speed internet unless we also subscribe to their UVerse TV service.

We don't get either satellite or cable TV, and don't really want it, both for content and cost reasons. We have tried antenna-based digital TV, but given our location reception is poor without a large, roof-based antenna, whose appearance is unwelcome.

Comcast will sell cable Internet. But, they require nearly $50 per month, require purchase or lease of a new modem, require a one-time $30 'fee' (no reason given), and require $25 for installation (even though I'm capable of installing it myself).

Can anyone tell me if there are other options for PA residents? Or are we stuck with Comcast and AT&T?

Comments (6)

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 7, 2010 at 5:34 pm

If you're located in the Duveneck/St. Francis area, I'm not sure how you were quoted a distance 19,000 ft. You may want to try contacting an alternative DSL provider such as Sonic.net and see what they can offer.

Comcast Teleworker might be another option, assuming you're associated with a company that has an arrangement with Comcast. Teleworker is business class service (unlimited) for about $39/month, modem included.


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Posted by Comcast Is A Naughty Word
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 7, 2010 at 6:26 pm

My suggestion: Unless under pain of death, do NOT sign up with Comcast for anything. You WILL regret it, typically sooner than later.

Not sure what's happening with your DSL. Sounds fishy to me that ATT says you're too far away to get high speeds, then turns around and says, sure you can have it but only if you bundle it with UVerse. I'd call and threaten to cut the service unless you're given an acceptable choice.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 7, 2010 at 6:47 pm

We've been mostly happy with how Comcast works, but the prices are insane, even for the bundled services.

With no competition, they just gouge you.


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Posted by covad?
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 7, 2010 at 7:48 pm

I've been using Covad.net for many years. I pay $25/month for a very reliable 1500 kbps DSL download speed. Don't remember how much the setup fee was. AT&T sucks.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2010 at 10:13 pm

For TV, consider over-the-air (ATSC). You get the three major networks, indepedents, and 5 digital PBS stations with about 12-14 channels among them. No ESPN-- a problem for sports fans, but otherwise, I like it better than cable. And, it is free.

AS for DSL -- DSL technology really does have problems over distance, but, it sounds like you should still be getting better than you are.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Al Henning
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 9, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Thanks to all for the feedback.

AT&T ran a diagnostic test (time domain reflectometry), and our distance from the hub is over 19,000 ft. AT&T sold this to us in the earliest days of DSL, before the technical issues of speed over distance were fully appreciated. Today, they would not sell us DSL, if we were a new customer.

The distance to the hub from one house to the next can vary dramatically, by over 10,000 ft. There is no rationality to how the lines are run: clearly some sort of legacy problem with the wiring. A neighbor with two lines reported that one line was over 15,000 ft, the other under 5,000 ft.

Resolution: 1) AT&T has been sued for underdelivery of DSL performance. There's some sort of class action, and we may get a small amount of money back via that route. 2) I have signed up for UVerse Pro Internet. AT&T finally said I did not also have to sign up for TV, but that the installation fee ($149) would not then be waived. Cost is $35/mo, plus $3/mo eqpt lease, compared to the $25/mo I now pay (and my DSL hasn't worked at all the last two days). I pushed hard on the $149 installation charge; they refused to waive, but gave a rebate of $60 on the old DSL service, in recognition of poor performance over the last year, documented by my technical service calls.

With only one or two exceptions, I've heard consistently that Comcast is 1) expensive, and 2) doesn't necessarily perform. FWIW.

I have tried digital broadcast TV via amplified antenna. Doesn't work well where we live; signal strength too low, despite what I read online about what it *should* be. Only recourse seems to be to mount a rooftop antenna. Not sure I want, or need, to do that.


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