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Cable Sprints, DSL Trudges, Free ISPs Pant 163

Aarthek writes: "A new report is showing how people are signing on to the internet. Notice that the growth according to this report shows that DSL has had less than 2% growth in the first quarter of 2001. Where Cable is showing a 18% growth. The full report can be found here." This certainly matches my experience with DSL vs. cable, but for various reasons you're probably familiar with, DSL can be a better way to connect -- if it's available in your area, and you have a solvent provider, and you're near enough to a CO, and they'll squeeze you in an installation time, and your house wiring is up to it.
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Cable Sprints, DSL Trudges, Free ISPs Pant

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    You can't watch TV on your computer with DSL.

    If you've got a TV tuner (either separately or one of the ATI All-In-Wonder cards), you can split your cable and plug one end into the modem and one into your TV card. Voila! High speed internet access and the ability to watch TV at the same time!

    You may be told by your cable provide that this won't work because "they're not the same kind of signal". Trust me, it does (at least where I live). :) I've actually got mine split twice - regular TV, modem, TV Tuner.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    My opinion of DSL died with Northpoint. To imagine 100,000 users being left out in the cold literally overnight is unfathomable. If AT&T would buy the physical plant but doesn't see enough vitality in the medium to purchase the user base as well then something is sorely wrong. Covad and Rhythms most likely have less than 6 months to live. Who does that leave us with? ILECs. But wait, there's a catch! That nice 384k SDSL line I had from Northpoint that was rock solid at 17700 feet from the CO? Gone. Woops.. Ameritech only supports ADSL up to 12000 feet so I can't get it. Covad? 15000 feet. Cable modem? Available in the surrounding area but my apartment building isn't wired... they have a multiuser DirecTV system and a wireless cable system called Popvision. So where does that leave me? Back to good old reliable ISDN for now until I can move next year. Then I swear to god I'm camping out in a house a stone's throw from a DSL wired CO and within the cable modem availability area. I will get a cable modem, and at least one DSL line and an ISDN backup. No more screwing around.. my life is too involved with the Internet to be left high and dry anymore.
  • by Anonymous Coward that many cable providers absolutely forbid one from running servers.

    That kind of arrangement would be death on wheels for my side business, mainly because I'm self-hosted. As it is, I could use more than the eight-static (five usable) IP block I've got, but I don't like the thought of leasing another block (pricey).

    I've had Qwest DSL for nearly two years now, 512D/272U, and it's gone out on me all of twice in that entire time. First was a CO outage, and the other was when some construction morons in the neighborhood drove a fencepost through an underground cable. Took three days to get that fixed, and it knocked out a lot more than my line.

    DSL lets me do things that would turn most cable companies white as a sheet: Run my own primary/secondary DNS, mail, web, and FTP boxes. Self-hosting is also a Good Thing because you can sub-host as many domains as you want without begging your ISP to do it.

    Granted, not everyone needs to do this. However, if (God forbid) Qwest should decide they want to stop providing DSL, I sure as heck hope there's someone around to pick up the slack...

  • Cable's great for the download speeds, and DSL is great because my ISP lets me, you know, run servers and lets me have a real hostname and static IP and subnet and stuff, so it's totally worth the price paid... I guess it depends on what's available in your area though. Never notice a speed degradation with either service, however, like some people living in metro areas do...

    - A.P.

    Forget Napster. Why not really break the law?

  • Sounds suspiciously like ethernet being used a little longer than it should to me ;]
  • Really it is what you can get. Money cannot buy speed. Cable is faster then DSL and after you factor in all the costs often cheaper, so long as you don't need peak hour connectivity. Satalite is really quick, (latency is a big issue) and only slightly more then the others. Dial-up is slow, and second most expenseive if you have a dedicated line. ISDN is slow (faster then dial up, but only if you pay double ISP charges for 128k), and most expensive.

    Where I live ISDN is the fastest I can get without dealing with latency. My boss pays for the line though, I couldn't afford it on my own. I'm thinking about satalite, because ISDN isn't fast enough.

    something like half the country (US) cannot get either cable modem or DSL.

  • Just for the sake of balance, I live in an area that has great DSL service, and I'm a little dismayed at how a company like Verizon seems to be managing to single-handedly ruin the reputation of DSL. I have yet to see a cable modem provider offer a small block of static IP addresses, and I love the ability to get a shell on my server at home while I'm at work.

    As a side note, A friend of mine just got cable service, and was having fun browsing the neighborhood's Windows shares. That's one part of cable service that I'm missing, I guess.

  • Every ISP, I repeat, EVERY ISP uses shared bandwidth. Including DSL providers.

    Yeah, and not just at the ISP uplink level, what do you think the CO (where your DSL line goes to) is connected to the ISP with? A T1. Sometimes better.

  • No kidding.

    I'm in the process of moving to a new apartment right now, and I've been setting up utilities. Phone and power went like a breeze. The customer service reps (with whom I was able to speak to nearly immediately) took down my name, address, social security number, asked me for a date of activation, and then thanked me and hung up.

    That was easy. The local cable modem company (RR) is that easy, too; I called to ask how long an installation took and the rep seemed surprised that I didn't want an install in the next couple of days. This is service, people.

    I decided to go with DSL, instead, because there was *one* ISP [] doing business in town that I could get a static IP from for a reasonable price (Southwestern Bell will give me five static IPs for $80/mo, or one dynamic for $40/mo, but nothing in between - does this make any sense?)

    I'm paying the cost not in money, but in time. A month without broadband will be a long time; if it weren't for the compelling feature set and the fact that I know I'll be stuck with whatever I'm getting now for a year, I'd be jumping ship to cable in a heartbeat.

    Why on earth does DSL take so long to set up? Is there an order backlog a mile long? Does the phone company introduce some sort of mandatory delay into the process?

  • You forgot one: DSL usually has a better feature set. For instance, with SDSL (now non-existent) and ISDN (expensive in Cincinnati), I was able to get real Internet address space (a /27). With cable, I have to pay through the nose to get addresses, and they can't/won't assign me a portion of their address space, so I have to NAT the too-few addresses I do get.

    Rev. Dr. Xenophon Fenderson, the Carbon(d)ated, KSC, DEATH, SubGenius, mhm21x16
  • As a former @Home user, I hated having bandwidth drop to modem speeds in the evening

    Yeah...and DSL may or may not be better depending on a provider. At night, when my cable goes to hell, I can still get to hsacorp's web pages at blinding speeds - even after dumping cache, etc...

    The problem is not from the homes to the company, but from the company onto the general net. There is only so much a T1 or T3 can handle. Same problem with DSL - if there were the same amount of users coming in via DSL and out a T1 as on a cable modem, I doubt there would seem to be a difference between the two at that point.

    Mostly depends on how customer service oriented your provider is.
  • Cable DOES, however, require that you share bandwidth with your neighbour

    As does DSL, usually. Here in the UK, you can choose between a 20:1 and a 50:1 contention ratio for ADSL, depending on how much you want to pay. If you're really lucky (and have sufficiently deep pockets), you might be in an area where you can get SDSL, which isn't shared with other users, but it's so rare as to be effectively non-existent at the moment. Where ADSL wins over cable is that you're guaranteed a maximum contention ratio. As I understand it, a cable modem line over here will be shared with as many other users as the cable company can sign up. Also, cable providers tend to place all sort of restrictions on the type of traffic they'll allow, which is fine for Joe Public, but sucks for the rest of us...

  • Terms of service and connection authentication as well as several other things vary on the whole for Roadrunner based on your location. As far as I can tell, the Roadrunner trademark is a franchise sold to cable companies who set the actual policies. There's tons of information on Roadrunner requiring a "sign-on" that I don't have to do. I, on the other hand deal with the MAC address authentication DHCP. I believe some of the Roadrunner franchises use a phoneline for upstream bandwidth. Bottom line: Roadrunner policies, performance and quality of service are totally tied to region and completely distinct.

    Head Geek
  • What this really says is that taxpayers are getting ripped off by TV broadcasters. It obviously costs money to get access to subscriber lines and hook up the equipment, but spectrum is not inherently "free" either. It is free to broadcasters due to some quaint ideas about public service, but the reality is that a valuable publicly owned resource was given away to the politically connected.

    The good news is that it was not given away irrevocably, and we can change the law regarding broadcast licenses and start collecting some of the revenue we are due from this resource. Broadcast licenses should be a limited term lease or a revenue-sharing license.

  • I have a similar situation - pretty close to my USW/Qwest CO, 512k up/down. I've had one outage due to USW/Quest in the 1 year+ that I've had the service. The outage lasted for about a day, as I can recall.

    However, a friend of mine went with a Northpoint/CLEC-style DSL provider and they've since gone TU. His DSL has been off for a month while people blame other people. Of course, for the six months he DID have it he didn't pay anything for it. :)

    In the end, the biggest things that matter to me are these, in this order: reliability, competition and speed.

    The only provider of cable is AT&T. They have no competition and their service agreement shows it. Since they have no competition in the internet-via-cable market, they have no real incentive to be reliable and they have no real incentive to make sure it's as fast as it's marketed to be. All of these have been shown to be true at one time or another.

    DSL, on the other hand, is more expensive and is not as fast (on paper). However, if Qwest pisses me off, or if my ISP pisses me off ...I can leave and go to some other DSL provider. Thus, theoretically, DSL providers will provide better service while shaking out the crappy providers. So far, it seems to be working.

  • I'm taking that into account, but only to a point (plus over-simplifying for discussion purposes). Though it's not exactly a linear curve, there still is a rapid increase in costs that does not exist in the broadcast model. The other thing to consider in calculating infrastructure costs is that it's not quite a matter of replacing the phone banks with a PRI - you need hardware to support it, and you need to make capital expenditures that, if you're running on an upgrade treadmill, never really do pay for themselves. I assume in my earlier post that the cost savings are $3/user-month from 10K subs to 100K subs, but unless that makes you profitable it doesn't matter.

    The calculations that free ISP providers made figured they would grow to critical mass and that the subscribers would be worth a whole lot more to advertisers than they really were. The problem was that the more they grew, the more they lost. Although the fixed costs do diminish somewhat (in the central infrastructure portion) on a per-user basis as your userbase grows, the local loop/special modem/truck roll costs in the DSL business stay just as expensive for one as they do for one million. Which is why the only free ISP's that are hanging on by a thread are Juno and NetZero ( doesn't count - KMart just took it on to avoid Christmastime disaster when Spinway died) - the dial-up costs do scale better than the DSL costs could. There are profitable ISP's out there - lots of them. But they all charge for their services, even the "bare-bones" $9/month ISPs with no tech support, no personal web hosting, and outsourced Usenet. You can deliver dial-up ISP service pretty darned cheaply, but not cheaply enough to give it away. And forget about giving away DSL service - I mean, that's like giving away cable TV service in terms of costs.

    It's just such a shaky economic model to begin with that I'm surprised it even got funded - despite the "we'll fund anything, no questions asked" attitude of the last few years. In the end, TANSTAAFL.

    - -Josh Turiel
  • The only problem with the Free ISP model was that all the companies that offered it were based on the fantasies of crack-addled minds. That's the only possible explanation. I mean, just because people are accustomed to Free Stuff On The Internet, it does not mean that the Internet itself can be free. One reason that broadcast TV works as a free access model is that there is no need to build out infrastructure to connect each subscriber (unlike the ISP business). Cable TV, OTOH, charges a premium to access each home, because they need...


    Just like the free ISP's did. What a coincidence! Something like a TV or radio benefits from the Network Effect (or Metcalfe's Law) because the broadcasting to the first TV costs millions of dollars (for the studios, transmitters, etc.), but it costs $0 per set after that. The more sets, the more money the broadcaster makes.

    In the ISP business, though, it costs money to support each subscriber - in technical support, fixed wiring costs, phone/modem server costs (for dial-up networks), wholesale DSL costs (for folks like WinFire), and bandwidth. These costs don't magically get cheaper with size - they continue to grow. If you lose $5 per subscriber-month, then you lose $50,000 per month with 10K subscribers, and assuming (generously) that you can reduce your expenses by $3 per subsciber-month at 100,000 subscribers, you're still losing $200,000 per month at that level. It doesn't make sense now, and it didn't make sense then, either.

    My local paper (the Boston Globe []) has a consumer column that runs on Sundays. A few weeks ago it spotlighted the demise of free ISP's, and featured quotes from several customers of defunct free ISP's who "felt screwed". I tell you, I never laughed so hard reading anything other than comics in a newspaper.

    After I recovered my breath, I then wrote a reasoned response to the consumer advocate and explained Economics 101 (which, unfortunately, I think most self-styled consumer advocates either skipped or flunked). Essentially, you can't sell a dollar for 90 cents and make it up in volume. Not surprisingly, I did not hear back directly from him, though he did cite my letter briefly in a follow-up column a few weeks later.

    - -Josh Turiel
  • > You can't watch TV on your computer with DSL.

    And this is a problem?

  • yeah, blazing fast downloads... *MOST* people are interested in that. DSL you get about 80k/s (768/128k here) but cable (even when you are in the new moon ;) you still get decent speeds, 150+)

    DSL you have to deal w/pain in the ass providors (Verizon). Sure I get 80k/s, but when I cannot telnet anywhere b/c the ping response is soooo bad (1000+) I might as well be on 56k I would at least be able to get my work done.

    I don't believe that telcos are doing anything to try and stop their customers from going to Cable. I personally believe that they don't want DSL. It is apparantly a hassle for them to appease the customer. They don't care if your connection is shitty, as long as they get their $32.50/mo. Your payment doesn't cover what they need to pay for their costs...

    They oversell bandwith like crazy (even daisychain two shelves per T1 rather than one).

    I am waiting for my contract w/Verizon to run out, and hopefully by then TW RR will be in the area here (supposedly sometime this summer) and I will be happier w/that.

    Just my worthless .02
  • I don't get my ISP services from Verizon. Just the line.. I get two IP addresses from a local freenet that offers DSL services.. They weren't overly happy giving us the two IP's, but they did.

    Verizon has VERY poor customer service. That's how they are ruining DSL. They seem to feel that it is ok for you to have 1000+ms ping replies, and they also seem to feel it is ok to let this continue for several months w/o any work being done.

    I would rather the cable. At least there would be *some* periods during the day that there would be decent service. w/Verizon DSL there are no peak, off-peak times. I have poor ping responses at all hours/all days...
  • Been on Pac-Bell as a static IP for about 2 years. My download run to max of 800kbs, but upload never exceeds 120 kbs, regardlesss of the fact that I should get 384 :( The line is UP 95% of the time though, which is a good thing since Pac-Bells customer service is the worst in the FREE WORLD.) I looked into cable in this area but my friends on it have worse expiernces. I hate PAC-Bell but I am not leaving my dependable if slightly slow connect for a cable system (ie astound) that can't stay up for more than 2 days running. Granted astound or seren is new to the neighborhood but have friend on astound service, phone, cable, and internet who can't even make a phone call during peak hours.
  • For "surfing" access, cable's a better technical solution. People who think shared bandwidth is somehow not a workable solution for network access have apparently never used ethernet. Dedicated bandwidth is wasted bandwidth if you aren't running a server. Client access is bursty. (Even if you're watching streaming video, you're probably not doing so more than 1% of the time.) In the real world, 90% of the time you're borrowing other people's bandwidth to get way than you would have otherwise.

    In my experience, the real bottleneck bandwidth-wise is almost never the last hop in a cable modem. (The cable company's own connection to the internet is often the limiting factor, but if they have two uplinks some sites may be slow while others aren't). If not, the limit's how busy the server you're talking to is, or some other bottleneck in an intermediate hop. Even at peak activity I've never seen a download from an otherwise fast site drop below about 140 kilobytes (not bits, bytes) per second. Average is 250-350, and theoretical peak (never seen it) is 500. I've never seen drop below 200k/sec.

    Now trying to use a cable modem as a server is ludicrous; upstream bandwidth is only about 20k/second. I uploaded 1.6 gigs to work once, it took a day and change. DSL is a MUCH better solution for servers, in theory anyway. (My own experience with it involves a lot of 15 second signal dropouts which aren't acceptable in a real server. But for a hobbyist starting out, who can't afford anything like server side hosting and needs "surfing" access anyway...)

    Determining whether big evil cable corporations are worse than big evil phone companies is an open question, of course. :)


  • Yeah, same here. I got Verizon DSL in October 1999. I use a local ISP for the Internet part, so I pay a bit more than your typical Verizon customer: $34.95 to Verizon, and $64.95 to my ISP.

    I called Verizon on a Monday to have it set up, the guy came by on Wednesday, did a little wiring in the house. I hooked up the modem, got three lights. He said, "Have fun," and left. Real quick, real easy, practically painless.

    My ISP had already been in touch with Verizon, so all I had to do on my end was configure my gateway and my machines on my LAN, and I was surfing the net.

    As for reliability, my system only went down one weekend in December 1999. Verizon changed something on my phone service and didn't inform my ISP who claimed that the changed required that they reset something on their end. Being the whiz that I am, I've never needed tech support beyond that, other than just getting my IP settings from my ISP.

    Having multiple machines and running a www server, etc. were the main reasons I chose DSL over cable. Also, I don't think cable was available in my neighborhood until the summer of 2000, so I would have had to wait for quite a while before cable arrived. (We had cable television for ages, just not cable internet.)

    Here in Lexington, KY many neighborhoods are like that. You can get cable, but you can't get DSL, or you can get DSL but you can't get cable. A handful of areas still can't get either. :-(
  • that's my problem. I run a bunch of servers on my cable modem, and @home kinda actively hunts you down if you do that.
  • speak of the devil. they just did it about an hour ago. all of the services on my linux box have gone missing from the net. what a wonderful thing to look forward to when I go home.
  • I have a cable modem, I'm waiting for my DSL to arrive. for 4 months I've been waiting for my DSL to arrive. I would have never switched from my cable modem, but my ISP is selling off it's cable modem business to @home, and I hear they don't play nice with linux, so I'd be SOL. I just hope I get the DSL before @Home starts port scanning me.
  • Cable providers are such pains about running services on your computer at home. They absolutely want you to be a passive consumer of information, no matter what.

    I have a /29 from my ISP, and run various low bandwidth services (including being a primary DNS server for several domains) from my computer at home. I could never do that reliably with a cable modem.

    My actual available bandwidth is more reliable as well. Especially if I go through my ISPs squid proxy for most stuff. The squid proxy is connected to the net at 45 MBps and the higher peak rates can smooth out network bumps to make my transfer rate a smooth 65k/sec. I wish they were more vocal about their squid proxy because then there'd be a better chance that stuff I want would be in it, and I wouldn't have to fetch from the Internet at large at all.

    Of course, having a good ISP is a must. I wouldn't ever use QWorst as my ISP. I've been extremely pleased with VISI [].

  • Granted excite has made cablemodems in general un-likeable due to their stupid tactics and no clue how to run a service oriented business. (Excite people, the customer is always right and you must make them happy, even when they are idiots!) but DSL is worse. Telcos are notorious for having the worst customer service in the communications industry. (next to cellular, those people are just jerks) The telco's infrastructure is from 1920, and they barely maintain it. Cable infrastructure is less than 5 years old where cablemodems are available and the only problems other than excite, is explosive growth that is catching the local cables offices off-guard. (4 t-3's for my town should have been enough, they ordered another 3 t-3's to help fulfil demand)

    but it also has another problem. Why the hell does cablemodem service go all the way to denver or wherever your service company is before hitting the net? when I hit the cable headend, I should ride a T3 to the nearest POP (university or backbone provider) instead of shoveling it 1/2 way across the country just so some over-controlling freak can control what comes in or out.

    cablemodem service can kick the butt of anything else offered, if it was ran properly.

    and Excite is not about to allow that.
  • actually you are very wrong, I work in the industry, I touch the equipment daily. and I see the inside of the cablemodem system (for my company) on a regular basis. No it is not cheaper to long haul it back, (Hell we buy T3's from a company other than ours because of stupid reasons) the cost is within 3% and uptime/speed and reliability would increase 90fold. Corperate knows this, the engineering level agree and preposed the same solution a year ago citing massive gains.

    so sorry sir, you are very wrong. What you read about Cablemodems and what you see by being in the middle of it are two very different pictures.

    and remember telcos hate cablemodems/cable because cable can do the telco's job better,faster,and cheaper.. (wait for telephony over cable! it's being tested in many major markets now!)

    It has it's problems, and most of them are currently with excite.
  • I have DSL through Verizon (formerly GTE), and I called December 26th 1999. Day after Christmas, week before Y2K. Guy came and installed me January 7th, 2000, at the promised time. DSL worked within the hour. 768kbs down, 128kbs up. My connection has been up, able to pull 90-92KB/s, for 16 months today. Granted, I am a block from the CO, and my apartment complex was built in 1993... but still, I love my connection. No downtime... my ISP (local company) lost outside DNS a couple of time for about 90 minutes, but I could still get my email and such, so my connection has never been down as far as I know.
  • Just curious, how's the latency on that?

    "It's Brazilian"
  • Adelphia in philly is great. My parents have an adelphia cable modem that averages between 100 and 300 KBps. Some sites, like sunsite or would give consistent speeds of around 700 KBps. It was great downloading the kernel source in about 20 seconds.
  • The sales dork isn't in policy and enforcement, besides, he was probably selling dishwashers the week before so what does he know?

    Even if he was in the know, just what constitutes "hogging" cable's superior bandwidth, anyway? I think statements like that get down to brass tacks about what cable can and can't do, and what its superior bandwidth is vulnerable to.

    The shared-neighborhood bandwidth thing will be cable's chief bugaboo until they come up with some neat trick to rate-limit connections. It'll provide a convenient excuse for CATV people to not deliver on a decent two-way IP network and instead deliver an interactive-infoentertainment package instead.
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Monday May 07, 2001 @08:35AM (#240915)
    Some reasons why DSL is better than cable: competition between vendors

    You understate the value of this, IMHO. The competition between vendors means that there's product differentiation -- ISPs have to do something to make themselves stand out, and one thing mine does is allow me to do whatever I want with my connection -- run servers, connect my home LAN, and so on.

    Every SA I've ever seen from a cable company comes down to the fact that they want you downloading HTTP content and anything that remotely resembles anything other than the computer equivilent of watching TV is expressly forbidden.

    I also think the idea that cable is a better basic infrastructure is flawed. One reason the cable companies are so paranoid about services is that their infrastructure limitations often limit the amount of bandwidth they can apply to specific geographic regions; you share bandwidth up to whatever point they've determined constitutes a LAN. My understanding is that in most "phase I" internet setups this is a pretty large area, and heavy usage can pretty dramatically impact performance.

    DSL's private bandwidth is some advantage; I'm not on the same broadcast domain as the other people in my neighborhood! I don't get a bunch of BS traffic I don't need.
  • Statics are good AND bad.

    Yes, they mean that your IP address doesn't change so little jerks with too much time on their hands or a bone to pick can come after you again and again... but you can run a server off of a static, can't really do that too well off of a dynamic.
  • Sucks to be in the middle of the Silicon Valley (San Jose, tech central) and be out of range of ANY form of high speed connection. I can't get DSL in my area because I'm too far from the CO... I can't get Cable in my area because I'm not on a block that has CModems enabled. The "iDSL" option that I've received (hybrid from what I understand, ISDN/DSL mixture) was absolutely wonderful (only went down ONCE) until my ISP got bought, then Northpoint went under. Bah.
  • by tsa ( 15680 )
    I meant kiloBYTES, not kiloBITS (kB vs kb)!
  • by tsa ( 15680 )
    I have cable and I usually get around 50kB/s (according to Lynx). Not bad.
  • Part of the point, I think, is not to argue the technologies, but the products that are available at a certain cost. Where I live, the costs of cable vs DSL are about the same, but the overall throughput on the cablemodem is higher.

    The cable company is always tuning the system, so while we do experience slowdowns, they rarely last for more than a day, and we're back up to our normal speed quickly.

    We also have a gateway/router setup, with five computers (soon to be 7) on our network, all being used in the evenings, again without noticable slowdowns in gameplay or web access, etc.

    It is certainly true that cable has a serious growth limitation, and that when DSL providers start offering higher speeds at lower prices, many of us using cable will switch. But for now, this is the most cost-effective system available.

    And, unlike what another poster said, we've got pretty much whatever access we desire -- I read my email from work via my home linux machine, frex.

    So, for us, cable is much better.
  • > @home, and I hear they don't play nice with
    > linux, so I'd be SOL. I just hope I get the DSL > before @Home starts port scanning me.

    I've been on AT&T@Home since september 2000, and they do work fine with Linux, even though it's officially unsupported. All I had to do to get it to be Linux friendly was put their nameservers in /etc/resolv.conf, and then do "dhcpcd -C subscriberid eth0" and I was up and running.

    The only thing @Home scans for is NNTP servers, according to my logs. I have FTP, HTTP, and SSH running, and haven't had anyone come sniffing (of course, I still use iptables).

    Speed for me has been good...I usually get >250KB/sec to fast servers, and latency's minimal (most pings 50ms). Service/uptime has been good too. We've had one day of downtime (DHCP server crashed), and the one time I needed tech support, it got fixed pretty quick.

    I've heard a heck of a lot more complaints about DSL versus cable, so I'm sticking with it.
  • . . .is will it survive at all ??

    It's an interesting paradox: people want it, but all too many can't get it, especially with the implosion of DSL providers. Those of us still up and running on Covad's network get worried, seeing stockholder/bondholder efforts to preserve THEIR equity, CO de-activations, and general nervousness about the service in general.

    Yet cable, with its' shared bandwidth, is growing like crazy. As a former @Home user, I hated having bandwidth drop to modem speeds in the evening. But if it's all you can get, what other choice is there ?? (And no, the new StarBand service does NOT support Linux, nor do they claim to ever intend to support "minor operating systems". . . I asked, and was shocked....)

  • Well, maybe your DSL is nice, but I wouldn't trade my cable access (Optimum Online) for DSL (Verizon). These are the two companies competing for broadband users in my area (central NJ). Let's see: I get approx 4000kbps down / 950kbps up. It's nice to download mandrake ISOs at ~500KB/sec, isn't it? :) DSL has 640kbps/90kbps (at best, considering my distance to the CO). Then I pay $30 monthly for cable, versus $50 for DSL. Should I mention that I don't have to use any kind of pppoe layer (less overhead)?

    Finally, let's talk about dependability. Please check for reviews on Verizon DSL and Optimum Online. Nuff said.

    Well, I guess I'm lucky. Hope it lasts...
  • You had ones?!? All we had were zeros. Sometimes we couldn't even get those and had to use the letter 'O'. (Apologies to Scott Adams)
  • Actually, this argument is (at least partially) a red herring itself. The very fact you mention (Cable is shared the entire way, while DSL starts sharing at the phone company) makes it much more difficult to upgrade a cable pipe when it does start getting impacted. For DSL, it's a lot easier to upgrade the outgoing pipe and possibly the routing equipment - without having to do a lot of work out of the POP.
  • 50K/s... bah

    I always get 400K/s+ and often get sustained rates of 0.8MB/s and higher.

    I download the mozilla nightlies, ~11MB in 15 seconds. The thought of 80K/s on DSL makes me shudder.
  • Cable hookups just work; when my DSL install had extremely slow uploads the provider blamed everything from the sunspot cycle to water in the conduits, when the real problem actually was my modem firmware. It seems to me that DSL is cool when it works, but when it doesn't expect lots of frustration. Given the choice between the two for a non-technical user who wouldn't want to put in time on the phone I would reccomend cable any day for its turnkey operation..
  • I've had DSL for 2 years. There were some rough periods when the phone company megacoroporations did stupid things, but overall things have been ok. The worst part for my local connection is that I'm limited to 128k upstream.

    Cable is also available here, but (1) i don't watch television and (2) you can't get a static IP.

  • The (non-tech) people I talk to who have a choice seem to see it pretty much as a wash. They see the technical advantages of DSL but don't really think they'll see a difference (right or wrong). Pricing is the same either way.

    So in the end, they seem to choose based upon which monopoly they hate the most -- the telco or the cable co. Kind of like voting for President.
  • Of course it's really a matter of one's local providers, but in my experience DSL has been the lesser of two far.

    A few years back I subscribed to one of the first cable modem services. $40/month got you a 10 Mbps symmetrical connection (not a typo), fixed IP address, and a simple policy with regard to running servers: they won't provide tech support for this, but as long as the content is legal, knock yourself out. Service was phenomenal...was up and running three days after ordering, and outages were few and far between (perhaps 1 hour every 3-4 months).

    This was too good to be true. Literally.

    First, after about a year, the upload bandwidth was capped at 128 Kbps. So servers got real slow.

    Then the server policy was changed. Legal content or not, servers were no longer allowed. I continued to run one anyway (not like a huge pr0n site or anything...just a portfolio and resume'), but knew it was just a matter of time before they'd throw a fit about that.

    Then came the end of static IPs. Of course these change only infrequently under DHCP, but it's still a f--kwith, and it was largely just the principle of the thing, how the services offered kept eroding like this.

    Over the course of all this (about four years) quality of service gradually declined, and costs went up. By the time I canceled, outages...sometimes big ones...were occurring every week or two. And now there's talk of a 20% rate hike.

    Recently switched to DSL. Yes, it took forever to get installed. And yeah, bandwidth is limited to 386K down/128K up. But their server policy is sweet and simple and identical to what the cable provider originally promised: fixed IP, run any server you like as long as the content is legal. Uptime has been okayish...certainly better than cable was at the end, but not the amazing months-between-outages of the early-on cable service. Regardless...with a server policy like that, and the price, I'm keeping it.

    Call me bitter, but I figure it's only a matter of time before they pull the same stunts as the cable people, picking away services one by one. Fortunately, there's a whole assortment of DSL providers to choose from, and if this one turns to The Dark Side, there's a good chance another will pick up the slack.

    A third option has popped up here which looks interesting: Sprint Broadband, 10 Mbps symmetrical, comparable pricing, and wireless to boot. Looks really intriguing, but having just switched to DSL, I didn't want to dick around with it yet. I'd be curious to hear impressions from anyone who has the service...what's their policy with servers and IPs? How's the uptime?

    Seems like you can't have your cake and eat it too. I can run my server now, but I do miss that cable bandwidth. If I had money pouring out my butt, I'd get *two* broadband services for speed and redundancy. Nexlan makes a somewhat affordable load-balancing router for this sort of thing...others will surely follow.
  • Quit yer bitching. For several years, you were getting the equivalent of several t1s for $40 a month, rather than $4000 a month. Now, you're still getting a t1-worth of download bandwidth for that price. Still much better than $1k /mo, non?

    About a year, which yes, was very cool. Then began the gradual de-featuring of the service, which is the part that has me peeved. I really don't think the limits they started imposing were motivated so much by technology as by marketing...sort of a bait-and-switch scheme to get users (now fat and happy with their static IP's and server priveleges) to upgrade to the company's "premium" business cable service (with those same features still intact) for considerably more money. Or maybe I'm just paranoid.

    And if I had a T1 with billing pro-rated for downtime, and reliability was as bad as the cable service, it probably would work out to about the same $40/month. (humor)

  • ...know why broadband providers (mostly cable, from what I understand) don't want anyone running servers?

    The provide you with bandwidth - most of the time an ungodly amount "down", and a piddly 128/256 up (256 if you are real lucky on cable). Anyhow, even this paltry amount up would be good enough for basic server tasks, things that would be nice from a personal standpoint (in my case, I want to set up a bookmark list serving system for my personal use).

    However, they won't allow it by their AUP! Why? Why is it like this? What is the difference between a server, and me actually sitting there, and for whatever manner, actually using up the full "up" bandwidth? I mean, I know physically it can't be done, not without some automatic process (which is a no-no, because it looks like a server) - but say it could be done. Why not just say you can have unlimited down, but only 14.4K up, because we only need it for mouse clicks anyhow?

    I can understand the broadband providers not wanting people to set up warez/pr0n/mp3/you-name-it-quasi-legal/illegal wares site - but what about those of us who want to use it to better our overall access (like my bookmark server example - but it extends to other things like VPN use, etc)?

    Don't tell me to go ahead and try it - I have heard that argument before, and also anecdotal stories of "I'm doing it, no probs, go for it!" - I am certain you can do it, just be hush about it, run on a funky "high" port, and don't consume bandwidth, and things will be generally fine.

    I just want to know what they are so paranoid about - or why they won't let us pay a little extra to get that functionality (and when I mean a little extra, I mean a little extra - not the TON extra for "business" class service - which is the same a residential, just better phone service, should you need it, and maybe a higher "up" speed, but not enough to justify the insane prices)?

    Worldcom [] - Generation Duh!
  • The obvious reason is bandwidth.

    But that's the thing - they cap the bandwidth, so you can't use more than your allowed amount, yet when you do use it, in the only way possible (via a server app or vpn), they don't like it - it is against the rules of the AUP. Actually, there is one way, what if you set up automatic FTP upload of a file (say a large file that changes on your client system every day) to your web site - say it is 50 meg, and you upload it several times an hour. Say you are at home when this happens - now, what is the difference between a) you doing this by hand - ie PUT largefile.exe, b) doing it via a script, c) a client pulling it from your FTP server? Absolutely none! Except in two cases it is automated - automation is BAAAD!!!

    Security - just because you say you're an honest knowledgeable system adminstrator doesn't mean that you are.

    Good point - but a counterpoint can be made that if you hand over $BIGNUM dollars, suddenly you can be trusted to run a server? What kind of logic is that? I agree that it is possible to hose a system with misconfigured servers, and that IP problems can crop up depending on what is being hosted (or other legal issues). But why, if these same people pay the money to do this, does it suddenly become "OK"? Please note that I am not saying that you shouldn't pay more - I can see where it might cost more support and legal-wise to allow it - but I cannot see the huge rampup in price:

    @Home - Free install in most cases, $40.00/month
    @Work - Big $$$ install, approx $100/month

    They will even charge this install rate after you have @Home - even though nothing else changes!!! You already have the line, the modem, and the software, they just have to edit a file on their side to uncap you a bit, and give you a new contract, maybe assign some IPs - and this cost how much? No thank you! I don't have much problem with the per month charge though (though I do think it is a bit high - but really not that much, considering everything)...

    Worldcom [] - Generation Duh!
  • Is my ISP. I run Suse 7.1 at home. While they don't support linux, they don't object to it. The only thing to be aware (or beware) of is that you have to put the '-h hostname' command in your dhcp client startup. I've had great results with them. No downtime and good speeds on the download. I don't run a server, so upload speed isn't an issue. The install was great. The installer came when they said he would, only took about 1/2 hour.
  • with USQWEST Choice Tv [], I get digital cable and 1mbit internet over a pair of copper wire. Three tv hookups (one happens to go to the TV tuner in my desktop pc), 4 IPs (dhcp). Service has been pretty reliable, even for USQwest. (we're talking about the same co who installed UDC on my lines then had 12 service calls in one month)
  • Compared to my freinds with Cabel Modems, well, I'll take DSL anyday. Sure they can get blazing download speends IF their neighbors aren't surfing and IF the phase of hte moon is right :) But it depends on the vendor. I've had friends drop Cable for DSL like crazy because of stability and bandwidth issues, but in other areas, its just the opposite.

    Depends on the vendor is true with any internet service provider, including DSL providers and cable modem providers. It ALL depends on how much bandwidth the provider has to the internet and what their oversubscription model is like.

    Every ISP, I repeat, EVERY ISP uses shared bandwidth. Including DSL providers. If the provider has a decent oversubscription model, then the only real question is a comparison of the infrastructure over the last mile. In the vast majority of cases, the cable infrastructure smokes the DSL infrastructure. Unshielded twisted pair vs shielded coaxial cable + fiber. There's really no comparison.

    I have been testing the last mile bandwidth of my cable modem for over 2 years. I've been running continuous tests every half hour during that time. And the last mile bandwidth has not changed even the tiniest bit during any part of the day.

    If bandwidth slows down at peak times, it's not because of the cable infrastructure. It's more likely because of the oversubscription rate of the provider, or the bandwidth of the internet site in question.

  • by mjh ( 57755 ) <mark.hornclan@com> on Monday May 07, 2001 @06:59AM (#240937) Homepage Journal
    This certainly matches my experience with DSL vs. cable, but for various reasons you're probably familiar with, DSL can be a better way to connect

    Some reasons why DSL is better than cable:

    • competition between vendors

    Some reasons why Cable is better than DSL:

    • faster
    • better basic infrastructure. Whatever you say, twisted pair can not compare with shielded coaxial cable as far as signal quality. And in most cases, the coaxial cable is much shorter than the average twisted pair. After that the service runs on fiber.
    • no distance limitations. If you're connected to the cable company and the service is deployed, then you get the service. None of this well my next door neighbor got the service, but I'm too far out to qualify.

    Some false reasons whey DSL is better than cable:

    • DSL provides guaranteed bandwidth. While, technically this is true, it's really misleading. DSL's guaranteed bandwidth is only to the CO or the exchange. After that, all the bandwidth is shared.
    • DSL's private bandwidth provides better security. This is also misleading. Remember, you're connecting to the Internet. Your next door neighbor can still scan and attack your machine. On top of that, most cable systems provide encryption between the cable modem and the cable router at the provider.

    For a more eloquant summary of the differences see: Simson Garfinkle's excellent review []. It's a bit dated (Sept 1999) but it's still does a good job of cutting through much of the rhetoric.

  • Every SA I've ever seen from a cable company comes down to the fact that they want you downloading HTTP content and anything that remotely resembles anything other than the computer equivilent of watching TV is expressly forbidden.

    That's not always the case, it depends on the provider. Time Warner's service agreement is rather vague on the topic, but the sales guy I talked to said they don't care about servers as long as you don't hog bandwidth and understand that they aren't responsible if somebody hacks your box.

  • As for the problem of shared bandwidth, its real and its a problem in Buffalo. Adelphia cannot handle all the problems that they are having with shared bandwidth.

    But this was my point in my original query. Your logic here is that since you are having bandwidth problems, and because you are using cable, that the source of your problems must be cable's shared bandwidth. That's not a very convincing argument, in my opinion.

    your cable company might be a good provider

    They seem to be so far (knocking on wood :)).

  • I think the issue is that some cable companies won't support Linux, so you need to have a Windoze machine for them to install into. You can configure Linux after they leave. FWIW, I run both Windows and Linux systems in my house, all connected through a home gateway (router) to a cable modem. The local cable company techs know about and they not only don't care that I do all this, they've even shown interest in how I set it all up.

    As far as running Apache goes, I tried that and I discovered that my cable company blocks port 80. I ran Apache on port 88 for awhile, and had no problems. I only served up a few pages per day though. I'm sure they would have complained had I used a noticable amount of bandwidth.
  • Several posts have mentioned the "problem" of shared bandwidth when using a cable Internet connection. I'm skeptical about how real this problem is. It seems to me that the only issue is how soon sharing occurs as you move away from your house. With cable, I share bandwidth with all neighbors on the same node (there are multiple "nodes" in my town). With DSL, I have a dedicated line four blocks to the phone company, but certainly from that point onwards my neighbors and I must all share the same set of T1 lines, or whatever type of line the phone company uses to get Internet in the first place. It seems to me that this "sharing" issue is really a red-herring. If it's really a problem, I'd love to see a sound technical explanation of why that is so.

  • Out here on the east coast of the United States the market is monopolized by Verizon who owns the lines other companies have to use in order to provide DSL services.

    Problem with this, Verizon offers DSL services at the same time so it seems according to most (as well as common sense) that Verizon would be reluctant to lease lines to provide the service at a fast pace (if even they do without giving them the runaround).

    What happens when you call Verizon for DSL services is horrendous, you're often told you would have to wait upteen weeks or months before they can get to you, or it turns out they haven't wired your neighborhood yet.

    Well logically cable is almost in every single neighborhood so its easier for people to just call up their cable companies and have it added on to their bills without hassle. No waits, etc.

    Doesn't mean cable is better than DSL could just mean DSL isn't available in an area, or people just don't want to wait too long for it to be installed.

  • My DSL provider, @link [] Networks, just went belly up. I have(had) SDSL 512k/512k and 32 IP addresses. All for $159.00/month. My service basically never went down. The people at Nortel Networks are, from what I can garner from various sources, in complete control of @link. Just this morning I subscribed to Charter Cable for 384k/128k with 5 IP addresses. The price? $159.00/month. It totally sucks that I have to degrade my service in order to pay the same price, but, that's life in America these days.

    Dive Gear []
  • Whoops! I spoke to soon. I finally got through to Ameritech. I'm ordering a 768/128 w/ 5 IP DSL connection from them. Damn good price too. $74.00 per month. FSCK cable. I was told that I'd be hooked up in 2 weeks. Now, was it a black goat I sacrifice? Oh, wait, that's for SCSI. Anyone know what the DSL gods want for a sacrifice?

    Dive Gear []
  • I've switched between Cable and DSL numerous times (4x), and in my experience, it totally depends on where you are; ie, location from CO and how many people you're sharing the Cable loop with. I suspect that in the end, Cable is easier for the providers to scale since more often than not I've ended up finding Cable is the best choice in most of the numerous locations in Toronto that I've lived.
  • by hderycke ( 68972 ) on Monday May 07, 2001 @05:09AM (#240946)
    Cardboard box? You spoiled-rotten johnny-come-lately! In my days, we didn't have any cardboard boxes, or even punch cards. If we wanted any bytes transported, we had to carry them over ourselves, bit by bit, through the snow and ice, uphill both ways. All we had was the bare ones and zeroes, and sometimes, when the money was tight, we didn't even have ones! But we were happy for the zeroes we had, and for any ones we could get. Why was that? Because we had learned to appreciate the value of zero through the suffering we had to go through.

    Young upstart ingrates. You've no idea how good you've got it.

  • Not exactly on topic, but I'm pissed off and feel the need to vent someplace and the topic is cable modem so it's pretty close on this article.

    I just called @home to request that my service be transferred from my apartment to the house I'm moving into. Their customer service is swift. They said that within 30 minutes of making the transfer request the service would be turned off at my old place. Then I could make an appointment to have the service installed at the new place. Furthermore he wouldn't even let me hear the list of avaliable appointment times before he would cut off my service. Pigfuckers.


  • The dynamic IP that cable provides isn't too bad, the address changes so rarely it may as well be static (like every 3-4 months if that!). All you need is a responsive host for your domain name (I have a friend who takes care of it for me off his DSL box) and you're all set!

  • In the Nashville, TN area, DSL isn't doing too bad.

    There are several different providers, but Bellsouth is the most popular. Telocity is also in the area and seems to be doing well.

    Most of the people around here I know who have DSL switched to it when it became available, and they were using a cable modem. They're all happier with DSL.

    Another interesting irony is that in some places around here, Intermedia isn't even signing more people up for Cable, as it appears as if they may be having problems keeping up with increased demand. So, for some people going with DSL is the only option even if they did prefer Cable.

    Also, most of the people I know with DSL get 1.5/256 connections, so you won't hear any of them complaining about speed.

    "Everything you know is wrong. (And stupid.)"
  • the BS about dsl not being shared is phone company propaganda. do you really think they don't over subscribe users? *every* internet connection shares bandwidth somewhere along the line. the only difference is with dsl it's a hop or two further upstream.
  • My roommate wanted to get DSL run to the house and was told by the folks at BellSouth that it would be "no problem". They sent him a modem and he tried for a couple of days to get it up and running. They sent out a technician to check the phone lines (which checked out ok) both inside and outside the house. After about a week they told him that the house was right on the edge of the 15k limit (or whatever the magic distance is).. so we went with a cable modem instead. I hate being a customer of the evil AOL-Time Warner megacorp, but I have been surprisingly pleased with the service in this area- eastern edge of Memphis. Outages are rare.. I think it's only been out once over the past year. In the old neighborhood, outages were a weekly thing.

    So what's the point of this post... ummm.. I guess that the phone companies should make an effort to improve their infrastructure if they want the number of DSL subscribers to increase.

  • I hooked up with Covad/Speakeasy about a year ago. Mebbie a year and a half. Covad had my DSL lines run in a week, the bridge synched right up despite me being at the edge of where I could get 768K service, I've got 4 static IPs and have been extremely pleased with the service. The last major outage I had seems to have been telco related. Once I called and reported it, the Speakeasy tech I talked to was able to ascertain that my line was terminating about 200 feet before it was supposed to. He filed a work order with Covad and it was fixed the next day before I got home from work. I do pay a lot of money for the service I get, but Speakeasy support is the first tech support I've dealt with where the phone monkeys have a clue and that alone is worth the premium.

    I met These Guys [] ( for the goat wary) at the Colorado Linux Info Quest. They're offering a microwave service for the Denver and surrounding area. They seemed to think they could push 4 megabits my way if I wanted to drop the cash for the service, and they don't have to bend over and take it from the telcos like the DSL providers do.

  • I can just picture the massive amount of DSL vs Cable posts that are gonna hit /. in the next few minutes. Let's not ignore the internet-TV family of services that's going to make AOL users look like internet guru's. So far, the different flavors of internet-TV haven't taken off, and satelite is too damned laggy to pay the big bux for. What I'm concerned about is that the main players in the internet-TV market are Microsoft and AOL, neither of which can be trusted to stick to any form of standards, creating extensions to html, restricting the use of the service to further their own agenda. I hope that if internet-TV based services do hit the net in a big way, that we have the presence of mind to step back and insist on net-wide open standards.
  • Look here, angry old man, your time has come and gone. On the internet, patience isn't a virtue, it's a potentially fatal mistake. The old internet is to be respected, but not to such a religious extent that we still need to live it even now -- do you start your fires from scratch to appreciate human civilization too?
  • by jeffsenter ( 95083 ) on Monday May 07, 2001 @07:43AM (#240957) Homepage
    Some DSL competition still exists.
    Check ispmenu [] for comparison of DSL services still available at any particular address. [/plug] It also compares dialups.
  • ADSL here (Sweden) from Bonet is static IP, 2.5Mbit down and 750kbit up. Cable is a lot slower, has higher latency and won't give you a static IP (in most cases) ..

    You can also get 5Mbit down if you pay twice the price. (Price for the above btw is $25/month)

  • I have almost the exact same setup as you, 2 blocks from the CO, Verizon DSL,and for the same amount of time (I'll assume you ment october of 2000). Although you havn't had any problems yet be prepared for a tech support headache if you ever do. Verizon has about 90% idiots in the tech department. I'm generally happy with my service, although would KILL for a static IP address. Verizon seems to have the odd idea in this area (South east PA) that if you want to switch DSL providers you can't. A few of my friends have tried to switch, when they canceled thier accounts with verizon they placed a "hold" on all thier lines for 6 months. No other DSL providor could access the lines because Verizon is the local Company here, they controll the wires. There is another provider here that offeres static IPs for the same price as Verizon, I would love to switch but I'm affraid of getting cut off from my bandwidth.
    =\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\ =\=\=\=\=\=\
  • Please tell me what this is. My company budgeted $400/mo for my internet connection but so far, we have been unable to arrange anything other than standard (well, substandard at an average of 31200) dialup. We are currently looking at Starband but they have put a hold on new installations due to poor installer training.


  • You might wanna read R. Cringely's report on Starband.

    "If you configure the Starband system with a Windows PC, then switch to the router the moment the installer's truck has disappeared down the street, it will allow you to have a network without any Windows PCs. Mac zealots like that. It works just fine with Linux, too. I have a very mixed network with two Windows boxes, two Linux boxes, two Macs, and a Windows notebook. The Macs and the Windows notebook are connected through an 802.11 wireless connection provided by an Apple Airport. This, too, is something the Starband docs say can't be done. I love reading statements like that as I'm web surfing in bed, 100 plus feet from the Starband modem." html []
  • I bought a home in LA County last November. I had been a happy customer of Earthlink/Verizon DSL at my apartment and asked to have my service moved to my new residence. Yes, the new residence was well within CO distance limitations (same CO as the apartment, nonetheless). Yes, the line test showed I'd be eligible for DSL at my home. But I went with cable.

    Why? Simple reason: the earliest installation date for my DSL service would be 60 days from my move-in date! 60 days without broadband - and I work from home 1/2 time. So, I called AT&T Broadband and asked how long it would take to get cable modem access: 6 days from order date (and only that long because I called Wednesday before Thanksgiving!).

    Now that I have cable I won't be going back to DSL for any reason. Cable's latency and bandwidth blows the doors off DSL for the same price. Sure, cable is shared - but my neighboors are mostly retirees...

    Anyway, I can't believe I put up with DSL as long as I did (when I said I was happy with DSL, it was because ignorance is bliss). Thank goodness for the incredible installation delay! (BTW, I had my cable modem 2 days before I had my local telephone service enabled. Now, that's service!)

  • Cable is also available here, but (1) i don't watch television

    Me either. I don't have a TV. But AT&T Broadband (formerly MediaOne) didn't require cable TV to get $49.99 cable modem access. Lucky, I guess.

  • First of since when is system security the cable operators job? You are connecting to the internet you should understand what that involves and how to address the security issues that arise from connecting to a public network. Second don't say cable modems are a bad technology just because your cable operator doesn't have the people, time, or money to design a network that can handle the traffic that their customers genterate. When 10BaseT doesn't work in the building anymore you upgrade to 100, when that bogs down you install switches, when that starts having issues you go Gigabit at the core... but none of that will work if you don't layout the infastructure in a way that works. Cable modem networks are no different. You have to monitor your taffic and address the areas that need it.

    Shared bandwidth is a myth. Everyone on the internet shares bandwidth. What do you think the DSLAM at the CO does with all those DSL connections? It multiplexes them on to a single 100BaseT connection most likely. Right there your sharing bandwidth. The problem is not bandwidth sharing it is network design and monitoring.
  • Actually, as I understand it, there is a lot of surplus bandwidth in a cable "pipe". The choice a cable company has to make is how much of that pipe to dedicate to cable modem and how much of it to dedicate to video channels. IIRC, the 'standard' 512MBit cable modem setup eats up 3 TV channels (out of somthing like 250 possible channels) on that line. If IP traffic picks up, all the cable company needs to do is allocate a few more channels for IP. Considering that in most markets they only use 100 or so of the possible channels for TV, there's still a lot of spare bandwidth left for future services. If your cable ISP is having bandwidth problems, dollars to doughnuts says that it's due to poor network management and not a limitation of the technology.
  • I am on Comcast@Home in MD, and have several services open to the world (SMTP, HTTP, and SSH, with DSN coming soon). This is mostly for my convienience so I can access my home network from work. (Is this reverse telecommuting?)

    I have a coworker who has been running a similar setup for a couple years, and neither of us have ever had any complaints or threats from Comcast. I have it on pretty high authority that they will not crack down on anyone for running a server unless they start disrupting the network.

    Besides, If I wanted to run a "serious" web server, I wouldn't do it on a cable or DSL line anyway. Co-location gives you a lot more bandwidth for the money, and puts your server at least one hop closer to the backbone. The package I'm looking at gives me 4U of rack space, 10/100 Ethernet connected to multiple T-3's, UPS protection, 5 static IP's, and 2GB/mo of bandwidth, all for $200/mo. Can't beat it with a stick.

  • I have been subscribed now to blueyonder in the UK for about 3 months, and I must say I am very impressed with their service. Connection speed is extremely fast (I've had up to 88kBps), and they were very helpful with the install. When they came round to set it up, I was having problems with a new modem I'd just bought. So they said don't worry, we'll set it up on your laptop, call us when you fix your desktop modem. A week later I'd taken the modem back to the shop and changed it, and I let the cable company know. Anyway one of their engineers phoned me back the following day, and talked me through the entire install process, which was very helpful.

    Since then I've had no problems with the service.

    I'd definately recommend them if you live within their coverage area.

  • I had to share my one with my brother.

  • Most of you have heard about the horror stories of DSL. Usually you have to deal with three companies to solve a problem, and they all point at each other as the cause of the problem.

    But, dealing with AT&T and Road Runner is also a pain in the posterior. Not only do they require the MAC address of each NIC, but when you mention Linux, their response is "We don't support Linux." Of course, I responded, "Did I ask for a linux command?". I set up a Win2K machine, their first response was, "remove TCP/IP and reinstall." When I asked what that would do, they didn't know, but said they were sure it would fix the problem. I asked if they would bet $1,000, but they would not put their money where their mouth is.

    The question may not be the technology, but the compentcy of their support people.

  • Here in Rochester, NY, the two big competitiors are Cable (Time Warner, Road Runner), and DSL (Lightning Link, Frontier [Global Crossing]). Time Warner's cable used to advertise being the fastest... until they capped their bandwidth at 2 Mb/sec. Now Frontier has upped their maximum DSL speed to 3 Mb/sec (Of course, dependent on distance from CO), and are advertising themselves as the fastest in Rochester.
  • As a user who's been on all sides of the fence, I can see why cable use is growing so rapidly. When I was using DSL all I had was problems. It wasn't connection problems as much as service problems. When I called for service, both of the ISPs that I had really had no clue what was going on most of the time. They'd end up blaming it on the last-mile provider, who in turn would blame it on the ISP and then the loop begins. The fact that there are usually 3 parties involved just gives more room for confusion.

    With cable, however, I've had none of these problems (mainly because they have no one else to blame the troubles on). If I called support to see what was going on with the network they always had an answer and the service was back up within hours instead of days like my dsl.

    When I first decided to get dsl for broadband I thought it'd be good because I had heard that ping times would be better and I'd get a constant download speed. I was really wrong. I'm getting faster downloads, faster uploads and faster pings on my cable than I ever got on my dsl. Now that I've got cable I'll never be going back to dsl.

    And Then...
  • by rtos ( 179649 ) on Monday May 07, 2001 @05:12AM (#240995) Homepage
    I know it is almost tendy to recount your "I had to fight for 2 YEARS to get DSL" story... blah blah blah. Yes, it can be hard to get connected, but that isn't always the case.

    I signed up with Verizon DSL [] (768 down/128 up) in October 2001. In about 25 days I had a working connection, and to date I would estimate the downtime as virtually zero (maybe an hour or two in 6 months). My connection speeds are usually in the 700 - 800 kbps range during the day, going up as high as 870 kbps during off-peak hours. Upload speeds are consistently in the 130 kbps range. Packet loss is zero. Latency is decent enough that I can play (and serve) UT [] games without problems. I couldn't be happier.

    But you must consider that my apartment is on one side of the block, and on the other side is the CO. Distance means a lot with DSL, and (if the houses weren't there) an athetically inclined person could throw a baseball from my window and hit the CO.

    Also, I am using a local ISP with great bandwidth. I pay a little bit more than if I had gone with Verizon as my ISP, but I welcome the chance to support the few remaining independent ISPs.

    So that is my experience (a great one!). When people are knocking DSL, remember that not everyone has had a bad time with it.

  • by firewort ( 180062 ) on Monday May 07, 2001 @05:18AM (#240997)
    DSL in many areas is a myth- an unsubstantiated rumour.

    My co-op here was trying to get DSL- he signed up with Verizon, had them schedule the appt., asked at the time of the appt. to be sure they'd be able to install it- they came out, took one look-see and said that they couldn't install DSL there.

    He signed up for cable. The best part is, after scheduling the appt., after being lied to about the availability, Verizon continues to bill him!

    DSL would be a great, fast method of connecting, if more than 2% of the people who want fast access could use it. I'm well aware that cable's performance degrades as more users clog the pipes, but for now it's good.

    I'm betting that the next big advance will occur right before cable gets so bogged down that I can't stand it any longer.

    A host is a host from coast to coast, but no one uses a host that's close
  • Rogers @HOME service with respect to Linux has been great here - I get the "non-supported" statement, but the last few times that I've called, the support person asked what values I had in my /etc/hosts, etc... files!

    I was quite pleased to hear that coming from technical support. Turned out that there wasn't any problems with my machine, it was just some vandalism taking out the lines somewhere else.

  • by angry old man ( 211217 ) on Monday May 07, 2001 @04:59AM (#241007)
    Bagh, Every respectable internet user connects via modem. Now-a-days all you lazy kids think that you need fancy schmancy cable-modem or some other nonsense just to browse all these large graphical websites. If internet connections need to be so fast, then why are new standards such as the passenger pigeon protocol still being developed? Once I shipped a box of cards, punched with VAX, clear accross the country overnight. That was as much bandwidth as anybody might ever need. Anything more is just for lazy disrespecting kids.

    If it wasn't for all this bloat everywhere on the net, then we could all use a respectable browser such as Lynx or gopher.

  • DSL will survive. Perhaps not as a residential solution but you can be sure it will as a commercial access solution. With speeds approaching 4MBit/s on the horizon, symetric high speed DSL makes sense for companies with a couple T1s. And there are lots of those and usually they are close to a CO.

    Cable had the advantage that it's network was in betetr shape to handle broad deployment. Telcos are notorious for screwing up new technology deployment (can we say ISDN?) They're trying to screw up DSL too, but I think they'll pull it out.

    As always YMMV, but my SDSL line has been like a rock. I run around 40 domains over it with probably 3 or 4 moderate traffic websites (I'm with a Mom & Pop and they're cool with it) and couldn't be happier. It rarely goes down and even then it might be for a minute or two.

    Compared to my freinds with Cabel Modems, well, I'll take DSL anyday. Sure they can get blazing download speends IF their neighbors aren't surfing and IF the phase of hte moon is right :) But it depends on the vendor. I've had friends drop Cable for DSL like crazy because of stability and bandwidth issues, but in other areas, its just the opposite.

    I think teh telcos are trying to figure out how to use DSL to make money without driving all their customers to cable modems. There have been bumps along the way, but they're learning.


  • Money cannot buy speed

    You don't mean this. You mean < $400/month cannot buy you any more speed than $40/month. Once you start to look at k$/month, you get a lot more options.

  • Timing is everything. I recently moved back to the big city, very much against my wishes. The one plus to the move, I thought, was that I'd be able to get DSL.

    After moving in, I discovered that there is _no_ form of broadband that services my house. No DSL, no cable modem, and I don't have a clear view of the right part of the sky for one of those sattelite link-ups.

    That's why for several years now I always make sure that I do have broadband available before I move. When checking out apartments, I always ask the rental agent if broadband is available. Then I find out who the cable and telco providers are and then contact them to be sure. Granted, you could still end up getting doinked on the DSL deal if they don't know for sure if it is available in your area, but it's better to at least try and find out. Some people thought I was crazy, but it's worth it to make sure.
  • In the ISP business, though, it costs money to support each subscriber - in technical support, fixed wiring costs, phone/modem server costs (for dial-up networks), wholesale DSL costs (for folks like WinFire), and bandwidth. These costs don't magically get cheaper with size - they continue to grow. If you lose $5 per subscriber-month, then you lose $50,000 per month with 10K subscribers, and assuming (generously) that you can reduce your expenses by $3 per subsciber-month at 100,000 subscribers, you're still losing $200,000 per month at that level. It doesn't make sense now, and it didn't make sense then, either.

    This is generally true, but there is more to it than that. You are assuming that there is a fixed cost per user, and that isn't necessarily the case because it does not take into account certain economies of scale.

    For example, if I have an ISP with a T1 and 20 dialup lines I can easily support 20 users. However, in this situation it would hardly be profitable. But the same setup could also support 200 users. Now we're talking more profit. So let's bump it to 1000 users, and now I'm making money hand-over-fist, but my users get a lot of busy signals. So maybe I bump it to 100 phone lines. Now we're back to a minimum of busy-signals, and the T1 will still be more than sufficient to support 100 simultaneous dialup users, but the phoneline costs are killing me. I want to cut costs further, so instead of having 100 phone lines I consolidate them into a digital connection from the phone company directly into my ISP network and slap in some 56K equipment to support higher speed modems. Now I've cut out a large chunk of the cost of having 100 phone lines. And the great thing about that is, if I need more phone lines I can just have the telco add additional channels to my incoming digital circuit. And maybe when I hit 5000 users I'll need an additional T1.

    At any rate, my point is that the expenses don't necessarily increase in a linear fashion as the user base increases. Certain expenses (like the T1 in this example) will be there from the beginning and will not increase significantly as the user base grows. Other expenses will be further economized when you reach the appropriate scale (ditching many analog dialup lines with a single digital circuit from the telco).

    The problem with the free ISPs isn't that their expenses grew linearly with their userbase (which they didn't) but that Internet-based advertising doesn't work nearly as well as everyone thought that it would. Free ISPs are just like most of the ad-based web revenue and hosting networks.
  • Those who are on shared networks and turn on the "file-sharing" option, will be hacked into.

    The same thing will happen with DSL as well. The only difference is that the person who hacks you on cable will be the punk kid down the street as opposed to the punk kid on hte other end of the country.
  • But, dealing with AT&T and Road Runner is also a pain in the posterior. Not only do they require the MAC address of each NIC, but when you mention Linux, their response is "We don't support Linux." Of course, I responded, "Did I ask for a linux command?". I set up a Win2K machine, their first response was, "remove TCP/IP and reinstall." When I asked what that would do, they didn't know, but said they were sure it would fix the problem. I asked if they would bet $1,000, but they would not put their money where their mouth is.

    In Columbus, OH they don't need your MAC address. However, the system is configured to only allow 1 IP address from that cable-modem, so to switch systems you either need to a) release the IP address from the system that has it and then grab it from the second machine/NIC, or b) do some NAT.

    I once had a problem where I had to call tech support too...they wouldn't let me talk to the level 2 support. I had done every troubleshooting step on my hardware and determined that there was a problem on their end, but they didn't want to hear about it. They still wanted me to go through every step in their script (which I had already done and told them the results of, prefaced with the standard 'I do this for a living' line) while on the phone with them before they finally gave up and told me that a level 2 technician would call me back. When the level 2 tech called me back he insisted that we repeat their standard script a third time (release/renew IP address, uninstall then reinstall TCP/IP, release/renew again) before he would look at anything.

    My personal opinion is that if you are a technical person, you are almost better off switching ISPs altogether than trying to get tech support from your current ISP when you encounter a problem.
  • by dachshund ( 300733 ) on Monday May 07, 2001 @05:49AM (#241026)
    Cable is also available here, but ... you can't get a static IP.

    Well, you're among the lucky few ADSL subscribers to rate that privilege. I had a line from a (non-Verizon) ISP that included a static IP, then they went out of business. Now you have a choice of Verizon (PPP over Ethernet!!) or several ISPs with straight DHCP. There may be some choice out there somewhere, but it's hard to find.

    And with a 128k upstream, having a static IP isn't all it's cracked up to be...

  • Timing is everything. I recently moved back to the big city, very much against my wishes. The one plus to the move, I thought, was that I'd be able to get DSL.

    After moving in, I discovered that there is _no_ form of broadband that services my house. No DSL, no cable modem, and I don't have a clear view of the right part of the sky for one of those sattelite link-ups.

    I persisted, though, and after six months of searching, finally found an approximation of broadband: iDSL (for $100/mo!), from Northpoint. I wrestled with whether I wanted to pay that much for 128kps, and finally decided to do it. The day I was going to call to order the hookup was the exact same day Northpoint announced bankruptcy, and they cut off all their existing customers!

    Yup, timing is everything. My pessimistic side say "it figures". My optimistic side say "Wow, a day earlier, and you would have been taken for all that up-front money! Lucky you!"

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead