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Feature: Getting DSL 306

Like many of us, Justin Beech struggled with the age old quest for high bandwidth. He's submitted a quite interesting feature which discusses issues surrounding many of the options (Sat, Cable, DSL, Modems) and where he ended up. It is a little different than typical Slashdot fare, but I think you'll like it if you've thought about DSL, but wanted more data to get started. You'll just wish it had a happy ending.
The following feature was written by Slashdot Reader Justin Beech

I wrote this is in an effort to purge myself of experience in getting DSL service, and in the hope that it helps make us DSL consumers a little more informed about the machinations behind those slick adverts that are popping up around the US. (Disclaimer.. this is only a local interpretation of my efforts in new york, maybe some of this doesnt apply in your area.. however, 2 years ago, I had an even more troublesome experience trying to get DSL in Singapore, so the trials and tribulations below dont seem confined to just NYC!).


Ok.. lets begin at the beginning. I had assumed, before trying to get DSL, that ordering it was straightforward. After all, DSL is a technology that has been discussed endlessly in the press and on the web, and there are adverts around the place saying you can get it.. Concentric DSL and Red-Connect are marketing to NY pretty well, and Flashcom is in the national newspapers... but now I realize that almost nobody has DSL. probably a fraction of 0.1% of all internet accounts are travelling on DSL. Getting DSL, from a customer point of view, I now now believe is equivalent in difficulty to, say, rebuilding your car engine over the summer, you will learn more about phones, telecommunications companies, and equipment than you ever wanted to know, pretty soon you will start to hang out in DSL techie mailing lists listening to opinions on the differences between redback and assured access equipment and chatting to Bell vans in the street hoping to get the inside scoop on upgrades to your local switching centre. If you dont believe me, check out some of the previous tales from the frontline, for instance this article about the guy who tried to get DSL from Bel for his power mac...

For some, however, maybe DSL is a simple experience, probably the same kind of people who order from a catalogue then forget about it and are pleasantly surprised when a parcel arrives 2 months later...

The big 56k lie.. in some areas, regular, quality, modems connected to regular, quality, ISPs, will not do more than 26400 (half their promoted speed). This is NOT because of bad wiring in the building etc, it is because your calls go through two digital/analog conversions, apparently this is not un-common in high density areas. Here is the scoop from a tech in the industry that I emailed to ask why my modem wont go faster than 26400, and the Bell guy told me I am on high quality "lightspan" fibre.

  1. "..... Bell is bringing analog lines out of the digital switch like they would on a standard phone line, then they re-digitize it, send it down to the equipment in the neighborhood(the SLC), and the equipment converts it back to a standard analog phone line. The loss from the D>A>D>A conversions kill anything above 26,400.."
Ameritech apparently has the same problems with some of their configurations. Failure to get more than 26400 on what sounds and looks like a good line, is a classic symptom ... to fix this, you can request your line gets moved to "old" copper, which they keep in reserve for "internet whiners", although, calling up your local Bell service operator and mentioning any problem relating to data will not get you far.. they read you the riot act on how your phone service is guaranteed for voice, not for fast data transfer etc etc, but if you do get a friendly repairman to visit on some other pretext, he can be more flexible.

Cable modems, in many areas, are 1-way data. Ie, you have to use a phone line for up-channel. In addition, cable modems are a shared pipe, you share it not with strangers, but with other rabid netsurfers, warez vendors, porn freaks, and quake server operators in your building or street. Your download speed, therefore, varies vastly and CAN be as bad as a modem at peak times in certain areas. In addition, the feeling amongst the isp operators seems to be that this is likely to get worse, not better, as more cable users come on line. Your cable operator has a number of potential bottlenecks that all must be managed correctly to give clean constant speed. In contrast, DSL providers merely have to do the math on backend bandwidth versus incoming DSL lines. DSL providers are pleased that the bandwidth hogs are all jumping into cable.. but you as a cable customer may not be as happy.

Radio and other wireless IP is not anywhere yet, at least in NYC, although there is at least one high speed data net coming on stream, probably designed more for mobile phone use than home internet. There are special exceptions, for instance there is a company that beams down data from empire state building, if you are line-of-sight.

Satellite, for example internet via digital satellite-TV dish, is also an option, but the latency (long ping times) makes less attractive, especially for interactive internet applications (like games) and there is only down-link. Up-link is via your good old modem again... Nobody can fix long ping times due to geographic distance... there is no intel chip in the works to increase the speed of radio waves or electrical signals in conducting materials!

DSL. This is what was left in the bag for me, and with my 26400 data rate thanks to Bells "super duper" optical fibre system, RCNs one-way shared cable modem offering, and time warners non-existant option, and my non-view of the empire state building.


There are two basic types of DSL around now for consumers, ADSL and SDSL. The first is asymmetric, ie, assumes you do more reception than sending. Typically uplink rates are 128 or 384kbps (ie, 1-3 times dual ISDN or 3-9x an average modem speed). Downlink rates are up to 784kbps or even higher. Potentially. Ping times are fast (thats good), probably 40-100ms versus 150-300ms for modems. Basically, this rocks compared to ISDN or any regular modem.

For any DSL service, you are tied to THREE parties. One, the ISP, which typically is your only point of contact, and the people who bill you. Two, the CLEC, ie, Bell Atlantic, which owns the rights to access your house and the wires into it. Three, the DSL carrier, which will be one of several national DSL companies who dont like to field calls from customers, and like to deal with either CLECs or ISPs, but carry your data, and are where 40-80% of your monthly bill goes. In the case of Bell Atlantics own DSL service, they are all three.. the CLEC, the ISP and also the DSL provider!

For all DSL types, your home modem needs to be less than roughly 20,000 feet from the "DSLAM" (DSL Access Muptiplexor), which I think is installed next to the SLC (subscriber loop carrier) equipment, en-route to the phone company CO (central office), and you must be even closer, down to 10000 feet, for buying higher DSL rates. Some DSL vendors can tell you on the phone how many feet you are from their equipment if you give them your phone are code and first 3 digits, and zip code. @work was helpful to me for that (the business side of @home).

There are three reasons why DSL might not be an option for you: One is you are too far from any SLC, therefore you will never be able to get DSL, unless your CLEC (competitive local exchange carrier), builds a new node closer to you. Two is that no DSL provider has yet installed equipment in your CLECs facility. Three is because your physical copper phone line(s) prove to be too old to be handle DSL modem signals reliably. If you pass on these three items, you should be able to get DSL now.

In NYC, www.redconnect.com is building their own network that you get to via Bell (of course). They are offering ADSL. Unfortunately, in my book, their marketing is ahead of their deployment.. they are happy to accept your DSL request, but then put you on analog 56k until the zone around you "lights up"... which may be next week, or next month, or next....? finding out "when" is almost impossible, so signing up is a matter of blind faith.

They are also firmly residential oriented in terms of using DHCP, limiting the number of IP addresses, and having an upstream cap at 120kbps ... Why is this a problem? well DHCP means your IP address changes, typically, about once every few weeks, but if you ever fancy serving any digital data, (http, ftp, or whatever) you dont want a dynamically changing IP address!

Do any DSL search in dejanews, and you will hear about FLASHCOM. An agressive sales oriented company offering DSL nationally via at least Covad and Northpoint (two big DSL networkers that resale their networks to "ISPs" to on-sell to the customer). Flashcom has, on the face of it, the best prices for residential DSL access, and will sign you up over the phone with a fast talking no-worries type sales guy. Technically, however, they are non-existant. They seem to out-source all the services you will be depending on (DNS, DHCP, news servers, pop3 mailboxes) to subcontractors with little accountability to you the customer, and no incentive to provide good service, and the terms and conditions of the contract are a straitjacket.. read the fine print first! They also have an explicit NO SERVERS rule which means if you do decide to get technical and run any kind of mini web server, remote access server, game server or ftp server, you are jeopardizing your whole contract and could be up for termination and end up owing them penalties. I read the fine print and decided I didnt like the tone, and found that backing out was almost as hard as getting in was easy. Trying to raise them again to accept cancellation (which the T&C says clearly can be made within the really super generous cooling off period of 24 hours and zero minutes), was impossible. Of course they ignored my cancellation attempt and placed the order with Northpoint anyway, so I had to tell Northpoint themselves it was supposed to be a cancel, and go back to Flashcom accounting department to find someone to re-do the cancellation... (flashcom reappear, like a reanimated corpse, later in my story) for me, anyway, Flashcom was NOT a pleasant experience. One positive.. in the process of "almost" getting caught by flashcom, I found out that Northpoint was the SDSL provider that covered my area, and that Covad (the other biggie) had not reached it yet (I already knew that redconnect hadnt reached it yet either, although finding that out for sure was very difficult).

Finding an ISP that would give me SDSL from Northpoint was my new mission, and armed with that, it became a bit clearer.. the northpoint website www.northpointdsl.com, allows you to find the list of "partner" ISPs in your area, and the next job is just one of elimination... visiting each website in turn checking dsl info and options...

Prices and DSL install fees vary incredibly for the same data rates! You can go from, literally, zero install cost and a low red-connect or flashcom type of price, to at the other end of the scale, $800 for install and four times higher per month price!

A lot of this may be because of out of date website info.. prices are changing fast. However getting someone on the phone to talk about DSL at the ISPs I tried is hard.. numbers dont answer, or there is voice mail that is never returned, email enquiries dont get answered either.. The better websites ask for your phone number, at least the first 3 digits and the area code, and produce a list of prices and/or even providers and speeds and availability dates. These automated facilities are very helpful in getting an idea of what is happening behind the scenes in your area!

Oh at this point, I should talk about the phone company... Bell Atlantic is trying to build its own retail DSL service, and they have some nice looking web pages on it, (it is called InfoSpeed DSL). However, the DSL number to call to ask them is as impenetrable as the smaller ISPs.. info I can glean on dejanews and mailing lists shows that they are lighting up areas, but the chances are they are not in YOUR area for another "few" months.. there is also the worry about your phone company (in the "we only understand voice" sense) operating an ISP type infrastructure reliably, and getting them to fix a problem if it occurs..


So now, I found an ISP (i wont say which) to get me SDSL via northpoint, without caring about bandwidth used or servers, and at a price better than flashcom. So here is the process for northpoint and NYC and ISP XYZ.. You order it from the ISP, and fill in forms, pay money, and then wait. After a day to a week, depending on how lazy the ISP is, they contact Northpoint with the order. It then goes into Northpoints system and 48 hours or so after that, a "local loop" request goes to Bell Atlantic from Northpoint (ie, please link customer X to our equipment at your switching centre number Y). At this stage, there is a wait that seems to vary depending on the phase of the moon.. some people say weeks. This is a delay you cant check up on, for Bell need a work order number before they give out info on where you are in the queue, and your ISP is 3 steps removed from knowing that number. For me, I had an order for a 2nd phone line via RCN in the queue anyway, and the visiting bell guy saw the DSL request in the system also, and did both on the spot! The time for me between Northpoint getting the order from the ISP, and me getting a socket on the wall (looks identical to a phone socket by the way), was about 3 days! What is supposed to happen, though, is Northpoint gets some warning, and comes by to do the "inside wiring" and test the install. Inside wiring takes the line from where Bell left it, to the room you want it in. In my case, Bell Atlantic kindly did that also.

Equipment: for DSL, you need a "DSL MODEM", and a PC network interface card of some kind. The other option is a combined dsl-modem- router-hub, I think, which is better for small offices. DSL deals now usually allow you to rent the modem, or buy it outright.

For my case, I was presented (for my $20/mth), a 3COM DSL modem (they only make one, its on the 3com website). This is apparently supposed to magically appear at your doorstep, from Northpoint themselves, but in my case, I went to the ISP to pick it up, as this home modem delivery system from Northpoint hadnt really started yet. The modem is simple: plug it in and watch "das blinken lights". There are no local configuration options or diagnostics with this modem.. either green DSL light means go, or red means problem.. (I wonder if redconnect swap the leads on the LEDs ;)?

You also need a NIC, as I said, which you can buy for $29 to $100 from any decent PC store. Try to buy a popular one, because if you ever have any problems you are more likely to see other people on the net posting about it... you need a NIC because out the back of the DSL modem comes pure 10mbps ethernet, just like you have in your office.

Setup. Tthere are two important things here. One is the MAC address.. this is a unique number allocated to every IP card in the word... equipment makers get ranges, and then allocate them to equipment they produce. Amazingly, no equipment has the same MAC address.. but in reality, I believe, manufacturers re-use them, either by accident or plan, so conflicts on the same LAN do happen. The MAC address needs to be given to your ISP, so they can track you as you, and also, probably unblock your circuit... The IP address is the other important thing, or rather, whether or not your ISP is going to automatically configure your network options via DHCP, or statically allocate an IP to you. For my case, they gave me an IP, a subnet mask, and a default gateway, and a DNS server.. basically the same stuff as anyone who has configured networking for an ISP by using the windows control panel knows.

So now, you have a DSL socket on the wall, a green DSL light (hopefully!.. some people get this far to discover the line isnt good enough after all and have to unwind the whole order), and a NIC and a PC plugged in, and you can send packets to the modem by pinging your default gateway... if you are very lucky, you even get a ping reply and your machine is now active, live and on the web, and will probably get hacked by somebody because you know absolutely nothing about IP security... this DSL line will be up and running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (hopefully), and you have loads of bandwidth available should you need it, and a fixed monthly bill. For my case, I pay $139/mth for 416k SDSL, plus $20 for the 3com modem.. and thats basically it. Its expensive compared to AOL or a 56k ISP, but I will be able to work from home.. how much is that worth to you?


Although the green light is on, I cant ping anything. After poking around with my PC and doing everything else to prove it wasnt my problem, I have to query the ISP on what the problem could be. Here is where dealing with 3 companies really slows you down. The ISP says, basically, its NPs problem, and they, like me, leave a voice mail for NP. (-getting- northpoints number in NYC was very difficult anyway, I expect its classified information...).

After a week of effort to get in touch with Northpoint local technical guys, they finally come through and tell me the reason I have a DSL line, and a green DSL light, so quickly after application, is that it is connected via Northpoint to flashcom!!! the buggers didnt cancel the workorder with Bell! Northpoint confirmed this was not my fault, and are now looking to switch me over to the local ISP that I chose, rather than cutting me off, and having me start again. I am hoping this can happen in relatively short order.

After deciding over a month ago that DSL might be nice, I have got this far. I estimate I have picked over about 20 websites, read about 30 dejanews articles, joined several DSL mailing lists, written about a dozen emails, made about two dozen 1800 calls, listened to the sentence "for quality assurance purposes, this call may be recorded" about four dozen times, visited the new ISP twice, bought and configured one piece of equipment, installed a modem, written a cheque for $220, and so far, I still cant ping anything.

But I am still hopeful!

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Feature: Getting DSL

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm in Pittsburgh, PA and I got ADSL through bellatlantic.net a few months back. It's great! About a week after I placed the order a guy came out to my house and installed the ADSL interface in my basement. The next day another guy came out and ran the ADSL phone jack up to my computer. Total cost: $200+tax for the install & modem. (I own the modem.) And $50/month for 640kps/90kps access. (Which translates, for me, to a peak of about 4 Megabytes down per minute. Or a complete linux distro in less than 3 hours.)

    The link is http://www.bell-atl.com/business/adsl/index.htm.

    Caveat: I had to lie to the phone reps when I ordered ADSL. They wanted me to have a pentium win95 box so I could run their software. The ADSL installer was far more reasonable and compromised by letting me hook it into my $10 486/25 linux box.

    IP-Masquerade rocks with ADSL! I recommend it highly.

    Bell keeps threatening to switch to dynamic IP addresses. But currently they are using static IP addresses. (If they switch to dynamic IP addresses you can always get one of those dynamic domain names.)

    You may have network problems from time-to-time. This is not necessarily a problem with bell's network. Use 'ping' and 'traceroute' judiciously. If there are problems, send complaints to: techsupport@bellatlantic.net

    PS> If you know someone with ADSL already installed, you can use the "friend referral" program to knock an additional $50 off that $200 price tag. (The "friend referral" gives $100 to anyone who refers a friend. I figured in a 50/50 split...)

    PPS> Be sure to tell Bell that you need a Network Interface Card (NIC). They'll include one in that $200 price tag. I asked for an ISA card and they sent me a brand new 3com 509-B card. (Which works great for linux!)
  • SDSL Is very nice, if you are within range. Under ideal conditions, you can get 1.5 megabits both ways, which means T1-equiv. speed. The ISP that I work at offers SDSL access in Wilmington, DE and Philadelphia, PA, And we have had very little trouble with it thus far.
    ----------------- ------------ ---- --- - - - -
  • i have dsl (256k) in tempe, don't use USWest... go w/ primenet. it's $5 more expensive a month, but you get a static ip (ie, it's not dhcp keyed to the MAC so if you change computer/network card you still got the same ip).

    also, their connection to the net is faster, i had uswest.net for 2 months and have had primenet for 5, in the 2 months of uswest i had about 10 15-45 min outages (a router on their side would go down), other than one problem w/ primenet (a cable got cut or something sat night, fixed sunday noon) i have been very happy w/ their service.

    i had a totally different experiance than justin, called up, got the stuff in the mail, called again to ask what day i was going to be turned on, it worked the day they said it would. the only thing that pissed me off was the $45 fee to change ISP (now down to $35) and it took a few calls to uswest to get that done (the magic words are "I want to change Mega Central")

  • by Trep ( 366 )
    Does anyone have any experience with DSL in the Richmond, Va area? I know that mediaone does not offer cable modem access yet, and they can't give me a date. Also, I have a feeling it is going to be a dial-up upstream, which ruins it for me.

  • We've had ADSL (and now also RADSL) up here in Regina, Sask., Canada for a few years now (we were one of the first in North America... or was it the first?). Reliability is great and downstream speed is good (1.5Mbit/s). It's all done by the phone company... almost.

    The only catch is that you have to sign up through a separate dealer, who is responsible for coming out and doing the software setup, and whom you're supposed to call for support. Of course, they can't actually do anything about your problem; they just phone SaskTel for you.

    Fortunately, this is changing. SaskTel's Internet help desk is now able to take calls on ADSL problems, and it may soon be possible to order it without going through them.

    However, I'm using a cablemodem right now? Why? Because although SaskTel started out handing out static IP's, they now run everybody through NAT to give you a dynamic IP! Because your computer doesn't even know its own IP, it even makes it a nuisance trying to use one of the dyndns services. Fortunately, the local cable company seems to be improving service rapidly in the past month or so.
  • Believe it or not, that $50 is down from $100/mo a little while ago. I had ADSL back when you got a static IP for free; I dropped it shortly after they started doing NAT. And yes, Cable Regina will give you four IP's. They'll also give you 16 for an extra $100/mo or so.

    I have heard rumours that SaskTel might be lowering their monthly charge to $49.95 soon though.

    You obviously haven't had your cablemodem for long; a couple months ago, the performance in the evenings was horrid; it's only now starting to get better again. They're also starting to replace NT servers with Linux boxes, which is helping too :-).

  • Ok, as mentioned there are several types of DSL. ADSL being what is geared towards consumers. HDSL, which is currently being used in about 60% of the T1 installations around the country, and SDSL, which is basically HDSL with 1 pair of wires.

    ADSL and SDSL have a maximum range of 18,000 ft and ADSL has a maximum speed of around 8 Mbps, although VDSL a variation of ADSL can go much, much faster, but requires a very short distance to a DSLAM.

    There are a few reasons why DSL is better than cable. The main reason is the bottleneck is pushed much further back. With cable, everyone in your neighborhood (up to a 15 square mile area sometimes) shares the cable's max bandwidth, so your neighbor can suck down all your bandwidth and ruin your latency.

    With DSL, that bottleneck is pushed all the way back to the ISP itself. So instead of a 10 Mbps maximum cable bandwidth bottleneck, you have a DS3 or more bottleneck. People checking their mail and accessing the local web proxy cache won't affect you at all.

    The major problem with these highspeed technologies is the money you are paying. ISPs will have to oversell their bandwidth roughly 30:1 in order to make a profit on DSL and cable. In some areas it's even worse, upwards of 300:1.

    The fact of the matter is, don't expect a great
    service for the small amount of money you pay. The
    old saying is true, you do get what you pay for.

    Don't go for the cheapest ISP, look for a provider which doesn't provide their customers with outrageous amounts of bandwidth for $5/month. These types of ISPs will not give you good service.

  • by Aaron M. Renn ( 539 ) <arenn@urbanophile.com> on Wednesday June 02, 1999 @05:25AM (#1870309) Homepage
    A CLEC is a competitive local exchange carrier. That is, a phone company that competes against the local monopoly. Companies like Bell Altantic are ILEC's, or incumbent local exchange carriers. They are the monopoly. The CLEC in the DSL equation is actually the DSL provider. Typically, these companies lease co-location space in an ILEC central office (CO), then lease what are called "unbundled loops" to the customer location. The unbundled loop is the pair of copper wires from the CO to your house. The DSL provider terminates this on the DSL equipment, then delivers it to whatever ISP they've partnered with to provide the service. Some DSL companies are their own ISP, or are selling their own branded service. Others are a silent partner to an ISP, providing just the DSL access portion. Others do both. When Bell Atlantic provides DSL, they are handling everything themselves: the copper loop, the DSL equipment, and the net access.
  • by Aaron M. Renn ( 539 ) <arenn@urbanophile.com> on Wednesday June 02, 1999 @05:30AM (#1870310) Homepage
    I cannot agree more with the "read the fine print" suggestion in this article. Every DSL provider I have seen has very onerous terms of service that make it difficult to use the pipe to its fullest. In fact, I consider these deals quasi-scams. The DSL provider wants to brag about giving you this huge pipe, but they they basically make it impossible to use. That's why the price is so much more attractive than a T1. TANSTAAFL! Here are common restrictions:

    -- No servers. That's right, no hosting your own email, web, ftp, etc. Also note that some companies don't even give you a "real" IP address!

    -- One machine only. You are not allowed to put multiple machines on the segment. You are not allowed to run NAT.

    As you can see, this makes DSL less than useful for a home network. All it basically lets you do is download porn faster.
  • Well, Southwestern Bell here in Houston started offering ADSL April 1st, 1999. However, they say I'm unable to get it. The reason is that my area has fiber optic phone line. Mind you, the cables in my house are old-fashioned copper, and I connect over a slow analog modem that won't go over 26.4, but the lines buried under the street are (supposedly) fiber-optic. SWBell says that ADSL doesn't work on fiber optic lines, that something called "iDSL" does. iDSL won't be available for another 9 months, which probably means it won't *really* be available for at least another year. So it goes.
  • Amazingly, no equipment has the same MAC address.. but in reality, I believe, manufacturers re-use them, either by accident or plan, so conflicts on the same LAN do happen.

    No, they don't reuse MAC addresses. The MAC address consists of 6 bytes broken into two parts of 3 bytes each - a manufacturer ID and an node address. Even if a manufacturer got only one ID, that means they could produce 2^24=16 million unique addresses, and manufacturers can get more than one ID (there's 16 million IDs available too).

    What can happen is that you can override the address and provide your own 6 bytes. In many companies that have address-sensitive software (SNA on IBM mainframes, for one example), the burned-in address is overridden so if you have to replace the hardware, you don't have to reprogram the host. It's that over-ride that can cause a conflict.

  • Evidence please? Not that I don't believe you, but they are not supposed to, and it's easy enough to avoid, so I'd like to see examples.

  • I'm in easter MA (along rt 128) and I have to say that M1 has what sounds to be the best cable modem offering around. Uplink is about 300kbps, downlink is about T1 (1.44Mb).

    I do notice some slowdown at night and on the weekends, but never enough to make it slower than a 28.8kb modem. Plus the fact that it's always on, so I don't get busy signals, no dropped FTP connects, etc. I even installed RedHat a few times over the net with it.

    The total cost for the service (including the cable modem box) is $39.95. If you buy the cable modem from Circuit City for $200ish, the price drops to $29.95. It's $10 more if you don't have cable service with M1.

    Given the price I'm paying and the speed I'm getting, cable modems are far far better than DSL.

    On a side note, 56k modems work the following way:

    The uplink is still 28.8 or 33.6 or whatever. The remote side has to have an ISDN or 56k modem on the other end. The downlink goes digital as far as it can until it goes analog at the CO, hopefully nearby your house. The important point is that the 56k downlink has no error correction built into it, which is one of the reasons that you can get a higher speed out.
  • Posted by dea2e:

    I signed up for Bell Atlantic's 640K (download) DSL service a couple of months ago in DC, and have been very pleased. I had about a two-week wait between my order and the installation, but when the install happened, the guy who did it was there right on time and got things done quickly. I had already been Fed-Ex-ed or UPSed the DSL router, and had it hooked up to my Mac clone. All that remained to be done after the inside wiring was done was to configure the networking software. I could have been done the same day as the install except for a typo in the IP addresses I was given that I didn't get straightened out until the next day.

    The service originally ran $60/month for the line and ISP service from BA (which gets you a huge deal on the router -- much cheaper), but they chopped $10/month off the price of service about a month into my term of service.

    There have been a grand total of 2 service outages since March, which I was told were due to router problems.

    I like the DSL service because of the "always online" feature, having my phone line free, and, of course, for the great download bandwidth. I've had no hassles whatsoever, and BA's customer service, although I've heard it maligned, has been stellar for me so far.

    There's a substantial initial outlay for the installation and equipment, but the monthly charge ($50 for now) isn't a whole lot more than you'd pay for an additional phone line and an ISP account, and the extra bandwidth is worth that difference for me.

    If you do decide to sign up for it, BA also pays a $100 referral fee, so keep me in mind :-)

  • Posted by dentyne:

    I have had ADSL service in Vancouver, Canada for over a year now. I pay under $50US for upstream speeds of 640kbps and downstream speeds of 1.5 - 4 Mbps.

    When I first got ther service, I was lucky enough to live less than 1/2 mile from the CO and got speeds over 3.5Mbps. Unfortunately, I am a little farther away now and am down to 2.5 Mbps.

    The service is provided by my local phone company in partnership with my ISP. The ISP takes care of support, email and website and the phone company takes care of the rest.

    My experience with ADSL has been great. The only troubles I've had was when I move and wanted to do the installation myself (avoiding having to pay the $70US installation fee). They put up an argument, but when I informed them that the CRTC (the Canadian equivalent to the FCC, who regulate Phone companies and Cable companies) dictates that the customer be able to choose there installer, they relented.

    ADSL has been and continues to be a great experience.
  • I went with a cable modem, since Bell Canada hasn't wired my 'hood for DSL yet. I got it installed the morning I moved in, the technician ran new cables 'cause the old ones looked shabby, a 3Com NIC was included, and everything worked the second I plugged it in.

    It was all free, even the first 6 mo. rent on my modem.

    But I can sympathize, 'cause I can see myself sticking with it the same way you did.

    One hint to those who find themselves behind DHCP and want to run a server... bigfoot.com will forward email and http traffic to the IP address of your choice. I just set it up to forward http requests to my current IP, and have my linux box send email to my wireless phone on every reboot (damn power company) so I can check that my IP hasn't changed.

    It's manageable, and it works - check the URL above...
  • For instance, in San Diego cable modems are much cheaper, much more available and (at least with Cox @Home) very fast (1+MB/s in / 300+KB/s out) & rather reliable (I've had ~5 hours downtime in a YEAR with a system running 24x7). The last time I priced it, equivalent DSL would be ~$250 a month assuming it was offered where I live, which it isn't.

    OTOH, other places have cable companies who haven't been in the same time zone as a clue for years. (the same holds for DSL) I think we need to setup a clueful provider registry so people can check to see who to avoid.

  • I am extremely pleased with my RoadRunner cable modem. There were a few months of screwiness, but now they seem to have the kinks worked out. I consistently get T1 speeds during the day and pretty low latency (40-80ms for close sites, less than 20ms for other local ISPs).

    Installation did take weeks, but I was in the early access program; it may have changed at this point.
  • I have finally been connected by Red here in Manhatten, and it only took 3 months from when I signed up (including dozens of phone calls, outright lies by their sales and provisioning staff, and getting Bell to install the copper in the morning).


    1. I get a real, static IP address.
    2. My ping is around 35-40 for most Q3A servers
    3. The terms and conditions don't rule out servers (or at least my signed copy doesn't).
    4. My d/l speed peaks around 112kb/s

    Overall, I think I'm happy.

  • Why is the process of getting DSL so complicated in the US? Why do you have to deal with 3 parties to get your DSL line? Is it because of the regulations?

    Here in Canada telcos have to allow co-location so that individual ISPs can put their own DSL equipment (DSLAMs) where the phone switches are. So the ISP deals with the telco to get you a phone line if needed, remove line conditioning, worry about monthly line charges, provide modem and routing equipment, and give you bandwidth on the backend. All with you filling out one piece of paper, and paying one charge.

    Would not the DSL providers also offer Internet services in the US? Why would you deal with both an ISP and a DSL company, and the telco to boot? If the telecomm regulations down there allow for it, the market is ripe for an all-in-one DSL provider.

  • My ISP is very aggressive about no servers. They don't firewall anything but portscan, packet sniff, and traffic monitor the hell out of you. They read your email, look at where you're surfing, what you're uploading, what ports you use. It's very fast but as far as we're concerned, it's a half duplex, non private connection.
  • Pacbell is so lazy! They haven't upgraded a single CO in Santa Rosa (there are like three or something)!!! Argh! I want ADSL!
  • Hi
    Its available in Hull (via Kingston telecom) and limited access in London (via BT). The BT London access is a 'trial', they are not promoting it heavily and seem to be having problems - I think they are trying to get people on the homeHighway connections rather than DSL.

    I know there are lots of people in the UK shouting for DSL, but BT is dragging it's feet and as there ain't much competition in this area.....

  • I'd consider getting ConcentricDSL but their map of cities with coverage is extremely geographically challenged.

    I'm not sure I would want to order DSL from a company that doesn't know that Washington DC is not in North Carolina and Chicago is not on the Mississippi.

    Of course there isn't a email address on any of the web pages to let them know that their map is severely wrong.

    They're based in California too so that explains why they have trouble with geography east of Lake Tahoe.
  • Looks like the map has been fixed since the last time I saw it...

    Washington is still in North Carolina though. :)
  • by jaraxle ( 1707 ) on Wednesday June 02, 1999 @05:19AM (#1870327)
    I am in Canada (Winnipeg, MB to be exact) and have ADSL. I am moving to cable modem very soon. ADSL performance is very poor and crashes often and hard. Many weekends, I have been without internet access due to my ADSL connection being down in such a manner that resetting the modem doesn't fix it (this is my ISP and phone company's solution to all ADSL problems) and there is no one to phone to get the problem fixed, as no one is in at the phone company on the weekends and my ISP won't do anything but tell me to reset the modem, and if that doesn't work, they will create a Trouble Ticket. I have also been told by someone who agrees with my opinion of ADSL who works at my ISP that ADSL in my area crashes when it rains and thunders, and a lot of the time lately that my connection has dropped, it has in fact been raining.

    A friend of mine's wife has ADSL in her business as their connection to the 'net, and two days out of the week, their ADSL connection is down. I would consider this very unsatisfactory for a business customer to have to put up with.

    As well, with the modems that we are using (Pulsecom WavePacer) there is a hardware problem that causes the connection to drop when doing batch FTP downloads. In fact, the connection drops often when only doing SINGLE file FTP transfers.

    Another problem is that I can set my machine to have 1 of 2 IP addresses ( or and if it is set to the former, some services work (like reverse lookups) but set to the latter, those services don't work, but others do (like Samba and Apache vhosts).

    Nonetheless, I am very unhappy with ADSL in my area, as are everyone I know who have it as well, and I will be moving to a cable modem business plan very soon. I warn anyone considering ADSL to research performance in their area and look at other options before investing in it.

  • I live in Denver and I'm planning to get DSL (when US West get off their lazy arses... they'll be 6 weeks late by the time install for me).

    Anyway, who's your ISP that serves up static IP addresses (mine serves them to DSL customers using DHCP)?
  • If you work for another telco, please come here to Denver as you will be able to take huge chunk out of US Worst's market share! Life's better here [at US West]... but where the hell's that?

    Anyway, more on topic:
    US West are completely shit compared with other telcos with respect to DSL. They offer 256kbs + internet access for $50pm. Other telecos, such as PacBell offer 1.5mbs + internet for the same price. US West's best is half that bandwidth for $100pm. Where the hell the cable companies with their fast modems when they're needed.

    Get this, customers in the Denver Tech Center can expect all sorts of problems get their lines to qualify for DSL... hmmm, one would have thought the Tech Center being new and, well, a Tech Center, would have the best options.

    US West want's to install DSL withing two weeks for everybody. That would be nice once they get their heads out of their arses. EVERYBODY I know has had to wait 1-2 months for there DSL.
  • I feel that I should comment on this, given that I am running a company that is going to be offering ADSL in NY this month. (shameless plug: http://www.acecape.com)

    First off, here's the current picture of DSL market in NYC:
    The only thing available RIGHT NOW is SDSL. There are two major providers for DSL, that is, Covad and NorthPoint. They operate by putting their DSL access multiplexors (DSLAMs) into Bell central offices, and leasing physical copper from customer to their DSLAM. Since DSLAMs are quite expensive, both Covad and Northpoint are knee-deep in debt. Correspondingly, they do not orient their services for consumer use, they are competing with normal T1 access for business.

    There are many ISPs in NY area who offer SDSL access. Most of them are acting as resellers of Northpoint/covad, that is, your traffic does not even enter ISP's network. Some (like flashcom, globix) actually have deals with Northpoint/Covad that ISP provides internet access, and northpoint/covad provides physical connectivity to customer. At any case, ISP's cut is relatively minor, and northpoint/covad gets most of the money, and sets lower bound on price.
    You can expect paying around 400-500$ for SDSL 1.5Mbps service with any ISP. While this is very competitive with T1, its not for consumers.

    Enter BellAtlantic and Acecape.
    To compete, BellAtlantic decided to just add DSL cards into their existing switches, which is much cheaper than what Covad/northpoint doing.
    Also, with this approach, it is possible to have both phone and DSL service on one line, using a low-pass splitter. However, with Bell being a stubborn telco, it takes them ages to do it. Also, in this regulated industry, it takes regulators ages to approve any consumer services. Well, finally, tariff for DSL was filed about 2 weeks ago, and expected to be approved Real Soon Now.
    Pricing is very competitive with normal phone ISPs. BA charges 40$/mo for physical connection, and we charge 20$/mo for internet service on that connection, total being 60$/month. This is about as much as you'd pay for second phone line and internet, so it really makes sense for heavy users.

    We, as ISP, have OC3 connection from BA to us, which will be live mid-June. BA promises to start installing DSL for customers mid-june as well. So, given enough luck, we'll providing services soon.

    Any questions, contact info@acecape.com

  • For those of you in Southern California, I would suggest Interworld [interworld.net] for an ISP. The prices and terms of service are reasonable, and the president of the company is himself a tech who is willing to take the time to make a specialized deal. He also gets on the phone himself and harasses GTE when the service gets cut. If anyone is interested, I can give you his email address.
  • I was looking at the Cisco 675 and it mentioned something about having a built-in splitter so you don't need the TELCO to install a POTS splitter at your house. I noticed Cisco also sells inline and wall-mount splitters that do the same thing.

    Does this lower install cost?
    Does this still allow voice and DSL on one line simultaneously?

    If anyone has info or experience with this I would appreciate hearing about it.

    The reason I'm asking is because I am a student and live in an apartment. I was talking to SWBell about DSL service in St. Louis, and the install fee seemed very high. Since I'm will probably move in a year, I would really like to lower the install fee, and it sounds like with this Cisco equipment I wouldn't have to have Bell install any extra stuff on my line.

    Doug Wikle
  • How much did it cost you for installation? I live in an apt in St. Louis and when I talked to SWBell it seemed installation was expensive.

    I'll be moving out in a year so I'd rather not shell out $200 for the install.

    Also, did you buy a DSL modem/router from SWBEll or from someone else?

    Any advice would be appreciated....
  • I'm still waiting.... Ameritech offers the lines, and ISP but, no, I can't get it and they can't tell me when I can. Grrrrr...

    It's ironic in a way: they've been trying to find ways to get an extra $10 a month out of me by flogging some service I don't need, and here I am practically screaming at them that I'd happily give them $50 to $75 a month for a damn ADSL line.
  • You need to have TWO nameservers, on separate nets, to resolve to your IP address.

    Since small organizations (like you) are unlikely to have the resources to do this, there are outfits that will do it for you -- generally for $50 to $100 a year. Some allow you to change your own DNS records.

    Check out http://www.dyndns.org and http://www.granitecanyon.org (free). Search the Net -- the above sites are by no means an exhaustive list.

    Hope this helps.
  • The quality, performance and price varies from one service to another. I've heard horror stories of ADSL and Cable modem suppliers. Personally though I have ADSL service by USWest in Boulder,CO and the service is outstanding.

    For $29.95 month I have 512Kbit connection that is on all the time. I run a Q3Arena server on it ,a web site and ftp site and in the last year had only 2 outages each lasting less then 2 hours.

    I don't doubt that many people ARE having problems. DSL is a relatively new technology, in that telcos are just now begining to deploy it. But I'm sure that as the service spreads and they gain more experiance in this it will improve signifigantly. (Same goes for cable modems).

    Think back to the early days of Dial-up.. it was hell back then too.

  • DSL service consists of two parts: the DSL line,
    which is provided by an incumbant Local Exchange
    Carrier (LEC) or a competitive LEC (ILECs and CLECs). For example, in the SF Bay Area, the
    ILEC is PacBell and the CLECs are Covad, Rhythm
    and BrightStar. When you purchase a DSL line,
    you're just getting a pipe. If you want service,
    you need an ISP. In fact, unless you are a
    corporation buying service for your employees,
    most of the CLECs won't even talk to you. Instead, you purchase the service you want from a local ISP. They are the groups who put limitations on the service, such as not providing fixed addresses or prohibiting certain types of traffic. However, most of them likely offer the service you want, if you are willing to pay for more than the cheapie service package. Sirius (a SF based ISP) truely rapes you on service pricing (worked out to $125/month for a 384kb line), but with PacBell offering the same, with three addresses and a phone line for $75/month, I don't expect the ISPs to be able to keep the prices that high.

    Cable modems are different animal. The two-way cable systems weren't constructed with high bandwidth traffic in mind. Many of them are one big fiber trunk that serves an entire town (this is due to noise concerns), which means that they may not have that much extra bandwidth to spare. Thus, they do things like putting web caches all over the system, and prohibiting the operation of servers. They are learning, however, and since providing digital cable (what a misnomer) is forcing some new thinking on system design, I would expect that one will see some improvements in the long term. Remember, however, that cable companies are capital-poor and move at a snails pace (or slower).
  • Although the southwestern bell guy had to spend two afternoons and re-route some of my phone cable I now have ADSL. I average about 5mb even though live right on the edge of service. I have my ADSL terminal connected to a hub and all five of the computers on my network access the internet with blinding speed.

    The only difficulty I had during setup was knowing that you need to either use a crossover ethernet cable to connect the DSL terminal to the hub, or if you use a 3com hub, flick the switch that does crossover. Other than that everything works great. All of my linux and windows boxes work fine.

    I live in Houston, TX BTW.
  • I've seen lots of ads all over San Francisco for CoVad or Concentric, but they charge $50 a month for service which may not be all that great -- they were out for almost an entire week once in January.

    PacBell charges $10 a month for DSL, but you have to find it here [pacbell.net]. Yes, that is $10 a month. Be prepared to be put on hold a lot, but it works great when it's in.
  • I also had some concerns about Flashcom's over-the-phone bit and their contract, but I bit the bullet. I am on the Westside of New York, and I've been using them quite happily now for over three months. I have had one billing problem in the first month and another query, which was quickly answered/ cleared up, and two technical support issues, ditto. So the phone support is as good as any other ISP I have dealt with, and better than most. The service is super fast and very consistent and reliable.

    My understanding of the no server bit, is that you can't use it to set up a web server. I have a masquerading server set up for my internal network, and specifically asked both their sales and tech people and was told there is no problem (because I was deciding if I want more than one IP or not, and with the masquerading server, one is fine).

    I should mention the installation went very smoothly. A few weeks after I signed up, Bell Atlantic showed up and installed the line to my house. The next day the Flashcom guy came, and 5 minutes after he left I was up and running.

    They recently went public so they have cash in their. I imagine they will be around and doing well for another 9 months, at whcih point I can decide whether or not to renew my contract. If they continue as is, I will stick with them.

  • I also live in SoCal (Lancaster) area and GTE is my provider. A week ago they installed ADSL but it has not worked right yet. To their credit, I am getting good feedback from them. Last night I swapped the Orckit (Fujitsu) modem and the problem persists. Today they will test from the CO and look to see if a Load Coil is on my line. The local people I am talking to on the phone are very courteous and answer my questions honestly. I give them brownie points for this, but I wish the line had worked in the first place ;-).
  • And finally, good news to report. I have not talked with the GTE rep yet, but he brought a notebook to the house and plugged it into the DSL modem to verify everything. After he left, my partner plugged in the Dell notebook we have and also got good results.

    Now comes the fun part, I am using a Debian based system as my primary machine. I have 3 NICs (3c509, Racal-Interlan, NE2000 clone) to retest. If this approach does not show some immediate results, I still have that old 486DX50 which I put a new 13G Maxtor drive in this past weekend. And at some point, I need to pop all this stuff off the stack so that I can get back to that Xfree86 MediaGX driver I was testing.

    Sleep, it's overrated anyway ;-)

  • And of course some tools like to show the overall rate, taking credit for the compression factor.
  • Care to tell us who this is so we can avoid such an intrusive ISP?


  • I subscribed via dspeed.net for a 768k/768k. That's as fast as I can reliably go on a single telephone pair running almost 9000 feet from the central office. Fortunately, I have 3 pairs left over to add bandwidth if necessary.

    The only reason for this line is to operate a server. Dspeed gave me two 4-day downtime events in two months, and then went out of business, leaving me with a fast wire to nowhere, on a weekend, when I was away from home. Covad took 10 days to move the connection to another provider. Hopefully Internic will fix my host record today. Total 1/2 month downtime.

    If you want to use DSL for business, have two of them. Make sure that they use two different CLEC's (Covad and Northpoint, usually), and two different internet providers. Make sure that the IP addresses for both wires are in your DNS records and internic host records.

    My new internet provider is in the same town, so at least I can bang on their door when something is wrong.


    Bruce Perens

  • Northpoint serves the Bay area too. They are in my CO (Albany 11), along with Covad. I've not heard of Rythm and Brightstar.


  • Well, I have been having troubles getting ADSL too. I live in Portland, OR with USWest as our wonderful and helpful phone service . I can't connect higher than 26400, and they say ADSL isn't available. On my 3rd call to them asking "Is it here yet?" I got a guy with a little more of a clue, and he said that since I had 2 phone lines I wouldn't show up as ADSL-available anyway, even if I was in range, because there's a doohickey that runs those 2 lines from a single drop to the house. But my close neighbors aren't available either, though my friend *farther* from the station has it.

    I am guessing it is all this conversion that is screwing me over as far as connect speed and ADSL. How would you get the phone company to actually switch you over to the old copper needed for ADSL? Anyone have any good ideas?

    Eric Anholt
  • Well, I'm on SE 87th, between Powell and Division. Let me tell you, internet *sucks* right here. My friends on 39th, 92nd, or anywhere else I've heard from all open to ADSL but get 46,000+ modem speeds or so anyway. I get 28,800 tops (2.2k/s stable download when very lucky), and sometimes lower. ADSL isn't available. Cable isn't available. Frame relay is not within my home budget. Is there any other way to get decent net access? This is why I was looking for *any* way to increase my chance of ADSL. I was just looking for how to get the phone co. to swap me to the straight (or straighter) copper loop that was mentioned in the article, in case it would help either modem or ADSL. I figure it couldn't hurt even if it doesn't help.
  • My story has been posted on Linux Today [linuxtoday.com] and has drawn a good bit of attention. I've received many emails from people who've written to BS, provided suggestions for me, etc. A reporter from an online new source has contacted me, with plans to do a story about problems in general with telcos, linux, and DSL. Hopefully, BellSouth will see the light of day soon.
  • BellSouth advertises ADSL here in Atlanta, and they show a huge map on their website showing their impressively large service area. Last fall I tried to buy ADSL service. BS tested all three of my residential phone lines (which are all cursed with multiple analog/digital conversions) and told me that exactly zero of them would support ADSL. Nobody I know who has tried to order BellSouth ADSL has been able to get it. I think it's all marketing, with no deliverables.
    there are 3 kinds of people:
    * those who can count
  • That's for the ISP component, which covers routing, DNS, news, email, and possibly some web space. If you want an actual physical DSL connection, that's an additional $39.95 from pac bell (not pacbell.net).
  • "Ok, so tell me again about the net access?"

    "Net access is fast there, but it's not 100% fast, I mean you can't go into your home and start serving. I mean they want you to use it for web surfing or other designated services."

    "Those are ASDL modems"

    "Yeah, it breaks down like this. It's legal to subscribe to it, it's legal to use it, and if you're an business rate customer it's legal to serve off of it. It's illegal to NAT, but that doesn't matter, get a load of this, if you put a port sniffer on it it's indistinguishable."

    "Oh man, I'm goin, that's all there is to it, I'm goin..."
  • Heya

    I use to live in Millersville (ourside of Lancaster) and currently live in Exton (near Valley Forge) and I know exactly what you mean. Bell Atlantic seems to be the only game in town, and we are at their mercy.

    All I want is my DSL, a static IP address, and to be left alone with my servers!
  • I was looking around the bell atlantic infospeed site, and they offer a "business" version of their service. It was difficult to tell what the real difference was, but it seems like the same thing, except you get a static IP. Am I missing something, or is this the solution I need?

  • I don't have experience with Patriot, but I do with Covad. I currently have an IDSL (DSL over ISDN lines) connection through Concentric and Covad.

    It's a big pain in the neck. Everytime something goes down, they start out blaming it on me. "Try resetting your router...try rebooting your machine.." etc. After a while, I tell them it's not my fault.

    They invariably ask for me to bring in my router for an exchange. I did this once, and ended up with a nicer router, but no network.

    Finally, after days of telling them it's not my fault, they go down to their equiptment and find something wrong and fix it.

    My complaints in a nutshell: it takes days to fix anything, I'm not allowed to talk to Covad (who causes the problems), they treat me like a moron, and they refuse to take responsibility for their broken setup.

    I'd avoid having any contact with Covad if you value your sanity. Currently, I'm looking to get away from Covad. I was about to go with Flashcom/Northpoint until I heard this review. I don't know what the solution is, but all the available options seem to stink.
  • Anyone know if this is available in the UK or not? It sounds sweet, if a little expensive.
  • I figured I'd sign up with whoever paved a circuit to my door first. USWest with ADSL won.

    I am on idcomm.com [idcomm.com] for my ISP in Denver. I love it!! I also have the Cisco DSL router/modem thingy.. my ISP gives me a static IP address and they're easy to deal with. (if you mention me when you sign up I'll get a free month's service *hint*) They know I have a network, but haven't given me any flack about it. I even talked about it when i talked to the USWest techs when I placed the order.

    I am paying $40/month to USWest for 256k, if i wanted to pay for 512k it would be $65, then I pay for my ISP separately ($18.95/mo). Regarding the faster speeds, what I have heard on one of my other tech lists is that the Cisco will autodetect how fast the line will go, and go that fast. It's only a matter of time before they fix that hole.

    After reading the other responses about USWest apparently doing something right, I actually called my friend who works there (as a contractor) to tell him about it.. Heck, we bitch long and loud when ppl do stupid things, it's only fair to send compliments when it's appropriate.

    -bob anzlovar

  • $40 in addition to the normal charge for the line.. the line can allegedly be used for ADSL and voice simultaneously. I am personally familiar with three ADSL installations in Metro Denver. One is just fine - he has one line, uses it for ADSL & voice.

    The other two have a background of static. Kind of like recording a conversation with an auto-level tape recorder at the beach. When there arent any voices, the static increases, when someone is talking, the static gets less.

    My other friend has his fax connected to the same line and reports no ill effects. I suspect the connect speed is slower, but haven't been able to prove that. I'll probably put a fax listener on that line when i get ambitious, so it's ok.. So I'm actually paying:
    $40 to USWest for the ADSL (not sure about the $29.99 mentioned - will have to check the bill)
    $15 for my second voice line
    $19 to my ISP
    $74 total.

    Sure it costs more, but I'm happy with the service, I was the first on my geek-block to get high speed service (my home network is the envy of the BUG [listbot.com] and both my wife and i get to surf fast at the same time.

    -bob anzlovar

  • I live in the Houston area as well. Since I live in an apartment complex with a T3 attached ( Walden Internet Village [waldenweb.com]), I haven't needed to purchase ADSL from Southwestern Bell, but have looked into it for friends or on the off-chance that I need to move from my current apartment. My friend called for ADSL service and then after about 5 weeks they came out to hook up his line since their maps indicated that he was in an area where service was possible. Upon arrival, they discovered that something about the way his apartment complex was wired precluded the possibility of getting ADSL. Of course, they then suggested ISDN instead. The sad thing is that he was going to move into my complex with the T3 but decided to sign another year lease when he heard that he could get DSL. The moral: don't get your hopes up. There are lots of variables. Treat DSL like the article mentions: like a package ordered from a catalog and forgotten until two months later. The tech guy from SWB said that on average, about 20% of apartments or homes that look like they would support ADSL actually cannot. However, the few friends I have that have ADSL love it. While they haven't been getting the 900K that the above posting purports, it is much cheaper and quicker than ISDN ever was for them (especially since here in the south, ISDN is so expensive compared to other areas).
  • In a moment of weakness, I decided to get DSL, since I was sick of the 150+ pings I was getting in QuakeWorld.

    I chose to remain with my ISP, Best Internet, which was recently acquired by Verio. The Common Wisdom is that Best, under Verio's ownership, will start to blow chunks, but since Matt Dillon (not the actor) designed and built the infrastructure, I figure it will take about a year for that to happen. I also wasn't yet ready to change my Web and email address again.

    Verio's Website on DSL is badly designed and ridiculously unhelpful. You have to have JavaScript turned on in order to use it (dumbasses). Once you clear that hurdle, it will tell you everything except who the DSL provider is and how much it will cost, which makes shopping inconvenient.

    Anyway, I called up, got a quote, had an argument with my checkbook, and decided to go for it. I signed a one year contract with them. In that time, I plan to change my email and Web address one last time, and transition to my own domain, hosting my Web and email locally. (O'Reilly security books, here I come...)

    Fax 'n Figgers

    Phone company: Pacific Bell [pacbell.com]
    DSL provider: Northpoint [northpointcom.com]
    ISP: Best Internet [best.com]
    Distance to CO: ~2000 feet
    Maximum possible data rate: 1.5Mbits (heh heh)
    Selected DSL plan: 416K SDSL, "Workgroup" plan, 16 IP addresses (14 usable)
    Highest observed download rate: 47K bytes/sec.
    Lowest observed QuakeWorld ping: 30ms
    DSL equipment: Netopia SDSL router
    Monthly cost: More than I care to admit (> $200/month)
    Usage restrictions: None. I can run a server if I wish.

    The DSL signup contract I got from Best/Verio had a little clause in it saying effectively, "You agree not to reverse-engineer any of the software or hardware we provide." I crossed it out and initialed it. Didn't hear a peep out of them about it. (Heh heh)

    It took about four weeks from the phone call until the Northpoint techs showed up and did the inside wiring. Alas, they didn't bring the Netopia router with them; that got sent to me the next day via overnight shipping.

    I plugged in the router, turned it on, got a Green Light, and... Nothing. I could talk to the router, but I couldn't ping anything beyond that. I called up Best, and whined, "It doesn't work." They called Northpoint, who evidently threw some magic switches, and suddenly the Internet opened up before me. Yay!

    I've successfully configured DSL for Windoze-98, Linux (Slackware, kernel 2.0.35), and BeOS R4. All three are happy as clams.

    QuakeWorld pings have been as low as 30ms; Quake2 pings a bit higher. I don't have a 3D card (yet), so I can't report on Quake 3 Arena.

    One weird thing I had to get used to was the "always on" nature of DSL. I'm paranoid about accidentally leaving the phone line connected (I only have one phone line), so when I'm "done" using the net, my instinct is to hang up the modem. Well, I don't have to do that now, and it feels weird.

    Apart from the waiting to receive it and getting it to work, it has been overall a successful and pleasant experience.


  • I live in Hoboken. Called Bell Atlantic. Got the "DSL modem" and NIC in the mail a week later. A week after that, they came out and did the wiring (converted my main phone line to DSL and disconnected my second line, which I no longer needed). They were supposed to have another tech visit the following day and set up my PC, but I did it myself and cancelled the visit.
    Works great.
    Before DSL:
    Phone Line: $20/month
    Total: $40 month/56k
    After DSL: DSL: $40/month
    ISP: $10/month
    Total: $50/month
    Ten bucks a month more, for 640k rather than 56k is a great deal in my book.
  • Does anyone have experience with SWBell in Austin? I've heard that if you use them as an ISP, you're asking for really bad latency... in the 800ms range. But they are CHEAP - $10/month compared to $20 at texas.net and $30 at jump point. I suppose this is a case of getting what you pay for, but... anyone have a GOOD experience w/ swbell?

    I saw a couple of traceroutes posted on one of the Austin newsgroups and the latency looked really bad. Maybe not 800ms, but much worse than ISDN. I've heard really good stuff about Jump Point's service. They really seem to have it together. Now if SWB would just fix the pair gain problem in our neighborhood.

  • when you say $40/month to uswest, is that in addition to the normal $20 or so phone service fee?
  • I was under the impression that uswest charged around $50 for a 256kbps line. Are you getting some kind of special deal, or does the price vary by location?
  • I use USWorst as well, and since I was one of the first to get DSL in Minneapolis, I went with uspest.net. Bad idea. The service is great when it is there, but the ISP seems to lack knowledge about how to keep their systems up. The gateway (which is not the modem, BTW) goes down for a few hours at least once a week, maybe more. At the time I purchased the service, usdreck was the cheapest by far, but now other ISPs are competitive. I run 512kbps with statics, and I have to run my own DNS and mail servers (at least if its down its my fault :).

    Also, ufwest outsources their tech support, and they don't tell them anything, which is the most frustrating part of the whole experience. If something is down, I know more than the people I am calling!

    I could go on about general incompetance (hmm, MX record, CNAME, what are those? Whats the difference between a subdomain and a hostname?), but as usual with the telco, its reams and reams of paper.
  • Does anyone have experience with SWBell in Austin? I've heard that if you use them as an ISP, you're asking for really bad latency... in the 800ms range. But they are CHEAP - $10/month compared to $20 at texas.net and $30 at jump point. I suppose this is a case of getting what you pay for, but... anyone have a GOOD experience w/ swbell?

    My strange DSL experience was calling a few ISPs with inquiries, then having the telco van roll up to my house to install... nifty, except I hadn't yet ordered it from anyone! They're really pushing it, I guess. :-)
  • You said if you want raw IP, you will get it (and often for a lot less).
    Care to expand on this? I like the "for a lot less" part. Did they cut you a deal?
  • I recently (less than 1 month ago) had aDSL installed at my home. I live in Houston, TX, and Southwestern Bell *just* started offering services. The only real problem I've encountered was that during the wait for line testing, they lost part of (not all) my information and had to start over. From Order date to install was 3 weeks. Priced at $49 a month ($39 for the line & $10 for ISP services) I am getting well over what they call their guarunteed service level (384k down / 129k up). My actual thoughput has hit over 900k down and 300k upstream. My "DSL Modem" lost sync once and didn't come back. A call to Tech support and it was fixed before I got home from work. All in all I'm very happy with the speed, service, and reliability that I get for the cost. Stephen L. Palmer Sprint Paranet Houston, TX
  • In Raleigh, NC many many many homes are 1 ADDA inversion, b) they can't/won't/can't figure out how to run ADSL over fiber.

    Also they don't price ISDN for residential usage eg. $275 setup + equipment + $112/month for a 2 year service contract. Their flavor of ISDN doesn't use sideband signalling and you have to give up your analog service so basically you get 2x64kb channels for voice and data -aka- you lose half your bandwidth everytime you pick up the phone + you get saddled with features whether you want them or not like voice mail multiple phone numbers, etc. most of the low end PBX functions. they can't guarantee or even sugggest if some of your mode space age cutting edge devices like fax machines will or will not work on their digital services. But if you're brave enough to ask how long it would take to get ISDN the answer you get is along the lines of 3 months to 9 months to who-knows.

    And if you press them they're not real sure if/when/how any of these services could or might be available to you or where for example you're located in relation to any midspan repeaters they're not real sure they have installed between your house and a CO. They also can't explain how any of this would be billed or even if you managed to get ADSL or ISDN whether it would work with the ISP service they themselves are simultaneously trying to market to you.

    And oh yeah - the once monthly event where all or most of my phone service to my home craps out for no apparent reason, the initial stated turnaround time is 24hrs which they make about 50% of the time with a low of about 4 hrs and a high of 48hrs.
  • In Raleigh, NC many many many homes are less than 7 years old so fiber runs everywhere. Therefore a) you can't get 56kb at most residences what with >1 ADDA inversion, b) they can't/won't/can't figure out how to run ADSL over fiber.

    Also they don't price ISDN for residential usage eg. $275 setup + equipment + $112/month for a 2 year service contract. Their flavor of ISDN doesn't use sideband signalling and you have to give up your analog service so basically you get 2x64kb channels for voice and data -aka- you lose half your bandwidth everytime you pick up the phone + you get saddled with features whether you want them or not like voice mail multiple phone numbers, etc. most of the low end PBX functions. they can't guarantee or even sugggest if some of your mode space age cutting edge devices like fax machines will or will not work on their digital services. But if you're brave enough to ask how long it would take to get ISDN the answer you get is along the lines of 3 months to 9 months to who-knows.

    And if you press them they're not real sure if/when/how any of these services could or might be available to you or where for example you're located in relation to any midspan repeaters they're not real sure they have installed between your house and a CO. They also can't explain how any of this would be billed or even if you managed to get ADSL or ISDN whether it would work with the ISP service they themselves are simultaneously trying to market to you.

    And oh yeah - the once monthly event where all or most of my phone service to my home craps out for no apparent reason, the initial stated turnaround time is 24hrs which they make about 50% of the time with a low of about 4 hrs and a high of 48hrs.
  • Maybe it's just because I was one of the first, or maybe it's because there is less demand for it out here, but I didn't have any problems (at all) getting my DSL service.

    I live in Lincoln, Nebraska, and my ISP recently dropped all support for dial-ups and went strictly DSL and faster. I'm sure they were aiming at the business market, but lo and behold they got me and my home LAN.

    Here's a brief summary of what it took for me to get ADSL.

    1. Bitched and moaned about them dropping dial-up service and having to consider other ISP's and changing my web site, my e-mail address, and in general having to do a whole lot of crap that I didn't want to do.

    2. Did some quick math on current monthly cost vs. ADSL monthly cost. ADSL came out $.50 more per month over 2 lines and modems.

    3 Ordered ADSL, signed a 1 year agreement to get the Cisco 675 for free (no monthly fee). Got locked into the promo rate for a year (39.50/month for the line).

    4. 8 days after dropping off my paperwork I get a call that my Cisco is ready.

    5. I stop by and get my Cisco, and get a pleasant surprise. I have a range of 30 static IP address that I can assign as I see fit on my home LAN.

    6. Go home and hook my Cisco into the uplink port on my hub, assign IP addresses, call my ISP because I forgot to get the DNS address, finish configuring my computer.

    7. Begin surfing.

    I have to say installing ADSL was probably the most painless thing I've done in a while for what it gave me. I have a 384K/120K which costs me a grand total of 59.50 per month.

    I have found my ISP (binary.net) to be probably the most lenient, customer oriented, ISP in Nebraska when it comes to ADSL service.

    I can:

    * run servers on my LAN
    * assign my own IP addresses
    * register my own domain and they'll host it for no additional charge.

    If there are any other /.'ers in the Lincoln area I highly recommend them.

    I guess sometimes it pays to live in the middle of nowhere.

  • I don't know about your ADSL provider, but here one of the big advantages of ADSL is that you don't need a second phone line. The ADSL traffic is a high frequency signal that runs parallel to your voice traffic. They even provide filters for your phones if you get noise on them from the signal.
  • Wow, after reading the article and many of the comments, im surprised at how restrictive dsl is elsewhere. Things appear to be much different here too, from installation through usage. There are only two parties involved here, the phone co provides the line, and then our choice of an isp. The only phone co is USWest, but there are several isps to choose from. I chose to also get my isp services from USWest to simplify things, and they seemed to have fewer restrictions as compared to the others.
    When it came time to order, that was very simple. One initial call proved that both of my analog lines at the time were capable of at least the lowest bandwidth rate, 256k/256k. I could have placed the order at that time, but i had to come up with some money to cover the $110 install fee first :)
    When I did get the money, I made the call to order, which was very simple. The line was tested once again, and then they told me to expect the equipment in the mail within the next couple weeks, and an install date set for about 3 weeks from that time.
    About a week later, equipment started arriving. First was an analog modem (apperently part of a promotion running at the time) then a box conataining the cisco 675 dls router and a 3com nic arrived several days before the instal date that i was given.
    I decided to hook it up and see if they were early on the installation at the co, and they were, it trained the line no prob!
    From there it was just a matter of installing the nic and hooking up the short ethernet cable between the two and configuring dhcp on the computer. One reboot later and i was on the net!
    I have since reconfigured everything, adding a hub and a few more computers (all of which is allowed in the agreement), one of which is the linux server from which this mail was sent :)
    In all, i am extremely happy with the quality of service, and the prices. My initial cost was $110 for the install (which included ALL the equipment above, plus a $100 speakerphone), and thereafter the monthly charges of $39 for the line fee and $19 for the 256k bandwidth (which actually trains at 640k/272k). The line fee was recently dropped to $29 though, so now i am even happier!
    So anyway, theres my story, since im probably out of space on this thing :P
  • I've got that exact same service, and just about the same complaints. :) I wish they'd lower their prices to keep in lock-step with PacBell (as then I could upgrade my speed to something a little better), but their technical cluefulness more than makes up for things. I wanted them to delegate my /28 to me for DNS purposes (not a trivial task; you need some decent DNS clue in order to do this), and they set it up for me within a few hours. As for phone support, they never gave you their number? Drop me an e-mail and I can give it out to you.
  • Read the other comments. I have heard this elsewhere. Even if you use nonstandard ports to get around their blocking, if they find any services running, they just disconnect you.

  • I recently decided to go with Flashcom for one reason, they were the only people that would put DSL in at my house. Okay. Easy enough, I call and tell them to set it up. They never call back. So I call to ask when its going to happen and suddenly the install is set for the next day from PacBell. Now this is the funny part, PacBell themselves won't install DSL ay my house but as a subcontractor for Flashcom they will? Bizarre. The even better thing is Im 996 feet from the CO. Mmmm blazing speeds... Flashcom won't return my calls to get reverse DNS setup, or email or news. In fact they haven't even bothered to bill me at all yet... so Im not complaining... but only because I don't need any of their services, yet.

    Openstep/NeXTSTEP/Solaris/FreeBSD/Linux/ultrix/OSF /...
  • Like the above poster, I got ADSL from Bell Atlantic (in DC), and it's wonderful. The process takes about 2 weeks, since they have to ship the modem (which arrived on time and with a $50 rebate), and also send two technicians to your house (one guy does the outside wiring, and I'm not sure what the second guy did, but it worked after he left :-). You have to sign up with BA as your ISP for 12 months, which is 10 bucks a month, and the DSL (640k down/90k up) is $50 a month.

    I was a little wary of getting the service, as I had read the horror stories about that guy with the Mac, and all I have are Linux boxen. When the first person I talked to at BA got to the dreaded question "what operating system", I said Linux. He said "Hmmm... we don't seem to have that listed." I asked him if unix was listed, and he said no. Then I asked if it was anything more complicated than configuring the NIC, and he said no, that was what their technicians did. I assured him I could do that myself, and that was that.

    The only other time it was mentioned was when the second guy came to activate the service. He looked at my machine (a homebuilt dual PPRo, all black, no identifying brands or features :-), then looked at the monitor, which was showing a Gnome/E desktop with the Apple Platinum theme. "What is that?" he said, a bit puzzled. I told him Linux, and he went, "Ah, so you've got it all configured then?" It was a riot.

    [sidebar: Does anyone else find that as soon as you mention Linux around computer people, you instantly get to cut all the Win-Idiot bull? Like computer stores, for example... I went to CompUSA (of all places! don't shop there by the way!) for a modem a while ago, and I asked for a 56k modem that was jumper-configurable. The sales guy hemmed and hawed for a minute, so I said "I run Linux, so I don't want any of that win-modem garbage." His face just lit up. He showed me one that his linux-using friend got, and it's worked perfectly. Well, until I got DSL. It doesn't do much now.]

    Also, they never asked for my MAC address. Perhaps because BA owns the whole route, they have their own ways of determining it or something. Dunno, but it was never mentioned.

    So the summary is, Bell Atlantic ADSL==good. I don't think I could get by without it anymore.

  • No servers? How can they stop you?

    Yeah, they could block ports, but why be so techie about it? My previous ISP (early.com -- DON'T EVER USE THEM!! In fact, if anyone were to take it into their head that an "unplanned service outage" were in order for these freaks, I'd be much obliged :-) noticed that I had a webserver running on my dialup connection.

    I had apache running because I'm a web developer, and often work at home. It continued to run when I dialed in to the ISP, so they decided this constituted "running a server" and canceled my service, AND kept the money I paid them for three more months of service.

    I called and bitched, but they just completely stonewalled me. "Duh. There's nothing I can do. Duh." Apparently, no one there has any control of their own network, if you believe their "support" people.

    So they don't need to block ports, they can just pull the plug on you.

  • You get a static IP with the home service too. Really, they just market the higher-bandwidth offerings as "business" and lower as "home."
  • Resetting your modem to fix ADSL problems? Thats almost as bad as a past T1 circuit provider's solution of resetting a CSU/DSU to fix line problems eventually determined to be caused by dyslexic technicians screwing with our circuit.
  • Heh. There is something to be said for getting away from the computer and listening to the radio, watching TV, reading the paper, etc. Had you done any of the above in the past year, you would have been swamped by the USWest DSL ads (the "Mega*" services). There are also quite a few ISPs for the DSL if you don't feel like going 100% USWorst.

    That said, getting DSL with USWest is often easier said than done. I couldn't get it at my first apartment since I was "too far" from the switch. I can't get it at my (new) house since the wire is fiber-optic right to the house and DSL only works on copper (so far). *sigh*
  • Bellsouth offers ADSL in the Raleigh-Durham
    area. http://www.bellsouth.net/external/adsl

  • Apparently you don't understand how adsl works, then... ANY A/D conversion breaks it. If you have anything other than a copper pair back to a DSLAM (or Mini-RAM when Alcatel get's it's act together and can provide a product that won't overheat in the hut), you're outta luck. That's the facts.

    Check www.adsl.com for the FAQ's.

  • It took me six months of constant pestering to get
    my US West DSL connection in downtown Salt Lake
    working. As nearly as I could tell from stories,
    the first two months of delay were lack of DSLAM
    capacity in the CO, and the rest were the US West
    cable crews trying to get the cable to carry data.

    For US$40.35/month, I get 256kb/s from an Ethernet
    port on the back of a Cisco 675 "modem" with a
    fixed IP address. The Cisco unit plugs directly
    into my phone wall jack, and the phone plugs in
    in parallel thru a low pass filter. I can plug
    the phone into a low pass filter on the back of
    the Cisco, or directly to a wall jack thru one
    of several low pass filters supplied with the

    US West also sent me a bundled Ethernet card,
    and instructions to install it in a PC. Since
    at the time of my order I had only a Sun
    workstation the PC card was redundant. I now
    have the Cisco plugged into a small Ethernet hub
    where I also connect my Sun, an HP printer, and
    a PC running Linux that I bought a few months ago.
    Linux is configured to do IP masquerading, so
    that Linux reaches the net directly and the Sun
    reaches the net thru Linux with a remapped IP
    address. This all works just fine. Neither
    US West nor XMission has attempted to get in the
    way of this setup.

    The biggest part of the problem was getting to
    this stage. Fortunately I have a few connections
    and I was forced to use them to the fullest to
    get the thing to work. First, US West quoted me
    some ridiculous distance from the CO and claimed
    that DSL would never work. By my measurement,
    my actual distance is *well* within their limits.
    It took me quite a bit of work to convince them
    of this however. Ultimately, from what I can
    gather, they found that the cable to my house
    carried a 60Hz common mode voltage large enough
    to interfere with operation of the DSL modem.
    The US West cable department apparently did some
    rework on their grounds or something. Eventually
    they got it all working reliably but the delay
    was so long and the billing so confused that
    one of their executives decided to "forget"
    about the installation fee.

    The bottom line is that I have now had months of
    highly reliable operation from this arrangement,
    and am very pleased with it.

    As an entertaining side note, a few weeks ago I
    was at a party with a bunch of US West people.
    They were amazed that I had managed to get DSL
    and one said that US West had told her she was
    too far from her CO to get it at her house.
    I told her my story and suggested that she
    measure the distance herself :^)

  • About a month ago, I signed up with Pacific Bell [pacbell.com] for DSL service in San Francisco.

    I was getting married [sinasohn.com], and figured that the higher cost would be offset by eliminating my and my girlfri^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hwife's dial-up accounts. (Okay, so that was just an excuse.8^)

    Well, I did have a bit of a rough start -- they didn't show up for the first install appointment and when I called, the gal on the phone made another appointment, but didn't tell anyone about it. But the third time was a charm. A guy from Southern California (up here specifically for DSL installs) showed up, knew what he was doing, hooked things up, and voila.

    I've got a splitter on the wall in the garage (along with all the other phone line stuff) which runs upstairs to my office/mess where it plugs into an Alcatel modem. The DSL modem is connected to a Kingston PCMCIA ethernet card in an old laptop with a broken screen. This runs Linux and serves as the gateway to my new home network via a Linksys PCMCIA ethernet card.

    The PacBell guy was able to get a connection right away and start downloading stuff; it took me a little longer as this was my first time using Linux seriously. (Don't stick your toe in, just jump on in! 8^) But, I did figure it out, and now have another Linux box, my DOS/Win3.11 laptop, a Win3.11 box by the bed, a Mac, and a Win95 box hooked up, with my wife's big mac and my dad's pc coming on-line soon.

    It works great -- I've had only two problems: one, PacBell was having a problem and was up again in an hour (like any ISP might have) and once the modem had to be reset. So, yes, I'm quite happy. PacBell provides the DSL Modem, the NIC for whatever type of computer you have (PC or Mac, ISA, PCI, NuBus, or PCMCIA) and sets it all up for you. The guy that did it for me handled everything except setting the card up under Linux -- he was a windows guy (nice nonetheless). I already had wiring in place, but he would have run it if I didn't from the garage to the attic.

    The best part is the cost. The setup (includes the modem and NIC) is $199, but the monthly fee for 384K download/128K upload is $50 ($39/mo for the DSL and $10 for the ISP stuff) and includes a static IP. However, that's a minimum guaranteed download speed -- I've regularly gotten over 1.5mbps download speeds.

    So, I have to say I am most happy with my PacBell DSL [pacbell.com] service and can recommend it highly, if you're in the San Francisco Bay Area.

  • I have to add to the story posted by Justin Beech in regards to the various woes experienced by nyc-area folks in getting DSL. I've been in the process of getting SDSL from Concentric Networks/Covad for the last 9 weeks. By in the process, I mean that the initial install date was supposed to be April 12th. I have had 5 on-site visits from Bell, 4 from Covad, and so many phone calls from reps from all three companies involved that I can't even count.

    The problem with my line at this point has been pared down to "Bell Atlantic wired the wrong pair in the basement of your building -- the loop tests good from the CO to your building, but doesn't test in your apartment. Apparently another apartment in the building is receiving DSL." To say the least, this is somewhat frustrating. Judging by the trials that co-workers have gone through dealing with RedConnect, Bell Atlantic InfoSpeed DSL, and NorthPoint, I don't think the situation would be much better with another provider.

    I'm supposed to receive an on-site visit _again_ today from Covad, with another Covad tech at the CO, and a Bell Atlantic tech in my basement.. i'd say the odds of this actually happening are somewhere between slim and none, but i'm keeping my fingers crossed. With any luck, i'll have 1.5mbps synchronous to my apartment by tonight!

    I have to add that both Concentric and Covad have been _amazingly_ helpful and apologetic in regards to the various blown meets/bad installs/other idiocy that Bell Atlantic has put me through. If only they could get Bell to do what they're supposed to...


  • Your concerns about BA running an ISP may or may not be founded, but I thought I'd point out that they already do, with traditional analog modems: bellatlantic.net. I've spoken with some of the people in their NOC, and they were definitely ISP people, not phone types.
  • I loaded up USWorst's ordering page (still the poorest excuse for a business in the west), filled in my vital info, clicked submit.

    USWorst rep called me the next day, verified my info, told me 10 days.

    Cisco 675 DSL Router/Bridge arrives on my doorstep free of charge the next week. Cisco lists these at $399 on their ordering page. I'm not renting or leasing it, I own it. Far be it from me not to accept a loss leader.

    I check with my isp (XMission, best in the state of Utah), make sure everything's hunky-dory. They give me my static IP, no extra charge, no bothering around with DHCP.

    My installation target date arrives. I haul out the little thinkpad that could and hook it up to the ethernet and serial ports on the Cisco. Plug the Cisco into the phone jack. Plug the phone into the jack on the back of the Cisco.

    I talk to the Cisco through the serial port, follow the configuration instructions in the booklet USWorst sent me, reconfigure the tcpip on the thinkpad, and I'm able to ping the world.

    In all the excitement, the fresh (not frozen) pizza I had baking in the oven burned to a big carbon slab. Didn't even notice the smoke pouring out of the kitchen until well after I'd installed my 2nd nic in my server, made the requisite changes to my firewall configuration, and started ooing and ahhing at the download speeds and ping times.

    All in all the roughest part of my DSL experience was related to installing the filtered phone jack on the wall of my appartment. I figured I'd pull the plate off and find a nice little up-to-code connection box. I discovered that that wall was constructed of 3/4 inch plywood, and that they'd installed the jack apparantly by chizzling a hole in the plywood with a screwdriver or something until they could pull the phone cord through it. Used one of those cheezy flat wall jacks with the punch-down blocks.

    The filtered jack is surprisingly overengineered. Printed circuit board with a few capacitors on it and two sets of screw-down terminals, jumper wires leading to a set of screw-down terminals next to the actual jack. Another set of jumper wires leading to a set of screw-down terminals on the backside of the plate. Another set of screw-down terminals attached to those.

    Had to get a shallow connection box from Eagle. That was sorta hard to find. You'd figure it'd be with the electrical stuff, but you have to go past electrical and past lighting and into plumbing to get to the conduit supplies. Go figure.
  • "In addition, cable modems are a shared pipe, you share it not with strangers, but with other rabid netsurfers, warez vendors, porn freaks, and quake server operators in your building or street."

    This is true. But how does this differ from all the DSL lines going into a shared pipe at the local exchange?

    It sure doesn't sound like they're giving you a guaranty on your 416Kb for $159 a month. I've got a cable modem, which almost always blazes - I've had big downloads come in at over 200KB/s. The limiting factor almost always seems to be somewhere other than the last mile of copper. And I get it for $50 a month - yep, modem & access included.

    Even if I had to use a phone line for the uplink (which, luckily, I don't), I would have to think real hard about shelling out 3 times as much money for a comparable service. Especially when the cable companies are eager for your business, while you practically have to beat up the phone company to get anything done.
  • InterAccess is good for chicago area DSL for a number of reasons. In particular, reasons pertaining to the article above. The annoyance of dealing with 3 different companies is a moot point, since IA is an ISP and a CLEC.

    Odd that you have to wait until october. That's most likely an issue with your CO. They aren't turning on areas until there appears to be sufficient demand for it in that area.

    On the bright side, they aren't overselling.
  • No servers? How can they stop you?

    Very easily.

    Guess what? If you have an IP, you can have a server because that machine will have a name. You just need to do a little extra work to find out what that name is.

    None of which will do a blind bit of good if your ISP has the router that handles the DSL lines set up to block incoming port 80 (goodbye HTTP), incoming port 25 (farewall, SMTP) or incoming port 21 (FTP, adios). Which is exactly what some ISPs do. The ISP I work for offers 384K and 768K DSL, with residential and business options. The former is subject to exactly this type of filter so, yes, you can run servers, but no packets will ever reach them. If you want to run servers, you pay the business rate.

  • I failed to read the fine print, so it was partly my fault. I signed up with Flashcom in November of 98 since they promised me that they could have my DSL up and running in two weeks. Well, February rolled around, and after a dozen phone calls to their office, being put on hold for almost as many hours, and constantly told "it'll only be a couple weeks now" I said screw it. I cancelled my order and went with another service. Whew, glad that was over.

    Not quite. My company got an invoice from Flashcom to the tune of $200. WTF! It said it was a "cancellation fee," and that they needed my signature to authorize it! I called them and said yeah right, we never got any service, how can I cancel something I never got? I'm not authorizing any "cancellation fee!" Well, two weeks later we get our credit card statements, and lo and behold, Flashcom charged us. Eventually we went to Mastercard (God bless their golden hearts) to try to resolve this, and Mastercard took the charge off our card and took up the dispute.

    We're with GTE now, which began offering DSL to GTE phone customers at half price. I got GTE DSL a week after I ordered it, and am very pleased with it now. They said they only officially support Windows95, but I got it to work fine on a Mac office. I even recommended it to CmdrTaco, but it seems that GTE's DSL coverage is extremely limited, and will not be coming to residential areas any time soon.
  • I talked to GTE directly, and they're giving away the service to GTE phone customers for half off! I'm paying $45/mo for 384/384!
  • Okay, before another person emails me, check this out:

    My office is in Los Angeles, and I called GTE to get DSL. They said they had a special promo where I would get half off my bills if I was already a GTE phone customer. I signed up. I got 384/384 kbs DSL for $45 instead of $90. DSL modem for free as long as I had my service.

    I called GTE a month later because the line was down. (Outages were very frequent at first, but have gotten very rare now). The rep I was talking to asked what DSL package I had. I told her I had a half off deal for having GTE phone service. She said she never heard of such a promo. I started sweating because I thought that my 1/2 off deal was a billing mistake or something, but instead my bills are still $45.

    I'm guessing that GTE is such a big corporation that one butt cheek doesn't know what the other butt cheek is up to. It's quite possible that the deal is still going on, but that not all departments in GTE DSL are aware of it. The 1/2 off deal that I got might be over, it may be ongoing. I don't know. All I know is that my bills are still $45 and my DSL is still 384kbs.
  • This is grossly off-topic (I would moderate myself down to 0 if I could), but I'm just amazed that there are two people on Slashdot with usernames from The Dark Crystal. And not only that, someone from Raleigh! (I go to Duke). Ok, prepare to be moderated . . .
  • I am ever glad I did not have to go through that horror to get my ADSL line hooked up. I live in Ottawa (and work for Nortel Networks which helps) so my only current choice for high speed access is Sympatico (Bell Canada's ISP). The use Nortel's 1 Meg Modem technology so as an employee all I have to pay is the installation fee and the $40/month for service and I get the modem for free. This service is a littel different in that it doesn't actaully require any changes to the wiring in my home, just a new card at the switch. I think it was about 10 days from the time I signed up to the time everything was set up and working. That is the advantage of having everything bundled in one company I guess. You can check out Nortel's 1 Meg Modem sit here [nortelnetworks.com] and Sympatico's here [symptico.ca].
    You still have to be fairly close to the switch to be able to get the service and I don't know of any way to find out other than by phoning sympatico.

    Good luck to everyone attempting to get ADSL. The bandwidth is worth it, I promise.
  • I'm sorry to hear of your DSL problems. But for others out there, let me tell you, DSL can be Great. I use a Cisco systems DSL modem that is completely configurable via a serial port (router like). I use a connection from USWEST here in Denver, and no, USWEST is not easy to deal with, in fact they are actually quite ignorant (surprise surprise). But all I need from them is the conection from my house to my CO. Once that was up, I chose to use a seperate ISP (most use uswwest.net) who has been very responsive and knowledgeable about DSL connections. I use a static IP, across a 256K connection (although I have seen greater speeds) which has had 99.9% uptime at least, in fact I don't ever seem to have it gone down except when I got it a year ago, and that was a bug in cisco's OS and the ATM network (they promptly sent me a new router).

    I do not doubt others troubles though, my phone company has such a strangle hold on our local telephone market, it allows them to get away with alot more then if we had a competetive market place.
  • I got a DSL line from U.S. West in July of 1998 - so far, I really love it. But there are a few things I learned along the way that other people might find useful (especially if you live in Denver):

    1) It really helps to use the same company for your ISP that provides the DSL line. In my case, that means U.S. West is my ISP. The reason this is useful is that if you have any problems, U.S. West has two options when you call - "Is your ISP U.S. West or OTHER (implied terrible)?" You know how far you'll get if it's not U.S. West!

    2) For my DSL line, the phone guy went through a pretty herculean effort. Evenutally we ended up using the second pair of wires in my house instead of the primary pair, as the DSL modem could not train using the normal wires. So, I just had to re-wire all the jacks in my house to use the second pair. A small price to pay for low ping times.

    3) In Denver, the lowest bandwidth option is 256k, not 765k. But in reality the downlink rate is really more like 650k.

    4) If you hang a DSL line filter (you have to have a filter in between the wall and each phone in your house or you will hear noise) out of the wall with no phone attached, the DSL line will not work.

    5) If you're at all technically inclined, always answer that you are indeed running Windows95 even if you have something else, then map their requests to run check programs to whatever programs you really need to run.

    6) In my modem (NetSpeed, I forget the maker) I had a problem once where the lights indicated all was well, but nothing worked - it was a bad power supply. Once swapped, everything was fine.

    Good luck everyone!
  • I looked into getting ADSL through Flashcomm but decided against it because of the "no servers" clause in the service agreement. How common is this among high speed provders?

    Currently MediaOne and Bellsouth (the major cable modem and ADSL providers in my area) aren't quite so restrictive, but their agreements are worded in such a way that they can weasel out and block your servers if they want to. I'm very afraid that this might become the norm for the residential Internet provider market.

    Consider why:
    Denying you the use of a mailserver "encourages" you to sign up for the provider's mail services, which may cost extra. The same applies to Web and ftp space. It is also a convient way to keep the bandwidth allocation low and still pretend to offer "unlimited" access.

    But the more nefarious reason is that that helps maintain the status quo. Cable companies want to restrict "pull"-type distribution methods because they keep you from watching TV, and phone companies want to limit your bandwidth and methods of communication to protect their local phone monopolies and long distance services.

    The most important feature of the Internet, that it allows one to publish to the world at large with almost neglible cost, is being squashed with these "no servers" clauses. Everything we hate about the media congolmerates and their "popular culture" cash cow is being perpetuated.

    So what I want to know is, are the any consumer groups that address this issue? And does anyone know of any providers that specifically allow all types of servers?
  • by Coconut Monkey ( 34777 ) on Wednesday June 02, 1999 @05:36AM (#1870496)
    I had a slightly better experience in Canada with DSL through Sympatico (Bell Canada subsiduary). They have an installation package (discounted until last week) for $49.95(Can$ of course) self-install, $99.95 with a technician. The installation package includes an ethernet card in either PCI or ISA (or laptop equivalent), a Nortel 1Meg modem (960 kb/s downstream, 120 kb/s upstream) and several phone filters etc.
    The package was couriered to me at work four days before my specified connection date.
    Installing and configuring the card under Win98 (I know, I know... :) ). As a bonus, my line (although not email account) was already active the next day (3 days before the specified date).
    Cost per month is 39.95, modem rental is 14.95 (although rental is waived temporarily at least for sales promotion). The software installation of the required ISP programs installed fine from the CD. Entire time from opening the package to getting online, less than 30 minutes. As a side note, I learned not to run a normal phone cable through my surge protector before the modem, as it affects the speed significantly... slower by a factor of 10 or so. With that resolved however, I downloaded a few game demos (easiest large files to find) and got 100 Kilobytes/sec down load during peak hours.
    Quake II ping times dropped from around 200 ms with a 28.8 modem to 40-50 ms. All in all... an easy experience up here. That may be however because DSL is a latecomer to the battle with cable up here, so they are pulling out all the stops to get customers - even if it means customer service. (Yikes!) Of the two other people I know up here trying to get service, one had no problem (and talked me into it more or less) the other has had some problems with getting the service hooked up. He's on ./ though... so he can probably reply when he hits this message. All in all... a very pleasant experience so far... much better than the horror stories I have been hearing about cable modems and their down times / lousy transfer rates.

    For interests sake their web site is:


    Coconut Monkey in Toronto
  • This is just an extract of their FAQ concerning NAT(ipMasq) and servers... could someone post the Service Agreement for Sympatico DSL (Canada)

    From Sympatico HSE FAQ [sympatico.ca]
    Can the 1-Meg Modem plug into my existing Ethernet hub?
    The 1-Meg Modem is designed to plug into a Network Interface Card (NIC). If you want to have your Sympatico High Speed Edition connection accessible by all computers on your internal network, it is recommended that you obtain a second NIC card for one computer and have it act as a gateway server and route all high speed traffic through that machine. The Sympatico High Speed Edition service will not support or guarantee service for any LAN configurations.
    they acknowledge that you CAN ipMASQ, but you're on your own...

    Do you restrict any ports?
    The Sympatico High Speed Edition service is a proxy-based service. This means that all requests sent over port 80 must go through the Web caching servers. These servers are equipped with technology that maintains copies of popular Web objects closer to you, the Sympatico HSE member. Web Caching significantly speeds up your Internet browsing experience by reducing the use of congested Internet networks and by reducing the number of object downloads from popular Web servers. The Sympatico High Speed Edition service selected this architecture as most suitable for the residential high-speed user. Other than port 80, no other ports have such restrictions.
    No problems here -- I hope

    Is it possible to create an Internet server using the Sympatico High Speed Edition service?
    No. Because of the dynamically assigned IP addressing, the IP addresses will be automatically reassigned at pre-determined intervals. As a result, an Internet server could not be established.
    It's not FORBIDDEN, just impractical...
    - - -

APL hackers do it in the quad.