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The Almighty Buck

Comcast Bidding To Buy AT&T's Cable-Modem Unit 167

Posted by timothy
from the at-everywhere dept.
jobugeek writes: "Comcast is making a bid to buy AT&T's cable modem unit for over 44 billion. That would combine the #1 and #3 cable modem providers in the U.S." If this deal should really happen, it would create the country's largest broadband provider. I wonder which of these two has better technical support, installation speed, etc.
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Comcast Bidding To Buy A&TT's Cable-Modem Unit

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  • They both suck. Consumers always lose, so it is a lose-lose situation. Any more questions?
  • by Baloo Ursidae (29355) <dead@address.com> on Sunday July 08, 2001 @05:49PM (#98943) Journal
    They both get thier bandwidth primarily from @home. Thier tech support is provided by @home, and having answered the phone as both Comcast@home and AT&T@home several times today, I can safely say the tech support's the same. What does this mean for the customer? AT&T customer's rates will likely go down.

    --
    Vote Socialist [votesocialist.org] or quit whining!

  • Well, there remains the fact that both AT&T and Comcast use the @Home network to provide service. However, I have to say, and I'm sure most of my fellow @Home users would agree, that @Home tech support would make chimps with typewriters seem like absolute fucking geniuses.
  • by SilentChris (452960) on Sunday July 08, 2001 @05:53PM (#98945) Homepage
    Speaking from experience, Comcast's was trivally easy to set up and maintain. I don't know how good their tech support is (never had to call them), but the connection speeds are pretty reliable. I'll be downloading anywhere between 150 KBytes/sec during the day to 300 KBytes/sec at night, sometimes higher or lower depending on the server.

    They're cheap, too. We're only paying $32.99 a month and the cable modem was free. No installation fee, either.

  • I have AT&T Broadband as a provider right now (used to be Mediaone until they were bought). They have a strict policy of only allowing one routable IP per customer, but it looks like Comcast will give you up to three for an additional charge. Here's the link to the FAQ. [comcastonline.com] I hope that if this happens, they'll apply this policy to all their customers.
  • I can only connect at 28 K where I live. I tried to get service from AT & T, but after waiting a month for my appointment they didn't show. When I called they said they cancelled me because Comcast handles the service in my area now. After repeated calls to Comcast I always got the same answer: my city is not in their database and they'll call me when they can connect my service. I called twice a week for five weeks straight, and have not called them for three weeks. No phone call. I live in a big city in the Metro Detroit area (Rochester Hills) but they don't know where I live. That's the only reason they give for not connecting service. Oddly enough, they do provide cable at my house (w/o knowing where I live). They're no good at all.
  • Well, there remains the fact that both AT&T and Comcast use the @Home network to provide service. However, I have to say, and I'm sure most of my fellow @Home users would agree, that @Home tech support would make chimps with typewriters seem like absolute fucking geniuses.

    Having taken calls as an @Home technical support rep, I would also like to assure you that there are your fair share of customers, callers, and yes... Slashdot readers/posters/writers who meet those exact same qualifications.

    -- Primis.

  • Well, when a door is closed, a windows elsewhere is always opened (avoiding religious references for the sake of some).
    -----
  • What does this mean for the customer? AT&T customer's rates will likely go down.

    You'd think that, but what they'll probably do is trump up some crap about how combining the two services was expensive (even though they were probably a single entity all along), and jack up the monthly rates for everyone by a few bucks to recoup the costs of the 'merger.'

    ~Philly
  • by Mdog (25508)
    s/better technical support/some semblance technical support/g
  • Not true... your taking the classical any company is bad. I have comcast @home (in michigan) and I must say the service is fair. I never needed any tech support. My modem was installed with in a week of placing placing an order nearly two years ago. In the last 4 mos I can only thing of one outage that prohibited me getting online from about 11pm to 3pm the next day (sat - sun).

    I also have digital cable and that just sucks. I despise the entire cable box interface... just as bad as KDE or GNOME (please no flames or holy wars I just am not a KDE or GNOME fan).

    If Comcast is able to pull this off I hope the improve their backbone big time... and I also hope they can force @home to improce email preformance (thank god we don't have to use Excite Mail).
  • How could the combination of two giants cause rates to go down? This consolidation trend can only hurt the consumer by eliminating competition. Be afraid.
  • This is the same everywhere, for every type of ISP, be it dial-up, cable, or DSL. However, the chimps working for Cox out here in Vegas have got to be the gems of them all. Their support routine consists of:

    1. Have customer reset modem.
    2. If service is not restored, schedule technician appointment.

    After having problems for a couple days on end, I would get to the point that I would start the conversation with "I already reset the modem and it still does not work", at which point the carefully trained chimps would jump straight to #2. After an average hold time of 10-15 mins, I would be on the phone for under 60 seconds with a tech, saying only "Yah, 1-3pm tomorrow is fine."

    I challenge anyone to show me a smarter group of "technical support specialists". Perhaps, though, all ISPs hire from the same pool of technical support chimps?

  • I'm just coming back to chicago from las vegas, and it has been awhile.... can anyone reccomend or give experiences with high speed net access here?

    Basically looking at Metro Chicago (not suburbia), DSL, cable, and I've heard they are starting a new high-speed wireless thing from the sears tower?

    Experiences, opinions, etc would be much appreciated.

  • That is not true, AT&T lets you buy extra IP addresses. I know this as a fact because I am doing it.
  • Your problems were unfortunately caused by the fact that your market has already swapped hands at least twice in a short timespan -- from AT&T, to Comcast (who bought into the market), and then back to AT&T again after Comcast shipped it back to AT&T more than halfway into it for reasons unknown before the transaction was ever complete.

    -- Primis.

  • If this deal should really happen, it would create the country's largest broadband provider.

    So they'd be even bigger than AOL-TW? Now that's a scary thought.

    ---
  • by electricmonk (169355) on Sunday July 08, 2001 @06:08PM (#98959) Homepage
    Yes, but then again, they're the ones paying. If I was paying for someone else to troubleshoot my network, I would certainly expect them to at least have a foggy idea of what DNS is, and not confuse it with DHCP. Actually, one time when I called, I actually had to explain what DNS was, in childish terms that the moron could understand (Every site on the internet has to have some way to be distinguished from others, that's called an IP address. Now, what DNS does...).

    Newsflash, man: I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO DO THAT!

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  • This is hilarious, considering the post directly above it is from a customer service rep. I'd hate to be there when he refreshes the page and sees that someone else called him an arse not even a minute after he posted.
  • I have AT&T, only because I get if for free because my wife works there. I also have DSL because AT&T has hardware specific modems, and only for Mac and Windows. As far as I see from the FAQ, Comcast is the same.

    Also, you can't run any kind server with AT&T. The only real plus side is that it's faster.
  • I have AT&T Broadband as a provider right now (used to be Mediaone until they were bought). They have a strict policy of only allowing one routable IP per customer,

    AT&T in many areas will sell you additional IPs for ~$5/month. Perhaps that is just a local reg (low on IPs in your area perhaps) ow whoever you talked to is an idiot (or both).

  • AT&T Broadband (formerly MediaOne/RoadRunner, formerly MediaOne Express, formerly Highway1) gives you up to three IPs per modem for an additional charge of $9.95/mo.

    That option has been available for about two years. In fact, they now even have packages for 'home networking' where they're selling Linksys gear via a third party but supporting it themselves. linkified [attbroadband.com]

  • The big one!!! I have AT&T Cable internet access, and the service is great. But, if I ever need phone support (to get credit for service downtime, which happened once) I have to wait for a customer support specialist for over a half hour. It sucks!!! And, I got stood up like 3 times waiting for the installers.


    -------
  • This may be off topic but it seems corporate america is increasingly holding a death grip on the broadband access which everyone will eventually be using. I wonder if they will become the stanard oil of tommorow. Making the consumer sign rediculous end user agreements and blocking access to sites in their firewalls/routers such as at&tsucks.com (or whatever address 2600 decides to register).
  • by electricmonk (169355) on Sunday July 08, 2001 @06:14PM (#98966) Homepage
    Ha! You certainly have it worse than me, but here they have an equally-clever panacea: "Did you clear your internet cache?"

    Oh, it's always a blast to rip the ethernet out of the router so that I can have a direct connection to their network; otherwise, they just tell you that they don't support that configuration and hang up.

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  • Having had to suffer through the management at my last job insisting on the cheapest provider...I would have to say @Home/@Work couldn't network themselves out of the proverbial "brown paper bag". Example: They have ONE person there who can intelligently support BGP- what I mean by that is that they have one person who can update BGP routing info without using a fucking template.

    Same goes for most of the rest of the company. I say most of the rest of the company, because anyone who shows that they have an IQ rating above room temp on the data center floor is either fired or delegated so much work that they have a heart attack and die. However, if you are one of the chimps, life is great and you get to go home on time and never answer any calls after hours.

    *shudders*

    I pity the people who are going to be stuck with comcast as their only provider. It may even make life easier on the users, whenever TechSupport at @home figures out that ATT and Comcast are the same company. Well, see above, maybe not ;)

    Glad I have DSL (no lame ass proxy, no wacky use policies, nuthin' but net), and can handle my own networking issues (RFC 1918 allocation, FW issues, etc) at my own residence.

    mrgoat
  • Having used both AT&T RoadRunner (their cable modem service) and ComCast's cable modem service each for over a year I can honestly say that AT&T RoadRunner is much better. Why? Because in Installation AT&T) Takes 2 days (called on Thursday installed on Saturday) for them to come out and install it. ComCast) Takes them 9 months to install (every month I called them up and they said they will be out there in 4 to 6 weeks). Linux Support AT&T) Refuses to support linux and gives no guarantee that it will work with linux (simple as setting up an ethernet connection though). ComCast) Claims to give full support for linux but when you actually call them up for support they say that you have to be using windows because nobody at tech support knows linux. Price AT&T) charges $39.99 plus $9.99 for modem rental yours to keep after 12 months. ComCast) charges $39.99 plus $9.99 for modem rental yours to keep after 12 months. Modem AT&T) uses 3Com which is compatible with ComCast. ComCast) uses a model which is only compatible with ComCast. Speed AT&T) has max transfer rates of 220k/second download and 60k/second upload ComCast) has max transfer rates of 100k/second download and 100k/second upload Technical Support AT&T) are polite and helpful without treating you like an idiot and have wait times of around 5 minutes. ComCast) have wait times around 30 minutes with only 9 to 5 support Monday through Fridays. Treat you like idiots and do not analyse the problem that you tell them until 45 minutes of running through there standard procedure diagnosis before finally reaching the error that you told them it was.
  • Well, considering that the Quality of my broadband internet access has dropped considerably since AT&T aquired TCI, in terms of stability and price (they recently jacked the price up by asking customers to buy their own routers), I think shifting to yet another owner would be crap. I wish these broadband behemoths would leave these little local cable co's alone so I can have my nice, fast Digital Cable/CableModem service again.

    Asf
  • ..is more than just the "cable modem unit". They also sell the fixed wireless service (local phone and high speed internet) as well.

    This is pretty significant if AT&T is seriously contemplating this deal: Fixed Wireless (aka Digital Broadband) was AT&T's strategic move to bypass the local telcos and go direct to the residential consumer. Seems odd that they would cash out for 44 billion at this point.

    ---

  • Okay, check this out. I set up a brand spanking new Windows machine. I used to online @Home support page to talk to a tech. I needed to get their speed patch so my network would get more than 8k/sec.

    The technician, after about twenty minutes, told me that they no longer supported that patch, that I should try a search engine and then promptly disconnected me. I think thats pretty shitty customer support. Fortunately the rest of my experiences with @Home have been pretty good.

  • i dunno about you guys but at&t sucks a fat one does anyone see their recent price increases as kinda unfair? i mean, from 40 to 45 bucks. they're just trying to increase the price to make fatter margins while leaving many out of the boat. and they cap upload speeds (bah) AND they dont even allow us to run simple web services. if they dont let us do anything, what ARE we paying for??
  • by DragonPup (302885) on Sunday July 08, 2001 @06:17PM (#98973)
    I was just laid off with 120 other people from AT&T broadband's Cable Modem tech support staff in Massachusetts at the beginning of the month(the position was consolidated to Denver). And no, we did not suck, we were in fact the most effective troubleshooters in the company, with a 95% resolution rate on tier 1(4% needed a tech to visit the house, 1% went to @home's tier 2), which goes to show the best ones are the first to go;)

    I called my old supervisor and told him about this, we were laughing for a few solid minutes. He he he

    -Henry
  • Having used both AT&T RoadRunner (their cable modem service) and ComCast's cable modem service each for over a year I can honestly say that AT&T RoadRunner is much better. Why? Because in

    Installation

    AT&T: Takes 2 days (called on Thursday installed on Saturday) for them to come out and install it.

    ComCast: Takes them 9 months to install (every month I called them up and they said they will be out there in 4 to 6 weeks).

    Linux Support

    AT&T: Refuses to support linux and gives no guarantee that it will work with linux (simple as setting up an ethernet connection though).

    ComCast: Claims to give full support for linux but when you actually call them up for support they say that you have to be using windows because nobody at tech support knows linux.

    Price

    AT&T: charges $39.99 plus $9.99 for modem rental yours to keep after 12 months.

    ComCast: charges $39.99 plus $9.99 for modem rental yours to keep after 12 months.

    Modem

    AT&T uses 3Com which is compatible with ComCast.

    ComCast: uses a model which is only compatible with ComCast.

    Speed

    AT&T: has max transfer rates of 220k/second download and 60k/second upload

    ComCast: has max transfer rates of 100k/second download and 100k/second upload

    Technical Support

    AT&T: are polite and helpful without treating you like an idiot and have wait times of around 5 minutes.

    ComCast: have wait times around 30 minutes with only 9 to 5 support Monday through Fridays. Treat you like idiots and do not analyse the problem that you tell them until 45 minutes of running through there standard procedure diagnosis before finally reaching the error that you told them it was.

  • by Frums (112820)
    I wonder which of these two has better technical support, installation speed, etc.

    AT&T Broadband has the worst support I have ever encountered, period. Perfect example is when I tried to cancel my service, I waited on hold for 1.2 hours. Gave up, repated that with times ranging from 20 minutes to 2 hours, still never got through to customer support. Wound up sending em a letter and moving, I hope they canceled it. They have never asked for the cable modem back though.

    -Frums
  • by isdnip (49656) on Sunday July 08, 2001 @06:19PM (#98976)
    I have AT&T @Home now, but it was Road Runner until last week. Nothing changed except the name and their home page. This was MediaOne before, not TCI, and MediaOne runs their own cable modem system, tying in to AT&T's national Internet backbone. The mail server's a bit slow and I'm having trouble posting via the news server, but basic connectivity is excellent and reliable. This is near Boston.

    The old TCI systems, on the other hand, let @Home do real work for them. From what I hear it hasn't worked out so well. I really think AT&T would like to put @Home out of its misery. They made a mistake going pubilc with it; now they have public minority shareholders they can't screw.

    I think Comcast pretty much does their own thing too, albeit with an @Home label. As cablecos go, it's a high-class outfit too, more like MediaOne than TCI. But do note that over half of their current service area was not theirs two years ago -- they did a huge swap with AT&T/TCI as part of the MediaOne deal. (Comcast tried to buy it; AT&T outbid them and owed them a $1B breakup fee, which was paid in the form of cable subscribers. They have been swapping systems to create larger, more contiguous clusters.) So lots of Comcast systems are old TCI systems, which usually means "fix-er-uppers".

    The big question for this deal is concentration: AT&T had some legal problems taking over MediaOne, because they ended up owning more than a 30% prorated share of the national CATV market. That law's legality is questionable, but Comcast-AT&TB would be WAY over the mark. And I don't think AT&T has finalized their divestiture of 25% ownership of Time Warner Entertainment.
  • The consumers should ask thenselves, "will this benefit us?"

    I'm sick and tired or corporatism that injures the consumers.

    Although the Romans said it rights centuries ago: caveat emptor.
  • If you don't like the no web server rule, why did you sign the terms of service? It's a residential service, if you want a web page, you can always use the provided web space, or get a commercial service ;-)

    -Henry
  • I'm currently using at&t@home service in the Denver Metro area with several Linux servers running on extra IP's I've leased from them; was no hassle whatsoever. You can either use dhcpcd or just get the static info, plug into linux, and you're good to go.

    As far as the server bit goes; they only seem to care about servers that serve a fairly large amount of traffic; you know, the sort of stuff they'd rather you pay for an @work connection to host. But, if you're going to host some netgames, or run a private server for few people, they don't much care.

    Red flags only go up when your bandwidth hits a certain mark; muds and other vid games don't seem to even get close ;).
  • I've had Ameritech DSL for about 1 year now, and I have to tell you that it's the best thing that has ever happened to me. Not only were they prompt in their installation (turning on service and installing the equipment in my home right when they said they would: 1 week after I called), but they also have had impeccable uptime. I have never noticed an outage on my DSL line, and I'm always maxxing out my bandwidth when I upgrade my Linux kernel every once in a while.

    Haven't tried tech support yet, but I'd imagine that they live up to Ameritech's gold standard. With telcos that provide service this nice, I'm starting to think that monopolies aren't such bad things after all...

    --
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  • I have cable modem service w/ AT&T broadband and have been running my Debian server for about a year (handling my domain: e-mail, web, that sort of thing).

    It may not be allowed, but I've never had a problem.
  • AOL is by far the biggest ISP, but they aren't a broadband provider. And instead of building up the infrastructure, I believe they've instead signed deals w/ the telco DSL companies to provide the high-speed connection.

    Right now, AOL makes a killing on subscription fees of $24/mo. However, it's tough to see a large chunk of their existing user base requiring more bandwidth, and be willing to pay for it (on the order of $50/mo).

    Finally, calling these businesses cable modem units is kinda silly. The cable modem is only a single piece of hardware installed at the customer location, and it is manufactured by a 3rd-party. Cable Internet provider is a more accurate term.
  • Man, I suppose it will depend upon where you live. The community I live in has actually put together and passed a bond for our public utility to run fiber all over the island and provide service (phone and data) to anyone who wants it. Should be done in about 5 years or so.

    Unless you live in a place that is actually that "together", I guess you and others will have to live with corporate control over what amounts to public speech. If you want to change that, you might want to research initiatives in Alameda or Palo Alto, CA. Alameda is where they are running their own fiber...Palo Alto has an agreement with Stanford where folks get access to their net (not city-wide, but still prevalent). Then go out, lobby, and pass a similar measure in your own community. Better be REAL sure that your community can handle a project like that, though. Or they will sell it to someone like Comcast to manage, and then you are back to square 0.



    mrgoat
  • Sorry to hear that - the Northeast support group was far and away the best, since the old Highway1 days. It was never a good sign when the tech who answered would try to figure out how to pronounce the towns around me... and then I'd have to explain why a routing loop is bad.. but they'd tell me the weather in Jacksonville was nice.

    Did they nuke all of the regions and just leave Denver?
  • That's interesting to hear, since I'm using a Coyote Linux box hooked to my AT&T @Home cable modem to provide routing/firewalling/etc. to my home network of 3 Unix/Linux boxen and two Windoze boxen. In fact, that was one of my biggest concerns before signing for @Home and at one point was told that they don't support Linux. When I called them to sign up, though, they were like, "Linux? Well, we don't really support it, but here's your DHCP client name..." and I was up and running before I could say "Bob's your uncle."

    Not being able to run a server doesn't bother me, since I really have no intention of doing so. And I have to agree that the speed is niiiiiice! No real downtime to speak of either (at least, here in the Boise, Idaho area).
  • When is this going to end? I too had AT&T road runner until a week ago.. my e-mail address is still @ne.mediaone.net, as I'm assuming yours is.. don't know how long that is going to last. We've gone from Mediaone (which was only around for a couple of years), to AT&T Road Runner, to AT&T @Home (but only in name), and now maybe it's Comcast? How long until the next big fish comes along and gobbles up the market? I'm sick of this..

    In the past year, my bank (BankBoston) became Fleet, my phone company (Bell Atlantic) became Verizon, and my cable company (Mediaone) became AT&T Broadband! Is it a coincidence that all three of these companies really suck? I'm just sick of all these take overs.

    --

  • Perhaps, though, all ISPs hire from the same pool of technical support chimps?

    Actually, the one time I called Mindspring DSL support, I got a really bright guy who took the initiative to dupe my problem and got engineering to fix it within an hour or so. I am quite confident I could call them again and get an idiot. I am also sure there are bright people at Cox support, as well as AT&T and Comcast.

    Also, in defense of support people, usually the problem is in management. Often the support people are measured on call volume and not call quality. If they hang with you too long they will be penalized, even if the net gain to the company, saving an expensive truck roll in your example, would be sizable if they spent the extra 5 minutes with you on the phone.

    Having worked in and around Tech support operations for years I can assure you there are bright people in almost every organization, and no shortage of dumb ones. The same could be said of marketing, sales, and even programmers (met many that are dumb as bricks).

  • Newsflash, man: I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO DO THAT!

    Where exactly do you propose you get your tech support from? People like yourself who know something almost always also would consider it "beneath" them to ever do Tier 1 tech support themselves. Not all, but a lot. There are exceptions. Someone has to do it, and it comes from somewhere... so it's pretty hard to criticize someone for doing a job you DON'T want to do yourself, regardless of how much you know... like anything else in life there are good techs and bad techs. And the bad ones don't stick around long because of their own incompetence, and the good ones don't stick around either because they move on to something else better.

    -- Primis.

  • AT&T has the highest rates anywhere in the @home network. If Comcast buys them out, they'll likely reduce price to stay competitve against the budget DSL providers like Verizon, which AT&T stopped being after thier last rate increase. It apparently wasn't a wise decision, AT&T calls used to have the plurality, now Comcast calls outnumber them close to 2:1 just on rough guesstimate on what I get.

    --
    Vote Socialist [votesocialist.org] or quit whining!

  • Don't worry about me, they are amazingly generous with their severence pay. And yes, all Tier 1 AT&T broadband @home tech support is being done through Denver(Denver has a massive call center), or will be soonish...

    -Henry
  • AT&T in many areas will sell you additional IPs for ~$5/month. Perhaps that is just a local reg (low on IPs in your area perhaps) ow whoever you talked to is an idiot (or both).

    AT&T allows up to five unique "addresses" (actually Computer or DNS Names) per account at $4.95/mo. for all @Home markets. No they're not static numerical IP's, but that's due to the fact that most all of the markets are on DHCP.

    -- Primis.

  • Seems odd that they would cash out for 44 billion at this point.

    The figure is low, but AT&T was already planning to split the company into three different division: wireless, cable, and long distance. In addition, there would be separate tracking stocks for consumer and business long distance. I believe the wireless spinoff is going to happen pretty soon, like tomorrow.

    So, yeah, it isn't strange that AT&T would consider selling a division it was already planning to spin off. However, AT&T spent over $90 billion to purchase TCI and some other cable assets, so getting half what they paid for is a little weird, but, of course, there will be other non-cash factors such as stock swaps, and the possiblility that Armstrong might grab a job at the new Comcast.

  • I have mixed feelings about Comcast's support... On one hand, I've had four outages in excess of 24 hours over the past six months. I've had appointments for 12-4 PM that have shown up at 9 AM, and I've had appointments when no one from Comcast has shown up at all. I've also talked to a number of completely incompetent support people at Comcast.

    The only saving grace is that when I filled in their on-line complaint form I got an almost immediate reply from someone much higher up in the support chain than I'd get on the phone. I've also always gotten credited for the outages that happened (as well as for being inconvenienced).

    As it turns out, apparently the problems stemmed from the fact that there was some incorrect information for my account (concerning the port # my apartment was in the Comcast cable box).

    As for download speeds, I have no complaints. And it was extremely easy to get running under Linux.

    Dinivin
  • That's interesting, I tried for quite a while to get the modem to work on a linux box and had no success. I also could not get it to work on a Windows box(i got the mac modem.) Maybe it's the mac modem that cannot do it.
  • I live in Troy, and I have AT&T, so they *should* have you. Try signing up via there web site... twice the web site said I was in their area while a phone call told me that I was not serviceable.
  • Who did you expect to have control of broadband access other than corporations? Billy Joe and Jim Bob were gonna string out fiber-coaxial for the entire trailer park? Is the local bridge club going to decide who makes the best DSLAMs?

    ostiguy
  • I've got Comcast@Home in New Jersey, and I gotta say, the service is nice. However, it took more than a month to install. They had this nifty self-install deal, so I signed up for that. I got the equipment about a week after I signed up, hooked it up to my machine (had to take out the anolog modem, to make room for the NIC,) and called the number for activation. I was told that I would be online within 3 days. Three days come and go, nothing. I call again, and I'm not in the activation queue anymore. To make a long story short, I went through this about 4 times. A month and a half later, I was finally on. Since then though, aside from a problem concerning a filter on the pole outside my house, service has been good. Fast, and only one 5 minute outage the entire time.
  • yes... but only if you can endure trying to code with the same elevator music coming out of your speakerphone for an HOUR !
  • My parents have TDS Metrocom for both their phone and DSL provider. I got them to switch after I showed them that they could go with TDS Metrocom and get DSL for less than what they were paying Ameritech + ISP. After a couple of months they had a problem. The line appeared to be dead. My dad, the handyman he is, spends forever trying to fix it. Finally he calls up tech support, and within five minutes they are explaining to him how to reset his Linksys router. An ADSL line that stays up longer than the router. Awesome.

    There was a bit of trouble with the install. Strangely, this disappeared when Ameritech was threatened with a report to the Better Business Beauro.
  • I have had my cable modem since January from AT&T, in the metro Detroit area. I moved on the 1st of June, about 2 miles down the road. A quick call to AT&T and I was all set, the installation (both times) was quick, professional and courteous. They made no bad comments about my Linux firewall/router I used, both times the installer told me he didn't know how to set it up, but gave me the sheet with my IP information so I could set it up. About 2 weeks later, I noticed a ComCast van parked on my street, and a techie came to me and asked where my cable access point was. Sure enough, about 30 minutes later, my cable modem stopped working. I called AT&T, and they said they had NO clue why ComCast was there, but it would take a week(!) to send someone out. I also called ComCast to ask what was going on, and they had no clue, after 3 calls and 3 "supervisors." I went outside and noticed that the box was still open, and that my cable line was disconnected. I connected it right back up, and good enough, it worked. When the AT&T tech came that I had called for support from, he drove a ComCast van! So, I suspect this AT&T/ComCast deal is as good as done. Nontheless, shame on ComCast for disconnecting my service and not fessing up.
  • What kind of rates are we talking about? I pay $45/month for AT&T in Minneapolis, MN. Is that a lot? I'm very happy with the service level now - I'd be concerned about any change that might affect uptime.
  • I know, as a Comcast customer, that they offer five routable IPs for an additional fee.
  • You're lucky. Most AT&T customers are paying $52 after tax right now.

    --
    Vote Socialist [votesocialist.org] or quit whining!

  • Modem :

    AT&T uses 3Com which is compatible with ComCast.
    ComCast: uses a model which is only compatible with ComCast.

    Not true. I have ComCast and currently have a Motorola modem. However they also have issued 3Com, Com21, and ?NextBus? in my area (my wife issues the boxes to the installation tecs).

    Maybe this is true in your area, but not in all.

  • Comcast has proven to be a reliable company as far as tech support and basic installations go. But as soon as something goes wrong that they have to tend to in person, it seems you can't get anyone out. Now I know that they hire contractors to do something like line drops (which I need), but you'd think that a big company like them would hire competent and reliable people, especially for a DC-Metro area customer, which is a pretty big customer base on this part of the coast.
  • You know what I am sick and tired of? I am going to tell you.

    I am sick and tired of people complaining about corporations and then doing nothing about it. People just bash and bash and bash. They go to rallies, they go the Internet, they go to gatherings and protests, and generally make a lot of noise.

    Then onethe way home they stop at McDonalds for a Big Mac, swing by the mall and drop into Best Buy to get the latest Hollywood DVD, while remembering to stop by The Gap for that new "muscle tee". The whole time they are chugging along in their latest expensive late-model gas-guzzler listening to the latest CD on the car stereo.

    I personally dont have a problem with "corporatism". So long as people get what they want and are aware of whats going on, fine by me. You bitch and moan about "injury to the consumers". Wait a minute, is that.. ohh it can't be.. thats not a MICROSOFT hotmail account, is it?

    If people would recognize the power that we have as consumers, instead of bitching about protection and corporations and all that crap, then maybe corporations wouldn't seem so big and bad. For example, I disagree with WalMart, the pricing structures (loss leaders on big items to get you on the small items), and how it treats it foreign and domestic suppliers and workers. You know what? I don't ever go to WalMart. It doesn't matter if they are the only ones with XYZ, or everyone else is closed, or if they are 10% cheaper. That's it. Problem solved. No more worries on my part. When others come around and the masses speak with their wallets WalMart will change or close down. Fine by me. No big loss. I don't have to bitch about it, or freak out about it, or complain on Slashdot about it. I just tell my friends why, and when someone says "lets go to walmart" i just tell them that i'd prefer to go somewhere else and then why that is.

    So here is big suggestion for you: don't lik AT&T or ComCast? Don't like how they treat you/customers/the publc? DON'T USE THEM. There are hundreds of other providers. And don't bitch about price or speed or features or anything like that. Sometimes being right is more expensive than being wrong. Make a choice. Adults do that. Children and Jon Katz whine about "corporatism" and ask "will this benefit us?"
  • This could be a little off-topic, but I'd just like to describe the situation we are currently facing in Australia. Things are very bad here. (In regards to cable internet access, that is... i will avoid commenting on any thing else!) By the way, I'm not in any way trying to say that just because things are worse here that you guys shouldn't be complaining - I think you should, loud and clear, and I'd just like to give you a little cautionary tale about how bad things can get with large monopolies in the telecommunications industry. The two suppliers of cable internet in Australia are Telstra and Optus. They do not however directly compete as they are available in different areas, so in a sense they each have their own monopoly. Telstra, who operate in my area, have just retro-actively introduced a download limit of 3 gig per month (including both up and downstream data). This service was advertised as "unlimited", subject to the provisions of the "Acceptable Use Policy" (AUP), however after a year or so they have added clauses to the AUP instigating the 3 gig limit. They claim that the current levels of usage are "degrading network performance", ie they are blaming their users for their own incompetancy. I don't know why they signed up so many users if they are unable to provide the services advertised. Obviously a fairly extreme miscalculation! On the other hand, the most likely thing is that they are actually deliberately throttling supply in order to squeeze every last miserable cent out of early-adopters. (after the three hig limit is reached, you then pay 19 cents per meg ( around US 9 or 10 cents) for every megabyte after that. A 3 gig per month limit might not sound too bad, however look at it this way. The download limit acts in practise as a kind of speed cap. If you want to run your modem flat-chat and as a true "broadband" service, you can only do so for around half an hour per day. Or on the other hand you could use the modem constantly, but at a much lower speed, ie only equivalent maybe to dialup speeds. So where's the "unlimited broadband access" they have advertised! Rates are about $70 per month (equivalent to around US 35 dollars), and installation is $189 to $400 (US $95 to $200), depending on the length of the contract you sign up for ( 3 to 18 months). It's a bit irrelevant whether you own the modem afterwards or not as you cannot switch to another service anyway! Speeds are nominally 256/64 (for a bit under US $35 per month) or 512/128 (for a bit over US $35 per month) These speeds are not always achieved, but I can't really give you any accurate figures on speed. (Especially now I can't use the damn thing properly anymore due to the download limit!) The worst thing though is the patronising emails they have sent around in explaining this new limit: "For the large majority of Freedom Plan customers, this allowance will not impact on their current usage patterns and will provide them with improved network performance. This is because around five percent of users take up 35 percent of total bandwidth at any one time. This group places a severe burden on the network which greatly reduces performance for most customers." As you can see, they are trying to demonise that group of users who actually use this nominally "broad band" service *as* a broadband service. They are betting that most users in Asutralia are not tech-savvy enough and/or acquainted with the idea of what broadband really means to bridle at this. Unfortunately they may be correct. I find it very upsetting Any comments?
  • True, but spinning off into a separate unit (AT&T Wireless Services, AWE [yahoo.com] was done a long time ago, over a year, I think) is a big difference from selling off the assets and customer base to a totally different company.

    Now that I've had a chance to read a few of the reports of this, the Comcast bid is unsolicited, which I read as AWS isn't (currently) in any talks, isn't shopping around for a buyout, and yes, it would surprise me if they were about to sell off the whole thing for 1/2 what they just paid to buy TCI (not to mention deals with Media One).

    Just doesn't add up.

    The cable company, which had been rumored to be eyeing AT&T Broadband, indicated that the two companies held talks for months, but were unable to agree.

    So, Comcast tried to work out a deal, got the cold shoulder, and now is making an offer to the shareholders. I guess stranger things have happened, eh?

    ---

  • I've had @home in Rochester Hills since last August, as does a relative of mine. I just looked at my original invoice from when they installed it, and they had me listed as living in Rochester instead of Rochester Hills. Have you tried to use Rochester instead?

    I've had that problem with other companies as well.

  • I'v had pretty good luck with Comcast TS.

    I would say things like I can ping this, but not this, and they could help me on my level, quickly.

    My average phone time (not including hold time) is about 120 seconds.
  • by lizrd (69275) <adam@bLISPump.us minus language> on Sunday July 08, 2001 @07:18PM (#99011) Homepage
    I challenge anyone to show me a smarter group of "technical support specialists". Perhaps, though, all ISPs hire from the same pool of technical support chimps?

    That pool is pretty well defined. It's set forth by the following qualifications.

    • Must speak some english
    • It'd be nice if you had a GED
    • Must be willing to take abuse from irate customers over the telephone
    • Must do all of the above for $7 an hour.
    Naturally, these requirements are listed a bit differently in the the newspaper ads announcing hiring for the position. They read something like this:
    • Excellent communication skills required
    • Education: Diploma or GED, Assiciates Degree preferred
    • Outstanding customer service skills required
    • Competitive wages and benefits, excellent advancement opportunities
    And you're left wondering why these people aren't qualified sys-admins???

    ________________________
  • the customer service at Comcast, while lacking in the phone call department, is exceptional in the website department.

    i remember setting up my own accounts, and also configuring a router/gateway for a friend, both of which required critical information that it seemed to me would only be available through a lengthy phone conversation with someone who knew little to nothing about what i was trying to do. fortunately i was able to check all of the account information off their website, instead of having to network with a human being! joy of joys!

    could be a double edged sword though, but i haven't had any problems with the Comcast service since i had it installed a year ago.
  • Big Tel-com company=hurt customers I am an unhappy Time Warner Cable customer with a Roadrunner modem ... it took me 6 weeks to track down a customer service, they refused to call me back. No, they said they would, they just never could force themselves to dial my number, it's only 10 digits, is it that harder then the 16 numbers they want me to enter so I will pay my bill. What part of "I refuse to pay until you return my calls so that you can take responsibility for and give me the service that I am being billed for" don't they understand?

    Remember the good old days when if you had a problem you could talk to a person and not be stuck in all of the phone menus, when people were people and would talk to about your problems with their company, when they genuinely cared about the customer (or at least acted like it), when they spoke English with out some deep southern or other hardly understandable accent. I'll be 21 this week and even I remember times like this.

    The bigger these companies get the harder it gets, you don't want to know what happened with me and Qwest.
  • Agreed, the "WORST" support ever. Not only do you wait on hold forever, most of the CSR's don't know to answer any questions. That is why I have cancelled my AT&T Broadband Cable and my AT&T wireless. The AT&T Broadbad Internet goes as soon as DSL is available in my neighborhood. AT&T is going downhill.
  • Hmm..
    We're paying $39.95/mo here in chicagoland. Former Mediaone territory.

  • Hold time of 5 minutes for AT&T???? HA! Where do you live??? We have hold times in excess of 1 hour in Atlanta! And their email server bounces 1/4 of the messages my friends send me.
  • Add tax to that, and I bet it comes out to $42 and change.

    --
    Vote Socialist [votesocialist.org] or quit whining!

  • ...AT&T RoadRunner (their cable modem service)...

    RoadRunner is a service offered by Time Warner Cable (now AOL Time Warner), not AT&T. That is, unless they've merged as well to form AT& AOL Time Warner T.

    Cheers,

    levine
  • Can't run a Server with AT&T?? I have a Red Hat 6.0 Linux box acting as a Firewall and Gateway for several PC's hooked up to a Cable Modem on AT&T Broadband. They do give you a dynamic IP, but that's no problem, since I set up a DHCP client on the Linux box. I have also noticed that you can keep the same IP for several days before they switch it on you. You can totally run a web, ftp, email or whatever server using Linux on AT&T, its just not super useful, since you IP changes.
  • Actually AT&T uses @HOME, Roadrunner, and Mediaone's former networks.
  • Let me make this perfectly clear.

    No matter how much those of us on cable bitch about the shitty tech support or what-not, I don't believe there is a single one of us that would rather go back to dialup. DSL, sure, but not dial-up.
    Broadband rules and once you've had that speed, there's no going back.

  • at the risk of posting another 'me too'...

    I've been using AT&T Broadband since just after they bought MediaOne, and their service has been absolutely phenomenal right from the begining. The guy who came out to set up my connection was nice engough to configure my router for me so that I could use NAT.

    They do have their fair share of problems, but they always fix them right away. For instance, when I lost DHCP service 2am on Christmas Eve, I called their tech support and got the problem solved in under 10 minutes. 3 days ago my neighborhood's router got struck by lightning. In 2 hours they had someone there to replace it. Another hour went by and it got struck by lightning a second time-- and they sent out a 2nd repair person to replace it again!

    The only thing that sucks about AT&T Broadband is the speed. This may be specific to my neighborhood, but I rarely get downstream speeds over 40-60 kps. Upstream speeds seem to be stuck around 25 kps. Still a heck of a lot faster than a modem...
  • About a year ago my cable company (then TCI) was bought out by AT&T. They promised cable internet service in my area and informed me to watch for the circular that would come in the mail. Finally one fateful day about 7 months ago the magical circular arrived in the mail claiming that I could finally have fast internet access.

    Attempt 1

    I called and schuduled an appointment for an installation. Three days later an AT&T service man showed up at my door. He then came in and tried to locate the point at which the cable entered my townhouse. After about an hour he decided that he could not find where the cable entered the house, so he hooked his meter up to a junction point which is located on the third floor. The reading came fine up okay for the receive channel, but my send channel was very low. The man then informed me that he needed to come back out to my house later in the week with a two-way amp. I said okay and I looked forward to him coming back in a few days.

    Attempt 2

    Later that week the same cable man came out to my house with a 2-way amp and installed it. Still no luck. My send channel was still too low. The cable guy calls his boss and he gives him a hard time, I can hear him yell "Those amps never break, you must be doing something wrong!!!", well we both concluded that there was something definately wrong with the 2-way amp. He said he was sorry and would be back in a few days with a new amp (they have to sign these things out).

    Attempt 3

    Again, a few more days go by and the same cable man shows up at my house, with a new amp in hand and a desire to finish this install as we are both tired of seeing each other. He proceeds to hook the amp up. We get a green light on the amp, and the send signal is now high enough that cable internet should work!!! Well he trys to split off from the line and run a cable line accross my floor and down the laundry shoot in my bedroom to the basement, where the computers are located. Well when he did this we had low signal at the other end. So I said don't worry about it, I'll just run cat5, no biggie. Hook up the cable modem in the closet and plug your laptop in and see if it works. Sure enough it did. After wiring the house I know have broadband internet and it only took 3 service calls and about 2 weeks of my time. : )

    I did call techsupport one time because we were having an outage and the tech gave me a ten dollar credit. All in all my experience with AT&T has been for the most part a pleasent one. I really enjoy my cable modem and I'm glad that they went the extra mile to get me installed.

  • Maybe it's just the fact that ATT here in the chicago area used to be mediaone, who had fairly good tech support for TV issues, but I've had good experiences with our support people.
    They've been fairly clueful, very diligent, and always got our issues resolved in a timely manner.. quite amazing, really, given that they're in the midst of a very aggressive fiber rollout around here.
    One funny note though.. when I call them, I always seem to get thickly accented Indian dudes with english names, like Chris or Dave.
    Is it just me?

  • IP's don't matter. With Linux and IP Masq. I have 3 machines on my local network. Potentially you could have dozens. The Linux kernal handles all the routing from the Cable Modem's single IP to all the local network IP's. And nobody on the outside can see your LAN IP's.
  • Here in Sacramento, AT&T *took over Comcast* and their cable modem service. Then they jacked up the prices very shortly after, and tech support went clear to hell. (I get sick of "power cycle your modem and call back in 1 hour" when the cable modem AND my cable TV are both out)
    Now Comcast is buying back the bits AT&T bought form Comcast? what the hell is going on?
    What cruel and unusual ways will they find to fuck up my billing *this* time?
  • You shouldn't. But it's not entirely the tech's stupidity that resulted in your crawlspace duties. The ISP business is highly competitive and mostly running at a loss; the motivation to save costs is high.

    No tech agent wants to roll a truck out to your house and later be called on the carpet because you needed to uninstall/reinstall a NIC. So if there is a *remote*, 1 in 20 chance that the issue might be your NIC installation, they will ask you to reinstall it (and a less competent tech will have you do the same in circumstances where there is no chance that it's the NIC, just so the *next* guy will be the one to take responsibility and roll a truck.)

    Having worked as a tier 1 tech, I recognize your valid point, but it's not the techs, it's management and the cost realities of the isp business.

    I want to get drunk with Hoagy Carmichael and

  • Yes, we are feeling that layoff in Atlanta. They also laid-off 150 people in the AT&T Broadband customer support. I decided to cancel my cable and get satelite a week ago. It took 3 phone calls and a wait on hold for 45 minutes to get that simple request done. AT&T is just digging themselves in to a lack-of-service hole. AT&T's answer to customer support problems??? Lay everone off and outsource all customer support to another company where: 1. The CSR's don't know anything... 2. The CSR's don't care...
  • I just signed up with Speakeasy [speakeasy.net] who uses Covad [covad.net].

    I can't tell you how good their service is yet. I only ordered the DSL (768 SDSL approx. $150/mo) on 6/29, but the "loop" line was installed by Ameritech on 7/6, and Covad is scheduled to do the inhouse wiring on 7/11.

    Beats my past experience with the now defunct Northpoint (Netsight ISP) by 3 months!

    Plus Speakeasy has a great web interface for keeping me uptodate with the state of my order. (And provides 30hr/month dial-up service for free.)

    They have a lot of choices for DSL configuration, and allow up to 10 IP addresses for Residential service.

    I'm confident that my good experience will continue. Check out DSL Reports [dslreports.com] for more end-user experiences with this and other ISPs/providers.


    ---- Sigs are bad for your health ----

  • I specifically asked the sales rep if I could run my own mail/web servers. That was one of my requirements for buying broadband service (I had the choice between both cable and DSL). They filter outgoing SOCKS and Windows networking, but nobody has any buisness running those on a public network anyhow.

    I got a static IP for no extra cost, but as I understand, that was because they were just rolling out dhcp in my area, so I'm not sure if you can still get that.

    All in all, service has been tolerable. I get disconnected every once in a while, pretty much at random, but it happens so infrequently that it's not really a bother to me. They also appearently have a cap on upstream bandwith, but it's not so slow as to impede my mail or web site all that much.

    Anyhow, to sum it up, AT&T@home is ok, but you really can't expect much better for $50/mo.

  • Actually, it's worse than that. It used to be Continental Cablevision. They pioneered cable modem service as "Continental Express". Then US West bought them, merged them with some smaller cablecos, and renamed it "MediaOne". Their cable modem service was called "Highway One". Then MediaOne licensed the RoadRunner name from Time Warner (via a joint venture they had, ServiceCo LLC). Then it became AT&T Road Runner, and now it's AT&T @Home. It could become Comcast @Home. But who knows, by then the @Home label could die.

    Any one of them delivered/delivers better service than New England Telephone/Bell Titanic/VeriZontal. I realize that in many places, the cable company's job is to make the phone company look good, but here in New England it works the other way. I use AT&T-B's phone service, which is far superior to VeriZontal's.
  • by Paranoid (12863) <my-user-name@meuk.org> on Sunday July 08, 2001 @08:25PM (#99045)
    I've used way too many @Home providers. I've moved around a bit... Comcast@Home in Newport Beach, Orange County, CA. Cox@Home in San Diego, CA. Currently I'm using AT&T@Home in South Lake Tahoe, CA.

    Comcast@Home only went down once in the half-year I used them... their stability is definately acceptable. In Orange County, my connection limits were 15k/sec outgoing, 500k/sec incoming. The basic service is a static IP setup, which never changed.

    Cox@Home only went down once in the half-year I used them... their service is definately acceptable as well. In San Diego, my connection limits were 35k/sec outgoing, 400k/sec incoming. The basic service is a static IP setup, which never changed.

    I've had AT&T@Home service for 2 months now. I've had two outages so far. I'm not sure if its their fault, as Tahoe wiring tends to end up being shredded and turned into squirrel nesting. They do NOT offer static IPs, period. Nor do they offer higher grades of connection... the base-level consumer cablemodem is the only form of network access they provide. I checked, I hate DHCP. Right now, my connection limits are 15k/sec outgoing, probably 500k/sec incoming, but I have yet to see over 320k/sec. They also have these inexplicable patches of half-connectivity where 50% of packets are dropped, causing pretty much everything to pause. These last probably 30 seconds, occur all the time, and I have no idea whats causing them. A tree farted, or something. No idea if its their fault or not - local conditions are occasionally harsh.

    Of the three, Cox had the best service. I wish more broadband providers would run their service like Cox does. Its simply astounding how much those extra 20k/sec (outgoing) matter. Many protocols have tons of ACKs, and both Comcast and AT&T don't really allow enough outgoing bandwidth to make the most of the incoming. Plus, for some reason, Cox doesn't slow down when you're uploading a file to someone else... it simply drops packets instead of keeping 100k of queue and incurring 10 second ping replies. Which makes for a more useable connection, overall. I wonder if broadband providers will ever realize this, or if they even care (hey, they're beating 56k, what else does the customer want).

    Overall, I hope this goes through and we switch to Comcast. That is, assuming they're still using the same setup and they're able to provide the same level of service. In addition, Comcast's techs actually knew what they were doing, unlike AT&T's.

    In any case, I'm glad I haven't been subjected to PPPoE (yet).

    Disclaimer: Comcast may be run by evil tribbels from Venus's core who enjoy eating peoples faces and blowing things up. AT&T may be On A Mission From God. I could just be an extreme outlier, my experience unique and completely different from the average. Or I could be from Alpha Centuari (I'm not, as far as I know).


    --
    Paranoid
  • As the broadband providers join and merge more than we've seen so far, I think we're going to see all sorts of problems. Mainly because the internet was not designed to consist of primarily two peered networks. The infrastructure of the internet is based on having many autonomous networks which peer with eachother allowing for multiple routes through different providers to any given host.

    This is, however, assuming that everyone moves to broadband, which I don't see happening any time soon. Most of the /. crowd loves their broadband, but I work for an ISP which provides almost exclusively dial-up access and we haven't lost many customers to broadband. The reason, people are cheap. They don't want to pay $50/month to check their e-mail.

    I think we're heading towards some problems, but they're still off in the distance.

    --
    GUIs are like diapers, everyone grows out of them at some point.
  • Try the new iptables (which replaces/supplements ipchains), it's great. I run an IPsec connection through Bastille firewall using iptables for my work Thinkpad, and it just works out of the box! You don't need FreeSwan to just masquerade one IPsec via Bastille.

    This is on a DSL connection (Covad/Earthlink-Mindspring, yet I still have my old Netcom email address), but Time-Warner RoadRunner cable service uses PPPoE here, too. (PPPoE assigns a new ip-address at connect too, but it doesn't use DHCP.)

    The Bastille firewall is pretty good as distributed, but you might need to tweak it some. If you're running any local services (CUPS, Webmin, etc.), you'll want to add rules to block access to those ports from the public interfaces.

    Run Portsentry too, for detecting portscans, etc. It will tell you what ports it ignores so you can audit those too, if you wish.

    These are all in Mandrake 8.0, but they are also available elsewhere.

  • Try using a different town name. The USPS lets you use Rochester instead of Rochester Hills, in fact it's the default city name for your area according to them. Maybe if you use that town name you can dodge a shoddy town database.

    --
  • by Genom (3868) on Monday July 09, 2001 @05:31AM (#99075)
    I don't have any experience with Comcast - so I can only speak for AT&T. (this will be quite lengthy)

    We moved to MA from Syracuse, NY, where we'd had an excellent experience with Time Warner's Roadrunner cable modem service (note: this was pre-merger, so I have no idea if it's gone downhill since - anyway, it's not like we had mich choice in the matter - TW has a stranglehold on cable out there)

    One of the first things we did was look up who the cable modem provider was in the area. AT&T. So, we called and attempted to set up an install.

    Our building wasn't "recognized" by their system.

    Not really their fault - when the building we're living in was renovated to make apartments, the landlords didn't do all the correct paperwork. The existing cable lockbox for the house was also (literally) ripped from the wall. Needless to say - the situation was a mess.

    We waited about a month for them to get their act together and figure out what they were going to do (they had our name, address, and the fact that we WANTED service - they told us we'd need to wait until they could get a technician out to do the necessary work) - and one never came. Finally, my fiancee called and complained her way up to the guy who manages the installation teams.

    Within two weeks, we had the new cable lockbox, as well as a new line to the cable trunk in place. Still took them another month to get an actual install date - but hey - we were finally moving along, right?

    Well, the installer comes (3 hours late, I might add) and hooks up the digital cable. He then proceeds to pull out an installation CD - which I tell him that I do not want him to install (my computer had that fine balance of software where Windows 98 actually didn't crash every 5 minutes) -- he insists, saying that it doesn't actually install anything, it just lets him confirm that he made the install. Uh huh. I watch as he "doesn't install" a new copy of IE, "doesn't install" a new set of network settings, wiping out my finely tuned registry settings, and "doesn't install" extra icons to my desktop. In addition, he INSISTS on renaming the IE icon to "AT&T INTERNET" (note: all caps), and renaming the Outlook Express icon to "AT&T EMAIL" (Yep - all caps again - and I didn't have OE installed before this install - I chose NOT to have it for a reason!)

    Needless to say - I bitched the guy out - and of course, he completely denies that he installed ANYTHING! AARGH!

    Installers suck.

    Well, after that's over, how does he test the connection? He pulls up CNN.com, which loads OK, and then packs up and leaves. I get his number (which I called into their support center later...) and he takes off.

    After playing with the connection for a few minutes, we realize something is VERY wrong. We can't hold a stable connection to ANYTHING -- we'd get 50-300k into a download, and it would just die. Consistantly.

    Try it under linux - same thing.

    Replace the Cat5 (hey - it's old) - same problem.

    Replace the (new) cable from the wll to the cable modem - same problem.

    Hook up to my local network, and transfer files just fine (same network settings, both OS) - so it's obviously not my end.

    Call up AT&T's "support" (and I use that term loosely). Spend an hour between being on hold and talking to techs who try to blame everything on my computer - after explaining the situation about 10 times, I get told that I will be "escalated" to a "level 2" tech. His solution? Reinstall Windows.

    After explaining to the guy that Windows is not the problem (my local network works fine) about 5 times, he decides that maybe I might know what I'm talking about - and "escalates" me again - this time to an "admin". His solution? "Work is being done in your area - I don't have an ETA, or any more information, but rest assured that we will be fixing the problem."

    Uh huh.

    Total time spent on the phone to get this response? 2 hours, 45 minutes. Mind you, this is on my cellphone, because the phone company hadn't gotten around to doing their install yet either.

    After a month of horrible service, I call back again - armed with my old "ticket number" and the ID numbers of all the techs I spoke to - including the "admin" who told me that work was "being done".

    Spend an hour working through the "level 1" techs - who I am convinced are there to waste your time and try to convince you never to call them again, regardless of the problem. I get to a "level 3" tech - who tells me:

    1: my old ticket number is invalid
    2: the ID of the "admin" I got is invalid
    3: there is nothing wrong with my connection - I'm just visiting "slow" sites

    Mind you, the problem happened on EVERY site I went to - not just small, unpopular, or slow sites.

    Call the guy's bluff - and he gets rude - saying that the problem MUST be on my end, because I'm just a "stupid user", and that I should "know better than to try to test something myself".

    At that point I hung up. We started looking for alternatives to AT&T. Noone else in the area offered cable -- they had a lock on that. So, the other avenue was DSL. After poking around for a week or two, we placed an order with Speakeasy.

    Within 2 weeks (well, 15 days, actually) we had a brand-spanking-new DSL connection that works like a charm.

    AT&T got my disconnect notice the next day - although they still have my address wrong, refuse to pick up their cable modem (which they brought here, and will not give me an address to mail it back to them (I have no car, and their closest "return location" is about 45 minutes away by car) ), and continure to charge me "rent" for.

    Last month, they tried to bill me AGAIN for cable modem service -- calling them to resolve the issue took over an hour - and ended up being me saying "I cancelled my service two months ago - don't bill me for something I've cancelled!", to their "Well, we don't have that in our system, and we show you still have our modem, so you MUST still be using the service"

    Things just go around and around with these people. If they do it again next month, the BBB will be getting involved (I've already called them once for advice in this matter, and they said to give them one more chance to fix things to my satisfaction before getting the BBB involved)

    I would highly recommend ANYONE stay away from AT&T's cable service, if you aren't masochistic.
  • My experience with SpeakEasy was extremely negative. Prior to getting Comcast, I went through 3 DSL providers (Bell Atlantic, now Verizon, SpeakEasy and EarthLink) and none were to my liking.

    SpeakEasy was the worst, in terms of their draconian contract. I ordered the service and it took a month to get the modem. I paid the setup fee, set it up, and decided it wasn't for me. They said that I "went over the 30 day limit" from when I first called for the service, and that I would have to pay a $200 fee for bucking the contract. I said "where did I sign a contract like that?!?" and they said the email they sent out on day one, which I only lightly perused, was a binding contract. The information was near the end. The day of my contract? Day 31.

    Now, granted, there are many parts of "let the buyer beware" in this story. And I assume most people would have been like "well, you should have read that email better" but come on. We all know that things can be finagled in the tech industry, and giving me a penalty for calling a day late was a bit extreme. Thus, I never spoke to them again. Comcast was my eventual choice.

  • The FCC's 30% cable ownership rule was recently tossed by a federal court because it was "arbitrary". That is, the FCC had failed to show why 30% was a good number and, say, 60% was not. The other odd part of the rule was the way ownership was figured -- if you owned 5% of a cable company, then you had to count 100% of their subscribers. AT&T's 25% stake in Time Warner cable (acquired from MediaOne) and stakes in other cable companies (acquired from TCI) caused them to "own" almost 60% of cable subs under the old FCC rule.

    Comcast says that the combined company will have about 32% of cable subs, but that they plan on shedding some number of franchises in order to better consolidate their service areas.

  • Sounds like AT&T and ComCast are both using @Home, so what's the real difference?

    I've got ComCast. It's pretty decent, but you suffer from the same thing all cable modem users suffer from: Shared bandwidth, which means not so much bandwidth during peak hours. On the other hand, on off peak hours, I get some really excellent transfer rates

    The one thing that does bother me is the limiting of my upstream bandwidth. I'd certainly like to have more, especially since I regularly move data back and forth between home and work.

  • As soon as PayPal allows me to donate <p> tags I am going to send a whole bunch to Australia.

    --
  • Funny, I'm in the Sacramento area, and a couple of months back, my Comcast@Home service changed to AT&T@home. But for me, it's the same exact crappy service. Nothing has changed. I still get the same piss-poor 15 kB/sec upload speeds, I still have a static IP address (contrary to your AT&T @home experience); everything is the same. I guess I can only hope my quality of service doesn't degrade.

    As for the shoddy uplink speed leading to a completely degraded connection issue, I think that pretty much has happened with every consumer-level broadband connection I've seen. (ADSL/Cable) Although it didn't happen quite so much when I first got comcast@home and I had a ~40kB/sec uplink. (When I moved, they charged me $100 to move it, didn't even let me keep the same static IP, and cut my uplink down to 15 kB/sec... ugh) That is, whenever I so much as upload a file to somebody else on a decently fast connection, my entire connection is pretty much hosed. I'm wondering if there is an easy way to fix that at the router level; i.e. I have a linux box between my LAN and the internet connected to the cable modem; perhaps that can do the work of making sure the uplink never gets saturated... something to think about.

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