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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 lukpac » Mon Jun 02, 2008 12:56 pm

Bwis53 wrote:Frequent disconnects? I can count on one hand, the few I get, from ATT, in one year.


I don't mean TDS having a problem - that is really rare. The recent fiber cut around Chicago is really the only one I can think of. I mean the DSL dropping sync and reconnecting. Kind of like the modem hanging up and redialing. If you happen to be working online when it happens things just pause/freeze for maybe 15 or 20 seconds. Apparently it is just because of my distance and the condition of the lines. If they drop the speed down things are more stable, but not as fast. Not really a "TDS" issue, but rather a "distance from the central office" issue.

I wouldn't *think* that would be a problem for you though, since you're going to be closer.
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Re: Best Cable/High speed internet/Phone company???

Postby Twigz2011 » Thu Aug 25, 2011 1:45 pm

I will be moving to an area that falls in ATT's U-Verse footprint.
The earliest that I could get an appointment for an installation was the 3rd week in October. This is due I'm told to high demand. I find this mildly frustrating, but not a deal breaker. Given my past experiences with Charter, and others' stories, this is hardly surprising.

I went ahead and placed the order to secure a spot and will decide if I want to cancel my reservation between now and October.

Does anyone have information to share on how they've found the service?
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Re: Best Cable/High speed internet/Phone company???

Postby Athena » Fri Aug 26, 2011 9:39 am

I've had AT&T U-verse for my internet for a while now, and I'm perfectly happy with it. Their modem is also a wireless router and they set up everything for you so I was able to give my old router to my parents to use. Speeds are good, I think I'm a little under what I'm paying for but that's fine. I haven't had any trouble or disconnects. I only have the U-verse internet, not the TV service or anything. I do recall having some difficulty setting up the appointment to get service through their website - I think they wanted to charge some high amount for the install. I ended up having to call them and it was a pain to find the phone number, but I got to them waive the install charge when I finally did talk to someone who could figure out that I actually was in their service area.
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Re:

Postby Petro » Sun Aug 28, 2011 8:38 pm

lukpac wrote:I mean the DSL dropping sync and reconnecting. Kind of like the modem hanging up and redialing. If you happen to be working online when it happens things just pause/freeze for maybe 15 or 20 seconds. Apparently it is just because of my distance and the condition of the lines. If they drop the speed down things are more stable, but not as fast. Not really a "TDS" issue, but rather a "distance from the central office" issue.


I've had TDS (Telecom) for a little more than a year at this point.

When I initially moved in, it was mostly stable and worked well - aside from a large number of obnoxious dropped packets where I'd be left waiting for the TTL to expire before I could load a page. (Particularly obnoxious if you spend a lot of times on forums.) I can nearly see the DSLAM from my porch, and I'd routinely see 1.8 megabyte / sec (yes, megabyte) speeds on downloads - so, I didn't complain.

As soon as we had our first snow, that ended. It seemed like I couldn't keep a stable connection for more than 15-20 minutes. At times I'd see my link drop back to back and it'd eventually just hang and require that I power cycle the ADSL bridge before it'd do anything.

To the credit of TDS, I had someone here the next day - every single time that I called. They replaced the modem, inspected my wiring, swapped my port on the DSLAM, checked the demarc - pretty much covered all of the bases.

I still had issues. I tried a different type of modem, and the only success that I found with that was that it'd automatically train itself down if it had S/N ratio issues - but it'd end up being slower than molasses after a few days - so, I'd just power-cycle it to get it to retrain at max again.

After a particularly useless tech tried to tell me that she refused to help me until I plugged the bridge directly into my PC (this to troubleshoot a DSL link issue, not an ethernet issue. She was too dumb to know the difference.), I wound up going to their cancellation department.

I wish I'd done this sooner.

I didn't wind up canceling my service, but the quit/save rep gave me the direct line to the internet help desk - and I magically somehow got a rep on the phone who somehow had a clue -and- seemed to give a damn. She took a ton of notes on my case, apologized profusely and sent a tech out the next day.

This guy was an old school lineman. He didn't seem comfortable on a PC at all (he didn't even know how to find my browser to pull up the onboard diags on the bridge), but he found the one thing that everyone else had missed - a blank plate in my laundry room that had a loose coil of wire spliced into the pair that also carried my DSL signal. He stripped that out and my problems immediately ended.

The following day he coordinated with my building's staff and gained access to the telecom room and swapped my connection down there as well, because he didn't like the S/N - and everything's been perfect. I love my DSL now.

I previously had a AT&T and it seemed alright, except for the time that I had a 10-day outage because they needed to swap my port at the CO. The problem was that even though I was calling daily, no one at their call center seemed to be able to actually contact anyone locally to fix their shit. I actually finally managed to get my stuff fixed by approaching a random lineman in his truck that was parked outside of my building. He had it fixed the same day and gave me his cell phone number, on the off-chance that I had problems again. (I might've vented a bit about the problems I'd had.)

I can't endorse AT&T for DSL. In fact, I get angry even thinking about dealing with them. TDS has been far from perfect, but I've always been able to reach a human after a few minutes. Every call to AT&T entailed at least a thirty minute hold time, followed by having to re-explain your situation to a new tech in a different call center who seemingly didn't have the ability to attach meaningful notes to the trouble ticket. If they told you they'd call you back after your call, they were lying. I never received any followup until I began dealing with a local tech, at which point my 10 day outage was resolved within a two-hour window.

I'd never trust AT&T with my dialtone and I certainly wouldn't pay them for TV. I'd only use their DSL if I had no other option. Even then, I'd consider sucking it up and going back to Charter first.

Oh, also - my 10-day outage with AT&T? They felt an $8 and some change credit to my account was sufficient compensation for the hours I wasted talking to their staff, again and again and again.
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Re: Re:

Postby lukpac » Sun Aug 28, 2011 10:03 pm

Petro wrote:When I initially moved in, it was mostly stable and worked well - aside from a large number of obnoxious dropped packets where I'd be left waiting for the TTL to expire before I could load a page. (Particularly obnoxious if you spend a lot of times on forums.) I can nearly see the DSLAM from my porch, and I'd routinely see 1.8 megabyte / sec (yes, megabyte) speeds on downloads - so, I didn't complain.
[...]
This guy was an old school lineman. He didn't seem comfortable on a PC at all (he didn't even know how to find my browser to pull up the onboard diags on the bridge), but he found the one thing that everyone else had missed - a blank plate in my laundry room that had a loose coil of wire spliced into the pair that also carried my DSL signal. He stripped that out and my problems immediately ended.

The following day he coordinated with my building's staff and gained access to the telecom room and swapped my connection down there as well, because he didn't like the S/N - and everything's been perfect. I love my DSL now.
[...]
I can't endorse AT&T for DSL. In fact, I get angry even thinking about dealing with them. TDS has been far from perfect, but I've always been able to reach a human after a few minutes. Every call to AT&T entailed at least a thirty minute hold time, followed by having to re-explain your situation to a new tech in a different call center who seemingly didn't have the ability to attach meaningful notes to the trouble ticket. If they told you they'd call you back after your call, they were lying. I never received any followup until I began dealing with a local tech, at which point my 10 day outage was resolved within a two-hour window.


A few random comments for anyone interested...

I'm a little surprised nobody noticed the issue with the extra wire prior to the old school guy. Perhaps I *shouldn't* be surprised, but if you could see the DSLAM, anything other than *perfect* should have been a huge red flag. I'm currently served from a DSLAM a block and a half away (more on that in a bit), and I have a *solid* 6 meg connection.

Since my last post 3 years ago, I've switched to AT&T. My distance to the central office was just too far to get anything great (by the end I was hovering around a meg, down from a high of about 2.5), at least using the lines and equipment around here. Not only did TDS not have access to AT&T's remote DSLAMs, they never rolled out WiMAX around here, no doubt due to the fact that they are getting out of the CLEC (AT&T territory) business. I believe they stopped accepting new customers the beginning of last year. At any rate, things were just sucking too bad to stay with them. Not entirely their fault, but that wasn't a good enough reason to stay with them.

You're right about AT&T's help and order systems. They suck. Getting service and changing service (adding a land line, adding long distance, etc) *sucked*, and things weren't great the one time I had a random outage. That said, other than those times, the service has been rock solid. Daily CRC error totals over 20 are rare. Being served from down the street helps, of course.

I'm still really miffed about some service issues with Charter years ago, so I have no desire to switch to them. Plus they block ports like 80 and 25, which is a deal killer for me.

"Best" in the context of this thread should be "Least bad".
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Re: Re:

Postby Petro » Sun Aug 28, 2011 10:23 pm

lukpac wrote:"Best" in the context of this thread should be "Least bad".


So very true.

My needs are very simple. Give me service. Give it to me reliably. When it's not reliable, let me get someone to fix it.

Somehow those needs have been elevated to become something above and beyond the norm. That's really just sad.

My AT&T service was rock-solid aside for the time when it was broken for ten days and I was utterly and completely unable to get a human to even follow up on a phone call, let alone fix it.

TDS has been "less shittastic" than AT&T, but that's hardly an award worth celebrating. Realistically, they should both be flogged - just slightly less so for TDS than AT&T.

I wish I could have an ISP that I didn't hate. Having to choose using metrics like "I hate <xx> the least" isn't helpful.
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Re: Re:

Postby lukpac » Sun Aug 28, 2011 10:27 pm

Petro wrote:TDS has been "less shittastic" than AT&T, but that's hardly an award worth celebrating. Realistically, they should both be flogged - just slightly less so for TDS than AT&T.


I *wanted* to stick with TDS, being local and all, but it got to the point where it was just Too Damn Slow.

Thinking about it, AT&T's customer service has probably been a lot worse than TDS's (not that TDS's was all that good), but I've had to deal with them much less, so I guess it kind of evens out or something.
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Re: Best Cable/High speed internet/Phone company???

Postby Twigz2011 » Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:52 am

Thank you for the replies. I haven't had service of any kind with ATT except for cellular service maybe 10 years ago. It does seem that one is forced to choose the least unsatisfactory service.

As far as the offerings and price for cable tv and internet access, ATT looked to be pretty much in line with Charter. I might have missed something, but didn't notice anything Charter had that ATT didn't offer.

If this is the case, I guess I'm inclined to wait a short while for ATT.
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Re: Best Cable/High speed internet/Phone company???

Postby snoqueen » Mon Aug 29, 2011 8:20 am

Maybe a reasonable conclusion is if you need super-good download speeds, go with AT&T. If you don't care that much about speed but value customer service more, it's TDS.

Interesting that nobody put price as their top priority. You'd think in a market served by more than one internet company, someone would offer premium service (competent local tech service, quick and conveniently-scheduled in-person service, top speeds etc). I'd think there would be customers willing to pay for such an offering when the standard-level service is so annoying.
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Re: Best Cable/High speed internet/Phone company???

Postby lukpac » Mon Aug 29, 2011 8:54 am

snoqueen wrote:Maybe a reasonable conclusion is if you need super-good download speeds, go with AT&T. If you don't care that much about speed but value customer service more, it's TDS.


There isn't a choice, at least for new customers. Either you can get AT&T or you can get TDS (or, another phone company if you live in an area where neither owns the lines). TDS has ceased accepting new customers in areas where AT&T owns the infrastructure (i.e., most of the city of Madison proper). You're stuck with whoever the incumbent carrier is in your area.

As far as speed goes, I can't say I've checked into TDS since I don't live in their territory, but they *should* be able to offer faster speeds like AT&T, since they can build the infrastructure in their territory to avoid the distance issues they ran into in AT&T territory. Of course, how that plays out in the real world, I don't know.
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Re: Best Cable/High speed internet/Phone company???

Postby Petro » Mon Aug 29, 2011 12:55 pm

lukpac wrote:As far as speed goes, I can't say I've checked into TDS since I don't live in their territory, but they *should* be able to offer faster speeds like AT&T, since they can build the infrastructure in their territory to avoid the distance issues they ran into in AT&T territory. Of course, how that plays out in the real world, I don't know.


My AT&T DSL was capped by AT&T at 550KB/s. (About 6 megabit). My TDS is advertised as 15 megabit, delivers more like 18 megabit and is within a few dollars of what I was paying AT&T.

TDS also offers VDSL at an increased cost - that's advertised as 25 megabit service.

Of course, I'm geographically advantaged due to having such a short local loop, so ymmv.
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Re: Re:

Postby NullDevice » Fri Oct 21, 2011 12:51 pm

lukpac wrote:"Best" in the context of this thread should be "Least bad".


I liken the question of "best ISP in town" to "favorite toxic chemical" and "tallest munchkin." You have to readjust your expectations greatly.

Same with cell providers.

I've had Charter for a while, both as residential and business. Their connection has been reliable but I find a lot of their business practices shady, their offerings overpriced, and their customer service suspect.

I had TDS briefly, and despite being in a reasonably new house with solid wiring, a mere two blocks not just from a DSLAM but from a CO, I still a) had to wait nearly a month for them to actually do my installation and b) never got more than 2mbit/sec despite paying for a lot more (and being an IT guy with telecom friends, I was able to pretty conclusively prove that it wasn't the wiring in my house).

I haven't tried AT&T yet and I'm sort of terrified of them, since I have them for a cellular provider and...well, same sort of low bar.

I guess my point is no matter who you pick as an ISP, you're going to get screwed somehow.
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Re: Best Cable/High speed internet/Phone company???

Postby JohnWS » Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:35 pm

Agree with all of the above. USA! We're number 23! Long live the free market! http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/int_i ... per-capita

Anyway, my wife and I irrationally hate charter the most. We went to U-verse. Have been reasonable happy with connectivity. Our bill got screwed up twice and we lost a couple hours of our life on hold.
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Re: Best Cable/High speed internet/Phone company???

Postby lukpac » Fri Oct 21, 2011 2:40 pm

JohnWS wrote:Anyway, my wife and I irrationally hate charter the most.


Huzzah!
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Re: Best Cable/High speed internet/Phone company???

Postby ilikebeans » Fri Oct 21, 2011 6:38 pm

lukpac wrote:
JohnWS wrote:Anyway, my wife and I irrationally hate charter the most.

Huzzah!

Trust me, as someone who angrily kicked Charter to the curb a few years back, in person, at one of their offices (never having done this before with any other company)...

it's not irrational.
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