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Best Cable/High speed internet/Phone company???

What are the things that puzzle, enrage, delight and tickle you as you go about your life in Madison?

Postby persia » Tue Feb 19, 2008 2:16 pm

When I lived in Shorewood Hills TDS was great, I could see the main switch outside my window, excellent DSL and inexpensive phone service. Oh and Dish Network is really good too, I like Link TV and Free Speech TV. If you live in an area that defaults to AT&T don't worry you can easily switch to TDS!

TAsunder wrote:It's been almost 10 years since I had dealings with TDS, but I remember having some really awful problems with customer support and even some pretty strange technical issues (such as the time one of our username/passwords had random numbers appended to it without anyone's knowledge (including TDS)). AT&T has been pretty good. DirecTV has been stellar. They even let me out of my contract several months early when I moved and couldn't have satellite due to blocked view.
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Postby lukpac » Sat Mar 29, 2008 2:16 pm

ShaneDog wrote:I have AT&T DSL and like it. It's not any better or worse than TDS--other than the fact that it includes wireless at any AT&T access point.


For 99.5% of people, that's probably true, although unless there's something I don't know about AT&T, TDS does have one advantage - you can utilize multiple public IP addresses. Their modems come shipped by default with routing turned on (ie, the modem is assigned one IP that is then shared with all users), but you can switch to "bridged" mode which allows each computer to get assigned a unique public IP address.

I'm sure you could upgrade to something like that with AT&T (business package probably), but it would probably cost you an arm and a leg.

Of course, one disadvantage of TDS is they only have equipment in the central offices, not in whatever remote terminals may exist. If I had AT&T my DSL would probably be coming from a building a block away, but instead it comes from the CO 13,000 ft away. Same deal with U-verse when that gets rolled out.
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Postby snoqueen » Sat Mar 29, 2008 6:09 pm

pulseCzar wrote:I was thoroughly unimpressed with TDS's customer service when we used them. Downtown we ordered service over two months before we moved in and we finally got phone an internet 39 days afterward.


This depends on how your house is wired/connected, I believe. If everything is already in place they just send you your router and switch you on, either remotely or in some little box on the outside of your house. That didn't take any 39 days -- seems like it happened really soon after I ordered,, more like a week.
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Postby lukpac » Sat Mar 29, 2008 6:25 pm

snoqueen wrote:This depends on how your house is wired/connected, I believe. If everything is already in place they just send you your router and switch you on, either remotely or in some little box on the outside of your house. That didn't take any 39 days -- seems like it happened really soon after I ordered,, more like a week.


Generally AT&T has to first make sure there's a line connected between your house and the central office (and connect one if there isn't), then TDS has to hook it up at the central office and make sure it's working at your house. From a technical perspective this doesn't take long - even if there was no phone service before, the lines exist, they just have to be connected in a few boxes in the field. Getting it *scheduled* is the problem.

When I moved in 2002, TDS was dreadful. The move order was probably placed over a month in advance, but somehow things got screwed up and I think it wasn't until a couple of weeks *after* the move that things were working. When I moved again in late 2005, though, things were fine from the start, other than the fact that I needed a different DSL modem. They dropped that off the next day...
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Postby pulseCzar » Sat Mar 29, 2008 6:58 pm

snoqueen wrote:
pulseCzar wrote:I was thoroughly unimpressed with TDS's customer service when we used them. Downtown we ordered service over two months before we moved in and we finally got phone an internet 39 days afterward.


This depends on how your house is wired/connected, I believe. If everything is already in place they just send you your router and switch you on, either remotely or in some little box on the outside of your house. That didn't take any 39 days -- seems like it happened really soon after I ordered,, more like a week.

We were the first residents after a complete renovation, including rewiring. It's not just a matter of flipping a switch. Since TDS doesn't own the lines, they have to do administrative work to coordinate the line usage before they can provide service. You can doubt my post all you want but it did take TDS 39 days to get us up and running. I had 2 roomies and a number of friends who will also vouch for this, including two friends who work for TDS. One of these TDS friends had to wait so long and got such runaround that she actually went to the phone center to speak with their manager in person. It still took over a month. At the same time that we moved, another friend moved into Lincoln School and it took TDS so long that they provided her with a cell phone to use. Conversely, at the house we recently bought, our experience with AT&T was more like what you described with quick turnaround and plug & play equipment including a free wireless router.
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Postby jomby » Mon Mar 31, 2008 4:20 pm

We've had TDS phone for over 10 years and have never had a problem. Had their internet service, too; but since I had T1 line at work, the (lack of speed) was just too great so we went with Charter.

I'd really love to get off Charter, but am not willing to give up the speed. Our location does not support DSL (too old, I guess).

My parents have Dish Network and they love it. However, they killed their computer so don't have the need for internet service.

I guess it's Charter until we move or get some sort of wireless capability.
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Postby lukpac » Mon Mar 31, 2008 4:58 pm

jomby wrote:We've had TDS phone for over 10 years and have never had a problem. Had their internet service, too; but since I had T1 line at work, the (lack of speed) was just too great so we went with Charter.

I'd really love to get off Charter, but am not willing to give up the speed. Our location does not support DSL (too old, I guess).


Where are you located? TDS does have WiMAX (wireless) in some areas in Madison.
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Postby eriedasch » Tue Apr 01, 2008 1:05 pm

pulseCzar wrote:Since TDS doesn't own the lines, they have to do administrative work to coordinate the line usage before they can provide service. You can doubt my post all you want but it did take TDS 39 days to get us up and running. I had 2 roomies and a number of friends who will also vouch for this, including two friends who work for TDS. One of these TDS friends had to wait so long and got such runaround that she actually went to the phone center to speak with their manager in person. It still took over a month. At the same time that we moved, another friend moved into Lincoln School and it took TDS so long that they provided her with a cell phone to use. Conversely, at the house we recently bought, our experience with AT&T was more like what you described with quick turnaround and plug & play equipment including a free wireless router.

I do not doubt it took 39 days for TDS to get your phone working. Although most of that wait is due to the fact that AT&T owns the lines and by law have to make the switchover to TDS in something like 30-40 days or be subject to fines, etc. And believe me, as a competitor of TDS they wait that entire 30-40 days (or longer) every chance they get in hopes the potential TDS customer will grow impatient and switch to AT&T because they can activate service in a few days.

Regardless, I have had TDS phone & dsl service for many years and not had any problems. Although I know plenty of people who have had problems with TDS so I'm not claiming they are perfect by any means.

I am still partial to TDS because they are the local phone company here in Madison. They employ a lot of people - with good living wage jobs, great health insurance, do not outsource jobs overseas, and do not gladly hand over phone records to the gov't without proper warrents or probable cause. I cannot say any of the same about AT&T.
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Postby ilikebeans » Mon Apr 21, 2008 12:54 pm

Today, once again, I am greeted to Charter Communications making my daily email routine more difficult.

First, it was adding advertising to my inbox when accessed through the web portal, slowing down my access and taking up screen space unnecessarily. This despite the fact that I pay for the service, unlike free (ad-supported) sites like Yahoo mail.

Then it was constant email web portal slowdowns, to the point where several times a month the service would be so slow as to be unusable. This continues to this day.

Now I see they've followed up on their threat to remove direct web access to my inbox, instead making me hit their news-and-advertising web portal first, in an effort to generate more ad revenue and click-throughs. Not only do I now have to download a great deal more junk before I can get to my inbox (crippling on some dialup lines when I'm not at home), but I have at least one addtional step to click through. No, I will NOT make charter.net my browser homepage, you pricks!

This is on top of the incredibly poor customer service I have experienced over the past few years, which seems to be par for the course:

The Better Business Bureau has received numerous complaints regarding this cable, digital TV, and high speed internet access provider. Complainants primarily allege that the firm had improper billing practices, referred customer bills to collection agencies in error, provided poor customer service, used misleading advertising, provided defective internet or cable performance, used improper sales tactics or misrepresented the actual costs of installation and service, failed to properly install or maintain service, damaged customers' property, and failed to honor service appointments.

Time to get a different provider. To all of those new to town, go with anyone else before Charter, if possible.
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TDS PON

Postby Das Binky » Tue Apr 22, 2008 9:16 am

I had Charter for about a year and a half, but when we moved, our house was pre-wired for TDS' PON (Passive Optical Network) offering. I get 15 mb downstream for $40 / month. (25 mb for $55 / month, but that's more than I want to pay.) Great reliability, the modem has built in wireless, etc.

Not sure when the plan is to get that rolling out to the rest of Madison, but lots of newer homes in the far west and Middleton are set up for this. I think pilots for TV over IP with TDS start in a year or two around here.

I had little or no problem with Charter when we used that. In the end, I think the decision comes down to:
1) Do I want a land line? If so, go DSL with TDS.
2) Do I want the Dish or Cable? If Dish, TDS. If Cable, Charter. If neither, whatever is cheaper, which will probably be DSL.

I think Charter is a little more aggressive with their annoying mail stuff, as was pointed out earlier by ilikebeans, but I just use hotmail, gmail, and my own domain rather than charter or tds email, so I can't comment too much on that one.
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Postby TAsunder » Tue Apr 22, 2008 9:33 am

I have learned my lesson the hard way... never use an ISP email account. It's not worth the hassle of using it while you have the service, and it's even more hassle when you switch providers.
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Postby ilikebeans » Fri Apr 25, 2008 12:19 pm

TAsunder wrote:I have learned my lesson the hard way... never use an ISP email account. It's not worth the hassle of using it while you have the service, and it's even more hassle when you switch providers.

Yep, learning that lesson right now. Ugh. Soon I'll have to send the standard "switching providers" email to all my contacts.

As long as I'm bitching about Charter, has anyone else noticed that they seem to have the greatest frequency of marketing junk mail/phone calls of any telecom company? My god, I must get at least one piece of mail (not email) from them a week, touting their 3-in-1 plan, and this has lasted at least a year now. Many weeks I'll receive multiple pieces per week, sometimes with multiple pieces per day.
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Postby TAsunder » Fri Apr 25, 2008 12:42 pm

ilikebeans wrote:As long as I'm bitching about Charter, has anyone else noticed that they seem to have the greatest frequency of marketing junk mail/phone calls of any telecom company? My god, I must get at least one piece of mail (not email) from them a week, touting their 3-in-1 plan, and this has lasted at least a year now. Many weeks I'll receive multiple pieces per week, sometimes with multiple pieces per day.


I wonder if they are a member of the direct marketing association (I assume so)? If so you can probably get them, and pretty much anyone else, to stop mailing you junk by filling out the form here. That, or it's a scam and you get even more junk.
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Postby ilikebeans » Fri Apr 25, 2008 12:49 pm

TAsunder wrote:I wonder if they are a member of the direct marketing association (I assume so)? If so you can probably get them, and pretty much anyone else, to stop mailing you junk by filling out the form here. That, or it's a scam and you get even more junk.

Thanks for the tip. I suspect, though, that since I am a Charter subscriber (yes, looking to sever that soon), they'll consider that relationship an override to the DMA preferences. Still, I'm going to fill it out and see if it helps cut down my junk mail in general.

Hm, maybe I could call Charter and ask them to stop sending me this crap? Oh but *shudder* at the thought of the last few times I've had to talk to them.
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Postby Ryanwiz » Tue May 13, 2008 10:38 am

I use Charter...but that's about to end. Unfortunately, I don't know how else to get internet out here in Westport.....

Here's what happened to me:
I sign up for a 12-month plan....guaranteed price for internet and cable for those 12 months. Six months goes by, and they jack the price up. I call...they hang up on me. I call back, and I am shuffled through FOUR different people to whom I explain my senerio EACH time. The forth rep says he can help me and says that they will fix the problem. I will be credited the overcharge and he will fax me confirmation of the call and the change.

No call, no fax, NO CHANGE. In fact...they bill me what they originally said they would, $13 too much. I mean to call, but some time passes and I find myself receiving my next statement. It is now $33 more than it should be! It's gone up....AGAIN!

So I call....they say that I had a 6-month agreement (NO WAY...I know they way that they do business, and the 12-mo agreement was the ONLY thing that made me sign up in the first place) and that the past overcharge was for a partial month (Mathematically impossible according to the statements available on their site) and that this *new* charge was the regular rate - now $30 MORE than it *should* be.

Three reps could not help me over the phone, one could not help me over their e-chat thing...(I even said I wanted to cancel service and she couldn't help me) and there are NO local phone numbers to be found.

Funny how easy it is to ADD service...
I don't know what to do next.


And here's some other folks who've had problems with Charter:
http://www.medlawplus.com/classaction/c ... ations.tpl
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